S2 E10 - 5:10:20, 2.31 PM
7:01PM May 10, 2020
Lee Skallerup Bessette
Welcome back to this week's episode of all the things ADHD, a podcast with Lee and Amy, sharing our experiences as 40 something year old women with recent diagnosis of ADHD, among other things. I'm Lea and I am ready writing on Twitter and Amy will jump back in in a second. And she's Digi walk on Twitter. This is the second part of our conversation with Kelly Baker writer editor extraordinaire. This week, or this part of our conversation this week is focused on in particular the things we do to keep ourselves organized and on task and also to just feel more comfortable and also being weird. So I hope you really enjoy this conversation. I know I did. And it's just really great to be able to talk with these wonderful ladies about all of these subjects. Jackson, so if you've ever felt weird or out of place with or without ADHD, then Today's episode is definitely for you. We're going to just pick it up in the middle of the conversation. So enjoy.
Kelly, you're talking about like organization and binders and three hole punching. And I'm like, I am admiring that so much. And one of the questions I actually had for you specifically, you know, as someone who shares some diagnoses with me, you have a skill, like you edit stuff, and you manage a publication and you organize people. I am well known on this podcast and every other thing I've ever been involved with for like, I'm not going to answer the emails, and you just need to tell me when to show up. Because I'm not going to. I can't organize other people. Like I can run a class but like when we throw parties. I'm like, I will do everything that will happen in the house during the party time, but I can't invite people or track rsvps Know how many people are going to be you're like, I just have a block, and I can't do it. And so I am beyond impressed and mystified by how you can be an anxious ADHD person who nonetheless, is like the organizational head of stuff. Can you tell me how you do it?
Yeah, no, it's funny. So the control piece is a big piece of my anxiety, right? So that it's one of those where my therapist laughs at me all the time, where I'm like, if I could just get everything to work the way I need it to. I would have no problems. And she's like, I mean, she often looks at me for like, a good 30 seconds before she responds because I say these ridiculous things. And then she's like, you know, that's like, not how the world works. And I'm like, What do you mean, it's not how the world works? How dare you? I'm paying you money to tell me this stuff.
Sounds like my daughter. You sound remarkably like my daughter, which is also like, she's she's like, she was getting anxious, because they were like, we're going to send out all of the before all this happens. We're going to send you your classroom link. And all of her friends got their classroom links. And she wasn't getting hers yet. And she's like I need, they gave me a sheet to fill out classroom links in there. And I've got some links, and I need classroom links. And I'm just like, and I'm like, I don't know what to tell you. And they didn't send them. She's like, why not? And I'm like,
No, she and I are similar people. Yeah, no, go on. So yeah, so I love it. I love a good binder. Right? I love a good to do list. And I've really clear frameworks for both of the magazines that I edit. Where I kind of know exactly when deadlines are and when that means that I need to do things and but my partner jokes that that's because my like main goal in life is to bring order to chaos. Like it's one of these things where if something's not working, right, he's like, you can kind of toss me at it and then I'm like, I will fix it right? And it means that usually I'll spend a month with like my eye twitching and I look kind of deer in the headlights as I'm trying to figure out all the moving pieces. But it is one of those things where like organization just kind of speak To me as a, this is how we make things orderly because it's the only way I can actually write and edit and do these sorts of things is that I have to have a good sense of like, what is this day bring? And what am I supposed to get done? So the current chaos with my children in my house, right? means that I'm like, oh, today is supposed to be this day. But it's not this day, because like, I have a kid with strep. What do you mean, I have a kid with strep? Like, how did he even get strep when we're inside? Like, I don't understand, like how this happens. It's naturally occurring too. But that's like, besides the point, um, but it's one of those where I'm like, but this is, this is my data. I work on this and now I can't and so the opposite of this is the more chaotic things get, the more I'm like, you know, maybe I should just never write books again. And novels, right. So it's never like a this is a bad day sort of response. It's always like the most catastrophic response right? So I'm getting a little bit better at managing that. But right now, it's just one of those things where I went to my therapist, and I'm like, everything is overwhelming. Everything is overwhelming and the world is on fire. And I can't focus. And she's like, yes. And you're like,
What do you mean? Yes,
of course. She's like, just like, I've been waiting for you all week, because I knew you were gonna come in and me we're gonna be like, oh, like, Yes. Why? Yeah. Because what?
