Interview: navigating neurodiversity


After receiving an ADHD diagnosis at 24-years-old, Ellie Middleton is learning about herself while speaking out about neurodiversity.

Before Ellie Middleton received a diagnosis confirming she was neurodivergent, she had always struggled with her mental health, previously receiving support from adolescent mental health services for anxiety and depression. 

“It peaked when I was in sixth form and I dropped out of school, it felt like I just couldn’t function,” reveals Ellie. “I’d have five nights at a time where I was really happy and energetic and wanting to do things, then I would suddenly have these breakdowns because everything overwhelmed me and so I didn’t want to do anything.”

Despite being told she had anxiety and depression, Ellie didn’t feel this was right, she says: “I felt like anxiety wasn’t the problem, it was the side effect of whatever else was happening because I’ve never been an anxious person.”

A counsellor helped Ellie examine the way her mind works and she then started to research autism and ADHD. In October 2021, Ellie received an ADHD diagnosis and while she awaits her autism assessment she describes herself as self-diagnosed autistic. 

Validation

Having a diagnosis of ADHD has helped Ellie to feel understood and validated, giving her a new perspective on how she thinks and why.  

“Getting that diagnosis was just like a massive sigh of relief,” enthuses Ellie. “I spent so much time trying to fit into this neurotypical box that right now I’m working out what’s really me and what parts of me I created to cover up or mask.

“From an outsiders’ perspective, if they saw me now versus a year ago I’m almost ‘worse’: I’m more chaotic and I guess more emotional, but in the best way possible because I’m fully embracing who I actually am and I’m much happier.” 

While Ellie started to learn more about who she really is, she also started a position in a personal branding marketing team. 

“I discovered that it was the social media side that I really enjoyed and then just stumbled across personal branding,” remembers Ellie.

Ellie was encouraged to utilise LinkedIn as a platform in the same way that her clients did but soon went viral for a post about what a professional looks like. 

Audience

“I thought I could add value to the platform by bringing my different perspective on things and then my post just absolutely blew up,” explains Ellie. “I think it’s got around 3.5 million views now and things just keep on building.”

Ellie now has more than 26,000 followers on the platform and is using her presence for good. 

“LinkedIn allows me to shout about the benefits of neurodiversity as well as the struggles,” offers Ellie. “Right now, I’m building this audience and I want to bring as much value as possible and just shout about neurodiversity.

“Until my diagnosis I, like a lot of people, had this perception of ADHD being a naughty school boy. I definitely never saw anyone that was like me, so for me I want to bring that representation.” 

Follow Ellie on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/elliemidds

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