Ali Barton: Cognitive (in)flexibility & trusting your gut

Mar 04, 2024


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“When I have gut feelings about things, you can't change my mind. It drives other people bonkers, but I trust my gut deeply.”

Ali is a licensed mental health counselor in private practice just outside of Boston. She works primarily with women in their 20s through 50s, with ADHD, anxiety, disordered eating/eating disorders, parenting stressors, and relational conflicts. She is also a mom of two children with ADHD, and is passionate about advocating for more awareness around neurodiversity. 

We talk about the different presentations of ADHD in women, and how Ali’s sister, Emily, helped her discover her own ADHD. We also talk about Ali’s life-threatening health challenges during her pregnancy, her heart transplant 5 months after her first child was born, and the book about the experience. In retrospect, she realizes that her issues with executive function (especially cognitive flexibility) are what helped her decide to remain pregnant and give birth to her son. 

We discuss how Ali’s work with clients has changed since her own diagnosis, and we talk about trusting your gut feelings and intuition, even when others may not understand.


Links & Resources:

  1. Against Doctor’s Orders by Ali Weinberg Barton



Ali Barton 0:00
My kids know I'm their safe person. My husband is their safe person. They know they have to hold it together at school a little bit better. And they want people to like them. They want adults to like them. So they would never act out at school ever. They get home and it all unleashes. And so I know that as a therapist, that's very normal. But I think when you go to a school and say, Hey, I think I think my kid has ADHD. I was just met with no

Katy Weber 0:29
Hello, and welcome to the women and ADHD podcast. I'm your host, Katy Weber. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 45. And it completely turned my world upside down. I've been looking back at so much of my life, school, jobs, my relationships, all of it with this new lens, and it has been nothing short of overwhelming. I quickly discovered I was not the only woman to have this experience. And now I interview other women who like me discovered in adulthood they have ADHD and are finally feeling like they understand who they are and how to best lean into their strengths, both professionally and personally. Hello there. Before we begin, I would love to share with you this review from a listener called highly educated on the Apple podcast platform. It's entitled helping me integrate my adult diagnosis. Katie interviews a wide range of women who have been diagnosed with ADHD from experts on the topic to everyday women describing their lived experience. These perspectives have been invaluable in helping me reframe my history and in building self acceptance in the place of shame. Thank you, Katie. Well, thank you, Haley. This review is especially validating for me because it highlights exactly what I set out to do when I first started this podcast. And here we are 177 episodes later. And I continue to be so grateful and in awe of the fact that I still get to interview so many incredible women from all walks of life, and that these conversations have been so helpful to listeners like you. So thanks again, I really appreciate the time and effort it took to stop what you were doing and write a review. And if you are a listener of this podcast, and you found these interviews to be helpful, please take a moment to head to Apple podcasts or audible and you can now leave feedback on individual episodes on Spotify, it really helps to get this podcast out there for more listeners so that they can understand that they are not broken or lazy or stupid, but that they have ADHD. And if writing a review feels like too much. And believe me, I totally get it. You can also just quickly hit those five stars. In fact, you could just pause right now and go do it. I promise we will wait for you. Also if you are a woman or an adult who was socialized as a girl and you have ADHD and you're looking for coaching, support and connection and friendship while also developing a greater understanding of who you are and how to best work with your brain. And now is the time to go register for my next round of small group coaching. I have a new session starting in a few weeks. I'd love to have you join us head to women and coaching to find out more and to register and of course that link is in the show notes and if you're not quite sure if it'll be the right fit for you. You can always head to my website and book a free consult with me to see if we're a good fit for either group coaching or one on one coaching if that's more your jam. Okay, here we are at episode 177 in which I interview Ellie Barton Ellie is a licensed mental health counselor in private practice just outside of Boston. She works primarily with women in their 20s through 50s with ADHD anxiety, eating disorders or disordered eating parenting stressors, relational conflicts. She's also a mom of two children with ADHD, and so she is passionate about advocating for more awareness around neurodiversity. Ellie also happens to be the older sister of Emily Weinberg, who you may remember originally from Episode 122, or from my top 10 Replay series last summer where I checked back in with Emily to chat all about her new ADHD coaching business. That episode was one of my most popular episodes ever and so I highly recommend you give it a listen if you haven't already. Anyway, Ali and I talk about how Emily was diagnosed first and since the two of them have very different presentations of ADHD, it took a while for Ali to register her own ADHD. We also talked about Ali's life threatening health challenges during her pregnancy and her heart transplant five months after her first child was born and the book she wrote about the experience called against doctor's orders. In retrospect, she realizes that her issues with executive function, especially cognitive flexibility are what helped her decide to remain pregnant and give birth to her son. Despite the odds we discuss how Ali's work with her clients has changed since her own diagnosis. And we talk about the power of trusting your gut feelings and intuition even when others may not understand. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. So here is my interview with Ali. Well, Ali, thank you so much for joining me.

Ali Barton 4:55
Sure. Thanks for having me.

Katy Weber 4:57
I love that I have the chance to talk to you after having talked to Emily to find out your different stories because a lot of this echoes kind of what I've experienced with my children. I never would have guessed my daughter had ADHD based on my childhood and my son and like all of the stereotypes I still had about ADHD. And it wasn't until interviewing women on this podcast that I really started to put the pieces together of like, what ADHD also can look like, especially in girls. So I feel like that's sort of what happened with you and Emily, right, which was like Emily was diagnosed. She's three years younger than you. Well, you seem to have a lot of questions. You have a lot of similarities. I'm sure you were sort of like, oh, that's what ADHD looks like.

Ali Barton 5:42

Katy Weber 5:43
So okay, so let's start from the beginning. Or at least, let's start, let's backtrack a little bit to your own diagnosis. And like, what, what was coming up for you? What were some of those things that you really started to put two and two together and say, oh, okay, this, I should look into this for me, too.

