Emily Jankowski Newton: Perinatal mood disorders & parenting with ADHD

Aug 07, 2023


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Episode 149 with Emily Jankowski Newton.

“We tend to talk about ADHD likes it’s an academic issue, but it’s so much more than that. If your kids aren’t struggling academically, they're probably struggling socially.”

Emily is a passionate perinatal mental health advocate, and the Director of the Climb Out of the Darkness Program with Postpartum Support International (PSI). Attending a local Climb Out of the Darkness event helped connect her with other parents, find the help she needed, and was the beginning of something incredible. A combination of treatments including talk therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes helped her recover from Postpartum Anxiety, Depression & OCD. Now Emily works tirelessly raising awareness, building community and connecting folks worldwide to life-changing perinatal mental health resources.

Emily is also the co-host of the I Am One podcast, where PSI staff and volunteers reflect on their own lived experience during the perinatal period (pregnancy + postpartum).

Emily was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 8, but was told she would outgrow it (spoiler alert: she did NOT). We talk about navigating ADHD and pregnancy and babies, as well as our experiences with perinatal depression and anxiety. We also talk about the experience of being neurodivergent parents to neurodivergent kids.

If you struggled with the transition to being a parent, or struggled with depression and anxiety with a baby or a young child, you do not want to miss this raw and deeply personal interview!

Websites: Postpartum Support International; Climb Out of the Darkness

Instagram: @postpartumsupportinternational; @psiclimbout; @iamonepodcast


I am One podcast

Resources mentioned:

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA



Katy Weber 0:01
Hi, Emily, welcome to the podcast.

Emily Jankowski Newton 0:04
Hello, thank you for having me.

Katy Weber 0:07
Um, gosh, okay, so I have spoken on many, many episodes here and there about postpartum depression and kind of all of that, like realizing, after my diagnosis looking back at like certain times of my life with this new lens, and it's been really, really eye opening, and one of the biggest times has been dealing with babies. Right and, and actually not talking that much about pregnancy too. So I'm really, really excited, I got a lot of questions about kind of the perinatal and postpartum. But let's I want to hear your diagnosis story first. So how long ago were you diagnosed and what was going on in your life at that time, that led you to put two and two together?

Emily Jankowski Newton 0:53
My diagnosis story has two parts, actually. So I, I was born in the very early 80s. And so I grew up, you know, going to school and like the the kids that were in the special ed classroom, that was a separate classroom, and it was like a hole, right? And now we don't do that, because we realize that that's absurd. And that's not how life is. But I was diagnosed when I was eight, and I didn't know that that's what

Katy Weber 1:26
was nobody told you. Okay.

Emily Jankowski Newton 1:30
Okay. And, and I wasn't medicated, and I like I, I didn't, I didn't get any accommodations or anything like that. Because I think like, my parents were really worried about, like, the stigma that was gonna go with that. So at some point, they started telling me like that I needed to take my time with tests. Like, take your time, don't work too fast. Check your answers. That was, that was it. I was very hyperactive like I was, I know, I was diagnosed young, because there was no masking the hyperactivity. Like I wasn't an attentive and daydreaming. I was, like, covered in dirt and running around with the boys who were also hyperactive. But I was never medicated. And I was an I was also at the point at which I was sort of like, being told that this this was a this was a thing or that, like, you know, sometimes you move too quickly, and you need to slow yourself down. I was told that I would outgrow it. Like I don't I don't know if anyone else that like was was diagnosed in the 80s with any sort of like learning neuro spicy anything was told they would outgrow it because like no adult has ADHD. Right? Like, no,

Katy Weber 3:09
that was 100. Understand. I mean, that was the clinical understanding of ADHD back then. Was that you? Exactly,

Emily Jankowski Newton 3:15
exactly. So I went to college, and was like, these textbooks are really hard to read. And so at that point, my mom was like, let's see if you still have ADHD. And I was like, CFI, what the what? So,

Katy Weber 3:34
oh, so wait, just to backtrack a little bit. So your wasn't your teacher who suggested it? Or like, did you go through a formal diagnosis process? Or was it the pediatrician who was just sort of like, Yeah,

Emily Jankowski Newton 3:45
I do remember any of that true. I did go through a very formal diagnosis process. Like it was like a lot of like, a whole day of like, almost play therapy, where they were like, analyzing how I play and like, watching how fast I jumped from things.

Katy Weber 4:03
But you don't know your eight right? You're probably just like,

Emily Jankowski Newton 4:06
I just thought we were hanging out.

Katy Weber 4:10
Okay, that's all I just wanted to know if it was just sort of like your teacher had said like, yeah, she's got ADHD or was it more wasn't? Did they actually go through all of that? And

Emily Jankowski Newton 4:19
I think the teacher the teachers probably were like, there's something happening here. And my parents were like, because my my younger brother also has ADHD but his is inattentive. And so like, he's better at hiding it than I am. So like, they were comparing these two kids and being like, there's a five year age gap, but like, developmentally, sometimes they act like they're in the same place like I was five years older, but I was so impulsive and so hyperactive that like there were there were differences and interesting similarities there, I guess.

Katy Weber 4:57
Okay, so let's Okay, fast forward to college.

