2020 In Review

Happy New Year! Around this time I like to write a short summary about the last year, and this year is no different.

And damn, what a year it was. 

Normally I’d speak from my own perspective but this time that’s going to be tough, because each and everyone of us was affected by 2020 in mostly the same way. 

Here in Australia we had the first few months of megafires caused by climate change, which were a continuation of 2019’s megafires that started around August. Many lost their homes, businesses, millions of native wildlife perished and in the cities people breathed in the toxic smoke and had to adapt to wearing face masks. Some hundreds still died of smoke inhalation. Then the rain came and it didn’t stop coming. Homes that were once under the threat of being burned down were now at risk of being flooded. 

Then, when they too seemed to clear, Australia got their first cases of a novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in late January. The infection spread as rapidly as those megafires. The government’s chief medical officers’ encouraged strict hygiene practices such as washing the hands thoroughly with soap for 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer when you couldn’t and keeping 1.5 metres from people. Even that wasn’t enough and the state governments called for businesses to be shut down, resulting in hundreds of thousands losing their job over night. The lines to sign up for the welfare payment, now increased, stretched throughout the street in every suburb. The website crashed. People took out their superannuation early. They did anything they could to survive financially. Rent reductions were introduced, evictions were frozen and compulsory job searching for welfare became voluntary. 

The states declared lockdowns, commanding people to stay in their homes except for essential work, food shopping, medical appointments and just half an hour of outdoor exercise a day. People’s boredom turned into despair as the suicide hotline Lifeline saw an uptick in calls and therapists saw an increase in new patients. People eventually adapted by getting some new hobbies; baking bread, making videos, being creative around the home, turning a spare room into a home gym, playing video games, connecting to others online who were going through the exact same thing as them, and adopting a pet. Some people wanted to help others feel less alone so offered to do things for them, like shopping, if they weren’t able to do it themselves. Neighbours met each other for the first time. Despite there being a mass panic about having enough basic supplies including toilet paper, bread, milk, canned goods, rice etc, people would provide these for free on the street. 

We humans are so adaptable to changes, even frightening and despairing ones that we experienced during 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic, that we began to adopt new ways to live life in the ‘new normal.’ Work from home became commonplace, Zoom meetings replaced overseas work travel, Telehealth appointments took up the bulk of GP and therapist visits, even the arts took advantage of video conferencing to keep their jobs alive. 

It seemed whatever 2020 threw at us we could find ways to adapt to. 

For me personally though, I was less adaptable. Being autistic and having my most severe symptom being a fear of change and difficulty transitioning to it, should have made me aware, but because I had been living independently for a few years I had thought I would be able to manage whatever came my way. Like other young people like me I was confused about the panic buying of toilet paper but I didn’t worry until I was close to running out. When the usual stores ran out I had to look for other places that sold it, but getting to these places gave me a panic attack because they were in new locations. Eventually I had to go online to buy toilet paper, and though it was a bit more expensive buying locally made toilet paper was a better value than buying marked up prices of commercial toilet paper from resellers. 

For the first couple of weeks of lockdown I had zero structure, I just stayed on social media all day. I was constantly watching the news, hearing COVID updates that I had already been updated about three times since I turned on the news that morning. It had made me more anxious about the pandemic and when I went to buy food my OCD was so high I had to buy online, but then that got so booked up that the supermarkets stopped it and then brought it back for people who needed it the most (pensioners/disabled people), which you had to be approved for. Around this time my anxiety was so high that I thought it would have been better if I starved myself to death rather than worry so much about when I could get food delivered to me. 

But eventually I could get my food delivered from ordering online again, and I even got a massive hamper full of basic ingredients, some of which I’d never bought before so I was kept preoccupied with having to learn new recipes. My niece even did a grocery run for me. 

Australia celebrated Easter in lockdown. I baked a damper and some ANZAC biscuits and ate some chocolate I had bought from the supermarket before my OCD had gotten too severe and stored them away in case there was a lockdown. 

I was finally able to distract myself from the pandemic by going back to the video game Destiny 2, and playing it from morning to night. 

Eventually I found my way onto Reddit to make some attempt to make friends because I was feeling lonely. It was my neighbours who despite the lockdown still had each other and that reminded me of how lonely I was. It didn’t turn out too well for me so I gave up, went back to Twitter which I spent an unhealthy amount of time on. 

Around August I had some unusual symptoms, not what you’re thinking. I woke up with what seemed to be an allergic reaction on and in my mouth. After asking around online especially in the ME/CFS Facebook group I found out it could be a fungal infection, Candida albicans to be exact. So I looked up how to overcome it naturally after the medicine I got didn’t work and just made me tired all the time. So I found the anti-candida diet and found myself on Reddit again, getting advice from the candida sub there. Then I was right back into Reddit and chanced upon a sub called Get Discliplined. First I was giving advice and arguing with people for not being sensitive enough toward the people they were meant to be giving advice to, then I started participating in the ‘plans’ thread, which is basically writing down a daily to-do list and sharing it in the thread. This is what helped give me structure and was what got me back into my screenwriting, and I was also encouraged by reading posts from the screenwriting sub too. So, while I was undertaking this strict gluten free no refined sugar diet I was also structuring my day with strict discipline and working on a script. I was finally able to forget about the pandemic. Lockdown had ended, and my state’s cases were down. There were still social distancing laws in place and high capacity venues were closed but medium sized venues were opening up with lower audience numbers, like music venues, the cinema, churches, gyms etc. 

But even after learning how to adapt to the changes, especially the restrictions, when the next COVID surge hit my city the panicking and bad habits to cope came back. And it took a lot to try and overcome them again, but fortunately I did this a lot earlier than before. 

However, the biggest test came in December. My Prime Minister always guaranteed us if we kept the hygiene regime up and followed the social distancing laws, that we’d be able to have a normal Christmas. This probably raised my hopes a bit too much because as it turned out, just a week before Christmas, that restrictions, which had been eased days before, were now tighter. Homes could only have 10 visitors which effectively cancelled my family’s Christmas lunch on Boxing Day, which also doubled as my 35th birthday celebration. I didn’t take it well. I had a mixture of emotions from anger and blame toward my Premier, to a resurfacing of abandonment issues that always come about when I go through a depressive episode. I guess you could say there was a lot of jealousy too, as I looked at those who could still celebrate Christmas with others with disdain. As a result Christmas just didn’t feel like Christmas at all. It was just another day, in which I continued my well structured daily routine, and did some baking and got sick off the food I made because it wasn’t nutritious enough. So Christmas didn’t seem to be worth it. Christmas just didn’t feel like Christmas and it still felt like it never happened. 

But a few months back I had become a Christian again and was reading Devotionals everyday and a few weeks leading up to Christmas I was doing devotional plans, one of which was written by televangelist Joyce Meyer, whom I grew up watching at 4am on TV. In them each day you get a devotional that usually has an important lesson to learn and about 3-5 scripture verses accompanying them. I felt I learned a lot from these, deeply, spiritually. So I kept doing them and so on Christmas Day I continued them and a lot of them had to do with the true meaning of Christmas. And because I often don’t dwell on it because it seems so repetitive to me hearing it every year, especially when I was growing up in church, so I didn’t pay too much heed to the birth of Jesus. But I decided to on Christmas Day, and I felt a peace I hadn’t experienced for days. Now I feel like I don’t need the Christmas celebration, the commercialism and manic gift buying and anticipation of receiving gifts. As a Christian it’s definitely not about that, it’s far deeper. Our salvation depends on that one story I had kept avoiding, so I stopped avoiding it and really dwelt on it. 

I don’t care if people don’t believe it as I believe, but it’s important to me. Through reading the scriptures I have found a kind of mental calmness and clarity that I haven’t experienced from anything else this year or the years before. And it helped and is helping me get through the pandemic. 

By the time my 35th birthday rolled around I was content to just do my own thing at home. The restrictions were still in place so I didn’t have much choice. I’d often spend my birthdays alone but usually in despair and loneliness. But this time I was happy to continue my routine and play some video games. And I didn’t experience all of it alone. My niece, her fiance and my step sister dropped by to give me gifts (gluten free cookies) and wish me well. It was nice to have their company, and when they left I didn’t long for more. I just continued with the rest of my day, which now included eating dinner and watching streaming services. 

I feel at 35 I’ve finally matured enough to be content in my own company, to not worry about how the world sees me, and to live my life according to the Bible, and not to be influenced by the world. 

And also, now that I’m, 35, I am no longer required to do job searching. After five nightmarish years of being forced by disability employment services to apply for jobs I know I can’t physically or mentally do, under the threat of losing my pension if I don’t apply to them, I am free. 

2020 was a trying year for all of us, especially me, but I too adapted and overcame some very serious issues and I feel like I’ve been transformed into a whole new person. 2021 will come with its own challenges but I must remember that I’ve survived through the worst and I can do it again. I only need to remember how I survived 2020 and apply those things I learned when the following years get too much, and then I can confidently face any challenge that comes my way in the following years. 

Let’s Talk About That ‘Gaming Addiction’ Episode of 4 Corners

An image of a table with video game controllers, a gaming headset, and a wall of video games stacked behind it.,

Last Monday 4 Corners aired their report on gaming addiction and the predatory behaviour of gaming companies, and as expected there was instantly a backlash against it. Though I kind of went in with an open mind, others tore into every part of the show, with sardonic commentary, and not really giving the episode a chance. 

The show started talking about gaming addiction, showing testimonies of people who had developed the condition, from mothers to children. 

