A Classic FM broadcaster from Buckinghamshire is working to shift understanding about ADHD after being diagnosed with the ‘extraordinary’ condition.

Katie Breathwick, 51, is a former LBC broadcast journalist who now hosts a late-night show on Classic FM and lives in Marlow with her husband, novelist and screenwriter Robert Thorogood and their two teenage children.

In what others may have found to be the stressful and time-pressured environment of live radio, Katie has always thrived, holding interviewees pointedly to account, adapting quickly to novel challenges and exercising a sharp focus, whatever the task at hand.

These are traits she believes come hand-in-hand, rather than in spite of, her diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which she received back in 2022 when the confluence of perimenopausal symptoms and lesser-known signs of ADHD – including memory loss – spurred her to visit a doctor shortly after her eldest son Charlie was also diagnosed with the condition.

Katie shared the news with her long-time friend and Classic FM colleague Sam Pittis on a late night in the office, only to discover that he had received the same diagnosis. Where Katie’s overwhelming reaction had been relief, however – “I understood so much more about why I had struggled in school and why I had had difficulties in some relationships” – Sam had a more subdued response.

“He just looked completely crestfallen when he spoke about it. His diagnosis was more complicated and there were some problems with getting his meds right, but it was interesting for both of us because we had the same condition, but such different experiences with it.”

After a slew of insightful and eye-opening conversations, Katie and Sam decided to branch off from their radio gigs and launch a podcast about ADHD, as a way to bring those freshly diagnosed or struggling with symptoms into the fold and to learn more about the oft-misunderstood condition themselves by speaking with a range of experts each week. 

‘You’re Wrong About ADHD’ launched on Global Player at the beginning of November and episodes have already delved into the educational psychology of ADHD, the spectrum of neurodiversity and the current shortage of prescription medication.

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It is estimated that one in twenty people in the UK has ADHD and Katie said she has become far more attuned to the nuances of the diagnosis since talking to reputable voices on her podcast.

“It has been extraordinary to discover how the physical response both Sam and I have to music is influenced by our ADHD. People with ADHD don’t have enough dopamine, and you can have issues with concentration and memory as a result.

“But now, I can appreciate that it’s also the reason why I’ve always felt that I’ve had a heightened experience of listening to music – the dopamine spike is enough to keep you up all night at a gig or a festival with no need for drugs or alcohol.”

The different reactions she and Sam each had to their initial diagnosis feed into a multifaceted debate on each episode of ‘You’re Wrong About ADHD’, but Katie is determined for the overall legacy of the podcast to be one of compassion and understanding. 

“For a while, ADHD was something you thought only young boys had – a schoolroom condition that they eventually grew out of. So many women, including me, only discover that they have it during menopause when they often lose what little dopamine they have.

“The main way that it affected me was memory loss. At one point, I had to write down all the conversations I was having, and it felt like I was falling apart.”

She has been touched by the number of listeners who have reached out to say they sought out a diagnosis as a result of the podcast or have recognised the symptoms in their own behaviour.

“It’s a very moving moment when you realise that those feelings you’ve had for most of your life about being a bit different turn out to be correct.

“I adore the friends I know who have ADHD because of the energy they bring and the quirky and creative ways they think.

“Sharing things about yourself (on the podcast) does feel risky but it’s all about understanding yourself and raising a wider awareness. It honestly has been an absolute privilege to make.”