ADHD PoC Voices: Influencer Rach Idowu Shares Her Own ADHD Story of Struggle, Resilience and Advocacy

Episode 164

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This week we are delighted to present another special episode dedicated to exploring the lived experiences of people of color with ADHD by presenting an interview with ADHD advocate and influencer Rach Idowu. When Rach’s own diagnosis was disrupted due to the Covid pandemic, she took it upon herself to educate herself about ADHD. When she didn’t find what she was looking for, she started to share her own experience on social media as a black professional woman living in London.

Rach discusses the challenges she faced as a young girl of immigrant parents trying to succeed without knowing she had ADHD. She talks about how she met resistance in the diagnosis process but used her curiosity and tenacity to keep asking questions and not being satisfied with the status quo. She shares with Cam her passion for advocacy and love of gaming and how gaming serves as a model and metaphor for approaching difficult dilemmas. Finally, Rach shares how her love of helping others and spreading the word about ADHD has fueled her enthusiasm and efforts in a very popular newsletter and her own line of ADHD flashcards.

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Episode Transcript:

[00:00:00] Cam: Hi, this is Cam, and welcome to the Translating ADHD podcast. Today we are sharing another installment of the PoC Voices series. This is where we highlight people of color doing amazing work in the world of ADHD. Today I’m so happy to finally have Rach Idowu on the podcast. I’ve been admiring Rach, and Ash has too, from a distance for some time.

And so we’ve connected on social media, and I reached out to her. And I’m just so happy that she’s here. And she’s at the end of her workday celebrating on a Friday. And I’m in the middle of my workday, but I’ll soon be there. But anyway, Rach welcome. Welcome to Translating ADHD. 

[00:00:46] Rach: Thanks for having me, Cam. I’m like really excited to be here. Feels like it’s been a long time coming, and it’s really a full circle moment for me. 

[00:00:53] Cam: It’s great. It’s lovely to have you here just to have these conversations cuz we just really enjoy sharing this with our listeners. So can you tell our listeners just a little bit about yourself, who you are and what you do in this space around educating individuals with ADHD? 

[00:01:11] Rach: Sure. So I’m Rachel Idowu. I also go by Adulting ADHD online. And I’m a black woman from London, and I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 26. So pretty much a late diagnosis – kind of came out of nowhere.

But since then I’ve been raising awareness about ADHD – well, undiagnosed ADHD in adulthood – online primarily through my sub newsletter, but then also via flashcards. I think it’s a conversation that has needed to happen and still needs to be happened. So I’m glad I’m just the one of many voices in the community, raising awareness and sharing my experience in order to help others. 

[00:01:51] Cam: I love both the newsletter and the flashcards. And so we’ll have Rachel’s contact information in the show notes so that you can link to that. And you’re certainly making up for lost time, like, cuz it seems like what you’ve done in the last three years we have been doing for like 25 years. 

[00:02:12] Rach: That’s amazing. That like 25 years. That’s a round of applause. 

[00:02:17] Cam: Yeah, I guess you could say that. So it’s one thing to have a diagnosis, and it’s another thing to just move right into raising awareness. So what was that impetus for or the motivation to shift from your own learning, to then sharing the learning with others, Rach? 

[00:02:36] Rach: That’s a really good question, Cameron. No one has asked me that. So essentially I had no choice. So I was diagnosed in January, 2020, and as part when you are diagnosed via the UK National Health Service, you have post ADHD diagnosis appointments with a psychiatrist once a month for 12 months.

I should have said, it took me about a year and six months to receive my ADHD diagnosis. So that’s how long it took me to go for the process. So great, I’m diagnosed with ADHD combined. I have two appointments with the psychiatrist and then the pandemic hits in March, 2020. I get a letter for the mail saying, well, we’ve had to shut down the clinic. All of your appointments are canceled and we’ll be in touch. 

[00:03:22] Cam: Yeah, exactly. Good luck to you. 

