Gilly Kahn: Migraines, masking & explosive emotionsJan 22, 2024
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“In school, my arms were constantly tattooed with pen marks and reminders. Post-it notes have been my friend since Day One.”
Gilly is a licensed clinical psychologist working in a private group practice in the Atlanta area. She specializes in individual and group therapy focusing on neurodiversity, anxiety, and depression in youth.
Gilly gravitated toward working with children and teens with ADHD and Autism because, in her opinion, there is no better or wiser company. She eventually connected the dots in her own life and received an adult diagnosis of ADHD. She is now writing a book about ADHD and has recently started blogging for ADDitude Magazine.
Gilly and I talk about the crossover between ADHD and migraines, as well as the impact of ADHD on emotional regulation. We also talk about the struggles to recognize and quantify ADHD in girls, and how her practice as a psychologist has changed since her diagnosis.
Links & Resources:
Migraine by Maria Konnikova
Gilly Kahn 0:00
Yeah, so I think it's also helpful to learn about how the ADHD brain works. It's not the kind of thing where you could be like, calm down, okay? It takes time, and then calm down. But also the people around them need to be patient.
Katy Weber 0:21
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 liked me discovered in adulthood, they have ADHD and are finally feeling like they understand who they are and how to best lean into their strengths, both professionally and personally. Hello there. Before we begin, I would love to take a moment to share with you this review from a listener named AHBs 11. It's called also a late diagnosis. And this is spot on. If I had a nickel for every time I said, Oh my god, while listening to this podcast, I'd be rich already. Well, there's nuances I'm sure to every diagnosis. It's like someone gave me a playbook to speak with my doctors. This has been so very helpful for me to not only understand myself, but my daughter, my daughter was diagnosed right before COVID hit. So it was a huge adjustment for us both to go through this diagnosis for her adjustment to virtual schooling and also have myself diagnosed at age 39. Then start treatment for us both while living on top of each other. I learned more with each interview and have a lot of healing in the process. It's just good to know there's so many of us going through this together. Thanks for all of you being willing to share your stories. Well, thank you. I'm so glad we could help you and your daughter through this diagnosis journey. And I agree I also feel tremendous gratitude for all the women on the show who have shared their stories as we all go through this together. So thanks again for writing this lovely review. I cannot begin to describe how much your feedback means to me. Okay, here we are at episode 171 in which I interviewed Gilead, Khan Gilley is a licensed clinical psychologist working in a private group practice in the Atlantic area. She specializes in individual and group therapy focusing on neurodiversity anxiety and depression and youth Gilly gravitated toward working with children and teens with ADHD and autism because in her opinion, there's no better or wiser company. She eventually connected the dots in her own life and received an adult diagnosis of ADHD. She's now writing a book about ADHD. Edie has recently started blogging for attitude magazine, Gilley and I talked about the crossover between ADHD and migraines as well as the impact of ADHD on emotional regulation. We also talk about the struggles to recognize and quantify ADHD and girls and how her practice as a psychologist has changed since her diagnosis. This was a lovely conversation. I can't wait for you to hear it. So here is my interview with Gilly. Well, welcome Gilly calm. Thank you so much for joining me, Laura. Thanks so much for having me here. Katie, I would love to hear about your story because I You're not the first clinical psychologist who worked with children with autism and ADHD before being diagnosed. And I always find it so fascinating that like that light bulb moment, right, where you're like, oh, Everything makes sense now. So you were diagnosed in 2023? Correct. And it was sort of signs from your young daughter that were kind of tipped you off that you this might be something to look into for yourself, is that right? That
Gilly Kahn 3:54
was a piece for a bit. But I think you know, as a clinical psychologist, I'm sure other psychologists have also felt this way. It has been like a lifelong question. In my brain. And both, we'll get more into that. Yeah.
Katy Weber 4:13
What was that journey like for you? When what were some of those things that really stood out to you where you started to put two and two together and think I should? I should look into this for myself?
