Erin & Stephen Mitchell: Partnership and parenting with ADHD

Apr 01, 2024


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“I want to start a support group for partners of people diagnosed in adulthood because they have to listen to us go on and on and on about our ADHD.”

This episode is an interview I did with Erin & Stephen Mitchell for their podcast, Couples Counseling for Parents. I’m a huge fan of this couple and their work — I loved this conversation so much and I’m grateful they’re allowing me to re-broadcast this amazing episode.

We talk about how ADHD affects partnerships, especially once kids are introduced to the mix. We also discuss ways to better communicate and foster teamwork when one partner has ADHD, and the importance of reframing ADHD as a joint adventure rather than a solitary battle. And they share share some of their own story about being impacted by ADHD symptoms in their parenting partner relationship.

Stephen and Erin Mitchell are co-founders of Couples Counseling For Parents, a relationship development company. They provide parenting partners stage based relationship education to help couples stay connected as they travel through the developmental stages of parenting. Stephen holds a PhD in Medical Family Therapy and Erin holds a Masters in Counseling Psychology. 


Instagram: @couples.counseling.for.parents


Links & Resources:

Couples Counseling For Parents podcast

The ADHD Lounge: Episode 7: ADHD & Relationships (Part 1)

Pre-order Too Tired to Fight: 13 Essential Conflicts Parents Must Have to Keep Their Relationship Strong




Katy Weber 0:00
I think a lot of us have so much of that feeling of like, I don't understand why I act the way I do. I don't understand what's happening. And so then we feel like we're just bad at life. And we feel like we're bad partners. And we feel like we're bad parents. And so one of the things that can be so helpful with a diagnosis is giving the why behind a lot of these behaviors. And another thing I talk about with my kids is, you know, ADHD is an explanation. It's not an excuse. 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. Okay, here we are at Episode 181, in which I am being interviewed by Aaron and Steven Mitchell. Yes, you heard that correctly. This episode is actually an interview that I did with Aaron and Steven Mitchell for their podcast, couples counseling for parents. I am a huge fan of this couple and their work and I just loved this conversation we had so much so I'm really grateful that they have allowed me to rebroadcast it here on the women and ADHD podcast. So we talk about how ADHD affects partnerships, especially once kids are introduced to the mix. We also discuss ways to better communicate and foster teamwork when one partner has ADHD. And we talk about the importance of reframing ADHD as a joint adventure rather than a solitary battle, and they share some of their own story about being impacted by ADHD symptoms in their parenting partner relationship. For a little bit of background. Steven and Aaron Mitchell are the co founders of couples counseling for parents a relationship development company, they provide parenting partners stage based relationship education to help couples stay connected as they travel through the developmental stages of parenting. Stephen holds a PhD in medical family therapy and Aaron holds a Master's in Counseling Psychology, and they are also the co authors of the forthcoming book too tired to fight 13 essential conflicts parents must have to keep their relationship strong that will be released in July and there is a link in the show notes to pre order the book. If you love this conversation as much as I did, and you want to hear more from Erin and Steven, there's links in the show notes to their podcast as well as their wildly popular Instagram account and I interviewed them a few months back along with my co host Alex Gilbert on the ADHD lounge podcast so there's a link to that episode in the show notes as well. Again, I know this is a little different from what I usually air but I really really love this conversation. I got so much out of it and I have a feeling you will too.

Speaker 1 3:11
So Mrs. couples counseling for parents, a show about couple relationships, how they work, why they don't want you can do fixed watch. Parents, Dr. Steven Mitchell, binder mom and

Speaker 2 3:27
Hello, and thanks for joining us today on couples counseling for parents. I'm Dr. Steven Mitchell. And Erin and I are so excited to share with you our interview with ADHD advocate Katy Weber, one of the biggest conflicts that we see in couples is oftentimes when there's one partner that is diagnosed with ADHD or has ADHD like symptoms, and navigating a couple relationship as you are parenting in the midst of that context of ADHD can be really challenging for a lot of couples. And so we wanted to talk with Katie about this very unique and particular dynamic in parenting partner relationships. So let's jump in. And thanks for joining us today. We have Katy Weber with us. And Katy Weber is an ADHD advocate and coach, founder of Women in ADHD and author of the book worth it a journey to food and body freedom. Katie is also the host and producer of the women in ADHD podcast, which is ranked among the top half percent of all podcasts worldwide. She has more than 175,000 followers across her social media platforms. And Katie was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 45. And Katie's made it her mission to help neurodivergent women learn to love their brains and live a more fulfilling and gratifying life.

Erin Mitchell 4:56
Thank you so much, Katy for being here. Welcome to The show,

Katy Weber 5:00
thank you for having me.

Erin Mitchell 5:01
We're really excited. And

Stephen Mitchell 5:03
Katie, I was saying like, right before we started, I really do believe this is one of the most anticipated shows that we have had yet on our podcast, because ADHD, and couple relationships and like how it impacts parenting and all those things is, is really a huge, huge topic for our community. So this is great. People are gonna love it already. I know. But yeah, thank you so much for joining us. And maybe one of the things that we can just jump in to you kind of mentioned a little bit. Well, in the bio, there was just saying, you know, you were diagnosed with ADHD at 45. And that kind of motivated and your passion in terms of what you're doing now. Maybe Could you tell us just a little bit about that, in terms of a little bit more of that story? How that developed for you? Yeah,

