S4 E23 - 4:14:22, 11.11 AM
3:15PM Apr 14, 2022
Lee Skallerup Bessette
Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of the all the things ADHD podcast.
All the things we do them.
Yeah, all the time while eating ice cream while he face cream, while actually my dog is snoozing in the back. I know this is like a, it's a podcast and people can't see this but my background when my office was my bedroom and my unmade bed was the background. My my Zoom background was always old school Sesame Street.
Tell me how to
get how to get to Sesame Street Street. Yeah. All of those. Yeah. All those usual you can't hear a picture and then you hold up like a Mr. Hooper store and then you just hear that clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, clink the killing, of you know, all Genex. Anyway, so used to be old school, Sesame Street. But now that I've moved on, I have my own office. I have my sewing space that have behind me. But I also have a couch that my dog enjoys sleeping on. And so it looks like often he's perched up on one shoulder, because he said he's not sleeping there. I know. But he's usually sleeping on like one question. So it looks like he's like, perched up on my shoulder. And then on my other side, I have a grow goo. Who's sort of just peering and smiling at me on the on the side here. And so I'm like, I don't want to fake background. I want to see my dog.
And my Gregor, I want to be authentic, which is funny, because I just spent 45 minutes on the phone with the journalist about being authentic and online online spaces. He was like, this will probably take about 15 minutes or so. I mean, depending how chatty you're feeling. have we spoken before? Because obviously, everybody like chatty. Yeah.
Whatever I'm asked for informational interviews are held for that kind of stuff. They like, they're like, I don't want to take up too much of your time. And then like hour later, like, Thank you for being so generous with me. And like, I just booked it for an hour now because I know I'm not going to talk less than that. When I'm asked to do something like this. Yeah.
Amen. They're backing out of your office like Okay, thank you. I love it. This is really great. You're walking, you're still talking like that would be me. Right?
I'm gonna have more. And another thing. Waiting. Oh,
yeah. And that's why we have a podcast. Yes. That
is why we have a podcast that I don't edit.
Just like very authentic.
Yeah, maybe we should introduce ourselves. Speaking of being good. podcasters. I am one of your co hosts Lee Skallerup Bessette.
And I'm the other one of your co hosts, Amy hope Morrison. The first, the first. The first the only
the only got? We had I don't know, what do you say the first it always makes me think of I used to work for the Montreal Alouettes up in the press box as like it was an internship. And we were we were runners basically because we'd moved to from like the fancy Olympic stadium with like state of the art facilities to Molson Stadium, which was McGill's football stadium. And if you're an American listener might be like, Oh, that'll be nice. No, no one cares about football, collegiate football in Canada. So we go to the McGill stadium because of a YouTube concert. There's trees growing out of the stands. And the press boxes are basically plywood, you know, is there's no glass it is deathly cold in the wintertime, it is a sauna box in the summer. And the people who keep the stats, they're not very big press boxes, either the people who do the stats are all the way on the other side of the field. So they needed people to go and run and get the stats make photocopies of the stats and then hand the stats out to the journalists and also make sure that the journalists were were happy and taken care of. So I worked a lot for a couple of seasons and it was a lot of fun. But we had a foot there was a football player who was the third on the Montreal Alouettes. And for a long time they didn't say it and then one game just one which I understand why they started announcing it and so you have to understand that there's an accent in Quebec and turn deterred heard and like of course he would make you know first out something something, Dr.
Turd. Oh my god, I wondered Lee, where in the hell this story came from and where it was going. And I love it. That's deterred the term white accents. What a mess.
Yeah. And then it never never again, was he? That was just first last name,
ultimate scatological for broadcast. Yeah,
but also everybody in the stadium was just like, hysterically. Like, and then it was like, Maybe this was a mistake, maybe good AV, because of course, the player was probably American and didn't know French and wouldn't so it was like, please say my full name. They're like, okay, okay. Okay, I
think you're gonna like how this is gonna sound? Yeah.
But all right. So speaking of not taking the advice to maybe not use your full name and then finding out the hard way. Today,
I segue Lee,
I know, right? I saved it,
just plucked it out of the
sky. That's how it works. Today, we are going to talk about
bad advice for the neurodivergent. So advice that is good for those often who are neurotypical, but not so great for those of us who are neurodivergent.
I think there's more of this in the world than we think there is because everybody on earth has a hard time following advice. But that's the nature of advice. The reason we need advice is because often it's behavior we don't actually want to do. And so we need advice constantly about it. And advice is hard to follow. I mean, we've talked on the show about diet culture before, right? Just do this, right. And so advice often many people fail, even when they try to follow advice. So I know I spent a long time in my life. And you probably have to following advice in in good faith, thinking that whatever failure to achieve the desired outcome that resulted was just like everybody else, a failure of y, ability to follow through or what have you, I thought, Well, lots of people fail at taking advice. So I'm just a regular kind of failing at taking advice. But I think there are some types of advice that aren't good for neurotypical people that just don't make sense for neurodivergent people. So I have a clippings file on my computer, on my well known tendency to both hate by email, and also to not sleep, which results in me reading the entire internet between the hours of two and 6am. And then, knowing that I won't remember anything that I read emailing myself articles. So I do have a file on my in my inbox, let's just call it my inbox. That's most of what's in there right now. coupons, remarkable. A bunch of clippings, and some of these I collect to share with my kid. And I call this crazy advice for neurotypical people. And the one from this past week appeared in The New York Times. And it was about pareidolia. Do you know what pareidolia is?
