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Ying Deng and the Myth of Being An Adult

Meet Ying Deng, the founder of ADHD Asian Girl and your Mindful ADHD Guide. In our first interview for Refocused, Together 2023, Ying helps us explore the myth of being an adult and shares the relief she felt, following her diagnosis, when she realized she didn’t have to give into that pressure anymore. 

Listen in as Ying discusses her experience as an immigrant with ADHD, her challenges with masking, and her mission to make mindfulness more accessible to the ADHD 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! 

Watch: How I got diagnosed with ADHD as an Asian First-Generation Immigrant Adult Woman

Listen: ADHD Nerds with Monica Lim: Battling Career Boredom

Resources on ADHD & Eating Disorders

ADDitude Magazine – The ADHD-Eating Disorders Link

ADHD Online – Why ADHD Can Lead to Binge Eating Disorder and What Can Be Done About It

Add us on Social Media!

Ying Deng (00:01):

There’s no such thing as this ideal adulthood. I don’t know where I got the idea from. But that’s one of the struggle I’m dealing with of just the natural energy ups and downs as well, we don’t have the bandwidth to handle 10 different things all at the same time that’s required being an adult.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:26):

You’re listening to Refocused Together and this is episode one, Ying Deng and the Myth of Being an Adult. Welcome back to Refocused, a podcast all about ADHD. I’m your host, Lindsay Guentzel. Today is the first day of Refocused Together, the special project we started last year as a part of our commitment to ADHD Awareness Month. I wish I could tell you more about the exact moment when the idea came to me but, in true ADHD fashion, it was a go big or go home moment. And thankfully, I had my managing editor, Sarah Platanitis by my side as we developed the plan to share the stories of 31 people with ADHD each day during the month of October.

(01:21):

Ultimately, we ended up with 32 stories because, well, we’re storytellers at heart and we both have ADHD. We created Refocused Together as a way to raise awareness on just how complex ADHD is and the different ways it shows up in people’s lives. This year, we’ll hear from college students, improv comedians, mindfulness teachers and mental health advocates, a winemaker turned brewmaster and even a state representative. These are just some of the voices you’ll hear over the next 31 days.

(01:58):

When we share stories, we can better understand each other and ourselves. Hearing from people with different backgrounds, diagnoses, experiences and perspectives can help us grow and move forward together. I cannot wait for you to meet this year’s guests and to get to know them. Be sure to subscribe to refocus wherever you’re listening now so that you don’t miss a single story this month.

(02:23):

And with that, let’s meet our first guest for Refocused Together 2023, Ying Deng. Ying Deng is the founder of ADHD Asian Girl and Your Mindful ADHD Guide and was the very first interview we recorded for this year. She was diagnosed with ADHD when she was 26 while feeling burnt out in what seemed like a dream job at a dream organization. It wasn’t until she discovered the ADHD Nerds Podcast, specifically the episode with Monica Lim, that she realized their development history mirrored each other. This led Ying to seek a formal diagnosis and discover just how much her cultural background impacted her ADHD experience.

(03:08):

Drawing on her skills and training in life coaching and mindfulness meditation, Ying works as a coach for the ADHD app, Inflow, and helps adults develop the skills, strategies and anti-fragile routines they need so they can learn how to work with and not against their brain or be dragged down by self-shame. Ying does a great job of sharing how she navigated ADHD as an immigrant, her struggles with masking and how she’s working to make mindfulness more accessible for people with ADHD. You can find her on social @adhdasiangirl and over on adhdasiangirl.com.

(03:49):

Now, with all of the formalities out of the way, I am so excited to officially kick off Refocused Together 2023 with our first guest, Ying Deng. We start every interview for refocus together with the same question, gets us all on the same playing field and that is, when were you diagnosed and what was your diagnosis like?

Ying Deng (04:20):

Yeah. So, I actually just uploaded a YouTube video about this so I have my story fresh. I was diagnosed in my late 20s and I what sparked my conversation was, up till that point, I had this idea of, if you find one career path or one thing that I’m really motivated about that I can somehow be committed and motivated, and I was lucky enough that I worked for a mindfulness startup that was created by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, two of the most famous meditation teachers here in the United States, I loved my colleagues and I had some really good months there and then I started to get bored again. So, I was like, “Hmm, something is going on here. I’m in an ideal situation, ideal setting, why am I still bored?”

