Better Late Than Never

Last week, quite by chance, I found myself reading books by three authors with eerily similar names: Emily Gale, Emma Mahony and Ellie Marney. There's no significance to this coincidence, just weird!

Emma Mahony's Better Late Than Never, part self-help manual, part memoir, is subtitled Understand, Survive and Thrive Midlife ADHD Diagnosis, and I borrowed it from the library because my elder daughter has a theory that her father might have ADHD tendencies, which does seem to be a possibility (in fact, his whole family definitely lean that way, now it's been pointed out). However, Mahony's book focuses primarily on the experience of women with later life diagnosis, which is something unfortunately not indicated in the title or on the cover. (The title is clever because ADHDers often struggle with punctuality!)

I found this a really interesting read, not least because of Mahony's unflinching honesty in looking back over her own life with the benefit of hindsight and seeing where her own ADHD has pushed her off track, ruined relationships, and blinded her to her son's own difficulties at school. But it's not all bad: ADHD has also given her gifts which have helped her to thrive in her career(s) and filled her life with variety and richness. 

The three main characteristics of ADHD are restlessness, impulsivity and distractability, which Mahony reframes as creativity, energy and spontaneity, all of which can be invaluable traits if managed properly. Much of Better Late Than Never is a plea for greater understanding, especially of school children, which her mid-life career change to teaching has enabled her to see particularly clearly, though interestingly she often butts heads with authority in trying to help her fellow ADHDers. Published in the UK, the book's specific advice won't always apply to an Australian setting, but it's an insightful and fascinating glimpse into the condition.

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