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Diane Laidlaw

Designer, Podcaster

Diane Laidlaw - Her/ She/ They 

Designer, Podcaster


How has being Neurodivergent shaped your career?
I got into my career before I realised that I was neurodivergent. However, when I look back, it was evident where my ADHD had hindered and helped me get to where I am.

Having ADHD means that I can't stick to one thing and find it hard to stick to rules people set out for me. So in 2011, I became self-employed, and I absolutely love it.

Design Creative is my primary job where I work as a freelance Web-Designer / Developer. Wilder Black is another passion project where I design and sell journals and planners for people who are neurodivergent. I also have a podcast called The Black Spectrum, where I speak to Black and Brown communities in the UK anonymously about mental health and neurodiversity.

Getting in that hyperfocus state has helped me in all of my career endeavours as I tend to just be obsessed about the thing until the wheels fall off. But, of course, the downside of that is the burnout after doing a week's worth of work in one day. Which can be hard to explain to people.

Which industry do you work in and what do you love and/or loathe about it?

I accidentally got into Web Design after I had my son nearly 12 years ago. I didn't want to go back to the corporate world and really just wanted to work for myself.
I had an idea for an online baby store to sell retro kids' items. I obsessed with this idea for about 6 weeks and built the website myself by learning on YouTube. A few months after I launched the shop, people asked me to develop their website as they were impressed with what I did. So I closed my online shop and started making websites for them. It took me 6 years to admit that I was good and call myself a web designer as I suffered from terrible imposter syndrome. Since then, I've been nominated for a design award, created websites for many businesses and celebrities. I even started making tutorials on YouTube about web design that currently have over half a million views.

I got into podcasting in 2020 when I was in a Facebook Group chatting with other mums about Autism and ADHD. I soon realised that people just didn't engage with others within the community when it came to mental health. I also, at the time, was attending an ADHD Parenting class where I was the only person of colour there, which really bothered me.

I created The Black Spectrum podcast as a safe space for Black and Brown people to speak anonymously about mental health and neurodiversity. The podcast features stories about people's personal lives before, during and after their diagnoses. The aim is to show accurate representation that is not scary or shameful.

Wilder Black is a new venture which I started in December 2021. I always wanted to create my own planner as having ADHD meant that if I didn't have a to-do list, I would just walk around the house like one of those characters from the game The Sims. All of the planners I bought over the years were boring, and I never stuck to it. I wanted to create a planner that was nice to look at but focused on my daily goals and habits as well as track my medication and moods. I released my first set of planners called "Get it Girl", which features beautiful illustrations of black women and lasts between 30 and 60 days.


What advice would you give to another neurodivergent woman in work or life?

Work: I would tell anyone who has ADHD or who is Autistic to try being self-employed. The working sector is not really made for us, neither is the educational one so we have to carve out our own niche. I often find that people who are neurodivergent really excel once they find the things they like doing. One tip for finding the "thing" is to look at your childhood and maybe try and remember what it was that really stirred you. Alternatively, look at your current hobbies and interests and write a list of them down. Then for a few weeks, focus on one of those things and see how you feel about it.

Life: For those women that are new to their diagnoses, I would like to tell you Congratulations. I got diagnosed when I was 38. I am now 41, and it's been a whirlwind getting to know myself again. I lived in shame for 38 years, not feeling like I was adulting correctly. Like everyone had it all together even when I was successfully running my business.
Try to read up about ADHD as much as you can to learn what your brain is doing. Immerse yourself with groups online and offline. I attend a regular support group for Black women every other Wednesday from an organisation called ADHD Babes. It has been amazing sitting with other people who looked like me.

Another thing I would say is to try and forgive your parents and yourselves. ADHD is so new to some people, and the complexities of how it shows up in our lives differ from person to person. Our job now is to be our own advocates where our parents may not have had the ability to advocate for us. By advocating for ourselves, we are also advocating for others. Although we may mourn for the life we might have had if we found out sooner, we still have today, tomorrow, and the rest of our lives to live the life that we DO have.


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