Emily Jankowski Newton 4:59
Yeah. Yeah, so then, you know, I get on, I get on medication. Yes. You didn't outgrow your ADHD, surprise, surprise. Also you have it, right. Like, this is your life now. Yeah. Although that that realization comes way later, we'll get there. So at that point I was it was like all about testing and and grades and doing well in school. And so when I then graduated and was working, I didn't need it. I didn't need medication I didn't need, you know, anything other than like sort of the learned accommodations that I had, like taught myself over the course of my life, like keeping a calendar with me, instead of leaving it at home and on a wall, because I'm never going to remember what I'm doing next Thursday, if someone asks me if I'm available, like, I have to have it with me. So then I meet my husband, he says, he has ADHD, and I'm like, we should totally have kids, like a bunch of them. This will be really fun. And I don't know, I don't know how many folks who have been on this have said this, but like, we're not always great at birth control. ADHD folks, because like impulsivity is like a thing. Yeah, no, you're

Katy Weber 6:29
right. I don't know if we've actually talked about that. That was certainly an issue with me in my younger days.

Emily Jankowski Newton 6:36
To have my kids were not planned. Because, you know, I was non compliant with my birth control, basically.

Katy Weber 6:47
Well, I'm not I mean, even when you are if even if you're on something that's like the pill we all forget to take it to. So there's so many times where I would be like, I'm three days behind. Maybe I'll just pop all three at the same time, because I'm an idiot, like, you know, those moments, right? We're like, no, yeah.

Emily Jankowski Newton 7:02
It's fine. I can totally, no, that's not how that works. It not read the label. So yeah, so I at that point, you know, I still I still had the narrative that I was that I had outgrown it, that like it was about being in school. Right. And it was all about academic success. And that was when it got in the way. And that was the only way that it got in the way for me. After my first kid, I had anxiety, depression and OCD that was untreated, in in Long story short, too late. But the version of that that I think is like, important to note is anyone in the perinatal period can come up with reasons for why they feel the way they feel like I have a new baby, I the birth was harder than I expected, not what I pictured. Breastfeeding was easy, hard, what like there are so many moving parts to adjusting to having an infant in your house, that it's impossible to. If you want to tell yourself a story, I should say about why you feel anxious or depressed, or why you have for me my OCD was always about like catastrophic thinking and sort of thinking over and over through negative things that weren't likely to happen at all. But I I didn't. I didn't embrace the reality that I was anxious or depressed or had OCD until the second kid was born. And I still felt the same way. So at that point, I went to my midwives I got on medication, I started seeing a therapist, I started like doing the work that I needed to do to sort of like be a good mom. And at some point, the because what they they tend to prescribe Zoloft, because it's like the most tested, it's tested on the

Katy Weber 9:17
Promote breastfeeding to most age groups.

Emily Jankowski Newton 9:21
It's safe and kids safe for breastfeeding. And they haven't tested some of the other SSRIs so they that was the only option. At one point, I essentially needed to graduate from seeing my midwives because they were like, if, if the medication that you're on isn't solving how you feel, then, you know, we're gonna send you to our like, we trust her. She's lovely. She's gonna take great care of you. We're sending you to our specialists, and like okay, so I get in there I'm I'm ready to talk about the fact that, like, maybe I need a different medication, maybe, you know, like, because at that point, I was no longer depressed, I was anxious and prone to overwhelm. Like, I would get rage, angry, over, like normal things that babies and toddlers do. That in hindsight, was so obviously, because it had taken me all of my mental and emotional energy to self motivate to do a task. And I was trying to focus on completing that task. And when their attention or when they drew my attention away from completing that task, the frustration came out as rage. Which makes which makes perfect sense to net to today me, but then me thought I was a monster,

Katy Weber 11:02
right? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I've often talked about the fact that I felt like a lot of my postpartum depression, because I was I was same diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety, the catastrophic thinking was, I only have two kids, but it was so much worse with my second. And so it's, I feel like is that a regular experience that a typical because I feel like I just knew so much more about all the things that could go wrong with kids, whereas I felt so naive with my first one. And so it was so much worse with my second. But anyway, I was, you know, I've often felt like the depression side wasn't necessarily what was being asked of me when I would go to the doctor's office, in terms of like, you know, thoughts of of being on a live or on a, you know, on a live in my children, but it was the, it was the, what is wrong with me feeling right, that question that so many of us had, which is like, why am I in a rage all the time? Why is everybody? Why is my husband walking around on eggshells, right? Like that question of like, why am I behaving the way I am behaving? It, I, it feels like I'm out of control. And that's where I think the Depression came from. It wasn't. And so anyway,

Emily Jankowski Newton 12:15
I agree. And I think, in my non clinical observation, it seems like women and birthing people who have ADHD, who add one kid to the mix, there's an adjustment period. And then you add a second kid to the mix. And all you're doing is adding a second set of needs that you're trying to navigate in addition to your own, which let's face it, for those of us with ADHD is already very hard to do. Like, I am I remembering to eat? Am I remembering to drink water? Did I remember to exercise? All of that is just really, really, really hard when it's just you and your brain, let alone the needs of any additional humans. Yeah. That's my theory.

Katy Weber 13:10
Whew, okay, so So now you have three kids to write. Okay, so let's keep going.

Emily Jankowski Newton 13:19
Yeah, so after the third one, my midwives were like, you need more help than we can provide you. We're sending you somewhere, we're gonna send you to our person. And our person is still my person to this day. She is lovely. She manages kids and adolescents with ADHD and women in the perinatal period. And I'm like, can we talk more about that? How much overlap is there? So I walk into the appointment. And I'm like, ready to talk about the things that I am feeling overwhelmed about, like the things that I'm struggling to stay ahead of in my life. And I'm like, I don't know, 510 minutes in and I've already jumped subjects like three, four or five times like I'm like, all over the place. And she's like, Have you ever been diagnosed with ADHD? And it was like, Record scratch? Yeah, yeah. When I was eight, I outgrew it. She's like, that's not a thing.

