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Lisa Ling Shares Some Good News, ADHD

There’s not a lot of good news in the media when it comes to ADHD.

But then, well, there’s not a lot of good news in the media period. Because, when things are working well, it’s not news.

In my Balanced News rant, I talk about the reason why the news is always negative, and why increasingly, ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’  And that’s not going to change soon, I suspect.

Lisa Ling, ADD, ADHD, Our America, OWN

Lisa Ling

But recently there was some great news and it’s share-worthy! 

Lisa Ling, the host of Our America, was diagnosed as having ADD.

Lisa has done some amazing and dangerous stories in her career, like fighting to have her sister rescued from North Korea, and covering the drug war in Columbia.  But going public about her ADD, well, to me that takes courage.

She’s not the first reporter to be diagnosed with ADHD or ADD.

In fact, when we were making ADD & Loving It?!, and more recently our video on The Perfect Career for ADHD, journalism is one of the fields that experts mentioned works for some ADD adults.

The difference is that Lisa Ling did a news report about it. She told the world. “This is me.”

Welcome to the Tribe, Lisa! 

Bravo for having the courage to step forward.  And bravo to the producers and OWN for running the story.

What’s so great is that every few weeks it seems another celebrity is talking about their ADHD. 

A month ago I read that Zooey Deschanel is quite open about using medication to manage her ADHD.

Sports figures, columnists, comedians, business people… it’s terrific. Some are disclosing it, some mention it casually, a few go big. “This is me!”

As more and more public figures ‘come out’ and are loud and proud, it will be harder for people to dismiss this as a nonsense diagnosis. And that’s good for all of us. But it’s especially good for ADHD adults. Why?

Because when you know what’s going on, you have a chance to deal with it.

You have a better understanding of why you: don’t listen well, keep changing jobs, never stick with things, and can’t stand certain fabrics or tags on your clothes.

Knowing makes all the difference.

And Lisa Ling’s courageous act of saying, “I have this,” will impact many other people.

Especially, I suspect, women with ADHD.  This will save lives. Careers. Marriages.  If I hadn’t found out what was going on I’m pretty clear my second marriage would have gone the way of my first. Not good.

Knowing matters. It’s why Ava and I have made it our mission to spread the word.  Education cuts through the tornado of mythology and ignorance around ADHD, and demolishes the stigma.

Telling Is Risky

But there are millions of people who can’t announce it to the world for fear of recourse. Who do you tell? Friends? Family? Coworkers? Your boss? Your employees? Your customers?

It’s tricky. Risky.

Not because there’s something to be ashamed of, but simply because the vast majority of people still have no idea what ADHD is. And to be fair, the scientific community is still struggling to understand what it is.

So publicly acknowledging this diagnosis means you are not just dealing with your ADHD, you’re also dealing with everyone’s ignorance about ADHD.  

It can have serious repercussions and it’s why we don’t recommend it – not everyone around you may be supportive around you, especially at work for some folks.

Letting the cat out of the bag is easy

Trying to get the cat back in the bag? Not so much.

Here’s the thing to remember. You don’t have to disclose that you have ADHD.

But you can certainly speak up when people say stuff that you know is wrong or ignorant. You can tell your boss, “I’m great at dealing with customers, but I need help with paperwork.

In fact, if I can give my invoicing to someone who’s good at it, I can focus on sales and make you a lot of money.”

By the way, at an ADHD conference someone was telling me about a woman who had kids with ADHD and she only hired sales people who had ADHD, because she knew they would be great at it.

She created systems to handle the stuff they didn’t do well, and they got to focus on where they excel.

Win-Win.  In fact, Win-Win-Win-Win.

And Lisa Ling going public with her ADD diagnosis?  Win – multiplied by the number of people who see her story.



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  1. mcfarlane June 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Education is the key for people with ADD and the people they work with including teachers. Talking about celebrities with ADD, someone told me a lot of pro golfers have ADD. They get into the game and can concentrate for six hours on putting a little white ball into 18 holes.
    All students are our future.
    Wayne ( Only plays golf courses that have windmills, pirates and clowns) McFarlane

  2. stigs2304 June 29, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    As someone who is diagnosed with ADD, you need to be able to say I have this condition without having anxiety about telling people, but you also need to own this and accept that part of ADD treatment needs to be behavior modification, much like a type 2 diabetic. Yes, there is a genetic pre disposition but, you need to modify your behavior, eat healthier. If someone had ADHD or ADD, they can get help from drugs but also must change their behavior. Just like the stigma that existed years ago about diabetes, people face social circumstances with saying they are ADHD but just like with diabetes, you need to not only take the prescription medication, but sometimes even instead and certainly with drugs, change some behaviors through the help of a psychologist that is trained in this area.

  3. zambatriste July 1, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    <"she only hired sales people who had ADHD, because she knew they would be great at it."
    How in the world did she find out if someone was ADHD? You can't ask them because it is unlawful to ask specific questions about an applicant's health or, indeed, anything that is not related to the job (ie, age, religion, hobbies, political beliefs, etc).

  4. Wendell July 1, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    zambatriste: since you asked “How in the world did she find out…”? let me tell you: when you have ADHD you KNOW whether someone has ADHD or not. We live with it all the time. We can tell within 10 minutes! Piece of cake! and the law cannot prevent our observing it.

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