Ali Barton 6:01
It was Emily, it was my sister. It's funny, because for a long time, she had gone into her ADHD research rabbit hole, and kept being like, Ali, I think you also have it and I think Dad has it. And I think a lot of people in our family and my dad and I would kind of talk behind your back and be like Emily, so annoying. All she talks about is ADHD stuff. I clearly don't have ADHD I get stuff done. And I would say that to me, and she'd say, Yes, I'll you get stuff done. But you make yourself feel sick until it's done right? Like it there, it's so urgent that you feel like you're gonna die unless you do it immediately. And it doesn't look exactly like mine. But it is what it is. And I just didn't really believe her for a long time until we took a weekend trip together. And not in a mean way. But every little thing that I did that was very ADHD like our trip started with getting out of the car, I wanted to carry all my stuff at once. And so I placed my sneakers on the back of my rolling suitcase, and my car keys in my sneakers. So we're walking and we get to the elevator, and I pull the bag over the elevator shaft and my keys and sneakers fall out and the key lands in the you know, the elevator has this hole in it and the key lands kind of sideways. And we're both like the planning right? So she's like ally. So as a lot of that weekend, luckily the key did not fall down. We got it I said next time I will put that in my pocket and not in my sneaker where it could easily fall down. But the whole weekend was like her just we had never that was our first sisters weekend we had done together. And so all weekend, she just kind of point little things out to me again, not in a mean way we'd be sitting in eating. And she'd be in the middle of saying something important. And the seagull flew by and I just go hear the noise that that see. And she'd be like, Ali, this is what I'm talking about. So it's a lot of that, that that was the push. She had been telling me probably for years that I had it. I am a therapist, I just had never specialized in ADHD. And the reason why I hadn't is because my perception of it was this is little boys. You know all of our stereotype that we all had of just the hyper boy in the chair, when we were kids, these kids were removed from the classroom, they were in their own classroom. That's not me. And so I had never really bothered I had really always specialized in working with women. And I had never really bothered to do the research on what else ADHD could look like. Nor at the beginning of my career. I don't think there was a whole lot out there about identifying what it could look like in women and girls. So after we left that weekend, I started doing all of my own research and started going. Oh, okay, this actually my whole life is starting to make sense here. It was just such a different presentation than Emily, who we always kind of saw as the procrastinator and it took her a long time just I wrote her college essay for her like it was just take her and I was my nickname growing up was Ali's right now Nick Ali is right now Nick, when she decides she's gonna get something, she's gonna make it happen. And so looking back at my whole childhood is like a little bit mind blowing to me after because everything makes so much sense to me. And so is backwards in my diagnosis where we hear a lot of these stories where women have their kids are diagnosed, and then they start going, oh, oh, maybe I haven't. This was the opposite. For me. This was I got diagnosed. And then I started going, Oh, my son had been on an IEP since he was three. He was born prematurely. And he had had all this executive function support in school, they never called it ADHD. I started to piece that together focused on that for a whole year. And then my daughter, who's the polar opposite of him, he's just like I was as a kid. He's more like my sister was and just kind of like in LA and then a little flaky and all over the place and kind of zoning out. I started to put the puzzle pieces together with her. And so all three of us are now officially we didn't neuroscience for both kids and we're all now have our official diagnosis and we see it as a very positive thing in our house when she got her diagnosis. My son gave her a big hug and was like Welcome to the club. So we phrase it as a very positive good thing in our house. And so yeah, that's kind of the story of how it all went down. I did my rabbit hole and dove into the Research and bought every book and really listened to every podcast, including yours that was like my binging podcasts that I listened to. So thank you for all that you do, because it's it's just so helpful to have it out there. One

Katy Weber 10:10
of the things I'm very open about it This podcast is like, I don't really know what we're talking about a lot of the time, right? Because it just sometimes feels like, is it everywhere? Like, what does it look like? Am I miss reading this? Am I you know, all of those questions that we tend to ask ourselves over and over and over again, which was like, how much was I struggling? How much am I struggling? Right? Like when you were talking about having a system for that I remember that very clearly going to my doctor for my ADHD diagnosis, and like talking about the fact that I don't lose things, because I have like these very, very strict systems for everything. I'm realizing that that's also part of the diagnosis, right? So it's, it doesn't always look like you're being lazy or procrastinate, like some of us are very, very rigid and hyper organized. And we love spreadsheets, and like, that's another side of it. So then I'm sometimes I'm like, Well, wait a minute, is it everywhere? Like, are we confusing this with something else? Right, what are we looking at here? Yeah. And so I feel like I've tried to be very open and honest about the fact that I've really have the answers. I don't know if anyone does. And we're all kind of trying to figure this out together. And that's it's very validating for me when I talk to clinicians and therapists and psychologists who are sort of like, Yeah, this is, this is something we're all really trying to figure out in terms of this course correction, or whatever you want to call it, where we're all realizing what this neuro divergence looks like, and how it presents

Ali Barton 11:38
those little questionnaires that your doctor's office asked, which I think, you know, people are advocating to get these questionnaires altered to reflect more of kind of what it looks like for adults, I would love to see one that reflects more what it looks like for women specifically. There's a really great book called Girls and ADHD. And there's like a 50, you've probably read it before. But there's a I think it's Kathleen, the DOE wrote it amongst two other authors. And there's a 50 question, thing for girls and women specifically. And then there's different questionnaires for different age groups. And that's when I realized I don't like that looking at that was like, Whoa, this is so different than me as a kid and my son. And so that's why when I'm doing assessments now, I do think and I'm sure you agree with this, it like takes one to know, one, you can be having a conversation with a new person, and pretty quickly go, they probably have, right and so I have clients that come in, for anxiety, for depression, for eating disorders for all these things. And I never in the first session with someone would say, Hey, have you ever wondered about this, but it usually a couple sessions, and I'll get a good idea. But if I give this standard questionnaire that says, Are you messy, disorganized? Do you lose things? Are you jumping out of your chair like these, these DSM diagnostic criteria don't reflect our experiences, women, maybe for some people, but I will say something along the lines of Do you either lose your stuff constantly? Or do you have a specific location where your keys, your wallet, your purse? Because you know, you're gonna lose them if you don't put them in that spot? And that's when you start getting to the good stuff of like, Yes, I do I have it has to go in the drawer right when I walk in the door. Because what right and so it's a lot of women are exceptionally good at masking. Because we learn that it's not funny or cool to be a hot mess. And it feels like that a lot of the time. And for me, what pushed me over the edge is having kids and we hear this from so many people like I could handle myself. But as soon as I had to remember to bring diapers and a cooler for milk and snacks and wipes and all of these things, it was like, Whoa, what is wrong with me? And you sat in a podcast one time that stuck with me so much. I'm almost positive you said this is if you're asking yourself multiple times a day, what is wrong with me? neurotypical people aren't doing that if it's about like, the losing stuff, and the forgetfulness and all of these things that we do. But I was that mom at the playground, that it really looked like I have my stuff together. But my kid would have an act, you know, would go in their diaper. And I'd have to be like, does anybody here have a diaper? And what right like that was constant? And then that was what is wrong with me? Am I a bad mom? Why can't like all the other moms have band aids in their bags? My kid gets a scrape and I have to go does anybody have a band aid? It's all of those things. And then when we added a second kid, it was like, I'm actually losing my mind. Like, I don't know whether I'm coming or going. I don't know what day it is. We missed this class. We missed that class. We had a doctor's appointment where it was an hour before I thought you know, it was like, constant. But I just thought that that was like what being a mom was like, kind of even though the back of my head was like, everybody else seems to kind of be able to do this without this much distress. And over now what I know to be kind of overstimulation from the constant interruptions and the noise and the crying and the not being able to figure out what's wrong like all of these things that were so hard. Now make a lot of sense.

