ADHD and the Job Hunt (or, why I am not a liability)

ADHD and the Job Hunt (or, why I am not a liability)

I talk a lot about my upcoming programs, but what I've never mentioned is that I'm also looking for a  job for stable income. I only apply to roles that appear to be a cultural fit with pay that matches my experience and cost of living. I want a position that's engaging with the right amount of challenge, where I'll be able to get feedback but also have autonomy. I like working with teams and collaborating, but also being able to do my part on my own. I want to be a rock star. I want to shine. I want to help. I recently posted this to LinkedIn:

I want a space where I either have cubicle walls OR a space I can go when I need to work alone if I'm in an open-concept office. A window seat for natural light would be nice, but not necessary. I need these things because I'm easily distracted, and I experience sensory issues. I need a physical barrier between myself and co-workers. I like to put calendars and other visual aids up on walls. It helps my productivity. I'm capable of hot-desking if my laptop is lightweight.

Something like this looks nice but can cause me anxiety:

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

One of the reasons for this post is that I've directed potential employers to this site as a writing example. It could be a risky move. I don't want potential employers – or clients – to worry that I'm a liability. ADHD isn't a red flag. It has benefits!

Here are some of the benefits of ADHD


One common characteristic of people with ADD/ADHD is the ability to hyperfocus. Many scientists, artists, writers and entrepreneurs have been very successful because of their ability to focus for hours. See examples below.

Bright and creative with different perspective

We tend to be intelligent and creative. We look at things differently than others do. We spend a lot of time in our heads. We're persistent. I think entrepreneurship appeals to people with ADD/ADHD because we're full of ideas and prefer to create our ideal work environment without burdening employers. I suspect that writing is often a career choice because of our creativity. We spend a lot of time in our heads. We create stories. We work out problems.

Albert Einstein is said to have had ADD, although this label that didn't exist during his lifetime.

Compassion and empathy

We tend to be compassionate and empathetic. These are useful when collaborating with co-workers or stakeholders and when communicating with clients. I'm certainly empathetic.


Hard work to maximize potential

We work hard to compensate for our “weaknesses,” and we've found ways to do so. For example, while “attention to detail” is one such weakness, people whom I've worked with and for have observed that I have an eagle eye for editing. I notice when the font face is inconsistent and when there's an extra space. As long as I take my editing work to a quiet place with no distraction, I edit well. To me, editing is like a fun puzzle. Find all of the errors! I'm extremely organized because I need to be. Everything gets written down. If it's not on my calendar, it doesn't exist. I have friends with ADD who share this experience.


We're self-aware. We're aware that we're different than others. Some of us understand that we're neurodiverse, even if we don't know that word (I only recently learned it).

In the last year, I stopped fearing being a burden. I've taken it upon myself to help fight the stigma. Creating awareness is why I changed the mission of this website. When my previous full-time job made my ADHD flare up after it had laid dormant for months, I discussed it with my manager. It was the first time I had ever raised the issue with a manager. In the past, I chose to “suck it up.” My manager was sympathetic and unsuccessfully advocated for me. Because I was under contract with an agency, the system wasn't on my side. I accepted the job offer because I was qualified and needed income, but I quickly discovered that it was a poor fit.

Lessons learned while working for that company is helping me in my current job search. I have a better understanding of my own needs, which allows me to maximize my productivity and value. I'm an asset because I know what works for me and what doesn't. Being honest about it benefits my (future) employer and me.

I also picked up some new experience and skills. For example, I learned how to plan and host a Twitter chat.

Famous people with ADD or ADHD

In addition to Albert Einstein, famous, successful people with ADHD include:
Richard Branson, journalist Lisa Ling, winning athletes Michael Phelps and Terry Bradshaw, several musicians and politicians, plus more entrepreneurs.

It seems that people choose careers for reasons related to ADD (or, their careers choose them).

On side-gigs, side-hustles and the like

I am fully confident that I can support a small (4-6) roster of 1:1 clients and/or a couple of client groups while managing a 40-hour/week job. SO many people have side hustles these days, and if anyone can do it, it's someone with Attention Deficit Disorder. I have systems in place. I have multiple calendars. I can prioritize. For years I freelanced as a social media specialist while I had a full-time job. I collaborated with one or two clients at a time. I always preferred to keep my client roster small so that I could devote more attention to each. I think that that's beneficial for relationship management, ADD or not.

side hustle

Photo credit: “InvestmentZen” on Flickr.