(05:10):

And just by chance, I also watched the YouTube video created by ADHD Jesse and, from there, I dipped into his podcast and then he had an interview with Monica Lim and she’s a Korean woman, world citizen so what she described about her ADHD experience is largely my experience. That means we didn’t have a lot of signs and symptoms when we were children or they’re overlooked signs, not anything obvious and outwardly observable. But when we are adult and start to work, we start to get bored really easily at jobs and that’s when I realized, “Oh, there’s something going on here,” and that’s what prompted me to seek a professional diagnosis and I had some mental health issues in college so I was pretty clear about the landscape.

(06:02):

So, I went for a psychiatric nurse, I went for women, I made sure I asked them if they had experiences diagnosing adult women because I wasn’t about to get discouraged or criticized or minimized. And lucky enough, I found somebody who is a psychiatric nurse and had experienced diagnosing adult women. So, I had my Google doc of all the signs that I thought could be related with ADHD I presented to her and I did a self-reported questionnaire and we did a computerized test, the QB test, and altogether combined, she diagnosed me with inattentive ADHD. So, that’s my journey. So, it’s a lot of self-reflection as well as simultaneously learning more about ADHD.

Lindsay Guentzel (06:47):

You mentioned hearing the podcast ADHD Nerds, our friend, Jesse J. Anderson, who was on Refocused Together last year. Great human, he’s putting some really important stuff out into the universe and I love that that is a part of your story. I’m wondering what else stood out for you. You mentioned having this Google doc of things that you wanted to talk about when you saw that psychiatric nurse.

Ying Deng (07:08):

Yeah, so one thing was I picked up from ADHS Jesse’s own diagnostic story, he talked about how he always gets bored with chores. I was like, “Oh, I’m not the only person who gets bored with chores.” I can’t focus on chores. After five minutes, I would sit down, get bored, get distracted. So, that was the first time I realized there are people out there experiencing similar things. And I realized I always slept pretty late, I would stay up, do my work late, make up for what I didn’t do during the day, those are things and always had strong emotions since I was a child.

(07:48):

And also, I had issues with motivating myself doing big projects, especially in school, if it’s paper, more long-term projects. It’s less noticeable in work situations because I felt like, with work, you have more check-ins, you have more structures but, in school, with papers or long-term projects, I was miserable, yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (08:10):

I feel you on that one. Speaking of college, you talked a little bit about having some mental health struggles in college and that prepared you a little bit for navigating the landscape of healthcare in the United States. What stands out to you now that you have this diagnosis and are there ways that you’ve been able to connect back some of those struggles to your ADHD?

Ying Deng (08:33):

Yes, absolutely. So, I was first diagnosed with binge-eating disorder then depression and anxiety. And now, actually, I was just reading about this, I think ADHD girls are four times more likely to develop eating disorder or, if you’re looking at a binge-eating disorder population, I think 30% of them actually have some ADHD symptoms. So, looking back, I wish somebody presented that data to me and I would have looked into ADHD. Yeah, none of my psychiatrists or therapists at the time recognized any ADHD signs in me and I was very open. I was just open book, please help me, I will take any help I can get. It’s a shame and a missed opportunity that they didn’t see anything so that’s definitely a link there.

Lindsay Guentzel (09:22):

I also fall into the same category, binge-eating disorder, diagnosed with anxiety and depression but I didn’t open up so I applaud you for opening up about that because sometimes the only way forward is to just be fully transparent. But the problem is, like you mentioned, is that no one saw those signs, those connections between what you were going through and the fact that they all did tie back to ADHD.

Ying Deng (09:48):

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Even the depression, it was a lack of structure and moving away from home and moving to a different country and trying to survive in a different language environment, educational environment. Yeah, it’s challenging for anybody but it’s probably especially challenging for an ADHD brain so a lot of the depression anxiety definitely comes back, ties back to the ADHD.

Lindsay Guentzel (10:14):

Right now, when you look at your life, what is your biggest struggle with living with ADHD?

