Rachael: ADHD is my strength, not a barrier

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

This October we are celebrating ADHD Awareness Month. With over 800,000 Australians living with ADHD, it is the most common neurodevelopmental condition yet still very misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

In recognition of this month, our EPIC Assist Employment Consultant Rachael has shared her story about living and working with ADHD. Every day, Rachael helps job seekers with a disability, injury, mental health condition, or health condition discover their passions, upskill and prepare for work, and find a job they love. By telling her story, she hopes to inspire other people with ADHD to embrace their disability and show them they can be successful too.

Rachael’s story: living and working with ADHD

My name is Rachael, I am an Employment Consultant with EPIC Assist, and I have ADHD.

ADHD is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or Attention Deficit Disorder. Having ADHD has shaped who I am today. I was not diagnosed until 18 and it made so much sense once I knew. I am proud of my ADHD and love to share my experiences with others. During school I always struggled with the work, I was never able to build relationships with my peers, and I ended up leaving after Year 10. I have since then completed three diplomas, with my most recent being a Diploma in Mental Health.

ADHD went from being a barrier for me to being the reason I can do so well and succeed in many things.

The stigma behind ADHD is often young boys who can’t sit still in class, but there is so much more to it. I was misdiagnosed with anxiety, depression, bipolar, and borderline personality disorder before being told it’s ASD and ADHD. ADHD in females and adults is not spoken about enough, so many people go undiagnosed because of this.

If ADHD becomes an everyday topic, it could help so many get the support they need and stop struggling.

The stigma behind medication is also a big barrier to those with ADHD. For me, medication has changed my life for the best. I went from being emotional and angry, unable to focus, not knowing how to fix it, to being able to think a bit more clearly and manage my emotions a bit better. My medication isn’t what college students take to study; it is what helps me function day-to-day.

ADHD can show in so many different ways, from the hyperactivity and struggling with concentration and attention, to being unable to build relationships with others and unable to hold down a job or study. But the positives can be focusing on the small things and noticing small details others can’t, the ability to focus solely on tasks that are interesting and take in all of the information, and being fast learners.

When you have met one person with ADHD you have met one person with ADHD though.

Everyone will experience things so differently and you need to get to know the individual to know their barriers and strengths.

I have worked since I was 16. Not knowing I had ADHD, I wouldn’t last longer than three to six months in a job. I would jump between jobs and industries because I would get bored. I would speak too fast in interviews and would not process or understand questions quick enough which would cause anxiety. Now that I’ve come to EPIC and work as an Employment Consultant with job seekers with disability, having this personal knowledge I can help job seekers to prepare for interviews. I can talk to employers and explain how they can tailor the interview process.

I can break down the walls of the unknown and show how ADHD is a positive and how a team member with ADHD can be the biggest asset to their team.

Sharing my story makes me feel proud, proud that I can help others and proud that I have gotten to where I am today. ADHD Awareness Month is important to spread this message: spread the message of ADHD, how to notice it, how and where to receive help, and most importantly that ADHD is not only for children.

EPIC Assist is helping people with disability find work

EPIC Assist has been helping people with a disability, injury, mental health condition, and health condition find and maintain meaningful employment for over 30 years.

We believe everyone should have the opportunity to reach their potential and we strive to always lead by example with our hiring practices. One in three EPIC staff members have a lived experience with disability, and these perspectives, life experiences, and skills empower us to understand our job seekers on a personal level.

Stories like Rachael’s show that disability can be your strength, and we work hard to discover this in all our job seekers. If you’re looking for help preparing for, finding, and keeping a job you love, get in touch with EPIC Assist today.

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