How To Start a Blog When You Have ADHD

2/2/22

Step One: Hyperfocus on choosing a template & choosing your domain.

Step Two: Experience Rejection Sensitivity when the launch doesn’t immediately garner a mass following.

Step Three: Start an Accelerated Master’s Program that you totally have bandwidth for.

Step Four: Forget the blog exists.

Step Five: Get married.

Step Six: Achieve a 4.0 GPA in the first term of Grad School.

Step Seven: Start the second term & discover that the new professors missed the memo about the dangers of overloading students with too much homework.

Step Eight: Neglect your child for half a week in an attempt to convince yourself that you can totally manage a workload of 7 chapters of textbook reading + an entire book + two papers + discussion posts — half of which is due by Wednesday.

Step Nine: Have an emotional meltdown tinged with self-loathing over the fact that you have failed to keep of the metaphorical balls in the air.

Step Ten: Withdraw from the program before you get billed for the second term.

Step Eleven: Lament the fact that you just spent several hundreds of dollars on text books that you can’t use.

Step Twelve: Get billed for the second term anyways.

Step Thirteen: Convince yourself you’ll finish the program once your son is in elementary school.

Step Fourteen: Become consumed by managing an array of medical specialist appointments & therapies.

Step Fifteen: Catch up on all of the household duties that fell to shit when you were trying to convince yourself that you could totally handle Grad School right now.

Step Sixteen: Remember you started a blog, consider coming back with a post about how difficult it is to complete bureaucratic tasks such as a legal name change during the pandemic that never ends.

Step Seventeen: Make 4 trips to the DMV, two to the (Closed) local Social Security office, and half-a-dozen calls to various Social Security Branches in fruitless attempts to legally change your name & track down the marriage license that is being held hostage by Vogons.

Step Eighteen: Receive marriage license back in the mail — without any notation of explanation… let alone the replacement social security card you applied for.

Step Nineteen: Thanos your own Discord Server.

Step Twenty: Return to the blog, masking your embarrassment behind a tongue-in-cheek listicle post that pokes fun at the way your neurodivergence makes it challenging to start and complete tasks — despite the fact that your brain is constantly churning out new ideas at a zillion miles per minute.

Elevator Pitch:

Disney+ original series where the family Madrigal work through traumatic events as a team according to the strengths of their roles:

(Black Sheep, Scapegoat, Golden Child, Hero, etc…)

Generational trauma isn’t so simple that it can be solved in a singular musical finale… it requires ongoing work.

Lots of folk could benefit from having constructive strategies for conflict resolution modeled for them by characters they identify with.

Just sayin’ 🤷🏻‍♀️

Bandwidth

A fun thing about being an AFAB who has a Race Car brain with Unicycle brakes, is the part where you overcommit yourself on “good brain days” only to find yourself struggling and wondering why the hell you did this to yourself two weeks later.

Should I have started this blog?

Yes. Writing is good for me.

Can I commit to writing regularly?

No.

I’m learning to be ok with deprioritizing when my bandwidth starts running low. There used to be a ton of shame associated with this. I’d be lying if I said that I’ve completely overcome that shame.

In my Grad School program, we’re discussing the history of education in America. This country built its standards of excellence around a student’s ability to behave like a good little assembly line factory worker. Embarrassingly, we’ve failed to innovate those practices in the face of an automated workforce.

I’m trying to remind myself that the standards I have been conditioned to hold myself to were rooted in patriarchal colonizer capitalist bullshit, and that those standards have become functionally obsolete.

I’m trying to remind myself that organic creativity is a skill that is difficult to automate, and that my zoomy brain is more of an asset than a liability in this changing world.

I will update when I can, but my priorities are as follows:

  • Tiny Human Care / Protection
  • Mental Health
  • Partner Care
  • Grad School
  • Housework
  • Discord Community
  • Side Biz Obligations
  • Blogging

I guess what I’m trying to say is, you should probably subscribe if you want updates.

They’ll be random.

Much like my brain.

New Year Things

The past five years have been a wild ride. ESPECIALLY the past two.

In January of 2017 I had a bit of a mental breakdown. This is to be expected when one has hit their limit of enduring circumstances that brought more chaos than peace. I loathed my line of work, but it was the only industry I could get hired in. I loathed where I lived, but my (then) partner refused collaborate on changing our circumstances. I was miserable in my relationship, but felt trapped, financially.

