Julie is a extrovert with a passion for sharing her ADHD story and across multiple media. Her background in digital media and marketing help her to remain relentlessly curious and driven to be an educator and positive voice in her community. We are proud to showcase her new podcast series ‘ADHD Smarties’ that explores the curiosities of the ADHD brain.
Julie Casali, 33
Age of ADHD Diagnosis: 7
What are 3 fun facts about you?
- I am an avid Podcaster
- I’m a self- described ‘Hobby Enthusiast’ 🙂
- I take pride in my relentless curiosity
What was it like growing up with ADHD? How did you feel before you were diagnosed?
I was diagnosed in second grade and my memories of there being any sort of conflict in my life because of ADHD came after the diagnosis. Before then, my Mom just saw me as adventurous and happy-go-lucky. I figured out how to climb on top of our kitchen counters by age 3, and would manage to find some dirt to play in no matter where we went and made friends very easily. I was pretty bold and had no problem walking up to a new kid at the park and asking them to play.
When were you diagnosed with ADHD and how did you come to the realization that you might have it?
School was difficult for me, I was in trouble for not paying attention a lot, as early as kindergarten. In second-grade, my teacher recommended I get tested for ADHD because I would regularly blurt things out in class and struggled to get my work done. I remember going to a few doctors before we got the diagnosis, but we decided not to treat it beyond a short-lived experiment with medication and some therapy.
Eventually, my Mom took me to a Psychiatrist who gave her the advice to just let me be and not push me too hard. I’m so thankful for that doctor because I think that approach saved me and my family a whole lot of pain and disappointment in the long run. Not to say that medicine and therapy don’t work, it just wasn’t the right solution for me. Over time, I developed coping mechanisms and I began doing better in school. I was regularly on the Dean’s list and eventually went on to get a Master’s degree!
How did you feel once you were diagnosed? What was the experience like?
My teachers didn’t really understand me & thought I was a trouble-maker for not finishing assignments and drifting-off in class. The other kids would tease me for my impulsive behavior and for getting in trouble a lot, it led to me being a bit of a loner at an early age.
“As hard as it was, I’m grateful for that experience. It taught me to be my own person, and to really appreciate the people in my life who do get me.”
Despite it all, I grew up to be a well-adjusted person with a great career and wonderful friends. I think my second grade teacher would be shocked to see me now!
Tell us about your journey to find your passion/purpose/career as a marketer/podcaster & occasional documentary filmmaker!
I’m a typical ADHDer in that I struggle to commit to one thing at a time. In college, I bounced around from Psychology to journalism to TV production to film theory. I wrote for my college newspaper and worked for their TV-station, made costumes for the theater department, and had my own radio show for three years.
I eventually settled on film and mass media and returned to my alma mater for a Master’s in Media Studies. I love school a little too much. Even now, I think about going back to get a doctorate degree. If only professional student were a real profession.
“The ADHD Smarties podcast that I produce in partnership with the Kaleidoscope Society is the culmination of everything I’ve enjoyed learning about and doing in my career. I’m taking years of personal experience with ADHD, accumulated knowledge about the science of the disorder, and years of media savvy to produce a series that I hope will help ADHD women better understand how their minds work.”
What are your ADHD superpowers?!
Curiosity! I want to know all the things all the time. I’m forever climbing proverbial counters and digging in the dirt hoping to better understand the world I live in.
Second, I would say sensitivity to others who have “invisible” difficulties. ADHD, anxiety, depression, addiction… these are all disorders that are often internal struggles and it’s so easy for us to be dismissive of things we can’t see or understand. I’ve encountered a lot of naysayers who would have me believe that my inattentiveness is just a lack of discipline, and it’s taught me how NOT to treat people.
Tell us a funny story about you and ADHD
I have spent so much time studying the disorder and symptoms that I have gotten into a bad habit of informally diagnosing people. I’ll occasionally ask someone if they have ADHD or have considered if they might, and it can be a lot like asking a woman when the baby’s due and then finding out she’s not pregnant, YIKES! But for the most part, people are receptive. If they haven’t already been diagnosed, they’re happy to learn potential reason why they can’t ever sit still or focus for more than 12 minutes at a time.