Katy Weber 5:55
so I was diagnosed at the beginning of the pandemic. And I had, you know, an experience, like, I think many moms and wives and women out there at the pandemic, where my kids were home, my husband was home. And we were trying to deal with remote learning. And I felt like that was going to be also the perfect time for me to really like invest in my business. Because I had a lot of like, nervous energy, I don't know. And I remember, you know, I just was complaining to my therapist about the fact that I just felt like I was in suspended animation. I just couldn't get anything done. I felt like a you know, all of a sudden, it was like I was the Butler, the housekeeper, the chef, the teacher, I mean, all of these things, all of these roles were thrust on us, all of my systems, and organizational structures were just like, thrown out the window. And I felt like I was just sitting there waiting for somebody to like, burst out of the room and say, Oh, my God zooms, I can't get on Zoom or Wi Fi is out or all of these things. And my kids were like, I'm hungry, like I just picked you. Like it was just this constant barrage of stuff. And I was finding it really, really difficult to get anything done. And I think that's where it all kind of started for me when I was explaining this to my therapist, and she had been talking to me over the years, she my therapist has ADHD, and she was diagnosed after her middle school son was diagnosed, which I think is very common. A lot of women are diagnosed after their children. And but so she had been you know, once you get it, once you have your ADHD diagnosis, you kind of look around and you're like, oh, yeah, I see all of these other people who, who also have this right. And so she was gently suggesting to me over the years that I should look into this from some of the things I had been talking about in our sessions. And when the pandemic hit, she said, Look, I really, I really want you to look into this. And I said, I mean, all right, like I just never felt like it was a diagnosis I related to I mean, for a lot of reasons I sort of had this stereotype of a little boy who couldn't sit still. And I didn't think of myself as hyperactive. I didn't think of myself as having any sort of attention issues. I mean, I felt, I felt like it didn't have a deficit of attention. And I almost was like, insulted when she sort of kept suggesting to me that I had it because I was like, what do you what do you think of me, right? Because I thought, you know, I had, I had a career in a book, you know, I was not unsuccessful, but she saw how I spoke of myself in this very terrible way. And so I took an ADHD test online, and it was a general one for adults. And I kind of related to a few of the things but I didn't like pass with flying colors. I wasn't convinced yet. And then I took an ADHD online test For women specifically for women. And that's where it just hit me like a ton of bricks where I was just like oh wow, like the questions with a for ADHD women were much more around emotional dysregulation and our lifestyle like it, you know, the questions were like, do you hate when people show up at your house on an hour? Right, where I was like, Wait, that's a thing. You know, and so questions about like hating to stand in line. And, you know, it really started opening my eyes to what hyperactivity looks like beyond just this image of a little boy. And and that's where I was like, oh, okay, this is not necessarily we're not just talking about fidget spinners. Here we're talking about some, like deep seated shame around who I am as a mother and a partner. And so that's when I was like, Okay, I'm gonna start looking into this. And then, you know, once I started looking into it, it was just this profound experience of looking over my whole life through this lens and just realizing all of these seemingly random struggles that were hitting me like, oh, this all comes back to this diagnosis. It was, you know, sensory things around motherhood and babies and difficulties. I hadn't school like, it just felt like everything. It just felt like ADHD was reaching everything in my life in such this incredible way. And that's when I was like I am, I'm the only one like, I can't be the only woman who has had this experience diagnosed well into adulthood, and to have this really profound shift in my self concept. Yeah. And that's when I started the podcast interview other women. Yeah,

Speaker 2 10:23
you know, I think what's so interesting is what's your, you know, there's that little image of the little boy, right, those that can't pay attention. But you're, you're talking about some of the emotional components. And it sounds like you're also saying, like, maybe there are some unique factors for ADHD, and individuals who identify as women, individuals who identify as men and so forth and so on. So, so maybe there's some different ways that ADHD manifests, you know, along those lines, maybe even cultural scripts, the expectations for women, you know, I like all these feels like it could be very complex, but I guess, like, if you like, how would you define what ADHD is? And then like, do you see some unique factors between, you know, like, you specifically said, you know, took ADHD tests for women. And that really helped, like, what are those? Maybe some of those characteristics, some of those gender characteristics? Maybe?

Katy Weber 11:25
Yeah, I mean, that's, that's like, I had a guest who once called it like picking a fish hook out of a bowl of fish hawks would have to try to understand some of this, right? Because it feels like Yeah, is this you know, I often asked that question on my podcast, which is like, wait a minute, is this ADHD? Or am I just an angry feminist? Right? Because a lot of this does come down to socialization, right. So okay, so So ADHD is essentially it's a neuro, you know, it's diagnosed as a neurodevelopmental disorder, right. And so it's characterized by fundamentally it's characterized by a deficiency of dopamine in the brain. And so that's a really important thing to understand when it comes to the why behind a lot of behaviors. So, you know, seeking dopamine means we're going to have an interest based brain versus an interest based nervous system versus, say, an important space nervous system, which is when you heard the term neurotypical, that's usually the distinction between neurotypical and neuro divergent is this is the way in which our brains kind of are fired up. So when you have an interest based brain, it's going to cause you to experience a lot of, you're always going to sort of chase the shiny object. And so that's going to create a lot of distraction it's going to carve out creates disorganization, it creates a hyper arousal around a lot of things. And for the most part creates a lot of difficulty with executive functioning and executive functioning, which is funny to me, because it's like executive functioning is so central to ADHD and the universal ADHD experiences and adults from what I've, you know, from anyone I've interviewed, it comes down to a lot of it comes down to executive functioning, was this ever a term I heard before it was diagnosed with ADHD and was inducted into the lexicon of ADHD? Never like, I've never heard that term. And yet, it's so central to living with ADHD. So you know, executive functioning is a set of skills that are include you know, working memory and problem solving and self control. And it all really comes back down to dopamine seeking and so that's kind of the like nerdy science part of it. Good

