Linda’s story is one of the 31 stories we’re sharing throughout the month of October to raise awareness on the complexity of ADHD and the different ways it shows up in our lives.
To learn more about all of the amazing things Linda is creating, check out her website here.
Lindsay Guentzel (00:01):
Welcome back to Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel. What you’re listening to today, it’s a little bit different than the podcast episodes we’ve shared with you before. This episode, this person’s story, is a part of Refocused Together, a special series the team at ADHD Online and I have been working on for ADHD Awareness Month. Everyday throughout the month of October, we’ll be sharing a different person’s ADHD story, which is fitting because the theme for ADHD Awareness Month this year is Understanding A Shared Experience. I can’t think of a better way to really get a sense of that shared experience than by telling a different story every single day. To be clear, yes that’s 31 stories in 31 days.
My name is Lindsay Guentzel, and along with the team at ADHD Online, I’m so excited to present Refocused Together, a collection of stories aimed at raising awareness on just how complex ADHD is, and the different ways it shows up in people’s lives. When we share stories, it’s easier to find the perspective, ideas, and tips that help us live our best lives. I am interviewing people with varying backgrounds, diagnoses, experiences, and perspectives. We’ll hear from working parents, advocates, engineers, writers, PhD candidates, and more to learn that while we may be different we are all united by our own ADHD journeys.
This special project is very near and dear to my heart. Although talking to 31 different people has been a lot of talking, I am so grateful for each person who shared their story with me. I cannot wait for you to meet my guests and get to know them. Be sure to subscribe to Refocus with Lindsay Guentzel, so that you don’t miss a single story this month. With that, let’s get on to today’s episode.
As a kid, Linda Yi struggled with a busy mind, often forgetting what she was doing while trying to get something done. Grownups would constantly point out her mistakes, both at home and at school, and it felt like no matter how much Linda studied, whatever she learned didn’t linger long. She began to see her brain as an enemy. To Linda, it often felt like she needed double, or even triple, the amount of effort in her work to meet the standards of those around her.
She graduated from college and convinced herself that she most adept at fooling everyone into thinking she was a functioning adult. Each time she changed her job, her self doubt became more intense, until the day she found a book about ADHD in a clearance bin at a local bookstore. She sought out an assessment and then treatment, and now shares her experience with the world through a weekly web comic called Panda Cub Stories, that combines Chinese culture, Szechuan cooking, and living with ADHD. I am so excited to welcome Linda Yi to Refocus Together.
I am so excited to have you join us, Linda. I also love food. I love hosting. I love all the stuff that comes along with it. I can very much see now as I’m diagnosed with ADHD how that was very exciting to me, because you can always be doing something new. I am so excited to dive into this conversation with you. Thank you so much for joining us on Refocus Together.
Linda Yi (03:45):
Yes, I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for inviting me, Lindsay.
Lindsay Guentzel (03:48):
Let’s go back to before you were diagnosed. What were some of the things that were going on, or things that you noticed that pushed you to seek out a diagnosis?
Linda Yi (03:58):
Similar to you, I wasn’t diagnosed until I was an adult. For me, I sought out a diagnosis in my mid-20s, and I was officially diagnosed when I was 25. I think growing up, I was aware of ADHD or I guess ADD at the time, but it was just never something that I really identified with. The typical image we have of an ADHD kid is bouncing off the walls, usually a boy, being sent out of the classroom for being disruptive. That was not me at all. I was a very quiet kid. I would always be reading a book under the desk, or doodling.
So, if I ever got in trouble it was for something like that. Then I would get this immense amount of shame for being told off by the teacher because I was a good kid. I did really well in school growing up, and so I never really had problems. But I think looking back it was like I was very good at following structures that I was given. Anytime that I veered off a structure is where things started to fall apart a little bit. I think similar to you, things started to get really difficult in college when a lot of that responsibility is up to you.
This might be a little bit of a tangent, but I sort of realized that there were a lot of things that I veered away from very strongly. At the time, I was like, I’m just not passionate about this. I don’t like STEM. I don’t like math. I don’t like X, Y, Z. I think that’s definitely a part of it, plus you have the whole Asian parent wanting you to be a doctor or engineer. I was like, “No, I want to be an artist.” I think looking back, there was a lot of self doubt, and also just knowing without words that I couldn’t hold things in my brain. Especially for a lot less creative “disciplines”, there is a threshold that you have to make, and just knowing myself I think I didn’t even try because I was like I know I would fail.
