[catching up] self-care sunday: community.

I started this on Sunday. You know, ADHD. Point is I am finishing it and I still did the plank and meditated. BOOM. (Mostly.)

The thing with ADHD is that unless you have it, it’s hard to totally understand. Or as the folks at ADHD U say, “If you don’t got it, you don’t get it!”. While ADHD is variable and no two of us are alike (like, of course, with just about any diagnosis), community helps.

The ladies—especially our team of administrators—at Smart Girls with ADHD are equally good at providing empathy and laughing at ourselves for the things we do… At volumes that only ADHDers seem to do those sorts of things. Even when I am not posting or responding frequently, if I do something that the other ladies will relate to—usually funny, sometimes frustrating—I will most often pop over to the group and share it! It’s fun to see the comments come in of other girls’ stories from the preceding few days saying “I get ya!”

Community is important to know that you may be different from most people around you because of ADHD or LD, but that you are not alone. I shared a blog post earlier this month, and I always don’t know how to feel when I get a response like this:

Mostly, I am overjoyed that someone knows that we get it. However, there’s still a part of me that still hurts because we are so enthusiastic to find people that get it because of all those who don’t get it. This, though, is why community is so important—and for me, an important part of self-care, one that I can choose to access more when I need it, and less when I don’t. Because when nobody gets it? The ADHD community—whether that’s our Smart Girls (or the Smart Girls admins), the #ADDcheckin tweeps, or just sending off a message to a friend who I know gets it, like Aaron or Jess if I’m needing to be a tad less public about the whole thing.

I’ve said it before about chronic disease, but it really applies to ADHD too. Find your people, your community. The ones that get you. Even if they’re halfway across the country or the continent or the world, my little neurodiverse, ADHD community is so important to me to have—to know that even in my brain’s quirks, other people have the same variation of normal that I do. And just having that safe space to share or rant or whatever is so important, and often reminds me that yes, patience is important and that applies SO MUCH to being patient with myself, too.

reading with my ears: on (audio)books.

Last year, my friend Beth (founder of Smart Girls with ADHD) shared her affinity for audiobooks on her blog.

I disagreed completely. You can’t listen to music while reading an audiobook, and I like blocking out auditory distractions with music (well, okay, you can, but that requires wizardry). I’d tried one audiobook around that time, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, and while the story immersed me, I preferred reading its sequel After Ever After as an eBook (I ended up also buying Dangerous Pie as an eBook to re-read). Plus, I can read with my eyes just fine (I mean, the whole ADHD jumping paragraphs bit and rereading stuff is annoying but hey, whatever, that’s my life.)

Well, here we are a year later. And I get it.

ADHD/LD and Reading: Earphones

Guys, you can play games on your phone while reading audiobooks. You can walk around the mall while reading audiobooks. If your fellow passengers aren’t too chatty, you can read audiobooks on the bus even if you have motion sickness (which I do not, but whatever, I can still look for my stop since the speakers do not always work, ahem Transit). These things are all great for mind-wandering ADHDers who need to keep some part of their body moving beyond flipping pages, and multi-task to a degree to focus… And so we’re more likely to not miss our bus stops maybe, but that happens regardless so I’m not holding my breath on audiobooks helping that too much. 😉 Sometimes I have to rewind, but OverDrive (the player my—and many—libraries uses) has a skip backwards 15 seconds button just for the spacing out times or the people nearby getting too loud times. Oh, and recall that they said in my assessment that I’m more likely to retain information that I get through the auditory bit of my brain than the visual bit.

EDIT: Oh, and you can play Pokemon Go while reading. Heyyyyo.

IT ALL MAKES SENSE.

I set myself a goal to read 40 books this year (last year I think I tried to read 75 books and failed, obviously, reading 30, so 40 seemed like enough of a jump). Except now it’s July so we are more than halfway through 2016 and I’ve read, um, not even half. (If you want to bug me on GoodReads, be my friend!)

