Susan Earlam's journey with ADHD & Our Adaptogenic Formulae

Susan Earlam's journey with ADHD & Our Adaptogenic Formulae

Join us for an insightful interview with author Susan Earlam, diagnosed with ADHD in 2022. Susan will be sharing her personal journey with our supplement formulae and their profound impact on her life. Her fascination with natural health began as she delved into mushroom research for one of her books!

Introducing Susan Earlam

My name is Susan Earlam and I’m an author. I’m 43 and I live on the edge of the Peak District. I was interested in trying these supplements because I’ve read a bit about adaptogens and quite a lot about mushrooms. My debut novel involved researching mushrooms, and I realised how much they can actually do for us as a population and also on an individual level. I was excited about trying them. I know The Herbtender isn’t all about mushrooms as other adaptogens are a big part of the brand, but it was the mushroom aspect that peaked my initial interest.

Navigating life with ADHD: Your diagnosis and it’s daily impact

I became official in October 2022. In the months leading up to my diagnosis, I’d done a lot of research. What got me started was one of my daughters is incredibly similar to me. She seems to have the same brain, and she was having so many uncannily similar issues as I had been through. Things to do with organisation, short-term memory, and struggling to prioritise. Sometimes it’s really difficult to know which task to do first, and then it all becomes very overwhelming and you end up doing nothing, because the job seems so big, which brings in issues with time management.

I’ve always been known for my organisation skills. My family and friends think I’m really organised - I have a paper diary and a calendar, as well as notebooks. I began to understand that these methods are me overcompensating, because I know if I don’t write something down I will forget it. These systems that I built up over many years these are hacks for my brain, otherwise I’d be in absolute chaos.

This overcompensating is largely linked to perfectionism. There’s the expectation (from myself and from society) that if you are organised, then you can perform at a certain level. So You hide, you mask and you overcompensate. You pretend you can, just to get by.

You mask because people believe you’re a certain way. You want to be that way because that’s the ideal, let’s say, neurotypical. It’s ironic, if someone didn’t know me, they would look at me and say I am really organised and that’s the killer. That’s the mask I made for myself, and I believed it too, for a long time.

In my experience, a lot of women who have ADHD perform life well and do all these things that make them appear like super women, but on the inside, it feels like you’re a Tasmanian devil. Going round and round through your life, leaving a stream of papers, cupboards in chaos, dishwashers half empty, piles of notebooks, and a stream of half-finished jobs where you’ve seen something else that needs doing, so you’ll do that. The problem is that you’ve not finished the other thing that you started before.

But by the time you get to going back to the first job, your energy will have gone for the day so it won’t get done again. So there’s a buildup of half finished jobs – but everyone else thinks your superwoman managing life really well.

The pressure I feel also comes from other places. I’ve got kids, I’ve got a busy household, my hormones are changing, and I needed a bit of support. I wanted to try the supplements because I knew it would take a long time for me to get any sort of prescription with the traditional meds for ADHD.

Tell us about your Herbtender journey

I started taking Calm & Collected and Focus & Clarity during the summer of 2023. Looking back now, they really helped me. Calm & Collected was helping me be more present. I’ve been going through quite a bit this year regarding a big home renovation project, plus I work from home and I’ve been trying to finish another book, so it’s been a lot to deal with.

I would take Focus & Clarity in the morning and it would help me do an hour or two of writing or editing and get on with my work and allow me to concentrate. Then I would take Calm & Collected to manage the stress of the building work. The capsules also helped me with the stress of my self-imposed deadlines. I know it’s me putting those deadlines onto myself, but with ADHD, that’s the only way I get stuff done.

I felt both products made me steadier, less distracted and flighty. I felt they helped me focus on my work. In terms of how different I felt, with Calm & Collected, I immediately felt a difference. Focus & Clarity took longer to work, but once I started taking it consistently for maybe about a week, so more of a cumulative effect. Calm & Collected had a much faster response. I could feel this helping and on particularly stressful days where the build had run into issues, these were a lifesaver.

What is your understanding of adaptogens?

I’m into being healthy and I enjoy reading and diving into subjects. Recently, I remembered that when I was a kid, my dad tried Ginseng which is a type of adaptogen. He was on ginseng for a bit for his short-term memory. It used to annoy my mum that he just couldn’t remember things. Of course, now, I’m convinced he has ADHD because he’s so similar to me. My idea of adaptogens is that they seem to know exactly what the body needs and they’ll help the body cope with stress. For example, if you need help with hormones, it would support hormones or if it was muscles, and you were exhausted, the adaptogens would support muscles. It’s like they adapt to what the body needs in some magical way, which is interesting to me as a whole concept. It feels like we have barely discovered what they are capable of.

Do you have previous experience with medicinal mushrooms or adaptogens?

No, I don’t have any previous experience. Interestingly, when I was writing Earthly Bodies I needed something mysterious and thought, what can I use? What do I really not like? I’ve never liked the taste of British mushrooms. So taking a supplement with mushrooms in it, from not liking mushrooms, is quite a leap. I had to think, oh, is this going to taste like soil? And it obviously didn’t. But I’ve had a sensory thing about mushrooms since I was little. It’s a surprisingly serendipitous thing, where I after doing all this research for my book, I realised how interesting they were. There is a lot more to mushrooms than those you get in the shops. I then gained respect for mushrooms and for all the different types. I went from someone who didn’t like them to someone who’s got a lot of interest and is a big fan of them. So it’s really interesting to me mushrooms are so prominent in my fiction now and actually, they’re something that’s helped support my ADHD.

What were the changes experienced in your day-to-day routine or behaviour?

With Calm & Collected, it slowed me down a bit for want of a better word, rather than being someone who was trying to do everything and juggle. It would encourage me to pause and maybe have a cup of tea and put my feet up, rather than trying to get another job ticked off my list. And that’s what everybody needs to be honest. I needed that rest. I couldn’t have carried on the way I was. I would have been in a much more burnout state at this point if I hadn’t taken them; a high adrenaline state and fatigued. I would have been a lot worse off.

What are your thoughts about our brand and packaging?

After reading labels on The Herbtender bottles compared to labels from other brands I can see that the quality is much higher and that shows in the packaging and the way it’s presented. It feels like it is an investment in your in your health. Whereas sometimes you can pick something up and it’s in a plastic bottle and the capsules are full of cellulose or bulking powders. I felt a level of trust in the Herbtender brand, unlike something that might just taken as a quick fix. To me, it’s an investment in the long term rather than a short term.

What products of ours will you try next?

If I were going to choose another one out of all of them, I would pick Doze & Dream. Because sleep is so important, especially with my hormones. I don’t always get a full night’s sleep, especially at certain times of the month. I feel like that would help.

Would you recommend The Herbtender?

Yes, I would. Especially for ADHD. I think a lot of the ADHD traits for me are the hyperactive side - but in my head. You will not see me climbing the walls or running around, but most of my hyperactivity is in my head and Calm & Collected definitely made a difference. It really helped to take me down a notch. They don’t make me feel sleepy, but they chilled me out rather than getting wound up about things and having these circular thoughts. Rather than not getting anywhere, they gave me the head space to think ‘hang on, just pause what you’re trying to do and be present’, and made me feel more calm.


If you have any questions about the above or anything else The Herbtender related, we'd love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment below, pop us an email ( or send us an instagram DM @theherbtender. 

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