When life handed April Kerr a diagnosis of ADHD amidst the chaos of a global pandemic, she didn't just cope, she flourished. This vibrant Irish nurse turned her home gym into her own personal haven and seized the opportunity to switch careers.
April's experience with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, mindfulness, and the invaluable lesson of self-compassion from a dear friend, are insights that resonate beyond an ADHD diagnosis.
This episode is a beacon of hope, especially for those coping with ADHD or any significant life change.
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What you'll learn:
Emotional dysregulation, a common challenge for people with ADHD
The impact that ADHD coaching can have on managing daily life
How April turned her ADHD into a superpower
How ADHD can be managed with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, mindfulness, and the practice of self-compassions
"My ADHD is a superpower... I am like Superman, walking around with kryptonite in my pocket so that I am able to achieve whatever I put my mind to."
Useful links mentioned:
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April Kerr's bio
April Kerr is a serial entrepreneur, she started out as an OR nurse and made her way into medical aesthetics. During Covid she decided that injecting faces was no longer for her.
She started doing online coaching right after her ADHD diagnosis in 2021. Mande gave April the tools to not only identify what she wanted in life but how to get it.
April realized she preferred teaching nurses and doctors how to start their own medical aesthetic practices rather than doing the work herself.
Listen to the Episode:
Click here to read the transcript:
Welcome to Learn to Thrive with ADHD. This is the podcast for adults with ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms. I'm your host, Coach Mande John. I'm here to make your life with ADHD easier. Let's get started.
Welcome back to the Learn to Thrive with ADHD Podcast. Today we have April Kerr, and she is from Ireland. She was my first client, actually, that I worked with from Ireland, and it was so much fun to just hear about the differences across the world. I'm just going to let April go ahead and introduce herself. April, do you want to tell everybody who you are and what you do?
April Kerr Yeah, I have to laugh when you say someone from Ireland. I was thinking the amount of profanities we use in just normal talking must have been a bit of a shock. Yeah, I am a nurse, a registered nurse. I have two children and a couple of months after the birth of my second child it was during COVID and it was quite stressful and I went to a therapist and he, off the record, diagnosed me with ADHD. I went to a psychiatrist, and I got medication and he really hammered home the need for an ADHD life coach.
I jumped on Google, and I found you. For me it was the little things that I really struggled with that you were. It was so simple, and I came back and some of the tips and tricks you gave me just to manage small little things in life. Even my husband was like, did Mandy tell you to do that?
You know, it was just like you became God in our house and one of the main ones which I you know sounds so silly was I have a full gym in my garage and our garage, and I couldn't for the life of me get out there and train and I remember you saying why, what's the hardest part?
And I remember thinking it's like 20 steps from my front door to the garage door. Why can't I do this? And I said, well, the locks are really high and it's usually five o'clock in the morning and it's cold and dark. And you said, and I said, oh, I'll have my water bottle with me, and I'll probably have my phone and you know my earphones and you know there's just too many things and I need two hands for the lock. And you said, so, bring it back.
And I remember going. Why didn't I think of that? It was the simplest solution to a problem that like wasn't a problem and I felt so stupid saying it to you. But the reality was I didn't think of that simple solution. That was really a barrier to me getting out and training, cause once I got out there, I love training Like it wasn't lifting weights, none of that was the issue.
It was just getting from my front door to the garage door and that was the killer. And I think that was the first session I had with you, and I was like, oh, this is going to be life changing. And it literally was literally turned out to be life changing.
Mande Well, and one of the really fun things that April did mention there that she did was she completely remodeled that home gym situation. Like you had a lot of fun, that's right, you and Matt. So that issue came.
April Kerr Oh my God, yes. So as the sessions went on, I was saying, oh, you know, I didn't like things about the gym because it was just, you know, solid cinder block walls and there was nothing. Really nothing there brought me joy. And you said, well, why don't you make it? You know, make it your happy place. So, I painted it in this dark teal and black and built myself a lifting platform.
And when, wild, I ended up, I got like full, like gym equipment, which I consulted you on what was the best stuff to get. I felt like I got absolutely everything that a commercial gym has. And it was really funny because we bumped into friends of ours recently and they were not bumped in, they came over and we hadn't seen them in about five years.