Katy Weber 14:25
Well, I was like, understand that idea where you're like, No, that's a school thing, right? Like, why would this relate to my relationship with my spouse or my children or any of that stuff? Right? It's not a DSM. It's not nobody talks about it. So you know, yeah. How

Emily Jankowski Newton 14:40
do you measure your relationship to your spouse? Like, that's what the DSM is telling us, right? Like, it's like saying, how pervasive it is and getting in the way of academics or whatever. And it's like, it gets in the way socially. Yeah, I cannot I cannot stress that enough. Like whenever I'm talking to friends who are like, should I take my kid? Should? Yes, yeah, do n? Because if they're not struggling academically because they're gifted, they're probably struggling socially.

Katy Weber 15:14
Yeah. Such a good point, right? You think about the self talk. I mean, that's what we all are hugely affected by in our adulthood. It's that it's the self concept that comes from all of this sort of confusion and frustration. It's not like, I think I have an attention deficit like we have. What does that even mean? Right? Especially when it's like, coming to, to understanding your relationship with your children or sensory stuff? Yeah. Right. Okay. So so she suggested that this could all be ADHD related, Record scratch,

Emily Jankowski Newton 15:52
right. She's like, we can treat your anxiety and your rage and your overwhelm. But if we aren't also treating your ADHD and I was like, okay. So we went, I went back on Adderall. Per my college experience, I knew that it worked well. And she's like, they have this thing called extended release now. And I was like, Tell me more. Oh, my God, my life has changed. was amazing. So yeah, so the, like, the realization that that I have daily now is, if I wake up, and I'm anxious, and I take my ATD meds, I'm not anxious. Like, interesting. My anxiety is how I mask my difficulty. Staying on top of tasks, remembering what I have to do each day, because it's like, the back of my mind is going you're going to forget something you're going to forget something. Yeah, probably, because I have ADHD. But if I take my meds, I don't. I don't forget things. The way that I do. Like both that I was medicated. Sorry, go ahead.

Katy Weber 17:21
I was just gonna say that is so important. I feel like I wish doctors and even therapists could make that connection. Because a lot of the time like Xanax doesn't I don't know about like, I don't know, if you've ever tried it doesn't do any of that. Right? So it's like there's it's coming down to like looking at the connections between the why, right, the why we're behaving this way, which is something that I've talked about ad nauseam on this podcast, which is, you know, looking at, you know, the fact that we use anxiety, your anxiety becomes very useful for us in terms of motivating us to do things. And so it's not necessarily this thing that just exists that we caught, like the flu. It's something that we have developed or has that has developed as a result of all of these coping mechanisms that we've had. Yeah, yeah. So well said. And your kids are really close together too. Right? So

Emily Jankowski Newton 18:13
it's like it was on the new every to plan like cell phones.

Katy Weber 18:20
Oh my god, I've heard that before. I love it. For real, and how old are they now?

Emily Jankowski Newton 18:25
Okay. 15 is your oldest and 11. Wow. Okay, so I don't have any elementary schoolers. This will be my first year without anyone in elementary school.

Katy Weber 18:37
And they all get on the early bus. Now. That's that was like the life changing when everybody left my house at 7am It was such a life

Emily Jankowski Newton 18:43
was so great. I it's like I could like Julie Andrews is the sound of music just like stand at the top of the hill and sing. I'm tone deaf. But I would sing anyway. You know, like, but being able to start my day that early. is tremendous.

Katy Weber 19:02
Yeah, yeah. I remember after so my kids are almost five years apart. They're four and a half years apart. And I remember like friends of mine after, you know, friends of mine, when my oldest was like, a year 18 months all were starting again for their second one. And my husband and I were like, No, absolutely not. We could not possibly bring a baby into this chaotic situation. We're like, no. And then when she when we were ready to try it, because we sort of had arbitrarily decided for years was a good time to have our kids apart.

Emily Jankowski Newton 19:36
And funny. We all do that though. Right? Well, my brother and

Katy Weber 19:39
I were four years apart. So it was like that's what I knew. Right? It's like folding socks. You do exactly what your parents did, because that's all you know. But that was the that was really the first time where we felt like we could even try to have another baby because I struggled so much the first time around. We both did. But then we looked at my daughter who was like potty trained and Have Rino sitting quietly on a on a Sunday morning while we read the newspaper and then we were like, No, we can't bring a baby into this situation. It's too good. Now we like missed our window. So I get I get why parents want to just kind of like rip the band aid off and get it all done. And you know, while just be in the crazy while you're in the crazy. But how do you even like, how do you even decide like, it just feels like there's so much chaos, right? And there's like there's you're pregnant. So you're going through all the pregnancy stuff. But you still have this baby waking you up all the time. And I mean, the exhaustion all of that. Anyway, I guess my question was, did you feel like you're Can you like discern for yourself? What was ADHD in terms of pregnancy versus postpartum? Right? Because perinatal is really the whole shebang. Right. It's from the moment of conception until what like a year officially at postpartum

Emily Jankowski Newton 20:54
year or two postpartum. So there, there are folks who get diagnosed when their kid is 18 months old. Right? Like, and, and they're like, I'm really depressed. I'm really anxious. I'm, you know, insert symptoms here. And it's like, yeah, it can still, like, if you don't resolve it, it's gonna stick around, right? You know, like,

Katy Weber 21:15
well, if anything, I feel like that's the moment where because I was diagnosed when my daughter was 18 months, because I had gotten to that point where I'm like, Okay, well, I'm sleeping better. Things are still not better, right? Like, you, there's always that wait and see feeling where you're like, right? 18 months old. Yeah, yeah, there's that wait and see where it's like, things are gonna get better, things are gonna get better. Everybody says things are gonna get better. And it's like, something happens at 18 months where you're like, yeah, things have not gotten better. So therefore, I need help. So I imagine a lot of women wait a long time. Oh, yeah. I feel like Oh,

Emily Jankowski Newton 21:47
yeah. And also, like, I mean, you know, if, if someone is breastfeeding, or chest feeding, right, they've got the like, I have to be really careful about what I'm eating what I'm putting in my body, like, what medications Am I taking? Is it being passed to the baby? Like, there's, there's so many things that even I think even if someone had said to me, Hey, your ADHD is part of what's happening right now. And if you can get that under control, like this whole parenting, the babies and toddlers is going to be way easier. I don't know that I would have been open to taking medication. Because I didn't, I didn't know what the consequences would be.

