October 3, 2023

Racial Identity, Trauma, and ADHD with Annahid Dashtgard

My colleague and friend, Annahid Dashtgard, really elevates the podcast this week with a specialized look at racialization within the mental health space. I love that we’re able to broach this topic together as Annahid is so well-versed in creating safe places for people to have hard conversations.

Annahid is the CEO and Co-Founder of Anima Leadership, a consulting firm that helps organizations with everything EDI from diversity basics to advanced belonging.

Annahid has a special and unique perspective as an immigrant who’s been on the receiving end of racism throughout her life and also as someone with ADHD, having only recently been diagnosed in her 40s. 

Listeners can expect to learn a lot about the overlap of racial identity, trauma, and ADHD that many communities experience with very little understanding from medical and therapeutic professionals. The truth is, many racialized groups are largely underserved, underrepresented, and underdiagnosed. It’s not always intentional, but it is happening. 

I especially appreciate Annahid sharing her thoughts on how clinicians can do better to support these communities, understanding the stigma of mental health among racialized groups, and how the average white person can open themselves up to learning and honoring others without fear of making mistakes.

To glean more brilliant insights from Annahid, check out her two books:

  1. Breaking the Ocean: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Reconciliation
  2. Bones of Belonging

No matter your racial identity, I want to encourage any listeners struggling with accepting or living with their ADHD to check out my group coaching program FOCUSED. I think you’ll find that we are open, honest, and honoring as we all work hard to overcome our neurodivergent struggles and unlock our unlimited potential. 



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Kristen Carder 0:05
Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain. Unlock your potential and move from point A to point B.

Hey, what’s up? This is Kristen Carter and you’re listening to the I have ADHD podcast. I am medicated. I am caffeinated. I am regulated and I am ready to roll. My nine year old son back in the days when we used to say just medicated caffeinated, ready to roll. He would always say meditated capitated ready to roll. And I have a mug with that on it medicated, caffeinated, ready to roll and he every time he sees it, he says meditated capitated ready to roll. And it is the cutest thing. If you have a nine year olds, you’re gonna understand. Or if you’ve ever had a nine year old, they’re just so cute. And maybe it’s because he’s my youngest kid. And there’s something about the youngest child that you’re just like, oh my gosh, you’re the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. But I think it’s adorable. So anyway, medicated, caffeinated, regulated, as we have added in recently and very much ready to roll. I hope all is well with you and yours.

Today on the podcast. I have a colleague and friend here to speak about the overlap of racial identity, trauma and ADHD. On he dash guard is an expert in helping individuals and companies go from diversity basics to advanced belonging. I I feel like I say this every time but it is genuine 100% sincere I cannot wait for you to hear this conversation. I think it is absolutely beautiful. And on the heat has a deep well of wisdom. She’s going to share all of that with us today. I want to take a moment. And before we started to say that I got a podcast review recently saying that my current content is not as ADHD heavy. I don’t want to speak to that, because that’s true. The older episodes are very much focused on the basics of ADHD. I’ve been doing this since the very beginning of 2019. I dropped my first episode December 2018. So I’ve been doing this for a long time. And we’ve got 230 episodes total. And the first 200 are pretty much all the basics about ADHD. And I just want to share with you that as I’ve evolved past the basics of ADHD, so has this podcast. So if you’re brand new to the pod, and you’re looking for the basics on ADHD, maybe you’re brand new to a diagnosis, or you’re just kind of figuring everything out, you’re definitely going to want to start actually, I shouldn’t say definitely, because you get to do what you want to do, you might want to start with some of the older earlier episodes, we cover all of the executive functions, all of the symptoms, all of the tips and tricks, all of the how tos all of the things, all of the ADHD basics are included, I would say in the first 200 episodes of this podcast, that’s hundreds of hours of content. But if you’ve been around here for a minute, maybe you’ve been listening for a year, or two or three or four, I truly believe that you’re probably ready to go deeper, just like I’m ready to go deeper. And that’s what we’re doing here. today. We’re going deep. We’re going to talk about the overlap of ADHD and racism and trauma, how they all might connect.