You do not know what pareidolia is? And I imagine many of our listeners do not either.
Yes, that was a that was a social skills subterfuge, I use to be able to introduce a short, special interest speech from me on what pareidolia is. pareidolia is when you sometimes see faces on items that don't have faces. Okay, so, you know, like your toast? Yes, Jesus toast. Yeah, like sometimes, sometimes that fully realized faces, like, you know, sometimes the the lid of a coffee cup looks like it's making an old shape with a tiny mouth. And it has like two eyes that correspond to where like the punch holes already, like, Oh, coffee cup has a face. So that's pareidolia pareidolia is evolutionarily useful. We have whole section of our brains that's actually just devoted to recognizing faces. That's how important recognizing faces is to humanity's ability to socialize and organize into groups is you really need to recognize faces of the people that you know, even if you don't remember their names. Yeah. But, yeah, so we have a lot of our brain is devoted to recognizing faces, and, but the tendency to see faces is like, you know, a cut piece of wood where the knots kind of line up and you're like, it's a puppy, right? I don't know about you, but I see faces literally everywhere I O pressed daily by the number of quote unquote, people I have around me, which is just objects that appear to be looking at me or car grills that seem really aggressive and unfriendly to me, or like, all kinds of stuff has phases in Parador. Yet now this article in The New York Times, okay, now, one more interesting fact. one more interesting fact. Yeah, the reason that that pareidolia is so strong, generally in humans is that in a situation where you are a prey animal, right, where you are subject to danger, it's really important to be able to look out over an undifferentiated forest or visual landscape and spot a face fairly quickly, right? Because things with faces are threats. So that's important. So it's much better from an evolutionary standpoint to have that capacity a little too developed and a little under developed, right. So it is well known that many people look at wallpaper and see faces or you know, look at a pattern in the carpet and see a face or look at their toast and see Jesus and have to call the National Enquirer about it right away. But this article we in the New York Times was like, first it had an illustration. It was an illustration of, of an arm chair. And I looked at that arm chair and I thought, oh, that chair is sardonically smoking a cigarette. Like not just smoking a cigarette. It was sardonically smoking a cigarette, but it wasn't it was just a chair that had a sock stuck under a cushion. And illustration, right and immediately, it's like, no, that chair has a mood. A chair has a face chair is unhappy about life. I know what the voice of that chair sounds like. I know that chairs that I'm like, oh, that chairs trying to get furthered on all day. Yeah, right. Right, that chair is like smoking to dole its own yes senses. So they will stop smelling all the parts that are regularly deposited seat cushions and disappeared into another world where I created an entire story about this chair. And then the article Li was like, how to learn to see faces and objects. What was like, this is some kind of joke, and it was like, did you know? Did you know that? If you just unfocus your mind a little bit, you should try everyone just sit down. Look around you and say like, something that might resemble eyes. In this object if you just use your imagination. And I was like, the fuck are you talking about? Hi, I'm surrounded by faces. Like Joe, well want them all the time. Stop it. I was like, this is not the article I need. article that makes me not see faces everywhere. Right? Exactly what's like, you have to be taught how to do that. And I showed it to my kid and my kid was like, what? And I was like, You know what this is? This is like in the same genre of? Is it ever okay? To eat in a restaurant by yourself? I was like, Wait, was I not supposed to do that? Like, I'm hungry? I'm eating right? Or like going to the movies by yourself? Is
it okay to read a book in public? And I was like, Who are these people that this advice is being pitched to? Right. So it's like, what I was reading that in my current bout of insomnia, which is why I'm swearing and shouting and generally not making sense because I, you know, have the weight of a potato currently, lack of sleep. I just thought, you know, maybe a lot of the advice in this world that is just common sensical for people is not going to work for me because my brain is different. And it's like when I see these things, like, you can practice and learn somehow, through by dint of sheer effort to see faces where there are no people and I was like, Oh, my God, you too, can somehow develop the self confidence and self knowledge to know that these pants are uncomfortable, and you don't have to wear them to fit in. Are you kidding me? Right. So that's one bit of advice I don't need, and that I did not realize was absolutely unsuited to my brain. Can you ever think of advice that you have been given lead that just might have worked for people whose brains do not operate like yours?
Um, so the, the ones that I've made you think of is, in terms of the advice, you can go to a restaurant by yourself, it's like, how to dress when you're 50. I'm like, Screw you, I've got a dress, how I want to dress in my 40s and into my 50s, and into my 60s. And I, you know, I don't know if this is neuro divergence, or I just don't give a fuck anymore. And maybe the both they're wondering the same.
That's, I think that's a good example, actually that way, because that's about a different type of conformity. Yes. Right. It's trying to assert that everyone should be the same, that there are norms that we should adhere to, right. So it doesn't matter if you've got like great legs, you shouldn't wear a skirt above the knee after 50. Or like, you shouldn't wear your hair long after a certain age that kind of assumed that there is a right way for everybody to do it. And it's a little bit about not helping you be your best self but helping you fit in.
Yeah, um, so like, we only care like The Golden Girls as soon as we hit 50.