Ying Deng (10:21):

I think it’s a myth of being an adult. I think when I was growing up, I thought there’s this adult who can manage their work well and work out and run a household and cook and have friends. I just had a really unrealistic imagination of what being an adult is and just realizing that’s probably not true and accepting that, at times, if I’m really good at my work or really good at working out, maybe my meditation is slacking a little bit or my eating habit is slacking a little bit or, oh, if I’m really good at self-care these two weeks, maybe my work is slower.

(11:00):

So, just trying to accept that and there’s no such thing as this ideal adulthood, I don’t know where I got the idea from. But that’s one of the struggle I’m dealing with of just the natural energy ups and downs as well, it goes in with we don’t have the bandwidth to handle 10 different things all at the same time that’s required being an adult and we have natural energy ups and downs.

Lindsay Guentzel (11:28):

Adulting is hard, it is a struggle for me every single day.

Ying Deng (11:32):

Where do we get that idea from?

Lindsay Guentzel (11:34):

Well, I just love that you said the myth of being an adult. I have never heard anyone say it so perfectly.

Ying Deng (11:43):

Yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (11:44):

Well, I love it. And besides being able to turn back time and go back to being a non-adult, what are you actively doing right now to try and help it?

Ying Deng (11:54):

So, this is one thing I’ve picked up from TikTok, actually, and it’s the idea having different routines with different energy level. So, I have, actually, [inaudible 00:12:05] labeled low energy meals, low energy day activities. So, low energy meals may entail I’m just cooking frozen dumplings or I’m cooking pre-marinated meat. Some other low energy activities is doing laundry, not folding them, sweeping instead of vacuuming, just having different ways of accomplish what I want to accomplish has been really helpful and accepting that even the low energy ways of doing things is more than enough, that’s one thing that really helps me.

(12:39):

And currently, I am on medicine, I’m on generics [inaudible 00:12:43] and that’s helping me with emotional regulation. If I’m doing a project, the learning is taking longer than I thought or there is unexpected delays, I’m less likely to get really frustrated and completely derail. So, those things are big and, of course, I meditate and that’s a huge part of what helps me. And recently, I find this tool called Bionic Reading, it changed how I read webpage. Everybody try it out, it may work for you, it may not.

Lindsay Guentzel (13:13):

I’m going to have to look into this. You said Bionic Reading?

Ying Deng (13:16):

Yes, Bionic Reading. So, it bolds the text in certain ways so it helps you speed read. And for some reason, it just gives the extra bit of dopamine and stimulants my brain needs to be instead of staring at a blank webpage. When I stare at a page of text, it just feels like staring at a blank page, it doesn’t stimulate my brain enough.

Lindsay Guentzel (13:40):

I’m wondering if there’s anything that you have tried in the past that maybe didn’t work for you, that was something that was maybe presented as a great option for someone with ADHD but, for some reason, just didn’t fit into your lifestyle?

Ying Deng (13:53):

For me, I think a lot of the productivity and self-help books I read. I don’t think they’re targeted towards ADHD folks, they’re more just general advice. The idea of I need to set up a routine and just stick with it, that does not work for me, I cannot stick with doing something the same way over and over again and that’s why I’m reframing what routines look like for myself. Maybe it’s doing the same thing different ways, you don’t have to do it in the same length. Even for my meditation, I change the types of meditation, I change the length of meditation, not the typical I sit down every day at the same time for however many minutes, I can’t do that and then just accepting it, it’s a big thing.

Lindsay Guentzel (14:41):

I think for a lot of people, not just people with ADHD, meditation, mindfulness can be overwhelming because sometimes our brains just don’t slow down. How have you found ways to get into that position and be able to make it something that really fits into your life well?

Ying Deng (15:02):

Yeah, so the news flash is everybody’s brain is really busy and that’s evolution. Our brain is always searching for clues and dangers or opportunities for food and that’s just part of evolution so it’s not our fault that our brain can really slow down and that’s the perfect place to start meditating. And meditation and mindfulness are slightly different, there’s many different types of meditation. So, for ADHD folks, I would probably suggest start with more body-based meditation. Yoga can be a good introduction to it or even dance, mindful dance movements. I love a technique called shaking and dancing, it’s just you shake for three minutes and you pause and you dance.

