Kirsten specializes in interior styling and organization for children and adults with ADHD, Autism Spectrum Symptoms, and High Sensitivity. She uses her own ADHD sensitivity and desire for peaceful surroundings to help create order out of chaos for her clients. She reached out all the way from the Netherlands to share her ADHD experience with her fellow Kaleidoscope sisters!
Kirsten ter Borg, 31
Interior stylist, photo stylist, de-clutter coach & blogger
Amersfoort, the Netherlands
ADHD, Combined Subtypte
Age of ADHD Diagnosis: 17
What was it like growing up with ADHD?
How did you find out you had ADHD?
My dad went to a psychiatrist due to his addictive tendencies. He was diagnosed and shortly after, so was I. I was 17.
I was SO HAPPY that there was a reason for all of my question marks. Here was something I could work with. Something that explained so much I didn’t understand about myself.
In hindsight I should have received way more information, support and guidance. I was sent home with a bottle of dexamphetamine and a ‘good luck.’ I did not realize how my personality and behavior were really affected, I just felt bad about not being able to study. Later, when I started living by myself, I started to learn the harder lessons for example about (having no) impulse control and emotional regulation. I am still going through the process of understanding myself.
ADHD feels like ‘EVERYTHING IN CAPS LOCK’. It’s like every single detail around me, and every internal high speed train of thought I have, is screamed into my ear 24/7 without me being able to hit the break or a mute/stop button. The good and the bad. The beautiful and the ugly.
How did you discover your passion for interior styling?
Being highly sensitive as many AD(H)Ders are, I am very much influenced by light, colors, materials and the composition within a space. It is very annoying to me when a space is cluttered, or too bright, or boring etc. In an attempt to create peace and order around me, I have always been very active in changing and approving my surroundings. That is what my work is about. Helping people create a space that serves them. Not creating a trend worthy living room or a super tidy bedroom. Those are nice, but trends and tidiness are no goals in themselves. The goal is to be able to thrive in your space, to feel safe and inspired. So I decided to start a business to help people reach that goal.
What are your ADHD superpowers?
Weirdly, because I lose sight of structure so easily, I have become very good at creating order in chaos. This can be applied to interiors, schedules, theories or text. I am also usually 10 steps ahead in my mind, so I am not easily shocked and can laugh really hard about very dark humor. I am creative, my mind can bounce from funny to serious to emotional to rational in minutes. I am also open minded, I see so many possibilities in life everywhere and have empathy for pretty much every living organism.
What are some challenges of living with ADHD?
I have difficulties with this restlessness, with impulse control and with emotion regulation. I experience emotions very intensely, the good and the bad. The mood swings that come with that are sometimes very tiring. I guess this is about acceptance.
A few weeks ago I threw my phone against the wall in response to a text message I got from someone telling me they don’t hear from me enough.
I sometimes don’t talk to friends for weeks or months and this does not bother me and does not mean I don’t care. What does bother me is when I am being called on this, because of course I care but I hate to be claimed! So there is poor impulse control. And the phone was absolutely broken.
Restlessness is something I am still working on, or working on how to deal with it without damaging my body or my bank account. Spending money on clothes or online poker are probably my biggest temptations. Oh yes and food! I am actually pretty slim, but oh my, when the munchies hit all bets are off. Food is a big part of my coping with restlessness, only the satisfying stuff is also the stuff that makes me feel sick for the rest of the day, so this is a problem. Taking care of my body but not being too strict in doing so is an ongoing process!
What helps when I feel like any of these activities are spiraling out of control, is to breathe back into my body or going to the gym. Really feeling my body helps to stop and relax a bit more.
What do you wish the world knew or appreciated about women with ADHD?
That it is different from ADHD in kids or men. Girls/women have the natural tendency to adapt to their surroundings and suffocate their own impulses if they feel like this won’t be accepted. This costs a LOT of energy. Just because others cannot see the issues on the outside, does not mean a woman with ADHD does not struggle. It just probably means she has been suppressing a big part of herself.
What tips or advice would you give to other women with ADHD?
You are totally OK. Don’t compare yourself and don’t be so strict with yourself. You don’t owe anyone anything, you are the only person that can make your rules. Do it YOUR way. Do what works for YOU.
Connect with others with ADHD, this can be so much fun and create so much understanding and sense of self. I found out about Kaleidoscope Society through Instagram and I thought it was really nice that the account and site existed. I love these kind of platforms, connecting people worldwide that actually are very much alike!
And… don’t borrow money you don’t really need just because you really want to buy something, anything. Just don’t.
Tell us about one accomplishment you’re really proud of
Finishing my masters in Design! University was hard in terms of the amounts of research, reading and writing, and I did most of it without medication. I am definitely proud of that.
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