Exactly. Exactly. So yeah, so that's, I think that's like
Africans, which is probably about the cat skins, but like,
I just see I just bought a cap tan for like the beach. I was like, I'm in my big sunglasses and cap. 10 years now. Bring it right, bring it sunscreen. 60. Okay, so that's one type of advice. Maybe it's not about neurotypical or neurodivergent. But it's conformity.
Yeah, it's about conformity. So I've talked about this before, but any sort of writing advice for neurotypical people, right, create a writing habit, have a distraction. And again, you and I are very different in terms of our neuro divergence where we've talked about this too, right? Like I, I need my cluttered space. I can't work in quiet areas. Libraries are always too distracting for me to write because I'd be like, Oh, look at all the books of like, the things I don't know about and I'm not going to write this thing. I'm gonna go read up on architecture because I happen to be sitting in the architecture section of the library right now. Oops. So I need my familiar clutter that it's not going to distract me, but instead is going to comfort me. You know, I need to be listening to music, with lyrics not without. Because if not, then my brain will compose lyrics to go along with the music rather than it can't be. And it has to be music that I know because my brain will try to learn the lyrics. And I've been familiar Yeah, I binge, which they say don't binge and I'm like, too bad. I'm binging. You know, it's so any any sort of writing advice? You know, again, it's one of those things like, how do you write so much give us your writing secret. I'm like, I have ADHD. That's my writing secret. And if I tell you all of the things that I do in order to write, it is not what the what a lot of neurotypical not, it's not the advice of your typical people get. But it's also not the type of advice that neurotypical people would actually be productive for them. Right? Yeah, like, create a cacophony, and then write in that environment. And they're like, really? Oh, maybe I'll try. This might
be another one of those cases where the advice? Well, meaningly is focused on. It feels like it knows the outcome that you want. And it's like, well, there's one right way to get to that outcome. Yeah, right. If you want to finish this thing, go somewhere quiet. I have the same experience as you in libraries, I find libraries incredibly distracting. I'm always like, wandering over to the shelves of like new releases. And then I'll just come home with seven books and forget what I was supposed to be doing at the library. And yeah, I, I like the quiet at my house. But when I go into a library, it's quiet enough that first of all, I can hear the 17 inner voices inside my head while they're in me. Yep. But it's not perfectly quiet. And so what I will hear in a very quiet library is the fluorescent lights buzzing or they've got a window cracked, a tiny bit open and the little metal drain chain that you pull the blinds with is like like, yeah, yep. against something big things that people don't hear. They're like, Ah, it's quiet. And I'm like, it is neither quiet nor loud. It is the worst possible word for me. world for me. Like when I'm at home. The weird noises inside my house like up to an including leaf blowers are at least very familiar to me. So they're not distracting anymore. So it's like, it's like listening to music that I know. Right? It's like exactly, then if, yeah, if the drain chain on the blinds is making too much noise, like I can go take care of that. And that they generally frown at Starbucks, they generally frown at you like climbing up on a ladder to try to fix the chain that's driving you crazy that no one else can hear you. Right? But But what if, what if? Yeah, exactly what if we started like, like, that kind of advice is like if you if you want to be a writer, like these are the things you need. Do it like this, you know, get up in the morning is that's another one to like, write first thing in the morning. Don't start with your email first thing in the morning, get up
at 530 and write for an hour. And I'm like, Are you kidding me know, me right now? And just like rubbing my face going like, oh, the worst? Yeah. Yeah.
So like, maybe for something like writing we need to take a more like universal design perspective, which would be like something I'm always harping on about on this podcast is what is the goal we're trying to accomplish? Right? Yeah. And what are the barriers we can get out of the way in order for you to achieve that goal, but like a lot of advice by its very nature is highly prescriptive, right. It's not like well, what do you think that you need? It's not let's first talk about your goals, right? Let's talk about your goals. And let's talk about some obstacles and constraints. It's like, No, listen, I wrote a book. I know what your goals are, because you bought my book. So your goals are my goals. And since I'm succeeding at the thing that you want to do, I'm going to tell you, right, now listen
to the podcast or read the article the clickbait or, you know,
yeah, yeah, exactly. Like that thing I tweeted out from Travel and Leisure magazine the other day, I was like, feeling betrayed is just the title. I repeat of the publication is travel. And leisure. Yeah, leisure, leisure. Yeah, please, your pleasure. Let's call the whole thing off. That article was five ways that you're ruining your own morning, and ways to fix it so that you can be more productive. And I'm like, vich, please, on vacation. This is neither about travel, north and leisure. Right? Like hustle culture has come into my vacation magazine. Right, trying to tell me what to do. But it like all this stuff. Like you have to get up early in the morning and you have to start writing right away or like you have to engage a substantial mindfulness practice to learn how to see faces and chairs. I don't need that. That's not the problem that I have. The problem I have is I am haunted by all the objects in my house staring at me all the time, and some of them are unhappy and it hurts my feelings and I can't bear to be around the unhappy furniture. Lady. Why is it so sad? Why is it that face to me?
If you flip the glasses become so was angry though you're, you could literally turn that frown upside down, I guess. Yeah, exactly.