Gilly Kahn 4:22
Yeah. So um, I mean, I, you know, I think I was kind of an interesting kid. And I had really different study habits. And that's a lot of I think, what helped me kind of fly under the radar. And my dad being very, very strict. So my mom passed away when I was four, she had breast cancer. And I was basically raised by my dad and my brother, two boys. But basically, because it was a single parent household, it was pretty much like military Are you regime. And so I forgot textbooks and would get grounded for it. So I needed to somehow get my ducks in a row. So I could go to the fourth grade dance, and not missed out. And so I had to just kind of learn these strategies. So my arm was constantly tattooed with pen marks with reminders, post it notes were 100%, my friend since day one. And also, I was expected to have very high grades, because my dad did not have high grades. And it's always like you want, but your child what you did not have. So I felt like there was a lot of pressure placed on me. So I spent a lot of time studying and my walking closet. And that's because it was different. And quite, so I would sit on the floor, studying. And when I wasn't doing that, I was on my bed with all the books spread across. And I would move from task to task, highlighting and writing on this side. And or I would be in the dining room table. And my family loved that. And anytime someone blocked by, I would flip out, because they were interrupting my train of thoughts. And so these are just a few of the very many examples where I can think back to when I was really, really young. And say like, oh,
Katy Weber 6:37
the sides. Were there all along, right? Yeah. The
Gilly Kahn 6:42
signs were there all along. Yeah. And the other thing is, now there's just sadly now, there's a lot more clarity about the differences in the presentation of ADHD and women versus men. I mean, I think the diagnostic and professional community has a lot of way to catch up. But for example, while studying psychology, I noticed like my brain does not shut off. And so I sort of thought, you know, is this generalized anxiety disorder, because GA D is basically your brain worrying all the time? And I would think like, what do I think about, you know, well, I think about like this thing that I have to do, and planning and all these random things, not worrying, my brain is just on. And that is more characteristic of ADHD. And women because it's more of a hidden symptom. So that was all I think it was sort of like a growth thing for me. And, you know, just looking at my daughter, and I mean, she's six. So we're going to be taking her soon to get another opinion from a professional. But since she was two, my husband and I have been like an other family members are just like, she is like the Energizer bunny. I mean, no, we're just like, Where did she get from? Yeah, right here.
Katy Weber 8:23
Yeah, that's a really interesting connection that I hadn't thought about in terms of the generalized anxiety and the fact that it's your it's much more a case of working memory and trying to like, hold on to all the thoughts of things that need to happen that there's not necessarily always worry attached to the generalized anxiety. And that's a really great like distinction for those of us who have that, you know, many of us who have the brain that won't shut up, and then we're always wondering, like, why am I so exhausted all the time? But it's, I think it's a coping mechanism for like, how do I hold on to all of these things that I'm going to forget about? So you're right, there's not necessarily that textbook like worry, associated with it. And I think, you know, I think like, for myself, and I'm sure for many of us, I didn't realize everybody wasn't like that. So it was really interesting to me to understand as I got older that like this was not a universal experience to constantly have those racing thoughts. Yeah. Yeah, really interesting. Now, you had shared a real on your Instagram about reading your diary from when you were 14 and some of those diary entries that and it was so Oh, my goodness, it was just like, got me in the fields because I just it brought me back to all of those moments of feeling so misunderstood in school, can you so do you want to just talk about that experience? I mean, I must have been, I wish I had the mental energy to go back and read my diary. But what was that like for you going back and seeing that 14 year old version of you. Yeah,
Gilly Kahn 10:01
I mean, I think looking at it through the lens of ADHD, and rejection sensitive dysphoria, you know, it was really interesting because I can start to sort of check the boxes with the things that I'm describing, when I'm 1415. And honestly, I, you know, I haven't changed that much, I'm still the same person at the core, the difference is that I have a better understanding of how I work and how to treat it. I think medication was the number one thing that changed my life. I know that ADHD is highly heritable, but I have felt it, since I remember graduate school roleplay with someone and pretending to be depressed, and in my head, I was like, I don't even need to pretend. Because it was, you know, it was persistent depressive disorder. And yeah, I mean, that's what I was diagnosed with first. But I'm sure I'm not the only woman who was diagnosed with depression or anxiety, before ADHD. And just recently, I mean, this whole Pandora's box of information was opened about why that is for women. You know, dopamine is not just restricted to ADHD, it's involved in depression, it migraines and hormonal imbalances. And I think that just points to really how complicated women are. And how I think, you know, sort of unfair it is that the criteria have really just been designed to describe boys.
Katy Weber 11:59
The Pandora's box is such a great way of describing the hormone question and ADHD because it does feel like wow, like, where do we even begin with that, in terms of the roles that estrogen and progesterone and dopamine are playing in our in our the that difference in experience? Now you had you said mentioned that you not only had PCOS but also chronic migraines, and that both of them have a high comorbidity with ADHD. I didn't know about the migraines as much. What have you learned about that? So
Gilly Kahn 12:33
there's a podcast episode on attitude magazine. By the way, I'm going to start blogging for them. My first one is going to come out on my birthday. Congrats. Thank you. But there's a podcast episode. Oh, maybe I'll send you the link and
Katy Weber 12:50
you can link it. I'll put it in the show notes. Yeah. Yeah. So
Gilly Kahn 12:53
anyway, so so she talks about the link between migraines and ADHD. And one thing I remember that she said, that really stuck with me because it's true for me is that stimulants can help some people with migraines. So if you take a stimulant, it can relieve your symptoms. And I was just, you know, that was interesting to me and my migraines are honestly like immortal. Like it is impossible to defeat one wants to get one. And so you know, I noticed I took like a short acting stimulant, my symptoms were gone, my migraine, and then it wore off, migraine comes back. So I think it really there really is kind of like a chemical imbalance happening. Oh, and there's an audible book by Maria Konnikova. And it's called migraine. It's very short. I think it's like an hour and a half listen or something. But she talks about the history of migraines and women. And it's just very similar, I think, to the history of ADHD, and women, because initially, migraines were attributed to psychological factors for women, like, oh, you know, she has a migraine, it must be in her head, no pun intended. But if it's a man, then there's a physical reason for it. Does that sound familiar? Oh, she's, you know, she's having a hard time concentrating. It must be depression or anxiety. Why would it be anything else?
