Someone Like Me: Wes Mason navigates his recent ADHD diagnosis and offers tips for coping


After Wes Mason was promoted to Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) Lead during the pandemic, he noticed that many of his typical coping mechanisms started to crumble.

While he suspected he had some form of neurodivergence, he didn’t have a diagnosis. Now he has a confirmed ADHD diagnosis after ticking nine of the 10 boxes on the evaluation. 

Being an SRE lead doesn’t involve managerial tasks, Wes says. But, it does involve meetings and being available to people to give feedback and technical guidance.

“I struggled with the role because people were waiting on me and I was losing focus,” he says.

“My ADHD means I can hyper focus, which can be an engineering superpower, but it also means that my brain struggles to focus when it’s not engaged. It becomes very hard to concentrate and work through a task.”

The world is set up to do things in a certain way, Wes says. 

“I was struggling with things others weren’t struggling with,” he says. At times I was struggling and I would fail to give someone feedback on the same day. When you’re not open about these things, they can only make things up in their minds.”

So while Wes now has an answer to why he feels the way he feels, he says it’s important to talk to the people around you about it. 

“On a personal level — friends, partners, family — your regular support network should still be there for you,” he says. When it comes to a work context, talk to your colleagues.”

So while it can be a difficult conversation to have, Wes says, without that line of communication, people can’t understand where you’re coming from.

“I’ve always tried to be very upfront with coworkers and managers,” Wes says. “In an environment like Elastic, it’s encouraged to come as you are and the company has support structures.”

“I’ve had a few managers and they’ve always been supportive,” he says. “Through 2020 and 2021, I would tell people that I suspected I had ADHD. They would always ask ‘how can we support you?’ Sometimes the answer is you can’t. Sometimes I would have to tell my manager that I haven’t found a way around this, and they’d understand. That made a big difference.”

Wes is still trying to find the best structure that works for him day to day. 

“It often feels like silly things,” he says. “It’s the right email filter or being very strict with myself when I do and don’t look at something.”

“But figuring it out by yourself, it can be a ticket to failure. Sometimes you need others who have gone through similar issues to point out things to do.” 

For Wes, the key is to have a dedicated area to work.

“Especially with how my brain works, I need to let myself get distracted in a controlled area,” he says. “I use fidget cubes and other things I can get my hands on.”

Wes connects with friends with similar struggles, but also with the
Accessibles ERG via their Slack channel. 

“I find it handy to see other perspectives on accessibility,” he says. “Seeing that intersection of others accessibility needs can be really handy to put my own into context. Until last year, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about my accessibility needs, but I started paying more attention to messages from the ERG and other Elasticians’ stories.”

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