My life with ADHD and somehow managing a career in Sales

Hey there brains. My name is Jason, I’m 27, and I’ve struggled my entire life with my ADHD. I always tried to convince myself that I could manage my ADHD on my own. I’ve tried making lists, which do help…for a little while…and then I forget about them or that I find them so overwhelming to update that I stopped doing them. I even went to a therapist, but then I got the feeling of shame, thinking that something was wrong with me and that only people who truly needed a therapist are those with severe challenges. It also seems that no one in my life seems to accept that ADHD is a real thing, that a diagnosis is handed out like candy and that everyone takes adderral to stay awake. Though the thing is, until I found this channel on YouTube, I always thought it was just me: the constant arguments with my wife over why it takes me 5 days to do the laundry or why I wait until 10 minutes before she comes home from work to start dinner or do any of my tasks for the day even though I’ve worked from home for almost 2 years now. I’ve watched almost every single one of Jessica’s videos and I finally feel like I’m not alone, that yes I can manage it better, but no, it’s not me being lazy or incompetent or messy (much like my car lol). It’s that I struggle with my ADHD (since I was diagnosed at 4 years old).

Also, let’s talk ADHD and Sales for a second. Let’s just say that my ADHD has pushed my mental focus and memorization to the absolute limits in such a cutthroat profession. It has absolutely not been easy when you are in charge of two very large accounts and having 15+ people a day reach out to you with quote updates and ordering documents and me with my brain, waiting until the very last second to send these out when people have been waiting. I do love my job, the money, and I do love what I sell, but keeping track of orders AND getting them out in a reasonable amount of time is an absolute NIGHTMARE with ADHD. I have found that one of the best ways to keep track of everything is to either write manual lists (which I had a sales rep tell me one time that it was stupid to write things down {I’ve memorized entire essays by writing them over and over, despite using 100 sheets of paper}), but one thing that rep did teach me to use was OneNote and Google Sheets. Having things that can be modified live or saved without having to worry if you’re going to lose the information is so fantastically amazing (thank you Cloud). But anyway, just wanted to introduce myself and meet other brains. As you can tell, I spent 20 minutes writing this instead of working, so clearly my brain is not working normally :stuck_out_tongue: Thanks for listening fellow brains!

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Welcome to the community, Jason! I know nothing about sales but I imagine ADHD is harder for a sales person than someone in the technical field like me! Being able to memorize entire essays is pretty amazing. I could never do that!

A written list of things to do works for me better than typing them. My life is not busy like yours so no big deal if I don’t check my list every day. Even then more things get done if I write them down than if I don’t (or add them in an App).

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i took some psych classes in college and the professors were both marriage/relationship therapists. they told us that they both go to marriage therapy once or twice a year and have done for their whole relationships as “tune ups.” just like getting the oil changed in the car.

they recommended it to all of us. go before there are problems, they said. most of their clients come when they are considering divorce to save the marriage. they begged us (a bunch of 18/19 year olds) to go from the outset just to establish good patterns.

of course, therapists have to go to individual therapy too. i think, but for access problems, everyone could benefit from a bit of therapy.

being a human – even a neurotypical human with nothing majorly bad happening in your life – is hard. we could all use someone who is removed from the situation to listen and help us learn skills. plus, we can all use someone who is on our team but will still tell us difficult truths in constructive ways.

those feelings of shame about therapy are a great thing to discuss in therapy btw. shame is big in adhd.

shame sucks. therapy is great.

anyway, welcome!

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Welcome to the HowToADHD forums @Aston427 !

The only sales work that I’ve done is retail sales, which is completely different from what you do. From what you’ve shared, it sounds like you have the Inattentive ADHD traits (or perhaps you have the Combined presentation, if you have both Inattentive and Hyperactive-Impulsive traits).

My own ADHD is only Inattentive. I worked in specialty Retail stores in which it was my job to approach customers, assess their shopping needs, and assist them as much as possible. (My first job was selling leather goods and luggage, the next was selling exercise equipment, and the last retail job I had was selling shoes.) Because of the need to bounce between customers, or move from one sale to the next, my natural distractibility was a positive trait.

My career is now in Information Technology, and I’ve found that my niche is still in customer service & problem solving, so I like to work in Tech Support. I’ve tried other roles that require more long-term project work, and I was not very good at it. That was more similar to the work that you do in Sales.

I used to have a similar belief about therapy to what you expressed. But @papserweight is right, it’s not just for certain people. Anybody can benefit from therapy. Think about it from this perspective: if your car was making a certain noise that you didn’t recognize, you might ask a friend who knows a lot about cars, or you might even skip that and take it to a mechanic. Everybody has their own skill sets, and for therapists, it’s helping people with personal issues.

