Robin Stephens, 55
organizer and wellness coach, Mill Creek, Washington
It would seem that being a professional organizer and having ADD/ADHD are an improbable match. For Robin Stephens, it makes sense. For 10 years before her diagnosis, she helped clients create order in their homes and their lives through her company, Your Life in Order.
"You are drawn to what you mirror," says Stephens, who graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in behavioral psychology. "I could never function and concentrate if my environment was cluttered."
As a girl, Stephens didn't understand why she couldn't sit still in class. She was also a perfectionist; she couldn't tackle an assignment until the previous one was complete. As an adult, Stephens found out that she had bipolar disorder. Eventually, she discovered the link between bipolar disorder and ADD/ADHD. After several years of difficulty focusing on her new career as a wellness coach, Stephens decided to get evaluated for the disorder.
"It was absolute, total relief," she says. "I'm a big believer that, if you know what something is, you can deal with it." Because of her work with others who have ADD/ADHD, Stephens has strategies and tricks to help her manage her symptoms. She couldn't get through a day without to-do lists, breaking larger projects into manageable chunks, and planning frequent breaks in her schedule. Two assistants help her stay organized.
Stephens has boundless energy and talks rapid-fire, so she sometimes wonders where her personality ends and her ADD/ADHD begins. Her personality does affect her dating life. Some men are scared off by it. "Some people can't deal with it," she says. "But after all this time, I've learned it's got to be OK to be me."