Kyrus Kennan Wescott and Going Deeper than Squirrel

“I wish more people would understand that it’s a lot deeper than squirrel.” This is how Kyrus Kennan Wescott, mental health humorist and ADHD Advocate talks about ADHD and the perception of it in our culture. After receiving his diagnosis in 2022, Ky set out to bring levity into mental health conversations to make a very difficult conversation a little bit easier.

Listen for more squirrel thoughts, an interesting analogy involving microwaved fish, and how he’s working to remove the stigma around mental health in the Black community.

Refocused, Together is a collection of 31 stories told throughout the 31 days of October, a part of our commitment to ADHD Awareness Month. Make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss a single story this month! 

Learn more about Ky here and follow him on Instagram and TikTok, plus check out his brand new digital download, How I Thrive with ADHD as an Adult: My Self-Care Strategies and Personal ADHD Journey.

READ: ADHD Online –  How To Fight ADHD Misinformation on Social Media 

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Kyrus Keenan Westcott (00:01):

I didn’t know anything about ADHD. I really thought that it was just like, oh, you can’t sit still, or like, Hey, look, squirrel. I really thought that was it. Come to find out it’s a little bit more deeper than that. And what’s funny is when I got diagnosed, so many things about my younger life started to make sense. I was like, “Oh, this is why that happened.”

Lindsay Guentzel (00:23):

You are listening to Refocused, Together, and this is episode nine, Kyrus Keenan Westcott and Going Deeper than Squirrel. Welcome back to Refocused, a podcast all about ADHD. I’m your host, Lindsay Guentzel, and today we’ve got another story in our Refocused, Together series, the special series we started last year as a part of our commitment to ADHD Awareness month. The plan is to share the stories of 31 people with ADHD each day during the month of October. We created Refocused, Together as a way to raise awareness of just how complex ADHD is and the different ways it shows up in people’s lives.


You just heard today’s guest, Kyrus Keenan Westcott. Ky is an accomplished content creator and mental health advocate from Philadelphia. In 2022, at 35, he was diagnosed with ADHD, an experience that changed his life forever. Since then, he’s been chronicling his journey on Instagram through his account, @thevibewithky, sharing how ADHD has impacted his life and how he’s dealing with it.


As someone who has gone through the process of understanding ADHD, severe depression and generalized anxiety disorder, Ky knows how isolating it can sometimes feel. His mission is to help people realize they’re not alone and that resources and tools are available to help them regardless of what their background might be. Ky uses his storytelling skills to make mental health more approachable and understandable. He infuses humor into mental health discourse through podcasts and social media to foster open, honest conversations. You can find more information about him and his work on his website, the vibe with Ky.com. Let’s hear more from Ky about his commitment to educating himself and others about ADHD, what it’s like to provide a platform for people to feel understood and supported in their journeys and how bringing joy into people’s lives can create a positive and understanding community around mental health.


What’s really easy about all of these Refocus Together interviews is they start with the same question, which is when were you diagnosed and what was that process like for you? And what sparked those initial conversations?

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (03:02):

I’m a late bloomer when it comes to ADHD. I was diagnosed in August of 2022, so it’s been a little over a year for me. And the process, I mean, if we’re talking afterwards, I mean, it was mind-blowing because I didn’t know anything about ADHD. I really thought that it was just like, Oh, you can’t sit still, or like, Hey, look, squirrel. I really thought that was it. But come to find out, it’s a little bit more deeper than that. And what’s funny is when I got diagnosed, so many things about my younger life started to make sense. I was like, oh, this is why that happened. So yeah, I knew something was up. I knew something was going on. I was talking to my primary care doctor and I was already in therapy and we’re like, Okay, let’s go a little bit deeper here. Next thing you know, “Hey Ky, you have ADHD.” And I’m like, “Okay. All right, cool.

Lindsay Guentzel (03:52):

I’m wondering what stood out to you. So much makes sense once you have the diagnosis. What were some of the things that were strongest in your life?

