Getting to know Leanne Maskell, author of "ADHD: An A-Z"
This week we are celebrating a fellow ADHDer, who some of you may already know... Not unlike many ADHDers, Leanne Maskell struggled to get a diagnosis for her ADHD. Upon being able to put a name to what she was experiencing, by baptism of fire, she wrote a book to help other ADHDers navigate their ADHD challenges and the system here in the UK. Its available to purchase now and is an A-Z guide of living life with ADHD. This book is the first of its kind over this side of the pond.
We interviewed Leanne about her experiences with ADHD and becoming an author for the second time. She is an inspiration to me and I hope to you too.
1. Tell me about the book ... what was your motivation for writing it?
Leanne: To raise awareness of ADHD and the problems mental health services have with treating it. I want people to be able to get the help that they need. To provide a resource for my community, including practical exercises and coping strategies for ADHDers to relate to - so we don't feel alone.
My waiting list was an unfathomable 7 years for diagnosis on the NHS. Fortunately, I was privileged enough to get diagnosed privately, (at my own expense), a cost of £800, add to that a whopping £300 per month for medication. This was until I insisted on being transferred to the NHS (which they advised against). There are many people unable to afford the financial costs. And for those that can - know that this 'back door' route is available to them. I think this results in the exploitation of vulnerable people in regards to their mental health. 2. Who did you write the book for? Leanne: I knew nothing about ADHD when I was diagnosed with it, and because I didn't 'believe' in it, the experience was incredibly stressful until I learned more and accepted that it was a real neurological condition that I deserved to get help for. There is so much misinformation online and social stigma, which can feel really confusing and lonely when trying to understand more about it.
3. What was the hardest thing in producing the book?
Leanne: As anyone with ADHD will know, we are great at starting things... not so great at finishing them off! I was very fortunate having Stephanie as my ADHD Coach, who helped me finish off the last 10%, which was definitely the hardest part.
I thought I could do it in two weeks, and it took about two months of self-doubt, overthinking what I had written, trying to manage new ideas (such as including scientific research for all 27 chapters!) and overcoming my own insecurities to reach publication.
Not to mention, the absolute hell of checking all 276 pages repeatedly for mistakes, burning myself out in the quest for perfection, then realising I had misspelt the title when I finally received the first print copy! (Now a highly sought after limited edition might I add) 4. What is your favourite letter? (of A to Z)
Leanne: 'W is for Weaknesses' - which is actually about how these can be transformed into strengths! Hardly any research has been done about the positive aspects of ADHD itself, but there is a great study, which I focus this chapter on. Characteristics that researchers found accompany ADHD include courage, energy, resilience, creativity, honesty and integrity. ADHD often comes with a whole load of shame, being able to empower ourselves to step out of this and view ourselves in a different light is crucial. The so-called 'superpower' feels pretty annoying when we are struggling to even get out of bed in the morning! These struggles are all part of our precious package.
5. Best thing about having ADHD...? Leanne: It makes for a very fun, interesting life! I have done everything from trapeze and aerial hoop classes, mermaid swimming classes in Australia, silent discos in the morning, setting up mental health circles outside the London Eye at 7am during the cold, dark month of January. I have started SO MANY projects / blogs / books etc, which often don't get finished, but it's always fun to start! And i'm proof that some of them actually do get finished. 6. Worst thing about having ADHD...? Leanne: The incessant overthinking and way that it can crush your self-esteem in seconds. For example, I spent an hour and a half in the supermarket yesterday stressing out over what to buy, sending myself into this bizarre meltdown over decisions that literally don't matter at all in the grand scheme of things. On the flip side, important, emotional decisions such as deciding to spontaneously move to another country, can be taken without thinking them through at all! I hate not being able to control the overthinking of things from a million different angles. It can feel like you are in a constant battle against yourself, which is exhausting. I'm grateful to have a better understanding of how to manage myself these days. Stephanie suggested a great method, 'set an intention to decide on one thing (such as to trust in a new relationship - not so applicable for the supermarket!), until you are given evidence that proves otherwise.'
7. How do you feel now it's written? Leanne: Interesting... I have gone through a crisis of confidence since publishing, however I opened my book and actioned the exercises in chapter 'K is for Kindness', it helped massively. I feel dauntingly vulnerable putting myself out there in the world - especially during lockdown, my self esteem has taken a bashing. I have to remind myself daily to 'take a deep breath and get some perspective' - to do this I imagine myself at 21 years old (when my symptoms started spiraling out of control), reading my ADHD book, it's my gift to myself and others. Helping those in the dark (emotionally and information wise) is all that's important - now,
Thank you Leanne for daring greatly - for getting out of your own way to support the ADHD community. We are behind you all the way. You are an inspiration to all of us! If you would like to purchase a copy of the book, you can do so here. Also if you are looking for a support network, come and join the ADHD Unlocked Membership Community. If you too have gifts to share with the world but you are getting in your own way then get in touch. Book a free introductory call with me.