273: Empowerment Beyond Misdiagnosis
with Alyssa Fontaine

Mar 25

Alyssa Fontaine's life story highlights the crucial need for mental health diagnosis and care accuracy. Misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager, she faced the challenges of ADHD and medication mismanagement, which set her on a path to self-advocacy and profound change. This experience fueled her passion to support women entangled in cycles of incarceration and addiction and to lead a transformative cheerleading program in her hometown, demonstrating the power of empathy and proper care.

In her current roles, Alyssa combines her journey with professional dedication. As a Community Support at Crossroads for Women and a Cheerleading Coach in Highland Hornets, she empowers women and children from her community to overcome mental health challenges and social barriers. In this episode of ADHD for Smart Ass Women, Alyssa and I put highlight on the impact of self-advocacy and community support, offering practical wisdom for those navigating similar struggles.

This episode showcases triumph over misdiagnosis and advocates a relentless drive to empower others facing mental health challenges and social obstacles.





"I like to think that when I see someone walking, they have all of these puzzle pieces. They're dropping them. And instead of just repeatedly helping them to pick it up, I like to follow them and then, watch them put it together. So I just help carry the stuff and be there with them." 
- Alyssa Fontaine

"Here's what I have, here's what I can do. If not, I understand I'll be on my way. But I just rolled up my sleeves and got to work and started calling them and just getting to know them as people. When they ask what's wrong with them, I redirect: 'We'll get there. I can see it. But I'm getting to know you. Who are you? Let's find out who you are.'" 
- Alyssa Fontaine

"Recognize when you’re able and not able to show up. It means checking in with yourself, advocating for yourself, and making sure you seek environments. It's important to assess whether you can help someone on any given day. Sometimes, it's okay to say no." 
- Alyssa Fontaine

[00:00 - 27:00] Mental health, childhood trauma, and community support
  •  Alyssa Fontaine grew up in a rough neighborhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with a lot of crime and drug use, but had a good childhood with supportive parents and a close-knit community.
  • She got misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder and experiencing worsening symptoms despite medication.
  • Alyssa finds solace in a group of other children who are also in the hospital, and they teach each other how to navigate the system and cope with the medication.

[27:00 - 48:16] Mental health treatment and diagnosis, and personal growth
  • Tracy and Alyssa discussed the impact of trauma on mental health and the importance of teaching children about mental health and self-care.
  • Alyssa talks about the importance of recognizing when and when not to show up for others

[48:16 - 57:19 ] ADHD, self-acceptance, and community building
  • Alyssa believes that embracing their ADHD identity is key to living successfully with the condition, rather than viewing it as a label or diagnosis.
  • Embracing the unique qualities and just being themselves help connect with others and do what they need to do for the greater good.
Highland Hornets Cheerleading
Crossroads for Women

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Hi, I'm Tracy

I teach Smart Ass ADHD women how to use their brilliant brains to build the life they want by embracing their too-muchness and focusing on their strengths.