Yeah. So so some bad advice that you have got then is about like, you know, don't have your hair like this or don't dress like this after a certain age or like, you know, people ask you for writing advice, and you at least have the wit to say, I'm pretty sure you're not going to write like me. Yeah. Right. But has there been advice that you'd like scrupulously tried to follow? That was like absolutely 100% the wrong advice. I think that like
particularly, and this is sort of a teenage thing as well, but I think back to swimming, when I was a swimmer, and I now I would see it as I swam a lot of garbage yardage, where it was just Yeah, garbage yardage. Although I only learned that expression here down in the States because we don't do yards in Canada we do in garbage meters, is not really
doesn't really roll off the tongue computer meters
Yeah. noncompete or meters on unproductive? I don't know. But but it's it is a lot of longer distance, which you need you want to build up but it but it's not really. You know, there's no thought behind it. Right? Where, and especially I find this in the end trying to be age appropriate and level appropriate that at a certain point, you just figure out that the kids do not have the attention span for that particular exercise, and that after a 75 their stroke falls apart. And so that last 25 is garbage yardage because they're not doing good habits, they're they're just swimming to swim. And I think because I was ADHD, not that you can't be successful. Again, Michael Phelps has ADHD and is one of the greatest swimmers of all time. But the the ability to then understand the limits of people's attention spans and to be able to craft sets that address that rather than just trying to focus like why can't I focus for this whole 400? Why can't I focus for this? Instead? It's like, okay, well, maybe we just need to do 50s. And maybe we need to do more 50s, but on a shorter interval. But that wasn't how we started. And even today, probably not how we approach coaching. In that sense, so there's this idea that for training for a long time, one size fits all fit for physically, you know, mentally neuro divergently, you know, and it may be it's like, okay, well, we'll split off the sprinters or will you know, the distance swimmers get something slightly different. But once you're a distance swimmer, there's only one way to train distance. And once you're a sprinter, there's only one way to to sprint. And you know, Oh, you do 200 backstroke, well, you should only be doing this in practice, if you want to get any faster at it. So, and again, you're a teenager, so, you know, what do I know about it, the coach is going to tell me to do something, and I'm gonna go and try and do it. And, you know, and in that sort of sense, but as I've gotten older, and of course, how we seek coaching has shifted as well. But I think as we as I've gotten older, understood myself, but even understand my own swimmers and seeing how my swimmers swim, to kind of say, okay, like, what was what was bad for me, it's probably also going to be maybe, maybe it'll be good for some of them, but it won't necessarily be good for all of them. Right and, right, different. So about how to train like, we talked about this about running, right, like you should wear this kind of shoe now just comfortable.
For the shoe that's comfortable. Yeah, yeah. So our desire to be prescriptive, right. Is, is a universalizing desire to write as if you're going to find I mean, we talk about this on the podcast a lot, the one right way, right. And then we're gonna enforce it on everybody. Everybody should be able to write timed exams with with no notes in, you know, a gymnasium together, you know, Sats are fair, like intelligence, justice, misery, you know, or like, whatever it is, you shouldn't be cooking meals from scratch every day, because that's the way to have nutrition like this. This like weird, both arrogance, of assuming that everybody can be perfectly interchangeable one way or the other, will also this insecurity of like, but if we let people figure out the best way, or we help people figure out what their best way is, it'll be like relativistic chaos, right? Like maybe in between those polls have like, all the same, and relativistic chaos. Like maybe there's a better a better advice process. I mean, that's probably true for literally everybody, but like, yeah, I have been really struck this week by like, the kinds of advice that we assume will work for everybody that absolutely does not work for me in ways that I think are related to my neuro divergence. The other one that
I was gonna say like the think boring thoughts if you want to go to Oh, man, I was always like, Why does counting sheep put you to sleep? Like, yeah, she saw the sheep all end up with names, and they're all difference. And like, they all make different noises as they're going over the jumping over the fence. And they all jump at different heights going over the fence. And yeah, and then
I start to think like, where did we get this image of sheep, and now I'm googling the origin and derivation of county counting, you know, and I'm looking up, like the history of the word somnambulant. And I'm like thinking, but she barely did similar animal logic, like, Oh, don't give me some to work on. Right? Yeah. In fact, my husband and I had to fight about this. Because we were talking about my insomnia, which is a common topic of conversation recently, because I'm not
sleeping, and it takes over your life. It really does. It takes,
I mean, I look like a functioning human being. But I am not yesterday, I was quite thirsty. And I was like, so proud of myself for noticing and I went downstairs, and I got a can of Canada Dry die ginger ale out of the fridge, and I opened it and I made it to the stairwell to come back upstairs. And then I put it on the newel post because I was like, Oh, I these are not the right reading glasses. I need to leave these ones in the kitchen. And then I went in the kitchen and the phone rang and then I screamed the call. Put my glasses down, went to the fridge. Got a diet Canada, ginger ale. Canada dry ginger ale opened it. Went upstairs, right past my second second yapping and didn't notice it. Yep, found it later. So I had two brand new cans of Canada Dry diet ginger ale opened simultaneous. I had no recollection of doing it. Like that's where I'm at with my sleep right now. I have a PhD. I'm, you know, I deserve better from my brain than what I'm getting currently. And my kid was asking me about how I deal with it was like, I have to bore myself to sleep. Right? So I do stuff like, I start with like an arbitrary number 851 In my head, and I'll be like, okay, 851 minus seven is 844 plus four is 806. What did I start from like, and then I have to start over, right? But a board, my brain is busy enough. Yeah, minus seven plus four minus seven plus for that I can't have intrusive thoughts because my brain is busy. So for me that really works. Or like I will do something like, like, I will start with a word in that domain. I'll be like, okay, coffee, and then I'll spell the word coffee in my head coffee. And for every letter that I spell, I have to think of a different word coffee, cupcake, and then oh, is orangutangs and then f is flight. And then the other F is forever. Do I do two F's already? Yeah. Okay, now I need an E. Right? And I'll do that when it gets the last letter. That's the word that I start my next spelling thing with an M when I'm so tired. I sometimes like I'm really struggling to remember what word I'm trying to spell. Yeah, not repeat any words. And so it's like, telling him about this and my husband's like, I was just reading that you shouldn't do that. When you're trying to sit that won't help you false idols like, I'm sorry, what? Well, I yeah, I was not I was mean to him, actually. And I have apologized and he deserved my apology because he was ultimately not trying to tell me what to do. He was just relating something that he had read, but I was like, you come at me, bro. It was like, oh, because it keeps your mind too busy. Right? You need to clear your mind. And I was like in my brain fog off. Like, this is how I clear my mind idea.
