ADHD, Motherhood, Running a Small Business and Navigating the Social Media Minefield: How Are You Today, Megan Hutchison?

Forget Me Not business owner and influencer Megan Hutchison gets candid about what it’s really like living life under the social media microscope, while juggling a small business, small children and an ADHD diagnosis – which her Instagram followers first diagnosed her with.

In a world of beige, perfect nurseries, and very perfect, well-behaved babies (that always sleep through the night), Megan Hutchison’s Instgram account has long gone against the grain. The only beige you’ll find is the chicken nuggets she whips up in the air fryer, amongst the colourful chaos of her home.

Megan has strived to keep it real – or rather, she just hasn’t had the energy or felt the need to portray her life as anything but imperfect. She’s shared the ups and downs of her business – Forget Me Not (a range of beautiful notebooks, planners and journals) – as well as a major moment in her life last year, when she was diagnosed with ADHD.

Here, we caught up with Megan to hear all about that diagnosis, how it’s shaped her, how she feels about social media and what it’s like running a small business at the mo!

How are you today, Megan?
I’m tired and grateful. My daughter has just (successfully) gone down for a nap, and having been up with my son since 5am, I’m grateful for the next 90 minutes rest I’ll get (though I shouldn’t jinx it by saying that!)

Oh God, I hear you. It’s amazing how much you can do in a nap time (but also how badly they can sleep when they can sense how much you want a long stretch?). Ok, so we know you best from your Instagram account, where you have a pretty massive following. There are SO many mums and small business owners out there on Insta, and heck, they can really make you feel some pressure to be the perfect mother, or worry that your small business isn’t stacking up to what others are portraying online. Do you ever feel this way? Do you feel a pressure to create a very curated Instagram account? Or do you feel the opposite pressure, in that you feel pressure to show a more accurate depiction of the ups and downs of your life? 
Absolutely I do!!! And do I feel woefully inadequate most of the time? – One hundred percent yes. I don’t have a curated Instagram at all, and it’s one of the reasons I stopped doing paid ‘influencer’ posts – I have no interest in trying to take perfect pictures, I share my very real and very messy life – in part because I simply don’t have the energy or will to pretend to be anything else, but also because I know that other Mothers can resonate with my beige air-fryer dinners, my messy, colourful house, and my stacks of laundry. We definitely see a lot more of that on Instagram now than we used to, and it’s such a blessing!

I never feel like I am doing a good job of my small business, either. It’s only through hearing that others (who portray immense success) are also struggling, especially right now, that I don’t feel like a complete failure all the time. I do wish I could be more consistent with my posting, on TikTok especially – where I go viral every now and then, and subsequently disappear for a few months. I also wish I was could be someone who plans my content and promotions for Instagram and email, but I am only one person (and a Mother first), and there just isn’t enough time in the day.

However, I love people and relationships, and I think this serves me well in business. I love to meet people, I go out of my way to talk to my customers, understand what they love or don’t love, and I ‘show up’ as much as I can. As a result, I know my customers have amazing brand loyalty (many started with our wedding planner book, and are now buying grandparents journals and baby books), they share on social media especially now that I personalise their books with names or initials, and they buy gifts for their friends. Although those “perfect” portrayals of small business life can be impressive for sure, there’s a lot to be said for word of mouth and genuine connections too.

Last year you received an ADHD diagnosis and shared this with your followers – what was the reaction like?
To begin with, I wasn’t sure about even going through the diagnosis, let alone sharing it. Having already concluded (prior to the assessment) that I had ADHD, I couldn’t see the ‘point’ of going through the process – which can be really long and expensive. Looking back, I’m so glad I did, largely due to the support and relationships I’ve made after sharing it. The reaction I had from others was so kind and empathetic, and there were so many people who wanted to go through the diagnosis themselves, and didn’t know where to start – I really feel like I both found and also built a little bit of community around it.

Having an online ‘profile’ is something I often feel a bit of discomfort around (and can often feel quite negative about), but when you get to share things that can really help others, it makes it really worthwhile. About six years prior, I’d shared my journey with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, and had built some amazing connections with people online as a result, which also prompted me to talk about it, and I’m really grateful to have been able to have some more really amazing connections and conversations around ADHD now. Talking about it helps to normalise the condition and its symptoms, so recently I’ve just opened up again about how it affects my spending – for example.

Looking back, in what ways has having ADHD impacted your life over the years?
I’ve only recently realised just how much ADHD has impacted my life, my relationships, my work – everything really. Though I do view it as a positive, I consider that it can be a sort of ‘superpower’, if you don’t know you have ADHD, you don’t know why you are finding certain things so hard. For me, listening (unless I am extremely interested) is tough – that was evident in my schooling, at university, and as a junior lawyer. In those instances, I know it really held me back and challenged me in some ways, which I struggled with at the time.