I was deeply touched by their stories as I went through something similar. About six years ago I realised my gaming had become obsessive. I had stopped going to work, socialising or taking care of my health, just so I could game. I was spending more money on games over various consoles than I ever had before. And despite being part of a ‘party house’ where people were coming and going, I did not care to welcome any guests. There was even a birthday party in which I grunted my greetings to guests and returned to my game, bowls of snacks arranged near me, having been prepared just before I sat down to play. What made me realise I was having a problem with gaming addiction was I stopped going to see live bands, and some of the bands I missed were ones I loved the most. I missed out on going to an intimate set by The Vines at Newtown Social Club, and this was during a time where they rarely played anywhere. 

Of course, there was an underlying issue: we were due to move and my autistic brain couldn’t take such a dramatic change, so it reverted to a child-like form and found solace in video games. However, this was not the only time I was addicted to games. I had been playing Destiny for 9 hours a day for 3-4 years (excluding days when I actually went grocery shopping). I could do that because I was on disability so had all the time in the world to play. The longest I’ve played Destiny in one sitting was 12 hours, when people actually started to  show concern for my mental well-being. But I told them it was because of a new DLC being released. I still don’t know if that was true. I wasn’t really dealing with any serious issues over those four years. I just really liked the game. Actually, it was more than just liking it. It was the way the game was designed that made me want to play it more. Destiny is the type of game where to get anywhere in it, especially if you want play the higher level missions and get the best gear, you have to grind for days/weeks/months just to gain more experience and higher level gear. So, I was constantly trying to grind my way up to max level. But it’s a goal that while can be reached, never lasts long. So, I have to always grind to get to the highest level again, which requires me to play it constantly. Lately, the game has an element of FOMO about it, in that if you don’t play it within a certain time frame you can miss out on playing content, so players have to play it constantly so they don’t miss out. And they need to make sure their gear is of he highest power level, so they also have to grind like crazy so they can reach max level in time to play that content before it disappears. The repetitive content almost feels like muscle memory to them. They don’t even think to question it – it’s just the way it is.

Hearing the denial of the existence of gaming addiction from most of the gaming community really hurts, because I’ve lived through it and have to work hard to stop myself from falling into it again. For example I have to make a full healthy meal before I let myself play. No snacks. I also get terrible vertigo and stomach cramps if I start playing straight after eating, so I have to wait 30-60 minutes before I play. And I only play in 3-4 hour sessions. Developing a chronic illness has actually forced me to cut my hours short and become a casual gamer. It was hard having to demote myself from being a hardcore gamer, but it was affecting my physical health. Either I played games the normal way or I don’t buy food, or I don’t clean, or I don’t even make a meal. 

One such thing the gaming community likes to do when they actually do acknowledge gaming addiction is real is distance themselves from those who suffer from it, saying ‘there’s something else going on – they’re not like us normal people.’ Normal people. There is no normal. Every brain is unique; they exist on a vast Neurodiversity spectrum. I’m not a fan of the community but I do agree with their belief that every human brain is different from each other, in fact I’d argue there is no such thing as a neurotypical as even they develop mental illness, which apparently is neurodivergent. But like I said I’m not a fan of the community and I don’t want to dwell long on such things. 

So, calling yourself a ‘normal person’ is completely baseless, because there is no way to measure which is normal. Also, it’s ableist (discriminating towards disabled people) and our neurodiverse friends will come at you, foaming at the mouth, if you ever said they weren’t normal. 

Gaming addiction can be developed in those who have no pre-existing conditions. Some people just get addicted because they enjoy it, and certain games are designed to get you addicted to them. When I was studying game development I came across an article in Gamasutra, linking to a study about developers studying the psychology of gamers so they can come up with ways to get them to play more. I felt both intrigued and preyed on. And there’s no company that does this more than Bungie. Actually, it’s Activision but the best examples I can give come from Destiny. 

Ah, the games as a live service model. Make short unfinished content with the promise of releasing new content in the future, and have ‘live events’ that are nothing more than playing a mission on the same map you’ve been to 1000 times before. Ah, the looter shooter; have players play to collect guns and armour and do never ending quest lines chasing after a powerful weapon, only for them to tire of it after a few weeks, when you’ll offer another chance to get an even better weapon. And the cycle continues.

Sure, that all sounds so clear to me now, but it wasn’t before. I was one of those committed players that would tirelessly chase after that new coveted exotic, as Bungie dangled the carrot from a stick, and saw me as nothing but a customer, just another number to add to their tally of players logged in to the Destinyverse. 

I loved Destiny, still do. I love the deep lore and with every new release, a more fleshed out story campaign. I love taking my position as a Titan, the defender of The Last City, way too seriously and connecting with other players. Not just other players on a friends list but fellow soldiers, comrades, as we push back against the forces of Darkness. I told you I took this game way too seriously. I just love existing in the Destiny Universe. But it’s a very expensive hobby to keep up. The expansion packs and DLC are way overpriced for the little content you get. For years I tried to justify it by saying ‘well I’ve got 4000 hours in so I’m definitely getting my money’s worth.’ 

Then just one day I realised how pointless it was to chase after those exotic weapons by doing difficult quests. And all those game trailers Bungie released which made me think that this DLC this time will have the kind of content I want, and more of it, I could now see right though. This content will be completed in less than 6 hours. Maybe less. Bungie are so clever at deceiving us Guardians (what they call Destiny players), to hook us in yet again, as we may be thinking that maybe we’ve had enough of the same thing, only to sign back up for more of the same thing. 

But Destiny is fun, addictive, and a great game to play with people. Every time I complete a difficult mission and get a new weapon or piece of armour I get a hit of dopamine that makes me want to play more. All of this by design. But still it’s fun. And I will still play it and I will still love it. Though now I know exactly what it’s offering me. 

I didn’t talk about micro transactions much above because that’s what 4 Corners talked about next. The gaming community at least knows this is a problem and is predatory behaviour of gaming companies, and some would even say it’s ruining modern day gaming. But the ways the stores are set up to get you to spend more is the same type of mechanism that gets you to play more. One just takes real money so it’s more obvious it’s predatory, but the other one costs you time. 

The 4 Corners episode was a good introduction to non-gamers and concerned parents of the type of predatory behaviours that exist in games, and affects players. But it was biased. The only other viewpoint was from Ron Curry, from the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association defending microtransactions. You could really see what 4 Corners were doing. They wanted you to hate him instantly as the big bad wolf of the gaming industry. Documentaries themselves can be tools of manipulation, so I guess some backlash towards that was understandable. 

I’d urge any parents who watched the episode and who are thinking of banning their children from playing games – don’t. You now have the tools to control what your children are exposed to. Discourage them from buying loot boxes and hide your credit card in a triple locked safe, guarded by dragons. Take a more active role in their game life, without being the interfering mum (or dad) carrying in snacks and lemonade to cramp your kid’s style while they are hanging out with their friends, and instead educate them on these manipulative mechanisms and help them avoid falling into its trap. 

There aren’t just negatives to gaming, apart from being a fun way to spend leisure time, or a fun career to have, or a good way for socially anxious and lonely people to make friends, it also has neurological benefits. FPS gamers are said to have better reaction time than people who don’t play them, and those who try to get 100% completion by finding every type of collectible object in the game are said to develop a high attention to detail. As for me you can read this post that talks about how playing Destiny helped teach me social skills and feel more at ease talking to other players. They have helped my ADHD symptoms by teaching me to be patient so I can either get past a difficult obstacle or plan a good strategy for taking down a challenging enemy. They have increased my memory by getting me to repeat the same level after I failed to complete it before or several times, and learn from my mistakes. And because I have dyspraxia which gives me poor fine motor skills, being able to advance to the next level at all feels like such a huge achievement, and just restores confidence in myself. They’ve also helped my social anxiety and immediately made thoughts of depression and suicide disappear. 

The fact that we gamers can judge this 4 Corners episode as strongly biased also reveals how biased the program has always been, it’s just that before we agreed with what they were saying. I’ve always loved 4 Corners hard hitting and revealing journalism, but it’s always been so one-sided. Sometimes that’s ok when reporting on an injustice but when they clearly have an agenda you can see it for what it is. And it took gamers and their sarcastic replies to make us aware of it.

Misconceptions of ADHD That I Can’t Believe Still Exist

There’s been a lot of talk about ADHD on the left lately, due to the revelation that Australian Liberal MP Andrew Laming has been diagnosed with it. For those unaware he has been in the press a lot accused of stalking and harassing women online, and even filming school aged girls playing sports. And despite Andrew himself saying he’s not blaming his ADHD on his actions, many on the left choose to ignore him and still accuse him of doing just that. 

Let me be clear I don’t condone his behaviour nor think ADHD had any way of making him that way; he had to first think those things to want to engage in them at all. But having undiagnosed and untreated ADHD with impulse control issues sure didn’t make it easier for him to resist acting them out. 

That said ADHD can make people do some pretty terrible things and it’s a side of ADHD advocates and allies alike would rather avoid talking about which I think is the wrong way to go about it. I’ll describe some examples later but first I want to correct some of the misconceptions I’ve been seeing being spoken and encouraged online about ADHD.

Our allies have been defending ADHD pretty loudly this week, and in doing so and because of their complete inexperience of ADHD and taking medication for it, they have gotten a few things wrong. Even Penny Wong, senator of the Labor Party, was interviewed about the story and all she could say was ‘I don’t have much experience of ADHD.’ Cue white cat monkey meme:

That’s the one.

In 2021, it’s just tiring that people, especially a politician, doesn’t know much about ADHD. Advocates and activists alike have been raising awareness about it for decades. 

1. “Andrew Laming says overnight ADHD medication fixed him but it takes months for the medication to work.”