(15:47):

So, having more body movement may help people with a ADHD brain, there’s more stimulants, there’s more things going on, there’s more things to do, quote, unquote, but it still helps you to calm down your nerve system and then maybe sitting down or lying down or standing, whatever position that’s available for people, then maybe those traditional type of meditation will be more available.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:12):

Where are you thriving in life right now? When you look at everything that’s going on, what are you really proud of?

Ying Deng (16:19):

I think being able to explore my different strengths. That’s really only available to me after I have a green card, that’s the whole story of, when you’re on a visa, you really have to have one full-time job and you can’t be job hopping as easily and you cannot do side projects. So, being able to explore my strengths, different strengths is really helpful and being more intentional about cultivating connections because now I’m more aware that, oh, I was not replying to text because replying to text requires executive functions. And now, I am mindful and budgeting for those energies of, okay, I should probably reach out to some of my friends and we just call each other.

(17:02):

Yeah, and owning my story, telling my story and hopefully helping other, especially AAPI folks, to realize what ADHD could look like in them. Yeah, those are some things that I’m doing pretty well and simplifying life, demystifying what it means to be an adult.

Lindsay Guentzel (17:21):

You mentioned, culturally, some of the differences that can show up for ADHD. What have you seen as some of the most prominent ones for you when you look at this idea of this white male, this dominant idea in our heads of what ADHD is supposed to be and then your experiences with, not only your own story, but the other ones you’ve heard from other AAPI community members?

Ying Deng (17:47):

One of the big things is the emphasis of getting good grades, follow rules, those were ingrained in me and in probably a lot of AAPI folks from a young age. And if you’re observing ADHD from outside, you may not find the signs because we have the internal struggles and we have the internal restlessness but we may not ever do anything to be observed externally. That’s one huge thing and the second one for me is I thought I could be organized and attention to details and I didn’t think I have problems with that because I had to manage my paperwork and that’s just a huge executive functioning sucker.

(18:31):

My green card package weighed four pounds, four pounds and hundreds of pages of documents you need to organize and copy and print and sign and so I thought I could do it. And so, I thought I was just not trying hard enough in other areas of my life but, in reality, that’s a level of masking. I had a level of anxiety to handle my paperwork because I cannot afford to be late. If you are late with certain documents, you can be automatically rejected so the cost is just way too high so I was masking with a lot of effort, a lot of anxiety. So, it’s not I’m not trying hard enough in my other areas of life but the other areas of life is more my natural baseline, yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (19:19):

I’m so glad you brought that up, it was going to be my next question, honestly. I right now am dealing with some non-ADHD health stuff and it feels like a full-time job and we aren’t set up to do all of that and it’s exhausting. And you said other areas of your life we’re suffering because you had to put so much energy into this thing that was so important to you and it’s like, “Where’s the help?”.

Ying Deng (19:47):

Absolutely, yeah, that’s the question. Even last year, we were trying to buy a house, the house purchasing process, I was like, “What is any of this? Why there’s no class, why there’s no YouTube videos? Sign me up with, I don’t know, a course or something.”

Lindsay Guentzel (20:04):

I also felt that when we bought our house so you’re not alone.

Ying Deng (20:07):

Yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (20:09):

What’s giving you hope right now? What’s exciting to you? What’s pushing you forward? What are you hopeful about for the future?

Ying Deng (20:18):

A huge part of it, definitely, is related to more AAPI folks recognizing they have ADHD and telling their stories. And even in mainland China, just this year, 2023, there’s finally some podcasts and talk about adult ADHD and I’m just like, “Yes, it’s happening, it’s happening.” And just being glad that that’s part of the story that’s unfolding and, hopefully, I can contribute to part of the AAPI ADHD story unfolding. And I’m working on helping and developing workshops that will, hopefully, introduce meditation and mindfulness to more ADHD folks who are just folks in general who find meditation difficult because I have my own tips that I figure out as I practice meditation and actively learning and searching for other teachers and other YouTube channels. People have talked about the overlap between meditation and ADHD and that’s been just super interesting to me.

(21:15):

Yeah, just overall reduced suffering and cultivating joy, that’s what I’m here for and connection. I’m really glad that I followed Dr. Holloway’s advice, “Do not suffer alone. Find your community.” That’s part of the reason why I joined the Twitter ADHD community and it has been amazing.