Speaker 2 13:31
ask you real quick dopamine, right? So for everyone out there who maybe doesn't dopamine, like, Okay, I've heard that term. But dopamine being that part of our brain that seeks like enjoyment, and put like when we do something that we enjoy, or as you're saying something that's interesting, it spikes that dopamine, it kind of locks it in our brain and says, oh, you should do this. Again, this is something that makes you feel good, that gives you pleasure. So I mean, eating a good meal, going outside, doing something, again, that you're interested in. Oftentimes, it's also associated with, like, you know, substances. So that's why substances feel so good. They really get that spike in that dopamine. But I think that that's a really key key component because it matches that interest. Dopamine makes you interested in things, as you're saying, is that would that sound right to you? Yeah,

Katy Weber 14:23
absolutely. And then on the flip side, it makes it really, really difficult to do tasks that don't offer dopamine, right. And as a mother, that's a lot of domestic tasks are mundane, and really routine and very, very difficult for people with ADHD, which is where we come to this sort of shame element that a lot of women hold, which is like, I should be able to do these things. They're not difficult. In fact, they're quite easy, but I literally cannot do it. And and that's, I think, where a lot of the issue comes with, especially with like communicating, communicate Eating how hard that struggle actually is to somebody who doesn't understand why you're not able to do this relatively simple things. So

Erin Mitchell 15:08
I unless you had a different direction you're wanting to go, Katie, I think what you just said is why this interview is so highly anticipated? Because I think that is where couples find parenting partners, specifically, a lot of friction. I think I speak Oh, yeah, professionally and personally on that one. So can you tell us like, either personally, or what you've learned? Or however, what does that look like? Or what has that looked like in your couple relationship? Are those tasks either or those conversations about like, the shame for yourself about why can't I do these? Or why the are these easy things? Not at all simple or like, can you give more to that?

Katy Weber 15:50
Yeah, you know, it's funny. It reminds me of a story where I was having a sonogram it was my annual mammogram sonogram and I had the sonogram technician was making small talk. And she was like, what do you do? And I'm like, I'm an ADHD coach for adults. And she said, Oh, well, what is ADHD look like in adults, and I was explaining and I was like, on the spot, I was like, uh, it's, it's really hard to like, do the dishes. And you feel kind of, you know, like, it's really easy to like, you know, create a new website, on the fly, or, like, accidentally start a business. But things like folding the laundry can be really, really difficult. And she was like, oh, that sounds a lot like my husband, he's a stay at home dad. And whenever I get home from work, the house is just a disaster. And he's been tinkering with some new toy. And he's just like, I find it really difficult to get him to do a lot of the cleanup. And I was like, Whoa, that actually sounds an awful lot like ADHD. She was like, no, he's just lazy. And yeah, and I had that moment of like, okay, I don't really want to insert myself in your marriage right now. But like it was, you know, was like, their whole marriage. Just didn't Amex just like flash my eyes in a very comfortable way. Because I feel like a lot of these traits are historically looked at as character flaws, right? Right, that there's an inherent belief that you could do the thing, whether it's clean up your clutter, whether it's be on time, time management, remembering things remembering to call me back, you know, some of these things that a lot of us struggle with, that you could do it if you really cared. So if you're not doing it, you don't care enough about me about other people or about the thing. And so I think a lot of the time, when you live with ADHD, which you've lived with your whole life, whether you've been diagnosed or not, you've been accused of being lazy of being inconsiderate, not trying hard enough. You know, you see our report card, a lot of us our report card said things like you know, doesn't apply herself or not, potential more effort is needed. So So even though you really the effort and the desire, and you're really, really trying always, it's always comes across as the opposite, it comes across that you don't care and that you aren't. And this creates such friction, right? I mean, it just it first of all, it creates so so many of us are diagnosed with depression for a reason, right before we come to our ADHD diagnosis, because we have this narrative of being a terrible broken person who is inadvertently harming the people in our lives. And I think that's super frustrating. It's really depressing. And then if you have a partner, who then also believes that narrative and feeds into that narrative, you know, you feel like, nobody's on my side. And you know, nobody really understands what I'm trying to do or what the struggle is. And it's very difficult to articulate, because I think we internalize the belief of like, well, I suppose I could do it. Like, it's not hard, I can do that. I can see myself doing these, sometimes it may be even able to do these things, right. And so there's not a lot of consistency in terms of when we can and can't do things if we don't understand the interest level. And how much interest based nervous system plays into this. So yeah, did that. I think that answered the question. Yeah, absolutely.

Erin Mitchell 19:12
Because I think what you spoke to is well, one the example you used I think is basically the example we hear every other day. Do you think that's true? It because what it feels like is lazy. And and if you aren't gonna fold that laundry that means you think I'm going to fold that or

Speaker 2 19:29
that I enjoy folding that laundry. Yeah. I want to

Erin Mitchell 19:33
do it. I want to I love folding laundry. Yes. And, and the hurt

Speaker 2 19:38
in the I think it goes both ways. Right. So there's the partner who isn't, quote unquote, the identified ADHD person, right, you know, and, and they're feeling taken advantage of, or they're feeling misunderstood in them in themselves like, oh, yeah, like I just love doing all this stuff and all this stuff gets dumped on me because I can do it. And that's the story they've had in their own life where they feel taken advantage of, or, you know, whatever it might be. And then for me, I think one of the most profound things that I've seen too, is just the level of like, shame that the other partner who has the ADHD feels like, I'm sitting there seeing this partner, like, just, like, cry and just feel so like, I mean, I know and like, I want to, I'm trying, you know, in what you're saying to Katie, sometimes they do. You know, miraculously, somehow, they're like, yeah, and then a lot of times they don't, and then it does feel they get labeled as you're lazy, you don't care, you're selfish. You're, you know, all these really, really harsh, harsh words. And it's just this balance of, you know, you've got these two partners, one feeling so ashamed, and like, they're broken and can't do stuff. And they really want to and feeling really confused, and this other partner who's just feeling overwhelmed, and resentful, and angry. And, and throw parenting in there. And that, oh, boy, that's a mess. You know?