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (04:01):

So there were two things that stand out to me the most. Number one time does not exist for me, and it’s always been like that. I really thought that I was just like dull. I really did. When I tell you that time leaves my brain. That’s something I’ve dealt with my entire life. At no point did I think it was ADHD, I just really thought I was a clumsy person. I was just always late. So that was the one thing. The other thing was that it was always hard for me to push the start button. There were so many things that I wanted to do that I’m like, I really want to go do that. But the process of actually pushing the star button so I can get up and go do that thing was hard and I’m beating myself up. I’m like, I’m lazy, I’m not motivated. All of these things. And as I’m explaining this to my therapist, my therapist is like, “Let’s have a conversation.” And it all makes sense.

Lindsay Guentzel (04:49):

What’s changed for you since your diagnosis? You mentioned some of the things that stood out. What are you doing to kind of combat them? Because you can’t just erase them, you can’t fully fix them. Medication only helps to a certain degree, but it’s learning to live with them in a way that is less destructive.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (05:08):

Yeah, absolutely. I always compare my ADHD to that coworker in your office that always heats up fish in the microwave, that’s so disgusting, but they’re a good worker. They’re there. They’re not getting fired or anything, they’re just a little annoying sometimes. That’s ADHD to me, it’s like this is there. And I always say to me at least, and I know there’s other people that disagree with this sometimes, but I don’t think there is a cure, the ADHD, I just think it’s just something that you just have to manage. I don’t even saying the word battle. I don’t even like saying I battle ADHD because that kind of puts a negative connotation to it.


So I’m just saying I manage my ADHD, it’s going to be my partner for life. So since my diagnosis, things became so much clearer and because of that, as you stated, the medicine that I take helps open the door, but that’s just part of the process. So I’m able to take specific steps to make sure that I’m productive, to make sure I stay on task, to make sure that I don’t lose track of time, little things like that. And I feel as though in the past year I’ve been more productive than I ever have been the longest time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a struggle. It’s really, really hard and I have my good days and not so good days, but good lord, I feel so much better.

Lindsay Guentzel (06:23):

I couldn’t agree with you more. You have to take the bad with the good. And the unfortunate part is that it ebbs and flows and is kind of all over the place and every day is different. So you’re just not sure which grab bag you’re going to get. You mentioned that you were in therapy at the time of diving into this ADHD diagnosis. Did you change anything about what you were working on with your therapist following this life-changing realization?

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (06:50):

Yeah, so for context, the reason I was in therapy in the first place was because earlier that year, this February or March of last year, 2022, I was diagnosed with severe depression and generalized anxiety disorder. So those were the first two things. And so we were starting my process for that, my treatments giving me tools and resources, and I still felt something was off. There was still some things that I was struggling with. I felt better, but there was still some things, little things I was struggling with. And as I was describing the symptoms to my therapist, she started to piece things together and I ended up taking these tests and all that and all started to make sense. So in regards to the way that I approached therapy, the ideology stayed the same, but the tools and focus sometimes would shift depending on what I’m struggling with that week or if there’s an overarching goal that we’re trying to reach for that month or that week or whatever it may be.


So it’s kind of off and on. But the funny thing is that with ADHD and depression and anxiety, they all work hand in hand. So it’s not even three separate things. They’re three things that are skipping down the street, holding hands, saying, “Yay, Ky’s brain.” That’s what’s happening. And so the treatment behind that, honestly it’s all linked together.

Lindsay Guentzel (08:09):

You are a content creator and you talk a lot about mental health. I’m wondering where you were in your journey with everything that you put out online when this all was unfolding.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (08:19):

So I’ve been a content creator for a long time, and I never delved this deeply into the mental health side. I was always the guy that was like, “Hey guys, good vibes, yay.” Mr. Positivity kind of person. But I never really delved deep into the mental health aspect of it. It was just like, okay, how can I make people smile? Can I be silly? Can I be make stupid jokes? Whatever it may be. I just wanted to make people smile and make people laugh. So that’s what I was like beforehand. And so as things started to shift in my life from a mental health standpoint, that’s when my content started to shift as well.


I knew that I wanted to document this entire experience because I know that there’s so many other people out there that feel like they’re alone. It’s really interesting how so many people have to deal with these things, yet we still feel so alone as if we’re by ourselves in this journey. If I can play a small role in helping somebody understand that there is help out there, that they’re not alone, that there are resources, there are tools, there are people you can talk to. If I can help at least one person, all of this is worth it. Every single late night making stupid videos, every single interview, every single email, DM, all of that, it’s all worth it.

