My experience as an RVN/JVP with ADHD


When I was asked to write a blog about living with ADHD as an RVN/Practice owner I have to admit I found it very difficult to know where to start, the difficulty being that I am now 48 years old and didn’t receive a diagnosis until I was around 44.

Realising the impact of ADHD

This late diagnosis made me realise that I have spent the majority of my life and career trying to fit in to what everyone else considers as “normal” behaviour, when in fact, on occasions, my behaviour could be considered far from normal. This lead to me being diagnosed with severe depression at the age of 30 after several acts of self-harm and thoughts of suicide.

My school life was peppered with disciplinary issues from an early age, this was mirrored in certain social situations, (being honest, still is sometimes), and in my rugby career, resulting in the threat of a ban for life from the sport at one point.

This was the turning point for me, someone threatening to take away something that I loved, and that I now realise was a hugely important weekly release for me. It was at this point that I sought help through counselling and started the journey towards my ADHD diagnosis.

So, how does this all affect me in practice?

Adaptations in daily life

Looking back to pre-diagnosis, I can see that, without realising, I have put a lot of coping mechanisms into place. Little things like practice meetings, that bit at the start where everyone is milling about, waiting for everyone to gather, making small talk, it used to make me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I now realise that this is my ADHD brain saying, “we don’t need this bit, it’s time wasted, get it done and move on to the next job!”  As a result of this I often purposely turn up to meetings at the last minute in order to “just get on with it”. That is just a very small example of how I had unknowingly adapted, and of how ADHD makes me very focussed and driven with regard to work. In other areas of my life, I am totally the opposite, mowing the lawn for instance, what’s the point? It’ll grow back! In my head, it’s that black and white. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t get done, it’ll just take a bit of encouragement from my long-suffering partner.

Managing impulsiveness with ADHD

ADHD can make me very impulsive and even impetuous at times, often words come out of my mouth before I even realise that I have thought about it. Sometimes this is an advantage, for instance in an emergency, I feel that I can see what needs to be done, and just do it. At other times I blurt out my thoughts to be greeted by blank stares from my colleagues, this will often result in me isolating myself for a little while until I feel a little less self-conscious.

I find that if I harness the energy that comes with ADHD, I can achieve a lot in a short time, but it comes at a cost. On such days I often return home, wired, yet exhausted, my body twitches and I get restless leg syndrome, muscle cramps all over, and cannot sleep – this can last days or even weeks.

The importance of self-care

It’s at this point that my extremely supportive and understanding partner might encourage me to have a bit of time to myself. This time to my self is invaluable, it means that I can just stop, and I don’t have to pretend to be ok or consider anyone else – It does make me feel selfish at times, but actually, I know it’s what I need and without it I may not be able to function at my best the following day.

I would describe myself as extremely driven, at work at least, and have always prided myself on my work ethic. This is obviously a desirable trait to have when running a business. The downside to this is that I just expect things to be done, this can result in me beating myself up for long periods should I make a mistake, it can lead to me suffering bouts of depression and/or anxiety. It also means that I very much struggle to recognise my achievements – I set out to achieve something and I achieved it, the end, or “it’s just my job”.

Embracing contradictions

Late diagnosis means I have lived most of my life not knowing that my brain works differently from others. I now often question if my actions/feelings are as a result of my ADHD. I certainly wouldn’t use it as an excuse, but I am learning how to understand it myself, as well as communicate that with other people.

What I do know is that there are different sides to me, some of which very much contradict one another.

Carl May, RVN and JVP



Lost your password?