Katy Weber 21:13
Yeah. And I think also, not only that, but for somebody who, with ADHD, who might have like, tried so many approaches and tactics in the past, they end up becoming really jaded and resentful when you try to problem solve with them too. Right, which I think can also be a communication issue, which is like, you know, I want to help them and they don't want my help. When that person is just feels like, I have tried everything. And I I'm tired of feeling like taking the blame. You know?

Speaker 2 21:46
I think that the the key thing, and it's kind of back to how you were describing ADHD, that this isn't a willful thing. This isn't the other partner sitting there being like, I'm not gonna do anything, or I'm gonna forget to pick up what you asked me to at the grocery store. You know, even though you texted to me, but I, you know, forgot to bring my phone and I don't, you know, like, whatever it might be, I feel personally attacked

Erin Mitchell 22:09
by that. I just like to say, so that was yesterday.

Speaker 2 22:16
I, I'm not upset about so so. And that made me that that is something to say like, we do feel like we have these dynamics, even in our own relationship. I, you know, no one's been formally diagnosed with ADHD. But we have wondered if maybe there's one of us that there's one of us that identifies that way. And, and honestly, I think Aaron kinda does, and she thinks I do. So, you know, we'll have to figure that out. But, but I think that the thing being that this isn't a willful thing, this is really a brain chemistry thing, a brain setup thing. It's just different. It's just someone's brain, your partner's brain works differently. Not wrong. Or you because I think that that can be helpful for the person who has ADHD and for the partner to be like, Oh, this is just, you operate differently. Okay. And trying to start there, in terms of understanding one another. Yeah,

Katy Weber 23:23
I always with my kids, I use the example of lefty scissors, you know, and it's like, everybody has this pair of scissors, and it's working fine for them. And then you give it to somebody with left hand, who's left handed, and they're like, I don't know, why the scissors to work. Yeah, working for everybody else. And people are like, well just try cutting harder, or, you know, just keep at it. And then, you know, just being like, I don't know why it's not working for me. And you just need the right scissors, you need the right approach.

Erin Mitchell 23:50
So that's my next question. And I think it's kind of a two part question. But a lot of people that we have heard from and talking about this, or even just people reach out about this quite a bit, honestly. They feel like their partner does know. Or I know, you know, my partner was diagnosed 20 years ago, or, you know, I really think my partner has ADHD, but they are resistant, or they know they have it. But you know, it's something we don't talk about, or when you were talking about this resistance to like, don't give me the like, maybe what we need to do is just a flowchart. So, like more strategies, it can feel, I think beyond shameful I think it can feel really patronizing. I think it can feel like thank you so much for explaining to me all over again this morning that you don't understand me at all those types of feelings. So I think there's this two part thing like so what are we supposed to do? What expectations Am I allowed to have? What does allowing your partner to not be wrong, but just different look like? What do we do them? I guess, the question of like, so So what

Unknown Speaker 24:59
you're at Is everybody the solution? Katie's gonna solve it? Here we go.

Katy Weber 25:05
I know, I'm like, maybe I should write a book. So you go by it. Yeah. So,

Erin Mitchell 25:12
I mean,

Katy Weber 25:13
I wish I had an easy solution to this, I really do, because I would probably make a lot of money off of it. But I think, you know, one of the reasons why ADHD coaching is such a popular modality for adults with ADHD is because the power is placed in the person's hand to make decisions and figure out what do they need? And what do they, what will help them. And a lot of the times when, especially when you're living life undiagnosed, you know, you're, you're treading water, you're just kind of like constantly keeping up. And you don't spend a lot of time thinking, what do I need? What would help me right now, because we are in such a place of shame, so much of the time. And so I think one of the things that can really, really help in a partnership is to try to reduce the shame as much as possible, because that will bring them to a place where they can then problem solve, right? You know, I what I work on with my clients a lot of the time, and I think this can help with couples, it's like, if you've done something, and you feel really bad about it, let's use the mantra This is information. And when you say this is information that takes you out of the emotional realm of like, I'm such a terrible person, why did I do this? What's wrong with me? And it takes you into a logical place where you can say, what did I learn from this? What can I do differently next time, and you can start to ask the logical questions that will propel you forward. So I think with you know, as a couple, the most important thing is to, is to remember, you're on the same team, right. And so often, like we were saying, like sometimes, when you're when you take the lead and say, Let's I'm going to figure out how we're going to solve this, you've taken them out of the driver's seat, and now you're putting them back into a place of potential shame. And that can be really triggering for a lot of people with ADHD. So I think a lot of the time, it's really like, listen to them, and support them. But at the same time, also guides help guide them to making you know, empowering themselves and make their own decisions. And if they're not at a place to do that yet be understanding and have a lot of grace to so that we can get them to a place. And you know, and that sometimes can just be you know, reminding them of all the things that you love about them. And you're reminding them that even though they might not be great at x, they're really great at why and that there's always going to be kind of a yin yang to a lot of these ADHD qualities. Reframing is so important when it comes to a lot of these traits.

Speaker 2 27:32
You know, that's so interesting, because you know, Aaron is tell

Erin Mitchell 27:37
right now based on his face that we're going someplace terrible. Well, you as the one where you can see him to you sign honest.