We’re going to talk about how the impacts of racism are still vastly misunderstood in the mental health care community. And maybe, perhaps what can be done about it? Well, how can how can we move the needle forward, so to speak, and Anahid will graciously share with us her own story of reconciling her ADHD diagnosis and the trauma that she’s experienced as a non white person growing up in a predominantly white community and how she’s been able to come home to herself. It is so deep enrich and I’m so glad that you are listening and here for the combo so let me tell you about my guest on head on he dash guard is CEO and founder of animal leadership, a global reaching socially innovative company that has been revolutionizing EDI work in organizations and communities since 2006. And EDI stands for equity, diversity and inclusion. Over the last 25 years on a heat has inspired hired, educated and coached 1000s of individuals and hundreds of organizations toward deeper experiences of belonging. Again, there’s that word. We’re going to be talking about it a lot today as we discuss racism, trauma, and ADHD in this conversation on he is the author of two best selling books, her memoir, breaking the ocean and her latest story collection bones of belonging, finding wholeness in a white world. On a heat is a leading voice on race, trauma and immigration. And now she’s bringing her deep well of wisdom to the conversation surrounding ADHD. I am so glad that she’s here with us today. Please enjoy this conversation. Hello, Anahita. I am so delighted that you’re here with me today. How are you?

Annahid Dashtgard 5:51
I’m good. And I’m so happy to be here with you as well.

Kristen Carder 5:54
Such a delight. Been looking forward to this conversation for quite some time. I sing your praises in the introduction. So don’t you worry. Everyone knows everything about you. But what I would love for you to start with, if you don’t mind is tell us your diagnosis story.

Annahid Dashtgard 6:10
Well, I got diagnosed I am 50. Now about three years ago, after a family member was diagnosed. And interesting enough, the taking a medication for anxiety and depression happened earlier before the diagnosis, which I’ll share some of the reasons for later on. And I would say what’s been most helpful about the diagnosis for me, is that ability to discern more clearly what’s personality? What is old trauma, and what are ADHD symptoms. And I think for me, it was the final part of the wall to knock down. Where I think there was still ongoing shame and feeling bad over, you know, for example, hyper focusing at work, and I think I’m quite brilliant at what I do. But then the rest of the rest of my life like the dinner, you know, it’s like seven o’clock, and oh, yeah, maybe we need to one of us needs to get dinner ready. And just consistently feeling bad for the lack of consistency in other parts of my life. And so it’s really helped put the pieces together and be able to address things productively, and, you know, wish that I had been able to name it earlier for myself.

Kristen Carder 7:21
Yeah, I think right now that the median age for female diagnosis is 39. That was the last stat that I heard. And I would be so interested to hear a second stat, which would be what about a median diagnosis? For women who are non white? What’s the age for that? Because I would assume that it would be later and for you that experience is correct. So you around the age of 47?

Annahid Dashtgard 7:57
Yeah, I don’t think that we’re at the point in the research community that we have the stats for diagnosis of well, for non white communities, Black, Latino, brown, nevermind, older and age, I think. Yeah, I agree. I think I’m pretty typical for women of a certain age. Yeah. I imagine it would be later if not never for racialized, folks. Because, you know, I think one of the things I wanted to talk about, I think that racism, and its impacts are so underserved and misunderstood in the therapeutic community, which is still predominantly white. And then I think often, you know, ADHD gets missed, because it’s confused or just seem to be other things. And so I think that, you know, I think people in my identity are still vastly underserved in this way.

Kristen Carder 8:52
Can you talk to us a little bit about what is such an obvious research gap? Because there is so much of the research done primarily on white folks. And, you know, if we’re even going to go a step farther, white males? Where do you think we’re missing out? When it comes to collecting data, especially from racialized folks, non white communities?

Annahid Dashtgard 9:19
You know, the biggest thing, I think, is the lack of representation of black, brown, indigenous Latino people in the therapeutic world, because, of course, any of us, we gravitate towards what’s familiar, and we tend to, you know, we take for granted. And so, just the fact that most of the research is still being conducted by white researchers, I think is a big part of why the gap is still there. And not in white and English speaking, I would say researchers, and you know, that it’s not intentional, but of course bias and lack of an Just standing about the impacts of racism are going to play out in the diagnosis and the prognosis, like the treatment plan that happens afterward. From the studies that I’ve seen, they say pretty across the board that black, Latino and brown communities, I don’t know about indigenous because I think that that’s kind of a separate research area, in and of itself, are under diagnosed with the exception being and this is just so interesting because it reinforces the idea of how bias plays out in this work of black students being overdiagnosed in the school system. Right and which I’d love to just bring it back to what I think happens because again, I don’t think it’s intentional. But well I use myself, I imagine myself being, you know, nine year old brown immigrant kid from Iran, who, you know, after a couple of years is starting to shut down aspects of myself because of the the rejection and the racial trauma being spat on, you know, not just being chosen last for teams, but just, you know, no one wanting to come near me because it would mean a lessening of their social status like that. widespread social shunning. So let me so okay, I go to let’s say, which didn’t happen, I wish it had, I go into a doctor’s office. A there’s different cultural norms than the white community that I’m surrounded by. And so, you know, ADHD symptoms, like being loud, being distracted, being forgetful or impulsive, like that describes my entire family and certainly wouldn’t describe me as a kid like, so if you’re not aware that there’s different cultural set points that might lead one to assume ADHD when it’s not there, or ADHD, if it is there, a lot of brown black people are assumed to be sort of, like aggressive, but like a personality trait, again, ADHD symptom, so it can result in over or under diagnosis. And then the second piece, I think that is part of why the myths and underdiagnosis happens again, not intentional, is that impacts of racism, ie racial trauma, also manifest in very similar ways to ADHD symptoms. So, you know, even like, as a nine year old child, I had learned to be hyper vigilant, like on guard for threat of being, you know, underestimated, rejected, pushed away. And so the strong emotional reaction that often came out well, is that because of tied to hyper vigilance because of my racial identity, or is that an ad HD symptom of like, poor emotional control, or being really perfectionist at school, is that again, because of like having to work harder to prove myself because of a system of racism, which underestimates people of color? Or is it because of being needing to hyper fixate because of ADHD? Right? dissociating right in certain environments, like just pulling out and sort of their embody not in spirit, is that because of feeling learning that I’m unsafe in predominantly white rooms, because of my racial identity, or is that I’m just distracted and daydreaming because of ADHD, it could go on. So there’s such overlap. And I think that the predominantly white therapeutic community needs to do a lot of learning, rather than feeling uncomfortable, around issues of race to be able to serve, what I will call an increasingly diversifying population. And so there’s a big need to really be able to discern, in order to do our jobs and serve.