Lindsay Guentzel (09:44):

What was so important to you about being authentic during this journey?

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (09:48):

There’s so much, and again, this is just my opinion. I think on social media, there’s a lot of toxic positivity and I think that people can often see right through the BS, and I don’t want to be that kind of person. I don’t like when people are not authentic and genuine in what they’re presenting because people just won’t connect with it as much as you think they would. So I’m like, I’m just going to go out there and be me because that’s the easiest thing for me to do. I don’t have to pretend to be anybody else. People are often surprised when they meet me in person because they see my videos all the time, and then I meet them in person and they’re like, “You’re just like your videos.” I’m like, “Yeah, that’s me. I’m still a goofball. I’m still awkward as hell. That’s just who I am.” And so I try to be as authentic and genuine as I can because I feel like people are able to connect with that a little bit more.

Lindsay Guentzel (10:40):

How do you manage the expectations that come when you have a following online? And I ask that because you can be as authentic as you want and you can be as energetic as you want, but then there’s always people in a sense expecting something from you, and it can be very draining. And for someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, you can feel like you are letting people down. And I have nowhere near the followers that you do, and there are times where I’ll open it and I’ll be like, I can’t handle this. And it’s a wonderful platform to have. It is so important that people are out there sharing this kind of stuff, but we have to set boundaries. And sometimes people with ADHD, we struggle with those. I think humans in general just struggle with boundaries, but we just have an extra hard time with it.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (11:30):

The pressure is a unique pressure, and I always view it as a blessing and a humbling experience. And one thing I always say to people is that honestly, the follower count doesn’t really matter because there could be five people in a room with you and you could still feel that same type of pressure and anxiety that somebody with 5 million people online might feel, right. It’s a similar type of feeling. I do feel at times, like a certain responsibility to make sure that I present the right information that I’m validating people’s feelings and journeys situation is different. I try to hear different sides of the story. I want to hear as much as I can, and I have to be kind to myself if there is a mistake that’s made or… I’m a people pleaser by nature, so it is really difficult for me sometimes to know that I said something that maybe upset people or made people feel like I don’t understand what they’re going through and so on and so forth.


So there is some pressure, but then I always bring myself back down to earth by just saying, just reminding myself what my goal is with every piece of content that I put out there. What is the point of this? Who am I trying to help? How does this help me? And I kind of just reel myself back and keep things into context and keep myself as level-headed as possible and grounded, and then kind of go from there. The really tough part is that I live under a microscope sometimes, so everything that I do offline, people might know me. Every time I go outside I have to be aware of the fact that that person may follow me and all of this. So I have to be very conscious of that. But I’m still me. I still be as genuine as possible, but it is a little pressure a little bit.

Lindsay Guentzel (13:20):

And I started following you before I knew you had ADHD because I thought you were so funny and relatable, and there is something so lovely about getting that little distraction online, especially with social media, the way it is right now, where it’s everyone’s posting their top picks, their top life moments, and I think it can be really hard for people. It’s almost like living next to the Joneses, but amplified to a degree we haven’t even comprehended yet. And so then when I found out you had ADHD, I was like, Oh my gosh, we have to get him on the show, because it is so nice to be able to laugh about some of the stuff.


I think one thing that I’ve realized after my diagnosis is the grief is so heavy of all of the stuff that I wish I could have done that I have to laugh at the silly things in order to balance it out. And I’m wondering, you mentioned that you looked back and you can see so much so what are some of the things that you’ve specifically been focusing on this last year of maybe letting go or being excited about the future for?

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (14:25):

I always struggle. I always held myself to a really high standard. I always try because growing up I played sports, and when you play sports, your coaches are always just pushing, pushing, pushing and pushing. And if you miss a shot, keep running, you got to run again. Or if you miss a pass or something, do extra pushups, whatever it may be. That’s how I was growing. So I was always in this perfectionist mindset. I was a people pleaser. I wanted to make sure that everybody was happy. If somebody was upset with me or if I did something wrong, I would really take that to heart. I still do at times, but what I’ve been working on lately after my diagnosis is, as I said before, being kind to myself, but also just understanding that I can’t control everything. Things are going to happen.


