Springboard's Laura MacNiven shares her story: Let's all talk and reduce stigma

I started to identify with the characteristics of ADHD in my mid- twenties when I began working with adult clients. Before then, I didn't fully understand how ADHD symptoms manifested in adults, and I had never connected with them on a personal level. As I learned more about focus and attention, though, I came to see that these symptoms had been familiar to me my whole life. And, the more I spent time with clients, the more it crystallized for me.

Springboard Clinic Laura MacNivenHow I struggled with math until I got a tutor who could help me slow down and take it in.

How I always felt like I had to help everyone else before myself.

How I couldn’t start my essays until midnight.

How my academic intentions didn't match up with my actions until the fear of failure kicked in.

How it took until grad school for me to finally feel like I was reaching my potential at school.

By the time I was doing my master’s degree, I had somehow learned how to manage my attention better. I guess I had subconsciously connected how much less anxious I felt if I finished my work earlier, and I had slowly moved away from the 'all-nighter' mindset. But, it was not until we opened Springboard Clinic that I had the opportunity to delve into this brain difference, and that it all became clear to me. I had always struggled with attention issues, I just hadn’t realized it.

At Springboard Clinic, I was working with clients who were more acutely aware of their focusing issues. And, through that, I started to realize that I had been hiding these symptoms in myself my entire life. I had created 'workarounds,' but having this opportunity to understand the root of how my brain functions illuminated a whole new understanding of myself. I didn’t just empathize with my clients, I actually understood their experience. This turned out to be one of the most fortuitous experiences for me. And this personal connection became a vital part of building Springboard's methodology.

Now, I am more passionate than ever about sharing my story. Because ADHD doesn't have to hold you back.

By learning about your own brain, you can take control of your focus and your mental well-being.

Because how you feel about yourself and the way you learn is paramount to moving forward.

Healing is about coming to terms with your strengths and challenges, facing them head-on, getting support where you need it, and fighting hard to be your best self.

During Bell Let's Talk month, let's share our stories and be part of the dialogue, so that we can all learn from each other. Let’s work towards an environment free of stigma and full of success.

Laura MacNiven is a Founder and Director at Springboard Clinic in Toronto, an ADHD assessment and treatment resource.

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