Katy Weber 14:44
Yeah. She's just a hysterical woman. Right. You know, actually, when you were talking, you reminded me of the fact that I recently learned that amphetamines were accidentally discovered as ADHD medication because they were originally were prescribing In them for headaches and children. And they noticed that when they were Yeah, and they were originally trying to treat chronic headaches and children, and then they realized that it was increasing their focus on productivity. And so that's kind of how stimulants became, you know, ADHD medication. So there we go. Right. That's cool. It's all coming back to that. But also, I think, you know, when we talk about like, chronic stressors, and women, I think there's so much to uncover around how that affects our nervous system. Because you think about like, autoimmune diseases are on the rise, especially with young women, right. And so it's like, PCOS, Barbara, fibromyalgia, lupus, like all of these autoimmune disorders, are radically increasing in women who are incredibly stressed and depressed, and also getting all of these diagnoses of depression and anxiety and, and like, it's all frickin connected. It's like, I feel like the person, you know, all the red strings up on the wall.
Gilly Kahn 16:00
That's exactly right. Like, I'm, like, you know, like closeted serial killer, like.
Katy Weber 16:09
I know, it is so fascinating. It's so like you said tragic, and that women have been under researched for so long. And you know, one of the other things I'm curious about is the when the diagnostic criteria brought the three subtypes under the ADHD umbrella, right. I feel like that ended up being a real disservice to women because of the hyperactivity element. And so many of us who were like, Well, I'm not hyperactive. So that's it doesn't describe me. And do you know why that move was made to kind of put the subtypes under that one umbrella? What is the light? Yeah, the logic behind that. Okay.
Gilly Kahn 16:48
So there were subtypes now, and you can have anyone like, I don't know, Russ Barkley does not stop about this, their presentation, you know, not subtypes. And it's an important distinction, apparently, because subtypes are guests, I guess like solid, right. So like, if it's a type, that means you have inattentive throughout your life, and researchers soon realize that that's not the case, like you can be diagnosed with combined as a kid, and then maybe it can change presentations, as you get older and manifest more as an attentive, so it's like more fluid. But my understanding is that initially, the types were introduced to generalize more to women. And I remember in graduate school, learning about how women are more likely to present with a predominantly inattentive presentation, because we're seen as sort of like Space Cadets, who will you know, kind of date the daydreamer in class, right? Like, oh, meek, fold me. But also, you know, that's not the case. I mean, there, it's so complicated, because there's so many societal expectations that are placed on women. It's not that necessarily, we are Melo and space cadets and daydreamers. It could also just be that we're better able to hold our stuff together. And there are actually brain differences between females and males, showing that this is true. Because females, their planning and organizational skills, their prefrontal cortex is developed before males. So yeah, I mean, we're able to figure it out. Also, women have better social skills than men. So we're able to mask or adapt to our environments. And I forgot what the question was.
Katy Weber 18:57
But it's so fascinating. What I also find so interesting Are you know, there's the sort of biological differences between the two sexes in the brains but also the fact that one of the you know, that there's such a high CO occurrence with ADHD and gender dysphoria and like gender nonconformity, which is fascinating to me too, because I'm like, Where does all the where does the biology end and the socialization begin, etc, right? Like, it's so interesting, in terms of how different our experiences are in childhood and how anxiety really seems to be the key. You know, it was William Dodson, who was like, you know, if somebody is previously diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it's almost a precursor to like definitely look into neuro divergence with that that coat you know, that double diagnosis, and I think anxiety and women is so much higher. I don't know if I don't have facts to back that up. That's just anecdotal. But like, you know, it's I think there's so many of those experiences is where you're like, Well, I have these moments of in my history of my life that could indicate that I'm a depressed person, right like, there. It's so hard to parse what of this is trauma from childhood? And what of this is a biological neuro, neuro type?