Kristen Carder 13:46
So you brought up such a beautiful point, which is, if anything’s going to change, it likely will need to start with clinicians. And I’m curious how clinicians can learn what are the steps like, I know that there are clinicians listening to this podcast, which, Hey, y’all, we so appreciate you. We’re so grateful to you for the work that you do. And how do we change kind of at that top level, and help clinicians to understand first of all the importance and second of all, really the impact of racial trauma and living as a black brown indigenous person in a white community, like the impact of that how do we help clinicians to do that? And by we, I mean you on heat? Because I don’t mean me. I’m not, I’m not it. How do you?

Annahid Dashtgard 14:44
Well, I love the question, and I was I was noticing as you asked at this, it’s raining here in Toronto, and there was a huge delusion of rain that just came down and I thought, Oh, perfect. We just need to rain down knowledge on all of our heads. Yes, no. Oh, that the answer, as it always is, is learning. And so I would say there’s beyond learning, let me break it down a little bit more, I think we need more representation. And so individual therapists being able to form a relationship with racialized therapists and practitioners and, and, you know, advocate for the need for more representation within our health centers, community health centers, schools, associations, and to certain, you know, there’s different strategies for that bias, free hiring things, sometimes a quota system, but just to, you know, to work towards having more representation, it’s not the only answer, because we can’t assume just because, for example, somebody Black is in a therapeutic position, they’re gonna automatically have an understanding of the impacts of racial trauma, but there’s a lot more likelihood that they will. And then, you know, there’s a lot of access points for learning. I think what has unfortunately made learning about the impacts of racial trauma harder for a lot of people is that it’s become such a polarized topic. And fear of especially if, if you’re in a position of authority, in a profession where there’s strong liability standards, like I can understand that it might be easier to bury one’s head in the sand, and just pretend all clients coming or just in the same situation, than to be to learn about the impacts of race and racism, because, gosh, if I say or do something wrong, maybe I’m going to be slapped down, maybe, maybe I might even lose my job, if somebody brings a case against me. And I just want to say, hey, there’s a huge world of difference between being intentionally racist and intending to create harm, and being committed to a learning process, so that one can serve all people equitably, or with similar support. And you get to make mistakes, like it’s how we learn. I mean, I think about when I was first learning about trans identified folks, and you know, being on our team, we, you know, we do equity inclusion work and being corrected more than once by a team member, or sometimes when I’m in a session, and the shame reaction that would come up for me, and I think this happens for a lot of us, I should have known better, I should have said it better. How to God, did I make that assumption? But it’s okay. And to reframe those moments, I mean, we need to take accountability. So sometimes it might look like going back to a client or a parent and saying, I’m sorry, I asked that question. I recognize it really, it was really awkward, or I can see that I assumed, like was making a racial assumption or bias. And I really am sorry. So we can do that. But we need to reframe and normalize those moments, because they are part of our learning about not just people that are normative in our communities, and in the mental health field, which is, as you said, mostly white folks, mostly white males, especially when it comes to ADHD. But to see as clearly, the black, Latino, brown indigenous children and families that are I would say, in as much, if not more need of care, because they’re also on top of symptoms of ADHD, facing systemic inequalities, which exacerbate and amplify all those, those things that make it harder. And so we need to do our best to learn so we can support those folks.