Lindsay Guentzel (21:35):

Were you fearful or concerned at all when you made the decision to start sharing your story?

Ying Deng (21:42):

I think I was to some extent and that’s why I haven’t really shared my story very publicly in Mandarin. I’ve really done most of my stuff in English. There’s a forum in Mandarin for Chinese women overseas, I’ve shared my story there but that’s a safer environment for me to first share my ADHD diagnosis. And that has helped some other Chinese women to figure out they have ADHD which is super cool. There was a level of fear of it, should I share this, would this ever impact my career in the future and, also, the Asian community, especially people from mainland China, may not understand ADHD or they may think I’m over exaggerating. And especially given, if you observe the outside look, it may look like I’m not struggling but I am struggling. Yeah, so there’s definitely a level of fear or level of concerns that presented.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:41):

I think people who have never had to mask can’t even comprehend how good some of us can be at it.

Ying Deng (22:47):

Yes, absolutely, and that’s the double-edged sword. For me I realized, for example, emotional regulation, I have less emotional dysregulation now precisely because I have very strong emotions since I was a child. So, I’ve actively cultivated tools to manage it since college but then it may look like I don’t have emotional dysregulation.

Lindsay Guentzel (23:12):

I’m curious, when we’re talking about Chinese culture and specifically with women, what do you see is holding them back from finding out about ADHD?

Ying Deng (23:24):

So, one big thing is the mental health resources are not really there and ADHD is still largely considered as a developmental disorder so probably still primarily focusing on children rather than adults. And with women, yeah, just a lot of masking and a lot of, we were quiet, we followed rules when we were children and that’s just what’s expected of us so that makes it harder for us to realize what really is going on internally. And also, it’s similar here in the US too that, after you get a diagnosis, it’s not like you get a free pass where you get any support, there’s not much after the diagnosis and you have to be the one cultivating the toolbox and connections and resources to help yourself.

Lindsay Guentzel (24:13):

I love that you said that. I make the joke I got diagnosed and I didn’t even get sent home with a pamphlet. No one called to check up on me, it was just like, “Here is this massive thing that’s going to completely upend your life.” And most of the time, it’s a good thing, I’m so glad I know but there was no follow-up call like, “Hey, how are you?”

Ying Deng (24:31):

There’s no stickers, there are no stickers. Yup, yup.

Lindsay Guentzel (24:35):

Yes. And you’re right, you just have to do a lot of the work on your own. And I like what you said about not wanting to do it alone and so I’m curious what you have found in these communities. What are you seeing when you are interacting with other people who have ADHD? What has that been like for you? What kind of addition is that into your life?

Ying Deng (24:56):

So, one thing is I realize we all have very different experiences. So, my experience as an Asian first generation immigrant woman is my experience. Although I have all those labels, I cannot represent all those labels together. And second is, it’s just so interesting, I finally find that I’m not the only one struggling with chores, I’m not the only one who cannot stick with a hobby. It’s the feeling of I’m not the only one struggling is huge and demystifying what being an adult is and just seeing real ADHD adult out there doing their work, having a family, that’s really inspiring too, just having the real life example because, probably, growing up, my example were more neurotypical years. So, now I have a ADHD version of, oh, that’s what ADHD adults look like. Okay, cool, yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (25:53):

I want to go back for a second, you mentioned this dream job at this dream company and it wasn’t working out. How did you manage the feelings that came up as you were in this position where you thought you wanted to be and it wasn’t what you had hoped it would be?

Ying Deng (26:09):

Yeah. So, at that job, it was pretty up and down as well as probably any ADHD folks feel. The first three months, I had a lot of imposter syndrome, I was really harsh on myself and thought, “Oh, they’re so awesome. Who am I to work with them?” and a lot of self-doubt. And at the same time, it was exciting because I get to learn new tools and new platforms and the onboarding and learning is always very exciting for me. And then, at five, six months of thriving, because we had chaos, we had new projects launching so I get to help with figuring out new solutions and new processes. And then, while things were calming down, that’s when I started to realize, wait a minute, I start to feel bored because I was going back to the daily operational work.

