Smart Girls with ADHD

ADHD isn't one-size-fits-all

Impulsiveness

How One Criticism (in a Sea of Compliments) almost made me Quit

ADHD, Impulsiveness, QuittingBeth Harvey4 Comments
Saving the

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Why I wanted to Quit Blogging

The problem with writing about ADHD from a first-hand perspective is that, I actually have to try to write with ADHD. I also have anxiety — something that is slowly improving, but not completely. Yesterday was an “Anxiety Day”.

Someone (online) said something that annoyed me. It wasn’t particularly mean and, to many of you, it will seem so insignificant that you will even question why I bothered writing about it. Strangely, the criticism was about my posts on Google+.

First of all, let me tell you, I am totally new to Google+. When I say I’m new, I don’t mean I’ve been there for a few weeks or even days. We’re talking hours here, people. After signing up, Google+ began to take me on a little tour of how to use it. Of course, having ADHD, I ignored all the instructions. “Get to the point already! I don’t have time for this!”

Okay, I probably should have read those instructions because I don’t get it. Not a single bit.

What are circles? Who am I following? Are we friends? Where is my wall? Do I have a wall? Can anyone see my posts?

Yes, I studied some software development. And no, I don’t feel Google+ is particularly user-friendly to the brand new user (or anyone?) I mean, who actually reads those instructions anyway?

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So, anyway. I clicked through the setup screens that awaited me. They suggested ‘Fun and Interesting’ people — how do they know who I find fun and interesting? But John Green was categorized as a ‘Fun and Interesting’ person, and I agree, so I clicked 'yes to all' and continued.

There I was, drinking coffee and posting a few links to my blog on my brand new Google+ page (what harm could it do, right?) when, out of nowhere, I received the following comments on two blog posts from a man that I do not know but was apparently 'Fun and Interesting'. Let’s call him Jafar. (I watched Aladdin last week)

    

Snip20150426_47 Jafar: ‘Ok? So why am I being push notified of this post? Why should I not report it as spam?

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Me: ‘Sorry! Haha today is my first day using Google+ I don’t know what I’m doing!'

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Jafar: ‘And a second push notification? Why am I being notified of your posts?’ 

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Me: ‘Oops! Today is my first day using Google+ I REALLY don’t have a clue! I’ll remove those posts! Apologies again!'

So, I told Jafar that I would take the posts down — and I did. That was it. But that was all it took to trigger my anxiety yesterday. I’m not entirely sure what I did wrong, but I’m guessing it was something to do with those pesky “circles”. (Seriously though, I still don’t get them).

After removing the posts, I spent a few seconds staring at my screen.

‘Who is this Jafar?’ ‘Why did Jafar receive push notifications from me?’

The directness of Jafar’s messages worried me. I didn’t mean to cause anyone any offence or inconvenience (although, really? If I get unwanted push notifications, I just swipe my phone and ignore them, but then confrontation is so not my forte). Yet, he seemed angry with me and that filled me with the sick, panicky feeling I get with social anxiety.

A few seconds later, a wave of emotion rushed over me. I felt angry, closed my laptop and then... (it's embarrassing to write) but Jafar made me cry.

This was stupid. I knew it was stupid but I couldn’t help my reaction (a common symptom of ADHD). At this point, my dog stared up at me: “But that douche, Jafar, isn’t even here”, said my dog (with his eyes). I looked back at him. "What would you know? You’re a dog." Okay, so I digress, but you get my point. My dog was right.  (He’s always right.)

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It was nothing. I didn’t even know Jafar. But, for those few minutes, I got so anxious that I couldn’t even think straight. The familiar wave of anxiety rushed through me. I hate that feeling. It’s been a while since I’ve felt it, maybe a month or two, but it was there and I couldn’t stop it.