In other ways it’s funny, and a blessing, because I think it’s probably the reason I started my business (my first publication was a wedding planner book which worked with my brain, rather than against it); and also likely the reason I sought a creative and more rewarding escape, into entrepreneurship rather than law. 

Do you think an earlier diagnosis could have changed anything for you?
It is unusual to say this now, because I do want people to seek diagnosis and be able to address their symptoms – but I’m glad I didn’t find out when I was younger, because it could have certainly changed the trajectory of my life, and now that I’m here, I wouldn’t change anything.

Medication may have made my work as a lawyer easier, and I wouldn’t have been so distracted by the opportunity to start a business, but I’m not sure I would be happier in that career, or as able to be home with my young children as much as I am.

I suppose a few years earlier could have been really helpful, as I do think my condition and symptoms have held me back in some areas of business (such as forward-planning, consistency and anything financial!). 

I read that your diagnosis came after several of your followers on Instagram asked you outright if you had ADHD. Did those questions spur you to look into it? Or did your diagnosis come about in a different way?
Yes, that’s exactly right – the first time it happened, I was sharing my struggle with meal-planning and supermarket shopping on Instagram stories. I find it hard to follow recipes, and even the thought of making a weekly meal and grocery plan makes me feel stressed and uncomfortable. It started to occur more and more, I often share the behind-the-scenes of running my business, and I think people could see what I struggled with, and having recently being diagnosed themselves, many reached out.

And what has changed in the last year? Have you made any changes to your routine or lifestyle since the diagnosis?
I have definitely made changes to my routine, especially in the way I work. If a particular task challenged me, I would always leave it until last, stress about it, and finally rush through it at the last minute (literally, usually in the last 45 minutes before it was due). Now that I know what exactly challenges and distracts my brain, I plan to achieve harder tasks at the beginning of the day, and only when I know I won’t be susceptible to other distractions.

I have tried two different medications, the first of which I really hated, and the second which does help, but I honestly forget to take it most of the time – forgetfulness and absentmindedness is one way my condition manifests. I also find that even when I do take it, it doesn’t help with everything, I’ll still leave cupboards open, and struggle to listen effectively, or follow instructions like a recipe, so I try to be more holistic in my approach to treatment.

It probably won’t surprise you that I use journals a lot to organise my thoughts and plan my tasks. I have just recently gone a step further and designed the notebook that works best for my ADHD – using a combination of dot-grid and lines with perforated pages (so I can have the sensory-satisfaction of ripping out a page once completed). A man with ADHD created the “Bullet Journal” method with dot grid, but I found that I still really like to use lined notebooks too, so I describe mine as a ‘hybrid’ notebook of the two styles, which I know will really work for my ADHD brain. 

Ok, so HOW do you balance having two very young children and a business – let alone with ADHD?
I do so simply by necessity! My business keeps me sane, I absolutely crave the crave the creative stimulation and adrenaline I get out of what I do, while also being extremely passionate about the need for the products I create. I’ve said before that I am either “obsessed or uninterested” – and when it comes to families recording memories, grandparents leaving legacy journals, and just generally creating invaluable keepsakes, I am SO obsessed. I’m sure part of that is due to my own poor memory, and also my limited memories of my parents who died when I was younger, so I always want to capture, record and preserve what’s going on in my life, for both myself, and my children to look back on.

How is the Forget Me Not business going?
Well, I’ve talked a lot about ADHD with you – and the nature of my brain is that I am always working on the new! I’ve just launched a really versatile guestbook so that it can be used for weddings, baby showers, and even funerals, and of course I’m already onto thinking about what’s next’.

What’s unique to my business is incorporating ‘journal prompt stickers’ with our journals, so for instance our gratitude journal has over 100 prompts to encourage gratitude and self-care which guide the user, and give them agency over what to write about, while having the flexibility of choice (and they’re also very pretty!).

These have become a real ‘signature’ of the business, so to accompany my new range, I’m working on the journal prompt stickers for travel, grief and everyday goals and focus.

Actually I’d like to say thank you – I’m so grateful to the retailers who stock my books and journals, allowing me to focus on the creative development I love the most, and to the customers who just keep supporting the business. As a small publisher, it costs us more to produce our journals, we don’t have massive quantities, so we’re not the cheapest baby book, or the cheapest notebooks, so I’m grateful to have had 8 great years in business.

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