Kristen Carder 18:44
I just want to take a moment and honor the fact that you make it feel very safe to have these conversations. And I know that this is what you do for a living, obviously, it’s very clear that you are such an expert at it, because you do have this way of like disarming the conversation and just being very vulnerable, and then inviting vulnerability from me as well. And part of that is we have, you know, we’ve known each other for a year. And we I mean, it’s just delicious. And I’m so glad that we have some history to stand on, because that really does feel lovely. But if we could all have these conversations in such a safe environment, I just wish that that could be possible because I do think that there would be much more willingness and openness about it. And so if there’s any example of that I would, I’m so grateful that we are setting that example that you are creating that space here because these conversations need to be had. They need to be had and we need to shine a light on that. Okay, there is there’s some data missing here. And there’s a reason why there’s data missing. And it’s not innocuous. Yeah, it does matter. It matters that there’s, there’s a whole, there’s, there’s a whole lot missing from the conversation about ADHD. And so I’m just really grateful to you for creating this environment where we can have this combo, and I am so grateful to what you’re sharing. Really,

Annahid Dashtgard 20:31
I appreciate you saying that. And I, I fully agree with you that there’s so much need, like, we’re not going to advance the standard of care if we don’t, or if we’re not willing to step into sometimes uncomfortable conversations of learning, and be open to hearing from our colleagues of well, you know, I wouldn’t put it that way. Or, you know, I think there’s a, she went to a conference early on about four years ago, it was a psychology conference, and they had a white therapist on the stage talking about, you know, his learning about working with a black female client and his exoticism ation of her and fantasies and that it was, it was so beyond the pale. And as you know, just like, I hope to God, it did happen. Somebody in that room, ideally, another white therapist, have the ability to go up as one example and say, you know, that session was really tone deaf, in fact, racially harmful, here’s why. And for the person themselves to be open to hearing it. And I’ll, you know, I’ll add that we’re in a moment where and, understandably, so many racialized communities are, I would say, closed if not resistant to accessing mental health services in general. Because of course of the history right. I mean, you know, for example, take the IQ test, like how was so culturally biased that it served as a like an act of violence to further minimize intelligence of inappropriately black and brown students. And, you know, that shows up like, I think, when you look at mental health and race together, you see patterns of either overdiagnosis, if it results in, again, minimizing underestimating pigeonholing in ways that people can be dismissed, ignored, like validating what happens on a systemic level, or under diagnosing, and people that are struggling being underserved, backed going back to ADHD, if brown indigenous children are diagnosed, studies show that they’re way less likely to receive medication to be prescribed medication, which to me is so interesting. It may be

Kristen Carder 22:54
to be prescribed medication or to, to actually take the medication. Because I know that there’s also like a very heavy stigma, which I would actually love for you to speak to, if you don’t mind. But like why why would they be prescribed less? And is that in itself a racial injustice?

Annahid Dashtgard 23:16
Well, I love that you asked that. So I have to say, I don’t know, even saying it, I thought, but my guess would be knowing the patterns that play out, it would be a little bit of both. Has it greater hesitancy on part of parents to trust? You know, Doctor, what doctors are offering. But I would also say probably also on the doctors part. Having perhaps, you know, part of racism is the stereotype. And I know that, you know, without even knowing the stereotype of this family is not going to be able to afford the medication, or they’re not going to perhaps understand what I’m talking about. So it’s easier just to miss or under diagnose. Yeah, right.

Kristen Carder 23:59
Right. Right, right. Can you speak to the stigma in racialized communities around mental health? Is that something that you’d be willing to chat about? What do you see? or what have you observed or read about as far as, like a pretty significant stigma around even conversations of mental health?

Annahid Dashtgard 24:21
Mm hmm. Well, it’s a great question. So I wrote a memoir, my first book that came out in 2019. And it was about it was truth speaking and what naming the trauma that happened for me as a result of immigration and subsequent racism, and what the journey toward wholeness looks like, through that process, and not a single person in my family or extended family has ever asked me about the book. Which is fascinating to me. And to me, that’s a microcosm of everything. It’s like an I wrote very open and about, you know, struggling with an eating disorder from age 17 to like 30 ish, anxiety, other psychosomatic symptoms, depression. And it’s just fascinating and linking it very clearly to those early and ongoing experiences, but no one. And I think that that that makes psychologically it makes sense, right? If we’re already feeling like, we are under threat of being either a openly attacked, or lesser versions of that meaning underestimated, dismissed, ignored, not advanced for that promotion that we’ve gone out for three times, then of course, we’re way less likely to divulge another potential mobility, which is Kristen actually part of a big part of the reason I write is that I want to be a voice that speaks to people of color, and creates a little bit more space to be able to a name those experiences in service of reclaiming wholeness for ourselves, because it is hard. And it doesn’t have to mean, I face more threat or liability. Certainly, you know, we may choose not to divulge it in our work setting like, or brown person may choose not to talk about their ADHD at work. But I hope, at least to be able to name it to oneself, so that one can, like I did figure out some stuff and support myself. Like, the difference between now and when I got the diagnosis is night and day, I can now go through a whole day without self flagellating thoughts, which as we all know, the energy the you know, the psycho spin cycle that happens, the being thrown off emotionally. It’s really, I just feel, I mean, not that it doesn’t happen once in a while. But I feel just so much happier and centered and grounded and all of those things. And I want I want like all of our I want everyone to be able to have access to that.