There’s a lyric from the musical Hamilton that I live by and Aaron Burr in the song Wait for It sings, “I’m the one thing in life I can control.” And that lyric has stood out to me ever since I first heard it because it’s so fricking true that we go through our lives getting upset with ourselves because of things that are out of our control. I can’t control you. I can’t control my coworkers, I can’t control my sister, I can’t control anybody else except for me. I can be proactive and react. That’s what I can do and then take action. That’s what I can do. One of the biggest things that I’ve been trying to work on is just being kind to myself and removing myself from this expectation of perfection and this expectation of being able to control everything around me because that’s incredibly unhealthy. And it took me 35 years, it took me 35 years to come to terms with that, and it’s still a challenge, but I can proudly say that I’ve gotten better.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:22):

Let’s stay on the topic of perfection with creating content. How does that work? Because you are doing a lot of it yourself, I have to imagine. And I know me, I work on the podcast. I am my own worst enemy.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (16:38):

Yeah, admittedly, I am always in my head because I want to make people laugh, but I also want to be mindful of the fact that when we talk mental health, this is a serious topic. People have lost their lives and lost loved ones because of this. So I’m very conscious of that. I don’t want to put out anything that I feel is subpar or not really funny, but on the other end, I also don’t want to overthink it because sometimes my stuff it’s like 10 seconds. It’s like, Ky, just post it. If people don’t like it is what it is. So yeah, I am in my head a lot when it comes to content creation. I don’t think I’m in the perfectionist mindset anymore, but I am very conscious. You’ll notice with a lot of my content, a lot of it’s very self-deprecating, number one.


And number two, I never talk about anything that I don’t personally have to manage. So you won’t hear me talk about OCD or being bipolar or anything like that. I’m going to talk about the things that I manage because I don’t know those worlds. I don’t have to manage that, so I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to make a joke out of it.

Lindsay Guentzel (17:52):

I’m wondering if opening up about mental health on your platform has brought up any interesting conversations with people in your life that you’re close with who might not necessarily be followers on social media?

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (18:05):

Yeah, my mom and dad, my mom and dad, and this is where I get a little emotional because this was a really hard conversation to have because I had to explain to my parents that it’s not their fault. And I was so reluctant to want to even talk about it with my parents because I know that my mom would be like, this is because of me. I gave this to him, or because the way I raised him or whatever may be, and I just want to be like, mom, no, that’s not how it works. I promise you. I promise you, you did nothing wrong. Same thing with my dad, having these conversations and to know that they know that I’m struggling and there’s really not much that they can do other than just listen and support whenever they can. That’s hard because 35 years with your parents thinking that everything’s okay and then suddenly it’s not, that gets hard to talk about. And I’ll never forget.


I never approached my parents with it, but my content and platform started to get so big that people at my mom’s church we’re starting to be like, “Oh, did you see your son’s video?” And she’s like, “No.” “He’s on Instagram.” “Oh, I don’t have Instagram.” And so my mom’s church friends were starting to show her these videos of me talking about ADHD and depression and anxiety. And so that’s a hard thing to be like, “Hey, mom. Yeah, I’m a content creator.” She knew I was a content creator, but she knew what I was doing. I’m like, “Yeah, I’m a content creator talking about all the things that I cry about at night.”

Lindsay Guentzel (19:58):

I’ve been outed by some of my mom’s friends too, actually from people at church, so I very much commiserate with that. But how lovely that you get to have those conversations, even if they’re difficult. It’s like you’re breaking the cycle. That’s what I keep telling people is the silence that we held onto because of mental health, and I think we have this idea that we have such a great understanding of the human body. We know some stuff we have so far to go, and the human brain, I mean, psychology itself is not very old, and you think about ADHD, it’s just… Even what we’re learning about comorbidities and how they tie into one another and what fuels them. I love your little Ky skipping down the road together. The analogy that I use is Independence Day, the blockbuster where the mothership, it’s not until they get into the mothership that all the little ships start crashing into earth.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (20:51):

It’s a great movie.