Or that’s what I told myself. Basically, my diagnosis came because I was living at home again when I was 24. By that time I had already gone through 4.5 jobs. A lot of my peers that I went to university with were moving very swimmingly along in their careers. That’s my perception. Everyone has their struggles. It kind of just felt like I was floundering, and my latest thing was I had jumped into creating this startup, co-founding a startup, with a friend I met when I was working in Beijing. It was not a tech startup. I’m not a tech person. I think we had a really good idea, but then being put in a co-founder role, I struggled a lot with creating structure out of nothing.
Even in my other jobs, there were tasks I was assigned, and then I would problem solve my way out of it. But when it was completely [inaudible 00:07:02], I just remember sitting in my dad’s upstairs office just zoning out. Anyway, that startup failed. I think I was just sort of at a point where I was like, I don’t know, is this a quarter life crisis? What am I doing with my life? Honestly, the thing that really prompted me to get diagnosed was completely random. I was at a bookstore and there was a clearance bin. There was a book that I picked up because the cover was purple and green, which were my two favorite colors.
Then that book happened to be Fast Minds, How to Thrive If You Have ADHD or Think You Might Have It. I just sat down and sort of flipped through the book in one sitting. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” I probably did a third of the assessments before getting distracted, because I don’t like filling out forms. I finally called and made an appointment.
Lindsay Guentzel (07:55):
I just got chills because what a moment of the universe coming together. Like you said, you were attracted to it because it was your favorite colors. You picked it up. It’s in the clearance bin. Wow. That to me is meant to be. It was meant to be for you to have that moment. So you go in for the assessment. What do you remember from that time?
Linda Yi (08:17):
The assessment, I just remember it being a series of… I think first I filled out a questionnaire and then my psychiatrist or the person who saw me went through a verbal assessment as well. “In the past two weeks, how often have you had little to no interest in X, Y, Z?” I just remember doing “Every day. Every day. Almost every day.” It was like, wow. I think it was a simultaneous… I felt relieved, but then I also felt almost sad in a way. I guess talking to other people too, I feel like in terms of being diagnosed as an adult, I did get diagnosed relatively early as an adult.
Afterwards, basically they told me they probably thought I have ADHD combined with anxiety and depression, which I think those comorbidities are very common. I started out on medication basically the week after. It was very life changing. I guess it was life changing. I’m on a different dosage now, but I just remember I had been working on this, and I remember it very clearly. I didn’t get it. It was like a National Geographic fellowship for visual storytelling. It was a week after I had started medication. I was just sitting there and I wrote the essay in one sitting, or at least a draft in one sitting.
I was like, “Holy shit. People do this?” That would have taken me two weeks. I would get started and after half a sentence I’d be like, “No, I have to do extra research.” It was one of those things where it felt like I had a little bit more control of my brain, or I could see when I was having an impulse to do something and I was like “Oh no, wait. Let’s just finish writing this sentence first.” It was just a moment where I was like, “What?”
Lindsay Guentzel (10:12):
I’ve definitely had a few of those in the last year and a half. It is, you’re like, “Oh, this is what it is like.” I get that. What else have you done besides taking medication? You dove pretty quickly into a diagnosis after finding this book, and started on medication the week after. You’ve mentioned that it has changed, which is very common. What else have you done in life that you consider a part of your treatment plan? I say “treatment plan” because that could be things like exercise, and better sleep habits. It doesn’t necessarily mean something that is prescribed by a doctor.
Linda Yi (10:49):
I am a very strong advocate of not just being medicated, because I just personally also saw after you get used to your medications sometimes the effects taper off a little bit, or if I fell into habits that weren’t serving me, medication only takes you so far. I’ve pretty consistently seen either a therapist or a counselor for at least twice a month since getting diagnosed, but I would say actually this past year I’ve been seeking out a lot more support in terms of I hired an ADHD coach who was very helpful. Her method was instead of long sessions… Even when I was seeing my therapist, we did a lot of cognitive behavioral therapy, which is very helpful, and I still have kind of a folder of things that I go back to that she gave me.
