Winning Women

After a diagnosis of attention deficit, these six women blazed a path to success and happiness.

ADHD Achievers

Lisa Livezey Comingore

Human resources and community relations professional, La Porte, Indiana

In law school, Lisa Livezey Comingore, 42, daydreamed in class and had trouble studying for tests. While some of her classmates pulled all-nighters to study for finals, Livezey Comingore had to balance sleep and study to succeed. To stay focused, she took nonstop notes in class and frequent breaks while preparing for tests.

After graduating, Livezey Comingore ran her own home-based business, Owlz Media Group. "Working at home is a minefield of distractions," she says. At 39, she underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer. That's when her wife noticed that Lisa was forgetting to rinse her hair in the shower and wandering around the house aimlessly. On her suggestion, Livezey Comingore sought and received an ADHD diagnosis and began taking medication. "The first med I tried didn't work. When I found the right med, it was like turning on a light," she says. Livezey Comingore also used the ADD Crusher program, a series of videos and materials that teaches ADHD management skills, to develop routines to stay on task.

She appreciates the structure her human resources job at La Porte provides. She's forced to get up and out the door, but "there's still some flexibility." She's learned to give herself extra time in the morning to get to work, which has reduced stress. At work, she uses reminders on her computer and phone to stay on task. She's also learned to keep the project she's working on in the center of her desk. It helps her fend off distractions. Livezey Comingore can be hard on herself when she forgets or loses something, but, she says, "It's important to realize that, like anything else, ADHD isn't all negative or all positive. It's important not to beat yourself up. "I am at peace with the fact that the condition makes me the quirky person I am. I try to laugh at the silly stuff and call it what it is: 'There's my classic ADD acting up again....'"

Karen Taylor-Crawford

Adolescent and pediatric psychiatrist, Chicago, Illinois

Karen Taylor-Crawford was chairman of the department of psychiatry at Christ Hospital, in Chicago, when she was diagnosed with ADHD, in her early 30s. She supervised the department, saw patients, and reviewed piles of documents, all while raising two children, ages two and 14.

Until she started treating kids with ADHD, Taylor-Crawford was skeptical about the benefits of medication. The turning point came when she started consulting for a local CHADD group, and her patient load increased. That's when she realized, "This [ADHD treatment] works!" She also noticed that she was often late for social engagements. She concluded: "You know what? I have ADHD."

Once she recognized her ADHD symptoms, she began to see a psychoanalyst. Her analyst didn't believe she had the condition, because she was an accomplished psychiatrist. "People would say, 'But you're so accomplished.'" When she heard this, she thought, "Do you know what it takes for me to get stuff done and how many deadlines I miss?"

Without a formal diagnosis and treatment, she relied on her faith in God, the help of family members, and supportive coworkers to manage symptoms. After a year or so, her analyst said, "You know, Karen, I don't do a lot of medication management. I'm going to refer you to a colleague, because I think you have ADHD."

"I sat up on the couch and said, 'Really? Praise God.'" She was diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was prescribed a stimulant medication and an antidepressant. Taylor-Crawford supplements her medications with fish oil, vitamin E, and a multivitamin with B-complex.

While recognizing the challenges of ADHD, Taylor-Crawford also recognizes its benefits. She attributes her intuition, spontaneity, and her capacity to forgive to it.

Although semi-retired, she keeps busy with patients, her sorority, writing articles, and tackling projects. "[ADHD] makes me look for projects and things to contain my wandering mind."


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TAGS: Adult ADD: Late Diagnosis, ADHD Role Models

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