Katy Weber 22:31
Totally, I had, a lot of my anxiety was wrapped around medication as well, I did not even even Zoloft, which has been studied tremendously. Like you said, I did not want to nurse and take SSRIs at the same time. And so that was that was my anxiety, which was like, I will never forgive myself if a study comes out in 30 years, that you know, all of that stuff. And so, I was, but uh huh. So, you know, I think we're very prone to that, like wanting to do everything as perfectly as possible. So that we learn somehow,

Emily Jankowski Newton 23:06
we learned that perfection, masking or add as a kid. Yeah. Oh, yeah, totally. And so if we have to do things perfect. We have kids, which we are told is like, then you've arrived, you've arrived as an adult, like, this is your purpose in life? Right? Like you are now finding greater meaning. You're connected to everything. It all makes sense. Now, none of it makes sense. Like it's not. It's it's not easier. It's not like having kids didn't provide answers. It didn't. It didn't make me more patient. It didn't make me calmer. It just made who I was, like, more people were in the house with me. While I was still not patient, not medicated for add, not. Like, I don't know, not reflecting on what I really needed.

Katy Weber 24:10
Yeah, yeah, you know, and also, I feel like, one of the things I feel like must be very common amongst women with ADHD or neurodivergent. Mothers who are undiagnosed is that feeling of like, things didn't go according to plan, right? The perfectionism. So it's like, I really, really struggled with like, the fact that I had an epidural with my first baby because I had this birth plan, right? And so I felt like I had cheated somehow, like, and I would tell people this I would tell people about the amount of like, issues and struggle I would have letting go of my birth plan gone awry. And, you know, there was so many people, right, who were like, it's fine and whatever, you have your baby at the end, and I was like, I see that in theory. Why can't I let go of the fact that I had this and I'm and I still like to this day, I I can't really put my finger on like why it was so important.

Emily Jankowski Newton 25:04
Okay for your second date?

Katy Weber 25:07
No, of course not. Well, because the epidural didn't need the epidural. I didn't say he came to He came like sliding out of me so quickly that I didn't need it. But at that point at least I had, I was okay with the epidural because I had had it and I was I had a really good experience with it. So I was like, I felt like the person at the back of the classes like I would always tell new moms be like, just just just get the epidural. It's totally fine. It's not a big deal. Right? Like don't put all this pressure on yourself to have a natural birth.

Emily Jankowski Newton 25:34
First one was a C section. planned and yeah, had a lot of so much trauma. Trauma guilt, the whole thing. Second one VBAC with an epidural, I was like, so close to doing it, right. Right. That is just absurd. Yeah, but man, that narrative was really strong. Third one, no medication. Other turns out it didn't it didn't make me again, I was waiting for something to make me more patient more. Less less ADHD, I think and and no birth experience. No, unfussy baby know what, like, none of that is going to create a different me.

Katy Weber 26:32
Yeah. Oh my gosh. So God, I'm like getting, I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about how that feeling of like, if I do everything right, then somehow I won't be the one who's blamed at the end, right? Or I will be I won't be culpable for anything that goes wrong. And I'm like, now looking at that idea. And that motherhood, thought and philosophy is so clearly ADHD, right? So clearly this product of the way in which we are spoken to and then internalize this idea that like, I've missed something, right? Or, Oh, I have to like double, triple, quadruple check everything. And do you think that's why we like obsessively research parenthood? Because I feel like that was I don't know about you, but I read every single book I could possibly read. And I was very frustrated that my husband was like, yeah, we'll be fine. Right? He was like, so didn't care. And I was like, No, we have to be perfect at this.

Emily Jankowski Newton 27:33
Yeah, parenting is a game and I am going to win it. I don't know who I'm playing against. I have no idea. But I'm gonna win at it. You know? Like, yeah, I the amount of of harm I did to myself talking that way. About what I should have been capable of, or or or expect of myself, like, in hindsight, like deer deer earlier, Emily, I am sorry. Today me knows now that that was not very nice. Like, I did not need to do that to myself.

Katy Weber 28:22
You're I'm getting emotional. I'm getting so emotional. I feel like I want to write that woman a letter. Right. I do. Write when we talk about when we talk about the grief of a diagnosis and just that. God, it's so yeah, I really, really just want to give that version of myself a hug. Because it was so hard and I really never felt like like everybody's like, yeah, motherhood is hard. Right. But I was like, This feels really like a loss.

Emily Jankowski Newton 28:51
Really? Really, really? Yeah. Yeah.

Katy Weber 28:56
Because it's tied into your whole being Oh, my goodness. Emily, you're making me cry too. Earlier that day.

Emily Jankowski Newton 29:03
Sorry. I in prep for this interview. Like was talking to a friend and cried on the phone. So I got my I got mine out like just right before we started. So I am not a crier.

Katy Weber 29:20
I know well, I always joke about because I'm on an SSRI, so I'm like I don't cry on an SSRI. I'm dead inside. When I do cry, you know, it's pretty. Yeah. Okay, so wait, so So I want I want to ask you about the climb out of the darkness. So you went to one right? You went to an event as a mother?