Kristen Carder 27:03
And now a word from our sponsor. Hey, Kristen here, I’m the host of this podcast, an ADHD expert and a certified life coach who’s helped hundreds of adults with ADHD understand their unique brains and make real changes in their lives. If you’re not sure what a life coach is, let me tell you, a life coach is someone who helps you achieve your goals like a personal trainer for your life. A life coach is a guide who holds your hand along the way as you take baby step after baby step to accomplish the things that you want to accomplish. A good life coach is a trained expert, who knows how to look at situations or situations with non judgmental neutrality, and offer you solutions that you’ve probably never even considered before. If you’re being treated for your ADHD, and maybe even you’ve done some work in therapy, and you want to add to your scaffolding of support, you’ve got to join my group coaching program focused focused is where functional adults with ADHD surround each other with encouragement and support. And I lead the way with innovative and creative solutions to help you fully accept yourself, understand your ADHD, and create the life that you’ve always wanted to create, even with ADHD, or I have adhd.com/focused to join. And I hope to see you in our community today. There are so many questions coming to mind. First, would you please give insight into what you mean by reclaiming wholeness? Because when you said those two words put together something happened in my spirit right here. And I was like, there was like a whoosh. And it felt really important. So what does that mean to you? And maybe if you want to speak through the lens of you know, somebody who has experienced so much racialized trauma or not, you don’t have to?

Annahid Dashtgard 29:09
Yeah, that’s a good question. And I, you know, I think there’s many answers to it. And I may answer it differently myself, depending on the moment, but I find it to boil it down. I would say it is about being able to stay the majority of the time and a calm and regulated state in my own nervous system. I think that trauma, and particularly when it’s systemic trauma, where it’s not just in one context, but it’s across the board, you know, from classroom to boardroom to community setting, one gets consistently pulled because of micro inequities. microaggressions sometimes more overt forms of racism like if you’re stopped by the cops or the fear of that for God’s sake, you get pulled out of your own ability to just be relaxed to be in your own kind of, you know, in Buddhism, they call it our original face, which I love like to be in that kind of our most true version of ourselves. And to me reclaiming wholeness as being able to be in that place one more time. And actually, as I’ve reclaimed that ability to be more calm and grounded because of medication and other strategies, the symptoms are way less, right. Yes. Yes.

Kristen Carder 30:36
And that was my next question was How has your ADHD diagnosis aided you on the path to reclaiming wholeness for yourself?

Annahid Dashtgard 30:48
Hmm. Wow, that’s such a good question. Ah, well, I think I was thinking about this earlier, it just, it allowed me to discern and pull apart. Because I think we’re all kind of, you know, some people say the point of our life spiritually is to come back to our original selves. And some of us by the end of our lifetime, if we’re lucky, we’re able to do that. What that journey is really about discernment, and being able to tease apart like, what’s my personality? For me? What was the impact of racism, and immigration and my own personality development, and then what’s ADHD, and ADHD is the last kind of, you know, level of the brick wall that I needed to knock down to really get into that calm, liberated state, if you like. And, yeah, you know, for example, I already knew knew that I tended to overwork, because of the need to early survival patterns of being a new immigrant, I was the oldest in my family. You know, I knew I had to kind of be, you know, 150%. Otherwise, it just so that was ingrained early on, but learning about hyper fixation, and then where it wasn’t just overwork, but it was also under working and other parts of my life. And rather than feeling so bad about that, and, you know, every time almost being surprised, oh, it’s seven o’clock, and there’s no dinner. I haven’t even thought about dinner. We both shared dinner, by the way, I’m not making a gender thing here. I love my night, kind of going like, Oh, I haven’t even thought about it. Yeah, you know, to go, oh, that’s ADHD was so great. That she put in place strategies, I’m still working on it, to share attention across not just in work, but across other areas of my life as well. Which is really, really important for the health of my relationship with my husband, and my kids and our their relationships. You know, I think I’ve heard you talk about this with other guests. Like, if my friends aren’t in front of me, I can just forget that they’re there. I forget to call my mom, my dad for like two weeks. So I’m really, I’m still working on it just trying to I never get a client call.