Speaker 2 27:48
In the relationship, I think one of the things that I have noticed in terms of, for me to be able to think about Aaron and how she operates in these terms, really does. You know, that idea of this information, it really has radically changed how I think about her and approach things. So we like we had this really big project that was due December one. And I'm the type of person we knew about this project in September. Oh, yeah, maybe, maybe, I guess. And so I'm the type of person that says, Okay, so let's map it out. What are we going to do, we're going to do a little bit, you know, every week up until that December once so that there's no stress, it'll be done, you know, we'll be, you know, we'll be cruising, but maybe we'll even get it done early. And Aaron, though, is sort of in charge of this project. She's sort of the driver of the project. And so a lot of that relies on her. And I just saw the days, and the weeks ticked by, and nothing was being done. And I think historically, I would have gotten really, really angry and frustrated about that. Then like, come on, like, this is important. I'm getting nervous, and you're not helping me because I'm feeling nervous about this. And, and like why are we waiting until the last minute. But I think one of the things I have learned about her, she has this fun, believable capacity and ability to get things done when they need to be done. And something that she's always told me, she said, Steven, I need momentum. I need to feel a sense of momentum to do something. And when I've seen it, when she feels the momentum, she gets stuff done. And so I just kept telling myself the information I know. She just needs momentum. She doesn't have momentum yet. And the momentum that she might need might might mean it needs to be two days before it's due. That's fine. I can do my part. She'll do her part. I don't need to help her strategize. I don't need to say anything help.

Erin Mitchell 29:54
I just strategize. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 2 29:56
Well see that because that would be condescending, and I don't don't want to be condescending. And it was really amazing. Like, I was able to be like, You know what? That's up to Aaron, we'll get it done. When Aaron needs to get it done, I'm going to do what I can. And I'm going to leave it at that. And you know what December one boom projects done. It worked perfectly, she found the momentum she needed. We didn't have a big argument or fight about it there. It was just I knew that information. I knew how our brain worked. I knew how she brings herself to a project. And in some ways, I can look at that, and kind of marvel at it and be like, Man, I cannot believe that you can just sit down and get all of that done. And it wants like, I can't do that. I don't have that ability. I have to like, slowly kind of plod along. And that's, and I see that as really kind of like a superpower

Erin Mitchell 30:51
you are beginning to use to feel really hurt. Yeah,

Speaker 2 30:54
yeah. Yeah. But But I think it's things like that, like, automation can be powered information can be power, you can try to be gracious, and I still at the same time, like I think I was able to, to express like, my concerns, or my or maybe my hopes, but but not pressure. Aaron into, like, complying with that or like, you know, getting with the program and, and doing things the way I would do them.

Erin Mitchell 31:25
Katie, how Yes, I feel like that. I'm curious for you and your partner. If you feel comfortable, what did diagnosis do for you? And then I realizing I never asked the second part to my first question.

Unknown Speaker 31:41
But way back the

Erin Mitchell 31:44
second part to this question, which is, a lot of what we hear is that diagnosis has or because sometimes people have known for a while, you know, I was diagnosed when I was in high school, or I was dying or whatever. But trying to sort of bring that back into the into the forefront, because I think what Stephen said is what we have heard, and again, our population is very skewed, because we almost work exclusively with parents. But that parent had sort of shakes it all up all over again, like so we had a great system, like we knew how to work and operate with ADHD we or or we didn't even know it existed, but it didn't matter could

Unknown Speaker 32:20
live with it, you know, like it was it was all right, but then

Erin Mitchell 32:23
became parents and this isn't working. Like we haven't yet found the our footing in this and and then sometimes what we hear is there's sort of a screeching halt, to like so diagnosis didn't help right away diagnosis almost made it worse. And I think that that has been true for both partners. So the person who gets diagnosed, I don't think all the time feels immediate relief in it like oh, now there's freedom. And then for the partner like So wait, now I just have to accept all these challenges? Or I'm just curious if if the if you have felt that yourself or heard that and the people you work with, and how was diagnosis for you and your partner? Did they have any challenges did didn't just go perfectly smooth?

Unknown Speaker 33:11
It worked out fine. Yeah, right.

Katy Weber 33:14
Yeah, I always feel like I want to start a support group for partners of people who are diagnosed with adulthood because we have to listen to go on and on and on about how incredibly interesting this is. Because, you know, my, my husband and I have been together for 20 years at this point. And yeah, I feel like he has listened to be go on and on and on. I think he's probably an expert now. And I, you know, been very fortunate, I think it's, if anything, it's really improved our relationship. But you know, it's, it's not always the case, I think there are a lot of times where, with any sort of profound shift in your self identity, you know, you're going to change, so your relationships are going to change, and some people might want to, you know, be very excited about that. And some people might have been much more comfortable with who you were before, right. Sure. And then, so, so wait, what was the question I got? You're asking me?

Erin Mitchell 34:11
which one it was a loaded complex question. I think maybe just tell the story if there's anything significant that stands out for you of your own diagnosis and how maybe it shifted or shaped your relationship.