Katy Weber 14:51
Yeah. Now you How old are your kids now because you had mentioned also having difficulty with five oh fours Yes,

Ali Barton 15:00
so my son is about to be 10. So he's in the fourth grade, and my daughter is in first grade. So she's six and a half. And I have kids who are exceptionally good maskers. And so this is, you know, one of the reasons why I wanted to come on the podcast today was to talk about this, of how these diagnoses are often going, missed. Because my kids know, I'm their safe person, my husband is their safe person. They know they have to hold it together at school a little bit better. And they want people to like them, they want adults to like them, so they would never act out at school ever. They're polite, they're not interrupting, they're calm, they get home, and it's all on leashes. And so I know that as a therapist, that's very normal. But I think when you go to a school and say, Hey, I think I think my kid has ADHD, I was just met with, no, this must be a behavioral issue at home. We don't see any of that at school. And it just makes you feel like, what am I doing wrong than with my kids, but luckily, kind of in where I was my career and working with kids for long, I did work with kids kind of at the start of my career I started working in 2006 is when I graduated from graduate school, to know that kind of that is very normal. But also to know that, you know, my son was born prematurely. He was on an IEP from the age of three, he was in early intervention from four months old, that all of this stuff that they were calling, you know, executive dysfunction, and all of his issues. Were has ADHD. But unfortunately, I had to go get an outside neuroscience to kind of put that on him. He was on an IEP until second grade when they said, Hey, he's doing great, let's do the reevaluation. See how he's doing? did great on that. And so they said, he's, he's fine to move to a 504. And it was just a total disaster, you really realizing like all the scaffolding in place with the special education teacher helping them learn organizational skills, and planning and kind of putting their stuff together. When that went away. Third grade was just such a hard year for him. And it was like daily meltdown, school, refusal, hating school refusing homework, it was like, as soon as school got hard enough, that transition from learning to read, to reading to learn, and it started to be challenging enough, it all fell apart. And so I really had to fight for him, we had to hire an advocate, it was pretty infuriating at times, there were things where, you know, one of the school staff had said, you know, we want to take the burden of fighting over homework off of you. So if he doesn't finish his homework, we'll just have him do it at recess. And I said, I'm actually not okay with that. That is the one part of the day that he looks forward to that gym class, I'm not okay with that. Do it a different time in the day, I'm just not okay with that. So to me, it's like that they're recommending that now with all we know about how kids with ADHD and kids in general, leave the ADHD out of it need movement throughout the day. It just didn't sit right with me. And so we went through this whole process, we did get him back on an IEP. And then I had spent that whole year working on that. And when I started to realize stuff with my daughter was going on in a very different way. We pursued the neuro psych for her, and she also received the diagnosis. She at this point really loves school. And so I think for right now, a 504 will be fine with her. And she has an amazing teacher who's already basically before we even have a written fiber for accommodated her by, you know, preferential seat placement and kind of movement breaks and checking in to make sure she's on tap and having her check in, take a look around the room. What are other people doing, being able to transition from something she loves are, it's so hard to stop her if she's not finished, which I really do get, but like working on that sort of stuff in school with her and then we'll see as school gets harder, but it's been a challenge because they're not disruptive kids. And it's hard to get them the services they need because they're polite, and they're really, really well behaved at school. It's been a challenge. And it's been a challenge for me because I'm not confrontational. I don't like disagreeing with authority, which is why hiring an advocate was helpful for me, I didn't have to be the bad guy, because I really don't like conflict and needing to, you know, follow up and disagree with what they're saying basically.

Katy Weber 18:54
Yeah, cuz you're also the good girl, right?

Ali Barton 18:57
I'm gonna go there all Yeah, yeah. Got,

Katy Weber 19:00
you know, there's something about third grade to, like you said about the reading that I think the reading expectations change. I think expectations in general release will start to shift in third grade because I know my son really, really struggled in third grade with the expectations around just sitting for long periods of time and listening. And he also I wasn't diagnosed at that point. We didn't know anything about ADHD at that point. And he you know, his teacher was wanted him to like get evaluated for allergies because she was like, he's so tired and during the day, and he means well, but like he is really hard to hold his attention. And we still had like, we had him tested for all these different allergies, because I had no idea what was going on. But that was the year it was funny because that was the year he was also taken off of his IEP and was really just I feel like the expectations just start to ramp up from there. And like you said, teachers who have no other leverage, take away recess and you're like, No, no. Yeah, but oh gosh, so many similarities. I just, you know, I feel Like when I was, I still haven't gotten an A 504 for my son, who's now in seventh grade, because a lot of it is comes down to advocacy, right, which is like I write emails to his teachers at the beginning of the year now explaining things he needs. And I don't talk about ADHD, but I talked about the fact that he needs to sit in the front row, and you know that he has a lot of anxiety around performance and testing. So you know, if, why does it this test have to be tight, like, there's a lot of these like time tested tests that don't necessarily need to, so I push back a lot. But it's also because I know my ship. I know now, whereas I feel like there's so many parents out there who aren't in that position to really speak that language or have that, you know, bridge that gap. And I just really feel for them, because it's still like, it amazes me how the conversations I've had with the school psychologist, where these are just coming from a completely different perspective in terms of what struggle is, and that's, you know, like a, you know, that's something I've talked about on the podcast, too, which is like, my kids were having the exact same experience, they were fine at school, really, really well behaved. And then the minute they would get off the school bus and come into the safe space of my home, my son would burst into tears, my daughter was slamming doors, and it was just like, they would have these emotional meltdowns. And then the school psychologist was like, Well, that sounds like a home problem, not a school.

Ali Barton 21:24
Which just sucks. Yeah,

Katy Weber 21:27
cuz it's such a judgment on your home life, you're like, Ah, right.

Ali Barton 21:32
It's been a really frustrating path. But for me, it was so important to get my kids diagnosed. Because I saw it, I saw in slow motion I have the timing of everything for me was like, all of a sudden, people were coming to me and my entire practice is shaped around ADHD now, almost, I'd say 75% of my population, a lot of them coming to me not knowing it. And through kind of five, six sessions in going let's let's do this little assessment that I do, that usually takes about 90 minutes, we do break it up between two sessions, and then it becomes very clear, but these are some questions that you wouldn't generally ask in therapy, right? And that we're not often asking about these random things that would come up with executive function when we're talking about someone's anxiety. But for me, like I have a lot of people come with eating disorders, that's a major red flag for me because of my own experience in high school and growing up and kind of all the stuff because of my childhood, which we can talk about, if you're interested in talking about was being the problem child, the identified problem child in the house, for me. And it's been interesting as an adult to reflect on this with my sister, because to me growing up, he was the easy one, she was the preferred one. She and my brother both and I was the hard one. And so I blew it at dinner every night, I would end up having to eat in my bedroom, because I just couldn't keep it together sitting at the table. And so I'd have to eat alone in my bedroom. And that was just my thing. I was the bad one. And that was my identity growing up. And so to reflect on it with Emily growing up as an adult now saying, you know, I just kept it all in because I saw how mad you made them with your needs and how you acted that I just shut down and kept it all in and never shared my emotions didn't want to be a burden to them. And so that I didn't learn till a few years ago, which is crazy to me. And it's brought Emily, Emily and I are a lot closer now because of the diagnosis and being able to reflect on these childhood experiences. But I lived in this life where I just felt like I was so bad. But it was the same thing where the teacher was saying Alison is such a delight at school. She's kind she's ended say, Who are you talking about? Like, this isn't that's not our kid, I was very different at home. And what happened to my teenage years is I really did a lot of things to try to suppress who I was, you know, I would I drank a lot in high school, I put myself in some really risky situations, I got a tattoo in a basement in Spain when I was 16. I did these like dopamine seeking behaviors, I started having an eating disorder at 16 I was doing all of these things to kind of figure out who I was and to take away this chaos in my head that discomfort I felt with socialization that I couldn't really be me unless I was drinking or I just felt too nervous about what I was going to say or what I was going to do. And then the eating disorder was really this reflection of kind of like I'm too much and I'm going to give myself something that makes me obsess about just that thing and I don't have to think about anything else and now I don't have to worry about social situations because I'm just by myself and that path that carried me through my 20s basically of I'm gonna go to this college Oh no, I'm not happier I'm gonna switch to this college. I'm really actually also don't like that now I'm gonna switch I did went to three different colleges until I landed back home in Boston. at BU, which was still this experience of I'm not meant to be here. I don't want to go to keg parties. I want to cuddle up with friends and like watch movies and go out to dinner and stuff like that. I wasn't ever this college kid and that felt like I just wasn't the same as everybody else. And that was really hard to kind of look at all of my highschool friends having the best time in college and just feeling like, what's wrong with me? Why do I not like this? So I established I was working in a gym at the time. And I established these friendships with people that I taught fitness classes for a really, really long time and became friends with people who are in their 30s and 40s, basically, in my early 20s, and that felt more comfortable for me. And so I look back at kind of all of these things that I did not knowing I had ADHD and the deep level of shame, I felt about so many things, that if I can help my kids figure out what makes them do certain things, or certain things that they'd like lightening it up, instead of doing the what's wrong with me, which my kids already say, at this really young age, which is really sad, like the shame spirals that happen at such a young age, I feel happy, they can verbalize it to me, because I never did that with my parents. But I just want to help them figure out themselves so they don't have to do these behaviors to feel like they fit in. As they're going into their middle school teen years. I just, I know, I can't prevent them from having any pain. But some of the dumb stuff that I did that was dopamine seeking behaviors, if it means medication for them, if it means kind of like helping them have an understanding of why you may be inclined to do certain things. That's that's my job as a parent. And that's why I felt so passionate about educating the school and saying like, yes, they don't look like the typical presentation. But here's the neuro neuro psych here it is, this is what I've been telling you for a long time. But if you need to see it in paper like this, here you go, you know, and still getting some resistance. So I think that that's my job as a mom is to kind of push and help them not have to do it the same way I did it, which was not it was very messy, very, very messy and painful at times, a lot of the time.

