ADHD and me
Jonathon Jay of DSW Wealth Planning says ADHD can be a real strength.
How did you become aware you might have ADHD?
My son, Joshua, is three-and-a-half and non-verbal, which has inevitably caused my wife, Faye, and I concern for a while. He is currently going through the various assessments required for an autism diagnosis, with assessments for ADHD too. Whilst going through Joshua’s assessments and learning more and more about autism and ADHD, it was like a lightbulb moment…… the more I read, the more I picked up on certain characteristics that applied to me in relation to ADHD.
There are three different types of ADHD, hyperactive, inattentive and combined. Hyperactive is typically outwardly hyperactive, whereas inattentive – which I don’t like the term for – is more inwardly hyperactive. I’ve always found it very hard to switch off. I managed to get through school with pretty good grades, but concentration was always a struggle unless it was on a subject that I was super passionate about. It’s strange, really, I could be sitting watching television or in a quiet space, but my mind will be running at 100mph.
This is actually why I can’t say that I have necessarily struggled with ADHD, other than how I sleep. I see it as a real positive in my life and especially my career. Financial/wealth planning is a complete obsession for me. If I’m not working, I’m reading up on what is happening in the profession, listening to podcasts, and most of all, my brain is always busy coming up with new ideas and solutions for my new business – DSW Wealth Planning.
I love a challenge and am always moving things forward. Sometimes I can do a week’s worth of work in a day – it’s as though my brain is on steroids. Now I’ve been diagnosed as having ADHD, I know why, and I embrace it.
Has your diagnosis made a difference?
I am more accepting of who I am. If I’m struggling to sleep or switch off, I try to get out for a walk or exercise, and I’ve found that jumping in very cold water seems to help – it must be the endorphins and adrenaline! Now that I understand my ADHD, I’ve found it is a strength in lots of ways – my brain allows me to spin lots of plates. In business, I’m constantly thinking of new ways of doing things, and now I’m an obsessive studier!
ADHD is a dopamine deficiency; my dopamine ‘fix’ has always come through my career. I always strive to achieve everything I can for my clients and deliver for them. A job with a ceiling isn’t for me, which is why the DSW model works so well. I am in complete control of my own destiny and can build my business and career without limitation.
Are you studying currently?
I am currently working my way through the Certified Financial Planner* qualification, which is widely accepted as the gold standard for the profession. I am already a level six Chartered Financial Planner, so that I will be a dual-qualified Financial Planner.
Again, this is where ADHD has been so helpful. Managing numerous things at once seems to help me stay focused. I am running a new business with two very young children, one of whom is going through a lot, and I’m still studying. I could only do this with my ADHD brain and, of course, because I love my work with clients.
What is the prognosis for Joshua?
I believe Joshua will speak – he’s started showing some signs, which is really positive. His social communication and interactions with other children are a work in progress – it’s a slow burner, but we’re very positive. We’ve had loads of support from the NHS and local authority, and my wife has been fantastic in ensuring his needs are met and that his differences are understood. He is a beautiful little boy, and his younger sister, Sophia, is a bundle of joy. She absolutely adores him, and despite his defiance, she is chipping away at achieving a closer relationship with him.
Do you feel there’s a stigma about ADHD?
Yes, I do, and it’s complete nonsense. ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental childhood conditions. If you look around at some of the most successful people in the world, many of them are neurodiverse, so I’m in pretty good company! Some people with ADHD and Autism are the ones you least expect. I think the more we embrace our differences and work together, the better. How boring would the world be if we were all the same?
I am completely comfortable with my ADHD diagnosis, and I hope with the reduced stigma and greater understanding, my son Joshua can flourish regardless of where he sits on the neurodiversity spectrum.
*The Certified Financial Planner is a qualification for professional financial planners and financial advisers awarded by the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments. By definition, holders of both the Chartered Financial Planner and Certified Financial Planners qualifications are among the most experienced and most qualified advisers in the profession; in the UK, they are widely accepted as the ‘gold standard’ within the profession.