Gilly Kahn 20:17
Yeah, I think one thing that that's been helpful for me, I remember since I was a student is just reconceptualizing. mental health symptoms, because right now, the way the DSM has it, and this is not a new topic, it's very kind of places people into boxes. It's categorical, you know? And you'll say, like, oh, no, it's not categorical. It's presentations, it is it's a category, like you're placing someone in a category. And that's different then looking at how symptoms naturally co occur. So before I got my PhD in Clinical Psychology, I got my master's in experimental psychology. And what I studied were friendships, peer relationships. And there was one statistical method that was really cool. I never learned how to do it was too complicated. But I understand the gist of it. And just is basically you know, how you were saying, like, you know, the closet serial killer with all of the right piece and the pieces together. But that's how it's called network analysis. And that's basically what it is. It's examining social networks, meaning like, how people relate to each other, this person is friends with this person who's friends with this person. And this one's not necessarily in this group, but they're connected through this person. And all these strings are tying these people together. So there's a researcher at Harvard, named Richard McNally. And I went to a conference and I saw that he was doing work on with symptoms, using the same type of analysis. So basically, he was entering a bunch of symptoms. So maybe it's like PT, a few PTSD symptoms, you know, depression, anxiety, it could even be ADHD. And he's just looking at how everything kind of naturally co occurs, and how that could be a new way to think about or conceptualize mental illness, as opposed to kind of, you know, boxing people. And now, of course, this complicates the picture. Because for a lot of people, this is going to be different. But that's the point of statistics, right? I mean, they're going to see, I mean, statistics just show like, what's, which symptoms tend to co occur, or tend to be lumped together more frequently than others, just like friendships, right? Relationships, people. And I think that would probably be a very helpful way to analyze the symptoms and women, because they are so diverse.
Katy Weber 23:03
I think also in what was like an ask, I don't remember now, I think it was something about what were we talking you were talking about? Oh, God. Oh, well, we're gonna leave this all at the podcast, because I love when this happens. It's so indicative of how these conversations go, maybe it'll come back? Oh, no, I know what I was saying. I was like, now being back in school for clinical mental health counseling. It's fascinating to me how this is just not ever looked at, like, I look at these case studies. And it's like, every single case study, I'm diagnosing ADHD. And so I'm like, am I getting this wrong? Like, is this something else, but every single person, especially the ones with depression, it's like, they're not living up to their potential, they're unfulfilled. Like, it's just feels like ADHD is everywhere in these case studies, which makes sense, because, you know, undiagnosed ADHD tends to lead to those questions of like, What is wrong with me? Right. And that was kind of what I saw in that diary entry that you read that feeling of sort of just like, I worked really, really hard on this thing that was really important to me and my teacher shit all over it. And now I feel like my entire life purpose is in question, right? And that like jumping from zero to a billion in our emotional range, and that emotional piece that goes with ADHD, that then leads to so much of the depression and anxiety and yet emotional dysregulation is not mentioned in the DSM, it's not part of the diagnosis. Why is Why is emotion is it just too difficult to quantify? Like, is that why it's just not part okay? Because it's just feels like for so of the overwhelming majority of us, that's how we kind of connect to the ADHD diagnosis is through the emotional element and they dysregulation and stuff and so I know you specialize with kids and emotional dysregulation, right? I guess how has your own diagnosis maybe Have you changed how you work with patients?
Gilly Kahn 25:02
Oh, 100%? Yes. It's like what you were saying, like, look, people come in, and you're just like, am I getting this wrong? But yeah, I don't think you are, I think it's that we're catching up. Now, you know, I think that, you know, there was this large discrepancy in diagnosis and the prevalence of parently, between boys and girls. But now that there's a better understanding, at least among women, of ADHD, and females, were better able to, I think, detect it. I always kind of wonder, I mean, since I was young, I'm trying to think I think maybe my first job working with with autistic kids was, I was 19. And it was my first experience working with anyone with autism. And I remember thinking, like, I don't know what it is, I just love these kids. It was so rewarding. And the picture that people would paint is like, it's really hard to connect with them. And I thought, like, I can't connect with anyone more than I can connect with them. And I felt that way. Also, with kids with ADHD and working with, you know, college students with ADHD, I would teach them what I did, basically, when I was younger, and I was like, There's no way in hell, I don't have a shirt. basically telling them like you're doing what I did when I was a kid. And it really helped them. And so that also kind of made me think about going to get help, and then we can talk about how difficult it is to go and get help. What was the question the diary entry? Well,
Katy Weber 26:46
and just how has the your own diagnosis change to the way you work with your with, I guess, children and clients in general? Yeah, I
Gilly Kahn 26:54
think I'm just more sensitive, like to detect it. Like, for example, I have seen a lot of teenage girls come into the practice. And the parents will describe them as sort of like problem children. And they'll say they're very explosive. And the girls have a lot of remorse. Like, they don't want to be that way. And also, I witnessed it, like, they're, they are semi explosive. They're not breaking anything, but sort of like they will, you know, burst out of my office at any moment, because they're mad. And it causes problems at school to like, with teachers, you know, tutors will quit on them. And they often struggle with math. And I think I have an undiagnosed math disability, like 100%. But typically, this is looked at, as you know, there's a new diagnosis in the DSM five called DMDD, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, which is basically, you know, explosiveness that is the result of sort of, like, underlying their living ality. So it's under the category of mood disorders. And before I learned more about ADHD, and women, that was my first thought, even for my daughter, I thought, like, you know, what is this DMDD? Like she, you know, she flips out over the smallest thing. You know, she breaking objects. No, it just takes her a long time to move on. And she's very emotional. And I was like that, too. But I don't think I had DMDD. There just wasn't a category for it. So yeah, I mean, I think it's affected my referral for testing. Also the way I work with the parents, so I basically, work with them to help them see that it's like, not the kid trying to be difficult, because they're remorseful, if anything, they probably are punishing themselves more than their parents are punishing them. So how can the parents work them to teach them skills to move past the emotion which is inevitable, and also be accepted by family members and just society at large? Yeah, so I think it's also helpful to learn about how the ADHD brain works. It's not the kind of thing where you could be like, calm down, okay. It takes time. So you need to remove yourself from the situation. And then, you know, use some coping skills to calm down but also the people around them need to be patient.