Katy Weber 34:26
I mean, because so many of us were diagnosed with depression and anxiety before we come to our ADHD diagnosis. It's been something I've thought about and talked about a lot with my guests which is like were we misdiagnosed I mean, obviously ADHD and undiagnosed ADHD facilitates depression and anxiety, but is it a comorbidity? Or were we misdiagnosed and so I think a lot about I, you know, my diagnoses and how, a lot of the time, the emotional dysregulation that comes with ADHD, you know, feeling like why am I suddenly yelling at everybody in my life? Like, why is everybody in my life walking around on eggshells, I feel like a terrible partner and a terrible mother, because I don't understand why I'm acting the way I am. And so the depression comes from the confusion and the frustration of like, I don't know why I am this way, I feel broken. And so then you go to your doctor, and you're like, I'm sad. And they, you know, will often put us on antidepressants, which helps with the emotional regulation doesn't often help with the executive dysfunction, which is me. So I had a lot of that experience where I was very grateful for antidepressants in like when I would have had newborns, and was diagnosed with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. And, you know, we joke like, once my son was 10, I was like, Are we still calling it post? But I think a lot of us have so much of that feeling of like, I don't understand why I act the way I do, I don't understand what's happening. And so then we feel like we're just bad at life. And we feel like we're bad partners, we feel like we're bad parents. And so one of the things that can be so helpful with a diagnosis is giving the why behind a lot of these behaviors. You know, and another thing I talk about with my kids who have both been diagnosed with ADHD since I was diagnosed, as you know, ADHD is an explanation. It's not an excuse, right? It's not an excuse to be a jerk. It's not an excuse to just say, Oh, I don't have to do this anymore. Because I don't like it. Right? I mean, right? Like, I talk about the little child in my brain and the adult in my brain and how they have to have a conversation all the time. And oftentimes, the adult has to acknowledge the little child who's like, I don't want to do this. And then the adult has to say, you're right, it's boring, and who would want to do this? But does it have to get done? And then you start asking the logical questions like doesn't have to get done? Can you get somebody else to do it? Can you get somebody to help you? When does it have to give, you know, a lot of those questions that then get you out of this executive dysfunction, paralysis and into kind of more of the momentum that you were talking about. So just being able to see myself, you know, and have a lot of the whys and a lot of the explanation as to why I was, you know, having this inexplicable rage sometimes, and really being able to temper some of that and see what I call notes in the margin, around my behaviors, where I can start walk around now understanding Oh, am I why am I yelling at everybody? Well, the TV's on and I haven't eaten and you know, like all over, you start to see these road signs before you get to a place of dysregulation. And then that has just made me really been able to, like I was saying, before, I'm out of that emotional place, and I'm into the more logical place where I can then say, I'm actually a phenomenal parent, I'm a phenomenal writer, and I bring a lot to the table.

Speaker 2 37:51
I love that idea that, you know, an explanation isn't an excuse. But I do think an explanation gives you a different option, which is to be gracious and compassionate with yourself and your partner towards you, and even towards your partner's experience of of you in the in that kind of place. And I think that in that way, like an explanation is really, really, really useful. Because it, it makes it not personal, you kind of talk about it, bringing it out of that emotional place. Oftentimes, for couples, we talk about, like, all of these things happen, and they feel so personal. And of course, your personal life is impacted by it. But but it's not your partner sitting there thinking, how can I make my partner's life the most miserable, you know, it can possibly be, like, that's not how most people relate to one another. And I think that this is one of those those things it can, it can keep it from being personal. And you can kind of look at it together as as a couple and be like, hey, and it says how are we going to relate to ADHD, it's here, it's a member of our family, neither one of us invited it, but guess what we get? We get to deal with it. So how do we want to do that, you know, and this is how it impacts me. And this is how it impacts us and it's just a different you know, it's just a team. Yeah.

Erin Mitchell 39:18
You mentioned earlier we Yes,

Speaker 2 39:20
you know, good information, what do we do with the information we have? How do we make some decisions? So I I think that that that is so important, like it's not an excuse, but it definitely can take it away from being this personal attack, which I think sometimes it feels like at least that's how we hear some

Erin Mitchell 39:42
absolute shock about the person who has and is working with ADHD feels attacked by it like, and by their partner like I am lazy like I don't know why I can't that shame. Shame is easily one of my least favorite words, but also most favorite because I think even just hearing the word like brings the feeling Like, I feel that the just the weight of shame, just saying it. And I think that this can be one of those things because I think people who have ADHD feel like their partner thinks they're lazy, they made themselves feel lazy, like what is wrong with me why I knew Steven wanted me to, you know, map out my progress towards the school and, and I want to want that I've just, you know, I've actually, but it always makes me feel terrible in the end, because I'm not going to meet the weekly deadline, and I'm not gonna, I just know that. And I used to feel really bad about that. But I think one of the most hurtful places is that feeling of so misunderstood. I think we hear partners say, often, they're lazy. If they loved me, they would do whatever fill in the blank, they would make sure fill in the blank. In our partners sitting there is everything I do is for this family, everything. And I like how could you think that

Speaker 2 41:02
you're telling me I don't care when I care so deeply, so hard? And feeling like it's not working? It's not enough? I'm not enough. Yeah, that's, that's, that's a deep, deep, deep, hurt.

Erin Mitchell 41:17
One, it just furthers any chasm that already existed. I mean, it just goes over that right? Every time it comes up, but that that distance is a couple. I think when you mentioned to the rage piece, you know that dysregulated overstimulated that mom who's like, there's a TV on a kid's crunching some food right here in my ear upstairs.

Unknown Speaker 41:40
I'm stepping on some

Erin Mitchell 41:42
Lego in my toes. And then they do have a feeling of why can't I be like the gentle mom who says, Hey, everyone, Mom feeling overstimulated. Let's all take a pause and a deep breath. Like, what would you say to that parent out there who feels like, it's me? I'm the problem. I I lose my temper? I you know, I don't think we need to say it. But I think it's worth saying. It's not okay to lose your temper. I'm not like, Well,

Unknown Speaker 42:12
yeah, I mean, yeah. But you're just scrolling?