This is clearing it out. This is boring. But it's cognitively
demanding. So I stopped worrying because usually when I have insomnia, what I do is I fall asleep and then I wake up in the middle of a panic attack. Yeah, I don't know what the panic attack is about. I was asleep when it started. So people like just relax. I was like, I was asleep. I was already relaxed. Like it's hard to get much more relaxed than actively unconscious, right? Yeah, but a panic attack wakes me up. It's purely physical. But I can spin that out into a bunch of ideas that are like ruminating and catastrophizing, which is like a twin demons. And so this is my solution is I bore myself back to sleep. And that's how I had come to know all the American states in alphabetical order forwards and backwards at high speed and with finger tap rhythms. I spent a lot of time awake middle the night. So that advice was like, you know, just clear your mind do a body scan. I was like, I can't do that. It's not enough. I need more things in my brain and I don't want to get gas lit. Yeah, about it. If you want to be like no, they say you shouldn't do that. Well, some people shouldn't do that. But I should because it's the only thing reliably that has ever calmed me down enough or bored me enough. Yep. Yeah, put me back to sleep. Right. So like that's, that's one of those domains you like, or for writing is another one, right? So you talk about how Have people like you'd go to a quiet place and like, build a regular time and do it first thing in the morning? And and sometimes when it doesn't work for you, you'll be like, well, that's alright, I got to do this way because my way works. Right. But for me my way does not work. And yeah, but also, the advice that I've been given on how to fix that also does not work, right. Yep. I said to somebody the other day. Oh, yeah, it was one of my friends who was like, gone to a hotel this weekend to like finish writing the introduction chapter to her book. And I was like, that's amazing. She's like, well, it should have been done months ago. I'm like, Look, I have to book contracts and 10 years of effort. And I have like, about 600 pages of writing, and no books. And she's like, how do you have 600 pages of writing? And I'm like, doesn't everybody? Yeah, for two Absolutely. 300 pages for each book? Yeah. And she's like, What? Just like, oh, yeah, because I accidentally splitting the book into new books, because I have so many ideas about stuff. But she's like, What? This is not normal, right? Because all their writing advice books are like, you know, be free. You know, just brainstorm, do free writing, no editing, and like, that's how you wind up with if you're me. Yeah, write 600 pages of 12 books, and none of them complete, right? It's just like bullet point, and sometimes extravagantly detailed new ideas. Yes. And yes, and yes. And which many people need in fact, I teach my grad students that way, right? Because they their performance anxiety, my undergrads, do they all have performance anxiety, they don't have the right idea. Yeah, without ever having any bad ideas. I'm like, that's not how it works. Right? Yeah. So I make them do timed writing and free writing. And I make them turn their filters off, and I make them really 10 bad ideas is better than no ideas, right? And because I know that, that actually helps me generate ideas, which I'm really good at, I'm a bit thinner on giving them advice about how to finish things. Because I don't know how, right, and all the advice I've ever got has not been appropriate to the challenges that I face in my brain for getting this stuff done. Right now. It's like, oh, maybe it's not that I'm a bad person who can't take advice. Maybe this advice works for a brain that's different from the brain. And,
and sleep is such a such a strange beast I because I've had insomnia as well, I, I don't typically wake up. But for me, it was always falling asleep at night. Like I could not fall asleep at night. For the life of me the only time I think I've said this before, but the only time I ever like people who fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow, I don't understand those people I never understood I'm like this is lies is is just lies those wounds. And the only time that ever happened to me is when I was pregnant. Because my body was just so tired. I was like, by nearly the head hit the pillow and my body was like, we are so exhausted growing another human being inside of you that like you're we're overriding your brain. Like it's just, you know, it took two it took the strength of an external person inside of me sort of thing. Over overwrite the, so I would do, my thing is I'm terrible at memorizing. And so I would, I would try to remember and recite things in my head that I only sort of knew. And for me it was it was really funny. And it was the Lord's Prayer
in English and French,
and English in English, I went to the English Catholic, English Catholic school in those French immersion. But like was not in any of the Catholic classes because I was conflicts. So I never, you know, there was the occasional church service that you would go to, and it would be there and everybody would say it. And I'd sort of mumble along with it, even though I had no idea. Really what was being said, and so, but then I had to move on from that, because when I done it so much that I knew it too easily. And so it was like, vague song lyrics or it's like, I think I know this song. Let's see how well I know the song. And then sort of work my way through that or going to it but and way back and you know, there's the things that we didn't know what we know about screens and like the the radiation but when I was in college, it was great because Windows 95 had come out or windows had come out. You could play solitaire. You could play solitaire. Oh, man that was but it's exactly what you're saying. Right? It was just enough cognitive. Thinking about thinking to the colors. Yeah, that you can't think but engaging enough that you can't think about anything else. That's right, right. Like you focus on this one. And it's mundane and tedious. Right it's boring
but engrossing living, right because you're still doing it like you're Yeah, yeah, that's like what it's I guess like other kinds
of video games right where you get like excited or whatever is just like no red goes on black black goes on red numbers goes here ASAP so
Yeah, you know, snow levels. Yeah. Oh, I'm added cards and I can't do anything read deal. Boy, you know, Ace goes up here, king goes over here, you know,
