Academic ADHD Coach Skye Rapson- From Stuck to Sorted
Skye Rapson is an academic and coach with over seven years of experience working in adult education. Skye has studied in various fields, including Psychology, Sociology, and Public Health, and is now a Doctoral Candidate in Population Health. She was diagnosed with ADHD at the start of her doctorate. Since then, Skye has dedicated her time to researching and disseminating ADHD studies, founding Unconventional Organisation in 2020 to provide ADHD adults and managers with strengths-based, neurodiverse-friendly ADHD coaching and workshops. We’re learning about how and why she began, today. Enjoy!
In this episode Peter and Skye discuss:
00:40 – Thank you so much for listening and for subscribing!
01:57 – So you were diagnosed at the beginning of your PhD program?
03:00 – What changed and maybe made more sense after your diagnosis?
03:39 – Ref: Interview with Rachel Cotton, another PhD student w/ ADHD
04:00 – How did your priorities shift?
04:27 – What Skye found of from her peer group at university
06:54 – What kinds of trends did you find when you started conversing with other neurodiverse folks?
07:42 – On changing the way we get things accomplished
08:40 – What would you now tell your 15-year-old self?
09:24 – Guys, as always thanks so much for subscribing! Do you have a cool friend with a great story? We’d love to hear. I’m www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via email at [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse!
09:58 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits
TRANSCRIPT via Descript and then corrected.. somewhat:
[00:00:37] Peter: Hey everyone, Peter. Shankman welcome. The episode of Faster Than Normal today is a PhD. We seem to be doing a lot of doctoral candidates lately. I don’t know why doctoral candidates seem to get diagnosed, but maybe cuz they’re smart enough to know that something’s not, uh, normal, like other people. And they’re like, Hey, let’s figure that out. But either way we get another one here. Her name is Skye Rapson and Skye’s an academic coach with over seven years of experience working at adult education, she has studied in various fields, including psychology, sociology. and public health and is now a doctoral candidate in population health in New Zealand. So we are a long way from home today. She was diagnosed with ADHD at the start of her doctorate. And since then, she’s dedicated time to researching and disseminating ADHD studies, founding unconventional organization in 2020 to provide ADHD, adults and managers with strength based neurodiverse friendly ADHD, coaching and workshop. Skye, welcome.
[00:01:35] Skye: Hi. Yeah. Great to be here.
[00:01:37] Peter: Good to have you here. So ADHD, you know, it, it’s interesting. We had, we have there’s someone else from New Zealand who we’ve had on the podcast. Um, she runs, uh, oh God, what’s the name, but neuro neuro it’s line of t-shirts neuro… Oh, I’m spacing on it now. I have one of them. It’s awesome. Awesome shirt. I’ll remember it, but, and we’ll put it in the liner notes, but yeah. Um, long way from home. So good to have you, you were diagnosed at the beginning of your PhD, uh, beginning of your doctoral research. Yeah.
[00:02:04] Skye: Yeah, no, I was diagnosed. I actually thought I had, um, dyslexia. I went in, um, postmasters. Um, so I’d done my masters and. It was good, but it was tough. And, um, right at the end, I thought I should probably go and see if I, if I might have dyslexia. I know it, you know, it’s something that my family have talked about potentially having. Um, and I came out, um, several weeks later with an ADHD. Uh, you know, you probably have ADHD and a couple of other things as well.
[00:02:30] Peter: So you were surprised you were surprised at that.
[00:02:32] Skye: Yeah, it, it made a lot of sense. I mean, you wrote out, read out all the different things I’d studied, you know, tell me you have ADHD without telling me you have ADHD. I kept getting to the end of a degree and being like, well, you know, this might not be for me. I think I need to switch to a totally different area and learn a totally different subject. Um, and so, um, you know, in hindsight it made a lot of sense and I learned about ADHD, but I hadn’t put the pieces together in, in. Fit my life.
[00:02:58] Peter: Amazing. What, tell me about what it was sort of like sort of the wake up call once you were diagnosed, what sort of started to make sense?
[00:03:05] Skye: Yeah. So in terms of what made sense, I, I really focused on understanding why I was burning out because what I was experiencing was a period, you know, up until that point, I’d done a year generally at a time, you know? And so I would, I would study something really intensely for a year, work on it, stay up all night, you know, do weekends. And then I would burn out and I would need a break. And then I would be like, well, I guess maybe this isn’t the subject for me and I’d come back and I would do something else. And that was very much how my ADHD was, was manifesting.
[00:03:39] Peter: Now I believe that we had a, another PhD on the podcast named Rachel Cotton. She was one of our first interviews and she always talked about how, uh, she thought it was perfectly normal to live on, you know, uh, 14 caffeine tablets away. Yeah. , you know, um, But no I get that. So, so talk about, um, after you got diagnosed and, and things sort of changing, what, how did your priority shift?
[00:04:01] Skye: Yeah, so, so one of the first things I actually did was I, um, I created a community in my university of other people who were postgraduate, um, who were also neuro diverse. I had worked in adult education for a really long time. Um, I’d done a lot of tutoring in universities and I’d sort of told myself when I started the PhD, I’m not gonna do that. Cuz you know, I, I tended to take on too many classes and it was distracting from actually doing the writing. Um, and then when I found out I had ADHD, I was like, oh, but like, you know, one group won’t hurt. And so I started I started a group and um, and started connecting with people and learning as much as possible, not just from the research, which. You know, later on writing about, but the very first thing I started to do was to talk to other people. Who’d had those same experiences.
[00:04:48] Peter: And what did you find out?