I think sometimes we would talk for an hour and a half, and then I was like “That was a really productive conversation,” and then afterwards I’m like, “What were we talking about?” And I’ll open my phone and scroll on Instagram or something. For my ADHD coach, we’ll basically just do the 15 minute touch base phone call every day and then we’ll outline the main priorities of the day. I also have a business coach, because I run my own business. It’s very similar, someone for me to sound ideas off of but then that extra support in either prioritizing things for me, or helping me prioritize things. Prioritizing is one of the biggest challenges that I have because for us, it’s like everything is now. You have a lot of great ideas, but then that sort of comes back and bites you in the butt when you feel like you need to do 30 things all this minute.
Lindsay Guentzel (12:40):
Very much can relate to all of that. I’m wondering if you could dive in a little bit more on the connections that you see between the business coach and the ADHD coach, because I think that that is something that is so fascinating because in a sense, we are all the CEO of our own lives. But we weren’t given the skills to get there. We’re just thrown into it.
Linda Yi (13:01):
We have a team of really excited creatives, but it’s a little hard to get everyone on the same page in our brains. The way I sort of see my business coach and my ADHD coach, it’s almost like in terms of my business coach she’s much more helpful in terms of parsing out ideas, and then helping me figure out which of these ideas do I really want to do for my business in the next quarter, in the next year. Then I think what is really helpful with my business coach is she’s pretty clear on what the core mission is. I think for me, I seek to help whether it be my peers or my students, enrich their lives with laughter, more connection to Chinese culture, and food is a big part of it.
Sometimes I lose track of that when a new shining idea comes, and I’m like, “Maybe I’ll start a TikTok and do this.” For my business coach, she’s very helping in going like, “That is a great idea. How do we bring it back to what you’re doing right now? What are some strategic ways that we can pursue this idea while still having a sustainable business?” I think for me, often I go with what’s new or what’s exciting, but from a business perspective, I also need to be financially sustainability. Okay, we have this idea, how do we build out the systems behind it that actually make sure that I’m able to pay my assistant and pay my rent? Or my ADHD coach, everything that makes running a business plus-able…
So, kind of going back to working on sleep hygiene, and more consistent and healthy behaviors. Honestly, one of the biggest things that I’ve been working on with her is realizing that rest is also productive. I have these things, especially in hyper focus, where I’ll just work for 20 hours straight. I’m like if I stop doing this, I’ll forget how to do it, so I might as well drink two Red Bulls and push through. Having her support has really helped me pull back from that a little bit, so it’s not all or nothing. Sometimes it still feels hard, and I’m sure you struggle with this as well, where I think the fear is once you stop all momentum is lost and then you won’t be able to do it again.
I think I’ve been working on just trusting myself more, and then knowing that yeah, sure, it’s not that I’m ignoring that that’s a problem that I struggle with, but here’s some other strategies to help with that. Including, having someone else be like, “Remember how excited you were about this? This is the thing that we said we were going to do.” Just having someone else on the other end of the tennis court batting a ball back to you, I think just in and of itself is really helpful.
Lindsay Guentzel (16:05):
It’s incredibly helpful. That’s a great picture to pain, the tennis game, because I think sometimes we’re so in our heads and we get, like you said, distracted by things like starting a TikTok. I think it’s so important in those moments to have somebody remind us what our end game is. I want to ask you about this because I feel like we’re probably very similar in this. I have a lot of friends who went into jobs that are very structured in how you get into them. So, accountants or teachers, there’s a path you take. You do this. Then you do that. Then you get into a job and then there’re certain promotions that come, and there’s a path. They follow a very specific path.
There is no path when you’re an entrepreneur in whatever capacity you want to describe that. I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur, but I’m building something on my own, which is in a sense an entrepreneur. It’s just not a traditional business. I think it’s sometimes really hard because there is no end game. The end game just keeps getting bigger. We just keep moving the finish line. So, how do you manage some of those feelings when you’re constantly upping the ante so to speak?
Linda Yi (17:14):
A big part of it is also realizing that it’s not that I have to wait until I’ve achieved X to feel like I deserve to rest, or I deserve to live my life. October is also a very busy month for me as well. Well, it’s ADHD Awareness Month, so I have all of these ideas. I’m actually hosting a dinner party/birthday pawty, P-A-W-ty for my two cats because their birthdays are around October. All the dinner guests, I’m like “If you’re feeling gift inclined, please bring a treat or a toy for the kitties, or wine, or both if you’re feeling very generous.”
