Melissa Reskof on Being Diagnosed with ADHD as an Adult
Updated: Jun 25, 2021
Melissa Reskof is the Secretary and Community Outreach Committee Chair and a Board Member of ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association). She is committed to helping adults with ADHD live better lives through connecting and sharing with their peers, and through learning to leverage their unique strengths.
Today, Dwellingright founder, Miriam Rapaport-Hindin, sat down with Melissa Reskof to chat about her work, what it was like being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, and how Dwellingright can make life easier for the ADD / ADHD community.
ADHD can be a superpower. It's important to learn from your peers who use it to their advantage
Medication doesn't clean your house for you, but having the actual diagnosis provides a helpful way to reframe the past and manage the future
Dwellingright resolves known problems for the ADD / ADHD community that other technology apps don't yet fill the gap for
Interested in reading more? Check out the interview below 👏🏽
The Interview Transcript
Miriam: Melissa, thank you so much for your time today and for being with us. Can you share with us what you’re doing at work?
Melissa: A few years ago, I started to become a full-time caretaker for my Mom but that does not impede me from doing a lot of other things. She's in her 90's and she's very mobile. So, I spend the rest of my time doing volunteer work with ADDA, the Attention Deficit Disorder Association.
I've made that somewhat of a career doing live programs, virtual peer support groups, working with volunteers and a lot of other odds and ends at ADDA that involve working with people, which is my strong suit.
Miriam: What drew you to the work that you do with ADDA?
Melissa: I have to say, it feels like a magnet is pulling me to this work. I have ADD. I was diagnosed in the last few years, although we suspected it for a few years before that. My husband got diagnosed a good 15 years ahead of me and as soon as he was [diagnosed], he said, 'I think something's going on for you too Melissa'. He was very kind about how he introduced that idea.
Once I joined ADDA, there were some projects that called to me that were about interviewing people. Then the more I was around it and took ownership of it, the more I thought to myself: 'what would I like my club to have?'
Then other people would tell me what they wish they could see and have through the program. I knew that I had the skill set and the ability to make something go from an idea to being activated, to have it come into being, and that's really what drives me.
So, when somebody says, 'I wish we had this over here', my response is 'well, how can we make it happen together?'
Miriam: What was it like when you got diagnosed with ADHD? Did it change your life in any ways? Did you make any significant changes in your life in light of the diagnosis?
Melissa: Medication became an option for me, which it hadn't been before. I may have thought I had certain tendencies, but having the medication, I did have that sensation that people talk about when they realize - 'ah, this is maybe what neurotypical people feel like'. It's just easier to get started in the morning. I definitely feel motivated, more motivated.
It doesn't clean your house for you, but having the actual diagnosis gives you a way to reframe the past and definitely having more treatment options is very helpful.
When I started volunteering with ADDA, I came in as a spouse and volunteered in the "ADD is affecting my marriage' or 'is affecting my family" capacity.
The shift and change to it being internal was a really big change, as was relating with other women who have similar experiences. And not just being an observer as a spouse saying [to my partner] 'oh well, how did you solve that problem?'. [Rather now the question becomes] 'what's working for you out of it? What's transferable for me out of your solution?'. It opened up that door.
I mean, there's just so much down that avenue in connecting with people and hearing what works for them and seeing if it feels like a fit. Some part of it feels like a fit.
Miriam: What do you feel is your purpose in life now around the work that you do for people with ADHD and for the community?
Melissa: I'm very influenced from the work I did in a place as an executive assistant where we did services for visually impaired, partially sighted and totally blind people and seeing how in that community, people will learn from each other.
That's been very influential. And now I'm going to go back and ask you to repeat the question. [Miriam repeats question]
Melissa: Thanks. This is another one of those ADD things where I heard part of it, I knew I wanted to say something about there being some influence from being around other people with a difference, and then I thought 'what was the other thing that I wanted to tie it to?' I feel like circling around is an ADHD trait.
So, about my purpose - Well, you know, it's about living our best lives and being the best we can be. Being strength based!
I live in the Los Angeles area and there are so many creative ADHD'ers. Maybe their ADHD isn't tripping them at all because it's their strength, it's their superpower. So, it's really about helping more of us relate to it that way and more of us in our sweet spot.
That community element, the learning from the other people who are being successful or having it work for them, that's a big part of my purpose and a big thing that drives me.
Miriam: That's amazing. It's been really amazing on my end collaborating with ADDA and getting to know you and Duane and everyone else who does so much for the community and seeing the support that comes along with it, like the support group that we're doing along with Dwellingright. I would love to hear from you, your perspective when you heard about Dwellingright and the app and our goal. What do you think about what we're doing and the tool that we've created can be helpful for people with ADD or ADHD?
Melissa: I hope this doesn't sound sound bite-y, but Dwellingright is like an idea that's time has come. I know people who've been around since the late 90's, maybe the early aughts when the Internet boom was happening [where there was this thought that] technology can solve everything for us. But this technology, I mean - we've talked with couples (because that's where I came in as a spouse) and well, what thing could help a couple with ADD in their marriage? A shared calendar! I mean, it's kind of a no-brainer.
The other things about it that's an idea whose time has come are the shared calendar, the shared telephone book, the ability to see the action items - all of these things that are in one place. You don't have to look 15 places for them.
And then I really like the things that you don't necessarily know are coming. Maybe you never lived someplace where you needed snow tires, or you haven't owned your home before, and you need to change the filters for the heat and air conditioning. Those things really are just.....that's why it feels to me like, 'oh.... of course!'
But it took someone to think to put all those things together, and that's what was always so appealing about it - having all the tools in one place.
And you're not one hundred percent reliant on this thing [gestures to head] that sometimes doesn't have good short term or working memory in it [our minds]. Like me and my husband wondering "did we pay the landlord the rent, right?' Well, here it's in one place. Or for example, I write the checks, and if I'm out of town for some reason, if all of that information is in one place, he doesn't have to come ask me about it. Or vice versa regarding things that have to do with the car that I'm not really that well versed on.
Miriam: That sounds familiar...same issues in my life...How does it compare with other tools that you've used in the past or you've seen other people in the community use that didn't work quite well?
I remember that I started using a Google calendar and then I would send it to my husband's work calendar, and he'd have to accept it. I was left wondering 'Did he accept it?" I was sort of cobbling in what you need into an existing tool that doesn't 100% meet the need.
That's what's different about this [Dwellingright]. It's that there's some forethought. I mean, a lot of forethought.
And I am not a big app user. I don't want a million different apps with all my information. I want one ring to rule them all. I like one thing that's going to do all of those things.
I have my own ambivalence about who's collecting my data and what they are doing with it....I felt like you had some privacy things in there [Dwellingright]. I felt very comfortable about what was happening with it.
And that there is this feedback loop about what's working for me about it. That was another element that was super winning to me.
Miriam: Amazing. Thank you so much, Melissa. It's been super fun talking with you and learning from your experience and your insights. We really appreciate it. Thanks so much!
About Melissa Reskof
Melissa Reskof is currently the Secretary and Community Outreach Committee Chair of ADDA and a project manager for the Los Angeles non-profit organization, Junior Blind of America. She lives in California.
Her interest in ADDA began when her husband was diagnosed with ADHD in his mid-forties. Together, they attended their first ADDA conference in Detroit in 2013. Melissa was moved to create the ADDA Ambassadors and the ADDA Virtual Peer Support Group program.
This interview was brought to you by Dwellingright, the app that helps you stay one step ahead in life. Download Dwellingright on iOS and Android today.