[00:03:26] Rach: Yeah. I’m confused, and at this time I hadn’t told anybody about my ADHD diagnosis, outside of my immediate family. So I’m thinking, okay, so I have no one to speak to about this. Surely there must be some communities online. So I checked reddit. I couldn’t really understand the interface, and then I just searched ADHD on Twitter and wow, there were so many people.

So, I made a Twitter account to try and connect with the other ADHD like yourself, Cam. And then because I had no one to speak to about my day-to-day experiences, like because I would’ve spoken to the psychiatrist about that, I decided to set up a subject newsletter as sort of a diary entry to kind of like document what I learned so that I could go back to the psychiatrist and say, Hey, this is kind of like what it’s been like the past couple of months.

But then also I did check online and there’s so many good like podcasts and YouTube videos. But when I was reading the information online, it was very technical and like medical heavy, which is good in like some respects, but I just wanted like the firsthand account of what it’s like basically adulting with ADHD, and that’s how it all started. So yeah, I stumbled into it in a way.

[00:04:41] Cam: Yeah, out of necessity. And you saw it as a way to archive or share your experience with the psychotherapist or the psychologist. turned into something totally different. I was looking at it, just reviewing your newsletter, and I just love the flow of it, the approach. Yeah. There’s a humor about it. Humility. Yeah. Thank you. And sort of meeting people where they are, right. To sort of talk about a specific challenge and then looking at, you know, straightforward and have tips and strategies of what they can do in this, situation.

So I highly recommend that, people. Check out Rachel’s newsletter and also check out the flashcards, too. Yeah. So can we go back in time to, again, often we run into this pain of something’s up and I need to go check this out. Yeah. And what it was like to be growing up pre-diagnosis, not knowing, right. As a young girl in the UK, with undiagnosed ADHD, what was that like? And the challenge? 

[00:05:52] Rach: Yep. For me, so I’m the middle child, and I have two sisters. And I always thought I had middle child syndrome, so that’s when the middle child just goes rogue, does their own thing. It isn’t quite on a straight or narrow path, but they just go along. So I thought that was what was quote unquote wrong with me. and then I thought I was a bit of a maverick. So in terms of going through school, I was, you know, very chatty, quite disruptive, but not in the rude way. In classes, I would call out answers. I’d get restless and move between tables, I’d distract others, and I was a bit of a class clown, and so this was actually picked up by my teachers. They told my parents I had the attention span of a goldfish.

I actually had to end up seeing a school counselor to teach me how to concentrate and to stop fidgeting and stop being disruptive. So she taught me a few techniques how to basically stop doing that. But again, it never occurred to anyone that I had the ADHD. Mm-hmm. So in my mind I’m thinking maybe it’s because I’m a tomboy or because I’m a maverick or because I’m a middle child, but I just couldn’t quite get like the good grades like my peers. I could like study for hours, feel like I maybe know most of the book, but when it came to exams and doing like homework, it was felt like it was just pulling teeth. I had like a mental barrier in my head that I was fighting against constantly. So what would take like someone three hours to do, it could take me free day to do and I’m not even being dramatic. And I do think something was up. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:07:28] Cam: My parents would playfully, and it was playfully, try to tie me in my chair because I mean, just that resonates with me. And that sort of, you know, sitting there and it’s something that seemingly I watch my peers do effortlessly. Yeah. It would just take me three to five times longer. It was so hard to sit in the chair. And my dad would just sort of playfully tied me into my chair with a, bathrobe belt. Wow. You know, just like, Hey buddy, you just stay here. I just remember that, and you also speak a lot about, you know, gender and race. Yeah. And age, too. How did being a black girl impact or influence your experience? 

[00:08:10] Rach: So, I’m Nigerian, my parents came from Nigeria – my mom as a teenager, my dad as an adult. And when you come from a, like, you know, first generation immigrant family, you’re taught you have to work twice as hard. You have to be a cut above the rest, you know. A foreign land and, you know, my parents made so many sacrifices to be here.