Finding a good therapist is like shopping for a car.

  • They’ve got to be in your budget (I’ve only had to pay for therapy for myself one time, because my last couple of jobs have had therapy services included in the benefits package).
  • They’ve got to meet your needs. (If you have a long commute, comfort and fuel economy would help. If you live on a ranch, you would probably need a 4x4 pickup.) Therapists have specialties, areas of expertise and types of therapy they are trained in.
  • They’ve got to be “a good fit” for you, with how comfortable you feel with them, how well they meet your needs, and how effective the therapy you get with them is for you.

The first therapy I went through was to deal with work-induced anxiety. At the time, I finally admitted to myself that I might have ADHD, and so I also asked the licensed counselor that I was going to for anxiety to assess me for ADHD. After several sessions, the counselor had given me a diagnosis of anxiety and ADHD, and informed my doctor of both diagnosed. (My doctor had me fill out some questionnaires, and confirmed both diagnosed, and started me on medication… First for the anxiety, and then for ADHD.)

  • This is an example that shows that effective treatment sometimes requires a treatment team. Sometimes, one care provider doesn’t have the necessary capabilities to fully address your needs.

I continued with the counselor a little while longer to learn strategies and techniques that would help me:

  • mindfulness for the anxiety,
  • talk therapy for the anxiety (I think this was the most helpful, just to have someone I could tell everything to, someone removed from my work situation),
  • for the ADHD she taught me about “executive functioning skills”, and had me take a quiz to find which skills I was stronger and weaker in.

We ADHD Brains naturally use our strengths to find unique and creative ways to make up for our weaknesses. You and in might both struggle with Time Management, but we would each come up with our own strategies to still meet our work goals.

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EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING SKILLS

  • There are several theories about these. There are several proposed sets of skills, from as little as 3 to over 20. The following is what the counselor did with me in my therapy work with her:

Below are my self test scores, from the Executive Skills Questionnaire in the book “The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success” by Dawson and Guare {taken around 8/1/2020, these can change over time, but it is unlikely that a weakness would ever become a strength, yet perhaps not impossible}

Response inhibition (15, Highest)
Flexibility (11, high)
Metacognition (11, high)
Goal-directed persistence (9)
Stress tolerance (8)
Emotional control (7)
Working memory (7)
Planning/prioritization (7)
Sustained attention (6)
Organization (5, low)
Time management (5, low)
Task initiation (4, lowest)

[in that book, the possible score range is 3-18 for each skill.]


The book authors say to pay attention to the Top 3 and Bottom 3.

It’s been almost a year and a half, and I can say that I don’t beat myself up over my time management struggles as much as I used to. I changed jobs, from project-oriented work as an Application Administrator (I was a system administrator for specific software and online services), to the daily break-fix work of Tech Support.

Working in Tech Support definitely plays to my strengths of

  • Response Inhibition (I don’t react in a way that makes my customers feel bad about their tech issues, and I’ve dealt with stuff that makes neurotypical people groan and roll their eyes, or laugh out loud)
  • Flexibility & Metacognition (I find many ways to find solutions, and I have come up with some really creative solutions sometimes)

Also, I deal with most tech issues as they come to light, so no heavy reliance on a need for Time Management.


THERAPY

The other therapists I’ve gone to included:

  • A counselor specializing in ADHD who helped me get through major depression caused by my marriage issues, but gave me bad relationship advice (he went through a bad divorce, and I think he was projecting his ex-wife’s issues onto my wife)
  • A marriage and family therapist with a long track record and stellar ratings, whom I dropped after one session because I considered the things he said to me to be unethical (they bordered on violating the ethics standards for his counseling license, but didn’t outright violate them, but in my book his behavior was unprofessional and a violation of my trust)
  • The last counselor I had is someone that I would want as a friend. He was patient, attentive, admitted what he didn’t know, and taught me some CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) techniques that have really helped me. In our last session, he mentioned that he might contact me occasionally just to touch base and see how I was doing. Very often, counselors have a professional demeanor that makes them seem detached, but this man seemed genuine, human, understanding. And that was exactly what I needed at the time, to feel understood (and to learn the CBT techniques that have indeed helped me).

Getting therapy much sooner when I was going through the work struggles, and getting diagnosed & treated for ADHD much earlier on, may have helped me save my marriage. I’m recently divorced (my wife fell for another man and had an affair… If I hadn’t pulled away emotionally while going though the work struggles, she might not have been vulnerable to the attention paid her by the other man).

Anything that can help you be your best self is certainly worth looking into.

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