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My Lockdown with Menopausal Boozing and Undiagnosed ADHD

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I would love to talk about ADHD in high flyers, appearing during lockdown due to a lack of external distractions, aka ‘the missed red flags in women’, and it pushing many, seeking ‘soothing dopamine’, to drink.

I am a positive, successful, 48-year-old single mother and live in Essex with a 10-year old daughter. I am now the founder of a 12% lower alcohol spirit called Mooze 12%. I have run large ad agencies in London and Essex for years. The whizzy deadlines, multitasking, chatting, and direct open questioning to clients suited me. I loved it.

From 2014, wanting something that fitted in better with my daughter and unhappy with the services on offer for new mums,  I threw myself into founding something which suited me and my energy, so I created The Nurture Barn. This was outside Chelmsford and people would drive 90 minutes to us. Thousands visited us and would spend the day. We won so many awards – so many mothers know me. Lockdown changed all that and I lost my successful, wonderful under 5’s hospitality business in lockdown with eight staff. After being open for seven years, it was forced to close.

Since December 2020, I am the founder of a lower alcohol spirit called Mooze 12% with my best friend Mo, 59, of over 20 years.

My relationship with drinking over lockdown was bad. I had lost my wonderful business and was so restless – I needed dopamine, the happy emotion. The weekly recommended alcohol units are 14, I got up to 40 or 50 a week – functioning as normal, I thought, with a couple of wines and a gin and tonic. But, in June 2020, I decided it was enough – drinking so much, I was getting fatter and I needed to understand my feelings, and the internal humming that I had been self-soothing and masking for years had caught up with me. So, while any normal person would take a chill pill and look after themselves, I decided to create a business out of this journey.

I needed a way of moderating my drink units but didn’t want to cut it out completely. I know I am not alone and many people are not out to ditch alcohol completely. They just want less. But what is the choice? Between the extremes of under 1.2% (no or low alcohol), or the higher standard levels, there was nothing mid-level. So, I decided to solve the problem and create that replacement drink with a local Essex distillery – and created Mooze 12%. The name, Mooze, is a combination of moderation and booze – simple to remember. I don’t even drink 14 units now. For more information please visit our website. The menopause market and women drinking too much love it.

The humming, restlessness, burnouts, and workaholic driven side of me didn’t realise I had ADHD until lockdown and in October, I read a book by Zoe Kessler called ADHD. Surely that was just for naughty boys? Boy, was that a myth. So many entrepreneur women have it undiagnosed. Why do you think we are whirlwinds and can multitask everything (although we need teams to do the admin side)? People with ADHD often create their own jobs, so are self-employed to fit in with their symptoms. I found so much help on social media of women with the same symptoms, burnouts, frustrations – Tik Tok was a ‘godsend’ to learn about it.

People with ADD have little dopamine, the happy emotion, and the menopause depletes it even further as triggered by oestrogen (so bad in women aged 45+). I did an ADHD test online through ADDitude. I have since shared this test on lots of social media sites I have run and the response has been astounding. In 24 hours, over 20 women with ADHD kids contacted me, having done the test themselves – they never knew.

I was officially diagnosed via Zoom in early March (due to lockdown and menopause) with ADD (I don’t have the H for Hyperactivity as I can sort of sit still) and am about to start meds for the first time tomorrow, which I will film as it has immediate effects apparently. I got it diagnosed for free and was seen within the month by Psychiatry UK, some people wait for six years and pay £600+. I have a diary online at @midlifeADD tracking the last couple of months. My doctor didn’t even know that this free service existed and the NHS pay. Lockdown has brought out a lot of ADD in women, due to the lack of distractions masking everything. They keep emailing me and thanking me, thinking they are going mad and have to pay to go private or just live with it.

How do I feel now? I feel grief for not having looked after the younger me – I had burnout four times, the first time at 13, all from emotional overload. I feel excited about how it might be on the medication, although I feel trepidation that they might make me different. But if they allow me to make a cup of tea that doesn’t stew every time, as I get distracted and hoover, or clean out the fridge, or do my tax return on the hop, I will be happy.

Melanie Sims was finally diagnosed with ADD and is keen to share her story. She is now the founder of a 12% lower alcohol spirit called Mooze 12%.

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