Why can't you fix this? Yeah, it is everything a couple of weeks ago that everybody has ADHD now, right? Because everybody was like, completely thrown out of whack. And people were having trouble focusing people.
No meaning intrusive thoughts,
right. People are like, what deadline? What I didn't what the zoom call, I never got that. Right, because people's tech is not working. Right. So people are like missing things. And they're both stuff and they don't know how to do the things they're supposed to do and when they sit down to try to do them, they get distracted, right or Find that even when they're trying their damnedest to focus that, like they just cannot bring it. They have like some kind of monkey brain happening. So like, I get that I get that for sure. And I like I'm really interested in, like, I like organizing things to I like to make the structure but then I have no follow through, like, how do you muster the follow through, like, sometimes my husband will be like, did you hear back from the contractor for the garage? I'm like, Well, I sent him an email. He's like, what I'm like two weeks ago, he's like, Well, you know, and again, like, I already emailed him once, right? Dare you, how dare you like it took a lot took everything I had to like, you know, ask him to do this one time. And now you're saying I have to follow up? Well, and do that.
Part of that for me is that I'm really bad at that kind of stuff. So I'm terrible at that kind of like follow up piece, right? Like if you if I have to be on the phone, you would think that I was dying, right? Like the reaction that I have where I'm like, No, I can't go. It was terrible. And my partner is just like, you just pick up the phone and you dial. But I was like, but then I'm talking to a stranger about this kind of stuff. And now I it's just it's really funny. So I have a really hard time with that kind of thing, right? You ever do
the thing where you're like, I could call but I'm not sure what question to ask when I call. So if I ask the wrong question, and then they like, say like, what are you asking? And then I like will die, right? Yes, they already have all the information I would get from the phone call before I make a phone call because it's like an unstructured social interaction where I'm on the hind foot, because I don't understand what's happening. That's why I have to call and that makes it
impossible. It does. Like just pick up the phone and call I'm like, No, there's there's also the problem with being ettlin. This is my thing is this is my ADHD thing is I can't do things to simply and so any sort of call where I have to ask turns into like a 25 minute like monologue about like, why I'm calling and what's going on and it's like, and apologizing because that's a woman thing. And I'm like, I'm really sorry that I understand this, but like it's raining out. My kids are home. I've tried like 17 things, and I'm actually professional at this, but I don't understand like, Why can you? And they're like, ma'am, could you just map and I just wants to like,
like, we're just trying to make your dentist appointment.
Yeah, that's right. That's all
we're trying to do as a dentist appointment. Well, and because of this, like brand new world we're in, I now get random phone calls from teachers multiple times a week. Oh, thank you. So I will be like working on this damn book that I have to finish, right? Because there's always something finished. And I mean, the world's on fire and my kids are here. And they're like, you still working on that zombie thing? And I'm like,
and then the teacher
is like, you know, hey, Miss Baker, because we're the south, right? I just call in and then it's like, I mean, like it's an event, right? Like, it's at least taking 15 minutes where they're like, how are they doing? And I'm like, well, they're doing as good as I can because the world's on fire. And then the teacher doesn't know how to respond to me, right.
They're like, what Cuz I thought I would be like, Oh, I'm fine. And I'm like, no one's fine. Like, that's really dumb to try to do that. So then they're like, oh, okay, and I'm like, Well, how are you? And they're like, oh, everything's
good. I'm at home. And I'm like, How is everything?
So? Yeah, so it was easier.
That's the sure way, though. They'll never call me again. They're like, Oh, god, I'm just gonna call this Baker.