(26:56):

I tried my best to see if there’s opportunities in the organization to transfer into a different line of work or see if there’s ways for me to explore there but it is a startup so it’s very small, so they don’t really have the resources to support me there. And I talked with my partner, I talked with my direct supervisor, we’re still good friends so we’re still in contact, and, overall, we just realized that, okay, I realized that operation, this line of work is not for me in the long run and just come to terms with it and, yeah, I realized it pretty quickly.

Lindsay Guentzel (27:34):

What’s been the hardest part for you going out on your own?

Ying Deng (27:37):

There’s so many things to do. Suddenly you’re building a website and trying to do social media and I’m still really bad at sales so I’m like, “Oh, should I pick up books on sales and finally learning something about it?” I’m not sure, I’m not there yet. And just a lot of skills I need to cultivate suddenly. But it’s very exciting too because my brain loves learning as long as I can manage not to get overwhelmed. Just the excitement and overwhelm, sometimes there’s a thin line between them.

Lindsay Guentzel (28:11):

You mentioned one of the things that you’re excited about is cultivating joy and getting to do that and I’m wondering what that might look like in your life.

Ying Deng (28:19):

Yeah, that’s one thing, actually, there’s a lot of reframing for me too. I used to think, “Oh, I’m going to do big trips or my weekends have to be big and fun,” and now I did it. I did an international trip just in May and I realized I was exhausted after five days and I realized, oh, that may be how long my ADHD brain can keep things around without losing them, without feeling exhausted. So, now I have a new understanding of, wait a minute, when I was traveling in the past, I probably was masking a lot to try to keep my passport, not losing them and keep everything, not losing them.

(29:01):

So, yeah, I have a new understanding of what joy looks like. It could be small things of baking bread and talking to friends, talking to friends while I fold laundry because I cannot fold laundry on my own. Small things. Yes, small daily things and have appreciation of them and being fully there and savoring those moments. I used to think joy has to be these big things, Instagrammable moments and, now, I realize for me my ADHD brain actually likes smaller things better because it requires less executive functioning and so there’s less cost to them.

Lindsay Guentzel (29:39):

The thing you’ve said about traveling, I travel love to travel as well but I have found that it’s hard enough for me to keep the stuff I own in its proper place at home and then, when you’re traveling or you’re moving hotel to hotel, it just becomes a disaster zone.

Ying Deng (29:56):

Yup, yup, yup. I mask to a maximum level. I have everything laid out on one desk versus my partner, his stuff is everywhere but he’s not worried about it. I would be so worried I will forget something if my stuff is everywhere. So, all my stuff would be on that or on desk, they just stay there. When I pack up, I know everything is in that little area, yup.

Lindsay Guentzel (30:20):

I want to go back because you mentioned putting these labels on activities. So, this is a low energy activity I can do and you saw some of this stuff started on TikTok. You say you have struggles with organization yet adding labels to that, to me, is an incredible organizational skill. So, I’m wondering, when you got started with that, did you have overwhelm about how you were going to do it or did you just start and go from there? Because I think, for a lot of people with ADHD, we want to have a perfect plan in place and that’s never going to happen and so then we just don’t do anything.

Ying Deng (30:57):

For me, a big part of the energy ups and downs and energy routines is I start observing what I do. Probably the mindfulness training is coming in, I start to observe what I do and I realize I naturally cook different types of meals, let’s use cooking as an example. And there are days I’m more up for cooking everything from scratch and there are days I’m cooking probably 50/50, some things I bought from the store, some things I’m cooking and there are days I’m just cooking frozen dumplings. So, it started by just noticing what I naturally do and start to realize, oh, they naturally fall into different energy categories and then formalize it and just write down some plans.

(31:39):

So, for example, now I have a Notion doc of cooking ideas like sheet pan dinner, instant pot dinner, just easy stuff so I can help and remember like, “Oh, I don’t need to cook everything from scratch and, sheet pan dinners, you just have two sheet pants and you have your food, that’s good.”

Lindsay Guentzel (31:58):

What I always like to say is I love to meal prep and I always get told from people, “Oh, I hate to cook.” Well, cooking frozen dumplings is cooking. Everyone has a different level of cooking.

Ying Deng (32:09):

Yes, yes, absolutely. And that’s why I’ll even say to my clients that just have snacks ready, healthy snacks. You’ll never know when you’re going to be hungry and then grabbing on them is also meals.