Kristen Carder 33:06
Me neither. I know. It’s people like it’s

Annahid Dashtgard 33:09
so yeah, naming ADHD for those. So

Kristen Carder 33:15
did it make you feel like yourself? Or did it make you feel like a newer, different version of you? I don’t know if that even makes sense. But in the context of like, reclaiming wholeness, it’s almost like for some and it kind of sounds like for you. So I’m just curious. Was it reclaiming? Or was it discovering?

Annahid Dashtgard 33:40
Oh, interesting. Huh? I have to think about that.

Kristen Carder 33:47
I just have a very curious brain. So it goes to these weird places on time. No. Wonder that felt new to you. That that felt new. Did that feel new? Like a new discovery? Or did it feel like oh, here I am. Like that. There you are Annahid.

Annahid Dashtgard 34:07
I would say for me, the former. I mean, maybe, maybe discovery came later. I think I’m still in that phase. Actually. I’m so glad you framed it that way. Because now I’m going to think about it. But I’d say I’m in that phase now where I’m more discovering, oh, I can go through day I feel pretty relaxed. Like oh, that’s that’s what that can feel like and like you said, like, oh, I can actually be this person. Yeah, initially it was reclaiming more calmness, because it was able to let go of feeling so bad. Over. Yes. Oh, God, I haven’t thought about dinner or I forgot to go shopping today or, oh my god, we’re leaving for the trip. You know, go to the cottage for a week and yet again, I haven’t. Like packed Time yakking and so

Kristen Carder 35:03
we’re gonna need close at the cottage tomorrow. Closer thing? Yeah.

Annahid Dashtgard 35:11
And of course, like with most of us like opposites attract I have a partner that’s like hide for

Kristen Carder 35:17
like, fun, haired systematic.

Annahid Dashtgard 35:21
Oh my god, that was the biggest source of tension in our relationship trips especially, he would give me three days before and I literally for so long would be like, I don’t You’re like an alien species? Like what are you saying I need to think about packing for something, there’s an easier way, like, what do we need, like literally like what needs to get packed?

Kristen Carder 35:43
Right? I just love it. It’s just like, in some ways, ADHD is such a beautiful equalizer that we can come from such different backgrounds and such different experiences, and yet still have these conversations that are so connecting. And I talked about this in my coaching program as well, because I serve clients from all over the world. And I do not know what their day to day experiences are. I just don’t I have no insight into what it’s like. However, it does feel like ADHD is an equalizer in a lot of ways and such a connector, and I’m so grateful to that. It’s not a superpower. But it’s nice to be able to be like, oh, yeah, I definitely resonate with that. And you’re curious for you if taking medication was a difficult choice for you, considering the stigma in your family mental health not talked about? I write a memoir, I’m really vulnerable in that memoir, talking about how my mental health impacted me and nobody even mentions it. It was deciding to take medication a difficult decision for you.

Annahid Dashtgard 36:57
Huh? Yeah, it’s a good question. And actually, I’ll say for people listening, if you read the memoir, breaking the ocean, I’m not on medication. But I did start before the second book called bones of belonging. I would say I held off on medication for a long time because I didn’t trust the medical system. I didn’t trust the medical system. I didn’t trust doctors. A couple of things happened. One, we got a fantastic family doctor who I fully 100% trust. And secondly, I started doing bodywork with a somatic therapist, which was really powerful. And with like many people during the pandemic, and I think so many of us found the pandemic really hard and interesting to look at was it hard in a particular way for people with ADHD, I sometimes wonder because I felt like I was going insane. Some days like it was just the it felt like it amplified all the pressures. And because I wasn’t diagnosed, I just felt so much more. Everything just felt harder. The letdown moments but harder, like consistency felt harder. And I was drinking more. So you know, I was reaching for wine not just once or twice a week, but everyday. And then it was to, you know, to three glasses. And it was a somatic therapist that said, you know, if you’re reaching for alcohol this much, maybe you should think about medication. Oh, that’s so smart. And I talked to my doctor and I actually started the medication for anxiety, depression, low dose, but one of them is cross reference for ADHD. Because ADHD diagnosis a year later, and I realized all that’s why because I I don’t know if I need to go in this much detail. But antidepressant was first was prescribed and it helped. But it didn’t help the ADHD symptoms, right. And I remember to my doctor, I just feel like there’s still anxiety, I still feel like I’m distracted and kind of just feeling internally disorganized. And he prescribed this medication for anxiety, which, as I said was cross tabs with ADHD. And that made the biggest difference, which later when I got the ADHD diagnosis, I realized why. Yeah, right. Like I didn’t I didn’t even realize ADHD retro actively. I didn’t even think about that as a possibility.