Katy Weber 29:47
Right. And I think yeah, like you said, understanding the why underneath that is so important and understanding that if the intention is there, it's just the it's Do your actions aren't reflecting your intentions. And that's another thing that I don't see talked about a lot in the mental health curriculum, which is this element of frustration that is inherent in a lot of our depressive diagnoses, which is this idea of like, I want to do the thing, I just can't figure out how right I can't get there. And so the that intention is there. It's just the inability, and then the frustration, and I feel like that alone, that element of frustration that leads us to get so angry and start asking those questions of what's wrong with me, I'm such a disappointment. That is key to the like, difference between, say, neurodivergent, depression and something else. But I don't know, like, I feel like with children, too, a lot of the literature around raising children with ADHD is much, you know, is about like, let's help them succeed. And let's get them to be good at school. And a lot of it feels like rejecting their inherent self. Yes, so a lot of the help kind of feels like a wolf in sheep's clothing, where it's like, children maybe are interpreting your intentions to help as judgment, right? And so then they get these diagnoses of PDA and odd and you're like, Well, of course, they're gonna be demanded void it like they're feeling like their whole self is being put on trial in a lot of the ways in which parents are taught to work with children. And I just feel like, I feel myself wanting to work with children and teens more and more, the more I'm getting further in this field, because I'm just like, I feel like it's damaging some, some of the, you know, some of the ways in which are taught to like, even some of the executive functioning, coaching, not to just cast such a wide net, but I do feel like some of that is really like, there's just this inherent judgment, in their autonomy as humans that I find is, is upsetting.
Gilly Kahn 31:50
Yeah. And I think it's so natural, like, just in Western culture, to have this emphasis on academics. And that's not the most important thing in life. And it's hard to, to remember that. Like, I was recently, you know, touring schools and thinking, what do I want? For my kids are my daughter, especially if she's entering the first grade? And do I want more academic rigor, and then, you know, I thought about it, and I was like, why fix it, if it ain't broke, she's happy. I don't want to place academic rigor on her. And then she comes out unhappy, I want her to love learning, and I want her to be doing the things that she loves to do, because if I placed her in a standard, you know, curriculum that is demanding, then it's only going to be, you know, my story all over again. So I think, you know, it's just it's important to remind that parents and I have, I thought the same exact thing that that you just said, because I was looking at what's out there regarding blogs, and just articles for parents of kids with ADHD? And I would say, like, maybe 98% of them have to do with school. Right? Yeah. It's like, I'm like, first of all, I'm bored reading this. I don't want to read about school, you know. And second of all, like, your child is a human, just like you are, you know, like, it's not all about school. And the other thing is, you know, the way that schools are designed, they're not necessarily designed for your kid. So if you're telling them, you know, here's how you should succeed at school, you know, I mean, I know this is like, very unrealistic, and maybe in the future, but maybe the schools need to be the ones to change a thing or two. Yeah.
Katy Weber 33:50
Cuz even as a parent, I have so many so much conflict around this, because I had a very different upbringing, which is like I had two older brothers, who were did really well in school. And were I both went into Ivy League schools and scholarships and all the things and I was not that kid. And my parents didn't really know what to do with me. But they weren't. They didn't pressure me in an academic way. They were sort of like, well, that's fine. Every you know, not everybody is an A student, you and they would say things like, you don't have book smarts, you have street smarts. And that's fine. Like, you know, fine, we just want you to be happy and all the things that you would think on paper sound like good parenting. But I always felt looking back that I was adrift. And I didn't have structure and like I really needed more accountability from my parents, because my so much of my sense of self worth was tied to the traditional success roots of grades and college and all of that, right. And so I kept trying to stay within that narrative. And so I felt like, you know, I really wish that I had had maybe not such a rigorous upbringing, but like a little bit more structure. So I've really been Now as a parent, I'm like, What do I do? Like, I want them to feel good about themselves. And I want them to feel like they're succeeding. So I do feel like they need that pressure from me. But at the same time, I don't want to be that parent who's like, you got a 98? Where's the other 2%, which is what is happening in my, which is what's happening in my head. I mean, that's immediately where my brain goes, right? Like, there is that part that's like, you have to be as good as possible. Otherwise, you're anything below perfect is a failure, which I feel like a lot of us have that tendency, right, that perfectionism that that anxiety about performance. And I don't know, it's hard.