So, I end up in these, like, protracted conversations with them. The next thing I know, they're like, wait, you said you already work at home? And I'm like, oh, like, now I've done it. Right. And then they're like, never told me is my older kid, right? They were told us what you do. And I'm like, Oh, I'm an editor. And they're like,
and then I have to like, explain to them what that is. And then like, the phone call just keeps going on and on. And I'm like, this happened to me. Like, I have teachers calling me about random stuff that I don't care about interrupting my day. My focus and like all these other sorts of things, right, and so it's the unpredictability of it that really gets me right. Like, is unpredictable right now anyway, but it's that kind of thing that I'm just like, one more thing like, Why are you calling me on the phone? We have text, right? Like, do something else.
Oh, I love that bit to where like someone calls you on the phone and you don't want to answer it and you answer it and they like ask you something and you answer with like, well, everything's on fire. So like, what does it matter? Right? Yeah. And then
like, cuz I know that I get that all the time from people I say something hilarious and honest. And they're like, judging, right? Yeah, somehow failed some normative standard of feminine v again, which like, just makes me think, oh, next time, I'm for sure answering the phone, right? Like, because like, I'm trying to be charming and friendly. And they're just like, do we need to call Child Services?
I'm like, I'm pretty funny and adorable. But I didn't realize, right like, I'm like, most people find me sort of I mean, you know, like, there's a certain It's interesting this like I get it, right. But it's what I'm interacting with your teachers that I'm like, Oh my gosh, I'm like they think Kara's mom is like a complete weirdo. Like, this is the reaction that they have to me, because I never respond in the way that they've kind of predicted I'm gonna respond. And when what used to really bother me, but now I tried to just be like, you know what, this is just a way I'm going to interact with people and it's gonna be awkward and whatever. Because sometimes they think I'm really cute. And they're like, oh, aren't you the cutest thing? You're so
brave you I'm not trying to be cute.
Or they bless your heart. Bless your heart.
I got a lot of that. I think that probably like I imagine the team of teachers that my daughter has like getting not not now because they can't but like before, like meeting and like,
a thing for him. Yeah, yeah, we did. She's strange, right? Like I just kind of model it.
She's the one with the purple hair. Oh,
Yeah, and the tattoos, right? Say the tattoos, you know, purple hair, wild glasses, tattoos, and she's an editor. And then and then my kids, of course are like my mom writes books. And then the teachers are like, what about my kids? They're like zombies and white supremacy. And I'm like, oh,
like, just pile it on. Thanks a lot.
Yeah, my kid tells people that I'm an internet professor. She's like, my mom's really cool. She has purple hair, and she's an internet professor of memes. Which accurate but then people are bit alarmed. When we both did the same thing Kelly we both like,
like dogs at the
same time. Are we have that experience at school to where like our family therapist has been like maybe things will go better at school if you brought your husband with you because he's has really good social skills. He's like, he's my real life interpreter. And like it's a French language school. So everything happens in French. It's a Francophone school. Nothing happens in English. He does not speak French. And the meetings go better when he's there. Because people like him, even when they don't speak English in ways that people are alarmed by how I engage.
I feel this hard. So my partner is a really charming guy, right can talk to anyone extrovert and whereas I tend to be the one that's like, Okay, all right, they're gonna play let's play, right? And I'm like ready to go in? guns blazing. He's like, oh, are
we trying to be nice? And I'm like, trying to be nice, right?
He might he might much better at this than I am, right where he can just kind of he can chitchat with people. And I'm like, Oh,
do we have to like, do we have to do this?
