“I Finally Make Sense to Myself”
Kelly Dooley, a fashion designer and founder of BodyRock Sport, reflects on how getting an ADHD diagnosis at age 32 helped her finally get insight into her own brain — and start harnessing her talents for success.
I always thought that there was something wrong with me. I’d be sitting next to my boyfriend as he watched TV, and he’d get frustrated because I couldn’t focus on the show he was watching. I just couldn’t do it. At one point, I wondered if I was crazy.
When I was diagnosed with severe attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) at age 32, I said, “Oh, my gosh, I finally make sense to myself.” I didn’t feel so bad anymore, because I realized my lack of focus wasn’t my fault. My heart felt lighter.
The idea for my company, BodyRock Sport, came when I was training for a marathon, and I was looking for a sports bra with a pocket. It didn’t exist. I thought, “I need to create a line of sports bras for women like me.”
[Self-Test: ADHD Symptoms in Women and Girls]
My ADHD has been a huge asset. When you’re running a company, there are always going to be problems, and you have to barrel through them. My mantra is, “Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.” With ADHD, I am able to do that.
I have an Adderall prescription, but I don’t take it. I stay on a low-glycemic diet, which makes a big difference. I also do a lot of high-intensity interval training, which creates more activity in the frontal cortex, where I need it. I take L-tyrosine, 5-HTP, and magnesium. All of these things help.
Women with ADHD are passionate and creative, and we think in a different way. I’m hyper all the time. I’ve failed many times in my life, but I always figure out why. I don’t believe in failure. You don’t fail unless you quit.