PENNY JARRETT, MENTAL HEALTH BLOGGER & WELLNESS COACH
Guess where I found Penny? On the internet of course aka our favorite Social Media platform, Instagram. I started following her first because she just seemed like a cool girl and positive spirit, then I realised she’s also blogging and openly sharing her journey since she’s been diagnosed with ADHD. Of course, I was over the moon when she agreed to do an interview, because well, we can all learn a lot from her about mental health.
You have been diagnosed with ADHD and are openly advocating to change peoples view on it. A lot of people have heard of ADHD, but probably don’t know all the deets. When and how did you find out?
I didn’t even know adults could have ADHD until I found out I had it at the end of 2017. I thought I was having a hormonal problem or battling depression, so for the first time in my life I spoke to a doctor about how I felt. I had a traumatic childhood, so I knew one day I would need to seek counselling of some kind. I felt the effects of the bad things I had experienced had damaged my perception but I didn’t know anything about mental health or the issues associated with it. I was shocked to find that a lot of the trauma symptoms were actually similar to those that a person with ADHD struggles with, but I felt dealing with the ADHD side of things would be less painful, so I pushed the childhood stuff to the side and learnt as much as I could about how to manage my ADHD brain.
What did you do once you found out and how did you feel about it?
I felt doomed if I’m honest. As I mentioned in the previous question, I knew a lot of my odd behaviour was related to past pains and experiences but there were some things I struggled with, which I was devastated to learn were not just symptoms of trauma but also difficulties relating to my ADHD. Since ADHD is incurable, I felt like I wouldn’t get past some of it, but I was desperate to remove the blocks in my life so I learnt loads and begun to feel extremely liberated in doing so.
I started to understand and forgive myself for things I had blamed myself for. I also grew passionate about helping others who may have felt like me, stuck and constantly frustrated. That’s when I started my blog.
Could you explain how it affects you in your daily life?
No exaggeration, this question and the one after are the reason this has taken me so long to complete. I really don’t know where to start in explaining this, because the layers of ADHD and the traits are endless. Can I not just plug my blog here? LOL. Its’ not really a question of how it effects my daily life because it’s all I know – my personality and daily experience is built up on these traits that I have always had, but that were just undiagnosed.
So here instead are a few of the things I struggle with because of my ADHD that lead to my diagnosis:
- Severe procrastination and the inability to act on ideas
- Low self esteem and anxiety
- Emotional Dysregulation
- Misplacing things seconds after picking them up
- Inability to focus on tasks for long (this includes cleaning, reading, conversating…anything lol) This means I can have 12 tasks on the go at any one time and none get completed
- Lateness but not due to waking late but just not being able to organize and prioritize my time effectively – for example, deciding to wash dishes seconds before I’m meant to leave but then gazing at the wall for 20 mins doing nothing straight after my shower
- Inability to sit still for long – this can lead to several unnecessary toilet breaks
How do you deal with your symptoms?
I know how to manage my ADHD naturally (without meds) and keep the harder to deal with symptoms at bay, but I often forget what works and can also get bored of doing something often when it does start to work if that makes sense. Like I can hyperfocus on something when I find out it will make me feel better, but then once I feel better, I am super inconsistent unless I feel it’s an emergency. So I am not the greatest at dealing with it on a long term basis but some of the things I do are:
- I take supplements for focus and brain health as mentioned below
- Regular Movement (walks/gym)
- Specific breathing exercises to calm anxiety
- I read out positive affirmations to beat anxiety, low self-esteem and overthinking
- I eat as little animal products and sugar as possible
- I listen to music and use art and colors to help me concentrate
- I TRY to limit my phone/technology use
What kinds of meds do you take on a daily basis?
I don’t take any medication at the moment but I do take vitamins D, B12, b6, C with Rosehips and Omega 3. I used to be against the idea of taking medication for mental health issues because of all the stigma around them. I felt like they would numb me down, so I would feel less and therefore make me unable to feel good things or dull my creativity. Now I know that there are some great benefits to taking medication, but I am currently trying to manage my mental health naturally.
You’re on a mission to change the stigma of ADHD. What do you think is the biggest prejudice about it?
There are loads of negative judgements associated with ADHD. The two that irritate me the most are that it is something that attention seeking children have due to bad parenting, and the other one is that it doesn’t even exist and that it’s just an excuse for lazy people.
What do you think is important if you for example have a partner/close friend/family member who has ADHD?
Research the condition. There are so many layers to ADHD and so many things that a person who struggles with the symptoms can’t explain so if you have someone in your life who has it, just try to read up on it as much as possible – gain a better understanding of how they think, why they behave in the way that they do and what a hard day may look like. This way, you are loving them in the most powerful way and you can actually protect yourself from offence in some instances, too.
Some people maybe realize, that they have some symptoms of ADHD but aren’t sure if it’s really it. When would you recommend to get tested?
As soon as they have the feeling. Get referred to an ADHD specialist or a Psychologist because sadly a lot of GP’s and medical professionals in general have no clue about ADHD. I was told more than once that adults can’t have it. I get furious just thinking about it. Also, if someone feels they have ADHD and then go on to get diagnosed with anxiety or depression (this is a common misdiagnosis), then I want to urge them to be bold and tell the practitioner that anxiety and depression are symptoms of ADHD and that they would like to speak to someone more experienced in this area.
We love your Youtube channel! What are the future plans for it?
I am going to start posting videos regularly again soon. I started doing them weekly but in great ADHD fashion, got hyper-focused on other things and didn’t want to start getting overwhelmed by pressure because I knew that would only lead to me posting stuff half-heartedly, but I have loads of great conversations that I have filmed with some AMAZING people so can’t wait to share them.
You’re inspiration cards are absolutely lovely! How did you come up with that idea?
I have always written things down in order to remember them, especially uplifting truths and positive affirmations, that I so easily forget and started doing the same for my friends. I would write cards or letters and include some of them to encourage and uplift them too and one day I was at work and found myself doodling which really helped me to focus on the phone whilst speaking to clients. These doodles turned into positive affirmation cards and I kept the ones I felt I needed the most in a little mesh bag in my handbag like an emergency kit. I wrote a blog post about how much they helped me when I felt anxious from overthinking and loads of people asked for some so I started sending them out and VOILA…Pennybelle Creations Ltd was born.
What message about ADHD would you love to spread in the world?
ADHD is not a behavioural issue, it is a brain development issue. Our brains function differently to that of a neurotypical person, it’s not a choice. Despite the frustrations attached, when managed effectively, it can often display the traits of a SUPERHERO!