Lindsay Guentzel (20:53):

A great movie. And when I figured out the analogy, I was like, this is a great analogy for my ADHD. I was like, I’m sticking with this one. But sometimes you feel like you are just constantly working and it’s exhausting.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (21:07):

Yeah, it’s really tough, especially… For those of you that are listening and can’t see me. I am an African-American male, and there’s not a lot of research that has been done, at least not to the extent as it’s been done on white males when it comes to ADHD in African-American, especially African-American men. So a lot of the times when it comes to ADHD and Black men, a lot of doctors and therapists are just trying their best with what they got and what their knowledge is. There’s not a lot of studies surrounding it. And we’re still learning because we’re getting to a point now that African-Americans, just anybody, any person of color is starting to open up a little bit more about their mental health.


And we’re starting to learn a little bit more, but it’s 2023, and we’re still struggling having these conversations in the Black community. And so I always say if there’s one little Black kid out there that played basketball or was playing football and likes playing video games and likes riding roller coasters, that somebody, some little kid that’s just like me when I was a young teenager or a young boy that just happens to see my content and it opens up their eyes to this and it makes them want to go seek help or go talk to somebody, man, if I were to ever find that out, I could retire and just call it a day. That’s all I want. That’s all I want, really. It’s tough, but it’s a thing I strive for.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:53):

I’m wondering if you can expand a little bit on what you see as being one of the biggest blockades for African-American men in addressing mental health. And I imagine that there are some similar crossovers for men of all different races. There’s a stigma that comes with being open and being vulnerable, and men are raised to be strong and not let anything bother them. But the problem with that is what we are seeing now, which is this disconnect of people not being comfortable opening up because we have just been grinding into these stereotypes for so long.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (23:37):

Yeah, absolutely. I’m glad you’re bringing this up because this is hella important. Again, as you stated, as you prefaced before this, I want to just talk about this from a black male perspective. This is not to say that like… It doesn’t mean that white males don’t matter or anything like that. I’m just talking about it from a Black male perspective. When I was growing up, there were three people that I looked up to the most athletes, hip hop and RB artists and my dad. Those are the three people, none of whom was talking about mental health, at least not outwardly. So we have that also in the Black community, understandably so there is a stigma about the healthcare system in general because of how the healthcare system treated African-Americans, continues to this day, but especially a long time ago when African-Americans were used as test subjects for a lot of things.


And so there’s already a stigma there when it comes to that. On top of that, typically in a Black community, if there’s an issue that you may have, the first thing that you do is go to church and you pray. You pray that God will take care of you and that God will guide you. It’s really tough for people in the Black community to seek help, not even just from a stigma standpoint, but the resources are not there. In inner city neighborhoods, especially in urban areas the resources are not to the same quality. They’re not readily available. When I first started going to therapy, I really, really wanted to have a Black male therapist. I live right outside of Philadelphia, major metropolitan area. There were five, none of whom I can book an appointment with because they were all fully booked.


So that’s the kind of stuff that we have to deal with. And so there’s a reluctance there sometimes from the people in the Black community to get help because sometimes it is just not there, and other times why would we when we can just pray it away kind of thing. And also lastly, it’s not talked about in our school systems either, particularly in inner city school systems, at least not as prevalent as it should be. It might be maybe a class period or maybe half a marking period or something like that, but not part of the… It’s like an extracurricular, it’s like an excursion on a vacation as opposed to an actual class or an actual lesson and stuff like that. So I think it starts from when we’re younger and then having the resources there and educating people, and then hopefully people will be more likely to seek out help and know where to go and understand what they’re dealing with.

Lindsay Guentzel (26:40):

I really appreciate you diving into that. I know there’s so much that goes into it, and from my perspective, I think it’s so important that we are talking about it, and I’m really glad that you mentioned that you struggle to find a therapist who looked like you because I know that is something that holds back a lot of people, both men and women, because you want someone who can understand your experience, and that comes typically when you recognize yourself in the person you’re confiding in. How did you handle those first couple of sessions in therapy? How were you able to let your walls down in a situation where it wasn’t the ideal situation you had hoped it to be?

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (27:23):

I was frightened. I really was. I was scared. I went in, I’m like, I don’t know. I don’t know if this person’s going to understand what I’m going through. Now let me again preface this by saying the person I’m seeing now, my therapist that I’m seeing now. Whenever I talk about therapy, it always sounds like I’m dating the person I’m seeing now, we have a date every Monday at 6:00, this is the third person that I’ve tried. So you’re not always going to vibe with everybody. It really is just like dating. You’re going to connect with somebody or you’re not.