Katy Weber 26:40
It really does go back to this idea of like, what do we want for other people to not have to live their life with that question of what's wrong with me, right? So for our kids, it's really about teaching them this language teaching them this to not only advocate for themselves, but also to understand like you said, like the to validate who they are and to acknowledge there's nothing wrong with you, there was never anything wrong with you. But understand, you know, the why behind why you're acting, you know, why you're having a response or, you know, but always coming from this sense of understanding that they want the best for themselves. And maybe there's some barriers there as opposed to I think how often our generation was raised of like, well just try harder,

Ali Barton 27:24
or figure it out. Just try harder. And also, like, fix that kid, right? I think that was at night, I had held on to a lot of anger with my parents and resentment for a long time until I had kids. And then I said, Okay, I actually now really do understand. And my kids are a lot easier than I mean, I was I wasn't really difficult kid. And I don't say that with level of shame. Now, I think that like I was I was trying to figure out life, I guess. And so I pushed a lot of boundaries. And I was loud. And I kind of did what I wanted. And I was stubborn. And I think that I have a lot of empathy now, because I understand the level of overstimulation that happens when you have a screaming kid, or you have you know, a kid that is not listening to you. This is a fight every morning, getting to school on time, right? Like all the things like please brush your teeth, I'm asking you again, please brush your teeth, brush your teeth, you know, we try to not do that. But I think that I have a really high level of empathy now, but I think back then, you know, I was born in 1982. It was a lot of kind of here, go to this therapist, and please fix my kid. Like, I don't know, what is wrong with her. But like something really is, instead of now, or at least we try to do this in my house is what accommodations can we make as parents to help my child's experience in this world that we live in? Instead of saying, like, go to therapy and figure it out, kid, like, You're causing us a lot of problems in this house, which is kind of what it felt like back then. And I

Katy Weber 28:48
think I wonder if that's a distinctly neurodivergent response to parenting and helping, right because like, I see the parent side, which is, as a parent, you want to solve their problems, you want to save them, you want to help them you want to like put them in a bubble so that nothing bad ever happens to them. And so I get that instinct as a parent to want to do that. But I also have, like you said, the empathy where I'm like, the more I tried to solve their problems, the more they're going to see me as rejecting their nature, their true selves. And so there's like a, there is an element when you're trying to help your child where it's like, you feel like you're being rejected, like there's a sense of rejection, if somebody says, I want to fix you, and I want to fix your problems. And so it's like having that dance of like, look, my job is to give you as much information and empower you as much as possible. But at the end of the day, I really do have to, like push you out of the nest at some point, and you're gonna fall flat on your face so hard. It is it's the hardest thing in the world as a parent, so it's like, how do we, how do we help them in the best way without getting into that sense of like, I'm going to do this for you, which is just such a sense, you know, it just breaks down their sense of self, because it is this sort of fundamental reject Yeah, that often happens. And then you know, then kids get diagnosed with oppositional disorder, right or demand avoidance. Yeah. Pathological

Ali Barton 30:07
demand avoidance. Yeah.

Katy Weber 30:09
It's just like, maybe it's just a reaction to feeling like their autonomy has been stripped away. But anyway, that's a whole other soapbox. Yeah.

Ali Barton 30:20
It's very true, though. I think it's, it's hard. It's hard to navigate. And you see such different parents with with no judgment. I think it's, you know, my husband and I have very different styles. And he's a little older than I am. And I think comes from this, like, when I was your age, if I said that, to my parents like, this is what would have happened. And it's like, okay, well, look how we all it didn't work out very well for us. So it's been like slow movement into understanding, you know, with our kids. If you raise your voice even a little bit, you get like, you know, in a stern voice, I need you to brush your teeth right now. Why are you yelling at me? Why are you know, there's a lot of that. And it's that fine line between, we're not going to be pushovers and let you guys just be a half an hour to an hour late for school every day. Because we both work too. And we have to, you know, or whatever it is that's causing the problem. But figuring out how can we talk to them so that they can actually hear us instead of turning it into why do you hate me? Why are you always so mad at me all of those things, that that's just the way that they hear it? Right? I'm not yelling, but they're hearing it is yelling,

Katy Weber 31:20
oh my god, I have that conversation all the time with my kids. And I were my daughter's like, Why are you yelling at me? And I was like, Oh, you'll know what I've yelled. Like,

Ali Barton 31:30
you haven't even heard me yell before. It's a lot louder than this. Yeah. But they would absolutely fall apart. If if I did, right. Like that's scary to them. They're

Katy Weber 31:40
externalizing that judgment? And you know, that sense of like the the that question, what's wrong with me is being passed down to them in those moments where they do feel like they're being attacked and yelled at, because I think we're so sensitive to criticism, and we're so sensitive to being that good kid, you know, and trying to like, navigate and show up that I think as an as a parent to an ADHD kid, especially as an ADHD parent, like that is a lot to have to kind of, you know, be that Marionette puppeteer, trying to figure all that out simultaneously, at the same time being like, you know, I have to manage my ADHD while also acknowledging and helping you manage yours. And sometimes everybody just ends up crying and screaming, and that's okay, too.