[00:04:49] Skye: I found out that people were kind of frustrated with the university system, um, in terms of, you know, how it fit and how it worked with how they worked. And I think that was really, um, really helpful for me because it meant I didn’t spend too long sitting in that space of feeling like it was just me, which so many people with ADHD, I know had that feeling because I immediately was launched into the space of, oh, we’re all experiencing these struggles.
[00:05:15] Peter: And it was sort of one of those lessons. I remember sort of the same thing when I finally got diagnosed, everything started to make sense. Part of me was pissed off because, you know, I, I, I I’d spent so much energy. Mm-hmm over the course of my life fighting things that, that, you know, swimming upstream when I didn’t really have mm-hmm I’d just gone with the flow. It would’ve been that much easier.
[00:05:31] Skye: Yeah. Yeah, no, it’s definitely, it’s definitely, um, a tough thing. And, you know, there was a little bit. Sadness as well. I think to look back on my more was at that point, my twenties, um, and realize that, yeah, it had just been a different, if I’d known a slightly different way of working, it wasn’t that it had to be hugely different, but just some adjustments, it could have been so much easier.
[00:05:55] Peter: So let’s talk about, uh, unconventional organization. Tell me about it.
[00:05:58] Skye: Yeah. So, um, I started on unconventional organization in 2020, um, after I’d, you know, worked with the universities, I started working with schools and then when, uh, COVID hit and we all had to go back to our homes. I was looking for an opportunity to keep doing what I really loved to do, which is connect with people and work with people. Um, and I found ADHD coaching. And so I started doing that alongside at that point, um, writing articles. Cause I really wanted to learn more if I was gonna do this kind of space properly, I wanted to learn about the research. And so I, um, started writing articles and challenging myself to put them up every week as a way of, of, you know, keeping myself accountable for that. And, um, those two things sort of ballooned into, into what we have now with, um, you know, people who are training to become coaches with us, um, who also have ADHD. And then also having that, um, that research space as well.
[00:06:51] Peter: And what did you, so tell me what, one of the interesting things I always, I always ask, what did you find when you started conversing with other people and being like, Hey, we share the same brain. Right? What kind of trends did you, did you find?
[00:07:02] Skye: I found that people were working a lot harder than people realize people with ADHD. I, I found that a lot of the people that I spoke to would come to me and they’d say, I’m not getting enough done. I need to, you know, and even the people that, you know, the coaches would often come to us as well. And, you know, say I haven’t been, I haven’t been achieving at the level that I want to, and then I’d ask them what they’re doing, because that’s part of coaching. We get very specific about what your day looks like and people were spending a lot of time trying to work. And, and in that way they were expending a lot of energy. It just wasn’t necessarily, um, giving them the outcome that they were looking for.
[00:07:40] Peter: Right. And one of the things you learn is that, is that it’s sort of a self limiting, uh, prophecy, because you wind up expending all this energy. You’re not getting the results. So you try harder and it’s still the same thing. Right. So you, so you, you’re going down this rabbit hole and you can’t win.
[00:07:53] Skye: Yeah, no, exactly. And then, and then the worst part, you know, at least for us was that people would say, oh, well then I don’t deserve to have a break. I don’t deserve to have fun. And so we’d end up in this sort of self-fulfilling cycle of just, you know, not getting the dopamine, working hard, feeling like you don’t deserve to get a break. So you definitely don’t get the Domine and you’re continuing to keep trying.
[00:08:13] Peter: Right. And so I guess one of the best lessons there is change the way you try.
[00:08:18] Skye: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And, and it’s about, you know, we think about it in terms of experimentation. We often say, you know, if something doesn’t work or it doesn’t work for you, we just keep, we just keep adapting it. We just, we just check it out and go. That’s interesting, that doesn’t work. And then, you know, in, in the case of working with the coach, you come back and you say, Hey, that doesn’t work for me. And they go, that’s fine. Like we can adjust it.
[00:08:41] Peter: Right. What would you have told your 15 year old self, if you knew, if you knew that and what you know now?
[00:08:46] Skye: That’s a really good question. I think I would tell my 15 year old self. It’s not about finding the perfect career. It’s about finding the perfect environment.
[00:08:56] Peter: Oh good. Oh, I like that a lot. That’s a great quote, great quote. Oh, I like, yeah. I really, really love that. Yeah. Um, Skye, how can people find more about you? How can they get,
[00:09:05] Skye: yeah, you can find us, um, at, [Web: https://www.unconventionalorganisation.com Socials: @unconventionalorganisation on INSTA and Facebook ] um, unconventionalorganization.com, uh, with a Z or with an S depending on which country you’re from. Um, we also have, um, a lot of articles about different strategies you can use on the website as well as. And then ADHD coaching as well.
[00:09:22] Peter: Awesome. Well, I love this sky. Thank you so much for taking the time. I appreciate it all the way from New Zealand. What time is it over there?
[00:09:27] Skye: Um, it is 5:40 AM .
[00:09:30] Peter: Okay. So either time to get up, or time to go to bed; I’m gonna assume time to get up.
[00:09:32] Skye: Time to get up!
[00:09:34] Peter: Skye, thanks for taking the time guys. Thanks for listening. You know, the drill, uh, fasternormal.com. Leave a, uh, review anywhere you like iTune, stitcher or Google play, whatever I’m at Peter Shankman, we’re faster, normal on Twitter, faster than normal on Instagram, everywhere. And we’ll be back next week with another interview of someone just as awesome because of that is what we do.
We will see you soon. Thanks for listening
Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at shankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week!