So on my shoulders, it’s just like, I’ve gotta figure out a way through this. So this was when I was undiagnosed. I would take energy drinks, coffee, pro plus pills, anything I could to get myself to focus and concentrate and you know, I’m already stigmatized as being a black woman, but then a black woman from a country called Nigeria. It just really played on my mind. I’ve also read so many different self-development books to try to be as good as my parents wanted me to be and to make their sacrifices have come into this country worth it.

So, as a black woman, I had that pressure on me already growing up. So, even when I considered that something could be wrong with me, even though I didn’t think it was ADHD, I didn’t want to have any like labels or stigmas on me. And so that’s quite common in the black community in the UK because that just adds another barrier of being black, having maybe a disability like going hand in hand. It’s almost just like the world is working against you. So, growing up I masked heavily as, especially as a woman, so I’d read self-development books. I would try to conceal the traits that I struggled with in certain settings because of all of this pressure around me, and because I know what it is like to be a black woman. And back then there was a lot of racism. There still is now, but you want to present yourself as the best. It was pretty difficult.

I had a nice upbringing, but in the back of my mind, you know, these were what was playing up on my mind. And again, I think that could have factored into like why my ADHD was missed for so long. Because sometimes in school there’s a stereotype. If you’re like a black and brown kid, you have no home training. Your parents didn’t do a good job of raising you, and not that you could have ADHD or some form of disability. So that isn’t even considered. I find that black and brown kids aren’t given the benefit of the doubt. Usually it’s you get sent to a behavioral center or sent outside of the class and not given the support you need cuz you are automatically demonized. Whereas you see that high proactive boy or even white boy stereotype, it’s just like, ah, maybe he needs to put more help, and I can speak to his parents about getting extra tutoring. As black kids, we don’t often get that same benefit of the doubt. 

[00:10:29] Cam: Right. And there’s that bias at play. Yeah, exactly. You said that it kind of played with your mind. Yeah. Right. Sort of as you were growing up and it played with your mind. Can you give an example of how it did play with your mind? Like how did it play with your mind? 

[00:10:44] Rach: So it’s really interesting cuz back then I knew the term ADHD, but it was spoken as only boys could have ADHD. And if that kid was naughty, they had ADHD. And so in my mind I completely rule that out because I wasn’t deemed a naughty kid. I was disruptive, hyperactive. But then also, you know, my inattentive traits. So I was trying to pinpoint like what could it be? And I didn’t really have an answer back then, you know, I was playing video games.

I wasn’t Googling, you know, symptoms basically fast forward until when I was back 23, I started to think it was early onset dementia. And I had gone to my GP and said, you know, I think I have early onset dementia. Oh my God. Yeah, we did a memory session. He was like, no, your memory’s fine. You’re probably disoriented because you’ve just traveled somewhere. And this was the same GP who told me that I couldn’t have ADHD two to three years down the line. So it’s really interesting to see how that pattern, you know, continued on. 

[00:11:36] Cam: Yeah. You know, I love doing these interviews because again, not about the pain and the suffering and the challenge. Yeah. But really the re. Because what I’m hearing here is this sort of, you are constantly asking questions, right? Yeah. Even when you’re young girl sort of considering and thinking it’s like, this is not adding up. Yeah. And there’s a curiosity there of sort of seeking, I’ve got to find, there must be some solution here that I can find. And I, I see that in most of individuals that I speak with who are, again, leaders in the field and, sharing, like yourself. Yeah. There’s this curiosity and resolve to keep pushing forward. even though it’s not adding up, you don’t give up.

[00:12:26] Rach: Of course. A hundred percent. 

[00:12:27] Cam: And so you get the diagnosis. And then you get the letter, and the whole adulting ADHD with rage starts.

[00:12:36] Rach: Yeah. But it was hard to get the diagnosis. I should actually tell you about that.