Emily Jankowski Newton 29:42
Yeah. Okay. So I'm, you know, this. I became a parent during the mommy blogging. Boom, everyone. Everyone had a mommy blog. I had one the people I would meet at Mom's group had had them no one had any followers. We were literally just following each other.

Katy Weber 29:58
Also Facebook. I feel Like our generation was like the parent the Facebook parents to which has younger was how we reacted. Yeah, yeah, it was I feel like it was very wonderful, but also some a lot. I felt like it fed a lot of our Mi normal anxiety in a way that maybe yes wasn't so healthy. But anyway,

Emily Jankowski Newton 30:16
I agree. I agree. The one thing about blogging that was really good for me was I was doing a lot of like self reflecting every day in real time. And, and I and I wasn't pulling any punches in terms of like, the parts of parenthood that I did not like, or that were hard. I never really liked being pregnant. I it was, it was easy enough. Like I was fortunate to have easy pregnancies, but I didn't like the feeling of being pregnant. It was uncomfortable. Which is, I think, a neurodivergent thing, too, for sure. Oh, yeah.

Katy Weber 30:53
I will say one of the things I liked about being pregnant was the permission to like, be fat and eat whatever I want it because I had such a disordered relationship with food in my body. That was the only thing I liked about it.

Emily Jankowski Newton 31:05
Yeah. Telling me my ADHD, binge eating is now allowed. Great. I'm gonna double down on that. Like, for sure, for sure. Oh, God, where was I going with? Okay,

Katy Weber 31:19
so we're talking about what led up to you attending your first climb out of the darkness?

Emily Jankowski Newton 31:24
Yeah. Okay. So I'm blogging, other people are blogging, I'm following a blogger who's kind of big in the blogosphere. And she's talking about how she just got diagnosed with postpartum anxiety. And I'm, and I'm like, Okay, here we go. hyperfocus, buckle up, we're going to just research the crap out of this. So in the course of reading about postpartum anxiety, which resonated a lot with me, I found this climb out of the darkness event that was happening, like in, in several places, but it was its first year, it was like a brand new baby. Oh, fundraiser, awareness raising thing. I just, I put all three of my kids in the car and I drove like, I live outside of Baltimore, I drove down into Baltimore, I had never been there before. And I have anxiety about like, following directions. And I had to, like, print them on Mapquest. You know, when this was like, Oh, am I gonna get there? I don't know. Like, I had the roadmap, like, opened up. And like, I mean, it was, you know, this was like, 11 years ago, and I was a Luddite when it came to like, adopting technology, but

Katy Weber 32:42
cheap. And like three kids in car seats in the backseat to write three

Emily Jankowski Newton 32:47
kids in car seats. Me with like, printed out directions and driving, I get there. I don't know anyone. I'm an extrovert. So I'm gonna lean in on just meeting people when I get there, which was fine. I wasn't necessarily like anxious about that. But I was like, What are we going to talk about? Like, is everyone that's they're gonna be like, I'm, I'm depressed. I don't like my baby. No, breadth of experience. Like, when I say it felt like coming home. It really did. Like, people were like, Parenting is hard. Some people were like, I'm very anxious about specific things. Like I'm, you know, carrying the baby. I'm, you know, what if, what if I dropped the Wii U? What if I tripped, like the the, the things that you worry about? We were worrying about them out loud and not, and not keeping quiet anymore. And it was, I was like, This is my life. Now. I do

Katy Weber 33:53
this. Well, what would you what do you wrote to me and said that you had attended a climb out of the darkness event? And now you're the director? I was like, that was very ADHD? Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Emily Jankowski Newton 34:06
So I attended, and then I attended the next year. And then I co lead the like Baltimore. Climb event for two years, with a dear friend. Hi, Carrie. And then I sent an email to the, like, head of the organization. And I was like, I have some ideas about like, increasing sort of like, equity across like, because as someone who lives in the northeast, for both of us, like, fundraising looks different here than it looks. If you go, I don't know, 50 miles west in either of our states, right? Yeah. If you get to a smaller town if you get to a place where like, the businesses are mom and pop businesses is like, all of that looks different. And I was watching people who I had become really close to lead events in other parts of the country. And I was like, I want them to feel the success that I feel. Because what they're doing is successful. They're raising awareness. They're, you know, telling local businesses, local mom groups, local libraries, whatever about this event, and about the resources and all of that, but like, they're not, they're not feeling the success that I'm feeling because we're, we're only measuring it based on dollars raised, we need to measure it based on different things. So I send this email to the person who's running the climate, she's like, Would you like a job? And I was like, Well, I just won the lottery. This is amazing. Wow. And so I've been running the program since 2017, which, for an adult with ADHD is a really long time to work in the same job. Because I was a job jumper before that, like I would do something and do it really, really well, for like a year or two. And then would would need, like, I would feel the wanderlust and need to, like, do something different. And I do not feel that at all. In this job, because it's like, it's new, and it's different. And at first it was, I was, you know, the person who was running the fundraisers for this organization. And, and then I was like, we should really start a podcast. And so because I'm, I'm the, the, I say things out loud, i i blurt my ideas, they just come out. And sometimes they land and people are like, Yeah, you should do that. And so yeah, like, ADHD is my superpower. Now, like, I don't, I don't feel like any part of it really, is a problem. It's more like, what else is happening for me in my day, that this is showing up as a problem. It's not it's not that, that the ADHD, which is inherently a part of who I am, is the problem. It's like, what else overwhelmed you today? Like? Did you not drink enough water? Did you move your body like, I no longer blame myself for the things. And I get to be creative, and I get to help people and like, won the lottery, I just I sent an email, I had some ideas. I won the lottery. And now I work. I work for postpartum support international. And I get to, I get to talk to people and hear their stories. And, like, hold space for them, and help them make differences in their community. And it's so cool.