This is incorrect. On average it takes half an hour to get any result from stimulant medication, with some people experiencing it within minutes. I happen to be in the latter category. I also think Andrew is talking about how he’s a changed man in regards to managing his ADHD, and not about his behaviour. Once you take the medication for the first time and see the results it’s like a whole new world has opened up to you, and you want to tell everyone about it. 

2. “People with ADHD only have problems focusing and with memory.”

There are a whole umbrella of symptoms that fall under the ADHD label. Some experts would suggest that there isn’t actually an ADHD condition, but it’s just a collection of symptoms. I’d disagree but ADHD does involve many symptoms. ADHD is basically a disorder of regulation. There is poor regulation of focus, energy, motivation, memory, patience, emotions, executive functioning (planning and organising), and issues in school, work and personal relationships that come out of that. It basically affects every part of our lives. So, it’s a lot more than having problems focusing and memorising. By the way, it creates structural differences in the brain.

3. “If Laming had undiagnosed ADHD how did he focus enough to become a medical doctor? No one with ADHD is a medical doctor.”

Incorrect and highly ableist. Symptoms of ADHD are inconsistent so they may be able to get some focus, and then this could trigger something called hyperfocus. It’s a state of overfocus that gives them an extreme laser focus, that they end up neglecting everything else around them. They may skip meals and basically forget to do their everyday tasks or miss appointments and disappoint friends for cancelling on plans last minute because they are so absorbed in whatever they’ve become interested in. At times this can be harmful to managing their own ADHD, because ADHD is managed best by sticking to a schedule and not spending too much time on one thing, and also because they can literally starve themselves this way and become sick (especially if like me they have hypoglycaemia), but some do get lucky and put their hyperfocus into studies or building a career, and become successful that way. 

People with ADHD have a variety of different careers. My psychiatrist has ADHD, and I’ve known mathematicians and surgeons with it too. Channing Tatum who as an actor has to learn lines from rote and follow a strict and often repetitive filming schedule, also has ADHD. We HATE repetition. People with ADHD can work in any area, they just have to work harder for it.

4. “They just realise Laming has ADHD now? He just woke up one day and realised he had ADHD? How has he managed to be successful with it being undiagnosed for so long?”

Some children with ADHD are able to compensate for the symptoms by developing coping mechanisms to manage their undiagnosed condition, however when they reach adulthood those coping mechanisms begin to fall apart. In Laming’s case, however, I theorise that didn’t happen. He was still able to cope without a diagnosis, so it took his more extreme behaviour for him to get recognised at all. Remember Craig Nicholls from The Vines wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome until his volatile meltdowns. There are still many undiagnosed adults who can function and cope fine despite not being recognised for their disorder. 

5. “How does a doctor not know he has ADHD?”

Unfortunately many doctors have their own bias about certain neurological conditions, one being that ADHD is a childhood only disorder and they grow out of it as they become adults. Around 60% of children lose their hyperactivity and it’s experienced more internally. Though many hyperactive adults still remain. One was my roommate. He was a lot. 

Another case could be he struggled to identify the symptoms in himself, as was the case with my psychiatrist, who kept forgetting where he put my file and diagnosed me with autism twice. 

6. “Laming hasn’t apologised or shown any remorse for what he’s done. ADHD doesn’t mean you don’t have empathy.”

ADHD does come with deficits of empathy, but not usually to the extent of autism. Many people do have both ADHD and autism occurring together, and the symptoms clash so much they may as well be the same condition just separated to target treatments to a certain cluster of symptoms which may manifest more strongly in each person who shows more/less autism and ADHD traits, so there are both limits in their empathic ability in feeling it, recognising it and applying it. 

Let me explain. There can first be an unawareness of what they should empathise about. Once this is learned there can then be problems remembering when to apply it, and when it comes to hyperactivity the brain is moving too fast that it overlooks the need to empathise. I think the latter is going on with Laming. 

Even when I was in my 20s my empathic ability was strongly lacking, it was the combination of education from my ADHD elders making me aware of when and how to use it, and the Ritalin that gave me enough clarity of mind and sustained focus to actually absorb the information, remember it and put it to practice, that made me the highly empathic person I am today. Prior to that I often got told I was selfish, I would be at ease talking and laughing with people at times of tragedy, and often told I ‘couldn’t joke about that.’ 

So, people with ADHD may not all lack empathy, or have a limit in it, but putting it to work in appropriate situations takes a great deal of time to learn. 

7. “I was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid and I can manage my symptoms fine, so Laming should be able to.”

The difference of diagnosed and treated in childhood versus not. Adults who don’t get the help they need in childhood will still have the same symptoms that those diagnosed as children learned to manage to control. So that’s not a very good argument here. Undiagnosed ADHD in adulthood can lead you to develop a lot of bad habits as well as mental health issues. It also may make you think your symptoms are something everyone goes through. 

8. How can Laming be diagnosed after one session? It doesn’t work like that.”

Sometimes it does. I was diagnosed and prescribed medication after one session. Each doctor works differently when they diagnose ADHD. 

9. “Laming saying he has ADHD is BS.”

OK, thanks for that. Bye.

10. “My kid/sibling/ friend with ADHD doesn’t stalk/harass women.”

Well, that’s a relief. I was getting worried there for a moment. But just because one person you know with ADHD doesn’t engage in inappropriate behaviour, doesn’t mean all people with ADHD won’t.

This gives me a good opportunity to talk about the dark parts of ADHD, the ones the Neurodiversity community want swept under a rug because it’s not a good look for them.

Children with ADHD have been known to hit and fight with other children. I knew a boy at my church growing up who got in a lot of fights before he was properly treated for his ADHD. Diagnosed at just 2 years old. His hyperactivity often manifested in the form of violence. I’ve also recently known about a boy who was very violent because of his ADHD and anxiety, who was on that ABC documentary Kids On Speed, which I’m sure the ND community would call ableist. But it was actually a very good documentary about teaching parents how to properly manage their children’s outbursts. And when I went to TAFE there was a teenage boy on the train who I was told ADHD made him so violent he was put on such a high dose it umm…made him appear to be intellectually disabled. Not his exact words but I will not repeat that word here or anywhere. 

There’s a condition called oppositional defiance disorder which was first discovered in ADHD children. It’s a condition in which a child would immediately respond with ‘no’ or a sudden refusal to comply, no matter what you say or how much they wanted to do something or not. It’s just an automatic refusal. It’s completely out of their control, but it does make them act out with violence. This then can develop into a conduct disorder where real crimes are committed, which could be one reason why so many undiagnosed adults with ADHD end up in prison. And the fact someone is in prison means they did some very horrible thing, like assault and murder, and just because your child or friend with ADHD doesn’t do it it doesn’t mean people with ADHD are incapable of it. 

Pathological demand avoidance syndrome in people with ADHD can look like O.D.D but the cause is due to their anxiety of losing control of their environment, and yes they can lash out with violence. 

Now, for a confession time. I’m about to make you hate me if you didn’t already. I don’t know why I have to do this. People with ADHD are fine to just ignore the more anti-social behaviour that surfaces from unmanaged ADHD, but I’m such an honest person that I would confess to a crime in order to win an argument. 

Ok here we go.

About 2009 following a diagnosis of autism, I was very lonely and very angry at the world. People were trying to force me to be more neurotypical even if that just wasn’t in my true nature to be, and choosing to see my autism as behaviour I chose to make, and with this sense of warped logic were allowed to yell at me for it. This was even before the whole Neurodiversity community was as big as it was now. Some former friends also started to bully me, so I began to see all neurotypicals as bullies. I joined Aspergia, a guild of supremacist autistics. So supremacist they would hate to be associated with autism. We hated all neurotypicals. It was not unlike the far right groups many young people find themselves in today. 

So, I stopped having any feelings toward neurotypicals, except maybe detest. I used to often think about becoming a mass shooter showering bullets into a crowd of strangers and not feeling any remorse for what I did. In another country and with less control of my impulses I might have taken this fantasy too far, but my impulses never went further than overspending and running my mouth. By the time I was diagnosed and medicated with Ritalin the homicidal thoughts disappeared. 

Ok, so you had some bad thoughts but you didn’t stalk anyone. Well, I kind of did. I had a condition called limerence where I would obsess about a crush and see them as a romantic partner and these fantasies got so vivid and intense I’d start believing it was reality. I tried to turn up at any place my crush was at. I didn’t go as far as going to their home or telling them we were together (that’s erotica mania which I thankfully never passed into). It took antidepressants to realise what I was doing, and the disillusionment hit me hard. I became suicidal and it took months, maybe a year to ever forgive myself. But then the behaviour came back, and it took some real effort to just stop completely, and I think I’ll always have a problem with limerence. It’s come back in milder forms. 

Have I harassed people? Well, that depends how you see harassment. I have engaged in my share of ferocious flame wars online, long before I was even on Twitter. They were so long and intense that they actually left me exhausted. I was well known as king of the takedowns. I’m very good at arguing. It’s pathological (demand avoidance) – just read the ‘what is PDA’ part of my blog. 

It’s still hard to resist arguing with someone. I think that’s where my impulses are harder to control. I do a number of things to lessen my time getting into Twitter spats by initiating social media bans during my more productive hours, to muting anyone who I don’t follow, to reciting scripture verses. 

So, I think people with ADHD would find themselves getting into a lot of trouble online, especially the more impulsive ones. 