And the husband was really into weightlifting, and he came out to look at my gym and he didn't say anything and he kind of just took a few steps in and I was like after they left, I said that was a really weird reaction. I said to Graham, my husband, and Graham was like that was jealousy April, he was jealous of your ridiculous gym because you put a coat of paint on the wall, it looks amazing.
So, the funny thing was that was just the beginning, because in my nursing I went on to do like I've been a nurse injector.
I've done facial aesthetics for the longest time, and I haven't been happy since having my daughter. There was just too much head space. The ratio of people wanting little tweaks to body dysmorphia got bigger and bigger. So, trying to make people happy got harder and I really began to hate the industry and it made me nervous to inject because you don't know what client was going to come up with an issue next.
And although there are few and far between, when I had my babies, I didn't have the headspace, that level of headspace to give the career. And so, as in my work with you, I kind of spoke about that and you triggered me into thinking, well, what would I like to do? And I realized that when I'd be injecting faces it could be anyone and I'd constantly ask them, and would you not set up your own business doing that?
And so, I realized that I actually really enjoyed talking to people about setting up their business and encouraging them and inspiring them to maybe get out of an unhappy environment, and so I ended up completely changing tack and now I teach mainly nurses and doctors how to set up their own aesthetic business. I'm completely away from needles. I haven't lifted one in a while and all of my work is, I would say, coaching. But you're so kind, I'm not kind or give directions.
Mande I am kind you are, but my favorite session was I had pointed something out to you, and I was asking you it was something about marketing and I was asking you and kind of going through the questioning, allowing you to kind of come to the answer, and when you got to the answer you told me to f off. So, you remember that I love it, I love it.
April Kerr I remember shitting at you.
Mande And I loved it because it was proof that I was right. But it was just fun. Like April and I have had a lot of fun over the time that we worked together for a good while and it was just always fun Like just getting on with a friend and I always enjoyed like I'm so glad that you laughed here on the podcast because I always so enjoyed when you laughed. And so, it's just it's April's personality to just be jovial really, with a little bit of custody.
April Kerr I can't, I can't dispute how much fun I had learning from you.
I never thought like that, so I won't lie. I always thought coaching was real BS. I really did. I thought it was just like the fakest career ever.
And then I got you and I'm like, oh my gosh, it's way better than any therapy you could ever have, because it's so proactive and it’s like that. You really, you really are challenged to think and to like that. Like you say, come to your own conclusion. And I do remember telling you to f off. I'm being very censored now because I would have yeah, I would use the real words, this one to G, but yeah, exactly for the kids out there.
Mande A question I had for you was what advice would you have for adults Because you were diagnosed as an adult? What advice would you have for newly diagnosed adults with ADHD?
April Kerr That's a very interesting question. I found you have to go through a process, for sure, and a lot of people are grieving. For me it wasn't. It was just pure joy. I was so happy. I just explained so many things that I had done. I might have grieved for a millisecond and the rest of it was just oh my God. That's why I said oh my gosh, that's why I said that 20 years ago, you know, and it was, it just answered so many questions.
The hardest part I was nearly afraid of being kind to myself because and I remember saying this to you at the time because I have fought through all of my ADHD, what I would say attributes now then I would have said limitations Because I fought through them so hard I ran myself into the ground and I feared being kind to myself was going to be a weakness and I did learn to change my pace and to allow these.
You know these moments where I am like I'm late for everything, absolutely everything. I always have been. And with my best friend I used to annoy her so much when I was diagnosed, she put find my friends on her phone, so she knows where I am. So, because I would lie and I'd say I'm on the road, I'm, you know, I've just passed this bridge, and she's like no, you're not, you're still at home, you have not left your house.
And but it was. It was somebody, because I spent my life lying to her and then when I was diagnosed, it was like this. It was like her reaction changed. So, I didn't need to lie. She understood why I didn't have the capacity to be on time, why I, you know, most likely have lost my car keys 10 seconds before I'm ready to walk out the door and I'm running around chasing my tail in a sweat just trying to get out the door in time.
And she became so forgiving of me that it actually allowed me to be forgiving of myself, and her kindness to me was pivotal in me being kind to myself, to be honest.
So, yeah, I think, just allow for the parts of us I say this to everyone my ADHD is, and my husband would say the same. My husband says it's a superpower and it really is, but I wouldn't be someone who can't get out of bed with it. You know, I'd be a bit different than that. I'd be very much driven and I just it's just trying to stay on track. That I find very difficult.