Katy Weber 38:32
I hear you. I mean, I think the thing with the podcast too, is this ability to like when I started this podcast, it was so selfish. It was really like I want to make I want to meet other women who maybe went through the same experience as me, right? And know that I'm not alone. But it was so cathartic to meet new women and to have these conversations and it was so much for me. And so then I would turn around and be like, Oh, other women are benefiting from also from hearing like it was such this win win situation. I really felt like oh my god, this is amazing. Because there's such there's so much healing involved in telling your story. And there's so much healing involved in listening to the other person's story. Like it's so symbiotic in all the right ways. But really, when it comes to like reducing stigma, and getting to that place that you're talking about that I am not the issue here. I am amazing. I am phenomenal. I'm eccentric. Yes. Right. Yeah. It's just a matter of like, what is in my environment right now. That is that is leading me to struggle or become, you know, stuck or whatever, but like, yeah, that level of self acceptance that none of us experienced, you know, usually before this diagnosis or in your case over and over and over again, like, you know, I have two women who were diagnosed in childhood and still experienced this right because of how we're spoken to or the expectations or, you know, the country We're living like all of those things, how we're socialized all of that. But you know, this idea that like, talking about and sharing our stories is so healing in terms of reducing that that stigma that we've been left with. So yeah, it's, it's incredible.

Emily Jankowski Newton 40:16
Yeah. I mean, you've you've created this community, right? Like where it's parasocial? We don't we don't all know you in real life. We aren't having coffee with you. But we do have this sense that like that you get us.

Katy Weber 40:32
That feeling like you said, like, I'm home, right? That finding our people?

Emily Jankowski Newton 40:36
Yeah. Yes. Like, feeling feeling like you're part of a community is, is so important, is so important. And I think, and, and maybe again, this is, you know, how women are socialized. But I think that women thrive in community. In a way it's, it's like magical, like, theater, give

Katy Weber 41:08
me all the fields today. So Oh, it is it is so magical. And one of the things I love interviewing experts, you know, it's great. I love learning about ADHD. But for me, the magic is when somebody listens to this podcast, and then they turn around and say, It's time for me to share my story. Because these women's stories have helped me so much. I, I want to share my experience so that I can help other women but also realizing that sharing your experience is that in itself is so healing. Oh, god, yeah. Oh, yes. Beautiful.

Emily Jankowski Newton 41:45
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, honestly, like, every, every episode of your pod that I've listened to so far, even even if this subject title sounds like it might not really relate, I'm, I'm like sitting there like, yes, every time at there. And it's not just one or two little gems, like there's plenty to take away. Because that's what community does. Like, it allows us to see how much more we have in common than we might think at face value.

Katy Weber 42:24
Yeah. Oh, it's lovely. I really, I know, right? I really want I want to ask you about your kids, too. But I'm also like, still processing all of that. Sorry, no, I know, right? No, this is really, this is really good. I'm really grateful for to be having this conversation with you. I feel like you really have a gift for articulating these experiences. So thank you. So but I want to so all how many of your kids have been diagnosed, what was that situation like with you going back because both you and your husband had it. So you knew how? Because a lot of the time we talked about, like how, for me, my kids were diagnosed after me. And so my parenting changed drastically after my diagnosis when I saw in them, how I was perpetuating a lot of that negativity around their behaviors. And so it's

Emily Jankowski Newton 43:20
like selling retail or, you know, behave, right,

Katy Weber 43:23
be a good kid do all the things. And so I'm so grateful that my awareness has helped me as a parent. And so I'm but I'm curious, like, what was your journey with with your three kids?

Emily Jankowski Newton 43:36
Basically, like once each of them entered third grade, so eight years old third grade? Yeah, that's, that's where there's an expectation of self control, for good or ill, that my kids all struggled with. And they each struggled in different ways. One of them would would get rage, frustrated, and I'm like, relatable I guess. I can help. One of them is like a mirror. In terms of hyperactivity, a very sobering mirror, like, Oh, my goodness, this is karmic retribution. Yeah. Like, listen, I understand that you really want to like, clap or like, like hoot and holler. But I'm overwhelmed when you do it. Where can you do it? And how can you do it so that I am not overwhelmed? Like, I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying go outside. Yeah. Please go outside. It's really loud in here right now.

Katy Weber 44:49
Think about all of our parents who literally said like bye, Bob, who was literally like, go outside and don't come back until the streetlights turned off. That was what she used to say to us at the summer.

Emily Jankowski Newton 44:58
Right? Right. and you're like, okay, yeah. And then and then you know, we went out and got into all kinds of cool shenanigans played with played with sticks and mud and stuff. It was great. Yeah, I, my so my youngest is a girl, my older two are boys. Only one I think is a hyperactive type. But the diagnosis was was actually really easy. I went in, I met with the first one she like, you know, watched the oldest and within like 30 minutes was like, Yeah, inattentive probably like he's, he's like, he's got whole things happening in his brain, that he's not sharing out loud. Second one, sharing everything out loud, nothing stayed in his brain. By the time we got to the third one, I was like, Hey, I think the third one and she's like, I'll just write you a prescription. You're the expert now. Right. Right. And I mean, you know, the Adderall shortage is frustrating. But, you know, we've been able to pivot like some of us have switched to other medication options. We don't medicate during the summer because I don't like they don't have anywhere that they need to go or anything that they need to do, where a level of self control is, is required. And most of their friends are if not neuro, divergent have neuro divergent siblings, so it's not like if I send a really hyperactive kid to hang out with his really hyperactive friends, that the parents are going to be overwhelmed. It's like a whole new world a little bit than what I had growing up. Like, you know, I wasn't like, I gotta, I gotta go and be like, the I gotta, like, try to be chill. When I'm at a playdate be, you know, mask myself. Yeah. They don't, they don't do that. Like, they all they're all just wild and crazy. And, and I'm like, okay, good. Like, it's not. It's not just my kid that's wild and crazy. Like, all of your kids are wild and crazy, too. Which is really validating like, the judgment free Thank you. I feel validated situation.