[00:12:41] Cam: And I’m gonna say, I mean, I’m in the United States, so just to add this, I’m appreciating as I make more friends in the UK, um, I know that it’s a nightmare here. The whole thing about trying to get an ADHD diagnosis. You know, when you have ADHD, if it wasn’t so sad, it would be kind of funny. I mean, just how ridiculous it is that yeah, you’ve got to jump through all these hoops to make this happen. And I’m just learning about the whole NHS and the wait time. Yeah. And the bureaucracy of that, the red tape. So yeah, please go ahead. 

[00:13:18] Rach: So, yeah, so it’s 2018. I had watched this controversial Netflix documentary. I’m sure you know which one I’m talking about. but what stuck with me was there was a black man on that show and I think he had struggled with ADHD for like all of his life. I think he was in his forties from memory. And then when he took medication, he was so emotional. I think he even cried and spoke about how it transformed his life. And then there was somebody else talking about struggling to do chores. And I’m like, hang on a minute. So like, this is real. Because if I told someone I struggled with these things, they’d say I’m ridiculous or I was lazy.

So after I watched the documentary, done a lot of research on ADHD for about two weeks, done all of the online assessments that I could find, asked like, my sisters about it and just said, you know, what do you think of this? And they’re like, yeah, that’s you. And then I said, why I’m gonna go to my GP and start this process.

So online people tell you to take examples of your ADHD in childhood and adulthood, in your work life. social life and just in general. Because many people, including myself, had to basically fight to be referred to a psychiatrist for an assessment. And that’s exactly what happened when I went to the GP. He said, you can’t have ADHD. I have a patient with ADHD and you’re not like her. You graduated, you’ve got a job. So yeah, I’m sorry, I don’t think you have it. And this has been my GP since I was a kid. So I’ve known this woman for most of my life.

And I said, I never come to you except for my migraine meds. I really think I have ADHD. I’m okay if you don’t think I have it, but can you refer me to a psychiatrist because they will know I had it. We had this back and forth until I managed to convince her to refer me, and she said, wow, it’s up to you, but it’s going to take you up to two years. And I thought she was just saying that to dissuade me.

So this was via the NHS, and it took a year and six months. So after I saw my GP, I saw one psychiatrist. He said, yeah, it’s likely that I have ADHD, but on the NHS you need two psychiatrists to confirm it. And then saw the final psychiatrist, he said, yeah, you have ADHD combined type. And they both asked me similar questions and I’m like, okay, I’m just gonna go through it. And that was in a space of a year and six months. So it did take quite a long time to get the diagnosis, and I considered paying the private route, but I didn’t have the money to pay for that. It was around 450 pounds to maybe 600. And I’m like, okay, so if I gather this money and I don’t have ADHD, this is money down the drain, right. And for me, I couldn’t afford to just lose that money to be told it was all in your head, you might not have ADHD. So I decided to wait on the NHS. 

[00:15:52] Cam: Yeah. You know, the similarities, you know, it’s so fascinating is that this is only a couple years ago, right? This is, four or five years ago, this whole process. Is that right? Yeah, the diagnosis. Yeah. And here are these medical professionals who are ill informed, right? These medical professionals who really would benefit from reading your newsletter. I think so, too. You know, when I was a school teacher, I got an ADHD coach, this is the infancy of ADHD coaching, people. We’re talking about 1990. Wow. Yeah. Like Ice Age. Who’s thinking way back before 2000. And yet this person, this coach, she was at an Ivy League type, so a very competitive college, and the people there would say, we don’t have anyone with ADHD here because. they’re too successful to have ADHD.

