#TakeFiveWith Priscilla Eyles
Could you tell us about yourself and what you do? And one hobby/fun fact?
I am a life model, podcaster and I occasionally write articles and blogs. I’ve also been training to be a therapist and have just completed my foundation year. I’m also a comedic improviser and a singer-songwriter.
I think the reason I like to do improvisation is very much connected to ADHD because I’m always looking for new challenges, I’ve always enjoyed playing new characters and making people laugh and doing accents. Improv allows me to do all of that and the spur of the moment creativity that I think a lot of people with ADHD have really feeds into good improv. I think it also gives you a sense of value and a lot of life skills such as teamwork, listening to and affirming other people’s choices, making them look good and making sure they have their ideas supported.
A good improviser is inclusive because you’re not in it to be the funniest person there, but to have everyone be funny and have a good time, which makes it a very supportive activity.
What is a typical day like for you?
I don’t have a typical day because I do different types of work and have just finished my course. I’m looking for more regular work at the moment and I could be at protests one day, modelling, or performing on stage and doing freelance work the next.
I volunteer fortnightly on Tuesday evenings at a charity called The Listening Place. It’s a suicide prevention charity which was set up because there was a shortfall in people getting their counselling needs met. I work there as a receptionist – I greet people, get the rooms ready and helping the listening volunteers who are the people who give counselling.
The Listening Place is for people who are suicidal and actively contemplating suicide, so the listening volunteer is there to be someone you can talk to about suicide and darkest worries and fears, in an environment that is a place of trust. A lot of people are worried about being sectioned or having what they say passed onto other people in the system, so The Listening Place is just a free, confidential service where people can actively talk about suicide and can talk about it without being judged. I am soon going to be re-training for the Listening Volunteer role and am thinking about possibly doing a psychotherapy diploma next year, but I am still deciding as the training is very full-on, can go on for a number of a years and is expensive.
Could you tell us how you got interested in what you do?
When I was nineteen I came out as bisexual and I think this led me to have a bit of a crisis in my mental health because my mum wasn’t very accepting of it at the time, though we’re much better now. I think ongoingly it led me to having periods of depression.
In February last year I was also diagnosed with ADHD. After travelling, I realised I had it because I accidentally googled it. I lost my passport and was really annoyed that I had done that. So I googled how to stop losing stuff and it emerged that ADHD was a part of losing things. That was how I discovered I had ADHD so I became really interested in finding out as much as I could about it, so I became really involved in the community, especially on Twitter and social media. I met up with some people in a meetup group and started a women’s WhatsApp group.
I am also very interested in ADHD because I tried to access services and getting a diagnosis was really hard, I was on a five-year waiting list which was ridiculous, so I had to go private to get one. During that time, I realised that there is not a lot of understanding about ADHD generally in the medical world or even the therapy world. It made me want to make people more aware of ADHD and that it can affect people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. It can present very differently from person to person.
I want to bring awareness to ADHD, which is why I started my podcast as well. There are not many special UK services and there were no other UK ADHD podcasts I could see, there were only American podcasts. For me it was like: this is the cause I’m passionate about. It’s partly why I wanted to train as a therapist because there’s hardly any therapists that understand how to deal with ADHD well. I am also thinking about starting my own ADHD awareness and training consultancy business and being an ADHD coach.
I also found the most amazing and welcoming people in the ADHD and neurodiversity community because I’ve found that lots of people, I have met are activists and care about social justice issues.
What motivates you to do a good job?
It’s that thing about passion and caring deeply about an issue. For me, it is never good enough to feel like “I’m okay, so that’s fine”, and I have also experienced discrimination and harassment at work myself. For me, it’s that feeling where other people are going through the same thing I’m going through, and other people don’t even know about ADHD even though they could have it.
I think about myself and the young girl growing up and I was just full of self-hatred, low self-esteem and I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. That’s also why I was having really bad mood swings and depressive episodes because on one level I felt like I was very intelligent and articulate and knew lots about random topics like Victorian literature, but on the other hand I was losing stuff, forgetting to do the tasks my mum and dad wanted me to do, couldn’t concentrate and do the things I needed to do, and just generally feeling disorganised, unreliable and letting people down. It was a real big cause of a lot of frustration and anger directed towards myself.
So when I finally found out I had ADHD I realised I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t just strangely intense (though I also really own that intensity now), I have a community now I can go to for support, help and understanding. That’s the most important thing to me – medication can help but just having that community has been so beneficial for me. I want other people to have that, I want other people to know they’re not alone and that there is a community for them, and that they have belonging there. They don’t have to struggle on their own or think they’re awful people. They’re just struggling with something people don’t understand and are not getting help or support for it, and it’s such a lonely place to be.
I also think people literally die from lack of support because they don’t think they belong anywhere and commit suicide because of it. It feels like a life or death thing to me, so getting the word out about ADHD, that you can get help and there’s a community for you is so important to me. Which is why I sometimes get annoyed when people say “Why do you want to be labelled?”, “Why do you want this diagnosis?” or “Why are you telling people about this?” Because I’m trying to say that ADHD is an explanation for who I am. And why wouldn’t you want to understand yourself better so you could also manage yourself better?
How do you learn?
I love listening to podcasts. I’m a massive podcast geek and this is why I started one. It is one of the best ways for me to get information because though people say I shouldn’t, I do it when I’m cycling, walking and doing other activities. It just really helps me to take in information that way because I like to be active.
I read a lot of as well, but I think there is a problem with ADHD in relation to the level of concentration that you have, and I can’t always sit down and read a book for a long time. I get very distracted, so I think it works best when I read in the evening before sleeping.
Reading online also really tires my eyes and it can be hard to take in information on there because there’s always distractions such as hyperlinks. It can be hard to read a full article in a short amount of time so podcasts, reading stuff on my kindle and physical books, and sometimes watching YouTube videos can be helpful. Though I have to be careful not to get into a YouTube hole!
What are your aims for the next year? For example, if you work in accessibility do you have any plans to help make workplaces more inclusive? If you work in Learning and Development how are you going to promote workplace learning?
My aim at the moment is to keep working on my podcast ADHD & UK, we launched the first episode and we’re coming up with different topics, bringing in more guests and making more people aware of it on social media.
I would also like to do more writing and I’m releasing an EP. I’ll also be looking for more flexible jobs and am looking at teaching support work, tutoring and possibly health support work as well as more life modelling. And as mentioned, I will be looking at starting my own ADHD consultancy business making companies and educational institutions more aware of ADHD, and what they can do to make their environments more ADHD friendly and better for everyone in the long run. As well at looking at ADHD coaching as there is a lack of them in the UK compared to the US.
YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ADHD &… PODCAST ON THE FOLLOWING PLATFORMS:
ADHD &…on Podbean: https://adhdanduk.podbean.com/e/adhd-episode-1-introduction/
ADHD &… on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/adhd-podcast/id1474892021
ADHD &… on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/6Tpwka9CyuwIwoTFkeGm51?si=ZMQNe_LNTI6MVEHy_beCyQ
ADHD &… on Twitter: @adhdandUK
ADHD &… on Facebook: @adhdandUK
ADHD &…on Instagram: @adhd_and
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