Looking back, I was like, “Oh, well I have all of these things to do. Do I really have time to set aside a couple of hours to host and cook?” But then I realize that everything I’m doing for my business as well is so that I can live the kind of life that I want to live. Especially in Panda Cub Diner, which is my cooking [inaudible 00:18:16] club, a lot of what I also help my students do is separate the act of having to feed ourselves, which is something that’s very difficult for ADHDers with executive dysfunction in the kitchen versus having food be a really joyful part of your life. I used to just have the goal off into the future, and I would work as hard as I could to try and get there, whether it was sacrificing sleep, or “Don’t talk to me. I don’t have time to hang out. I need to do this,” and then usually what happened would be I hit that benchmark and then I’m really exhausted, and I’m burnt out, and I end up binging Netflix for two and a half days.
Like you said, once you accomplish that goal it’s almost like, “That’s over,” and then the next goal just appears. It was just a very exhausting way to live. I think now I need to pick a better word other than goal, but kind of the underlying thing that I’m also trying to keep in mind is I want to build from a place of rest, and fun, and self care as well. That’s how I’m trying to manage it thus far. I still have I think issues with productivity. I’m very screen addicted, which is also hard because for us I feel like so much of our work is online. I’m working on also being more efficient with the time that I have.
Lindsay Guentzel (19:48):
I want to ask something. I’m curious, because I have the similar scenario of pushing myself to outrageous limits and then crashing, and like you said, the binge of just two days of nothing or watching Netflix. For me, there’s always a point of heavy shame that comes in, and feeling really bad about myself even though rest is so necessary.
Linda Yi (20:11):
Probably one of the worst feelings is being in the state of you’re constantly numbing yourself, but you’re still aware enough in your mind that’s like, “This isn’t serving me,” or this whisper of, “You should be doing X, Y, and Z.” Sometimes I could probably be better sort of if I just slept for 12 hours, but instead I’m up. Almost like revenge procrastination, being like “These are all the things I didn’t get to do because I was working. Let me do these instead.”
Then the more you do it the deeper you dig yourself a hole. I’m actually working on a comic about this right now, where sometimes you feel so empty or burnt out that you do everything you can to fill yourself up, and often that’s with food, it’s with TV shows, it’s with for me, reading web toons. But then you stuff all of this stuff in, but then it’s a reaction. It’s not something that’s actually filling you up, and then you’re left feeling worse than ever. Then finding a way to both forgive yourself for that and then also coming out of it.
Lindsay Guentzel (21:23):
While we’re on the topic of shame, you mentioned something that I actually don’t know I’ve heard anyone mention in this series of interviews that I’ve been doing for Refocus Together, which is the shame of getting yelled at by teachers in school. Man, the stuff that I held on to. I have a friend who teaches second grade, and I will tell her some of the things that I would get in trouble for, and she’s like, “That’s it? That’s what you’re holding on to? That was a kid. You were a kid.” I would love it if you would touch on some of that stuff, because I think when we look at ADHD and breaking down the stereotype that you mentioned, this boy who is all over the place and gets sent out into the hallway, there’s a reason we were all missed. A lot of times was because we were not talking about what was going on in our heads.
Linda Yi (22:14):
I was, from the very beginning, a people-pleasing kid. I think probably a lot of that has to do with now I know about rejection sensitivity dysphorias. Any sort of criticism I would take very, very to heart. Another part of it is also, I was born in China and then my family moved to the states right as I turned four. There was also that element of feeling like I didn’t quite belong both culturally and… I picked up the language pretty quickly, but also I grasped concepts quite quickly. I was a gifted kid, one of the gifted and talented kids growing up. It was sort of this intense feeling of relief and happiness when I was praised, or when someone was like, “Oh, your English is excellent,” as a kid.
That was this feeling of I am accepted, I am safe, versus… Especially with an adult or something, expressive disappointment, or “Oh, you could have done better.” I remember the biggest amount of shame was I praised for being a very good reader, and then once I had my book in the little cubby… Do you remember the elementary desk where they give you little cubbies? I had hidden a little book in there and I was reading. I think my second grade teacher… I don’t even remember what she said, but in my memory it was the worst thing ever where I was discovered and I had broken this image that I was the good student, a good girl. I just remember I don’t think I ever read under my desk for the rest of the year after that. I think that’s also one of the reasons why a lot of girls are missed as well, because we didn’t need a teacher yelling at us and putting us out of the room. We did that to ourselves.
