Welcome to "ADHD Diaries," a blog series where I chat with working professionals living with ADHD. They'll open up about their journeys, from diagnosis to treatment and daily routines. It's a window into the lives, challenges, and triumphs of the ADHD community, offering inspiration and practical insights. Join us in celebrating our diversity and discovering the strength within us all.
For today’s talk, I thought it would be fun to chat with a UX Designer living out in the land of cheesesteaks, Philadelphia! Marina T. is mom to two rescue dogs - Sage and Willow and has an undergraduate degree in psychology. Let’s welcome Marina!
🎤 Emma: Thank you for being here and sharing your story with us. But first, you have to tell me about your pups. They’re such cuties, seeing them has made my entire week!
🎨 Marina: Ahh of course - this is Sage (Marina reaches down out of webcam view and lifts a fluffy Pomeranian into view. The Pomeranian is black, with bright eyes and a happy smile) and this (Marina sets Sage down out of sight, and points behind her desk chair to a tricolor Miniature Australian Shepherd sleeping peacefully on a pink dog bed) is Willow. Sage is 3 years old and came from Colorado, and Willow is 8 and was rescued locally. (As if on cue, two black Pomeranian ears can be seen peeking from just under the desk.)
🎤 Can you tell us more about your transition from a psychology major to where you are now?
🎨 Marina: Absolutely! It's been quite a journey. I initially pursued psychology because I was fascinated by the human mind. However, during my internship, I realized that it wasn't the career path I wanted to pursue long-term. It was a bit of a turning point for me.
🎤 Oh? How did you come to that conclusion, and what was the career change like?
🎨 Well, I didn't want to give up on my career aspirations just yet, so I decided to enroll in a bootcamp while working as an entry-level therapist. It wasn't easy; I had to attend the bootcamp at night, especially during the pandemic. But I was determined to gain the skills I needed to pivot my career. As I kept learning more and more in the bootcamp I saw myself really loving design and finally made the choice to fully transition my career.
🎤 Working from home can be challenging. How do you manage to stay productive, especially with two dogs around?
🎨 Marina: They're a handful, but I've found that time boxing has been a lifesaver. It helps me set aside specific blocks of time for focused work, so I can make the most of my day while still tending to my furry friends when they need attention. I also stick to a routine - it really helps me (and Sage, and Willow!) know what to expect for the day. Sometimes things come up, but those two help me really stick to a steady schedule that helps me plan my time blocks through out the day.
🎤 Living alone in Philly and managing ADHD must have its own set of challenges. How do you balance your personal and professional life?
🎨 Marina: It can be a balancing act for sure. Living alone allows me to create a quiet and organized workspace, which helps with my ADHD. Timeboxing helps me structure my day effectively, ensuring I divide time for work and self-care. Sometimes I lose track of my thoughts and focus, but having continual reminders on my phone and smart watch help me bring myself back to my plan for the day.
I also thought it'd be fun to sign up for a yoga class as a hobby, you know, just to keep myself social and add some structure to my days. And hey, it's also a cool way to meet new people while prioritizing self-care.
🎤 That sounds like a well-thought-out strategy. Now, as you've mentioned to me before, you're currently working at an agency and enjoying it. How do you deal with the ongoing challenges related to ADHD in your professional life?
🎨 Marina: ADHD is still a part of my daily life, but I've learned to manage it better by really sticking to those schedules and figuring out what approaches really made sense to me. At the agency, I've found a supportive environment that allows me to thrive. My team is understanding with my struggles sometimes and see my ADHD as a strength. My manager has really helped me to reframe my ADHD as a super power and that’s helped me feel more comfortable with disclosing.
I continue to use timeboxing to keep myself on track and maintain a structured workflow, which has been a game-changer for my productivity. I love to use Pomodoro timers to help me stay focused on how much time I am spending on my time blocks.
I also like to journal every evening. (Marina pulls a purple journal out of her desk drawer and shows the front cover to the webcam. On the cover are photos of Sage, Willow, and Marina’s family.) In my entries, I reflect on the things I’ve accomplished that day and tally up the time I’ve spent on each task. It really helps me figure out where I am spending my time each week!
🎤 And my last question, would you have done anything differently?
🎨 Marina: I think if I were given the chance to do it over again, I would seek assistance with my difficulties a little earlier. Before my diagnosis I was really hard on myself for not being able to finish a to do list and really thought, “there’s definitely something wrong with me if I can’t finish one thing”. And that kind of internal dialogue really hurt my self esteem. I heard about ADHD but thought, “that’s not it - that mostly affects kids, right?” I hadn’t realized there were multiple types of ADHD and that it manifested differently in adults. To complicate things even more, there are different symptoms when it comes to women and men. So, I feel like I would reach out to a professional and let them know what’s going on so I could get ahead of things and learn coping strategies way earlier.
ADHD Diaries are meant to provide a personal perspective and do not necessarily represent official viewpoints. We firmly promote understanding and supporting individuals with ADHD, and in no way encourage harmful or negative behavior towards them.
Managing ADHD effectively often begins with self-awareness. If you're looking to better understand and navigate life with ADHD, start by tracking your experiences and strategies for managing them.
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