Wow. Back to that same thing of, oh, you’re a college graduate, you have a job. You’re holding a job down for more than, you know, six months. There’s no way you can have ADHD. Yeah. Again, this sort of interesting snapshot, how people will just create this box around what they think it is and then just not move from it. It is so fascinating is that in order to be successful with living and managing ADHD, you have to start to consider nuance and distinguish. Yeah. Because what do we do? We do this black and white thinking. We do all or nothing. and here we are presented with guess what, black and white thinking. Yeah. It gets in our way. It’s incredible. It’s just astounding that there’s so many things that have changed over the years, but in 20 years, I mean, that’s 20 years right there, those attitudes have still not changed. And so it’s just our work, right. The work we’re doing on the podcast and what you are doing, just still a need, and there will always be a need for educating people about what is ADHD and what is not ADHD. 

[00:18:08] Rach: A hundred percent. So even like I work in a public sector, I’m on career number four, and I’m probably gonna have another career in a couple of months. And when I meet someone, and I’m comfortable telling them I have ADHD, these are grown adults, I even get, what is that? Don’t only boys have it, or is it only in childhood, but I get a lot of what is ADHD? And these are bright individuals, so there is still much more awareness that we can raise, across platforms or, even in person.

[00:18:35] Cam: Yeah. And so you do a fair amount of presenting, too. Can you share a little bit about like what are the elements of your presentations? What you see is what matters in informing people about ADHD. Like what are the nuts and bolts or the main components of one of your presentations?

[00:18:56] Rach: Yeah, that’s a good question. So there are three key areas of focus. So my first one is neurodiversity in the workplace having been in the workforce for about seven years. My second one is neurodiversity in like, comics, tv, and gaming. So I’ve spoken at ComicCon a few times, and also at a gaming conference in the UK.

So, touching on neurodiversity in the workplace, especially as someone who’s neurodivergent, people just assume what works for X will work for Y. So for instance, people scheduling back-to-back meetings without like starting five minutes past the hour. So people have a break in between. That doesn’t only help people who have ADHD, like myself, who gets restless, but that’s gonna help everyone who just needs to take a break.

Or, other accommodation is having like quiet areas. I know some organizations aren’t that big, but if it’s big and there’s a room to have, like a quiet space for a quiet room for those who are overstimulated, that could help. Or maybe designated areas where phone calls can’t be taken. Accommodations that access to work. So in the UK there is this scheme where you can get an ADHD coach or tools, or access to other tools if you’re neurodivergent, and the government will fund that for you, for your workplace schemes. So just speaking about navigating the workplace as someone with ADHD, but then also the strengths I bring to the workplace.

I’m full of ideas. Sometimes I do like the fast pace work independent on what it was. I love problem solving and some juicy, meaty ideas. So sometimes it’s also challenging those stereotypes that people with ADHD are lazy or can’t do anything or need to be micromanaged or need the babysitter. But it’s not true because we all have different needs and making it clear to people that they need to speak to the person they’re managing who has ADHD or the person they work with to understand what their needs are, where they may need more support and which areas they’d thrive more in.

So that’s kind of like the bulk of the work I do on like neurodiversity and a bit of consulting on like maybe some of the organization’s hiring practices or like the accommodations offered at the interview stages.

[00:21:03] Cam: Just a couple things. One is, in coaching, we look at perspectives, right? So there’s sort of the thing, right? The thing you gotta do, or the project you’ve gotta complete. The relationship you wanna have or not wanna have. And there’s also then how you’re looking at it, right? So perspective is how you’re looking at the thing. And it sounds like you help people with developing new perspectives, especially around the accommodations. And, it’s like, what really makes sense? Like these are sensible ideas, they’re gonna be beneficial to not just the individual with ADHD. 

[00:21:40] Rach: Yeah, exactly. I think it’s all about shifting perspective. When we are raising awareness, you have to understand that people are at different starting points. Some people may know a little about ADHD or some people may know a lot or think they know a lot and they go, well, I’ve watched this TV show and that person has ADHD. So that’s how everybody with ADHD acts like. And I think that could be very unhelpful to other ADHDers who are in the workplace, who have different needs or thrive in different areas.