Lindsay Guentzel (24:07):
When you said, “We didn’t need a teacher to put us out of the room. We did that to ourselves,” I just physically felt that. I physically felt that because that is exactly what we were doing. I think we were harder on ourselves than any teacher could have ever been. I’m curious about the cartoons and the creative side. You mentioned going to college, and the pressure to go into something science-related, and kind of rebelling against that because you wanted to be creative. I’m curious, when you look at how that all started, this love of creating, creating art and being a storyteller, when did that start and how do you connect that to some of the things you now know about your ADHD?
Linda Yi (24:52):
I feel like it started from as early as I could remember. I’ve always loved drawing, and I’ve always loved stories. A lot of it also, I carried with me in terms of my immigrant journey as well, like moving from China to the states as a very young child. I remember starting to draw as soon as I could wrap my hands around a stubby crayon. I would always be listening to these audiobooks when I drew, because my parents would just give me these audio tapes of The Smurfs, but in Chinese. I think that’s still something that I’ve carried with me today. I consume most of my reading via audio, and it’s also why I love podcasts so much.
I’ve actually thought about it a lot. There are elements of art that I really attached to for a number of different reasons. I think one of the reasons was praise, which is something that I didn’t really want to admit to myself until quite recently where I was able to recreate quite realistic representations of objects. I just remember in elementary school I was really good at drawing Pokemon, and that was a big high point of mine. Then this boy moved in who could draw a better Pikachu than me, and then I was really competitive. That was part of it.
I think also drawing, especially very detailed things like manga, or a still life, or a water color that was very intricate, that was very much my style in grade school all the way up through high school. Looking back, it was a very meditative but also a process that required a lot of hyper focus. It was very calming, and I think while I was doing it, it felt like my mind felt still in a way that it didn’t usually. It was like a sense of flow that I achieved before knowing about flow. Then I think for the comics, that’s something that I used to just doodle on the side of my notebooks, or I would draw a little panda going like “You can do it.” [Chinese 00:26:53] is literally “add oil”, it’s a Chinese expression like rah-rah-sis-boom-bah, you can do it.
It’s actually just something that I never really thought I would pursue artistically, but it was something I kind of did on the side. I would write email updates to friends and family, and then I would always include a little cartoon or whatnot. Actually, now that I am more into it, I’ve realized that this blend between images, cartoons and words is really the type of storytelling that fits me the most. I think that actually started to come into being, because I was working on actually this novel. It was a retelling of a Chinese myth. What happened is, I would be writing and then I would run into writer’s block, and then I would just switch to drawing instead.
That process was very natural and they fed into each other. I think that’s sort of how I stumbled my way into comics and illustration. And now with the comic series I have, it’s called Panda Cub Stories, and the main character is me. It’s like a pudgy panda and a hedgehog, they are my two cats, and then John, who appears as a raccoon. That’s a long story. It’s kind of become in a way the panda and the hedgehog, and all the characters have taken on their own personalities. What I realized was the panda and the hedgie… In the beginning, they were all me, all the actions, the tone was exactly the same. And now, they sort of diverged and Panda is the more impulsive, hyperactive manifestation of myself. Then Hedgie is very prickly and anxious, closes into a little spiky ball if she’s rejected or something.
It’s actually been really fun playing with the characters, and then writing about things that go on in my life. In a way, it’s allowed me to be much kinder to myself. We’ve all done the talking to ourself like, “You’re such an idiot,” but when you’re saying that to a cute fuzzy panda, I’m like, “I should probably not be doing that.” I want to yell less at myself if I’m a cute fuzzy critter.
Lindsay Guentzel (29:12):
That’s such an amazing outlet to have, and I love that it’s kind of become a way for you to express these different sides of you. Because I very much relate to almost having different personalities, the emotional dysregulation that comes with ADHD, and not knowing how to handle it. I always thought for the longest time that I wasn’t a morning person because I was grouchy in the morning. I was grouchy because people were talking at me. It was like there was no wake up time. It was like you woke up and you had to be on immediately. I have come to realize, no it’s not that I’m not a morning person. It’s that I need time to wake up. It’s really interesting to me that you get this outlet. That’s awesome.
Linda Yi (29:54):
I remember I was talking to Katie Weber. She hosts another podcast called Women in ADHD. She was like, “Oh, I do that, but it’s very much like there’s a child version of myself living inside of me that helps me remember to be more kind.” You would never talk to your best friend or a child the way that you talk to yourself.
