Smart Girls with ADHD

ADHD isn't one-size-fits-all

Quitting

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)

    

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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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Why Blogging is Tough when you've got ADHD

ADHD, QuittingBeth HarveyComment
Blogging is tough with ADHD

Okay, you got me - blogging is not entirely new for me.

Winston New Girl Blogger

Over the last decade, I started a blog about linguistics. A blog about copywriting. A blog about learning corpus linguistics. A blog about learning Arabic. A blog about politics - don't even ask about the last one. I truly don't know. My main problem is that I possessed a certain lack of enthusiasm after day one of each new thing. 

On 26th November 2012, I began a photography blog on tumblr. If you are willing to click on this link, you may notice three things:

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1. My photography skills are somewhat lacking. Particularly for a girl who had, the morning prior to creating this blog, decided that being a photographer was an excellent career choice: one in which she could earn a ton of money while doing something she loves. In fact, it was a career choice that she should pursue that very day - BEFORE LUNCH!

I’m not saying that taking pictures is an unrealistic career choice. There are, of course, so many amazing photographers around and I would do just about anything to take just a single photograph that's half as good as one by the great Ansel Adams. In Northern Ireland alone we've got the likes of my two awesome wedding photographers at Lifting the Veil and my very own cousin, Andrew, who started Smartsnap Photography and is so much better at photography than I'll ever be. The main hindrance for me is dedication. If there's one single quality that will never be brought up at the mention of my name over hors-d'oeuvre at the club, it's dedication*. 

It wasn’t so much a career choice as a decision with what I should do with my day. So, on the 26th November 2012, I became a photographer…for a morning.

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2. I managed to persevere with said photography blog for a full six photographs. I repeat SIX photographs.

The eagle-eyed reader may also note that all six photographs were posted on that very day, 26th November 2012 (and what a day that was). After that date, not a single post was made. I had lost all interest in photography and had moved onto my next career decision, most likely by the evening of 26th November 2012. Perhaps I had now settled on becoming a doctor or a marketing executive or a high school English teacher. 

Prior to being told I had ADHD, this was a major problem. I had no idea what to do. Well, okay, everything was an idea. Any opportunity, whether it be a PhD in Anthropology at Brown University (yes, the ivy league that I had zero change of getting into nor could afford), or a job as a branding consultant in San Francisco, or a two-month Latin course in Cork, or a data analyst in Germany, or an English teacher in Saudi Arabia or as a photographer. To me, everything was there to be applied for. It felt like the entire internet of jobs and new opportunities was waiting for me to find it, apply for one, get it, and, stress over it. Deciding what do to with my life became my life. 

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This was obviously a problem. Rather than working harder on the opportunities that I actually did have, right there and then, I actively searched for new opportunities, which only led to new problems and new stress. This is how I spent every single day.

People who know me, often refer to me as their 'quiet' friend. I'm an introvert, not one for socialising. I go to bed early. I don't swear. Most importantly, being the life and soul of the party terrifies me to my very core. Due to these awesome social skills, I imagine that many people (more acquaintances than friends, or so I hope) see me as "boring". That's okay. I get that. But let me straighten this up right now. My brain is not boring. No, my brain is that 7-year-old hyper kid who is poking you in the head with their sticky fingers and meowing like a cat in your ear before jumping up and down, yelling at everyone in the room to listen to them impersonate Jar Jar Binks again. Yes. My brain's inward personality is my hyper little sister, Katherine's, 7-year-old outward personality. My brain constantly jumps from idea to idea, with every new idea fighting for my full attention. The photography blog was just another new idea that hit me like an all-encompassing brick wall on the 26th November 2012.

3. Why does this photography blog contain so many watermarks, haphazardly added to each photo, you may ask? Well, 26-year-old Beth thought: ‘why use one consistent font size and position when I could make each signature as unique as a snowflake?’

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After all, I needed to do something to protect my images from being stolen by photography thieves. You know what they’re like. Always going after mediocre images without watermarks. 

*Maybe one day I'll get an invitation to have hors-d'oeuvre at the club. I'm sure I'll fit right in.

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