What ADHD symptoms have caused challenges for your daily life and how do you find ways to overcome them?
I was an especially disorganized kid. Almost every morning before school was spent searching the house for a lost shoe or my book bag. My Mom and I worked out a system and I learned to put things in designated spots so I could easily find them. I also learned to make a lot of lists so I wouldn’t forget chores and school projects.
As an adult, I struggle most with being present and controlling my anxiety. I was always a bit skeptical of meditation, but tried it out of desperation when I was going through a really stressful period of my life. My biggest regret is that I didn’t try this sooner!
“Since I started practicing (meditation), I’m so well in-tune with myself that I’m able to stave off negative feelings more effectively. And because I keep my emotions in check, I can problem-solve more quickly, and I just generally enjoy life more!”
What does ADHD feel like? How would you explain the experience?
I wrote about this once in an ADHD Smarties blog.
For me, the act of having a thought then developing that thought into a meaningful conclusion and/or putting it into action are separated by an enormous sinkhole. That sinkhole is filled with a myriad of distractions, including but not limited to: videos of baby sloths getting bathed; the urge to organize things that don’t ever need to be organized, like the contents of my recycling bin; and cheese.
Silliness aside, simple tasks can be really challenging for me if I don’t find them gratifying.
One piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
To be kinder and more patient with myself. I pushed myself really hard to prove that I could overcome my symptoms, and at the expense of my nerves. I developed an anxiety disorder I think in part because I tried to do too much in college, when I really should have taken the advice of that doctor from my childhood who said to lay off and allow myself to grow and learn at my own pace.
“I would also tell myself that it’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to struggle alone. Friends, family, teachers… they’re all there to give support when you need it.”
Do you have favorite resources or books, etc related to ADHD?
One of the first great self-help books I read on ADHD was You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?! by Peggy Ramundo and Kate Kelly. They broke it down into short, digestible paragraphs to make it easier for those of us who struggle with attentive reading.
I also highly recommend podcasts as a learning tool for people with ADHD (and not just because I produce one)! I find it easier to focus on audio stories than reading long articles, and I’m able to multi-task while I listen so I don’t get bored. There are a few that I love that focus on neuroscience and psych, and I believe that learning how the brain works is POWERFUL in helping us understand (and forgive) our behavior. Check out You Are Not So Smart, Invisibilia, and TED Radio Hour to start.
What do you wish the world knew or appreciated about women with ADHD?
Honestly, for me it’s more about what I wish women with ADHD knew about other women with ADHD. The first step to educating others is educating ourselves. I want every woman with the disorder to have an arsenal of knowledge that she can access whenever someone doubts her disorder or when she doubts herself.
Tell us about one accomplishment you’re really proud of
I’m proud to be a big sister mentor going on two years now. My little sister is a lot like I was at her age. She struggles with school sometimes, but she’s super smart and has crazy potential. I’m glad that I can be an example of someone who hasn’t always had an easy time in school, but still has managed to find happiness and purpose in her life.
How did you feel when you found out about Kaleidoscope Society? Why is it important that communities like KS exist?
I was inspired! I started the Smarties podcast because I wanted to contribute to the conversation that we’re just now starting to have about women living with ADHD. For us to really understand how to help each other, we need community spaces where we can share our personal experiences.
What’s your next adventure?
Puppet making. No kidding! And like… legit Muppet-style puppets. I’ve always had an obsession with The Muppets, and I miss sewing.
If there was a book or a movie about your life what would it be called?
We are excited to welcome Julie as our Communications Manager/ Digital Content Producer! Her podcast is collaboration with the Kaleidoscope Society and acts to enhance and be an added resource to the conversation around ADHD. Through this podcast, we hope to bring to life meaningful perspectives to the lives of those who have ADHD, as well as those who want to learn more about how to positively affect change in their relationships and communities. Check out the ADHD Smarties Podcast here!
If you want to contact Julie about topics for the podcast or to be a part of the conversation, you can email her at Julie [at] kaleidoscopesociety.com.