But both of our descriptions of my ADHD would be I am like Superman, walking around with kryptonite in my pocket that I am able to achieve whatever I put my mind to, but I will lose my keys five seconds before I have to walk out the door, and I just have to be aware of that, that. That is an attribute of it. I won't even say limitation, because there are too many good things about it. You know, that's what I would say.
Mande Be kind to yourself. Yeah, people are kind of all over the place with that. Like I had, you know, I've spoken to people that say there's nothing good about ADHD, but I'm more in the team of. There are lots of good things about it, but there are lots of challenges that come with it too. So, what do you think would be helpful to the people listening?
April Kerr Do you know, it's funny, I would struggle a lot with emotional dysregulation.
I didn't realize to what an extent that is a part of ADHD and I believe it or not. I went and I did DBT, which is actually for borderline personality disorder, but a lot of the, a lot of the emotional dysregulation overlaps with ADHD. They teach you skills and it's their skills are absolutely amazing and, believe it or not, the skills are.
They actually cross over into sales and it's about how to get what you want from a situation. And as I'm learning them, like I'm in a group, you know, with all these people with severe borderline personality disorder and there's me going do you know they teach that when they teach you how to sell and I was just like, no, this is I'm not the person that should be taking pure joy from it, but these skills are really good.
Everything from the funny thing is the first skill they teach you is to ground yourself and this is one of the funniest things. Just, this is just anecdotal, but one of the funniest things I found was I don't know, it's quite well known as the five, four, three, two, one.
So, it's you know if you're really stressed and you just name five things that you can see for, things that you can touch, three, things that you can smell two things, that you can taste whatever, right? Of course, I have ADHD, so that stresses me out. I'm like, yeah, I'm like there's too many things to remember.
How many five, how many five things I can see, for I don't, and so I would actually end up having a complete sweat Just trying to remember and that became the running joke in the group that I was the only one with ADHD, so I would stress over the thing that's meant to ground you.
But these skills were so good. There were 12 skills, and you'd apply them to a daily life, and I would highly recommend anyone who struggles with emotional dysregulation at all to go and, you know, really look up how they work. A lot of it is mindfulness, which I really do struggle with, and a lot of ADHD years do, because we can't stay focused for long enough on one topic.
But even if it's something like I remember and the DBT and coach saying just driving, just if you're driving, just be driving. Don't be listening to anything, don't and you know, don't be on the phone to anyone. Just have your two hands on the wheel and be mindful of what's in front of you. You know, on the road, where your hands are going. Are you? Are you changing gear? Do you know what exactly are you doing?
And that in itself is a grounding and experience, and I do think that because we can fly off the handle and we can get when we get overwhelmed and it's always when we get overwhelmed that that it triggers an in nearly and anger.
And that's what I, because it was actually it wasn't great for my mind, it's not great for anyone's marriage, but it's not great when you're go-to reaction is anger and you know your poor, you know partner is trying to just do their best and to keep everything on an even keel and you fly off the handle because there's no milk in the Fridge and you told them to get milk, you know.
So, it I learned a lot about just trying to regulate emotions and I would say that that was probably one of the best things I've done for my ADHD. It doesn't always help, and it's and it doesn't don't get me wrong it does not diminish your Feelings, like it, like you know, the, the DBT just helps you cope with the emotion, but your feelings and emotions are still very much valid.
You know, and that that's another thing that that had come up in my marriage quite a bit, that you know. Oh well, she has ADHD, so she kind of flies off the handle a bit and, like, I think Graham had to be educated in.
No, but I'm still angry with you because you did that stupid thing that you know could have cost us a lot of money or, you know, wasted time or whatever it was. Just because I'm angry doesn't mean you know, just because I've ADHD doesn't mean my anger is not valid. So yeah, the emotional dysregulation has been one of the hardest things I've had to manage in the last while.
Mande Yeah, well, and I appreciate you bringing that up because that was also a problem for me personally Early in my marriage. Like I would just get so angry, fly off the handle and then when my kids came along, I would just instantly yell like it. Just there was no pause between Thinking about yelling or anything like that.
I would just yell a lot and I would get really angry, and it was sometimes unsafe, and I really took that on as like a Character flaw in myself. You know, I just kind of went oh well, my dad was that way. He would fly off the handle. Well, probably because he had ADHD, like where this comes from, but most likely, yeah, emotional dysregulation.