So again, like you say, it is all about shifting perspectives and try people not taking a one size fits all approach when it comes to ADHDers in the workplace. 

[00:22:17] Cam: Yeah. You know, and the other thing, couple years back, the term gamification was around a bit. And again, like I was listening to a, it may have been a TED Talk, I don’t know, but it was someone who was trying to figure out how to bend a protein, you know, to fold a protein. And, you know, it was this really difficult challenge. And what they did was they put it out to gamers. And sort of put it out to them of like, you just need to fold this in a certain way that operates in a certain way. I mean, again, I know nothing about proteins, I know nothing about, you know, the research. But I knew what the person did was to see that using gamification in order to solve a problem. You know, I’m just curious about how your interest in gaming, how that helps you solve bigger problems. Do you wanna comment on that?

[00:23:10] Rach: Yeah, so I’ve had almost every single game console since the Sega Mega Drive. So I’ve Nintendo 64, PlayStation 2, got PlayStation 4. My sister has a PlayStation 5, which I play. All of it. And for me, playing video games it’s almost just like the best experience ever because I’m sat there hyper-focused, adventuring into New World. So then it’s opening up the creativity side of my brain, and I’m not sure about you, but I find inspiration everywhere in ideas everywhere.

So if I played a game and I’ve entered into a new world, or I’ve figured out a problem, I actually do apply it in my day-to-day work life. So when you’re completing missions in a game, the ultimate aim is to finish the game. So as missions go on, they get harder. But because I’m super into the game, I’m so motivated and I say, yes, I’m gonna do it. I’m not gonna fall out the first hurdle. If this doesn’t work, I’m gonna try these five other ways for it to work. And because I got into the habit and rhythm of doing that, playing games, I started to do that at work.

Let’s say a stakeholder had to tackle issue and a difficult problem to solve. I would brainstorm five to like six different ideas that it could help to address those problems, the pros and cons of those and other things they could consider. So it’s just being open to exploring different ideas but then also breaking down the problem in order to get one or many different solutions. And I got a lot of that from games. And then going back to University, when I used to write my essays, it was so hard, Cameron, it was so hard. So I did one paragraph and then I say, well, if I do this paragraph, I will play like a game in Tony Holts pro skater, and then I’ll come back. So I really used it as a productivity tool and would reward myself when I complete task or I say, I’m gonna give myself five minutes, and then it should be completed in five minutes. So yeah, I find that gamification really worked.

[00:25:02] Cam: This hearkens back to you not being satisfied with not knowing, right, back to when you were a little girl and sort of questioning, like, this isn’t adding up. This isn’t adding up. And this reminds me of Carol Dweck’s work around mindset and the difference between growth mindset and fixed mindset. This sort of, okay, let’s just keep working this, there is a way to get past this obstacle if I keep working this and keeping creativity and strengths, you know, front and center as I tackle this challenge. 

[00:25:39] Rach: It all stems back from like my parents coming from Nigeria, like that young girl and having to figure things out. Being in the school system with like a Nigerian accent, going to university, both graduating, doing, studying great things. It’s almost just like if they filmed a way I’ve got so many like opportunities here that I will have to find a way to figure it.

So again, it’s going back to that growth mindset, but, um, sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I do have tough days, and I do wanna give up on the world, and I have had that with, you know, anxiety, being depressed when things don’t work out, that was the dark side of having undiagnosed ADHD. But there’s always something in the back of my mind. And also I attribute that to like my faith that, you know, things will get better, you know, praying for better days. So yeah, there is just so much when it comes to ADHD and also different mindsets. 

[00:26:23] Cam: I’d love to touch on race a little bit. I imagine that that comes into your presentations too, or, what you share with the world. And I’m curious about what’s the message you have for those young black girls? What’s the message you have for them?