Now, don’t just think I’m trying to defend Andrew Laming. What he did was horrible and he hurt a lot of women and even a young girl. But that doesn’t rule out him having ADHD. There were a few cases of women who felt harassed and pursued by him, who felt uncomfortable with the encounter. He was firing off questions at them of a personal nature, and wouldn’t give them time to answer, and in one such case when he realised she wasn’t interested suddenly showed disinterest himself. After reading the quotes from the dialogue happening between them to me it just sounds like, well, what I’m like when I’m manic. I’m not saying Andrew has bipolar, but hyperactivity and at least hypomania can be indistinguishable from each other. And as mentioned before when the brain is that speedy you don’t notice certain things, like people becoming annoyed, and you disregard their feelings entirely. It’s one reason why so many with hyperactive ADHD end up with anxiety. Because once they become aware of how people see them, either gently or in loud angry shouty words, they start to feel guilty. It’s said that people with primarily hyperactive ADHD often develop anxiety and those with primarily inattentive ADHD develop depression, while lucky combineds like me develop both. I knew a girl with hyperactive ADHD who told me she used to talk to people a lot, but when other kids picked on her for the way she talked, she stopped talking to people. And my impulsive tongue, or fingers (on social media) get me in quite a lot of trouble. As for the disinterest, we get over things pretty fast. I don’t care to revisit the majority of arguments I have online. People with ADHD are stimulation seekers, meaning we look for things that excite us and help us focus, be it a book, a news story, a new hobby or interest, or even sex.

I can’t say for sure whether this behaviour from Andrew was from his hyperactive ADHD, although from experience it really seems like it was. Maybe people are right and he’s really a narcissist and ‘sex pest.’ But I’d rather see the good in someone first. I just hope that he can work on overcoming this inappropriate behaviour and eventually come to apologise and feel remorse for it. 

What I’m trying to do here is remind you that ADHD can lead those people with questionable tastes and inappropriate behaviour to act out on them more, and that not everyone with ADHD is a little sweetheart. Yes, the people you know with ADHD are probably respectful and will never engage in this sort of behaviour, but like all humans, of which people with ADHD are, they are capable of becoming the type of person who does. And to use a ‘woke’ term, it’s invalidating to the experiences of those with ADHD who have had a past history of inappropriate behaviours, and does show a sheer amount of ignorance. A form of willful ignorance if you will. I understand where it’s coming from: you want to erase the stigma that the media created around ADHD in the 90s, as children behaving badly. But I think it’s time to recognise that untreated ADHD can lead you to do some not very nice things that you will regret, maybe even land you in prison, otherwise you create a stigma around those with ADHD who struggle with anti-social behaviours. 

Now Andrew Laming has said he wants to help raise ADHD awareness. He is in the type of position to really reach a lot of people, and may create changes to the type of services they have for ADHD children in school, which is something that is desperately needed. I’m not sure how he’s going to go about it but I have chosen to support him. I know that many ADHD activists on the left and their allies won’t, but this is a win we need. Just remember, allies, mid October is ADHD Awareness Month, so I hope you’ll take the time to read any articles and blogs, and maybe you can learn more about it. If one good thing comes from this situation I hope the media puts more focus on ADHD in October, so they won’t have to interview a politician about it, who then says ‘I don’t have much experience in it.’ 

Two Years On Testosterone

3 months on testosterone vs 2 years

I can’t believe the last time I gave a testosterone update I had only been on it for 3 months. At the time it felt like I had enough changes to talk about it but looking back it felt like hardly anything changed. I didn’t really start to see real changes at 6 months and then had more changes after getting to the end of the first year. I kept meaning to write a 1 year update but I didn’t want to do it right away, and then I just forgot.

So here I am, procrastinating several other more important pieces of writing, to bring you an update on my two years on testosterone.

After my first year on testosterone was about to turn into a second one I felt like my changes had slowed down, that was until maybe two days after I hit that milestone that I noticed while rummaging my underwear drawer for a tight enough binder, and then with the prize in one hand closed my side mirror door to look at my naked chest, and I noticed something different about my shoulders. They were longer. One of my issues was that I still felt my shoulders were too narrow to be masculine – not anymore. 

Of course that was not my only change. I like looking at my top naked half because it was the first part to masculinize, if you just ignore the facial changes for a minute. What was curvy for most of my life was just a straight line. Ok, there’s a little hip but you have to look really closely to notice it. My hips were the first part of me that gave me dysphoria – like I used to beat them with my fists when I was 16 – but on testosterone they shrunk, or rather muscle covers them up better, and I hardly notice them anymore. Also, many cis gay men are a bit curvy and even have hips, and knowing that makes me ok with it.

Getting a masculine torso took a long time to develop, maybe a full year, so what helped me be ok with the gradual change was a full length binder that helped tone my abs. I have muscle there without doing any form of cardio workout.

Let’s go up the body now. I’ve always had a pretty thick neck and I now have a prominent Adam’s apple. My voice wasn’t the type to just go lower each month. It took many months for it to go down an octave. Now, it’s deep enough to be happy with, though sometimes it sounds a bit higher than I’d like. My face continues to masculinse. First it went wider than longer, and then hair began to gradually grow on it. I can grow a decent beard now, though nothing too thick. I rather just have a bit of facial hair. 

My shoulders have thick patches of hair on them too. I’m not so hairy on my back but it goes down my arms a bit. My stomach is completely covered, and so is my ass. Though it’s not too thick. The hair on my legs is so thick I call it fur and occasionally have to remove it. When it’s wet no towel will dry it and it’s hell to moisturise. 

My legs were curvy for a long time too. No matter how skinny they got they just looked slender. I slowly built muscle on them from fat redistribution. It hurt growing in. I was in pain for a few weeks, same as when I got abs from binding. I used to have to take breaks from binding fully. I’d just lift the material off my abdomen which would then relieve the pain. It took a few years but my legs are now fully masculine. They’re just straight tree trunks. My thighs are thick because I worked out before going on testosterone and sometimes during it. But my lower legs are just tight with muscle, but nothing bulky. To say I like it would be an understatement. I like looking at them a lot. 

The hair on my head is thick and thinning pretty quickly. I’m balding at the same rate my dad was, so it is what it is. I’d rather not get hair treatments and just age gracefully.

My changes to my feet at first worried me. I thought they had swelled up along with my shins, but now they look pretty normal. Still flat as a tack but have grown bigger because of the extra muscle there now. I have muscle on my hands too and parts a female born trans guy would never think muscle would be on the body. 

Acne is still a problem but I have a good care regime. Tea tree face wash and anti-oil moisturiser, in case you were curious. Sometimes I just get pimples because of the testosterone and no amount of skin care will help that, so I just put up with it. 

As for surgery, I can’t even afford top surgery unless I get it in Thailand and I don’t really travel. I’ve never been overseas before and it’s not exactly the best time to be doing air travel. I also feel like I don’t need it. For a long time I was disgusted by my breasts but now I don’t hate them. I’m a bisexual guy attracted to breasts with breasts – what’s there to hate? I could also go down as having the hairiest breasts in the world. I’m breaking world records here. I used to hate that fact but that’s because we’re raised to see masculine figures as flat chested and feminine as being slender and hairless. And I just don’t care for that anymore. 

People have probably heard about me being near suicidal because of my chest dysphoria and desperation for surgery but here’s the thing: I never felt much dysphoria about it before I got familiar with the ‘woke’ trans community. I just learned all the lingo and listened to people and suddenly I’m having all these extra problems with my body. So, I’m trying to unlearn that and get back to where I was mentally before I even knew about what it was like in the community. I still had issues with my body but not to the extent they were in the last couple of years. I never worried about being flat chested. I never worried about being too flat in the crotch area. Sometimes I do like wearing a prosthetic shoved down my pants, but sometimes it’s so noticeable it gives me even more anxiety. 

I enjoy my changes on testosterone, even if I didn’t want all the changes originally. The hip shrinkage is welcome. I don’t like being too muscular. I like being skinny, though not rake thin. I’m not. I still have a little tum tum which due to IBS likes to expand into a pregnant stomach. Yes, I call it a tum tum and don’t care if that makes me sound like a child. 

There aren’t only positive changes to testosterone. Like any form of medication you take there are side effects, and altering your natural hormone balance is always risky. I don’t recommend it for people who aren’t 100% sure that’s what they really need. On the pill I developed PMDD (severe pms) and that made me forever regret taking it. I was able to make the PMDD vanish on testosterone once I lost my period, but not everyone has that option. Also, it could come back when I menstruate again. I don’t like thinking about that but you’ve got to prepare for these things. 

I’ve had complications on testosterone too. I’ve had two hormonal imbalances which gave me symptoms of mental illness. And because I have bipolar my doctor was always concerned testosterone would make me manic. And that has happened a few times. Nothing serious I would need to be hospitalised for, but it still made me feel out of control. I’m currently coming out of one hormone imbalance which is so intense I can’t even take my testosterone injection until after an extra three weeks. Initially there was some tiredness, exhaustion really, as my levels dropped, but I got past that, and now I have my normal boom/bust energy levels that comes with my chronic illness. 

Taking testosterone and just living as a trans male has given me a lot more confidence but also increased my anxiety. I put my band photography on hold because I can’t use gendered restrooms and I can’t wear my binder all night because it will start hurting my chest and ribs after a certain amount of hours. But at the moment there’s no more live music to see. There are some but with strict social distancing rules applied, which I’m unable to follow while focused on my photography. I realised that when I photographed a Black Lives Matter protest. I’m not too good at multitasking. 

So, that’s just something I need to work on. And hopefully erasing some of this dysphoria that came from being in the trans community will help that. Don’t think I’m blaming them. It’s common in support communities to pick up symptoms that other people have. It happened when I was a part of the online autism community. So, I don’t blame them, but I still think they’re bossy. You know, they try to get you to change your language and omit words that they find offensive but might not necessarily be. And I have copied that and I don’t like being that way. 