Lindsay Guentzel (30:15):
And that’s the perfect segue because I use the example, if we were out to dinner and we ordered food and your food came and it was wrong, I would be more likely to get your food fixed than I would if it were my own because man, Heaven forbid we ever stand up for ourselves because there’s just a lot of negative connotation that comes with that. I’d like to segue that into food, because you have these two life paths that you’re on, and food is a big part of it. Tell me how that got started, and how that fits into your life as someone who has ADHD, and someone whose a creator, and someone who also very much likes taking care of people.
Linda Yi (31:03):
I feel like the story of my life is I was doing something, and then something happened on the side, and then now it’s one of my main things. For food, it actually started over the pandemic. I am Szechuanese American. I don’t know if you’ve had Szechuan cuisine, but it’s known for the spicy mala flavor profile. I actually started this journey of relearning how to make my family’s cuisine over the pandemic for a number of reasons, but basically it got to a point where I was like, “I know how to make these dishes.”
I loved cooking with my family growing up. It was one of the activities that really bonded us together in a family that didn’t necessarily deep personal conversations going on, because I was just not part of the family culture. There was also a lot of generation divide and hierarchy. But when it came to food, it was like just this very warm communal thing that all of us loved. My dad and I could be butting heads over my college major, but we would still really love cooking together and eating together.
Basically, there was all of this, but then I found myself living alone in New York. Despite knowing how to make my favorite foods, I would still be spending hundreds of dollars on takeout every week, or I would be eating cold cereal for dinner because my pantry was empty. I had forgotten to go grocery shopping. There was just this big divide. At this point, I had already been diagnosed with ADHD, like living with it for five years. I think I was still mentally telling myself the story that it was because I was lazy, it was because I was just a very messy person who couldn’t get this part of her life together.
Basically, that changed partly because I made it a project to learn how to document how to make my family’s dishes. It started out almost as a part oral history project, and then I was drawing about it in my comic, which had already established a pretty solid leadership at that point. Then I started getting a lot of feedback from the Panda Cub Stories, like readers. They were like, “Oh, can you talk a little bit more about how your family makes this chili oil? Can you do a short video tutorial?”
That is really what kick started my journey of sharing this more publicly. Long story short, this has now become a really big leg of my business because what I realized was as an ADHDer, sometimes the things that we struggle with can also be our strengths. I feel like I’m a little bit hesitant to be like, “ADHD is a superpower,” because there are also a lot of things we struggle with. Its not like, “Oh, it’s great.” For example, one thing that I used to feel very embarrassed about, was there would be a very simple recipe that I knew how to make, but sometimes I would just forget steps. And so I would always have these little cheat sheets that I would write for myself. I’m like, “I can’t believe I made this. My mom doesn’t need it.”
Then I realized that sometimes I need to teach myself how to do something as if I’m the beginner, but because of that, that actually makes me a very effective instructor for people who are complete beginners, just [inaudible 00:34:24] or complete beginners to cooking. That has sort of impacted my teaching style as a cooking instructor. A lot of what I share now in terms of me as a cooking instructor is the basics of Szechuan food, because I am Szechuanese, but then also here are ways to make cooking joyful as someone whose neuro divergent, or someone whose very busy and doesn’t have hours and hours to spend in the kitchen.
Actually, I just wrote my first article for Today.com that was published a couple of days ago about this. It’s like five techniques I’ve learned as an ADHDer in the kitchen. I got to illustrate it, which was really exciting.
Lindsay Guentzel (35:04):
Congratulations. That’s so exciting.
Linda Yi (35:06):
Lindsay Guentzel (35:07):
I want to ask you when you look at life right now, with everything you know about your brain and some of the things that maybe were struggles in the past, and the things you’re working on with both your ADHD coach and your business coach, where do you see yourself thriving?
Linda Yi (35:23):
Two main areas of thriving that I think we already kind of touched on during our conversation. The first is, being able to experience everything as a beginner. I really do love learning and teaching. I think the way I learn, especially as an ADHDer, is I take very detailed notes and create very specific processes to be able to hang onto the things that I’ve learned. I think that’s one of the biggest things that I struggle with. I feel like I’ve learned something, and then two weeks later it’s like, nope all of that is just gone from my brain.
While I used to say that as just this big weakness that I would have to hide from my colleagues when I was working in a traditional job, I would have all of these secret workflows that I would have to refer back to. I realized that’s actually a really powerful asset, and it’s made for example training my assistant that I hired for my business a lot easier because I already had these detailed workflows ready. Then in terms of teaching recipes, or sharing things with my audience, the same thing, this almost impulse to both hyper focus and also hyper document, but then also translate those things into something that is entertaining visually.