So luckily I’m with somebody now that I connect with, but going into it, I was really scared. I’m going to butcher this stat, and the numbers might have changed. I haven’t looked at it in a bit, but I was looking up to see what the demographics were in general when it comes to therapists in the United States, and I saw that out of all the therapists in the United States that are registered onto psychology today, 80% of them are white. The other 20% is everything else. Out of that 80%, 70% of that, it was like 60 or 70% of that 80% are white women.


And so I was like, I don’t know if anybody’s going to really understand what I have to go through. I think they’ll understand ADHD. I think they’ll understand depression. I think they’ll understand anxiety, but I don’t know if they’re going to understand what it’s like being a Black man with this, where you already have what you mentioned before, these societal stereotypes weighing you down on top of the ADHD, on top of the depression and anxiety. And so I really had to search around for that. And there were times I got discouraged and I’m like, I’m not going to find anybody that understands. Luckily, the person I’m seeing now has a good grasp on it, but it was tough. It was really scary.

Lindsay Guentzel (29:15):

I want to look to the future and I’m wondering what is exciting for you or what is bringing you hope right now.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (29:23):

In the future? I see myself winning a million dollars, paying off all of my student loans. That’s the ideal future. Where do I see my future? That’s always hard for me because what I do for my life, it’s so day to day and week to week, month to month. But honestly, I try to see myself trying to reach as many people as possible and trying to get people, as many people as I can to understand that they are not alone in this journey. You are not alone in this journey, and it’s such a cliche thing to say, but it’s so true. It is so true. You are not by yourself.


I know it may seem as though that way, understandably so. Your feelings are valid, but you are not by yourself. There is help out there. The more people that I can get to understand that, the better. If that means that my platform grows more awesome, if that means that I just focus on a certain set of people, awesome. Whatever it may be, I just feel very blessed to have the platform that I have now. It’s a very humbling experience. It’s a very exciting experience, and I’m really excited to see where it goes next.

Lindsay Guentzel (30:36):

I have to ask how you got into this. When we were kids and we were told we could be whatever we wanted to be when we grew up, Instagram content creators was not a job. So how did you end up here?

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (30:50):

That’s a great question. When I was in college in parts of high school I did a lot of marketing just in general, and to this day, my daytime job is marketing. I’m an executive director at a marketing firm right outside of Philly, and so I’ve always been around the marketing side of things and with the field that I’m in and the rise of social media, I had no choice but to embrace it because my clients were like, “Hey, what is this Facebook thing?” And I had to understand it so I can explain it, and nowadays, it’s TikTok and Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts and all this. I have to understand that for my clients, and then luckily I can take that knowledge and just apply it for me, which helps a lot. So no, when I was growing up, I wanted to be a basketball player. I really wanted to be a basketball player, and there was no box for me to check off with my guidance counselor saying that I wanted to make silly content on Instagram. She would’ve been like, “What is Instagram?” It’s 2001 guy. What is Instagram?

Lindsay Guentzel (32:00):

At least you went to your guidance counselor. You were a step ahead of me.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (32:04):

Yeah, we were cool. We were cool.

Lindsay Guentzel (32:07):

What’s something you wish people understood better about ADHD that maybe you see they’re just not connecting with?

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (32:15):

I think sometimes people truly do think it’s squirrel. I mean, not saying that that doesn’t happen, it does, but it’s way, way, way, way deeper than that. And ADHD is a spectrum, so there’s so many different things that can manifest inside you that may be different. You and I both have ADHD, I can guarantee that our symptoms and day-to-day, things that we have to manage probably are different, but that doesn’t lessen somebody else’s ADHD. It doesn’t lessen mine. It doesn’t lessen yours. There’s no perfect version of it. It is what it is. So I wish more people would understand that it’s a lot deeper than squirrel, way more deeper than that. Even though the squirrel thing does happen, it’s way deeper than that.

Lindsay Guentzel (33:07):

The squirrel thing definitely does happen, but with everything in life, there’s the stereotypes and the tropes and the squirrel is what we’re working with.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (33:15):

Yes, yes. I want to try to educate people as much as possible because that’s what happened to me, I went 35 years thinking that it was squirrel or thinking that, oh, my leg shaking. I can’t sit still. I have ADHD. I really thought that was it.