Within a few minutes, I had made three decisions:

1. I’ll close down my blog.

It’s not worth it’: I started this blog as a way to talk about my experiences — I find writing about things always helps. (Try it!) I also decided to do this to find other hardworking, intelligent women with ADHD. But, what if it actually makes me (or even them) worse? Perhaps the best thing is not to put anything out there into the terrifying abyss of the worldwide web. I could just write this all in a private diary and it wouldn’t hurt anybody.

‘I can’t take criticism’: I mean, if I can’t even deal with a single guy telling me I’m unintentionally spamming him, what if I get trolled? What if next time someone doesn’t just target my inability to work Google+ but instead targets me — telling me I’m crazy or making it all up or that ‘only boys get ADHD’.

2. I’ll change my profile picture on Google+ from a picture of me to the Smart Girls with ADHD logo. I can hide behind it. At times, I feel that it is a physical shield that will protect me from the real-world. That way, if I flake out and give up on the site, people may ask ‘why has Smart Girls with ADHD not been updated since 2015?’ and they won’t even know it had anything to do with Beth. 

The same goes for using we and us when talking about the site on social media. Using the plural (even if it's really just me) gives me the sense of 'safety in numbers'. Once there are more of us, and I'm hoping there will be one day, writing may not feel as scary.

3. I need to watch Amy Schumer. Right now.

Amy Schumer is amazing and makes everything good again. Oh, and Broad City. Or Key and Peele. And maybe some 30 Rock? And Gilmore Girls. And New Girl. Speaking of which, if you don’t like GIFs, this site probably isn’t for you. #sorrynotsorry

What Made me Stay

I stayed because my readers are the BEST.

I began this whole project on Tuesday. That is less than a week ago.  It may have been a typical ADHD-fueled impulsive decision but it’s one of the best I’ve ever made. Already I have received such an amazingly positive response that it almost doesn’t feel real.

110 likes on my Facebook page (many of whom, I have never met)

130 followers on Twitter

1 on Google+ (and it’s so not Jafar, by the way)

However, it’s not even the numbers that made me stay — it’s the engagement. People I know, and even more that I don’t know, have been messaging me to tell me how much this site means to them.  That is awesome and is the encouragement I needed yesterday to keep going.

Out of the woodwork, we are slowly finding that we’re not alone. There are other great girls of all ages with ADHD around the world! We’re enthusiastic! Smart! Distracted! Messy! Hardworking! Creative! Impulsive! And we exist!

We may be a minority within the ADHD world, but this is only the beginning of a community. Up until now, many of us have felt as though we are exceptions to the rule. Only young, hyperactive boys get ADHD / You have a master’s degree? Uh, come on, you can’t have ADHD / Oh, sometimes I don’t want to study - I think I must have it too

There is far too much work to be done. We need to start improving the perceptions of ADHD and help others like us realise that having ADHD doesn’t have to be a solitary experience.

For these reasons, I’m going to keep going.

Besides, I doubt that Jafar knew the impact his words had on me. For all I know, he was having a bad day too.

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How ADHD made me Impulsive, Non-Boring, and Grateful for having a Wonderful Family

ADHD, ImpulsivenessBeth Harvey1 Comment
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Although I have only recently been diagnosed with ADHD, I’ve always felt like something has been inhibiting me since I was young. Only now, at the age of 28, has it been recognised as a real-life condition that requires real-life medication and real-life doctors’ appointments.

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Knowing that “my crazy personality” has a name has made a huge difference. Bear in mind, I totally understand why some people prefer to steer clear of medication and that’s great too! After all, everyone is different.

Beginning medication was a massive decision for me (‘What if I lose the impulsiveness that defines me?’ / ‘What if I find out that ADHD is my personality?’ / ‘What if I’m no longer the same Beth?’) Before starting it, I made my husband, Jack, tell me everything different he notices and to tell me if become boring. I'm still on the same medicine, so either he's forgotten to tell me or there haven't been any major personality changes. Phew. 