I was STUCK.

Until I decided to just… not be stuck anymore.

It wasn’t that simple, obviously.

It entailed finding a therapist, admitting that was not happy, and (gasp!) asking for help

The funny thing is, people love helping. Despite this, the idea of actually ASKING for help felt insurmountable. Somewhere along the lines I had internalized the idea that my needs were inconvenient or annoying to others. (I suppose that is bound to happen when you were born into cultural traditions where children were bred to be farm laborers and/or seen but not heard.)

I started over. Again. I left those environments. I let the credit cards go into default. I applied for assistance. I worked part time as a behavior therapist. I started working on my health.

It was one of those “it gets worse before it gets better” situations. I made some terrible interpersonal / situational judgement calls while trying to find my way to some semblance of peace.

Things did get better, though. SO much better. I realized my support needs and limits. I got better at communicating those limits and holding boundaries. I found a companion willing to assist me with those things on my terms.

And then… As if from nowhere…. THE POWERS THAT BE thrust me toward a career path that I…. Love? A cool thing about living in a small town is that the hiring pool is a lot smaller, so it’s a lot easier to stand out as an acceptable candidate. I started working in elementary schools, providing reading interventions to kiddos with different learning support needs. I was actually EXCITED to go to work — a drastic shift from the dread that had been weighing me down for so many years.

On a HOLISTIC level, everything started to improve…. Including my endocrine dysfunction, and consequently, my ovulatory cycles. After more than a decade of believing that PCOS had barred me from achieving motherhood through pregnancy, I found myself knocked up. This was a very welcome pregnancy, as it was something my companion and I had discussed in-depth, and fully intended to work towards.

So, in late 2019, I had a baby.

And then, in early 2020, the whole world shut down.

The initial plan was to go back to work after maternity leave ran out… But the pandemic brought a change in plans, as childcare options disappeared and schools shut down. I found myself stuck in perpetual maternity leave: caring for a tiny human with quirky medical support needs whilst finally finishing my bachelors degree.

It sucked.

I mean, the kiddo was rad…. But I was told there would be a village. (There was no village.) In times like these, I saw other new moms lean on grandparents & aunties for respite. The only grandparents to be spoken of were unfit to care for infants, out of area, or both. As far as “Aunties” go, the only options were individuals being intentionally reckless in rebellion against medical guidance, or those who were so petrified by that guidance that they bunkered down in fear, refusing any degree of human contact. In these times it was difficult to find peers aspiring for balance between those two extremes.

It was HARD, but I survived the damned thing.

I survived the damned thing because my support needs were met.

I was stressed to all heck under impossible circumstances… But this time I had a therapist I could debrief with, a home where division of labor was a collaborative effort, and a partner who was willing/able to take the lead when mama needed a frickin break. As it turns out, that makes a hell of a difference.

I’ve been over here playing whack-a-mole in the midst of an onslaught of increasingly apocalyptic world events. Then I turn around, and two years have passed.

It is 2022.

It sort of BREAKS MY BRAIN to process how many drastic life changes have happened in the past 5 years since I decided to start over again.

The wild thing is, the changes keep coming.

In a couple weeks, I am slated to start my Masters program studies. As of a couple days ago, I have been recommended for admissions to a Master of Arts in Education with a Credential to become a School Counselor.

I can’t quite go back to work yet full time, as my kiddo’s therapy docket makes it a bit difficult to adhere to a traditional work schedule. I substitute as a reading tutor here and there, to keep from slowly slipping into madness…. But that’s about all I can commit to with circumstances as they are.

(I mean, I sure as heck don’t want to start making my student loan payments.)

So, Masters program it is.

Based on the way things are trending, by the time I graduate, my kiddo’s support needs will likely have evolved in a way that will allow me to go back to “real” work whilst assuring that his developmental needs are being met.

It sort of all works out timing wise, considering these past two years have traumatized an entire generation of school kids… One can anticipate that the demand for school counselors and/or psychologists to rise in the coming years.

Moving forward, I intend to trust myself a little more. If I could survive the fustercluck that has been life up until this point, I probably don’t need to waste so much energy second-guessing myself.

Wish me luck, yeah?