Ali Barton 32:29
Or you just need to lock yourself in a dark room. I mean, that's the I think the hardest part is like the end of the day part where everybody's just depleted, right? Like the spoons, theory, right? You have a certain number of spoons, the beginning of the day, I've got no spoons left after 7pm, like zero. And so that's tough. When you know, both of my kids do things that are you know, how they say the things that drive you nuts about yourself, really drive you nuts and other people. And I see a lot of those things. And both of them it which gives me empathy, right? Like, stopping something before you are 100% finished with it, right? If it's something fun, right, like finishing this video game until I win, or for my daughter finishing this arts and craft project, or whatever it is. I get it. I like to finish things 100% I can't stop 75%. So when I'm sitting there going, I know it's not over. But we have to brush our teeth and go to bed. In my head. I'm going yeah, you would never write like as a kid, even as an adult. It's I can't stop a book unless the chapter is the chapters done, right? It's all of these things that I see very much in myself are the right now Nick stuff, which both of my kids have, right? My son loves music. He wants to audition for all these things online. He has to do it right now like, right, it's almost bedtime, but it has to be done right now. And so I feel that on such a deep level, because that is me also. But those are the things that are extra hard for me to navigate without getting too angry in that, right. It's the things that I don't like about myself that when I see it happening for my kid, it's just painful, like, I don't want you to be like me. Let's work on this now. So that you're able to not be that you know, but I understand it's kind of inherently built in. So we try to navigate it as best we can. And I try to be empathic in those situations, because I know I know how hard that is.

Katy Weber 34:12
Parenting I know. So I want to ask you about the book you wrote in 2017. Right? Which is when that's the year I wrote my book, and I was like, Holy crap, that was seven years ago already. Oh my gosh. Oh, it

Ali Barton 34:28
was Yeah. Yeah. That's crazy. I'm still writing 2021 on things. So it's hard to get in that mode of 2024.

Katy Weber 34:38
So but you had a really, really intense health experience with your first pregnancy. But you also intimated that you had health problems as a child or was this something that came out of nowhere during your pregnancy?

Ali Barton 34:51
It didn't come out of nowhere during the pregnancy. I had gotten sick in 2010 with some cardiac stuff, and nobody at the time really could figure it out. I had done a ton of Testing, they kind of determined towards the end of that experience that I was also diagnosed with celiac disease at that time, that this was kind of an auto an autoimmune phenomenon. It was diagnosed as a pericarditis, which was like an inflammation around the back of the heart. They thought it was autoimmune in nature. When I was diagnosed with celiac and went gluten free, things seemingly got a lot better. And then when I ultimately got pregnant after we got married, we had gone through multiple IVF cycles to get pregnant. And that fourth cycle was the one that actually worked. And about eight weeks into the pregnancy. It was like rapid rapid weight gain, loss of appetite, just getting really winded. So something was wrong cardiovascularly. But there was a lot of denial happening at the time, I was reporting it to my cardiologist at the time, things were getting really blown off, like, oh, you might just get some extra fluid more so than other people because you've had this stuff going on. But there became a point closer to around 2021 Weeks Pregnant where I couldn't hold any food down like I would eat and it would just come right back up. And I was it was like cankles city, you know that you would have it like nine months pregnant, not 20 weeks pregnant and just really swollen. I had to tell everybody very early on in the pregnancy, because I was so swollen, that it was very obvious, like something was going on. And at 21 weeks pregnant, I drove myself to the ER because I thought, you know, the denial part of me thought maybe I'm a stomach bug. And that's why I can't hold food down. And they did an echocardiogram when I got there. They said, you know, just with your heart history, let's do an echo and basically found out that I was in acute heart failure, and had to be ambulance to a more major Boston Hospital, where I found out that week that I had a very rare autoimmune condition called endomyocardial fibrosis, which is just a gradual stiffening of the well of the heart. And it is either picked up as a parasite in Africa, which I've never been to Africa, or it's an autoimmune in nature. But they had never seen a person with it at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. And they'd certainly never seen a pregnant person with it. And so I was advised at that time to terminate the pregnancy with my son, which we had fought so hard to get pregnant with him. And as my father says, Your stubbornness will either kill you, but in this situation, it saved you because I declined the termination because he was doing okay. And they had taken about almost 30 pounds of fluid off of me via IV diuretic since I gotten there. And I was actually feeling pretty good since the fluid was off of me. And we kind of took this wait and see approach, which made everybody furious with me, my family, I had people in my family that wouldn't talk to me for a couple of weeks, Emily, and my husband were really the only ones who supported me through the decision at the time and a couple, you know, people started to get more on board, but I basically lived in the hospital for the rest of the pregnancy. And then he was born at 31 weeks, he was three pounds, and one ounce, he was teeny, tiny, little peanut. And again, still in denial, I thought, well, once I have him, I'll probably be fine. But I would basically have to go to this active unit at the hospital, the morning, I'd go when I was discharged, I was there for a few more weeks. And I'd go to the active unit to get four hours of diuretics, and I'd lose 16 pounds or 15 pounds, and then I'd go up to the NICU for the rest of the day. And that was kind of my experience of when he was in the NICU. And then to make a very long story short, I ended up needing a heart transplant. And so when he was five and a half months old, I got the call from my heart transplant. And we had temporarily moved down to Tampa, Florida because the way that that list was here in the New England area was they didn't know if I would make it if I waited here. And so we packed everything up. We went to Florida and then I got the call for the transplant within 19 days of coming there. And Emily came down and helped and my brother and his wife came down and helped and Emily's wife was there and my dad and mom. And so everybody kind of came down during different times to help out. It was absolutely crazy. It all feels like a very, very long time ago now, but yeah, it'll be 10 years this summer for my transplant anniversary.

Katy Weber 38:51
Oh my goodness. Yeah. And so you so you had the transplant your second, your daughter, your pregnancy with your daughter, there was no complications.

Ali Barton 38:59
We ended up using a gestational surrogate. Okay, sorry, I

Katy Weber 39:02
should have asked that. That's okay. No, that's all right. No, I'm

Ali Barton 39:04
happy sharing now. That's fine. And then that's an end of my book, too. I talk a little bit about that towards the end. She wasn't born yet when I had written the book. So we the transplant medications have known side effects of birth defects and some people change meds and get pregnant, but I had had a lot of complications with my transplant. So they didn't feel comfortable with me changing anything. So we did IVF again, that was my fifth IVF cycle that I had done. And then a friend carried my daughter for us. And so she was born very healthy, and it was a much easier recovery that time around.

Katy Weber 39:36
So you you decided to write the book, which I think is also an incredibly I imagine cathartic experience just going through that. Is there something now looking back through the eye or through the lens of the ADHD and the neuro divergence that has changed for you in terms of looking back at this experience.

