In June, our guests gave us insight into living lives that many of us might find unfamiliar. We are grateful that Tiffany Yu and Dani Donovan shared their stories so openly with us. Uninvisible aims to provide an online/podcast community of support, and in a way it’s comforting to hear similar stories emerge that make us say: We are not alone.
But with Tiffany and Dani, we spread our wings a little. Take a listen to two women talking about two very different “states of mind”!
Tiffany Yu has the resume of a dynamo. An investment banker at Goldman Sachs, stints at Bloomberg and Sean Diddy Combs’ REVOLT Media & TV. She is a three-time TEDx speaker and five-time speaker at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. Tiffany serves on the San Francisco Mayor’s Disability Council, and was a 2020 Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit. TikTok recently named her one of 15 API Trailblazers.
But Tiffany has carried a heavy burden. At age 9, she was in a car accident that took the life of her father. “For 15 years after that,” she says, “I went around telling everyone I was fine.”
She may have been advised to talk about the accident and the injury that left her with a disabled arm. She may have been coaxed to get in touch with her emotions, to work through her conflicted feelings. Were it not for cultural barriers to her healing …
Finally, in 2009, she created Diversability, an award-winning social enterprise to amplify disabled voices, of which she is now CEO. It began with a realization … “What else was I holding back in this attempt to try and not cause any shame to my family? So starting Diversability gave me the permission to share my story about the car accident. I needed to get that out, I needed to get that story of the car accident out to validate the fact that … wow, I’ve been suppressing emotions for 12 years. I started wondering … what would it look like if I owned disability as part of my identity?”
Through her community work, her podcast Tiffany & Yu, and her educational postings across social media, including the “Anti-Ableism Daily”, Tiffany lives the reason Diversability is so successful. “We try to show you … look at how empowered I feel in my disability narrative. Look at how proud I am. Look at how amazing my life is!”
If you’ve always thought that ADHD is just an annoying condition suffered mostly by children and sometimes continuing into adult life … haven’t we all met someone about whom we’ve thought, “Wow, that person has ADHD for real!”… you owe it to yourself to listen to visual designer Dani Donovan tell the story of her struggles and heartache. Trust us, you will come away with the realization that ADHD is so much more than a problem focusing and sitting still.
Like most ADHD sufferers, Dani’s symptoms manifested very early. But she wasn’t diagnosed as a child — because her teacher said, “She’s too smart to have that.” She didn’t struggle with her schoolwork, but her social skills were never properly developed because of her unrecognized condition.
“I kept moving schools so often that I was starting over, and I wasn’t getting social skill building. But I got to third to fifth grade, and I started to make a little friend group. And this new girl came in and convinced everyone that I was annoying,” Dani recalls sadly. “That really has become a trigger word for me. This thought of ‘being annoying’, and ‘I am annoying’, and people don’t like me, and people don’t want to listen to me, and I’m bothering everybody with my presence, kind of a thing. It just became part of how I thought about myself.”
It led to anxiety and depression, guilt and shame, and an overwhelming sense that she does not have the ability to complete virtually any task. Even folding laundry can be a monumental project.
Dani does not hold back in this interview. She provides a rare insight into the day-to-day of a person with severe ADHD.
You will, however, be pleased to hear that despite her daily struggles, Dani’s relatable comics and her #NeurodiverseSquad hashtag have helped her become a prominent voice in the online mental health community. Her first infographic, ADHD Storytelling, went viral within hours and amassed over 100 million views. Her work has been reposted by celebrities like Mindy Kaling.
We applaud the strength of people like Tiffany Yu and Dani Donovan. It is truly an honor to get to know them.