Katy Weber 47:24
So and like you said, there's no sense where they have to be other than that who they are. Right. And so there's not that like trying to jam a square peg into a round hole. It's really like yes, just Beer Beer. Wonderful. Wild, eccentric self.

Emily Jankowski Newton 47:38
Exactly. Exactly.

Katy Weber 47:40
So you said met also mentioned that your brother was inattentive, ADHD? Was he diagnosed in adulthood? Or was he diagnosed in childhood,

Emily Jankowski Newton 47:48
he was diagnosed in middle school or high school like that, that which for him, it started to present and get in the way. So he, he was then taking medication for a while in there, but doesn't anymore. Funny story, him and his wife lived with us during part of the pandemic for a hot minute, while they were like transitioning from one house to the other. And his wife was like, I didn't realize he had ADD until there were other people in the house. Like, it was like, he was able to mask it, when it was just him his wife and their first child. And, and then once they were in the house with us, it was like, he just had a much harder time. Like organizing his thoughts, staying motivated. Like, all the things that we all struggle with. She's like, Yeah, it's, it's and I'm like, that's, that's true for me, too. Like, the more people that are in a situation, the more other people's needs come in, the harder it is for me to mask.

Katy Weber 48:58
Yeah, no, it's true. I mean, that's how I ended up diagnosed. Right? I was because it was, it was the pandemic and my kids and my husband were home and I could not do anything because I knew I was going to be interrupted at some point by somebody. And so, you know, my kids would come in at lunchtime and be like, we're hungry and I was like, I just fed you. Like, oh, no, I didn't Okay, fine. But like feeling like I was constantly being interrupted by somebody and I was like, I'm just sitting here in waiting mode all day long not getting anything done. And that was kind of what tipped the tip the scales. So yeah, but is it as I say, it's interesting because I feel like if you're if your brother was in a situation where he was able to kind of be himself and have a structure with his wife and child, that meant like, I don't know I feel like that's that's accommodating environment versus a hostile environment like school or workplace where you do mask you know what I mean? Like, I feel like there's ways in which if we're kind of, in a situation where we are doing well like ADHD ebbs and flows, right. And that's where I get confused about like, what are we talking about? Are we talking about an ADHD brain, which is something we're born with? And sometimes we're struggling? And sometimes we're not based on our environment? Or do we have this wonderful neuro divergent brain? And we only seem to have ADHD when we are struggling, because those are the behaviors that clinicians recognize. Right, you know. And so I don't know, I feel like it's kind of every all and all of it. But that's a whole other side tangent.

Emily Jankowski Newton 50:31
But I think some of it, though, is the way that we use the word masking now. Yeah, like masking now can mean like hiding Autism Spectrum Disorder? Traits, right? I don't necessarily think masking is good or bad. Sometimes it's very useful. Sometimes I choose to do it on purpose. It's, it's more like the energy costs for me, like the energy that it takes to mask is what I would assess as positive or negative, like if it if it's not, if the juice isn't worth the squeeze, you know, if it's too hard to do, then I'm either going to be depleted early in the day, or I'm going to not be able to keep the mask on when I wanted on. And I don't I don't think that's the, the mask isn't the enemy. It's the energy that it takes. That can can be the problem.

Katy Weber 51:45
Ya know, that's such a good point. And I think it's why recognizing that cycle of energy and exhaustion. Once you know what's happening, and why then you're not asking the question what's wrong with me? Right? You're not saying Oh, my goodness, I'm suddenly in a rage and yelling at my kids. You're saying? No, these are the signposts that led to this right the TV was on I haven't slept I you know, all of the things. There's too many people in the house all of those things that lead to the inexplicable rage, you can now see why I always talk about it. Like it's like, there's, you know, notes in the margin or highway signs or whatever. Like that idea that there are a lot of you can you can recognize those factors before you reach fever pitch. Yeah, right. Oh, my goodness, Emily. Thank you. This was amazing. Now, okay. I, I want to ask you about if you could rename ADHD to something else, what would you call it? Do you have something else you might call it? Or you do like that name? I mean, it's also I've had a lot of women who are like, that's the the acronym is fine. Because I don't even really think about what it means anymore, because it's become something so separate from the name of it.

Emily Jankowski Newton 53:00
Okay, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. So I I think for me, it's so much more about executive function than it is attention or inattention. And it's also about energy, like how much energy do I have? How? How much? How much is it going to take to do something? Yeah, it's like, executive and energy for me.

Katy Weber 53:33
Yeah, that's true. And it's an you know, again, I don't think it's a disorder. Right. So that's, that's a tricky one to write. I think we get a lot of like, do we call it a syndrome or? Or just call it you know, some people are like, Yeah, we just call it sparkly brain X and try Yeah, eccentric rad. That's, maybe that's what I would call it if I could call it something else. I'm like, it's really just all of us having are embracing our eccentricities. I

Emily Jankowski Newton 54:05
think that when we were living in like, like, villages and huts that we were probably the people who were like, on on guard duty from saber toothed tigers. Yeah, of course, right? Because hunters because we like whatever's happening in the periphery. Like we always have this ability to be pulled towards it. So like, hello, village protector. You're welcome. I don't know. That's

Katy Weber 54:37
wonderful. Okay, so Okay, so the podcast is fairly new. Right? You just started it earlier this year.