Ali Barton 39:57
I feel sad for myself reading back going up because a lot in the book you know, as a person who I do best when I'm moving and I'm active, I love being active I am I just feel happiest when I'm walking and moving. And so to go from being a fitness instructor I was working full time I was a fitness instructor I was very busy I was out of the house most of the day. Loved it love being busy to hear you are lie in bed and don't do anything because you're so sick. Or even living in the hospital for months, I felt so excruciating, because I just felt so trapped and I can't move and I would establish these routines where I would kind of like put on my it was a an apple, what did they call it the time to an iPod. And like walk laps around the hospital floor very slowly and have my you know, my coffee or my tea in the morning. And like I had to have these routines built in, during these times. Or I just felt like I was going to like my insides were going to start coming out of my ears. It was like not painful to have to be still in this room for months. And then you know, moving to Tampa and waiting for this phone call. You know talk about anxiety like every time this phone rings you're jumping out of your skin like is this it the way that you know I always felt kept me sane was being able to walk around and move. And so I drove my family nuts because I wanted to still take walks and I promised I was fine. I've been fine. But they we no Emily or her wife would like trail behind me on walks because everyone was afraid I would just collapse and people were so mad at me for like needing to move. And now that I look on that whole experience in retrospect, it's like, of course, I needed to move. Of course, I was itching out of my skin like that was horrible. But I think a lot of people as a lot as with a lot of things with ADHD, you know, the just like, just don't do it. Just to stop doing that thing. And it's like I can. So yes, it does give me that lens. I also do have the lens of kind of like, the stubbornness stuff and making the decision where I think a lot of people would have listened to the doctors and pro choice and nothing against abortion at all. But for me, it was like, No, I worked so hard to be pregnant. This was my fourth IV. I'm not I'm not stopping now. Right. And which may be a little bit crazy, given the circumstances. But to me, it was like that, that is the story of my life always is like that, I guess that's the, you know, the cognitive flexibility thing is like, oh, no, but I have a carriage at home. I can't just I can't have this pregnancy, right. Like, this is the picture of what I envisioned. And it's not so easy to just stop that. And so all of it, you know, now knowing what I know, gives me this lens of like, I think it has saved me in some ways, right? Like with that, you know, with the decisions I make where i You can't change my mind, on things. And I've always been that way, which drives other people bonkers. But when I have gut feelings about things, and I trust my gut deeply, and I generally have been right about things, I've done some pretty crazy decision making things, you know, with big decisions, like buying houses like this is the house, that's the house we have to get. I don't want to look at 10 more houses, this is the house every time or the car, whatever the thing is, the decision has really never steered me wrong. And so I think that's like one of my superpowers with this is that I do have good good gut feelings. I totally steered away from the original question that you asked. But I think it all like ties into the same thing of kind of that whole experience of I just had to trust my gut, adjusted to keep moving my body in some way. So that didn't go absolutely nuts. So, but it was a good learning experience. For me, the book is very vulnerable thing, because I think, speaking of the right now, in my head, it was like, Okay, well, we're having this baby, I'm not gonna have time to write a book, I've got like, a couple of weeks, I just want to bang this puppy out. And that's what I did. So my son was in this class, that early intervention that met on I can't remember what day of the week, but it was like three hours, I could go to a coffee shop. And I wrote that book on Fridays. And I bang the book out, and I got, you know, I applied my queries to all these different book companies, and I got a publisher and but parts of me do cringe a little bit on the inside when people read it now because I think, you know, there is a vulnerable thing that I think if I wasn't on maybe very high doses of prednisone, I wrote it. Some of the things I would have maybe kept a little bit more in but I also think I'm a chronic oversharer. And so that came into play with the book, which, you know, there were a couple of weeks where I just wanted to like crawl into myself and Hibernate knowing people were reading what they were reading. Yeah, you know, but it's enough years out now separation from it, that it's okay.

Katy Weber 44:29
Yeah, that reminds me of like, how many times people in my life have said You're so brave for sharing that? Which is really them saying TMI, right? Yes. Yeah. And me being like, I'm not brave. I'm just impulsive. Like there's I didn't think about it. But I do in retrospect always feel like it is it is in its own way a gift right? Because you are kind of you're pulling the curtain back on a lot of things that people are not able to talk about. And so I think it is a gift for a lot of people who have ADHD to be really like I'd love to an open and over shares and talk about that things get right to the trauma. But I'd love what you said about tapping into that intuitive side, right? Because I think that's something and I've talked about this a lot on this throughout this podcast because of my history with disordered eating and diet culture, and like how prone we are to put our intuition on the backburner to ask other people. What am I supposed to do in this moment? And like, because we have that feeling of what's wrong with me, right? And so somebody else has the answer. And that's what we've kind of been raised to believe that our intuitive way, our intuitive approaches just aren't the right way of doing things, we have to learn other things. And so we mask etc. So like, that ability in that moment, like in these pivotal moments in our lives, where you really kind of like stuck to your gut, and you're like, Okay, this is me really, really, you know, tapping into to my inner wisdom. I feel like that's very relatable for those of us who have had those moments, right, where it's like, I Yes, I am a people pleaser. But I'm also stubborn, and like, there are ways in which you can hold both of those at the same time.

Ali Barton 46:11
But these are some of the myths that it's like, this is why I didn't think I had ADHD for a long time is that like, I'm not indecisive. I make a decision like that. But when I look back at all these major decisions, I think about when you're looking at wedding venues back in 2011, and my husband wanted to look at like a dozen different places. And I was like, Oh, I'm good. I just want to look at like to write I don't I know now that I if I have too many options, I can't I shut down right, I got the second wedding dress I tried on? I don't know, look at what like this is good enough. houses, cars, like all these big things that have luckily ended up fine. I haven't ended up in any terrible situations. But I think for me, that was part of the masking is like I you know, same with other things like tech I text back II mediately, right. Because I think somewhere in the back of my head, I know, I knew that if I look at 12 different venues for my wedding, I'm going to feel really stressed out by that. If I don't respond to a text. If I don't respond immediately to this, I'm going to completely forget this existed. And then I'm going to feel like crap about myself, because I'm going to feel like a bad friend for not responding. So there were all these built in things that only, you know, way later into my adulthood, I realized, this makes a lot of sense. And so when I tried to do little experiments, were like, I'm not going to respond immediately to this text message. And then a week later, I'll be like, what I did that right, I totally forgot. And so I'm good about it. I do feel like you know, professionally, I'm very neurotic about kind of like being professional and not messing things up. So I've got three calendars, I've got my online calendar, I've got a paper calendar, I have my Work calendar, and I cross check, because I know myself. And I don't want to do that to my clients. And that's my work is super important to me. And I want people to know that I'm there and I'm not going to be flaky. And I'm going to I am going to show up. But I have a lot of procedures in place to make that happen.

Katy Weber 48:01
Over the years now interviewing women, I feel like that is the vast majority of the women I have interviewed. That's how it shows up is in this like very, very high expectations of ourselves, we show up on time, we have the systems we show up as being put together and then something comes along to destroy that a catalyst comes along like a baby or, or an illness or something. And it's like your house of cards goes flying off the table. And then everything feels like it falls apart or something just something small like Oh, it's you know, I can't respond to that text immediately. And then you realize how how tenuous it all is held together with chewing gum and band aids. But I think a lot of that masking is that like I have to overcompensate for my feelings of inadequacy by showing up as the most professional and as the top of the class and anything other than that anything other than perfection is failure. And I see that in my kids all the time now where I've just like had, like, you know, coming home and being like, I only got a 95 because I'm being like God, if I talk to you, but also deeply understanding that feeling of like, Wait, I didn't get perfect. What did I do? Brah like immediately going to that place.

