A Podcast with
Mallory Band, MSEd
Hello and welcome to the podcast series, “Moving Forward With ADHD” for 2023 ADHD Awareness Month. We are Karen Sampson Hoffman from CHADD and Roxanne Fouché of the ADHD Coaches Organization. We are thrilled to invite you on a journey of understanding, insight, and empowerment during ADHD Awareness Month in October and all through the year. Through this series, we will be delving into the world of ADHD, a condition that affects countless lives around the globe. From its challenges to its strengths, we are here to explore every facet of ADHD.
Through these episodes produced by the ADHD Awareness Month Coalition of CHADD, ACO, and ADDA, our goal is to raise awareness, provide support, and foster a sense of community for individuals living with ADHD, their loved ones, and anyone interested in learning more. We encourage you, our wonderful listeners, to engage with us. Reach out to us through our website, ADHDAwarenessMonth.org, or on any of our social media to share your questions, experiences, and thoughts.
So, tune in, and get ready to embark on this journey of awareness and compassion. Our podcast series is here to remind us that moving forward as a community and individuals who have ADHD is more than just receiving a diagnosis. It’s a unique lens through which the world can be seen in vibrant and extraordinary ways. Thank you for joining us.
Host: We are excited to host Mallory Band, who is moving forward in her life as an adult who has ADHD. When Mallory was younger, she struggled with her ADHD like so many other children and teens. However, she overcame her challenges and is thriving. She shares her story with teens and young adults to support and inspire them to understand their value and importance in the world. They are not alone. They are not weird. They are enough. In fact, they are more than enough.
Mallory is an executive function coach and has worked in the field of education and special education since 2014. Her teaching philosophy is simple: Mallory is passionate about helping children realize – and reach – their true potential by instilling a growth mindset. Her favorite part of coaching is the enjoyment and opportunities she has to learn from her students. Mallory appeared as a guest of CHADD’s “Ask the Experts” series.
Thank you, Mallory, for being here with us and sharing your story on how you are moving forward with ADHD. It takes courage to open up about your struggles and your triumphs when it comes to ADHD. If you, our listeners, would like additional information on ADHD and how you can move forward in your own story, please visit us at ADHDAwarenessMonth.org.
Mallory Band: Let me start off by saying that I’m an extremely anxious person, which you will definitely soon hear all about. This is really scary for me, but I know how important it is to share my story, so this is what I must do. Whether you are a parent of a teen or young adult with ADHD or anxiety, I want to help validate your experience and feelings by being open with you about mine.
My name is Mallory Band and I have been working in the education and special education field for over 7 years now. I am normal, but I just have to do things differently to find success. Success takes shape in numerous ways. We must figure out how to create and find our own forms of success. It’s okay that my path to success looks differently than that of my peers, but I would be lying if I said that this path was linear. I still struggle daily with my anxiety. I have just learned how to better cope with and manage it. Growing up, I was always a straight A student who worked diligently and with great resilience although I did have, and still do have, low self-confidence in my abilities.
Feeling Like an Imposter (3:58)
It’s funny how drastically different you can view yourself compared to how others see you. Most of my friends and colleagues would see me as a confident, creative, intelligent, flexible, and hardworking young woman but much of the time, I feel like an impostor. Like I don’t belong, or that someone will call me out for being a fake, even though I’m really good at what I do, and I do have the appropriate credential.
Despite growing up with two extremely loving parents who were very well versed in the special education world, I still deeply struggled with feeling like I was capable of meeting the standards I envisioned people set for me. What I wish for all children growing up with ADHD, anxiety, or any learning difference, is that you understand you are not alone.
Loneliness and shame are emotions that perpetuate alienation. Having transparent conversations with our children, like we’re doing here today about how their brains are wired, is a key component to ensuring that students can begin to see their value and their positive attributes.
Childhood With ADHD and Anxiety (5:18)
I would like to share two stories with you to begin this conversation and to give you a clear insight into my childhood experiences with ADHD and anxiety. My earliest school-related memory is from kindergarten. My teacher would assign a small green work packet on Monday that was due on the Friday of each week. Little did I know that my approach to completing my work was a unique one compared to the rest of my 5-year-old peers. This is something that took me years to understand and that I’m still continuing to understand currently.