~Gracie

Ms. Diagnosed

As long as I can remember, I’ve been fighting with my brain. My feelings always seemed a lot bigger than those of the people around me, and I couldn’t quite understand why. I was told that I was being dramatic — that I was exaggerating for attention. “Drama Queen” was a common phrase I heard, growing up. My emotions & perception of sensations (cold, bright lights, noises, textures, etc…) seemed over-the-top in contrast to my peers.

To be honest? It sucked. I grew up with my caregivers continually reinforcing the notion that I was bad. They genuinely believed that I was exaggerating the extent to which I was impacted by external stimuli & internal turmoil as a means of manipulating people into giving me attention. I internalized the hell out of that notion, in the form of self-loathing manifesting through self-harm.

This was compounded by the fact that I struggled to make and keep friends. I studied my peers through near-scientific observation and mimicked their behavior in attempts to “fit in”. I genuinely believed that this was how everyone learned to make friends. The few friendships I did make were shallow and performative. My classmates would engage with me when it was supervised and required, but the manner in which I was regarded changed once we were sent out to the schoolyard. Through these recess and extracurricular interactions, I became painfully aware that I was “weird”. (Cook, Ogden & Winstone, 2018)

At the time, I attributed my inability to fit in to the fact that I was younger than my peers. I skipped a grade because I was hyperlexic. Which is to say, I was a very early, very fast reader (Ostrolenk, Forgeot d’Arc, Jelenic, Samson, Mottron, 2017)

Looking back on these factors now, it all seems so obvious.

It is more than a little infuriating that the biases of patriarchy & white supremacy in the fields of medicine and academia are SO PERVASIVE that these institutions are only just now in recent years beginning to study how neurodivergence presents in people other than young white children who were assigned male at birth. It is absurd that we made it all the way into the 21st century before the field of science realized that maybe the whole world doesn’t revolve around the perspectives and experiences of white men.

Although I was physically disciplined for behavioral issues in private, I was praised for my advanced decoding abilities in public. My parents were eager to attribute my reading skills to what they perceived to be their own superior parenting, and pushed the school to allow me to bypass kindergarten and route me through the “Gifted And Talented Education” program (Gilger & Hynd, 2008). I spent my elementary school years being a poster child for the “teacher’s pet” archetype. As middle school approached, however, it became increasingly more difficult for me to maintain the “gifted” facade. Math problems became more complicated, and suddenly, there were too many balls in the air for my brain to simultaneously juggle (Iglesias-Sarmiento, Deaño, Alfonso, Conde, 2017.)

The frustration was unbearable. Between the raging hormones of puberty, my desperate desire to be accepted by my peers, the impulsivity that became increasingly more difficult to quell, and an overwhelming need to find some form of escape — I began engaging in risky behaviors such as ditching school, and experimenting sexually.

While I certainly have a valid grudge against institutions that failed to identify the root cause of my issues, the fact of the matter is, I was still incredibly privileged in the way my condition was handled at a systemic level. Statistically speaking, had my skin been a different color, these cognitive deficits & behavioral concerns would have been more likely to land me in the school-to-prison pipeline than the G.A.T.E. program. (Young, Cocallis, 2021) (Moody, 2016)

Understanding and accepting the way my brain works has become an important part of my perpetual healing journey. Given that the process of writing helps me organize my thoughts, it is a safe bet that a fair amount of the content here will involve deconstructing my own internalized ableism & making peace with my mind.

If you’re into that sort of thing, or happen to be on a similar journey, feel free to bookmark and/or subscribe.

It’s going to be a weird trip, of that I can assure you.

REFERENCE

Anna Cook, Jane Ogden & Naomi Winstone (2018) Friendship motivations, challenges and the role of masking for girls with autism in contrasting school settings, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 33:3, 302-315, DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2017.1312797

Jeffrey W. Gilger & George W. Hynd (2008) Neurodevelopmental Variation as a Framework for Thinking About the Twice Exceptional, Roeper Review, 30:4, 214-228, DOI: 10.1080/02783190802363893

Moody, M. From Under-Diagnoses to Over-Representation: Black Children, ADHD, and the School-To-Prison Pipeline. J Afr Am St 20, 152–163 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12111-016-9325-5