Gilly Kahn 35:37
Yeah, no, you're right. There needs to be a balance. There has to be a balance between structure and right. And so now let's build a robot parents that can implement
Katy Weber 35:55
all right, I love it. Well, let's outsource parenting to our AI bots. I love it. We'll just be good cop in the background. Big like, Who wants cookies? Now your partner your was is been on board with all this. Have you had a conversation with your brothers or one brother or two brothers? You had one brother? Yeah, one brother. Okay. Have you talked to any of your family members? Do you see neuro divergence everywhere you look. So since
Gilly Kahn 36:27
I started posting on social media, then I have had people in my family messaging me like, Hey, I have ADHD too, you know, but it wasn't it's not something that is, you know, announced through a loudspeaker. But you know, what, there's, it's complicated. Like my, you know, my family is not American, like we're Israeli. So honestly, growing up my you know, my family used to say that psychologists were stupid. And kids don't need psychologists. And here I am. So, I don't know, just mental health in general is was more stigmatized, I think, for generations before us. And I see it too, in my practice, where parents bring their kids in, and I could totally see it in the parents, but they don't have a diagnosis. And they're just like, oh, yeah, look at my kid, or, and this is something I like, I think maybe one of my posts is about this too. Like in the paperwork. It'll say, family history. And it's like, oh, you answered all the questions. And then you get the family history. And it says, no answer given. What it's like you're bringing your kid in, and then I mean, so maybe there isn't any family history, maybe, although that would be very surprising to me, or it's just not known, because they didn't seek out any help. Or they just they're like, You know what, I'm irrelevant. They don't even right there. So I think there's very much still very heavy stigma. It's a little bit less than it was in the past. But I think that probably contributes to just lack of awareness about like, family history regarding mental health.
Katy Weber 38:27
Two of the things I really struggled with, with my diagnosis was, you know, evidence in childhood, which I think is, you know, an important part of the diagnosis. But at the same time, oftentimes, nobody was looking, nobody knew what to look for. So there wasn't really evidence, you know, so many of us were masking and white knuckling it through a lot of experiences. And so there isn't obvious, you know, teachers don't recognize it. And girls, right, because they don't, they're, it's not something to look for. So they're what isn't really technically evidence in childhood. And then the other thing I think women especially struggle with, which is like how much is, you know, it has to be a serious impediment throughout your life, right? So you have to then ask, how much was I struggling and when you come from this belief that you're not doing enough and that you were just lazy, like, it doesn't feel like struggle, it feels like you're the problem. And so that was a big thing for me, which was like, I never acknowledged how much I was struggling, because I felt like well, the only reason I'm struggling is because I'm not doing enough or I'm not working hard enough, or I'm not figuring it out. And so it was really like, I don't feel like many times we get that there were serious impediments because of the ADHD. We just think we were screwing up and so that I think is really like a difficult one to kind of look through when you're looking over the before a diagnosis, which is like how do you even quantify the struggle? When women are especially or you know, we are given all of the you know, the chores and domestic tasks and all this stuff that we hate and yes, we struggle with it, but like it Are we really struggling right at that point, right.
Gilly Kahn 40:03
And then there's standardized testing, I took the LSAT, in preparation for my applications for college, the LSAT three times, and I'm not done the A CT three times, six times, like six times, I sat through this exam. And it's because I really, really struggled with it. Yet in college, I basically had a four point out. Because I was able to take my time, choose what I got to study, and then a lot of my exams, because my second major was creative writing, we're writing assignments, which allowed me to sit and reflect. And that's how I work best, not under timed conditions, not in these, you know, cookie cutter ways where I need to complete overcomes difficult math problems, and to read to myself silently and somehow retain the information and the in the subjects in there. Oh, my God. I mean, like, they're so boring. I mean, I would pray that there would be something about psychology in there. And of course, there wasn't. After six times, you would think you would come across one article, right. But yeah, I think, you know, I kids are lucky now, the fact that colleges are moving away from standardized testing and requiring it, I think it's the right move. And it's really going to, I think, allow more diversity, and, I think, allow a lot of people to prove themselves, because, you know, imagine if I that wasn't required for me, like, I don't know, what my future would have looked like, if it would have been different. I mean, I'm happy where I am. But, man, that was a struggle.