Here’s what I’ve read so far:

  • Freak the Mighty (Rodman Philbrick)
  • Smiling Mind – Mindfulness Made Easy
  • A Mother’s Reckoning – Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy (Sue Klebold)
  • The Summer Before [the Baby-Sitters Club] (Ann M. Martin)
  • Shot in the Dark (Janet M. Whyte) [Audio]
  • Every Day (David Levithan) [Audio]
  • After (Amy Efaw) [Audio]

Here’s what I’m in the middle of:

  • Islands and Insulin (Erin Spineto)
  • Millersville (Brendan Detzner)

Some catching up is in order.

Maybe with my ears.

ADHD and me: three years.

Three years ago today I received the results of my assessment. While I waited awhile to have my ADHD diagnosis further confirmed, today—March 20th—is the day that I still see as my ADHDaversary (I mean, look, if I’m making this a cake-worthy celebration I’ll celebrate both days. Duh.)

Photo on 2016-03-20 at 11.02 AM #2

Like anything, I’m not defined by my ADHD, but it helps explain me—and, over the last 3 years, I’ve learned a lot about how ADHD influences who I am, and how its traits are woven into the person I am. My diagnosis helps me understand myself better—and that’s the most important thing of all. Everything I wrote back in August resonates so much here:

I just felt different for much of my life: [ADHD] explains the frustration, the self-doubt, the guilt that was associated with not being all people thought I should be, the huge shift I’ve felt in my world on meds, the issues I had in school, the issues I had/have at times interacting with people, the sensory overload, all the freaking feelings that sometimes justoverwhelm me. ADHD helps explain that. Those things are all a part of me, and so is ADHD.

it’s not a label, it’s a bridge: part two

I’m happy to have answers, to have words to explain my world, an amazing tribe of Smart Girls with ADHD who get it (Smart Girls founder, Beth, is the reason I actually went back and looked for my diagnosis date after her own anniversary a week ago!), friends who have reached out with their own stories, and others who may not totally get it, but they try. I am happy to be the person that I am, with the story that I have—ADHD and all.

In all of its chaos and ups and downs and the curve-balls it has thrown into my life, its still my story—THIS is what ADHD looks like: Me. 

Appropriately random for the day several of my quirks got explained, it’s National Ravioli Day today (and no, I don’t care which nation is celebrating ravioli.) Obviously, I’m going to celebrate my awesomeness with ravioli for supper.

Here’s to more attention deficit adventures ahead… Because ADHDers definitely have more fun—at least once we figure out where we’re going, find our keys, remember what time we’re supposed to leave, and learn to embrace everything about who we are.

12 of 12 – march 2016!

On the 12th of each month, I take 12 pictures throughout the day and eventually blog them. Here are my pictures for March 12, 2016.

http://i2.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1626/25670973361_3399257e1e.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=112:18 am | kitchen. Nikki got me into Bullet Journaling. Plans for the day: Smart Girls with ADHD webinar, rescheduling respite, and 12 of 12. But first, sleep.

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1694/25135605804_58e02f131a.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

9:56 am | bathroom. I have lots of moisturizer. (I should use it more.)

http://i0.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1453/25645090162_f4e64403be.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

10:22 am | kitchen. I got my mom to make me cheesecake-nutella french-toast-sandwiches. Fancy. (Apparently the thing I was referring to that Steve and I got in Ottawa was not that difficult to make at home. What are the odds?)

http://i0.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1661/25645100802_0b61cc76a5.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1

10:58 am | Costco. Temptation to change thermostat = so high.

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1612/25739999936_5a87e3037d.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

12:11 pm | Costco. I think the only items I threw in the cart were lattice (waffle) fries and smoked cheese ravioli.

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1612/25135616534_645552581b.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

12:22 pm | 7-Eleven. 7 degree March days = slurpees and hoodies. I always want to try the fun Slurpee flavours like Gummie Bear, but if I do I’m sad I didn’t just get Coke. Even though I only really like Coke in Slurpee form.

