Radio personality, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Angie Nash, who works at Majic 95.1 (WAJI), spent much of her freshman year in high school polishing her nails during lectures, skipping class, and rearranging classroom desks in a "U" formation. "It was less confusing to me that way," says Nash. "My teacher did not appreciate it and made me call home." That's when Nash's mom decided to have her tested for ADHD. Nash was diagnosed at 15, but didn't take ADHD medication. After high school, she attended Northwestern College, a small community college in Ohio. After struggling at school for six months, she was placed on academic probation. Nash blames her challenges there on too much freedom and not enough structure.
"I got into radio about 12 years ago, by accident," she says. She'd been hired as a receptionist at a hip-hop radio station, where a friend worked on-air. "The boss saw something in us, and he teamed us up on a show. It's the most 'normal' I've ever felt in a job. My mind goes fast, and in many directions, and that's great in my line of work." It also helped that her friend and co-host understood and accepted her ADHD. Nash moved on to Majic 95.1, where she now co-hosts "Majic in the Morning."
At work, Nash struggles to stay on task and meet deadlines. "What's helpful to me is to do things immediately," she says. "If I complete tasks as soon as they hit my desk, distractions don't have a chance to get in the way."
Writing daily lists helps Nash stay on track, and jotting notes on the back of her hand helps her focus when talking with friends. "I don't interrupt people when they talk anymore, because the notes remind me of what I want to say." Nash has learned to stop comparing herself to someone without ADHD. "They can handle tasks and manage simple, everyday things that, to us, seem insanely overwhelming."
Nash works on simplifying her life. "I live in an apartment, and I don't have credit cards. The fewer things I have on my mind, the better. Since I don't use medication, the key for me is to slow down, regroup, focus, and get lots of sleep."
Software and database developer, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Mandy Prosser, 43, coasted through high school, then attended four colleges, all in South Africa, enrolling in a different program at each one. The only program she completed was secretarial training in Pietermaritzburg. Having failed many courses after high school, Prosser’s self-confidence plummeted. "I couldn't concentrate long enough to do the assigned reading," she says. Twenty-two years later, she's taking correspondence courses to complete her Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of South Africa.
In 2000, at age 30, Prosser was not diagnosed with ADHD. "The doctor wrote down instead that I had major depression, because ADHD was not considered an adult condition here in South Africa and wouldn't get insurance coverage." It wasn't until 2011, at age 40, that she started taking ADHD medication.
"It changed my world," she says. "I am so grateful to be able to get a day's work done."
Prosser dabbled in several careers before finally taking a six-month Web development course in London, England. "On returning to South Africa, I got my first job in Web development for a company in Cape Town. Within a week, I was building databases, which I loved! I did really well."
These days she works in database development. Prosser still struggles to complete tasks she doesn't enjoy, such as documentation and large projects that she can't break into smaller pieces. But she thrives in the software industry's fast-paced environment, where new projects pop up all the time.
Besides medication, counseling, and joining an online support group, Prosser treats her ADHD by practicing Buddhism, yoga, and meditation (sometimes all at once!). She finds yoga a real boon for her ADHD brain. It calms her down.
Although it's hard for many ADHDers to meditate, Prosser insists that they can — and should — learn to do it. "Meditation helps quiet the chattering monkeys," she says. "Emptying the mind of thought for a few minutes can calm one down to the point where things no longer seem insurmountable."