I was awake for so long, two nights ago that I started a fresh game of 2048 bricks at zero and got up to 950,000 in one session before I crashed. And by crash, I mean, not that I fell asleep, but that I lost the game like that was done, sitting. But it's a kind of self hypnosis, right? Because you're like, my brain is so full of noise, I need to do something that will drown out my own noise, but not put new noises in there that will make you excited about different things.
And I think that this reminds me of bad advice that I've seen, I think is is it and Helen Peterson. Is that her name? She has a substack? And she does, yeah. So she came out with a piece against like Candy Crush, or these other kinds of mundane games, right? That you should not be doing those things that you should sit with the quiet. And this will help you and but this is actually just bad for you for these reasons. And I was like, No, I'm giving it up. Oh, you know, Judge me all you like but like, I need these to like, quiet my mind. Because it doesn't happen with reading either. Right? Because reading is
just like interested.
It is. It is so interesting. And it's imagining and it's language. And it's, you know, that turn of phrase is so interesting and like, and also I want to finish the book. And I wonder how long it'll take me to finish the book. And how many pages do I have left? And how many pages would I have to read in the next hour in order to get to this point? Like it's there's math involved with reading, if you can believe it people like this is how ADHD brain works is that you start reading the book and suddenly math is involved.
Yeah, yeah. So we have a similar strategy here. I mean, we have different sleeping problems. So we both have the overactive brain problem, the seeing faces in chairs, problem of our imagination is always going, we're always taking in high rates of stimulus nearly constantly, and we can serve it all day. But sometimes when you want to make your brain quiet, I mean, I know that you have a meditation practice because you can't Candy Crush your way out of everything, right. And I have a meditation practice. And I can be mindful about when I choose to actually sit with the quiet. But by dint of very difficult experience, I have learned that in some cases, sitting with the quiet is not going to help it's not quiet at all. It's very noisy inside my brain. And maybe like using this game whenever I get bored or when I have like a series of tasks I want to do and I can't decide which one to start opening my phone and playing a game is maladaptive. Right? Yeah. But sometimes when it's the middle of the night, and I can't stop my heart from racing, because I'm anxious about God knows what you can hypnotize myself with my game. And that's perfectly adaptive, but you will not read that anywhere in any kind of advice. And since we're always being told that we're wrong about everything, right? People will say like, well, that's why you're not sleeping because you're playing this game in the middle of the night. I'm like, I am playing this game and alone I because I can't sleep. Right. And that's enraging to. That doesn't help us calm down.
You can be mindful and be like, I'm not sleeping.
I am anxious. Yeah, I'd like like, Okay, I've noticed it, but like I've had
to calm down. Yeah, just just calm down to stop worrying. Okay, sure. Yeah, I'll I can't believe I never thought of that. I'll just stop worrying. Okay, super. That's great. Yeah, right. Sorry. My brain just spritzed out there. Yeah, so there's like all kinds of things. I think of poor kids, kids with ADHD that are up just like you need to do this homework and I'm setting a timer. You're gonna do it for 15 minutes. And like, if you don't do it, then like you're paying, I'm going to rip the heads off of all of your teddy bears and throw the tip of the winter. Turn it off. Yeah, again, is a series of sort of escalating consequences, right? Because many children who are neurotypical, when you say, like, do this thing, and then you can have your ice cream, like ice cream is discretionary. You don't get to have it until you get this task done. And neurotypical kids are like, Well, okay, fine. I mean, I still don't like doing my homework, but I like ice cream. But but many neurodivergent kids have difficulty with distinct consequences. Yeah, first of all, right. And also, they may be trying very hard to do their homework and they just can't focus and then we'll be like, sit still. You just can you just sit still? Like, I know, I used to do this with my kid. Oh, yeah. Before we do, I'd be like, we just have to read like this one book on phonics. It's got six pages of literally six pages. We will go through three pages to get I will point my finger that goes for that's the sound you have to make perfect. It couldn't do it right. And I would get enraged and my kid would get enraged and I'm reading all this advice about how to help your kids with homework and it's working. Because my kid's brain didn't work like that it turns So we that, that the ways that we have to motivate ourselves often is by pre Ward's not rewards, right? Which is, you know, there's this whole concept of like to start a task, often we have to climb the wall, right, which is to understand all the emotional baggage and cognitive difficulties you have to address and dismiss before you can. Why don't you just sit down and pay your bills? Oh, oh, no. Like, I can do that, like, just do it first thing in the morning, and then it's done. I'm like, No, if I do first thing in the morning, I'm gonna need a nap and a drink and my day is done. I'd love to do it at three, and then not cook supper, because I'm over there. Like, just do it this way. No, no. Right. So pre awards is like, well, you know, we gotta get our homework done. And I know that's difficult for you. So let's just have like, you know, the ice cream we were gonna have later exactly have it now. And like, let's take a minute to feel some good feelings in our body and remember why we want to get this task done. And then we can just break it into 32nd chunks. If that's what we need to do to get it
done. While we're doing it. Right. Yes. While we're doing all my books are stuck together. Yeah. But, but the homework is done. The homework
is done, right? So just say that I had a not proud moment to motivate my son to do all of his English homework that he had not done all
the homework. Oh, yeah, the spring crazies like me. Oh, yeah. Why not just do a whole episode about me? Oh, yeah.