Lindsay Guentzel (33:33):

Or that I just really loved cracking my knuckles until day two of being medicated, and I was like, “Oh, I don’t do that anymore.”

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (33:40):

It’s so funny you say that because there are so many little ticks that I’ve noticed that ever since my diagnosis, I’ve noticed that I do that I’m like, I’ve been doing that my whole life, and when I’m like on roll with my ADHD and managing it, I’m like, I don’t do that. Interesting. Very interesting.

Lindsay Guentzel (33:58):

I did not know what stim was until very recently when someone was like, “Oh, you’re stimming,” and I’m like, “I’m doing what?” And then I’m like, oh, yes, my whole life, everything.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (34:07):

Yeah. Yeah. It’s really eyeopening. Like I said before, it’s been only a year for me, so I learn new stuff every day, and there’s so many great content creators on Instagram that post about ADHD. There’s from therapists to coaches to just normal people that just post about their experiences and stuff. There are so many, it’s a great community to be a part of.

Lindsay Guentzel (34:33):

In the last year, what has been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned?

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (34:38):

About ADHD or just in general?

Lindsay Guentzel (34:40):

About ADHD.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (34:41):

About ADHD? That I can use it to my advantage. That it doesn’t have to be something that sets me back. I can use it to my advantage. I can use it for my content. I can use it to be productive. I can use it to help people. As annoying as it can be sometimes there are positives to it, and I’m happy I have it because even though it’s annoying, I know that I can use it to my advantage to help people and to live my life in a manageable way. That’s probably what I’ve learned the most, and that’s a really good feeling.

Lindsay Guentzel (35:25):

Well, I’m going to use a cliche from my favorite sport. You hit it out of the park with the last answer there. My goodness. That was-

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (35:31):

Diehard Phillies fan. Absolutely. Red October. Let’s go.

Lindsay Guentzel (35:34):

It was going to come up. One of my nearest and dearest is also from Philly. I’m hoping for a Philly sweep.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (35:40):

Yes, yes. Diehard Philly over here.

Lindsay Guentzel (35:42):

Big baseball fan. Love it.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (35:44):

Yeah, same. I travel the country going to baseball stadiums because I just love baseball stadiums. So yeah, I love baseball. Basketball is my favorite sport, but I love traveling and watching baseball.

Lindsay Guentzel (35:55):

Same. Ky, this was so much fun. I had such a lovely time. I could keep talking to you forever. The energy you put off it makes me so happy because you are exactly who you are when you open up your phone, and it’s really nice. It’s really nice to see that authenticity, and I just wish you nothing but success in building this following and doing what you want, because every time you sit across from someone and they tell you something like they’re dreaming really big, and you’re like, “Oh,” but you mean every word you say and I can just tell. And it just is so nice to see that in this world because you and I both know we have stumbled across people who tell you what they think you want to hear, and then they never follow through. And that is so hard, especially when so much is at stake.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (36:45):

Agreed. And I can throw this right back at you as well, because what you’re doing by even having these conversations in the first place, it’s helping people. You are a great person and I’m so happy that we met and I look forward to having more conversations with you.

Lindsay Guentzel (37:01):

Thank you. That was very kind of you. You’re just relieved that I didn’t say I was a Mets fan or something.

Kyrus Keenan Westcott (37:06):

Oh God. If you were, I would’ve ended this so fast. Oh, man.

Lindsay Guentzel (37:16):

You got to love that little crutch of coming out of someone giving you a compliment and you have to use a joke. But seriously though, it was so fun to talk baseball with Ky there. We ended the interview and actually talked stadiums for like 20 minutes. So if you happen to be an ADHDer who loves baseball, you have found some kindred spirits in Ky and me. I have to imagine that if you weren’t following Ky on social media before this episode started, I’m guessing at some point you jumped over and gave that follow button a big old tap. I just really appreciate Ky’s self-awareness when it comes to how he manages his social media. It’s clear he feels a sincere sense of responsibility, both for the content he’s putting out and the person who is showing up for those followers.