I always like to think that people come into your life to help you, but then you have to move on once you’ve grown enough to no longer need that help, otherwise you start picking up on traits and behaviours that those people need help with themselves, and they’re not open to the same schooling they gave you. I feel support communities are the same way, but instead you pick up on traits and behaviours of people who already went through what you did, and the longer you stay the more likely your own progress will stagnate. 

And ending on that serious note I’ll bring this post to an end. At the moment I’m not sure if I’ll continue to take testosterone. I’ll have to wait and see how I feel in 2 weeks, and after talking it over with my doctor. I’m experiencing worrisome symptoms like chest pain, particularly around my heart. My doctor said testosterone can put stress on your heart and at the moment I can’t even get angry otherwise I feel a tightening. I’ve also been experiencing a severe electric burning in patches of my body anytime I get overheated, like when I walk 10 minutes to the shops. I’m told these are called heat hives and twice now they’ve almost brought me to a meltdown, which as an autistic person is something I put a lot of effort in to avoid happening, particularly in a supermarket. 

So, it’s uncertain scary times ahead. I’m now having to put myself in a mentality to accept going off testosterone and seeing myself as what I look like months later seems to help that. 

I’ve also been thinking about what being transgender means to me and how I want people to respond to that. I’ve never been one to dictate how people should see me, because I hate it when people try to control me in any way. But I will expand more on this point in my next blog post. 

Did You Know May 15 is PDA Day?

Well it is. Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome (PDA) is a type of autism where being given orders causes you extreme anxiety and as a result you resist anything that can be interpreted as a demand, even a damn suggestion or if someone says something you didn’t expect. 

I’m sick of going through year by year with hardly anyone giving a toss about this day, mainly because the media won’t do any stories on it. Sure, they’ll do their autism fluff pieces of Autism Awareness Day. Autism Awareness Day. Like what the fuck is that even meant to be about now? People are aware of autism, what they’re not aware about is the PDA type. Those are the types of stories the media needs to tell.

You know there’s not even an official form of treatment for PDA and probably no research into medical treatments because people hardly know about it or they’re just too busy trying to cure autism or creating treatments for autism and thinking it’s going to work on PDA. I got news for you – it won’t. The only type of treatment for PDA is not triggering PDA anxiety by rewording your demands and negotiating with PDAs when you accidentally do trigger them. A lot of people just trigger the anxiety anyway, despite being told time and time again by me to not do that. I even have a whole thread stickied on Twitter telling people who are interested in following me that, and Twitter is the one place I get triggered ALL THE TIME! I just have to ignore people, mute conversations or their accounts, and even block.

People seem to like me and I don’t even know why. Sometimes I’m a complete asshole to them but they remain so I don’t know what they like about me. I don’t like anything about me. I can’t feel anything for them. I can’t feel anything for anyone. I feel no connection to a single human on this Earth. I can like people and even love them, but there’s still no connection. If people knew what kinds of thoughts I had about them they wouldn’t stick around.

When people give me a demand I feel instantly attacked and controlled by them. When they suggest something to me I act just like you do when you feel threatened. When they say something I didn’t expect especially if it’s not in my world view then I have the urge to argue with them.

As a result I have no friends and though I want to make one or two I just don’t want to have those feelings about them. I can’t live with people so I pay double rent which then makes me feel financially unstable.

I know I’ll probably piss off the Neurodiversity community but I don’t care. PDA is not a difference, it’s more like an anti-social personality disorder. There is nothing positive about having to isolate yourself from people because they make you so angry. There’s nothing positive about resorting to social manipulation because you want to stop your anxiety. And it’s not gaslighting. You never put the other person down, but make it like you put yourself down, and sometimes you don’t even realise you’re doing it. Oh sure, you can pretend there’s positives to it like oh, we’re good at role playing. Who the fuck cares? The positives do not outweigh the negatives.

People who don’t experience PDA cannot imagine the constant suffering we’re under for being given everyday demands even from things that aren’t demands. We don’t need positivity or self-identity before there’s any real treatment or therapy or widespread knowledge about PDA in the medical profession.

And obviously I’m not talking about everyone with PDA but this is a reality for some and they shouldn’t be drowned out by all those positive stories. 

PDA is not positive for me. It is frustrating and lonely. It is primarily the cause of my depressive episodes and suicidal thoughts. I literally could kill myself over it, because how can a person just not get along with any other person? That’s no kind of life. I hear people talk all the time by how much they hate people but they don’t know what it’s like to actually feel that. If you’ve got friends or are in a relationship you don’t hate people. Stop pretending that you do. When you’re alone and feel constantly attacked by people and no longer trust them, then you know what it’s like to hate them. 

The loneliness is worse for me because my neighbours are literally on the other side of my apartment wall. I can’t understand how they all get along with each other. Only one says hi to me and I wish we could say more. I wish I could know him more but I also know what that turns into. I can’t be close to anyone. I can’t have friends, a roommate or a relationship. All because of one thing that I was born with.

If I got rid of it then I might have a chance to have a normal life. Notice I didn’t say autism but PDA is autism so to get rid of PDA then I get rid of autism too. Oh well. There was a time where it was pretty enjoyable to have, but it lasted too long. I kind of want something different now. 


Have yourself a Merry Little OCD FREAKOUT!!!!

Christmas ended weeks ago but I’m still affected by the emotions I experienced over the weekend. Yes, the weekend. As my regular readers would know my family celebrates Christmas over two days: a smaller quieter one on the day and the bigger more official one on Boxing Day. And then the next day it’s my birthday. 

So before I get started I should probably talk about my chronic illness, ME/CFS which affects my entire system, but the most notable symptom is the shorter amount of time it takes for me to get exhausted. So, you know, looking forward to three days of being busy is going to make me somewhat concerned about what could possibly happen to my body.

Thanks to a last minute rescheduling of my WISE Employment appointment I was able to make Christmas Eve my ultimate rest day. And that’s how I chose to use it, although, I did play video games which for someone with ME is not a good way to rest. 

Actual Christmas Day came and went by quite pleasantly. I spent it with my sister and brother, whom I hadn’t celebrated Christmas with in a long time, and I hadn’t really celebrated Christmas with this side of my family, my full blooded family that I grew up with, for a very long time. And of course with my sister’s boyfriend and her cats. I was my usual kind of anxious, worrying about my hypoglycemia – did I have enough to eat? Would there be enough snacks there to keep my blood sugar level before lunch? Are the snacks not too sugary?

And of course my OCD. The presents I bought for my sister’s cats had cat mint on them and those types of smells are not good to get on my hands, so I was washing them a lot. There’s also an issue of my testosterone shots. They contain 100% ethanol and I’m allergic to the smell. The smell can cause my face to swell. Any sensible person would just stop getting the shots altogether but I had devised a way to avoid getting allergic reactions, it just took a lot of hand washing, paper towels, toilet paper, and not touching the injection site for 8 long weeks. Simple really, and I was able to stay on testosterone for over a year. 

It’s made my OCD skyrocket however. Well, I got on testosterone a few months after getting my bedroom fumigated which kicked off my extra sensitivity to chemical smells and probably gave me multiple chemical sensitivity disorder, which is a real illness and common in those with ME/CFS.

But Christmas was hardly a problem. It was Boxing Day when things began to escalate. For one, I didn’t feel comfortable having it outside given my eczema and just being used to the routine of having it indoors and having the present opening ceremony under the Christmas tree. The presents I bought equaled to about $400 too and I didn’t want to see them get ruined or stolen. 

But it was actually a chill day. There was good food, I still had some beer left over from Christmas Day, and I had a good catch-up with my nephews, who to my surprise all thanked me for the presents. They must have been coached by mum or dad after the youngest one’s outburst last year where he couldn’t stop talking about how much he didn’t like his Christmas present. It’s was a Teen Titans shirt. I thought it was pretty cool.

Only problem was the toilets which were thankfully gender neutral had no soap at their sinks, but I came prepared with hand sanitizer. The sun didn’t really feel that bad that day but I still ended up with a sunburnt nose and lips which took about a week to recover from.

It was staying over at my step mother’s place overnight that kind of made my anxiety and OCD spike, although there was a moment at Christmas drinks at my brother’s place that set me off too. He sprayed the table that had my beer on it with a chemical cleaner. Of course he removed the beer first but then put it back on the table. Those chemical smelling fingers all over my bottle. However, it was an eco-friendly cleaner but at the moment that didn’t matter.

My step mum’s house was probably the cleanest house I’ve ever been in. Everything was so perfectly and precisely placed. The bathroom seemed to keep cleaning itself. It’s a level of clean I’d love to live up too one day. But I was so anxious about getting the smell of ethanol in my clothes bag when it came time to change that I basically just sat around in my boxer shorts after a shower. I don’t usually do that. I didn’t want to sit in my shorts that got sweaty and dirty from Christmas lunch too. I probably took more showers at my step mum’s place than I ever would at home. I get a lot of skin dryness so I moisturize and re-moisturize too. 

My anxiety was already spiked when it came to sleep. I stayed on my phone to get some light because in the pitch black all kinds of creatures of the dark came out.

Then when I woke up it was my birthday. I was exhausted and as much as I was happy to finally get a chance to celebrate it with people spiritually I wasn’t there. Any level of exterion I gave at that time would get me closer to PEM – post exertional malaise, which is a kind of warning sign your body sends by slowing it right down, physically and mentally, which signals to you to stop what you’re doing and get some much needed rest until you make yourself much worse and you’ll have no choice but to go to bed for a few days, weeks, years – who knows? 