And was defiant about it. I try not to surveil my kids. Right. I tried very hard. And I tried to downplay the importance of grades. So I don't go into parent view. And I don't go in and check in on the grades very often. Sometimes
I don't either. Yeah, because I can't remember my password. Oh, my saved
on my phone. So it's okay. And I haven't hooked up with it. So
it was just it was a bit of a joke.
No, I know. But like, I wouldn't remember it either. If it weren't for the fact that it is saved on my phone and hooked up to face ID, right. Like even just just like, oh, I can enable face ID perfect that way. I hopefully won't forget my face anywhere anytime soon. So that'll very much how you know, it'll work. So I went I did go in though. And I think I went in to see something else. Anyways, I went in, and then I saw his grade and his English class. And it was a like, 50. And I was like, it was the end of the term. And I was like exposed to. So I go in, and it's just like zeros, which means it hasn't handed it in because they can't give you a zero. They can't like, have to at least give you a 50. Right. Like, if you had anything and they have to give you 50 And so I said to him, but I said you're failing English. He's like, Yeah, so stupid. Oh, yeah. Like,
that's so defensive. Yeah. to the brain.
Yeah. Yeah. There's a lot of other stuff going on. So there's a lot of feelings about feelings about feelings, that feeling so many feelings, but it was partially it was I'd heard from I met with his he's, you know, has a 504 plan. So I'd met with his counselor a few weeks earlier, and his English teacher was there and she was talking. I'm like, yeah, he hates English. I'm sorry. She's like, I know. And she said he's missing some work. But he's probably been submitting it late. But when he submits it late, he has emailed me to let me know. So I go into the system, Jesus to chat, right? And I'm like, oh, lady, that is a step too far for him. Um, any steps, any steps? I was just like, Oh, please, you'll get a kick out of this one. I'm curious to see what happened. But anyways, so I told my son, I said, Son, did you do this work? He's like, Oh, yeah. Like, did you email your teacher? No. I said, Go email your teacher. He's
like, Okay. Email your teacher. Yes. No, we didn't. He lied to you. We hadn't done the work. That was I mean,
oh, oh, that's amazing. conflict avoidance.
Yeah. And he had gone back on his he'd got back on his medication. And he said it was helpful and every single one of his other classes except for English, because he was paying so much attention that he realized just how dumb the chorus was, and how much he hated it. I was like, That was interesting. reaction.
So that was my kid in English this year also. Oh,
yeah. And so finally, it was just like, I mean, what choice do I have as a parent? Obviously, I do have other choices. But you know, the term literally ends in two days. You are going to sit at this kitchen table. Yeah. And you're gonna catch your English homework done. I don't care if you have your enemy on next to you. I don't care if you're listening to music or watching like half watching YouTube playthroughs because that's what I do when I'm trying to get the tedious stuff done. Right when I said you are going to sit at this kitchen table and you are going to get everything done and you are going to show me that you got Everything done.
I am picturing this. I am picturing this in my house. And the image I immediately got was I would get my headphones on, I would get my pink noise cancelling headphones and put them on because the mood would be so toxic. I would be like, I'm gonna sit here at your elbow until this is done at great personal cost to my own mental health because of emotional contagion. But it needs to be done. But I don't have to listen to it. Right. Okay. Yeah, yeah, that's, that's exactly what I do.