Yeah, my husband gives me tips like, you know, I know you don't think Elin should be doing homework because it's not developmentally appropriate, or as you say, according to the research in any way supported right. By the scholarly literature He's like, but it's not helpful to go in and say that you have a PhD and never did homework. And it's also not helpful to say that you've read the entire scholarly literature on the value of homework prior to grade nine, and you would like to see them say, like, what's true, and he's like, that's not a helpful way to engage with people. It makes them defensive. And I'm like, but they're wrong. And he's like, okay, maybe don't talk. Yeah, like,
maybe just cut it out. Right. I think it's interesting, because previously, I kind of imagined pre therapy, I kind of imagined that this is just me, for some reason being bad at being social. Like I had this kind of instance. And like, where I would model this in my head where I was like, Oh, I can do this. I can interact with people. How hard can this be? And then I was like, Oh, my God, this is terrifying. Like, all parts of this are bad. And I don't say the right things. And I'm interested in the wrong things. And I don't really care to do this kind of gendered bullshit, which doesn't help either, you know, in a lot of ways And so I was like, What is going on? And then I was like, Oh, that's how my brain works. Like, that's a good thing to know. Right? Like, this is not. I was thinking that maybe this social pattern is not helpful to us because it's not authentic and honest. And these other sorts of things, right, that I think are valuable. But yeah, it is one of those where I always when we go in to meet teachers, they just have this moment where I'm like, hold together, Baker, pull it together, and then it never fails, that they asked me something, and then I say something random, or that should be and then I'm like, well, that went about as well as I thought it was going to be it's hard.
It's like really tiring to try to, like, get what you need, done, done out of meeting at the same time that you are actively producing a performance that is unnatural to you about how you should manifest in the space. Like it's using two full time jobs like simultaneously there. And I think it's really great when we eventually get that insight that like it's not that we're bad people. It's that this formula For interaction is not geared in such a way that would allow us easily to succeed, right. I mean, I'm writing a book chapter right now about formulaic selfies about how we're like, Oh, it's so formulaic. It's like, all everybody looks the same. And the argument of that chapter is like, well, formulas help us get through life, right? formulas make communication much more efficient, right? You know, that kind of fatik sort of like, Hey, how are you doing? I'm fine. How are you? I'm also fine like that. There's, there's a reason that like, those things are not original. We don't want to peer into everybody's soul constantly, right? But at the same time, formulas also like produce stereotypes, right? Which means we squash, the, like, 85% of people to whom it applies into the same bucket. And if you're in the 15%, that that formula doesn't work for, like it really, really doesn't work for you. So that efficiency that we gain by having these patterned ways of interacting with each other, if that's not a way that you can interact with people, it's like you've syncopated, like the whole conversation falls apart, like the other person has no flexibility there to shift john Right, right, we're not speaking at a formula now we're going to have to produce this interaction in real time from scratch by listening to one another. And people are not prepared to do that. Right. And I think that's not often a failure of the neurodivergent person because that's all we do every interaction that we engage in we're trying to figure out what the rules are the conversation All right, trying to fit it right so so I've had that experience as well like just trying so hard and it's like the harder I try the worse I feel when it doesn't work out when people still give you that look that look of like boo
that bless your heart but you little weird, right like,
well, energy again and this sort of joke in our family is that Baker's are a lot like we just understand that, that individually that we're all a lot in different ways, but like you put us together in a cohesive unit and then it's like, oh, man, whoa, right. And I think it's great because it means my kids don't feel like they have to be super contained. But it also means we're having conversations about like, there gonna be some people that are just like no, right like They just don't want any part of this and that's fine, right? Because not everyone's gonna like you or interact with you in the way that you hope they will. But it is this kind of really funny sort of thing where we're what as soon as I kind of realized that I was like, Oh, I'm okay with this right like, this is fine. I'm okay with us being a lot and it's not kind of fitting in a way that some people would imagine us to you and some people find it you know, kind of darling and then other people are like, okay, like, you didn't see my like, dramatic face here, but like, they just can't handle it as well, that they're just not kind of prepared and, um, but I think it is so hard when you're not like seamlessly doing the kind of things that they want you to do. Before we moved here I lived in this like very white suburban neighborhood, right that they kind of imagined themselves to be liberal but they weren't. And don't call them on it. They did not appreciate that but like
So all the moms look the same way all of them either had like long blonde hair, long brown hair,
the same to know like, how do they know? Like, I was
like the same haircut like, and then the next like three months later, it's a different haircut, but they
don't know how do they
all have the shirt and the leggings, right? Or the thing in the skinny jeans, and they all have like, similar pair of boots. And I'm like, Is there like a white girl shop that I don't know about? Like, I feel like you're so sure is there a white girl shop that I am unaware exists? And I can remember for a moment being like, let me like attempt to fit in, right? Like, let me try and see how this works. But there's no way to make it work. If your brains don't work the same way their brains work or you don't follow the sort of social norms, right? And I'm like, so I can wear the damn tunic shirt and the leggins but there's
still like, Damn, you're just delaying the inevitable. Like jacking you from 20 feet away. You're gonna open your mouth and it's gonna happen later.