So I kept all this in mind as I was eating a birthday breakfast, which helped to keep the hypoglycaemic crash at bay, while I opened birthday presents and had to run to the bathroom to wash off a very strong scent that was on one of the presents, all the time while following orders I was too tired to resist or argue to, as I needed people to just back off a little while I had my internal freakouts. I was thankfully able to escape into City of Ember, which was playing on SBS Movies. But I had to turn it off because it was rude or something to keep watching when people were over.

I also, selfishly, wanted to be somewhere else. I was infatuated with a guy who worked at a coffee shop, who I kept failing to say anything to. I was sure the next time I saw him I’d say something a bit more substantial than ‘I’ll have the chicken and bacon sandwich.’ I was hoping the place was opened on my birthday, as a conversation starter, and to my dismay it was and I couldn’t get there. It just felt like I could finally make some friends and celebrate my birthday with them. 

Although, now I look back on it I realise how it probably wouldn’t have worked out for me either. I was obsessing and being a screenwriter things work out better in my head than they do in real life.

When I saw the birthday cake, a mountain of chocolate and cream my heart began to plummet. It was a hyperglycemic attack waiting to happen. I still ate it and sure enough I felt the effects instantly, in my eyeballs. I turned down my step mum trying to give me more sweet biscuits that I couldn’t stop eating last night. I eventually allowed her to pack some for me to take home.

I was pretty much a tired zombie at my birthday. I don’t know if anyone noticed it or they just thought I was usually like this sober. Or it was just me being hungover, which I wasn’t. I kind of felt like when I was a kid and I didn’t give people many responses. I just went along with what they decided. 

I’m not saying a had a bad time. I really appreciate what they did for me. My birthday is usually a lonely time and I spend it depressed because I don’t have friends, so I often reflect on my lack of friendship and relationships and the fact that celebrating my birthday is treated like an afterthought by others. But I had pushed myself too much and I knew it. My body was screaming it at me, that’s why it turned me back into the hyposensitive child I was who could barely process the environment and wanted to watch science fiction movies as a form of escapism.

I didn’t bring up my OCD or hyperglycemia because, well, I tend to not be believed, or it gets brushed off by someone saying ‘you’ll be fine’ which is the last thing I want to hear. I already had what I term ‘seizure hangovers’, which makes my brain feel like it’s ripping apart while I’m having actual seizures, denied as being real. It’s the main reason why I stopped drinking more than 3-4 beers and went off hard liquor forever. Plus a few other things. Usually I get the way I process the environment differently denied, which I’m not too happy about. Why would I bring up my OCD when people don’t even believe the little differences I have? I’ve realised that I can write all the awareness articles I want here, I won’t be treated any differently. Neurotypicals don’t work that way. They can’t always keep that in mind, particularly ones I don’t see often.

When I finally got home I was too exhausted to go to the coffee shop. I was a sweaty dirty mess and that’s not how I wanted to be seen. I couldn’t relax in my own home because my roommate was occupying the couch watching Netflix for the entirety of the day. When they didn’t wish me a happy birthday I was done. I lay on my bed for hours depressed and exhausted. I only got up to open my present from my mum which was lying on the floor for days, because I knew I wasn’t going to get much and I needed to open up a present on my birthday to even feel happy on the day. So I opened it up and instantly felt better.

Now I’m thinking the two day Christmas, while it sounds like any kid’s dream to have, and even like a good way to party for an adult, is too much for me. I have issues with Christmas anyway. It’s a pagan holiday appropriated from the Catholic Church. I’m a puritan at heart. The actual day is so-so. There’s no magic in it anymore. It doesn’t mean what it meant when I was a kid, and no it’s not because I haven’t been happy since I was 12. Christmas just doesn’t feel special anymore. 

It also takes the focus off my birthday which I want to celebrate properly with friends. First I’ve got to make a few. 

An Autistic Person Prepares For Christmas

My preparation for Christmas started in late November when I decided to commit to buying Christmas gifts. But really, I have been keeping an eye out for what gifts to buy all year long. I am not content to just pick up a gift that someone may sorta like or something that will be enough. It has to be something I know they like. Something I’ve heard them talk about. Something that reflects how I know them. 

For example since April I have been planning on buying three Lootcrates to give to my nephews. It almost didn’t come together because the company was under new management but it all came together in the end. I also bought them ‘back up’ presents which was probably a good idea because my youngest nephews’ crate hasn’t even been shipped out yet.

Why do I have this strict ritualistic type of gift giving? I don’t really know. When I first moved to Sydney and got to know my extended family well, especially the kids, I wanted to buy them gifts they would really love. I’m like my dad in a lot of ways where I don’t show love vocally but more than what I can give people. I don’t think either one of us were very capable of knowing how to show love through words. And focusing on other people between late November and mid December really makes me less concerned about my own stress. I still make sure to take care of my mental health, but by thinking about other people more I feel less depressed. And giving gifts to people is enough to make anyone feel less depressed. If it doesn’t then you’ve lost sight of what giving is all about. 

In contrast I don’t mind what people get for me. It’s funny, I spend almost a month trying to work out the perfect gift for someone, but when it comes to receiving I don’t have any requirements. I tell people that do or complain it’s not what they wanted, that they should be happy they receive a gift at all. I’m just really lonely these days and I appreciate any gift given to me.

This year I’ve spent over $500 of Christmas gifts alone. I do feel like I may have overdone it but I also feel like these gifts are just right and buying anything cheaper wouldn’t have been satisfying enough. Plus, I bought myself a few things too. 

I’ve also been preparing for both Christmas and Christmas on Boxing Day, which is a new tradition my family have. I need to make sure I have eaten enough before I leave home, especially for the long drive to get to our picnic location on the Central Coast. I have hypoglycaemia and if I don’t eat enough or in time I can start feeling faint which eventually makes me cranky. Clothing is also important as it’s the start of summer and the temperatures can be anything from exceedingly hot to rainy to so cold you’d think it was still winter. It’s actually going to be hot, but not scorching, and Boxing Day will be cooler but not cold. I’m wearing shorts on both days. Shirts are important too. I bought a Christmassy Batman shirt but I also have two new shirts that I basically wear to promote a company on Instagram and I need photos of me in them. 

Then I have to plan what I actually do on both Christmas’s. Christmas Day lunch is going to be small and fairly chilled so I’ll probably just hang out with my sister’s cats, and maybe talk to people. I’m kidding. I actually have pretty average social skills for someone on the autism spectrum and I understand just how different neurotypicals are, even if they do remind me how much I still need to work on my social skills. 

I’m even preparing myself for the moments people say things I don’t agree with. It’s a good coping mechanism for PDA as I tend to really shutdown over being told things that feel offensive or trigger my PDA resistance. I don’t usually get into an argument but I hold it against that person for a long time. I mean, some people are just tactless and don’t really think about how people will respond to their words. The way we structure our words can make the difference in teaching someone something new or just pissing them off. Humans are emotional creatures; we love drama and seem to hyperfixate on words that trigger and emotional response. I’m not immune to that either, though at times I can avoid going off on them and responding as though I didn’t get angered about what they said. 

My plans for what I’ll do on Christmas Boxing Day are pretty straight forward. I’ll mostly hang out with my nephews and try to spend more time talking to my nieces. Then I’ll wander over to the adults, talk grown up stuff, and if I do become annoyed/exhausted by them I’ll go back to the kids. It’s so much easier being with kids as they’re not concerned about the same things adults are. They’re really carefree. Though we now have one teenager now so it’ll be interesting to see how he’ll be now. 

Besides of the usual plans of limiting the likelihood I’ll be overwhelmed I also have to check the fire dangers around the picnic spot and entire Central Coast because of the hundreds of bushfires burning in New South Wales. Some have been burning for a full three months. I’ve been monitoring fire warnings everyday, and also looking at the forecast because now they are saying rain is likely, but we haven’t had a substantial rainfall for months too. I definitely don’t want to get stuck anywhere near these fires. It’s a lot safer here in the city. Tall buildings and a few trees dotted around. No densely packed forests behind homes. It’s still hot and smoky though from toxic smoke from bushfires being blown into the city by strong winds. I may have to look into getting a face mask. The smoke causes me headaches and my face even swells up a bit.

Few other things I’ll need to prepare for: cause I’m a pre-op trans guy I still need to wear binders to keep my chest flat. Last time I was at a family event I stayed longer than I planned to and experienced problems with my binder. On the drive home it was hard to breathe. And to top it all off I was panicking so much that when I got home and put my key in the main security door of my apartment I bent the key so far back it no longer went into the keyhole. So I can’t go through that again, especially as I’m staying the night. So, I’m bringing along a binder one size too big that will hopefully make me breathe a little easier. Or I’m going commando. 

I’ve recently got back into special interests after years of not really having one, besides playing Destiny. It’s dragons. Yeah, dragons are cool. I think it was that animation The Dragon Prince that made me start loving them again. I’ve always loved them but not to the point where I want to collect every type of dragon merchandise I can. I’m not sure if I want to bring my Robo Dragon along to Christmas lunch. I mean, I do want to, I just don’t know if there will be room for her. Yes, her. She is a trans woman dragon who would like to be called Shona tyvm. She’s kind of like a therapy companion, except she doesn’t breathe or is furry and warm, but instead made of plastic scales and runs on batteries.  

I need to make sure when I feel overwhelmed, exhausted, or depressed to find a quiet place to be alone. It will be hard to do that during Christmas Day but hanging out with cats is always therapeutic. On Boxing Day there will more places to get away from everything.

Then it will be my birthday and so far all I know I’m doing is driving home from the Central Coast. I might go see The Rise of Skywalker or Jojo Rabbit. Mostly, I want to be able to make my own decision on what I want to do.