Alexia Ostrolenk, Baudouin Forgeot d’Arc, Patricia Jelenic, Fabienne Samson, Laurent Mottron,
Hyperlexia: Systematic review, neurocognitive modelling, and outcome,
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 79, 2017, Pages 134-149, ISSN 0149-7634, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.04.029.
(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014976341630639X)

Valentín Iglesias-Sarmiento, Manuel Deaño, Sonia Alfonso, Ángeles Conde,
Mathematical learning disabilities and attention deficit and/or hyperactivity disorder: A study of the cognitive processes involved in arithmetic problem solving,
Research in Developmental Disabilities, Volume 61, 2017, Pages 44-54, ISSN 0891-4222,
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2016.12.012.

Young, S., Cocallis, K. ADHD and offending. J Neural Transm 128, 1009–1019 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00702-021-02308-0

Call me Gracie

Hi. Yes. Hello there. Welcome to this space. It is very much still under construction. In a random stroke of space-weather induced insomnia / neurodivergent hyper-fixation, I have decided to return to my content creation roots by way of blogging.

Awkward Beginnings

Way back in the year 2004…. Before TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or even MySpace…. before I had completed my Communication Studies degree, (certainly before the development of my prefrontal cortex and the common sense to keep my dirty laundry out of the public sphere…) I used to be a small-time blogger.

I was a young writer, still technically a teenager.

At the time, the goal was to streamline the archives of my compulsive therapeutic journaling habit into something that took up less physical space and/or muscle-power to store & transport.

Somewhere along the lines, it became a positive social outlet compatible with my social ineptitude introversion.

The original blog had a small, but fiercely loyal following of around 30 consistent daily readers. (Granted, some of those readers were hate-follows, but that’s not the point.)

Embarrassing Evolutions

After a few years, that blog fell by the wayside when I was confronted with the consequences of my poor life choices learned about setting, holding, and respecting healthy personal boundaries surrounding privacy. There were several attempts to reboot my blogging “career”, most of which were abandoned due to rejection sensitivity and/or distractibility.

By this time, Facebook and Twitter had turned me into a digital junkie enthralled me with quick hits of sweet, sweet dopamine convenient short form content hosting and shady psychological manipulation tactics groundbreaking marketing strategies.

5 years of therapy later, I still find myself hopping from hyper-fixation to hyper-fixation. The difference being, these days, I’m trying to give myself more grace about it, by accepting that this is just how my brain works (instead of believing it to be some sort of moral failing worthy of a self-destructive shame spiral.)

Friends, Followers, & Fans

I have been “hashtag blessed” on this particular stretch of my personal growth journey to be accompanied by a TikTok following of nearly 10,000. (Granted, half of those are likely men who mistook my page for a thirst trap account, but that’s not the point…)

For reasons that I still struggle to fully grasp, there are people in the world who enjoy the way in which I string thoughts together with words. Ever so much more than thirty.

It is my intent to use this particular web space as a digital hub for all of the mediums & subject matters in which I dabble… This includes (but is not limited to) long form writing, poetry, microblogging, short form video, podcasting, & photography. Bookmark & follow along for infodump rants & reflections pertaining to current events, special interests, personal growth, and other neurodivergent nonsense.

An Alliteration Affinity

The fact of the matter is, stringing thoughts together and putting them into words SOOTHES me. I don’t always have the bandwidth to mask perform as expected in social settings. This makes it quite difficult to tolerate being visually perceived without inducing a phase of debilitating inconvenient doom spiral rejection sensitive dysphoria.

Writing, on the other hand, grants me the freedom to organize those thoughts with a degree of asynchronous flexibility. This is incredibly helpful for me when it comes to pushing past creative blocks & conveying my intended message in a way that helps me find friends who “get it” and meet my social needs on my own terms.

Welcome & Warnings

Questions, writing prompts, productive conflict differentiation & other content suggestions made in good faith are quite welcome in my comment section.

Banned Behaviors

Shit-posting, trolling, competitive conflict escalation, racism, classism, ableism & all other forms of bigoted fuckery are NOT welcome here. Engaging in this type of behavior will get you comment banned and/or IP blocked, with or without warning.

If you made it this far, you are hereby entitled to a high five and/or gold star, which may be collected in the comment section.

Take care, and don’t forget to subscribe!

~Gracie