When I began taking it (Concerta XL, if you're interested), I felt as though, for all these years, my real personality had become crushed by severe anxiety. Concerta seems to suppress (almost all of) my anxiety and tells my hyperactive brain to "shut up and listen for a second!" It feels like it's slowly letting the “real Beth” emerge again. I’m happier and less worried about what other people think of me. I've found new confidence in my abilities and have started to focus on doing things that make me happy — why didn’t I do this sooner? Throughout school and university, there was a part of me that was eager to pursue something creative but I never managed to concentrate long enough to do anything about it. Now I am spending real time working on creative endeavours (like this blog, for one) without switching to something new, by that afternoon. That's not to say, I'm going to be an amazing, dedicated blogger. There's a high chance that, by tomorrow, I'll be onto the next new thing. Stay tuned! 

Being able to focus on something is kind of awesome, by the way!

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Since being diagnosed, I have come to understand so much of my personality. I now understand my impulsivity (“Hey, let’s go live in Mexico for 7 months. Let's quit what I'm doing and fly there in 2 weeks”), my constant focus on the future (“Why should I have to clean up when I can obsess over returning to Mexico for the next 4 days straight, without leaving my room?”) and my life-long inability to read more than the first paragraph of a book without finding something new to do instead (‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a… — I wonder if I should back to Mexico? I’ll go check flights RIGHT NOW’).

Okay, so not everything revolves around Mexico. Although, I did leave on very short notice to live in Puebla, Mexico, just after turning 18. Such short notice, in fact, that I ignored (forgot about?) my crippling homesickness, anxiety, and the fact that I knew no Spanish… apart from ‘Hola’. ‘Buenos dias’. '¿Dónde está la biblioteca?'. ‘Hasta la vista, baby’. I wish this was an exaggeration for storytelling effect. It was not.

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I was ridiculously homesick, surrounded by Spanish-speakers for a large part of each day (who were some of the friendliest people I've met, by the way), and sat alone in my room a lot, hoping my family would think to phone me. We were still in the expensive, dial-up internet days of 2004… Our primary communication revolved around letters (yes, real paper letters sent by very slow post) and, much faster group emails on Hotmail.

Fortunately for me, I lived with my wonderful cousin, Jeannie, started taking Spanish lessons, made some amazing (English-speaking!) friends, and volunteered in the English Department of a school in which English language was compulsory — close call, Beth!

Looking back now to my pre-diagnosis/pre-medication days, close calls happened all the time.

Like, the time I quit my full-time job and went to live in Texas for two months with Jack, without much thought as to whether we could both survive on my part-time job from now on (that plan almost worked — or let's just say, we have an awesome family — thanks again, Jeannie!)

Or like that single month in 2009 when I:

  • Went to Norway (on a far-too-expensive-but-the-Ryanair-flights-only-cost-£5 holiday: seriously though, what’s up with your £30 pizza, Norway?)
  • Received a marriage proposal in Norway
  • Said yes
  • Quit my job in Scotland
  • Moved out of my flat in Glasgow
  • Moved to Belfast to live with my parents (without my now-fiancé) to start a master’s in TESOL
  • Quit the master’s the following week
  • Got a job working as a waitress on a train
  • Got tonsillitis so couldn't accept the job on the train
  • Moved back to Scotland

To reiterate - all that happened within a single month.

By the following year, I had quit the master’s, gotten married, moved back to Scotland, and had gone through three jobs (and received a further two job offers).

I saw my impulsivity as a gift (and still do). It continually lets me try out new opportunities.

Without my impulsiveness, I doubt I would have lived in Mexico, moved to Scotland, gotten my incredible job which I love, visited China, asked (my now-husband) Jack out, worked on a software diploma, or taken tin whistle lessons.

Yes, my ADHD can drive me crazy, cause me stress, and put me in situations I am desperate to get out off (let’s never mention that master’s again…) but I know I wouldn’t be me if I hadn't been so impulsive.