Evelyn Polk-Green, 49
education administrator, Chicago, Illinois
"I can multitask because of ADD," says Evelyn Polk-Green. "It helps me keep all of my projects straight."
Former president of ADDA and a project director at Illinois STAR Net – an organization that provides training to parents and professionals in education – Polk-Green knows firsthand that there are advantages to having ADD/ADHD. Her mission is to help the world understand them.
In elementary and high school, Polk-Green did well in a structured school environment, but as a freshman at Duke University, she found it difficult to organize her days. She left without graduating. She got married and had a child. With a baby at home and a full-time job, she went back to school, and got her bachelor's and master's degrees in early childhood education from National-Louis University in Chicago.
It wasn't until Polk-Green's oldest son was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, at age seven, that she began to recognize that she was also coping with the disorder. "I read so much about it," she says. "I thought, ‘Oh my God, that's me.'"
She finally understood why she was able to be successful at work, managing several projects at the same time and hyperfocusing on deadlines, but couldn't keep her house in order. Although she managed without medication for years, she now says that medication is key. "It makes the difference between being frustrated and being productive."
Her advice to other women? "Figure out how the disorder affects you," she says. "Then use your strengths to overcome your weaknesses." This may mean asking for help when needed. "Choose a strategy – be it medication, therapy, or hiring a housekeeper – and stick with it. Your life will get better."