[00:26:40] Rach: Yeah, so, when I started like raising awareness online, I was completely anonymous, didn’t have a name, didn’t have a face, completely anonymous because I felt embarrassed talking about my ADHD and also putting my face on display. And then I had seen a tweet, someone tweeted, I wish there were more black people speaking about ADHD, and they didn’t know was a black person because I had an icon on.

And then as soon as I revealed my face, I had like men and women, like not just in the UK, across the world saying, oh my gosh, your content helps me. Oh my gosh, you look like me. And I’m often giving them advice on one, how to deal with their families because earlier on, the book about, you know, stigmas within the black community when it comes to, you know, what, not wanting to label your kids, which denies the kids from getting supports that they could have because, you know, we’ve come to this country. We wanna look and present ourselves as the best. And with this label of being ADHD, that could probably set you back in life.

So for number one, I, you know, tell black men and woman, you know, you’re not lazy. Having ADHD will not decide your future. it actually would for me, help you to kind of like, unlock different things and understand yourself a bit better. So it’s more so making peace with the shortcomings that you have with ADHD, but knowing those shortcomings, you know, where to work on, what to work on, and where to basically plan out your days or your life to get to where you want to go to. So having ADHD isn’t a death sentence and give yourself some grace.

And I also, in the workplace, I try to kind of like relay the message that there is no such fingers, like, lazy. And just in general when it comes to laziness, because black people are so easily labeled as lazy or just not hardworking, but maybe they have ADHD, you’re just not giving them the support they need. In the one-to-ones ask them, and what can I be helping you better with? You know, what would make sense for you in order for you to kind of like, perform to your best of ability or, do you need some time off? You know, when I told my manager I had ADHD, she was just like, oh my gosh, what can I help you with? What do you want me to read? Or do you want me to tell me yourself. So it’s just being open to that conversation and to just not stereotype people. 

[00:28:55] Cam: There’s a theme here that I’m noticing about. Back to walking into your GP’s office, walking into and doing, you know, an in-service at work for accommodations. And talking to communities of color around this distinguishing and nuancing and, it’s not black and white thinking or like, this is what ADHD is and this is what ADHD is not. Yeah. But it’s like to really look at it with open eyes and what’s possible. And it is possible, you know that this is going on. And again, it’s this perspective work, isn’t it? Yeah. Really perspective work and educating. I’m just gonna say there’s a passion here, an enthusiasm, that is undeniable. 

[00:29:45] Rach: Yeah. Oh, thank you. I should also say I am from a working class background, and in the UK, classism is a big thing. So you could have all of the money in the UK, but if you’re not of a certain class, in some circles it won’t matter as much as if it was in like the US where like money speaks. So coming from a working class background, being black, being a woman, having ADHD and being young, you have like five different competing barriers you know, wherever I go. So, I try to kind of like show people that, look here I am, you know, it’s a struggle every day, but then also some days are great and give yourself some grace. We are living in a kind of a world that was somewhat created for neurotypicals, when it comes to that workplace rules and how you should and shouldn’t act and what’s socially acceptable and what’s not. And, don’t fit into the mold. Like, you know, we are great as we are. Our brains work differently, but we are not ruined or damaged. I think people need to make space for us and also embrace us and learn to understand us. And it’s, you know, you are not at fault here. So that’s why I also try to communicate.

[00:30:48] Cam: So you must have an off day occasionally. Bob Brooks was a psychologist out of Boston, and he talks about resilience and islands of competency, right? Yeah. This is way back in the day. He was a great presenter. He presented on parenting and kids and helping them develop their islands of competence, you know?

And so you just talked about these five challenges. Yeah. And you overcome. And so, you know, it’s one thing to say, it’s another thing to do it and continually do it. And I’m just curious, like when you’re having an off day, when it’s not going great, what do you do to get back to that place of resilience and resourcefulness?