Katy Weber 42:02
Yeah. Oh, yeah. I'm lucky I was racing Canada, so I didn't have to do any standardized testing. And I was trying to be I was facing the the concept of doing the GRE to go to grad school. And I was terrified, because I just knew I was like, this is not gonna reflect my knowledge. And it was just so disheartening to know that, and then the just before, you know, right before I was applying the for the year that I applied for grad school, they dropped the GRE requirement. So and that seems to be the trend now with a lot of graduate programs from like, oh my god, right, where they're actually taking the time to look at, you know, because I'm like, sitting I'm, like, 48 years old, I have a lifetime of achievement. And I'm like, you really are going to discount all of that if, for this score of this four hour test I took Yep, it was so yes.
Gilly Kahn 42:52
And that's how they threw people in the trash, like complete applications, if you didn't meet the cutoff. I
Katy Weber 42:58
don't know how we got on this. So okay, so I want to hear about your book. So I'm so you're blogging for attitude magazine, which, by the way, to their credit, their most recent issue, I guess it's the December issue. I just got it in the mail the other day, it had a whole article about like, college isn't for everyone, right. And like, this shouldn't be the standard of success that we measure intellect by, and that a lot of people with ADHD are much more geared toward, you know, more like, directive courses, right, that might come from a community college or skill building and all of that, like much more structured than just a liberal arts degree that's going to cost them $200,000 That they're gonna have to pay off. Like, I was really impressed because I feel like that is a conversation that's really difficult to initiate in our society, but at the same time, it's I feel like we need to have it especially with tuition the way it is, and debt, you know, grad school debt, and all the things that people with ADHD are terrible at dealing with. Like, I just feel like a four year college for my own kids. I'm like, I don't know if that's really something we want to be pushing as the end all in terms of life success. But anyway, I want to hear about your book. So. So you're so well, congratulations. Are you writing about the diagnostic process? Or what is though,
Gilly Kahn 44:20
I am still in the beginning phases. But I got a literary agent who I love. So I'm working with her. And I'm working with Anne Bertolucci.
Katy Weber 44:32
Oh No way. Oh, that's awesome.
Gilly Kahn 44:36
On your show, yeah, she's my writing coach. I love her. Um, but yeah, so I it's, you know, everything is a work in progress. But my title is basically how I conceptualize ADHD, sensitive and selective. So I think that you know, emotion dysregulation needs to find its way into the criteria and also It's not an attention deficit. It's selectivity of attention. Because when we're interested in something like, especially for me like I'm a stubborn mofo, like, I'm all in. And so select it's selective attention. It's not that I don't have attention, I have too much of it. And so it's about ADHD than women. But I think what, what sets this apart, and I guess this is nice, prep for that, too, is that there's a memoir component. So I write about my life in there, I write about my experiences as a clinical psychologist, working with people with ADHD. And there's a self help component to so they're also like tips and future directions. And so I think what will be nice about it, and this is what I'm trying to do is try to make the language as accessible as possible. So that way, anyone could understand it.
Katy Weber 46:06
Amazing, that's great. And I so I assume that I imagined the blog writing will help with that, too, in terms of some some regular deadlines. That's the hardest thing with book writing is the is breaking it down into the smaller deadlines and smaller steps. But it sounds like you've got a great team working with you. That's amazing, right?
Gilly Kahn 46:27
Yeah, that's a piece of it. And that's advice I would give, I think anyone you know, anyone with ADHD, who has a big goal that they're trying to accomplish, like, initially, I remember working through, you know, should I go the traditional publishing route, should I go to the self publishing route, and I was, like, if I go the self publishing route, it's gonna end up like, all the half read books on my shelf, like, it's just not going to happen. You know, it's not, and it's going to be too hard for me. People are like, you hire a team, I'm like, that would mean, I would have to sit and find a team. You know, like, you know, yourself. I was like, I need someone to hold my hand. And I need someone you know, who can help me through the process. So yeah, so I think you know, that that's helpful and probably help others with ADHD as well.
Katy Weber 47:20
And it would actually get accomplished to write as opposed to, like you said, the one of the many ideas that ends up on the spread out on the dining room table until somebody walks along and distracts us.
Gilly Kahn 47:33
I love it. I love how we're like cooking in all of these pieces of the conversation from earlier.