It’s something I don’t think we talk enough about. There’s so much power intertwined through social media these days, and at the same time, very little regulation or safeguarding, and I wish more content creators had a mindset similar to Ky’s. Social media is a place where we can learn more about ADHD, but not all the content that racks up billions of views is correct. Highly relatable doesn’t always mean factual. Experts refer to this as cyberchondria, and it’s a symptom of unmoderated user-generated content. Social media algorithms also tend to show similar videos further contributing to the spread of misinformation. We can combat this by following reliable sources like credentialed ADHD professionals and recognized organizations. It’s a few extra clicks and totally worth it when the goal is to find content made with fact-based medical information. ADHD Online has a helpful article called How to Fight ADHD Misinformation on Social Media that we’ll link for you in the show notes.


I also appreciate that Ky and I share the same views when it comes to toxic positivity. There are few things I find as frustrating and dangerous as toxic positivity, the shame that comes attached to it. It is like the world’s worst plus one and the comparison game our brains insist on signing us up for. Optimism is necessary for life, and it can be really easy to become disenchanted when we’re dealing with challenges. And someone comes in with a top-down, look at your life, and some idealism turned up to 11. Referring to ADHD as a superpower, we’ve heard that sentiment here on the podcast. Some folks feel encouraged by the reference. Others might feel its invasive roots with the reference’s, real potential to distract from the very real struggles experienced by a disorder that can completely upend a life. Where do you guys land on this? Let us know over on social because we’re curious.


Blind positive thinking can cause us to belittle ourselves and amp up feelings of anxiety and depression. ADHDers often find themselves in a game of comparison. If they can do it, I can too. Or it brings back memories from our lives when we were compared to others by our teachers and bosses. I have three sisters and we are all very different people, and I didn’t figure that out until I got much older, and I think a big part of that was because of how often as the baby of the family I was compared to them. When you start to feel like comparisons are getting in the way, it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself these three things. Are these expectations around me right now realistic or unrealistic? Am I masking and hiding emotions that could help me understand my true feelings?


Do I have to figure this out by myself or can I talk about it with someone I trust? So the next time someone is all positive vibes only you can give yourself permission to evaluate what’s really going on. Finding the balance between optimism and realism is important when it comes to positive thinking, especially for those of us with ADHD. When we can do our best to be mindful of it when talking to ourselves and others, our outlook on our journeys can feel a bit brighter. I’m also so grateful to Ky for opening up about how hard it has been to have these conversations with his parents. I think a lot of us later in life ADHDers tread carefully around those convos for so many reasons, but I also think it’s important that we feel comfortable to speak our truths. We can’t control anyone else’s reactions except our own.


It’s a lesson I am learning in real time, and I have to remind myself over and over again at the end of the day, the only thing I can control is me. I’m so grateful for the time I got to spend chatting with Ky and for his commitment to our community. To connect with Ky you can find him on social @thevibewithky, and he just released his latest digital guidebook, How I Thrive with ADHD as an Adult: My Self-Care Strategies and Personal ADHD Journey. It’s $2 and you can find the link to purchase shared in our show notes. We’ve just been blown away by the support you’ve all shown us as we got Refocused, Together 2023 off of the ground. We have so many more incredible stories to share with you. If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to Refocused wherever you listen to podcasts and connect with us on social media at Refocused Pod. Thank you guys so much and we’ll see you back here tomorrow for another brand new episode of Refocused, Together.


Support for Refocused comes from our partner, ADHD Online, a telemedicine mental healthcare company that provides affordable and accessible ADHD assessments and treatment plans. To learn how they can help you on your journey head to adhdonline.com and remember to use the promo code, Refocused20 to receive $20 off your ADHD Online assessment right now. The biggest thanks go out to our team at ADHD Online, Keith Boswell, Suzanne Spruit, Melanie Mile, Claudia Gotti, and Trisha Merchant Dunny for their constant support in helping make Refocused, Together happen.


These 31 episodes were produced thanks to our managing editor Sarah Platanitis, our production coordinator, Phil Roderman, social media specialist and editor, Al Chaplin, and me, the host and executive producer of Refocused, Lindsay Guentzel. To connect with the show on social media, you can find us online @refocusedpod and you can email the show directly. [email protected]. That’s [email protected].


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