Carolyn Manning, ADHD

I like the word “absolutely”. It seems affirming, positive and smart. I’m a YES girl, and this fits right into that.

Name: Carolyn Manning
ND Type/s: ADHD
What do you do? Key Account Manager for a travel company
Where do you live: Oakland, California

How did you start your day today? Do you have a morning routine? What do you have for breakfast, do you think diet is important?
I started my morning at 4:30am when my flat mate burst through my door and said she needed a ride to the airport. We couldn’t take my car as earlier this week I had dropped my car keys down the elevator shaft, so we needed to take a friend’s car, which all made it a very hectic start to the day.

I called my closest friend from Australia when I got home, knowing she would still be awake and then I facetimed my friend who works on this website. We discussed this interview, and I explained that I was hesitant to do it because I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD, and was feeling a case of imposter syndrome, but he suggested I take some time out on my own to answer the questions and then decide if I wanted to go ahead, so here I am! During the call he watched me lose my house keys, make instant noodles for breakfast and debate whether I had left the stove on as I drove to work late (despite waking up 3 hours early), my phone then died because I didn’t charge it the night before. This type of chaos is pretty common in my life.

My typical morning includes me pressing snooze over and over, and then rushing out of the house with a granola bar. I bike to the BART and head towards San Francisco, in which I bike another 3 miles along the beautiful bay to work. I do think a good diet is important, but mine could use some work.

How do you stay active? And what do you do to relax?
To stay active I bike, run, walk and from time to time do yoga. I sometimes have trouble relaxing unless I’m really tired. The lockdowns helped me appreciate home time in a way I never have. I enjoy lighting candles, listening to music, playing with my tarot cards, drinking a glass of wine or tea and sitting on my living room floor.

Do you have a favourite word or phrase?
I like the word “absolutely”. It seems affirming, positive and smart. I’m a YES girl, and this fits right into that.

Have you read anything good recently? Is there a book that changed your life?
I have trouble sitting down and reading a book to be honest. As a kid I read nonstop, but now there are so many distractions that I have to really enjoy the book to get through it. The last book I read and enjoyed was “Tales of the City” which is lovely tribute to San Francisco in the 70s. I have a romance with places, and San Francisco was my first true love, so I really connected with this book and all of the wonderful characters that reminded me of people I know.

Which 5 albums would you want to have with you on a desert island?
This question is too hard!
1. Something to bring me joy: Best of Fleetwood Mac
2. Something to scream along with: Jagged Little Pill-Alanis Morsette
3. Something to cry with: Lungs-Florence and the Machine
4. Something to sing along with: A musical of some sort. Maybe Wicked or Rent
5. Something to dance to: I need to think about this one. Is it hip hop? Is it Motown? I’m sorry but I just can’t decide.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?
“You can have it all, just not at the same time”. I think I read it somewhere, but it really stuck with me and it helps me to appreciate the exact place that I am at, even when certain parts of my life aren’t where I want them to be.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you were a grown-up? And what was your first Job?
When I was young I wanted to be a journalist for the entertainment section of the New York Times. My dream was to write about shows on broadway. My very first job was in fast food for about 3 weeks and then I stopped appearing on the schedule. I apparently wasn’t very good at it, but I started working at a coffee shop right after and I loved it. I’ve worked at a few coffee shops in my life and the regulars are such a special part of the job.

What do you do now and how did you get into it?
I work as an account manager in travel. I never saw myself working in travel but it just kind of happened 10 years ago. I worked as a tour guide for years and that was really good for my skill set, but eventually I wanted to make more money and live a more consistent lifestyle. Working in an office job can be really hard for me on the day to day, but my company entertains my big ideas and allows me to be creative within my role.

Creativity and thinking differently are often credited to neurodiversity. Would you say that is true? And if yes, could you give an example?
I honestly don’t know. I know for me personally I’m addicted to new beginnings and I’m an experience junkie. I want to try things a different way nearly every time and I’m obsessed with new ideas. This is a hard question, because despite being praised for creativity and dreaming big, these tendencies have been a hindrance for me as well.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus, what do you do to get back on track? Do you have any hacks, tips or do you use any apps to keep you on track during the day?
It is a daily struggle. To-do lists help. It also helps when I have other people to do things with. My old flat mate and I used to do power-hours with timers and that was good for me. Noise cancelling headphones are crucial as well. I’m not a great sleeper but getting a good night’s sleep is really helpful.

How does your Neurodiversity affect new relationships? This can be professionally, socially or romantically.
If I’m “on” I can work the room. I do well in large groups, and I think that is partly attributed to neurodiversity. It takes a lot for me to get socially exhausted, and the more people there are to talk to, the more energy I have. I really value my friendships and relationships and I am good at maintaining them, despite the idea that people with ADHD get bored of their friends… that is not the case for me. I’m often the “planner” amongst my friend groups. Romantically I can have trouble deciding what I want and committing to the idea of someone… because I want my life to be exciting and fun, but I also want a family and a life partner.

What makes you happy?
Connection: physical, emotional, intellectual.

Do you have a Positive ND message to the world? Imagine you have a £5 million advertising campaign to spend on billboards all over the world, what would you say?
I would have billboards that are distracting in the best sort of way. Beautiful paintings, or an entire billboard of glitter, another of fur. They would be different and eye catching and they would say that it’s okay to get distracted, or something along the lines of “it’s okay to look at shiny things”. I’m in a constant state of distraction, and within that I get to see SO much beauty in the world. Despite the fact that I often struggle and beat myself up about not being able to focus, I want people to know that it’s not always a bad thing. Yes, the excel sheet is hard for me, but you get to see so much when you are looking up.

Final question – where can people find out more about you? Do you have a website and social media pages?

They can add me on IG @carolynlemon