Lindsay Guentzel (32:22):

The last thing I want to ask you, and it’s something that has come up through this entire conversation, but I’m curious what’s something you wish people knew or understood better about ADHD.

Ying Deng (32:34):

Yeah. One big thing is it impacts so much more than attention. I thought I couldn’t have ADHD because I wasn’t hyperactive and I read for hours since I was a child so I was like, “I wouldn’t have attention deficit. How could that possibly be?” But it impacts so much more that attention and impacts how people start things, how they end things, how they motivate themselves to do things, organization, many, many different areas of one’s life. And the other big thing is related to masking is, a lot of times, outward manifested signs do not equal our internal experience.

(33:10):

So, one small example maybe, I always turned in my homework but I always procrastinated and read before I did my homework and I had to turn into my homework because my parents have to review them before the next day and I go to school and turn my homework so I didn’t have the option of not turning my homework. So, if you look back to my development history, you may not see that as a sign but the internal experience is very similar that I procrastinated and that, yeah, eventually I did my homework but, if I had the option, I probably wouldn’t.

Lindsay Guentzel (33:44):

Ying, this was so lovely, so insightful and I am so honored that you shared your story with us for Refocused Together and I’m really excited to see all the amazing stuff that you’re going to be able to do for the AAPI community. Because one of the reasons why I decided to do this project was the fact that everyone’s ADHD story is so different and the only way we learn about the other ways that it affects people is to hear stories. So, thank you so much for coming on and being so candid and for sharing your story here and then, of course, all the other places that you put it out online, we’re really appreciative of it.

Ying Deng (34:24):

Yeah, thank you so much for having me, Lindsay.

Lindsay Guentzel (34:28):

I am so grateful to Ying for sharing her story with us here on Refocused Together. What I loved about our conversation was that I not only connected with so much of what she said. When she brought up the myth of being an adult and that, for a lot of us, there was this idea of a perfect adulthood that’s been sold to us throughout life and many of us have clung to that ideal only to be crushed when we couldn’t meet the impossible standards being set for us.

(35:02):

I also learned so much about the differences between Chinese and American culture and how certain cultural norms continue to hold Chinese women back from, not only receiving the support they need, but even learning about ADHD and the potential impacts it can have on their lives. While only 2% of Asian-American children are diagnosed with ADHD, research from Asian countries shows a rate of around 6%. Psychology professor Patrick Goh at the University of Hawaii at Manoa researches this and believes that part of the problem is how Asian-Americans are perceived and treated in the US. He explains that they’re often seen as perpetual foreigners and ignored which can affect their access to healthcare and proper diagnosis.

(35:51):

All of this means that many children may not be getting the proper diagnosis and treatment they need. It’s important that we investigate why ADHD affects Asian-Americans differently and work to address the low diagnostic rates. Another thing that caught my attention from my conversation with Ying was her ingenuity and creativity in addressing her own ADHD struggles. Having lists of activities based on energy levels and mental capacity is something I’ve never thought of before but I can see how just having a long list in front of you could help those of us who struggle with distraction or analysis paralysis.

(36:32):

Over in the show notes, we’ve included links to some of the resources Ying mentioned during our conversation including Monica Lim’s interview on ADHD Nerds, the video Ying recently shared on YouTube regarding her ADHD diagnosis and a handful of resources on the connection between ADHD and eating disorders. To learn more about Ying and to check out the great resources she’s creating for the ADHD community, you can find her through social @adhdasiangirl or through her website adhdasiangirl.com.

(37:03):

And to connect with us on social media, you can find us online @refocusedpod as well as @LindsayGuentzel. We have so much in store for you this month, stay tuned for our next episode of Refocused Together 2023 coming up first thing tomorrow. To catch all of the 31 stories this month, make sure to subscribe to Refocused wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also learn more about Refocused [email protected]/refocusedtogether. Thank you all so much for listening and we will see you back here very soon.

(37:58):

Episode one of Refocused Together 2023 is in the books and I am so excited for you all to hear what’s still to come. See, last year for me was a lesson in just getting the project done, some good lessons on time management and the struggle that comes with being a perfectionist. We learned so much last year that, despite everything that was thrown at us these last few months, it somehow has all felt easier this time around. If last year was the year of navigating the unknowns, this year was the year of leaning into the people around you. I’m so grateful to the entire team at ADHD Online and Mentavi Health for the ongoing support they provided as my partners in producing both Refocused and Refocused Together.