But even guys, when you don't feel comfortable in them, either thing. Write that to where you're like it. Like, I can't walk on the heels and, you know, so so when you try to put on that kind of uniform and the uniform, you know, fits in terms of size but doesn't fit in terms of personality in terms of like just feeling comfortable in it, like, it just yeah, you can put it on but it's like, you know, olynyk down and pulling it up and
like it kind of drag like, it's like, yeah, where you're like, wearing somebody else's, like kind of uniform as a way to like bolt yourself into some type of identity performance that that will be like legible or appropriate in the scene that you're in. I mean, it's it's great that we have like our signature glasses and our like very dramatic clothes in our funny colored hair right because like I got a point like in my mom is like, why do you have to look so weird and like, where I got to was like, well, I am weird, right? And I kind of rather people see that coming. Right? So like your Gonna interpret me as like, however you're gonna interpret me someone who says the wrong thing at the wrong time? Well, I might as well have the wrong hair all the time, right then don't know what you're getting. And I at least feel a little bit more. Like I'm not disappointing people after they start talking to me like a pretty good sense that I am not going to be like them. And I'm not. I mean, it doesn't mean like I'm trying to be like aggressive or combative. It just means, like truth in advertising, right? This is like plain packaging for me is going to be like a very dramatic lipstick and a very severe haircut. Would you be like, Whoa, that girl's not like me, and I'm not and that doesn't mean we can't be friends. But I'd rather like we get that out in the open.
Yeah, and I would I would rather I mean, in a similar way where it's just one of those things are both my kids played soccer in the fall. I mean, you're not look my you cannot see my aghast face listeners. It's a gas. And yeah. Very clear to me. That the fact that I am a soccer mom all small letters, right is not the same as like soccer moms. Mom capital letters tm, right? Like it's just not the kind of thing thing and dance
mom right here. I mean, like, Oh man, I, my daughter, why don't you ever wait because you're not allowed to watch which I'm perfectly fine with, like there's culture around dance where the studio is closed. And that's great, right? I have no problem with that. You know what respect right? Like, let the kids do their thing, you know, but then there's the waiting area with all of the moms and Cassie at one point was like, why don't you ever wait during my dance class? Are you kidding me? And I'm like, Oh, honey, and she's, she's always, you know, again, she's always had this this tension with her with like, my mom is a weirdo. And like, 50% of the time, that's cool. And okay, and the other 50% of the time, it's like, Oh, God, like, could you just, you know, and like, it took it took me giving her like a withering look and being like, Are you serious? Mm hmm. And her going like Yeah, I guess I,
yeah, that makes sense. Well, the thing, right is that I'm interacting with these moms who come from all kinds of walks of life. But you know, it's like, Florida in September is still like the 90s. So I'm wearing like shorts and T shirts. And so you can see most the tattoos I have. And I was like, we're just gonna, I'm just gonna own this, right, like, that's fine. I'm like folks that want to interact with me. Cool folks that are gonna judge me also cool, whatever. But it's just one of those things where I'm like, I'm never gonna care if my five year old got a goal or not like, Who gives a shit? They're five, right? Like, you know, it doesn't matter. Um, and I was like, that's a good thing. Like, then I can gravitate to the other parents that are like, oh, they're five. Like, who cares? Yes. Right. While the other set of parents are like screaming at them, because they're not making any. I'm like, this is supposed to be fun. I'm like, my kid is dancing like a T rex on the field. And it's pretty awesome, right? And I'm like, living his best life.