Ali Barton 49:14
We do a lot of fact checking in our house civil, do you know, this is my CBT brain? You know if my daughter is doing her homework, and she's first grade, right? So it's like, why is there even homework, I don't leave in homework, but that isn't total other side story. Let these kids just play and run around after school. But she's like me, she the first time she got homework, it was like, this is a packet. It's all due on Friday. And she's like, well just do the whole thing right now that that was me, right? I was in grad school. I had a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder in grad school. Because what started happening is I was building up so much anxiety about these things that were due. So I got a project. It was like this is a 25 page paper. It's due in December start working on it. And I'd say okay, I need to do that tonight. And so I'd pull an all nighter and write this entire thing. thing that was due in December in September, I couldn't halfway do anything. And when there were enough classes, and I was in med school, I was at the BU school of medicine for my program. So I was stuck into these classes that were totally, you know, with with med school students that were not up my alley at all, rote memorization, which I'm terrible, you know, all these things. When enough of that built up, I was pulling all nighters constantly and was just like, and saw one person for 15 minutes who said I was manic. And this must be bipolar. And in these hyper focused episodes that unfortunately, were lasting all night long. And then when you don't sleep enough, like things start to get weird. And so it took my mom who's unfortunately no longer with us, was also a social worker. And it took her calling the psychiatrist and saying, I know you, I know you can't talk to me, but let me tell you this. My daughter doesn't but it what it was left at, at that point didn't go to let's evaluate what else this could be. It was like, this is just extreme anxiety, like, take a chill pill about school and like, you don't have to be so perfect. And you know, that was I was 22 years old. That was, you know, 20 years ago.

Katy Weber 51:04
Just stop being anxious. Oh, thanks. That's helpful.

Ali Barton 51:07
Get right. You know, no medications really worked for me, which is kind of like the general concern, like antidepressants weren't working into anxiety, medications weren't working. It's like this typical stuff, because it's not what I needed. That's not what my brain needed. But I feel like looking back on my life, I always made these accommodations for myself. I never worked at a desk job. I graduated. And I did home based therapy. And so I was in my car. I was taking kids on walk, I was going to the park, I was meeting outside with families I was and then I worked at the gym at night. So right so it was like, I don't know if I can swear here. This shit didn't hit the fan really ever in my career because I kind of figured I worked as a camp counselor during summer. So I was doing kickball and soccer and softball and music, which was my thing. And so I think it was really only these periods of time, it was like, Oh, I'm in, I'm in a hospital room. And I can't move. I can't leave here. Or I have a baby napping on my chest. And I feel like I'm crawling out of my skin. And I want to get up and like do stuff and I can't. It was those moments where it was like, Is this anxiety? Or like, what is this? And so yeah, Emily, coming to me, and I thank her all the time for this because it's completely altered my whole family. Right? Like, if we kept doing what we were doing with my kids, it just you get so frustrated with these things, if you don't know what it is. And I have a lot of regret in my career for kind of thinking of some of these kids I worked with a really long time ago. And I know my sister says it's about teaching also, where you're kinda like, God, this kid is so annoying, or like, whatever, you know, now, in reflecting back on that it's like, I think this kid had ADHD and we retreating Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or anxiety or whatever it wasn't, because we just didn't know as much back then. And so it's Emily, you know, figuring herself out, and then kind of talk me into learning more about it. And figuring that out completely altered. My career, it altered my family, it just changed everything. For the best really, and I think I don't talk about my ADHD a lot I talked about with my clients, we I use some self disclosure with my clients, because I think it's helpful for the people who come in and think I have such good anxiety and this, this, this and that, and I, in getting to know them kind of will open the door a little bit to that idea. And some people be like, yeah, that's funny, my dad has ADHD, or like, my sister has ADHD, you know, it's, it's often that, but figuring out that kind of you are not a hot mess full of anxiety, like constant anxiety and overthinking. Like there's something that's a little bit different in your brain, right, we, you know, we're not circulating that dopamine properly, and all the SSRIs in the world are not going to fix that most likely, you know, obviously, we see a lot of comorbidities with ADHD. And you know, the SSRIs can help address depression and anxiety. But I think for these people that their whole life, I've tried a ton of different meds, and they never feel better, they always feel the same and nothing changes. This has shifted my career so so much, because I can very easily identify it now. And it is so rewarding to have people you know, be able to talk through some of this stuff. And it's mind blowing for everybody when you start putting the puzzle pieces together. So I'm super passionate about it. In terms of talking about it in my own life, I don't that much of people who aren't super close to me, because I met with this. Well, you you don't have ADHD like you have it together you do not have. And I'm at a point now where I'm just not interested in like convincing anybody that I have ADHD, I'm just kind of now learning what I know about this oversharing and my whole life just being an oversharer and why I'm kind of like, I don't need to do that anymore. I don't feel interested in doing that anymore. I realized why I had to sign up for every volunteer thing and be at this event and that event and run this program and that program and totally burned myself out because I'm trying to prove or was trying to prove I'm good enough. I'm not that bad little girl anymore. Everybody can trust me. I'm reliable. I'm nice. Don't you like me? So I'll do all this stuff. And now I have officially reached the burnout phase of like, I can't do that anymore. All right, I'm gonna just slowly pull back, even if it's like, Well, who else is going to do it? Who else is going to be able to do it? That's hard to let go of. But I think I'm at this point now where I don't need to share everything about myself to feel okay about myself. I don't need to post these things on Instagram to then have to respond to 100 comments about you know, so it's, I'm entering this more private phase of my life, which is ironic that I'm coming on this podcast, to share all of this. But I do think kind of in my personal life, it has, I've taken a step back to kind of reflect on why I have always felt the need to share everything about myself with new people that I meet. And not I don't want to do it anymore.

Katy Weber 55:36
Yeah, well, and that's something I talk about with a lot of my coaching clients too, which is like, one of the things that's amazing about this diagnosis is that you do transition from always trying to prove your worth to really deeply understanding your worth. So that then you use you pivot to like, how do I take care of myself? How do I guard myself? How do I like, take care of my worth? How do I rest and all of those things as because you now see your worth, whereas before, it was constantly trying to prove it to others, and you know, putting it out there. And I feel like, it's really validating to me to just because, you know, one of the things haven't now that I'm in the lmhc program is like I see it everywhere in every case study. And I'm like, am I miss reading this? And by looking into this, and I think it's really about like, oh, like, I think that when you are diagnosed with ADHD, and you see what it looks like, in so many of these clients who are hurting, it's like, I have so much to bring to this table now. Right? Like, what a wonderful gift that you are able to now see that see it in these clients, and talk them through this. And now it's like, I kind of look at myself as this midwife more than anything else in terms of like, yeah, like this is you turn around, and this is how you're helping others is really just by able to see those signs. And to put those dots together. And I think people with ADHD are really good at putting connecting the dots.

Ali Barton 57:09
No, I agree. It's really powerful. And I think there's a lot of people who have ADHD who don't know it. Yes.