But I need to be smart. I have ME/CFS which is a hell of a disease. It affects both the brain and body, giving neurological symptoms and flu-like symptoms alike. It affects my gut…well my entire system. The main symptom is extreme fatigue over just doing everyday things. I can feel when I’m about to become fatigued because it feels like part of my body is pulling back as I push forward, so I get the sensation like my whole body is tearing in two. Meanwhile, my brain can’t construct the simplest of sentences. My memory ceases to be and my speech is juttery and disjointed.

So, I may just need to go home and rest, otherwise I could collapse. This one time I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi for my birthday and my ME was so bad I had actually reached a stage called post external malaise (PEM). It’s basically the time where your symptoms get worse and if you don’t take time to rest you may end not even be able to get out of bed the next morning. My movements were slow and shaky and I struggled to breathe. I still saw the movie but I was flat. I literally had no emotion. I just wanted to get out of there before I dropped dead.

Somehow I managed to enjoy the film.

So, I might just sleep into the The New Year just so I can rebuild my energy. Keep the fireworks down, please.

Dos and Don’ts of How to Treat Your Autistic Family Member on Christmas

Christmas can be a stressful time for most people. It is especially stressful for autistic people who have higher sensory sensitivities than the average population, aka. neurotypicals, and react to things differently than they do. So, it’s important to learn to recognise their stress and help them through it. The following is a list of dos and don’ts that give you a general idea of what autistic people like/don’t like and how they react to how people treat them. It’s not true of all autistic people, but covers a general range.

Do: Check with them that are comfortable about the venue Christmas lunch/dinner will take place.

Don’t: Assume they won’t feel any stress about the day because you don’t experience it. Obviously there’s the usual stress about hosting, cooking, and organising everything but it’s the little things you don’t think about that autistic people can become stressed by. If unsure, you can always ask them. 

Do: Make them feel part of the festivities by asking if they would like to be part of any games or other such events taking place.

Don’t: Pressure them to join in on said events if they say ‘no.’

Do: Ask them if they are ok with being hugged.

Don’t: Make them feel bad about not wanting to be hugged.

Do: Be ok with them not making eye contact or using much body language.

Don’t: Make them feel uncomfortable for trying to make them make eye contact or pointing out their lack of eye contact.

Do: Tell them when things will change, especially if each year Christmas is celebrated in much the same way.

Don’t: Call them selfish or rude if any change leads them to feel anxious and start resisting the change.

Do: Encourage them join in conversation.

Don’t: Make fun of them if they say something that seems odd and definitely don’t show a lack of interest, ignore or shut down the conversation if they talk about topics you don’t want to. They may not get many opportunities to talk face to face and some may have spent most of their childhood saying little to nothing, and you don’t want to upset them so much they go back to not talking.

Do: Ask them more about their symptoms to gain a better understanding of them, if it makes them feel comfortable.

Don’t: Make fun of them for their symptoms.

Do: Let them eat early or first if they require it.

Don’t: Make a big deal about them eating early. Low blood sugar is found to contribute to meltdowns, and you want to do your best to avoid these from happening. An autistic person will feel anything from embarrassment to shame after they meltdown on Christmas over what will eventually be everyone’s reaction to it. They don’t want to be responsible for ruining Christmas and no matter what you tell them, they may blame themselves.

Do: Let them use any sensory toys or aides that help calm them down. 

Don’t: Call such devices childish. Or let anyone point out that those things are for ‘little kids.’

Do: Give them a quiet space when they are overwhelmed. Let them choose their own.

Don’t: Try to get them to leave their quiet space if they’re not ready. 

Do: Make sure to keep the noise volume down or have quiet areas they can go to to escape it.

Don’t: Encourage others to make more noise than there already is.

Do: Make them aware when other unannounced guests they may not know will arrive.

Don’t: Expect them to greet, hug or even talk to them. Let them make the decision to do that.

Do: Make them do the bare minimum to reduce their stress.

Don’t: Ask them to help out in the kitchen, which we know, is the most stressful place on Christmas Day. If they want to help out then you let them.

Do: Let them decide if they want to bring a dish for lunch/dinner.

Don’t: Insist they bring a dish for lunch/dinner. 

Do: Understand they have different neurological wiring and process the world differently to you, which leads to not being able to cope with things that may seem easy to you.

Don’t: Assume everything that makes sense to you will make sense to them, or everything that seems common knowledge to you won’t seem a mystery to them. Try to exercise some theory of mind; that each person has their own thoughts and feelings of their own. 

Do: Empathise

Don’t: Be unempathetic.

Do: Ask them if they are tired and would like to go home.

Don’t: Insist it’s time to go if they’re still having fun.

For Children: Don’t pressure them to hang around children their age if they don’t want to. Do encourage other children to play with them if they feel comfortable playing with other children. Do teach children about their autism and what they like and don’t like doing, and to not pick on them for being different.

ADHD Bootcamp Part 2: Learning to Regulate Emotions

Before I continue I’d just like to state the advice here is take it or leave. It’s completely up to you if you want to follow this advice. It’s just here as a basic guide for those to use who want learn a few coping skills. It may not work for everyone as different methods work for different people. But if you never try how would you know what does and doesn’t work for you? Some people have a defeatist attitude of thinking they will have the same struggles forever. I once believed this to be true but that’s not always the case. Our brains may be different but they’re just as plastic as those without ADHD.

Tip 4: Learning to Regulate Emotions

ADHD in the most simplest terms is a brain that’s completely unregulated, this involves the regulation of emotions, and I’m not going to lie, this is probably one of the most difficult ADHD symptoms to manage. Poor regulation of emotions comes with sudden mood shifts, easy to anger, too little or too much empathy, making rash decisions based on emotions rather than using logic to carefully think them through, and the inevitable explosive meltdown. My development of empathic skills is largely thanks to the ADHD community and being able to focus long enough on Ritalin to take time to listen and apply what I learned in my life. I’m autistic also so my ability to empathise has been poorly developed and not used for all situations, particularly when it was needed. I got called selfish a lot as a kid, and even in my 20s. So, people who tell you autistic people can empathise and even become overwhelmed by their empathy…they’re not lying but this isn’t the experience of every autistic.

People with ADHD can have their empathy all over the place too. In the forum we would get into some very heated disagreements, usually when people weren’t able to see how one side was experiencing an issue; basic theory of mind. It was the people 40 and over, the ones with experience, who were the ones to yet again empathise with both points of view. We kept having the same arguments like this and again it was the mature ones telling us to see both sides. I felt both embarrassed and ashamed I kept forgetting this fact so I did my best to remember it. I’m not exactly sure when it stuck but when it did I stopped getting into the usual disagreements and instead adopted a neutral position, and still do to this day.

So how does someone who’s either lacking in empathy or not using it work on it? You can learn this like I did. Focus closely on the people who argue both points of view, listen to what someone says when they empathise and try to mirror that. As always, practice makes perfect.

We with ADHD tend to overlook and not see when we should empathise. I think it’s smart to not react to someone who angers you straight away but take some time to cool down from your emotions and also take the time to try to understand where they are coming from. You won’t always achieve that and that’s ok. What matters is you keep recognising when your emotions are this high and back away from a discussion until you’re able to think more clearly.  

The emotions we feel when we’re arguing, especially if we think we’re about to prove someone wrong, feels like a drug. Every sentence we utter or type is like taking a higher and higher hit. You have to learn to pull away before this happens or the first time you become aware it’s happening. Because that can really get us into trouble. We’re not thinking clearly, just riding the high. We’re not even listening to the other person, just patting ourselves on the back as we become convinced that we sure showed them.

I used to replace this high with playing a video game. Advancing to a new level or unlocking an achievement is guaranteed to give you a similar or higher hit, as your brain is responding the same way to your playing as it does when you take drugs. These days though I try to just avoid situations that will put me into that mind, often online, as I tend to not say much offline. It seems pointless to argue face to face with people as it should online. It’s all pointless. We will stop caring about an issue we felt passionate about an hour ago. You can argue with someone until you’re blue in the face or have bleeding fingers from typing so much but rarely is someone convinced of something after an argument. They’re more likely just agreeing because they’re tired of arguing. The only way they can be convinced is when you keep calm and and restructure your words to sound less accusing and belittling. It’s always a good idea to support their opinion before you counter it too. Unless it’s completely ridiculous. In that case just say ‘I disagree’ and push forward with your argument.

That’s one way we can handle our emotions when talking to people but sometimes it doesn’t even take another person to make us angry. So, for those times you can kind of do the same thing: stop and spend some time to calm down. Talk to yourself gently. It helps to have some experience in cognitive behavioural therapy, i.e restructuring negative thoughts to more positive and rational ones. For example at times I think I hate people but then my mind will tell me I’m just angry at them. Or how about for depression? When your mind tells you people hate you or find you annoying? You can tell yourself you don’t know this as a fact and you can also look back at how they treated you in the past to know for sure.

Always take some time to cool down from your anger and then analyze it by exploring why you are angry. From here you can then respond in a more rational and calm manner.

Some people with ADHD may not even know what emotion they are feeling or why it’s happening. This is a condition psychologists call Alexithymia. I had this around 8 or 9 years ago. I would be near to meltdown and not understand why. Eventually I’d work out why I was that angry to begin with. Often it was when people visited my house unannounced. There’s those autism symptoms bleeding into my ADHD again. After this I realised finding out the source of such emotions like anxiety helped me overcome them.

