May 24, 2021

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My Life With ADHD


A flatlay image on a white honey-comb tile with 4 color brushes in different colors and 4 color bowls in pink and blue. Text overlay reads "creativity and ADHD"

“All we have to do in this life is be ourselves. That’s your only responsibility”

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Welcome back to The Anxious Creative podcast, I’m so excited that you’re here and we’re hanging out!

This week we have a very special guest, my new internet bestie, Cara DiBella. We’re talking about mental health and ADHD. 

I know that ADHD has become pretty trendy recently and many of us creatives are realizing that we relate to a lot of the symptoms. I know for myself it’s been huge to know that I’m not the only one whose brain feels totally scattered and unfocused all the time. 

Get ready to dive into this podcast where Cara and I both get a little squirrely and go off onto many tangents. Whether you’re formally diagnosed, suspecting of ADHD or you relate to being a creative who gets excited about new things, you’re going to love this episode. 

Buckle up friend, ‘cause this is a good one!

Filling a Need

Cara is a passionate mental health advocate and the host of her own podcast, The Pretty Good Podcast. 

She started her podcast about a year ago, when covid hit. It was an idea that she’d had for years. She always knew that she was meant to do something more and something bigger. She wanted to make an impact on the people around her but wasn’t exactly sure how to do that. 

Now she sits down and talks to entrepreneurs who’ve taken a risk and a leap in their business to pursue something. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. On Cara’s podcast they keep it real, talking about the barriers and obstacles and providing real insight into what it takes to create a successful business. 

Cara noticed a common theme from the entrepreneurs she talked to, they didn’t give up and they didn’t stop. That overarching theme throughout each episode has had a really powerful impact for Cara as well as her audience. 

Cara had to stop recording her podcast last October and hasn’t put out an episode in 6 months (I also took a 6 month hiatus from my podcast after the first year). 

Cara admits that she doesn’t have an off switch and is such a perfectionist and a control freak that she goes and goes until she can’t anymore. It was actually her therapist who suggested she take a break and it wasn’t until Cara hit a low and a breaking point that she understood what her therapist meant. 

She had pushed herself for months and months and now needed to take a step back to get herself into a better place mentally. 

Getting a Diagnosis

During her break from recording the podcast, Cara got diagnosed with ADHD. This wasn’t easy to accept for Cara because, as she puts it: 

“It’s not like you can’t do stuff, it’s not that you don’t understand things, it’s just that your focus and attention is different. And when you hyperfocus you can get stuff done so freaking quick and because I can do that every once and a while, I expect myself to be able to do that every single day.”

There’s a sense of shame that comes along with not getting 110% done. Cara says that unless she won the Nobel Peace Prize she would never be satisfied with what she’s accomplished. 

Cara admits that in the last year, the combination of starting her own business, working from home by herself, and being in lockdown started to make her very depressed. She’s a very extroverted person and she realized that going to the office gave her energy and without it, she noticed that energy was dropping fast. 

Cara is no stranger to struggling with mental health and openly shares that she’s struggled with anxiety for a long time. The anxiety puts her in constant fight or flight mode. Although she admits that there was never a real “reason” for her anxiety, once she got the ADHD diagnosis it became a lot clearer. 

She describes it as constantly having open loops in her brain and never being able to close them and actually get them off her mind. 

I relate to this so much as I used to be the queen of post-it notes. I swear I used to have about 50 on my desk at any given time. 

The biggest shift I noticed was going from being a hairstylist behind the chair where I was moving, working with my hands and had a set schedule for each client to working on my online business where I constantly had creative thoughts. “I want to create this for my podcast… I wanna do that for my course… Oooh I really love that graphic. Could I do something like that…?” 

It truly felt like my brain had exploded. 

Shifting my job description made my brain excited but I couldn’t systematize anything. Before at the salon, I could be creative for a client for 2-3 hours and then they were gone. It was a lot harder to turn off my creativity with my online business. 

The Imposter Syndrome

Neither Cara nor I are strangers to imposter syndrome and for Cara, getting the ADHD diagnosis brought up a whole new level of imposter syndrome. 

“Well, I don’t think I even have this…” was a common thought at the beginning. 

There is stigma around taking medications for your brain (I chatted about it with my friend Piper De Young in this episode) and unfortunately, a lot of us have internalized that stigma and feel ashamed. 

Cara admits that sometimes she misses doses of her medication because of imposter syndrome. She also shares that it’s not always easy being on the meds. Sometimes it makes her fight or flight response worse, other times it makes her feel really calm and grounded. 

Working on shifting her mindset from “this is what’s wrong with me” to “this is just me” has been hard, but so worth it for Cara. 

“Your ADHD is also what makes you so special and so awesome. It’s what makes you such a great friend and a brilliant businesswoman.”

Cara used to struggle with feeling like “something is wrong” with her and she tried hard to “fix” it on her own. She’s a capable, strong person and she’s not suffering. Cara is a fiercely independent person and there’s so many things she can do, she didn’t want to struggle with this thing people can’t even see. 

Getting a diagnosis was a relief, but also a curse. 

Talking with some of her friends who also have ADHD diagnosis was helpful. They assured her that she was going to learn tools and take her medication. But they also reminded her that it’s not a quick flip of a switch. 

Cara was so desperate to feel better that it was frustrating to her to know it wasn’t going to be a quick fix. 

Now, 6 months into it, she’s understanding it and herself better. She’s so much more kind and gentle with herself than she was in the beginning. 

Mental health in general has its peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows, highs and lows and you just gotta ride the wave. Be as kind to yourself as possible and try not to expect too much from yourself. 

It’s important to remember that there is no “normal”. It’s time to stop comparing and to stop thinking there’s even a comparison point. 

Helping Others

Cara started her podcast to help people feel less alone. Although she’s been making a huge impact on others, Cara’s not shy to admit that other people have made a huge impact on her as well. 

She struggled with trusting herself and not worrying about other people’s opinions. 

She recently realized: “If I’m not going to be confident in myself, how is anyone ever going to be confident in me?”

Sharing her vulnerability and her struggle with mental health has been extremely validating. Knowing that she can put her real, authentic self out there without fear of what other people will think is huge. 

This makes me so happy because this has also been a huge thing for me personally. For a long time, I used to joke that I could be a professional chameleon. I was a different person in all my friend groups. 

I didn’t know who I was, I just knew who to be for everyone else. 

Of course, both Cara and I still want people to like us (we’re only human after all!) but we also know if someone isn’t aligning with the things we’re posting about or talking about then we truly don’t want to be around people who bring our energy down. 

I can’t be catering to every single person’s needs, I can just cater to my own. 

And being your real, authentic self will help you get there. 

Wow! How freakin’ amazing is Cara? I’m so pumped that she joined us for this episode. It was so wonderful to sit down and chat with her. 

If Cara inspired you, you should definitely go give her a follow and slide into her DMs over on Instagram @caradibella. You can also listen to her podcast The Pretty Good Podcast anywhere you listen to your podcasts. 

If you relate to Cara and I and you’ve felt like your struggles have held you back from growing or expanding your business you are definitely going to want to get on the waitlist for Rock Your Business, my stress-free guide to helping you earn 6-figures. I want to show you that you can have a wildly successful business, however you define success. 

Can I help you build a life, a business and a bank account that you love? 

See you next time, friend!

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I am just a small-town, Canadian gal from the prairies who teaches thousands of creatives around the globe how to earn 6-figures stress-free!

Hey, I’m Dawn!

“Rock Your Business” Course Creator, Host of “The Anxious Creative” Podcast. Named by Salon Magazine as Canada’s #1 women of influence.

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