Erin Mitchell 42:16
Well, yes, I think just within the realm of Sure, sure. What message do you hope that parent hears? Yeah, God,

Katy Weber 42:25
I just want to give them all a hug, right, I just give that those moms a hug, especially moms of newborns, oh, my goodness, the newborn phase is so hard. I feel like a lot of it comes down to just being able to recognize some of the markers that might trigger us and try to recognize those, you know, as as you start to understand more around sensory issues, sensory issues, our sensory processing is a big thing with a lot of people with ADHD, we have a really hard time filtering sensations and filtering information. So that plays out in a lot of seemingly random ways. But a lot of it does have to do with noise or lights, you know, and kids are just tornadoes of chaos. So, you know, a lot of the time is like, what do you need, like a downtime? I think, you know, we do less, I think is maybe the advice I would and let go of as much as you possibly can. Because we're sort of sold this narrative, as you know, you can do it all. And you can work and you can have kids and be perfect and do all this stuff and show up on social media and all of these things that we are sort of sold. And it's just too much. The question I'm always asking myself is like, How can I pull back? How can I do less? Yes, as a human, and then that's okay. It doesn't mean I'm not phenomenal. And I think that's another thing that is really important, which is like, asking for help is a strength, you know, and bringing people in who can help you, I think, is the number one thing you can do. And it's really difficult, it's really difficult to even think about articulate what help you need in the moment. And so that's why I always want to kind of get out of a place of overwhelm, so that you can then start to say, Okay, where can I need help? You know, right, so many of us use that example. Use them with the metaphor of the Swan, where everybody thinks we're doing great, and everybody's like, I don't know what you're talking about you you have a great business or you look like you're everything's wonderful and and then underneath the surface, you're just madly paddling and nobody can see that. So it's just for yourself, how can you get yourself to a state of just a little less overwhelmed so that you can start to get some help in there? Yeah,

Erin Mitchell 44:37
it makes me think of this very popular meme from I think, at least it became a part of my awareness during sort of the quarantine of COVID which was moms you know, is sort of like the POV moms like I'm not okay, I need help. Workplace you're doing such a great job, mom. No, I'm really not okay partner. I can't believe you're doing this all I actually need help, you know, in law's parents. I I am shocked at what a superhero you are like, I'm not okay. We're not okay. Parents need help. I think we tried to say this to everybody, like our personal messages. We're all lonely. If you know a parent, they're lonely, check on them, if you can help them, help them, and then looking at your partner and like, Oh, you're, you're probably lonely, too. You need help? And I just think that speaks to so much of that. And so do you feel like there are some sort of universal help we can offer the people in our life that, you know, because you said ask for help do less. So you can be present to the things you actually want to be present to, and you can bring your whole self. But you need help to get there? Do you think that there are some universal helps that we need that we can sort of all blanket apply? Or do you think it is sort of an individualized plan of figuring out like, these are the things that activate me, this is the thing that actually feels helpful? These are the five things that don't feel helpful. Please never say this again.

Katy Weber 46:05
Does that is that a cleric will not tell you to buy another planner? That's for sure. Yeah.

Speaker 2 46:09
I never, I never invite Aaron to map out a plan ever anymore. I map it out for myself, because that's what I hate.

Erin Mitchell 46:19
And we have had reverse shame. And that where I'm like, that seems awful. And you're a boring person. So yes, like, you know what, there's nothing wrong with me either, just because we do this different. But yes, that's, uh, do you think it's individualized? Or do you think there are some universals? Yeah,

Katy Weber 46:36
I think there are a lot of universals. I mean, I think medication is a great place to start, if you're diagnosed, there's a lot of different medications out there, it's really difficult to navigate if the first one you try might not always work. But I say I think if you can find a medical practitioner who's willing to work with you, in terms of titration, and which type of medication, it can be really life changing for a lot of people. So, you know, that's obviously a first place to start. But medication doesn't, you know, there's many of us, myself included, who just haven't gotten there who haven't found the right medication. And so, in that instance, I feel like, you know, there's some things that are incredible have been incredibly helpful for me, which is getting outside every day in nature is paramount. Like I cannot, I, you know, and I'm not saying you have to, like do CrossFit, or go to a gym or any of that, I'm just saying, Get outside and move your body and elevate your heart rate, that is the single best thing you can do for your brain, it's the single best thing you can do for your mental health. Like, it's just, you know, and I feel like a lot of us sort of eye roll, when you know, if we have a disordered relationship with exercise or our bodies, because, you know, many of us do, because we're humans. But I really do feel like that one thing can be so important. And it also can get you used to just like, these non negotiable spaces or blocks in your day, of what it means to like practice self care, and that can relate to, which is like there are certain things that feel non negotiable. You know, it's funny, because it's like, a lot of people come to their ADHD diagnosis because their child was diagnosed with ADHD, and they're like, Okay, hyperfocus, how am I going to help them live their best life? What am I going to do? We do that for other people, we do that for our children, right? Don't do that for ourselves. So some of the time, it's, you know, it's really kind of deciding what are these non negotiables in my life that are not, maybe it would be nice if I did this. And this is like, Absolutely, this is part of my day, you know, coffee that's, like, it's not like, I wake up in the morning and decide, maybe I'll have coffee today. Like, I don't have coffee, you know, it's disaster. So those are these non negotiables, where I'm like, how was I able to accept how was I able to integrate that in my life, but not some other things? That's gonna look different for other for everybody. And the other thing I think is so important is finding other people finding your community, right? And finding, you know, one of the things I did when I, when I was first diagnosed was just like, I went on to Facebook, and I joined every single Facebook or rectified and I started listening to podcasts. And I literally the reason why my podcast was called Women and ADHD is because I typed women, ADHD into a podcast player. And I found Tracy out soukous podcast, I listened to like 75 episodes while walking out with my dog every day. But just getting that validation and realizing you're not alone. You're not broken. You're not Yeah, you know, that there are many, many, many people who are having experiences like yours. And there's many ways in which this manifests and I think just eradicating some of that shame through community and validation is incredibly healing, and a huge part of the quote unquote, treatment plan for managing ADHD.

Speaker 2 49:57
Yeah, yeah. Well, Katie can You because maybe a great place for people to start her listening is with you. You know, in terms of just all of your content, the things that you offer, I know that Aaron and I have benefited massively from it like, Aaron will show me a post, you know, and it's either hilarious or like, just informative and helpful are both all. Yes, so can you can you please tell people the best places to find you in the world?