I’ve had severe anxiety of various types all of my life. As I have Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome, a type of autism characterised by extreme resistance when given orders caused by the anxiety of having your environment controlled, I’ve had to work out many coping mechanisms for my anxiety.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) really helps me out here. Say you say something to me and to me it feels like you are trying to control me by basically telling me what to do or disagreeing or suggesting I do something different; a voice in my head might come in and say that’s probably not the case. You’re triggered, it tells me, be very careful in how you reply. It’s best to not engage. But this doesn’t kick in until I’ve already got myself in a flame war with someone and it can be very hard to realise this before I respond at all or to stop myself from being triggered. And we’re talking triggered in the mental health sense. A PDA trigger mixed with PTSD and whatever else is going on in my head is a very volatile thing. I still need to work out ways to control these outbursts.

Does ADHD make it harder? Sure. ADHD barely comes up given the many things causing my unregulated emotions. But ADHD contributes in some way and also helps me overcome it faster as I stop caring about whatever issue got me worked up within an hour.

A way for me to avoid getting in a red hot argument and making things worse for my mental state is to recognise that what was said made me angry, listen to the reaction in my head, and consider whether it’s really for the best to say them to someone. Most times I have to consider whether my words will have any impact on the other person. Most times I just want to educate someone but if they don’t listen it feels like a waste of time. Now is a good time to not answer right away if I even answer at all, but to just dwell on my thoughts and feelings. Eventually the anger will subside and I’ll be able to answer a lot more calmly.

A way to manage general anxiety is much the same as managing my anger: stop and think before acting. If I find myself ruminating about something and getting worried or feel I’m about to fly into a rage I’ll tell myself this isn’t helping and to do something else. Distractions are good but don’t fix the anxiety.

So what does help? Finding the source and then working out ways to fix the problem. More self-talk and problem solving and soothing CBT. If you’re beginning to panic then you can employ some deep breathing exercises. Take a full breath in, count to four and exhale over four seconds. Or cover one nostril, inhale, and breathe out of that nostril but before you do cover the other one. I learned this from Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness and it’s helped me so many times. You can also try and spin a fidget spinner in front of your face. This time using it is supposed to distract you from your thoughts. Don’t mock fidget spinners, they have been life saving for me.

Once you’ve calmed down you can better think about a way to solve your anxiety by dealing with the source of it. It can’t always be solved, but it doesn’t have to feel like the end of the world.

That’s general anxiety, as for social anxiety…you need to realise that hard to swallow pill: it’s completely delusional. People are too busy thinking of their own worries to be thinking things about you. And even if they are they’re just people, often strangers you’ll never see again. I developed the somewhat arrogant notion that I don’t envy them and I don’t respect enough about them to take anything that they seriously at all. Do I still have social anxiety? Sure. Although these days it’s not the freezing up kind. I can talk to people, join in on a conversation if it’s interesting enough, but my anxiety is more in the form of irritation than any fear. I’ve had the freezing type, the completely blank mind when it comes to having something to say to a group of people. I prefer not to be in group conversations and focus more on one on one. Sometimes we need to work out what’s best for us and not be too depressed over the fact that we can’t do something a certain way, like talking to a group of three or more.

I’m transgender so experiecne gender dysphoria in the form of anxiety and I’ve been trying a new strategy for dealing with it: saying it’s temporary. It is. The worst of my dysphoria is experienced around other people, on the street and not around the people I know. You could use this to handle anxiety too. Anxious thoughts are temporary, especially social anxiety, as they exist only when you are in a social environment. So remove yourself and it will be over. Now I’ve not tried that one for myself but it’s worth a try. 

Remember, celebrate the little victories. You can’t overcome this overnight or even over weeks. It takes years to get to a point where you feel you have developed better self-control. So, work on it a bit at a time. Note any progress you make and be proud of yourself for coming this far. Given the fact we have a neurological difference we may never completely overcome our issues with emotional regulation, but we can manage it better once we notice the signs we’re about to lose control of our emotions and then we can decide if we want to keep talking or not.

If you slip up and fall back into the same pattern of overreaction again don’t panic. That’s bound to happen when you have ADHD. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, just try again. You will have to consciously try to control your emotions, which can be mentally draining. So, remember to take some time to rest to rejuvenate yourself.

That concludes part 2. Part 3 will discuss how to develop a social filter.

ADHD Bootcamp (Part 1)

I know that the title sounds a bit daunting but don’t worry, I’m not going to get you to run outside military drills. It’s just to illustrate the strict manner in which I manage my ADHD symptoms.

I have not been connected to the ADHD community for years for the very ADHD reason of forgetting my password on the ADD Forums and not being able to get back in. Anyway, it’s been years and I don’t really feel like I need to go to those boards everyday for help with managing my symptoms and having a group I relate to. After all, I still have my Wrong Planet password somewhere.

Recently I’ve noticed the occasional post by someone with ADHD pop up on Twitter and people have been finding out what executive dysfunction is for the first time. I think it’s great that the ADHD community has connected this way on Twitter especially as it’s not easy to get back to the old style message boards once we inevitably forget our passwords.

It’s been 10 years since I was diagnosed and in those years I’ve developed a number of coping strategies to manage my ADHD. So, here I am finally sharing those strategies with you.

I’m separating each subject into ‘tips’ to help me control the amount of text I write. It’s also very clean and organised and my OCD smiles upon it. 

Tip 1: Working On Increasing Patience and Rewarding Progress

From the beginning of my diagnosis I have been working on strategies to better manage my ADHD and I have been sharing that information with other people with ADHD.There was this one person I was trying to help motivate to do a task by telling him he could reward himself with a cake or some other snack, but he ate the snack before doing the task. I thought hmm, this is going to be harder than I thought.

Impulse control test

The snack is meant to be the reward so what’s important here is to not touch it until you have accomplished something. For this test we put snack in front of us (I chose chocolate biscuits) and time how long it takes for us to eat it. If you’re the type who can’t resist a tasty snack in front of you then try to resist it for one minute, then five, 10 and so on. I was able to resist this snack for one and a half hours and it would have been longer if I was able to motivate myself to make a healthier snack. I can buy a box of chocolates and make it last for months. This was not always the case. I had to train myself to resist temptation as it were. It might be a good time to say that many of the phrases I say come from a Christian upbringing. There’s nothing religious in them, it just comes from being taught these words in childhood. Just thought I’d give you a warning.

So yes, resist temptation. Try it out and see how you go. You can increase your patience level like one increases in muscle strength by exercising that muscle. It can go further than resisting a snack. If you allow yourself to be impatient, just sort of feel your impatience but with no thoughts of urgency attached to it you can also work on becoming  a much more patient person. But there are other things we can do but I’ll talk about them in other sections. 

Let’s talk for a short time on rewarding accomplishments. People with ADHD struggle to achieve long term goals because we have a need for a quick reward. It’s one of the reasons I love unlocking achievements when I play video games. So, rewarding yourself with a favourite snack can help motivate you to do a task you otherwise had no motivation to do, as long as you don’t eat it first. As for achieving long term goals you can break it up into steps and reward yourself after completing each step. It doesn’t even have to be with food either but with social media or Netflix. Yes, I am the type to avoid using these just so I can stay focused on a task. To help me write screen plays for example I disconnect from the internet. 

Tip 2: Organise Your Day With A To-Do List

Developing structure and routine seems like pulling teeth to anyone with ADHD, except weirdos like myself who thrive off of it. Without routine my day would be completely unstructured and I wouldn’t be able to do much more than yell at people on Twitter. Psychologists also say that people with ADHD need structure to stay organised. A simple to-do list app on your mobile with audible reminders is enough, though when I tried this I always failed to get those tasks done. I went back to writing everything down on paper, and when I say everything I mean everything. It wasn’t enough to write down important tasks in order of when to do them and what time, as you see in the next image I had to write down when to get out of bed and what I did as part of my ‘morning routine.’ This involved things like feeding my cat and dog and making my bed. As I was still on ADHD medication I wanted to fill my day doing nothing but productive work. I just didn’t want to waste those 10 precious hours I was on it. So, I would write down things to do like researching or writing, exercise or shopping and of course write down when I had an appointment to keep.
Eventually I was able to shorten my to-do lists so they only involved remembering to do what tasks I wanted to do that day. Now, I don’t need a list at all unless it’s to do things I really put off and require me to be organised, such as screenwriting.

Also, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do every task you wrote down. Just celebrate what you could do and try again tomorrow. You’ve still got ADHD so executive dysfunction is going to get in the way a lot. 

An actual to-do list I would write these days

Tip3: Eliminating Distractions

When I really need to focus on something and I just can’t it helps to remove anything that could be distracting me. After I was diagnosed I had real difficulty with just having objects on my desk that I’d fidget with. I would have to disconnect my internet connection for those times I found myself going back there. I used to have to turn off the music I’ve been listening to but now music actually helps me concentrate. And I’ve not been too proud to not use a fidget spinner. I’m someone who can’t even concentrate on what I’m watching on Netflix unless I have use of my hands. Usually I eat a small bowl of snacks but nothing works than spinning a fidget spinner out of my eye’s view. There were times when writing or studying where I had to twist my body from side to side or bounce my leg to stay focused.

My biggest distraction is the phone. I do spend a fair bit of time on my phone. I don’t just post a bunch of cat memes on Twitter though I do use it to keep connected with my LGBT+ community, autistic people and keep updated with news and connect with my fellow socilaist/liberal activists. I also post cat memes.

I literally have had to just leave my phone in another room. Usually I just keep it on the charger all day. Though I do admit I can even slip and be on it when I should be focusing on other things. I like to take long breaks from social media though, usually at night when I watch TV. It’s not easy at all to sit still and watch a screen for a few hours when you’ve got ADHD.

I’m going to talk more about ADHD symptoms and how social media make them worse in a later section. 

To be continued in next post.