Kristen Carder 39:31
Right, but like, Shouldn’t your doctor have question mark, question mark, like, your doctor should have been the one to see the red flags.

Annahid Dashtgard 39:40
It’s true, but I think when you’re high functioning like you are and

Kristen Carder 39:45
you are such a badass, like you really are and your gorgeous like all of it. It’s the whole package. So yeah, I can understand that but still, but still question what The difference between a medical practitioner that you trust, and one that you don’t, I’m very curious about this, because as a white person who goes into, you know, doctor’s office and predominantly white practitioners or whatever, I know that I don’t have the same fears and mistrust for good reason. And I’m just curious, what makes a doctor trustworthy? What are the characteristics? You know, when you walk into an office, and you’re like, I think, I think I can trust this person.

Annahid Dashtgard 40:41
They ask questions, they really listen to the answers. And they don’t assume that they know best, that partnership. And, you know, again, I think one of the gifts of ADHD is a lot of us, not everyone, but we process super fast, we often attract patterns. And we because of that, like, I often feel like, I don’t want to sound arrogant here, but I could do a lot of people’s jobs better than I see them doing. So if I walk into the doctor’s office, and I’m asking you about something, I actually, you know, don’t treat me like, so yeah. Yeah.

Kristen Carder 41:21
Would you say that that is personality? Like, based on your personality? I guess what I’m getting to is if there are clinicians listening, how can a white clinician do a really good job of establishing trust with a non white patient?

Annahid Dashtgard 41:37
You know, what it’s being transparent about the difference, rather than being sameness? So, you know, we’re not that we want to put racialized people on the spot, we want to be mindful of the dynamic and where we’re at in the relationship, but at some point, just being able to say, you know, and I know that I don’t have your life experience as a black, brown, indigenous Latino person. So I know we’re talking about X, symptom or diagnosis here. What do you think the impact of is there any impact of, you know, being a black identified person or indigenous person that makes us diagnosis or symptom come up more or hard on me? Do you think there’s any connection, and it may not be there for everybody, but just being able to invite that question into our own heads and ask if it feels appropriate, means that we aren’t because equity is about treating people according to need, rather than treating everybody the same. This is the most misunderstood in the whole, diversity, inclusion, equity conversation. Equality is actually part of a bigger equity agenda. So you know, when, for example, when we make laws, or we put in place policies, it’s meant to serve the majority of people, that’s a quality. But then we also have to be thinking about the exceptions, right? Because we can’t, not everybody, kids with special needs in school, are the ones that often get the tablets like autism students or students with autism get the tablets, because it’s recognized they need the tablets to be able to be brought to the same standard of learning as other normative kids that don’t need it. Similarly, right. As practitioners, we have to be able to know that racialized clients may have different needs than white clients. And so be aware of that.

Kristen Carder 43:39
It’s about I just am processing all of this. And it’s so helpful to me, it’s about recognizing differences, and not assuming sameness. And I think that, I mean, that you said it’s so beautifully and I, in the last couple years have really come to realize where I have assumed sameness and and I think, slash hope, slash pray that the evolution of that is seen throughout this podcast, but even in just sameness. Not even speaking racially but just like assuming sameness, cognitively and, you know, ability wise and access, like access to resources, all of that and I think being able to really embrace differences and honor differences, that is the work of somebody like me, I think somebody who, who comes to the table like totally white and being able to say like okay, what I can bring is an honoring of differences and a really desire to fight doubt what the needs are, especially within my program like what? How can I serve people better? You know?

Annahid Dashtgard 45:07
Well, I mean, I think it goes to say, given the work, I do that I’m pretty picky in places that I go to, to learn, acquire learning. And I remember because just for people listening, that I enrolled in Kristin, CEO, coaching course, a couple of year and a half ago now. And you know, when I made the application, I think I questioned you like, I don’t want to be just the only woman of color in this group of what I assume will be mostly white female entrepreneurs. And your response actually struck me and was part of the a big part of the reason I signed up where you were humble, you didn’t assume that you had all the knowledge, you didn’t also minimize or downplay the impact of my identity, you said pretty much what you said here. And that allowed me to trust you, which was, I am not an expert in this area. But I really want to hold your experience. And it’s really important to me that we have an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable. And I’ll support you, and whatever way you need. And that allowed me to just go, Okay, I trust this woman.

