I have chosen ADHD awareness as my platform and specifically ADHD Aware as my organization of support. ADHD Aware is a 501(c)(3) organization run by and for people with ADD to empower children, adults and families affected by ADHD, educate those who impact us, and enlighten all people as to the courage and competence of our singular community. A lot of people ask me why I chose to compete in beauty pageants when I am a busy IT professional.
There is reason WHY I chose to compete for a pageant title in the first place and why it is such a big deal to me to be competing nationally. There’s also a reason why I am fighting for the platform I chose.
In early 2011, I developed serious skin issues (eczema) which were very obvious. It was a real drain on my self-esteem. I had gone to countless doctors: dermatologists, allergists, etc…
My primary physician said it was all stress. All my life I’d felt as though I didn’t fit in, that I was a “square peg in a round hole” and just seemed to do things differently. My pending college graduation, the start of my professional career, and a change in my living situation all were adding to the stress in my life.
The skin issues got so bad I felt like I could not go outside or see anyone. My coworkers would tell me to “Just not worry so much” or to “relax”. How could I feel relaxed when I looked the way I did, and felt like I didn't fit in in the corporate world?
I met a co-worker in November of 2011 who had ADHD. We became good friends, and as we got to know each other better, he shared with me some quotes about ADHD from Delivered from Distraction by Dr. Ned Hallowell. When I scored within two points of his score after reading the book’s self-assessment, I decided to ask my doctor for an evaluation of ADHD in January 2012. I was prescribed an extended release ADHD medication that my doctor had positive results with. I kid you not, within 2-3 days of starting the medication, my skin cleared up significantly and within a couple weeks was perfectly clear. The eczema was indeed caused by stress; undiagnosed ADHD!
All the years of stress, anxiety, feeling worthless, feeling like a “square peg in a round hole” and feeling socially awkward had meaning; my life made sense as to why I was the way I was. It took 23 years, but I had an answer. Living with undiagnosed ADHD all those years, I have endured and overcome abuse, depression, anorexia, bullying, and anxiety. Beating all of these issues is what I consider my greatest achievement which makes me the unique, well-rounded adult that I am today.
With the help and support of my friend and the guidance in Delivered From Distraction, I learned a few techniques to help me utilize the positive aspects of ADHD. I also was able to learn organizational tips which help me manage my time better. Learning how to manage ADHD and harness the positive aspects has helped me grow as a professional.
Since I was “reborn” after my ADHD diagnosis I decided to start competing in pageants again. I wanted a post-graduation hobby and modeling gigs are hit-and-miss, so I looked into pageants again in early March 2012. I started slow with some local pageants and won a title/sash/crown in each pageant I competed in. On a whim i decided to apply for a larger pageant system. In April 2012, I was chosen to represent the state of Kentucky in the national Miss United States pageant!
I chose ADHD Aware as my cause because I want to help girls or boys who may have ADHD, like I do, know that it’s OK. You can become a successful, intelligent, and beautiful person despite ADHD. In fact, ADHD gives you special gifts and talents which make you shine. I am a perfect example that no matter what life throws at you, you can still achieve anything you set your mind to.
who have ADHD
Alexander Graham Bell
John F. Kennedy
2010 - present
2010 - present
You can be a beauty queen even if you’re a geek who works in IT, is only 5’3", and has ADHD.
Too often in the media and in society, ADHD is treated like a fake disorder; one that doesn’t exist. There is a stereotype that ADHD is over-diagnosed. It’s estimated that 10% of the population has ADHD and if anything it’s underdiagnosed. No child should suffer with undiagnosed ADHD for over 20 years like I did.
In 2011 if you'd have said I had ADHD and would be Miss Kentucky United States 2012, I would have laughed you out of the room. Today, I'm proud to say I have ADHD, and getting this diagnosis not only turned my life around, but it is one of the main reasons I am able to say with pride that I am Miss Kentucky United States 2012.