Katy Weber 57:14
And it's not, it's not talked about, like it is not in the curriculum at all. And that's what is amazing to me. You know, I've talked about this on the podcast, too, which is like that level of frustration that happened that I always took to my therapist, and I feel like so many people who are depressed and have anxiety, and are diagnosed with other mood disorders, and they show up with that frustration, of everything I do is not working right. It's not a despondency. It's not a hopelessness. It's a it's a frustration where you're not where you're desperately trying to get. And I'm like that, to me feels like if we could distill a diagnosis into one like telltale sign for me, that would be it. Like if your client is coming to you with that, what's wrong with me? Why can't I get to this place I desperately want to get to that should immediately be a tip off, that they should get screened for ADHD or autism. But

Ali Barton 58:10
I do think that that's why it's confusing also, because for me, it was like, Okay, here's this really challenging thing, take care of it at some point. And I'm like, Okay, I'm doing it right now. The second, I'm going to do it right now, I'm going to finish the whole thing today. And it's like, no, no, no, I didn't say that. You don't have to finish it today, you got plenty. I gotta do it right now. Because it's that unicorn, you know, to me, it felt so much worse. And this is where Emily and I can't relate at all right, it felt so much worse, to procrastinate and to have it in the back of my head than to just pull an all nighter and do the entire thing. And so that's why it's confusing, because who would ever see that as ADHD, but there it is. That's the urgency. Every single thing was so so urgent that it was like painful and caused me actual physical body pain, like stomach pain, and headaches and all these things that would happen because it's like, I have to get this done. When there's no urgency, it still felt urgent, because I didn't want to be thinking about in the back of my head. And so that's where it's really confusing. And that is what I see a lot of with the people I work with, who are like, I just can't shake this anxious feeling I feel on edge all the time. And like, I'm not doing it fast enough. And I got to do more of it. I see it with little things for me, right? Like if I have to make a call to my credit card company or go to the bank, like these little things that don't matter, or they do matter, but like, they're really boring. Those are the things that like, Okay, I gotta get this done eventually. And I will have a moment where I'm like, I'm going to do all the annoying things. Today is going to be the day I'm gonna make all these calls and send these letters or whatever it needs to be done. But for the most part with these bigger things, like things related to my family, or work or typing something up or doing documentation about something, right, I read about ADHD, they're like other therapists with ADHD who like I have 75 notes I can't catch up on. I'm like, Dude, I have to type it up. The second I finished my session. I do it because I don't want to be thinking about it that night. I just want to get it So I allowed myself, you know, 10 minutes in between sessions to type it up. These are the things where I could if I didn't know myself and know a lot about this now, I probably guess like myself a little bit like you don't actually have it right. Like Emily has it, she has so much trouble getting stuff done. But now kind of knowing what I know, and doing all this work and seeing so many other people like me, who just never had any idea, who are now feeling so much better either, because, you know, they started medication, but also we're talking a lot about in therapy to lessen just the diagnosis takes away a lot of shame, because you can kind of just say, like, oh, this makes so much sense now, right before where it's like if there's no rhyme or reason. And I do think that's an ADHD thing to where we like this. Black and white. I know, there's a lot of people that are like, Well, if you know you have it, why do you have to get about like, why do you need to do the evaluation? If you know you have it, you have it. And it's like, cuz we gaslight ourselves, and we don't believe it. And we want to know for sure. And that helps bring some pieces to like, have that diagnosis in writing. So like, if anybody doubts you, you could just hold that you just hold it up and show people which was like, partially why I did it. The neuro psych for my kids. It was like, I know this, but like, nobody else is believing me here. Here it is. I told you so right, which just feels like kind of shitty to have to do that. But I think we have to do that sometimes.

Katy Weber 1:01:17
Yeah, yeah. And then you're also you know, giving them the gift of them knowing that they had this. Right, right. Oh, man. Gosh, I feel like I could talk to you for another couple hours. Do you have an alternate name for ADHD, if you could call it something else?

Ali Barton 1:01:36
I think for me and the people that I work with the word hyperactivity is very confusing. And so I kind of like the word hyper arousal because it's not a sexual way, but just like the word hyper arousal on an anxiety level, and this internal drain rumination that is so common, especially in women who we're not getting up out of our chairs in the middle of the meeting, because we have to stand up we are juggling, right I'm sitting in my little ADHD chair right now with my knees up backwards. And I've got my little specks things that right. This is why telehealth is great. It's the hyperactivity is the thing that throws a lot of people. I'm not hyperactive, I'm kind of lazy. But when when you're sitting on the couch, what is your brain doing? Oh, well, it's like, I need to clean that. But I can't get up. And I would think about the conversation I had with my neighbor yesterday. And why did I say that? And then I was thinking about packing lunch. Okay, well, that that is hyper activity, right? And these brain ruminations. And so that word I hate because I think it throws people off. And I hate attention deficit. Because I mean, you've had many people say the same thing. I do love the attention variability thing. Because I think, you know, even in trying to tell my husband like our kids have, and he's like, my son can play video games for hours. If we let him write, he could probably play for like six hours, we never let him do that, because he acts. It is a different child after that experience. But that is where explaining to people. Yeah, you can sit really still look at our daughter, like she can sit still and do art for a really long time. But that is her passion. And that is like something he's really interested in. And so you can have the attention for the things you love. As you know, I mean, this is like old stuff for you, right? Like the things that you love, and you're passionate about, you could sit there for hours doing. It's all this other stuff, right? And so taking away that attention deficit, because I also think that's very misleading. For a lot of people. It's not a deficit. It's like, we want to choose what feels more fun for our brain and what is going to give us some dopamine. That's why I love my job so much. I think that the variety of seeing different people during the day and hearing different stories and talking to different people. I love that and never get bored. I really do so and I love kind of destruction which led to have not everybody I work with has ADHD, but a lot of people do. And to me that's like these are this these discussions that could go on for hours. My best friends have ADHD, it's like, these are the people I have no insecurity about. Am I talking too much. I just interrupted oh my god, I can't believe right, because we are all have 25 tabs open at the same time. And we are interrupting and nobody gets mad and nobody gets mad. We vanished for a month because like we forgot about, you know, it's just nice being surrounded by it. And I think it fulfills me in a really, really deep way that I never would have expected. And again, I have my sister to thank for it. So I know I've said that like four times. But it's really crazy the timing of all of it and how it panned out. So she is going to be geeking out that I spent so much time talking about her. But really it was such a game changer, that trip that we took together. And now that's an annual thing. So that's been fun to have that sisters time together.

Katy Weber 1:04:34
But well and I love that I was able to have you on the show too. It feels sort of like this nice, you know, book ends on this dirty of the two of you and being able to thank her as well. Her episode was one of my most popular and I think also one of my favorites too and I just I love the both of your your candor and yeah, it's just it's wonderful to be able to share our stories in this way and to be able to help others and kind of keep that gift going So thank you,

Ali Barton 1:05:02
I recommend your podcast to pretty much everybody I work with and everybody loves it. And I've listened to every episode too. So thank you for doing what you do. I think it's really important. And I do think it kind of sheds a lot of light on how many different experiences of ADHD there are and anybody who has self doubt about it can hear a variety of different people speaking about it and go, Oh, okay, I actually really do relate to that, even though I don't at all relate to that one. Oh, so I think it's really powerful. What you're doing and thank you for doing it. Exactly.

Katy Weber 1:05:30
It's awesome stuff. Oh, my goodness, sir.

There you have it. Thank you for listening. And I really hope you enjoyed this episode of the women and ADHD podcast. If you'd like to find out more about me and my coaching programs, head over to women and If you're a woman who was diagnosed with ADHD and you'd like to apply to be a guest on this podcast, visit women and guest and you can find that link in the episode show notes. Also, you know, we ADHD ears crave feedback. And I would really appreciate hearing from you the listener, please take a moment to leave me a review on Apple podcasts or audible. And if that feels like too much, and I totally get it. Please just take a few seconds right now to give me a five star rating. Or share this episode on your own social media to help reach more women who maybe have yet to discover and lean into this gift of nerd of urgency, and they may be struggling and they don't even know why. I'll see you next week when I interview another amazing woman who discovered she's not lazy or crazy or broken. But she has ADHD and she's now on the path to understanding her neuro divergent mind and finally using this gift to her advantage. Take care till then