Emily Jankowski Newton 54:44
The podcast is new. Our first episodes aired in I want to say February. We had we dreamed of the podcasts a year before that and and My coworkers who are not neuro spicy and the way that I am, they were like, Let's make a whole plan before we and I'm like, really, like, let's just buy microphones and start recording things and they're like, hear me out. So, it, you know, it took us a while to like, get it launched. And now and now we have been we finished our first season, our second season is starting, probably in a couple of weeks, we tell the stories of pregnant and postpartum people who have had some sort of diagnosis or, or not diagnosis, a lot of the people we talked to, were never formally diagnosed, at least not in real time with anything that they were suffering from. But anything from psychosis to birth trauma to, we talk to the spouses of folks who have had postpartum depression or anxiety. Because there's power in storytelling. And, you know, it's, it's a very common occurrence, like one in five women, within the first 12 months will experience like a mental health complication. And that can be anything from anxiety, which is common to psychosis, which is less common. They are the unicorns, each one is unique. Yeah, so we tell we tell people stories, and we talk about like, the through line the way that you do, like, what, what led to the diagnosis, or what led to realizing you needed help. And then like, what did the help look like? And what what does now look like? And they all want to pay it back? Like, you know, because we can't go back in time and change our own history. But we can, like, reach, reach back to the people that are in there now. And be like, come on, right, there is a way forward, you're gonna be okay.

Katy Weber 57:15
Right? I always Yeah, I felt like that, you know why so many of us turned to advocacy is that idea of like, if I could save one woman from going through what I went through, it'll all be worth it. Yep. And so you know, it's funny, because I, you reminded me when I went when my daughter was 18 months, and I finally went to my doctor, and I sat in my, you know, set in the, on the little bed waiting for her to get there. And as soon as she walked into the appointment, I burst into tears. And I was like, I need help. And I remember her saying to me, the only thing you're gonna regret about taking an antidepressant is that you didn't come here a year ago, right? Or didn't come here sooner. And I always thought about that, too, which was like, God, why did it take so long for me to get to here? Right? Good. I'm like, so great. I'm so emotional. But like that same real of like, God, if only I could help somebody connect the dots sooner, right? And really feel get that feeling of like God, you really reach out at the minute you think you need help? Why do we wait until we are at our absolute wisdom?

Emily Jankowski Newton 58:18
Because we all do that thing that you said where we go? Well, if we wait into like that, there'll be sleeping more or there'll be, you know, there. There's always any number of reasons that things are hard. And it's like maybe things are just hard, and they don't have to be like, hear me out. What if we deserved more? And then we went and got it?

Katy Weber 58:43
Oh, God, absolutely. All right, I want to be I feel like I could talk to you for three more hours, Emily, but I really, I I'm so grateful to have you on this podcast. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your insights. How can people find you online? And I guess I mean, if people don't really work with you, but I just want to, let's say a little bit more about climb out of the darkness and psi, and if somebody is has a newborn and she's listening to this podcast, I'm struggling, what should she do?

Emily Jankowski Newton 59:20
Okay, if you if you have a newborn and are struggling, go to postpartum dotnet, that's PSAs website. There are plenty of different ways that you can get access to people that can help. You can text you can call you can send like a message just through the website, and people will like reach out to you. There is also a national maternal mental health hotline. I will make sure that I get you that number. I don't have it memorized so that you can put it into the show notes.

Katy Weber 59:52
I think it's on the website, but yes, I will put it in the show notes. That's a good idea.

Emily Jankowski Newton 59:56
And that's like live human voice So 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they do texting. So if you don't want to say it out loud, but you can type it, you can you can text instead. And they are the the people on that hotline and the people on psis helpline both are like warm, fuzzy, most people with lived experience who, like know that you're actually pretty normal even though you might be feeling like you're a monster and you're not normal. You are normal right now. So yeah, go to PSAs website, if you want to learn more about the climb, psi climb out is our, like social media handle on all the we're on all the things. We're not on tic tac, because I don't have capacity for that. And I am setting a healthy boundary. And then the item one podcast is I'm looking.

Katy Weber 1:01:04
I'll put a link to one podcast is the Instagram. Yeah. And I'll put a link to it to the actual podcast too. In the show notes. It's fantastic. You and your co host, Danny are are wonderful. And it's such a great resource.

Emily Jankowski Newton 1:01:17
She is like the yin to my brains Yang. And I think like all of us neurodivergent folks really need to have like, co workers and friends and family members that like provide that balance. Like I was the one that was like let's launch the podcast tomorrow. And she was like, how about we have a plan which I think is why we work so well together? No, I

Katy Weber 1:01:46
always joke I always joke that I actually launched this podcast before I was officially diagnosed because I couldn't not and and there was this part of me that was like, Oh crap, what if I'm, what if I'm not ADHD? And now I look back and I'm like, Oh, my God, just that alone is so clearly the sides. Were there all along. But like, just that doubt of like, oh, no, what have I done if I accidentally started this podcast? And it turns out I don't like that is the most ADHD thing you possible? Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, Emily, this has been so wonderful. Thank you so much for your time, and it's been such a thrill to meet you and hear your story. Really appreciate us.

Emily Jankowski Newton 1:02:27
Thank you so much for all the work that you're doing. It's it's so important to tell these stories, and I think I think it's you're doing a lot for a lot of us. So thank you. Oh,

Katy Weber 1:02:41
thank you. Thanks for making me cry so much to this. Sorry.

Emily Jankowski Newton 1:02:45
Not sorry, I don't know.

Katy Weber 1:02:50
Ah, that was great. Thank you.