(38:45):

To feel fully supported on your best day is a gift in this world. To feel fully supported when your world feels like it’s crumbling down around you, that right there is a super special gift most of us wait a long time to find. Huge thanks go out to Keith Brophy, Tim Gutwald, Steve Gullett, Doug Landman, Michelle Ripper Lewis, Charity Hayes, Crystal Lamb, Kyle Dougherty, Chris Callahan, Keith Boswell, Claudia Gotti, Suzanne Spruit, Melanie Mile, Trisha Merchant Dunny, the incredible team at Dexia including Corey Kearney, Mason Nelly, Adam Bird and Chelsea Dooby. We are so grateful for all of your ongoing support for this project.

(39:31):

The incredible artwork you’ll see splashed across our episodes and social media this month was created by the insanely talented Sissy Yee of Berlin Gray. And our music, that’s thanks to the talents of Louis Inglis, a singer, songwriter and composer and fellow ADHDer from Perth, Australia who is diagnosed in 2020 at the age of 39. More kudos go out to Lauren Terry for helping develop our guest research and to Jake Beaver who provided technical guidance for our audio engineering. I also want to thank the teams at Snack Media Group in Minneapolis, Sit-N-Spin Studios in Greenville, North Carolina and Tellwell in Fargo, North Dakota for their help with our remote studio needs.

(40:13):

Now, here’s where I gush about the three incredible human beings I’ve been lucky enough to have in my corner as we started preparing for Refocused Together 2023. The fact that Sarah Platanitis and I found one another is still something I struggle to wrap my head around. Working with her is like working with my other half and, when I say that on my darkest, most frustrating days, I was able to walk away from our work sessions feeling happy and at ease and invested in something outside of my new disease. And if you’ve been there, you know how massive of a gift that is.

(40:48):

Despite the fact that she never walked into the hospital, she was, without a doubt, one of my most active visitors over the last month and, from day one, all the way back last summer when I first pitched this idea, it’s been her guidance that has made Refocused Together what it is. It became very clear to me that having Phil Rotaman step in to help with the guests this year was the absolute right call. The rapport he was able to build with our guests, as a host, to be able to walk into a studio and have that person who is about to share some really personal stuff with you, to have them fully at ease, there isn’t a better way to start an interview and that’s a big reason why you’re hearing the stories you’re hearing this year on Refocused Together.

(41:31):

Like Sarah, Phil has been with me every step of this sometimes downright stupid journey and working with him has helped me become a better leader and, because of that, a better host and producer. I meant it when I said I am so happy he came out of retirement. Al Chaplin is the incredible person in your life where, when everything is falling apart, you reach out to them with the most absurd request. I could really use an elephant in a red raincoat who loves to stand on one foot and they’re like, “I got you.” It has felt like, no matter how far ahead we were able to get, my new life as a person with a chronic illness just kept catching up to us and I can’t tell you how many times I reached out to Al. Nights, weekends, you name it and they always came through.

(42:23):

They have incredible instincts and see things in a way I typically don’t which is why the work they’ve been doing for us on social media has been so crucial. These three people deserve the world’s biggest standing ovation for all of the work they’ve put into Refocused. We would not be here without them and I am so grateful I get to work with them. Sarah, Phil, Al, thank you. You have held me together these last few months and I can’t wait for us to celebrate on the other side.

(42:53):

And finally, to my very patient partner John, the one who built me sound absorbing panels for my studio and helps me rearrange my lights and carried my very heavy microphone in and out of the hospital during, not one, but two hospital stays last month, the one who never gets too mad when I ask him to be quiet because I need to record just this one last thing. I am so lucky to have you by my side. Besides the incredible amount of love you show me every day, one of the things I appreciate the most about you is you do everything you can to help me achieve my dreams. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully communicate how much that means to me. Thank you.

(43:46):

As a part of their ongoing commitment to our community, ADHD Online is offering our listeners $20 off the ADHD online assessment throughout ADHD Awareness Month. To get this offer, all you have to do is use the discount code refocused20 at checkout. Head over to adhdonline.com to get started on your journey today.

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