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1688/25766044005_b3406c0d88.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

1:38 pm | Kitchen. Discussing rulers and bullet journals with Nikki and Beth before the Smart Girls with ADHD Bullet Journal webinar!

http://i0.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1600/25739973706_4336739e3e.jpg?resize=500%2C281&ssl=12:31 pm | Kitchen. And Nikki is rolling on the first ever SGwADHD webinar. The TO-DONE list! And, choice quote, “Inspiration happens.” WORD, Emma.

http://i2.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1706/25465346860_1ab981cb45.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

3:03 pm | kitchen. Post webinar discussing tape with the SGwADHD admins. Except this is duct tape not washi tape.

http://i2.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1565/25645082992_e8c9ea4594.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

9:12 pm – Kitchen. Why does the Canada Revenue Agency always time out on me and simultaneously interrupt everything I am doing?

http://i2.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1653/25139450083_7dc0febd09.jpg?resize=500%2C340&ssl=1

9:13 pm – Kitchen. Taxes = done. It’s only March 12. Whaaaaat.
PS. I <3 SimpleTax

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1697/25645105162_7ca874bdd3.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

9:33 pm – Kitchen. Snack time. Is it normal for other families to find it perfectly acceptable to break off half/mix-and-match the giant Costco cookies? Either way, mine does. Plus cheese string and Fruitopia.

See you on April 12th! [Kidding, I’ll post before then. I hope.]

smart girls with adhd (and a story)

Within the last few days, I’ve become connected with Beth of Smart Girls with ADHD.

And let me say… I LOVE THIS.

People with ADHD are usually creative, idea generators, outside-the-box thinkers, and… yes, SMART!

The hard part is, often, we don’t feel like we’re smart. I sometimes feel like all of the awesome associated with having ADHD has been overshadowed by the struggles I experience because of ADHD. I’ve said it many times: I am relieved I can explain some of my quirks through disclosing my ADHD… but, in no way do I wish to become defined by it—nor do I want to use it as an excuse. ADHD is a part of me—I’m okay with talking about it, self advocating: I say it frequently on #LDchat: put it in terms people understand, in context. Situation + adaptation.

“I have ADHD[/learning issues], and [in x situation], I may need [y adaptation].”

I have ADHD and learning issues, and when learning a new skill, I may need the steps written down.

I have ADHD, and in a long lecture, I may need to quietly slip out to go do a few flights of stairs.

I have ADHD, and it helps me to study with earphones in so I can block out the external noise and focus on only one source of sound—yes, seriously.

I have learning issues, so if you can provide visual information to me in words, this works a lot better for me.

I have ADHD, and I sometimes get overwhelmed in large group conversations. I may need to ask for clarification. I have processing speed issues, so sometimes I need to jump back a few bullet points to catch up.

I have learning issues affecting my visual memory—this makes me terrible at names, so please remind me of yours and I’ll keep trying!

I will keep trying.

Another real life story:
A few weeks ago, I went into work, and was told we didn’t have a paper schedule for the tennis matches for the day. I usually use my paper schedule to write down court numbers and check in players so all the information is right in front of me, but I figured it was a good learning opportunity to try to be efficient using the computer. I did okay but struggled a bit. The next day, I opted to print my own schedule of the matches (to alter!) to help keep me organized—except, I failed to cross-check with the computer, and told a doubles team to come at the wrong time as based on my paper schedule. Let’s say their opponents weren’t impressed, but thankfully didn’t ream me out!

That’s when it’s hard: when I try my hardest to be smart. To work with it. To work with what I know is a challenge for me, and then I still mess up.

Yet, being diagnosed with ADHD was what taught me I am not stupid. As a girl with ADHD, I don’t present the same way as boys do: I’m not necessarily hyper—or not hyper in the same ways; I’m not loud when I’m not supposed to be; I can often sit for long periods of time—sometimes I can be lucky enough to hyperfocus when it’s opportune. But just because it doesn’t look like what people perceive ADHD as, doesn’t mean I don’t have it. Just because people see me as smart, just because I seem to be doing well, just because, because, BECAUSE… doesn’t mean anything. I compensate to make things work—sometimes I don’t even think about it—but I put more effort into a LOT of things than people would ever guess to make it look like I’ve got it together.

It took my ADHD diagnosis to realize I’m not stupid.

To phrase that again:

Being diagnosed with ADHD taught me I am smart.

And I will keep trying.

 

Thanks to Beth for making me an admin of the Smart Girls with ADHD Facebook group. If you’re a woman with ADHD, I hope you’ll join us!