During that particular week, our homework was to create an alphabet book. Each page had a different letter and we were supposed to cut out or illustrate different images that started with that letter. A reasonable approach to this assignment would be to do 6 or 7 letters a night for the next four nights and then I’d be set to turn everything in on Friday right on time. But for me this was simply not an option. This feeling of panic, that in the next several years, became all too familiar. What set in and propelled me forward, my rational thinking, quickly went off the rail and my irrational, anxious brain was in the driver’s seat and never ever bothered to look back.
My parents tried to explain to me that there was no need to do all 26 letters in one night. I heard the words they were saying, but my brain would just not understand, process, or accept this as an option. I could just not let the unfinished work lay there on the table. It felt so uncomfortable. At the time, I would end up screaming and crying and sitting on the corner of the stairs leading up to my bedroom. This would be a weekly occurrence. Ultimately, I stayed up way too late for a 5-year-old. But I did finish my A – Z book and I turned it into my teacher on Tuesday, feeling a great sense of pride.
When Routines Are Altered (7:24)
This second story also takes place on those same stairs. So, I guess that’s sort of where a lot of my meltdowns would occur. I recall sitting on those stairs and my mom said something to the extent of, “You’re going to be going to a new school next year, as your school ends in 6th grade. For 7th grade, you’re going to go to a new school. What we’re going to do is go visit the new school, and you’re just going to miss the following morning at school and then you’ll return in the afternoon. No big deal.”
For most kids, this would be great – you get to miss school! But for me? Oh no, this felt awful! This seemed like the end of the world. I was, and I still am, an extremely rigid person who thrives on having a routine. When my routine is altered, I feel a deep sense of panic and discomfort. Similar to the first story, I spent the next two hours flailing and screaming and crying on those stairs, because I was so worried that I was going to miss something important at school the next day and there was no way I would ever be able to make up that missed work. Of course, ultimately looking back on this experience, this visceral reaction seems absurd and ridiculous, but it’s also because I’m looking back now with a greater understanding of how my sensitive, reactive ADHD and anxiety impact how viewed the world.
Seeing Pieces of Myself In My Students (8:55)
This experience is parallel to how numerous of my students feel. Part of the reason I am so passionate about working with my students is because I see pieces of myself in each and every one of them. I hope that I’m providing them with the mentorship and guidance that I wish I had at their age coming from a young adult dealing and coping with similar experiences and feelings.
My goal is to help my students think metacognitively about themselves and their learning while also helping to normalize and destigmatize any negative connotations that accompany these diagnoses. If students can understand why they function and behave as they do, they can begin to accept themselves for who they are and take advantage of strategies to make life easier than it currently is. Yes, we may now have to work harder and differently than our peers, and this does seem unfair. But these diagnoses truly do make us unique.
Childhood Meltdowns (10:04)
Much of my childhood was fueled by anxiety, panic, and intense urgency, which in turn led to extreme meltdowns of crying and screaming and feeling frozen as I talked about earlier. If you ask my husband, well, he’d probably tell you that I’m kind of just an oversized child who may or may not still be having these meltdowns. But I would like to say that I do now have a greater understanding and self-awareness so these meltdowns occur less frequently and with much less intensity.
Also, yes, I am still having these meltdowns, but it is not to say that I haven’t made tons of progress since I was five years old. These meltdowns do not look the same, so I would take that as a win to some extent.
Building a Team of Support (10:57)
As my therapist says, we can’t fix or eliminate our anxieties, but we can make a game plan to help ourselves quiet the extraneous noise around us. My mom and my husband are my sounding boards. Throughout these past few years, I have learned how important and valuable it is to build up a team of support around you.
You are so much stronger when you realize that you are not alone, and that you certainly do not have to embark on this journey blindfolded and by yourself. Everyone needs help from time to time, no matter how old or how smart you are. Asking for help is not a weakness, but in fact, an invaluable strength to possess and practice every single day. Although it can be scary, it is so necessary to verbalize your vulnerabilities. Because if we cannot do this, we cannot learn to advocate for ourselves.