I go to Have those things and like because my daughter used to do dance and I used to sit there and wait for her and it was like legitimately scary for me because like the Dance Moms are like that type of person who bullied me like Oh, yeah. Oh yeah, no, that's like I know I look like aggressive and dramatic and like I'm tall and bony and skinny and like it can be intimidating like I'm often called intimidated by people but I'm like, usually Loki terrified when I'm in like groups of people who are not academics like generally, because like those I think I understand those people if I don't get along with them, but like when a group of like Dance Moms or anything like organized around children's activities, were like, the reason I'm in a room with these women is because they have children the same age as my child. I don't know what to say. And I probably make it worse because I'm afraid right and I'm afraid because those with a matching ponytails and they're always kind of like white kids sneaker and I had no idea that was a thing and they have the same purses and they all have granola bars in their purses and like agendas that are They're filled out correctly. And I'm like, very intimidated. And then angry, because that's not who I want to be. And then I'm like in an anticipatory way defensive about, about them judging me like, it's really weird, I guess probably, we have those experiences from our childhoods, to where we were probably the same kinds of people we are now without our diagnoses, and without our coping skills and without our like, adult perspectives. And sometimes we carry those, I think traumas with us into the social interactions that we still are not very good at, like adults, right? And when it's outside of like, the professional sphere of competence that we've built for ourselves, it's still easy to be like a 11 year old girl who walks into the cafeteria and there's nowhere for her to sit. There is no group of people and and I think we like maybe underplay how much that hurts when you're a kid and you don't know why it's happening to you that even when you do know better when you're an adult, like you can't just forget. All right, right. Right. Yeah. And, and I think it's also one of those two where I can like distinctly remember multiple times in middle school in high school folks that were like, and I tend to be shy and partially because introvert partially because it's just easier to not be noticed you'd like to understand that right? Yep, says me now with purple hair and all the tattoos and I'm like, Well, too bad I obviously got over that. But did you put the sort of commentary that you get like about you being weird, right? Like, why are you so weird in some sort of way? And and how much that kind of like, sticks there, right? in a in a way that I think is is interesting because now I don't mind if I identify that way. But I don't necessarily want other people to comment about that right? Or to do these sorts of things, like the politics of minority identification to right like if you can claim an identity, even if it's like a stigmatized identity, if you are claiming it for yourself in a bid to kind of be able to assert your difference as non pathological in the world or as belonging to a type of community. That's one thing, right to label yourself but to be labeled by others, right here is a dismissive gesture like that. I think that's absolutely, absolutely true. So that I am happy to disclose like my status or I'm happy to call myself a weirdo, but like, depending on who else calls me a weirdo, I'm going to get really mad. Mm hmm. Yeah, I don't think there's a contradiction in that. I don't think it's a it's a hypocrisy. It's about like the words that we use. I mean, like, there's like that thing in The Simpsons. Remember that john waters episode on The Simpsons when like, he says, queer and he was like, you can't use that word. That's the word that we use to make fun of you. Right? Like you can't, right? You can't have that. So like, if you want to reclaim weirdo and the weirdo identity when it used to be an insult that people launched it you it can still be received as an insult. But when you apply it to yourself, you're kind of like owning your subjectivity in a powerful way.
I think that that's just a really great note to end. Today's episode on we still have one more left with Kelly conversations with Kelly are like the alliteration there. So, next week, get another one with Kelly. Please stay tuned. As always, you can email us at all the things firstname.lastname@example.org You can also visit our website, all the things adhd.com I'm ready writing on Twitter. Amy is Digi walk on Twitter. So you can add us there as well. So stay tuned for next week when we're going to keep talking with Kelly. Have a great day and take care