So, if you're here because I've applied for a job at your company, let's chat! I determined that you and I were a good fit based on what I knew about the role and the company. I'm a good judge of such things. If you're here without me having applied to your company, let me know if you've got anything. I'm looking for either a transit-friendly job in Toronto or remote work.

Featured image on homepage by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

The Reset Diet

The Reset Diet

This post is a continuation of the previous post, which I felt was getting too long.

Reset Diet

Finally, the reset diet…

I recently posted this to Instagram:

At last, the series of posts that I tried to post previously: 📷📷📷 Sunday's poached eggs on kale with grain-free almond bread. I didn't set out to make a dish for Instagram, but it was beautiful. 🍳🍳🍳🍳 I seasoned the kale with garlic, turmeric, salt and pepper. I use a lot turmeric in winter. ❄❄❄❄ I've been choosing what I eat by intuition recently. I'm currently eating for body reset (some would call it a detox), so I've been eating lots of vegetables, light protein, anti-inflammatory spices and minimal allergens. I've eliminated all nightshades except for a small bit of black pepper. I've removed grains and legumes. 🍴🍴🍴🍴🍴 It's not forever, but when my reactions to certain foods become uncomfortable, I listen to my body and let it rest and heal. Otherwise, I mostly eat what I want, first asking myself if it's worth the potential consequences. I don't mind a bit of gas or a bit of itching. . . . . #instalove #glutenfree #yeastfree #instayum #healthyeating #wheatfree #poachedeggs #instalove #healthyliving #nutritious #foodporn #whatsforlunch #certifiednutritionist #instagood #candidadiet #tastytuesday

A post shared by Andrea Toole, CTNC (@findinghealthwellness) on

“I've been choosing what I eat by intuition recently. I'm currently eating for body reset (some would call it a detox), so I've been eating lots of vegetables, light protein, anti-inflammatory spices and minimal allergens. I've eliminated all nightshades except for a small bit of black pepper. I've removed grains and legumes.

It's not forever, but when my reactions to certain foods become uncomfortable, I listen to my body and let it rest and heal. Otherwise, I mostly eat what I want, first asking myself if it's worth the potential consequences. I don't mind a bit of gas or a bit of itching.”

I was having candida issues and while I've done full on multi-week candida cleanses in the past, I decided to do something different this time. For the first two days I consumed nothing but smoothies and vegetable broth, followed by a couple of days of nothing but liquids and vegetables with a few herbs. I cut out coffee. During this time I noticed an improvement in cognitive function and decision making, and I wasn't hungry at all.

Check out this broth in the making, which I cooked and strained:

vegetable brothAnd the next batch…

vegetable broth closeup

Details on Instagram

I've continued to eat in the way I laid out above. Intuitively. Lots of vegetables, light protein including a lot of eggs, anti-inflammatory spices and minimal allergens. Minimal nightshades. I've removed grains and legumes. I'm back on coffee, dairy-free. I've been consuming a lot of coconut milk and made cashew milk yesterday. I've read about the 80/20 rule of dieting, which is where you eat healthy (or on diet) 80% of the time. I seem to be doing a 90/10 or a 95/5. The bigger number is when I eat at home. When I'm out I still adhere to some guidelines and strive to avoid what my immune system would perceive as the worst invaders.

The two times I've had tomato, I've reacted to it, so it's out. I haven't touched beer in a few weeks.

I've been getting meal ideas from The 21 Day Sugar Detox, the 21 Day Sugar Detox cookbook and Practical Paleo, all books by Dianne Sanfilippo.

I've been eating a lot of greens and eggs, like this:

poached eggs with kale

The grain-free almond bread kicks-ass. There's a photo series on Instagram.

Eating intuitively is really good for health. I know what’s “good” for me and what’s “bad.” I pick my poison, so to speak. I ask myself if it’s worth it. As I said in my last post, I ate a couple of slices of birthday cake in the middle of this. I didn’t get sick. I didn’t die. The sugar bomb did not upset me emotionally or physically. I did notice a slight immune effect.

And that cold that I discussed two posts ago? It did get worse after I stayed up late for two consecutive nights, one of which was spent working on that blog post, and ate one more piece of cake. I had ONE day on which I was blowing my nose a lot. One day of chest congestion. Then it was gone.

Questions? Comments? I might have one more blog post in me on the topic.