Like I want to say this for everybody listening If you are having a hard time, if you're having these huge feelings that you feel like you can't control, you can control them. Number one, it's just gaining an awareness, knowing what it feels like when it comes.
I have another client who I kind of taught her through coaching. It was anger that she was working on and I'm like okay, where do you feel when you get angry?
And it gave her enough of a pause to like notice that like she was feeling like a tension in her arms to not react, and so her reaction at that time was going to be to like, throw these blankets, and she felt the tension in her arms and it like gave her enough time to go. Okay, how do I want to behave in this moment?
I learned this before coaching, but I learned to stop yelling at my kids because I understood over the years of my poor kids getting yelled at. But I understood finally like, okay, every time I yell at my kids, I'm always scared. I'm scared they're not going to turn out to be the human beings I need them to be. I'm scared Something's going to go wrong.
I'm scared they're not going to get the education that they need. I'm always scared of something. And so, when I would and I've kind of broken myself of this, not that I never yell, I certainly do, but not near it's very rare now that I broke myself of it to just pause and go okay, what are you afraid of here? What's really going on?
And so, you can do it with the sensations in your body. You can do it by just asking yourself questions. And then this DBT sounds fantastic to and like it has all kinds of tools. I had heard of that five, four, three, two, one. I think I actually taught it in the video. It just sounded like it would be effective.
April Kerr It's amazing but it's funny. You say that about your client feeling the anger in their arms and one of the later skills in like, so like I said, there's twelve skills Is actually when you feel it. So dialectical means and doing the opposite of what you feel, so that, like, not your feelings are necessarily facts, is, is, is one thing.
So, although you're feeling it, the rational that caused it might not be the fact, it's very it's I wouldn't be great at explaining it but the actual skill for that. If you feel it in your hands, the first thing you do is actually to be open palm palms up, and open is actually the physiological response to anger. It completely softens you just by that, you know, just by opening your, your palms, and it really works.
So, it's very interesting that she was saying she felt the tension in her arms. Firstly, yeah, it's, there's a skill for every part of it, and a lot of it is communication as well, you know, and how we and like that, because usually when we go to anger were overwhelmed, and so when we try to express ourselves, we're usually expressing ourselves in the worst possible way, and you know to just articulate.
Well, how do you get what you want from the situation? You know, identify the problem, identify how this problem harms you or the person that has caused it, and what needs to be done to rectify the problem. And they're all skills for DBT, skills that you can be using sales.
But when you begin to identify the issues, you can rationalize things a lot better because you're using what they call actually your wise mind. It's not your emotional, off the rails mind, it's this very rational way of thinking and, yeah, I found that that really did help me a lot.
Mande Good, good, yeah, so we're just about out of time, so I want people that want to find April to know where to do that.
April Kerr Oh gosh. Well, you can find me on Instagram and my it's. So obviously I do and Consultancy work more for setting up a beauty and aesthetic practices are my specialty. However, I have ADHD, so I have had a myriad of companies very prolific and setting up business.
But you can find me on and Instagram my handle is and at aesthetic business consultancy, so I I'm sure it'll be in the show notes and just because in Ireland we spell aesthetic a bit differently and, believe it or not, I actually teamed up with an old friend of mine who also was diagnosed.
She's forty this year and was diagnosed with ADHD a year ago and I hadn't seen her in ten years and we, it turns out, were doing the same job. So, we, we teamed up and we have, we have amalgamated our, our forces, so we've joined forces and we are at our handle on Instagram.
And, yeah, you can find just two middle aged women telling you how to start a business, and especially when you've ADHD and you can't remember where you put your keys.
Mande Very good. Well, thank you, April. I sure appreciate you being on here today. I've enjoyed my time working with you and I just appreciate you.
April Kerr Oh, thank you so much. It was my pleasure and sure, sure enough, I'll be back on your books soon. I can only imagine what life throws another curveball, I'm there.
Mande All right. Well, it's good to talk to you today.
Thank you for your time, and especially for your attention today. If you haven't looked into the ADHD Academy, you'll want to do that. This is my membership, with binge-able courses, weekly life coaching, new courses every month, a community of like-minded people and more.
Be sure to head over to www.learntothrivewithadhd.com/membership to get the details.
See you next week.
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