For me, I struggled deeply when my routines changed, when receiving feedback that I often feel is a personal attack, and worrying about getting things done as soon as possible. But throughout these hardships, meltdowns, and sessions with my students, I have truly begun practicing a proactive approach when experiencing extreme emotions. For me, I am so self-aware that I can verbalize why I am feeling the way I am, but I’d struggle with taking action and flipping my mindset. Thus, when I’m feeling anxious, I typically start off by calling my mom or just talking with my husband to get all of these feelings out from deep inside of me. After venting or collecting my thoughts, I’d create a plan of action. I’m the kind of person who needs to write things down and visually have my plans set in place. I try to speak of my past successes and how I can use these experiences to calm my central nervous system and slow down my irrational thoughts and anxious brain.
Advice For Young People (13:27)
No matter what you may be feeling, there is always a way to cope with these emotions. The better you get to know yourself, the more tools you’ll have in your self-care arsenal. Now, I’d be lying if I told you that this was easy or that I’m a master of this, because I am certainly not. I’m a work in progress and I’m okay with that.
I have come to accept that my ADHD and anxiety are just another part of who I am, but they are not all that I am. I do not let them set my limitations for me. I am not sure who I would be or where I would be if I didn’t have ADHD or anxiety. But what I do know is that I’ve learned how to become the hardest worker in the room and how to advocate for myself. It is my hope that I can help unleash these passions for my students and for all of you, as well.
ADHD and anxiety are my invisible superpowers that directly launched me into my students’ worlds. I can truly say I do understand what you’re going through or feeling because I experience this on a daily basis. Just like you, I start my story with you in the hope that you can begin to understand how valued you truly are.
Growing up, I never knew that there were other children out there who struggled the ways I did. Nor did I know that people felt like they were living in a different universe than their peers. I wish a young adult told me that I was not alone. My goal is to use my story to illustrate that diagnoses are labels, but they don’t have to be more than that if you don’t let them take that power away from you.
Despite the way my brain is wired and the heightened feelings of anxiety I experience on a daily basis, I have learned how to become successful and independent. These diagnoses do not define who we are, nor how successful we will become. What I wish for all young children is what I wished for my younger self – for someone to sit down with me and look me directly in the eyes and tell me everything is going to be okay. And this is what I’m trying to do for you here today.
Life is going to present you with a lot of challenges and you will need to learn how to navigate through them. You will be successful in whatever you choose to pursue in life, not despite your diagnosis, but because of it. You are going to change the world one day. You matter. Your voice matters. Understanding your brain and temperament certainly matter.
I hope that this conversation has helped you comprehend how ADHD affects your life as I share my story. It is so important for getting help and to build up a team of support around you. You can go a lot further with others than trying to navigate this complex world alone. Sure, you will feel lost, frustrated, and depleted at times. But whatever you do, do not give up. Sometimes, we just need to pivot and eventually, we will find our way. I promise you that.
Advice For Parents (17:15)
For all the parents that are listening to this today, we can help our children learn to become resilient by providing them with the appropriate tools and information in which they need to become successful.
Be present for your children and deeply listen to what they are saying with their words and through their actions. Speak openly to your child about your own vulnerabilities and fears. Sometimes kids don’t realize that even adults struggle and feel lost and defeated at times. Empathize with your child. And above all else, just be available to listen to them. Sometimes this is all that they need and that they want.
You Are More Than Enough (18:05)
I share my story with you all today because I was you. I still am you. You are not alone. You are not weird. In fact, you are more than enough. My story is never going to be completely finished. But I had this opportunity to use it to help empower children and teens and young adults to begin to understand their value and importance. We need more people like you in this world. Never ever let anyone silence you because your story needs to be heard.
Thank you very much for listening to my story about overcoming shame and my experience with ADHD and anxiety. Thank you.
HOST (18:52): Mallory, thank you for being with us and sharing your story. Moving forward with ADHD is not always easy. Having role models and inspiration to help show the way benefits all of us. You are one of those role models.
If you, our listeners, would like to share your own stories about how you are moving forward with ADHD, visit our website, ADHDAwarenessMonth.org, check under the Express Yourself tab, and click How To Share. You can offer your own story, art, or memes to encourage others in their ADHD journeys.
We are glad you are here to listen to this podcast. For more information on ADHD and how it may affect you, visit ADHDAwarenessMonth.org.
About the Speaker
Mallory Band is an executive function coach with Band Together Education and has worked in the field of education and special education since 2014. Her teaching philosophy is simple. Building and fostering meaningful relationships with children is the first step in creating a successful partnership.