Katy Weber 47:39
Right and bringing in the earlier Well, I you know, it's funny, because there's it reminded me of this story that I've often thought about with my sixth grade teacher, because I would always do these, like really, really creative projects. And with book reports, I would always want to like do a display and, you know, Polaroid pictures, and always do these, like multi level diorama type presentations. And I would always like, get a B, you know, and I would work so hard for them. And I would get a B and everybody else. And right. And I remember like there would always be some kind of like just heart wrenching criticism from my teacher about how I didn't work hard enough. And I didn't put enough effort in and, and I remember that was the end of sixth grade. So I was about to like, move. It was my elementary school went to sixth grade. So we were about to move up to the next junior high. And it was the last project of the year. And I went to Mrs. Carly. If she's, I can't imagine if she's out there listening. But I went to her and I was like, How do I get an A plus, like, I just want an A plus before I graduate. And she was like, Well, you know, this is you just have to put the effort in and you have to work really hard. And you just have to do more. And she was just like all this really unhelpful advice for somebody like me. And I remember going home and I did it. It was on a Hawaii and other country of Hawaii. And I just went and sat down with an Encyclopedia Britannica. And I just copied it out. Like I just copied out the Encyclopedia Britannica of Hawaii. And it was like 50 pages of the most boring mundane facts about this state. It was just boring facts about like their weather and you know, all this stuff. It was just it was so sad. And I handed it in and I got an A plus. And I was like this life lesson that was taught to me about like, where, you know, the concessions that you have to make, you know, and I've just like obviously at the time had no idea this was ADHD related but now looking back at that poor sixth grader and like it just makes me so sad to think of that how it was just like I finally got that a plus but it was so hollow because it just felt like really like that's that's all it took you know? And I just feel like it's such a reflection on how like you said like how our essence right our beauty our wonderful. The wonderfulness about the ADHD brain is slike can be so extinguished so quickly. In
Gilly Kahn 50:00
childhood, exactly the word I was going to use, right coming from Hanukkah, I'm thinking about all the candles like, right? Just
Katy Weber 50:09
Oh, yeah, gosh, and then like, right and then just think about the emotional element and and how it's just never just got like it's just not even talked about an assessment. So I'm so glad to have your perspective out there. I'm so excited to to see more of your work and I love your Instagram channel. So I hope I know that's a lot of work. So I hope it stays interesting for you try to outsource as much as you can. That's fine. Because I'm like, it gets really boring really quick. And I I don't know, I find I got burnt out. And I'm always amazed at Instagram creators because it's I think it is such an incredible platform.
Gilly Kahn 50:50
I'm not though I started in September, I was off social media for seven years. Yeah. You
Katy Weber 50:55
mentioned it was ADHD related. Was it rejection sensitivity related? Because I Oh, yeah. Yeah, I had a few of those where I just like I had to leave Facebook entirely. I have a really difficult relationship with. I feel like that's a whole other episode. So So speaking of the name, ADHD, it's obviously a question I love to ask, Do you have a name you would give it? Yeah.
Gilly Kahn 51:20
So honestly, I so I wrote like some notes about this, because I think it's a complicated answer. But I was thinking like, what would I fit in? I would fit in the emotional components. But the other thing is that I am not a fan of types of presentations. I think it should be considered continuum or spectrum, like autism is why shouldn't ADHD they're under the same category? So I think it should be I don't know, we're really going to simplify it across like genders and everything and might be like, executive functioning spectrum. condition. I don't like disorder.
Katy Weber 52:06
Yeah. I feel like clinicians are moving away from ASD for that same reason, right? Or is it mostly just the the Autistic community that's moving away from ASD?
Gilly Kahn 52:16
What like the disorder piece?
Katy Weber 52:18
Yeah, that term? Yes. Yeah. Amazing. So do you do group coaching with kids? Or is it mostly adult?
Gilly Kahn 52:26
So I started the call it free plus teen because the ages are like 11 to 15. Social skills were at the practice. So yeah, it's with kids, not with adults. But I see a few adults for individual therapy too. But most of my work is actually with teens.
Katy Weber 52:49
Ah, I'm so glad to hear that. Because I feel like your perspective is so important and good. I wish a 13 year old may could have. So exposure to some positive validation a little more. So that's amazing. My
Gilly Kahn 53:04
favorite thing is when they complain about adults, like their teachers and the group, I'm just like, I'm going with the kids. I wanna you guys.
Katy Weber 53:17
Well, this has been so great. Thank you so much for reaching out. I was so glad we got to meet and wow, you're doing some amazing stuff. So keep it up. And I look forward to reading your book and and say hi to Ana. Wonderful. Take care. Thank you so much. Of
Gilly Kahn 53:33
course. Katie, thank you so much to you too. I mean, for me, it's like this is nothing like you are dedicating your life to it and to sharing women's stories. And there's no better way I think to do it than through a podcast. So thank you for the time that you are devoting to this. Oh, thank you.
Katy Weber 53:59
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 adhd.com 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 adhd.com/podcast 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 are audible. And if that feels like too much, and I totally get it. Please just take a few seconds right now to give me a five star rating or share this episode on your own social media to help reach more women who maybe have yet to discover and lean into this gift of nerd of urgency. And they may be struggling and they don't even know why. I'll see you next week when I interview another amazing woman who discovered she's not lazy or crazy or broken. But she has ADHD and she's now on the path to understanding her neuro divergent mind. And finally using this gift to her advantage take care till then