Katy Weber 50:28
Yeah, sure. I mean, well, after I started the podcast, which is called Women and ADHD, so you can look for that podcast. It's been around for two years now. And I interview other women who were diagnosed sometimes in adulthood, sometimes, like you said, they were diagnosed in childhood, and it kind of re occurred to them in adulthood in a very profound way. And I also have the URL women and So if you head to that website, you can find the podcasts you can find I have an online community, a global community of women who come together, and you know, we found each other and we asked, couldn't vent and compare and share resources. And on Instagram, I'm at Katy Weber dot ADHD, and also

Erin Mitchell 51:11
link all of this. Okay, yeah, that's great.

Katy Weber 51:13
Yeah. But I also want to, you know, I, from a relationship standpoint, I want to definitely want to recommend the ADHD effect on marriage, which is a book written by Melissa Orlov. And that's actually written she is a non ADHD wife of an ADHD husband. So for that perspective, I think that's really like the seminal book. And then the other one I always recommend is when an adult you love has ADHD by Russell Barkley, because Russell Barkley is just amazing. Everything he's written is so good. And then I also want to recommend the disruptors, which is a documentary that came out earlier this earlier in 2022. And it's so fantastic, especially if you have kids who have ADHD or families, it looks at all it looks. It's just a really, really thought provoking and thoughtful documentary look into what it's like to live with ADHD at every age. I

Erin Mitchell 52:06
have not heard of that. Yeah, I haven't heard of that. Where, where can you find that? Where

Katy Weber 52:10
do people it's not on any streaming platforms, you don't have to buy it from iTunes. But it's, it's just fantastic. Okay. I forced my head cuz, you know, because I'm the one who does all the research and reads all the books and doesn't. And my husband's like, well, weighing it, it's fine. And this was one of those ones, where I forced everybody in my family to sit down and watch it with me, and I'm so glad I did. And he was really, you know, he, it really changed a lot of his perspective on medication. And, you know, some of the things we've been talking about in terms of like, seeing how people with ADHD tend to view themselves.

Erin Mitchell 52:44
Right. Yeah, I think that would be powerful for someone who loves someone with ADHD to see and to know and to really to feel the weight of that, because it it can be very weighty. Okay, closing up. Is there any final thoughts you have? Or, you know, any questions I asked or didn't finished? Just been there were a lot of threads I threw out there.

Katy Weber 53:07
Yeah, no, I mean, I guess it's great. And I think you know, it is genetic. So if your kids been diagnosed, you know, that's a really great indicator that something you might want to look into it. Yeah.

Speaker 2 53:21
That's right. I think kind of the research I saw is like, if there's one parent with ADHD, there's a good chance that one and three, like kind of kids, and then if both parents have ADHD, it's kind of two and three is screwed. Yeah, I understand. It's like, great, great, good luck every well at least, at least you all understand each other. Maybe some way. But

Erin Mitchell 53:44
yeah, thank you so much. It was really, really great. Getting to talk with

Speaker 2 53:48
you. Yeah. So very helpful. Yeah. Really, really appreciate it. Thank you. Yeah. My pleasure. Thanks

Katy Weber 53:52
for having me.

Speaker 2 53:53
That was just some really, really wonderful stuff. I think a

Erin Mitchell 53:59
lot of really helpful important nuggets in there for Yes,

Unknown Speaker 54:02
yes. What what stuck out to you, Erin.

Erin Mitchell 54:04
That's a good question. I think, um, probably the thing that stands out for me most of all, I'm maybe just feeling a little solution focused right now. I just really like her emphasis Katie, talking about shame, and how, how much shame can get stuck in places like in your ADHD brain? Sure. But also how that parenting partner dynamic can get stuck in that shame. And and that's deep. Yeah. And then sort of that the way out isn't an easy fix.

Speaker 2 54:41
Is it more shame? Is it to get it together? Like why are you always failing? Why are you not doing

Erin Mitchell 54:46
and you know, those are those are understandable feelings about it, but that what helps people actually get their choice back and it's compassion. I think shaming compassion, I think won't be the last thing things for me. Yeah,

Speaker 2 55:02
yeah. You know, I think that you know that I think that this is a very common dynamic between parenting partners where maybe one one partner is struggling with ADHD, the other isn't. And when both are Yeah, or both. That's true. That's true. We've also seen that and I think that, why it's helpful to have a name for maybe what's going on, like a diagnosis. Yeah, it's because I really do think that that then can help partners feel like hey, how can we team up together to understand ADHD in what's happening, how your brain is working, how my brain is working? And what are the optimal kind of environments and context and strategies for working together to succeed? And I just think it, it, it offers an opportunity, the explanation, the diagnosis, offers an opportunity to collaborate together as partners, rather than feel like you're against each other. And and I think it really can really feel that way. Initially, if you don't know. Or even when you do. That's true. That's true. It's kind of, especially for maybe the partner who doesn't have ADHD, it just doesn't make sense. Like, why why can't you get it together? In a way is maybe what it feels like, but, but I think, again, the explanation can really kind of help take things out of that personal realm. And and give some hopefully to to the, to the partner who may be discovered ADHD, just somebody in their own body. Yeah, just some freedom to like, oh, like, to not be stuck in shame to be like, oh, like, there really is something different going on here. And so hopefully, you know, I think that, you know, just talking to Katy, like, it just provides what I think is an opportunity for for freedom, and collaboration, which is going to help couples feel more connected to that, for sure, exactly. Today's show was produced by Aaron and Steven Mitchell. If you're enjoying the podcast, please hit the Follow button and leave us a rating. This helps our content become more visible to others who might enjoy it, and it lets us know how we can keep improving the show. And as always, we're grateful for you listening. Thanks so much for being with us here today on couples counseling for parents. And remember, working on a healthy couple relationship is good parent.

Katy Weber 57:40
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 is now on the path to understanding her neuro divergent mind and finally using this gift to her advantage. Take care till then