That’s how actually a lot of the drafts of my comics come. I guess the second strength is related to that. A lot of my humor and random visual garnishes come from the fact that a lot of ideas are coming all at once. Sometimes it’s like when we’re talking right now, it’s like all of these butterflies come flitting into my brain and then the sentence that I’m saying doesn’t make sense anymore. But when you’re drafting a comic, that actually results in a punchline, or an idea that blossoms into something very interesting visually.
Lindsay Guentzel (37:25):
I want to wrap up by asking you when we look at ADHD and what the general public knows, keeping in mind that it’s ADHD Awareness Month, and the whole goal of all of these interviews is to just highlight how complex it is. What stands out for you as something you wish people either understood better, or something that people started to understand?
Linda Yi (37:48):
Probably the main thing is understanding that ADHD means we struggle a lot with executive function, and it’s not a moral feeling. It’s not like I forgot your name because I don’t care about you, because I might remember the shirt you were wearing the first time that we met. It’s that didn’t stick in my mind. A lot of these things, I feel like people who either love someone who might have ADHD, or someone who has ADHD themselves, I think often there is this story that we either tell ourselves or tell about the people we know of they’re just not trying hard enough, or they don’t care, or if it was really important to them they would remember.
So kind of that, but then also on the flip side, knowing there are ways to help them or help yourself. I think it’s one of those things where ADHD often is an explanation for a lot of things, but it’s not necessarily an excuse. There are things that, for example, like our hurting or destructing your life, I think it’s very helpful and important to know the reason behind it, but then it doesn’t mean that we just need to be like, “Oh, this is my life now.” Sometimes that is the case, but there are also strategies that can help you out of it. Of those is, you don’t need to do it alone.
Lindsay Guentzel (39:19):
That’s very great advice. I’m laughing at the “I won’t remember your name,” comment because I have found that I don’t remember a lot of people’s names, but I can remember every other detail about you. When I run into people that I haven’t seen in a long time, I just get the embarrassment out of the way and reintroduce myself right away because I don’t want to assume that they remember my name. It also then just clears the air like, “Hey, we know one another. We haven’t seen each other in a while.” Brains are really hard and complicated. I’m not wasting energy diving through all of those boxes to get there, so I’m just going to be the one who makes it awkward to begin with.
Linda Yi (39:54):
Lindsay Guentzel (39:54):
Linda, this was such a great conversation. I could keep going. I have so many other things I would love to ask, but I’m going to leave it there for now. I would love to continue the conversation. I would love to get you on Refocus with Lindsay Guentzel to talk about food and how you can make being in the kitchen enjoyable and easier for people with ADHD. So, let’s have a conversation about getting that on the calendar.
In the meantime, thank you for sharing your story with us.
Linda Yi (40:23):
I super enjoyed our conversation. Thank you again for having me on.
Lindsay Guentzel (40:30):
I had so much fun chatting with Linda Yi about ADHD and food. I’ve made it my goal to get invited to next year’s kitty cat birthday paw-ty. To find all the awesome stuff Linda is creating and sharing, check out PandaCubStories.com. I’ve also shared the link in the show notes for today’s episode.
There are so many people to thank for making Refocused Together happen. The entire team at ADHD Online, Zach Booker, Dr. Randall Dettler, Tim Gutwald, Keith Broffe, my teammates Keith Boswell, Suzanne Spruitt, Claudia Gotti, Melanie Mile, Paul Owen, Kirsten Pipp, Cissy Yi, Tricia Merchandenti, Lauren Bradley, Corey Kearney, and Mason Nelly, and the team Adexia, Hector and Kenneth, and the team at Smack Media, Cameron Sterling and Candace Leftkey, Camilla Eden, Lauren Terry, Sarah Galbar, Phil Rodeman, Jake Beaver, and Sarah Platinitis.
Our theme music was created by Louis Ingles, a songwriter and composer based in Perth, Australia, who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2020 at the age of 39.
To find out more about Refocused Together, or to share your story with me, head over to ADHDOnline.com, and check out the ADHD Awareness Month page, which highlights this project as well as each day’s episode after they’ve been released. You can also find out more by following along on social @LindsayGuentzel and @RefocusPod.