real life

Sally Hepworth's behaviour became a running joke among friends. Then she was diagnosed with ADHD.

There was a running joke among Sally Hepworth’s circle of friends: don’t ask Sally to 'bring a plate' to a get-together. Because, well, she probably won’t.

It’s not that the New York Times best-selling author is lazy — she’s written seven novels, including The Mother-In-Law and The Soulmate, tours internationally, and is raising three children. It’s that she simply forgets that kind of thing. (Along with birthday presents. And lunch dates. And, occasionally, to pick up her kids from school.)

But what Sally didn’t realise, until recently, was that her forgetfulness is actually a symptom of neurodivergence.

Watch: Kate Page talks about adult ADHD. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Sally Hepworth has ADHD.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a common condition that impacts executive functioning, which is the brain’s ability to self-regulate and control thoughts, words, actions and emotions. 


There are three kinds of the disorder: inattentive (in which the person has difficulty concentrating on tasks that don’t interest them), hyperactive (in which the person experiences restlessness and has difficulty controlling impulses), and combined (a combination of the two).

ADHD affects roughly one in 20 Australians, most of whom are diagnosed as children. In fact, in the majority of cases (roughly 85 per cent), symptoms improve by adulthood. 

Sally, meanwhile, is among a growing number of adults — adult women, in particular — being diagnosed with the disorder. The reason for the surge is unclear, but growing public awareness is believed to be a major factor.

It took Sally’s daughter being diagnosed for the Melbourne woman to recognise her own symptoms.

Speaking to Mamamia’s No Filter podcast, she explained, "My son is on the [autism] spectrum and has ADHD. And I was very cognisant of his difficulties quite quickly. And so because [my daughter] was so different in the way that her ADHD presented, it kind of threw me off."

Sally's daughter was in Year 2 at the time, and reports came home from school that she was having difficulties with reading and with following rules. She wasn’t disruptive, just... inattentive.

When Sally asked her daughter what was going on, she answered, "So what I do is, when something's really boring, I just pretend that I'm listening. And in my head, I make up stories."


For Sally, it was all too familiar. 

"That was my childhood; making up stories when things were boring," Sally said. "So we went down the route of diagnosis... And that was when I started to learn about girls and ADHD. I read a book about it. I read a lot of things on Mamamia about it. There was an ADHD awareness month, during which there were a lot of interviews happening."

Slowly, Sally started to understand more not only about her daughter, but about herself. 

Why once, when faced with a deadline for edits on her book, she instead spent the afternoon painting furniture ("I had very little control if something would take my attention."). Why she’d sometimes engage in spending sprees (Lack of impulse control.). And yes, even why she can’t make a salad ("Too many steps. And imagine having to have all those ingredients fresh at the same time!").

These quirks of character had long been the source of friends' jokes, partners' frustrations, and her own self-loathing. And, Sally said, they often still are. But at least now they all know there’s more to the story.

To learn more about Sally Hepworth’s experience of ADHD, including what she’s learned from her diagnosis and the impact her condition has had on her family, listen to No Filter below or via your favourite podcast app.

Feature Image: Instagram. 

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