Very busy week for my family, in terms of family tasks, and it’s been difficult given my ADHD brain.
This Week in ADHD News
1. Luckily, I found an article earlier this week about being honest with others about your ADD.
Full disclosure, I’m not telling all my coworkers I have ADHD. Heck no. But this is a great idea for those adult women with ADHD who want to try it outside of our professional lives. We do not need to make it any harder on ourselves by trying to hide our ADHD when we’re dealing with friends or other parents.
While I’m not going to send out an all staff email about my ADD, I’ve gotten to the point where if someone tries to tell me something they need me to do for work, I know I need to stop them from proceeding to explain the assignment until I have a way to capture the information. Write it down, my ADHD sisters! Write it down or it will haunt you for weeks as you struggle to try to remember the details.
Outside of work, it is easier to explain why you don’t remember someone’s name the second after it leaves a person’s lips. In the article I linked to above, a woman with ADHD says she remembers the name while she is talking to talking to a person she’s just met. I don’t. I repeat the name out loud at first introduction and say, “Hi, —name—,” and then promptly can’t remember the name as we start talking.
I used to feel so guilty about this. I felt bad, as if forgetting a name was an indication that the person was boring. I overcompensated in a spectacularly creepy way. I’d start naming every detail from our prior conversation. This was super weird. Now I realize that many busy people can’t remember names and usually they can’t remember my name either. But if they do, I can now apologize and tell them I have adult ADHD and my mind will recall the things we talk about but unfortunately not their names.
This Week in Autism Around the Web
In autism news, it’s been a week of belonging.
2. First, I saw a tweet about #autchat and found out I could participate because I am an “autism cousin” due to my ADHD. I have admittedly been a little hesitant to join this particular Twitter chat. I know how annoying it can be to have parents drown out the voices of those with the condition when the two groups come together.
That said I’m also a parent and have some ability to see things as an outsider. But I don’t want to be “that parent” being condescending about a condition I don’t fully understand.
However, I saw two articles this week from #ActuallyAutistic writers that I so identified with as a person with neuro differences.
It will take a while for my heart to stop aching over this. I don’t know how to explain why I suck at being a friend. I only have hints to work with. I feel like I spend my entire life walking on eggshells. They feel more like landmines. It’s not for lack of effort on my part. It seems like what I intuit is often wrong. From there, I usually end up overcorrecting, which makes it worse. By the time I find the golden zone, most people have decided to cut their losses and move on.
Oh boy did I know what she meant. I feel like I’m constantly trying to adapt my friendship processes so that they are optimized for each person, but yet I seem to keep making unforced errors.
Before I knew I had ADHD, I thought the flaws were my failings as a human. I didn’t know that forgetting really important things is easy to do if you have ADHD and don’t write it down. Even if you think it is something so important that you could not possibly forget.
One of my worst ADHD habits is to think there is anything unforgettable in my life. I’ve had so many frustrating moments where I put something away “in a safe place,” never to be found again. And I’ve forgotten incredibly important things that I needed to do for friends because I got distracted somewhere between reading an email about it and writing it down. Now I understand why.
4. The second article that rocked my world this week was this piece from The Silent Wave about how to learn how you are “supposed” to act. At least in theory.
Just as I had in childhood and all throughout my life thereafter, I postponed getting right out there and throwing myself into rooms with clinic patients during my internship. I took the first month or two, and I sat back and watched.
It is so hard to try to figure out everything by myself. And it’s quite difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it because it seems so obvious.
The piece above is describing the author’s extensive efforts to find a role model for how doctors should act with patients. Yes, that’s a thing. My own job is one where I saw others “act” it out first before I needed to be this version of me. I still have moments where I am trying to figure out what the appropriate response is for some work scenario and I need to start talking before I have it figured out. I’ve learned ways to navigate around it but still sweat it more than I would like.
This year I’ve found out why I’m like this (ADHD) and that I’m not the only one (entire neurodivergent community).
I have a wonderful friend who is one of the few I’ve told about my ADHD and my son being diagnosed with autism. She’s been a great friend over the years. She has often helped me to decipher puzzles in my in my life that others seem to know at birth. Recently, she helped me figure out something that comes naturally to most other women, but was causing me to avoid going to the park with my son. My trouble was how to take my son to the park. Specifically, what to do about a purse.
I’d been to the park once with my son in his first year. Lucky for him, my husband took him nearly every day. When I went, I was lugging around a diaper bag and a shoulder purse and trying to help my son on the swing. It wasn’t working.
I tried to see what the other mothers at the park were doing, and they had all these super expensive cross body designer purses. I didn’t understand why you would have a nice bag that would inevitably get destroyed by a child.
Luckily, my friend helped me. She showed me her purse. It was Chanel. It was black. It looked pristine.
I had a hard time focusing at first because I was thinking, wow, she’s got a Chanel purse?!! for at least five minutes. Luckily that initial part of the conversation was not the key to my problem. It was a very nice purse.
She unzipped the front pocket and showed me the purse had built in credit card slots so she didn’t need to bring a wallet. It was a relatively small purse so she didn’t risk being knocked in the face with it if her daughter started having a tantrum or engaging in other park drama. And she had a dark purse so any spills could be wiped off without worrying about a stain.
She showed me how she organizes her diaper bag. We’re talking where she puts the water, what she brings for snacks, and all the little tricks she’d discovered. She was far more comfortable going out in public with her child. I was nearly petrified.
Once we had this conversation, I started noticing what other friends were doing. I started Googling the answers to questions like how much food should you bring for a one hour trip to the park. I finally got it. And I didn’t even know I had ADHD yet. I just knew that I finally had figured out whatever it was that all these other women had figured out just by looking around.
I could easily write a thousand more words on this subject. Shout out to Laina Eartharcher for a great post that explains what it is like when your brain doesn’t pick up supposedly obvious things like neurotypicals. And shout out to my friend Anna. She’s the best.
This Week in Health Care
5. And then there is health care legislation. I still truly don’t believe there will be any Affordable Care Act stabilization bill passed by this Congress until after the open enrollment period ends in the 35 states that are part of the healthcare.gov federal exchange. December 16.
The Alexander-Murray stabilization bill, has been the talk of Washington, D.C. It was hashed out by the Senate Health Care committee and sponsored by 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans. People are so excited, but many like me don’t believe it has the votes to pass the Senate. Or if it did potentially have the votes, it may not get a vote. Senate Republican leadership controls what comes up on the floor, and they don’t want to schedule a vote unless a majority of the caucus supports it. The Republican Senate sponsors are nearly all moderates, or at least moderates compared to some of their colleagues who would rather children die than to give one cent to Americans in need. This is not a group that wants the Affordable Care Act to survive the year, and they really don’t care who dies for their ideology.
The scuttlebutt of late has been that this stabilization bill will be rolled into the December budget bill. That’s probably right but what will Democrats offer in exchange?
6. And don’t forget that the Children’s Health Insurance Plan, or C.H.I.P., which provides health insurance for some children whose parents can’t otherwise afford it. It was supposed to be financed by September 30, and it is October 22. Crickets on efforts to reauthorize the program. For shame.