Shaparak Khorsandi tells Graham Norton about her new ADHD memoir Scatterbrain

Virgin Radio

16 Jul 2023, 09:59

Picture of Graham Norton smiling next to a picture of Shappi Khorsandi looking happy during a video call with Norton.

Shappi Khorsandi joined The Graham Norton Radio Show with Waitrose to talk about her latest book and life after her diagnosis.

Lockdown gave us all an opportunity to reflect on our lives, and it gave comedian Shaparak Khorsandi the time to realise that there was something that she needed to address.

Opening up to Graham Norton about the moment that impelled her to find a therapist, Khorsandi recalled: “It was in lockdown when I kind of thought about my poor children not having any respite from me.

“I was just in the house and away from the manic fizzing sort of world that I normally occupied, and I ended up throwing this box of chocolates at the wall.

“It was that that made me go 'Ah, this is not a way to be around children', because they've never seen me throw anything at the wall before.

“And I thought that my brain is not coping and this whole thing that I knew that I had, this need for chaos and this need for finding an adrenaline hit constantly, needed to be addressed.”

The 50-year-old told Norton why she hopes the term attention deficit hyperactivity disorder will change soon.

She explained: “I don't believe it is a disorder, I think it's a difference.

“It's not something to be cured. It's something to be known about.

“I think that it is as ordinary as being short-sighted or being left-handed that with some adjustments and some support, you can manage it,” Khorsandi added. “It's not the ADHD itself that is the problem, it's the not knowing about it.”

The Iranian-born comedian also shared how a late diagnosis can affect your mental health.

“You think that you have the same tools as everyone else and they're doing things that you find impossible, like opening up your post, or not having that 17th drink, [and] you think, ‘It must be me, it must be my lack of willpower’.

“It's like trying to do a backflip when you're not a gymnast, and that sense of frustration can really erode your self-confidence.”

The writer then spoke to Norton about how her ADHD has affected her comedy career.

“On stage, I improvise a lot, and I think that's why I found doing stand-up on telly quite hard because I was such a live performer and I'd be a little bit of a rabbit in headlights because I’d think, ‘Gosh, this isn't just in the moment, this is being recorded'.

“All of that stuff would be going on in my head and I found it quite hard to be myself.”

However, since Khorsandi has learned more about her condition, the anxiety surrounding her job has gone, and performing live has become “fun”.

“I'm as scatterbrained on the stage as I was before, but I no longer care and I really inhabit it.

“I realised that my brain is like it does have its own little filing system that's never going to be rehearsed. I can't write comedy down so I have to do so many practice gigs and preview gigs, and that's the way they get embedded in my head.”

ADHD is a condition that includes symptoms such as being restless, constantly fidgeting, acting without thinking, and having trouble concentrating.

It can be treated by using medicine or therapy, but a combination of both often works best.

Scatterbrain is available to buy in bookshops now.

Listen to The Graham Norton Radio Show every Saturday AND Sunday from 9.30 am on Virgin Radio or catch up on-demand here.