Brain Food

Brain Food

In my last post, I discussed the neurotransmitters in your gut, making the connection between what you eat and your brain health. I addressed the gut's role in the immune system and allergic reactions in the brain. I shared that I've been on what I call a “reset diet.” I want to expand on all this, mostly from the perspective of the food we eat. I ended up with a post that was almost 2,300 words, so I moved the final part to a new post. Still, this is a long one because there are a lot of related concepts.

“Let food be thy medicine.”

Food can help us, or food can harm us. No two people are affected the same way. We have different food sensitivities and allergies. Some we're born with, some develop later in life.

What is an allergy?

Simply put, an allergy is a damaging immune response by the body to a substance.

According to The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “An allergy is a chronic condition involving an abnormal reaction to an ordinarily harmless substance called an allergen.”

If you have an allergy, your immune system views the allergen as an invader, and a chain reaction initiates. White blood cells of the immune system produce IgE antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to a specific kind of cell, causing a release of potent chemicals such as histamine.

Although allergies can develop at any age, the risk of developing allergies is genetic.

Understanding the immune system

The immune system is a host defense system. It’s made up of a complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and the substances they make that helps the body fight infections and other diseases. The immune system includes white blood cells and organs and tissues of the lymph system, such as the thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and bone marrow.

To function correctly, the immune system must detect a wide variety of microorganisms called pathogens that can cause disease and distinguish them from healthy tissue.

Immune system disorders can result in autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases, and cancer. Immunodeficiency occurs when the immune system is less active than normal, resulting in recurring and life-threatening infections.

As indicated above, the immune system is involved in allergy responses.

There are two system analogies that I tend to use:

  1. The immune system is like a computer firewall, keeping viruses out.
  2. The immune system can be seen as an army with a limited number of soldiers and ammunition.

I think that the immune system can only focus its energy on so many things at a time so if there’s a cold or flu going around and you're not taking care of your immune system, there’s a higher likelihood that it will slip in. Everyone has different conditions under which they tend to get sick. For some, it's stress. For others, childhood trauma could keep their immune system chronically weak. For me, sleep is critical. I know that if everyone around me is sick, I need to get enough sleep to keep my defenses up. Some people seem to get sick every time there's “something going around.”

It's not just about getting sick, or allergies. Every time we bang our knee or stub our toe, our immune system goes to work. We bruise, we swell. When we get food poisoning, we vomit and/or have diarrhea. Our body reacts to keep foreign invaders out.

Skin reactions such as cold sores, pustules, and acne are all immune related. Acne has many causes – most notably hormonal – but the immune system also plays a part.

Studies have found a correlation between the bacteria Propionibacterium, acne and the immune system. (Source: Gabby Bernstein's interview with dermatologist Bobby Buka, MD.) Propionibacterium lives in and around the sweat glands, sebaceous glands, and other areas of the skin. One study found that Propionibacterium was the most prevalent human skin-associated genus of microorganisms.

The immune system and what we eat

In addition to allergies, there are other reasons foods might not be suitable for us and yet tolerated by others. Sometimes foods will always harm us, sometimes it's only at certain times.

We all have different needs to thrive. Some people thrive eating high-fat diets (everyone needs fat, but some need more than others). Some do well on a high carb diet. Some stay healthy eating vegan, some can’t eat vegan at all. Some people can’t eat raw vegetables without digestive distress. Some people get kidney stones if they eat too many vegetables. The list of examples goes on.

The point: There is no one-size-fits-all eating lifestyle. However, there are foods that in general, we should all eat more of, and some we should eat less of.

The Candida Connection

You might have a yeast overgrowth and not know it because you don’t know the symptoms or what it looks like, or you hear “yeast infection,” and your only association is TV commercials for vaginal yeast infection treatments.

Candida Albicans is the most common type of yeast infection found in the mouth, intestinal tract and vagina, and it may affect the skin and other mucous membranes. If the immune system is functioning optimally (your soldiers are fully armed), this type of yeast infection is rarely serious. It's usually harmless. However, if the immune system is not functioning correctly, the candida infection can migrate to other areas of the body, including the blood and membranes around the heart or brain. (Source: WebMD)

Candida is a fungus. At proper levels in the body it helps with nutrient absorption and digestion. When there's too much of it, symptoms may appear. That’s when you get Candida Overgrowth Syndrome, a chronic condition that flares up in connection with food sensitivities and a disruption in the gut and skin microbiomes.

Candida can grow out of control when your body's natural pH balance is disturbed.