Kristen Carder 46:13
What that turned out to be was such a gift for me, because being in your sphere, and I know everyone listening is feeling it. And I’m getting chills right now, being in your sphere is so powerful. And so I think that that just goes to show that when we are able to hold differences and the need for just openness and validation of like, Yeah, I mean, I can’t guarantee that there’s going to be other people of color in the group. And I can imagine that would feel not so great for you. So like, if that means that this isn’t the right group for you, I totally get it. What that allowed was for just like a really fun, beautiful, I don’t know great time together. And, and so I think that if we can inspire other people to do that, like when you are open and humble, and you’re validating someone else’s experience. Yeah, it allows for so much for so much richness. And even I would bet in a clinical setting, it would allow for so much, and so much more information that would help you to serve the patient. Well.

Annahid Dashtgard 47:35
That’s right. When we assume sameness, we actually limit our own experience because, yeah, shut away so much potential richness and learning and relationship. I love how you put that. You know, if you’re open I want to read this short, little excerpt from the end of bones of belonging epilogue. Because, you know, to me, the purpose of this conversation isn’t like, I don’t think that we need to recognize differences, so that we stay in this place of, you know, hyper awareness of all kinds of differences all the time, I think that we’re in that stage of human evolution where we need to recognize differences, in order to be to create stronger systems of belonging, that we’re not going to get to that place where everybody feels that belonging is their birthright, unless we can recognize that we come from different places and need perhaps different things, and then hopefully in a different place of evolution that’ll be taken for granted. And, you know, our systems will be different because of that. So this epilogue is a letter I wrote to my daughter, and my daughter is a stand in for future generations. So dear daughter, fanning the flames of belonging will be the challenge of your generation for mine has forgotten what it is to take for granted that we deserve to feel safe in our bodies, to have connection within within our communities, and to have a home here on Earth. There’s a theory that all life originates from meteorites crashing into the earth, bringing with them the necessary DNA precursors. If this is true, then we are all immigrants here. Foreigners from some distant star. We are creatures of dust, small bits of matter, so fragile get so fertile, put us in a sunbeam, and you’ll see a start to shimmer. I spent most of this life desperately wishing I was a different speck of dust, wanting to be better than what and who I am. I’ve wanted to be thinner. I’ve wanted to be wider. I’ve wanted the right accent the right clothes, the right boys to notice me. I’ve parceled up pieces of my soul and given them away indiscriminately to people who I thought were on a pedestal so high that if I just worked hard enough, I’d earned the right to spin in the air beside them. I swallowed the idea that I was less than an aberration, and that I had to pay a high mortgage for my right to exist on this planet. This is the original poison that somehow humans worth can be ranked according to skin color, amount of money, gender, sexual orientation, mental health or religious beliefs. If you remember nothing else daughter, please no you do not have to earn your right to feel worthy. Belonging is the birthright gifted to us all. Our bones remember this, for they are made of dust. When you were three I walked through across the field to daycare. And as we pass another parent with a child of about your age, they yelled across to you. Hi, Ryan. I twisted around suddenly as you responded in kind. How could you know somebody I didn’t I wondered and surprise, up to this point, your new acquaintances of mine were one in the same as you went nowhere without me. It was the first time I confronted the truth that you are your own dust Mote beside yet completely separate from me. You will find your own journey through this world. Sometimes on the ground, sometimes in the sky. Whirling above the masses, you will experience light and darkness, belonging and rejection, a feeling of home and other times profound isolation. Love all of it. planets don’t exist without whole galaxies to contain them. Humans don’t exist without generations upholding them. Draw on the strength of the ancestors and learn to pay their courage forward. Your star matter, daughter, let yourself sparkle. And may this book be a sunbeam just for you. I think about that, like Mayor work be a sunbeam just for us.

Kristen Carder 51:35
Thank you so much. My goodness. Belonging is your birthright. I just appreciate the work that you are doing on this planet. And pushing that forward over and over company by company person by person being able to help all humans understand that belonging is a birthright. We shouldn’t have to contort ourselves to be anything other than who we are. And reclaiming ownership of who we are. I think it’s so much a part of just our human journey as you said. Thank you, I appreciate you. I

Annahid Dashtgard 52:20
tears in my eyes. I’m just Yeah, appreciating you and the container to have this conversation. Space.

Kristen Carder 52:32
Hey, ADHD, er, I see you. I know exactly what it’s like to feel lost, confused, frustrated and like no one out there really understands the way that your brain works. That’s why I created Focus. Focus is my monthly coaching program where I lead you through a step by step process of understanding yourself feeling better and creating the life that you know you’re meant for. You’ll study be coached, grow and make amazing changes alongside of other educated professional adults with ADHD from all over the world. Visit Ihaveadhd.com/focused to learn more

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