[00:31:34] Rach: Yeah, so I guess for me is faith. So, you know, as a Christian, I just have that underlying hope and faith that things will, you know, work out for my good. So a lot of it is like prayer, listening to music that moves me, or even just motivational thoughts. but sometimes that’s not enough. But I think on those days, sometimes I just choose, okay, we’re gonna have a sulk for two days maximum. I’m gonna stew in my feelings. I’m gonna tell my friends this is what’s going on. So, you know, people can be there for me, but sometimes I just have to sit in it and then just hope things will like, turn around for my good.

So let’s say the other day I manage someone at work, and sometimes I don’t deliver things on time or, you know, put a project plan in a way that would help them to do their job, and they get it. They’re very kind and understanding. But for me, I’m just like, damn, I screwed up again. Or I’m just a really bad manager. Maybe I shouldn’t be here. This person’s going to hate me. so I do kind of like wind myself up, and then I get stressed and, you know, go down.

But then sometimes you just put on music, and speaking to other people in the ADHD community for some words of encouragement. And trying not to let it stay in a rock for too long, which is very hard because I’ve had months where I’ve stayed in a rut, but I feel like the more that I go through things in life, you know, quite a lot of people who are close to me these past couple of years. I think the more I learned to become a bit more resilient. Okay. I overcame this. I’ve had a bad day. It’s horrible. Yes, it’s horrible, but okay, let’s get back up, again and do it again tomorrow. Because again, coming from working trust family, I wanna make my family proud and I ultimately want to be in a position where I can retire them and where, you know, all of the sacrifices that they made come into this country will be worth it because their daughter had this vision and, you know, was able to support them in a way that they supported me growing up.

[00:33:22] Cam: Yeah, and I think that also that motivation to help others. Yeah. This is helping your family, but also just helping people that you’ve connected with, and that’s really empowering, too. It is sort of like, oh, I am making a difference. And that fuels you to, get up and, get going. 

[00:33:42] Rach: I was gonna say that’s probably the most rewarding thing about raising awareness. A week and a half ago, I had someone message me and say, Rachel, after like a year or so, like, I finally got my diagnosis and I told the psychiatrist about you, and she said, yeah, she’s seen your stuff online. And then this morning I took a text from someone I met through like a computer programming event, and she said, Rachel, I passed my probation and it’s thanks to you, encouraging me to get my ADHD diagnosis, and I’ve started meds and, you know, I’m ecstatic. So getting those messages like that and just being able to help people by just being myself and talking about my experience is just so rewarding and you never know who you can help.

I’m sure thousands of people have been helped. Just listen to you guys’ podcast. It’s amazing. I still switch it on. I’ve written about, I’m always like blowing the trumpet for Translating ADHD, so, yeah. 

[00:34:31] Cam: Oh, thank you. So I’ve really enjoyed our conversation today. And then, by the way, listeners, we just met. Yeah. This is the first time we got together. We’ve been admiring each other, Ash and myself admiring Rach from a distance. And so this has been really lovely and nice to make connection with you, Rach. Are there any last words you’d like to say as we finish up here to our listeners? 

[00:34:59] Rach: I’m gonna say a massive thank you to you all for listening, and also a massive shout out to Translating ADHD because I feel like every single podcast episode I learn so much. I take something away, and it just makes me feel better about myself. And mainly for those of you thinking whether you may or may not have ADHD, if you have access to and are able to, and you want to pursue an ADHD diagnosis, go for it.

It’s never too late. I have people telling me they’ve been diagnosed at the age of 65 as recently as a week and a half ago. And if you’re unable to get an ADHD diagnosis, you know, you’ve got podcasts like Translating ADHD, you’ve got a Twitter community, there’s a wealth of resources and people out online that could help you if you don’t have an in-person community. So, do seek out and feel free to tweet me if you need any advice, I’m more than happy to help out where I can. 

[00:35:48] Cam: Lovely. So, Rach, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you. And we’ll have all of your information in the program notes. this is Cam, and this has been one of our PoC voices episodes. We’ll see you next week. Thanks for listening.

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