Yeah, we let him we let him be he had to sit at the table. He wasn't allowed to open his room at the very least. And usually, that's what he does work. So we had to sit at the table. So it was a bit more of an open space was a bit more unfamiliar that we're less, less likely to end up on his computer plain Geometry Dash instead of doing the homework. And we would just pop in on him, right, we would pop in and check and say, you know, show me the progress. Show me that you submitted this. So they closed down the portal, right then so you click when they're doing the grades, they close down the portal? You got everything done? Yes. Did you email your teacher? Yes. Show me the email shows me the email. I got all the work done. But of course, so then we had spring break. Got it done before spring break spring breaks done. He didn't even have English yesterday. So I asked him, I said, I said, so. Is everything good with English? Because I can't see the grades yet. Right. He's like, Yeah, I think so. I said, Well, yeah, I think so. Oh, no. He said, I said what he said, well, the teacher answered me and said, which assignments Did you submit? But I didn't see it till today. So I never answered her. Oh, my God. On the one hand, I'm like, he was done. He was done. He closed the computer. He's not looking at his school email anymore. It's spring break, right? Yeah. And then my man on the other. I'm like, woman, he hasn't handed anything in the entire term. Like, just look at everything. Like I
this. This is hurting my feelings, because it's so accurate. Like you will recall earlier in the first season, I think I told a story about how when I was going up for tenure, I found a entirely completed Yeah, camera ready. article submission on my computer that I never submitted. Because in my mind, I did the awful thing, which was finishing it. Yeah. Right. The rest of it didn't matter to me. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So like in terms of advice, like, I think you're learning here that, that your kids need a different kind of accountability sometimes, or that their struggles are not like, you know that they're like me, they're tripping over the finish line. Right? You did 90% of it and the hard stuff, right. But then the very last step, you didn't get done, or you're so wrapped up. This I think this is an illness that's endemic to children of humanities academics, is that they get real salty, about high school classes, right? Well, my mom, my mom is an English professor. And you know, she wants to say this is free, direct discourse. I don't know what like, Oh, my God. So our kids are insufferable. Like, let's just stipulate that it's not their fault. Like our kids probably have more training in English that the teachers do like because the subject area experts are not really subject matter experts. And our poor kids are subjected to lectures all the time at the dinner table about well in my house about poetry, and all kinds of other things. So they get real salty about it. And I think some of the oppositional but it's easier to feel righteous about not doing stuff when you probably wouldn't have done it anyways. Because all the advice about how to get it done. Just do a little bit every day. Yeah. I mean, I have to remember it every day. Yeah. Right. Like, if it's a two page thing, like, Why do I have to do a little bit of it every day, because that means that every day for two weeks, I have to remember to start it and I have to climb the wall. Every time I have to get the pre award every time.
Like, I don't mind him binging because that's what I do. I get it. But it's like, at least do the binging like this is like there's got to be in between ground between do a little bit every day, and do literally everything for an entire term in two days. Like Yeah, gotta find the middle ground for that. Right. Like, and I even email this and I'm like, I've taught English I understand that this is not the ideal way to learn and practice. Writing. Yeah, trying to complete the entire thing.
Yeah, yeah. In six, competitive competitive homework speed round,
right. I think like so just out of resentment, right, if you will, at this point. He was like, Fine, I can do it. Oh,
Elin. And I have articulated a concept that maybe some of our listeners will find resonant for their experience is Belinda described themselves to me as a rage researcher. Rage researcher is when somebody at school says something boneheaded about something that Olin cares about. And Lynn is like I know that you're wrong. But I need to know it so well, I could defend a dissertation on it. And then yeah, we'll do a deep dive of rage research so that they can bring receipts to the ultimate conversation. And I was like, I'm assuming that you rage research a lot more than you curiosity research. And they're like, oh, yeah, yeah, somebody was wrong on the internet moment. Yeah, I had to go take care of it. Oh, I do that, too. I get mad at how wrong people are. But then I have to go find sources like what are your sources? Well, I came prepared. Yeah, I came. Right.
So the daughter is the opposite. She actually does really love the curiosity stuff. You'll love this. She should they always leave. We're pretty good school. So they all get like free projects for the last summer. The last term is basically standardized tests and free projects. Because the any class time has to be spent reviewing for the tests. And so yeah, I know, but but they also get the free project. So my daughter decides for her biology project this year, that she is going to do the the different decomposition of dead bodies, depending on the climate. Oh, my God,
that's so gruesome. Amazing. I know. But then
she's like, Guess what, Mom? Somebody wrote an award winning master's thesis on this.
She's like, and she was like, it's not exactly the same. It's about different materials covering the dead that they are that they're covered in when they're buried that impacts decomposition. And I looked at her like, it's an anthropology. She's like, how did you do it? Was that topology? And I'm like,
Well, come on. Yeah, there is actually a research site in the US devoted to this where sometimes when you donate your body to medical research, when it goes to things like the ground of corpses, and that there's actually I read about this and overnight once when I couldn't sleep, it's this research zone was like, what have you we immerse this body in water. What if it was a pond? Versus what if it was a swamp, but if this one was like, you know, buried under six inches in a shallow grave that has pine needles on it, let's because it's for forensic science,
it's home for people with ADHD who are interested
in gross basically, let's talk bodies with sticks and take pictures and be like, Okay, this is what a skull that's been like half underwater for six months looks like when there are fish and when there aren't fish are like, this is like, Okay, I don't know why No, no, I do know why I know that because I don't sleep. Okay. So what we are discussing here, ultimately, is, there is really no one size fits all advice other than don't like, keep your hands off the burner on the stove, right? Don't touch it.
Maybe, and maybe blue light isn't the best thing for you.
All the time. Maybe? Well, I mean, unless Unless, like me, you have seasonal affective disorder, you block all the blue light in the winter, you don't get any? Yeah, full spectrum light. Right. So I mean, advice as relates to this is dangerous, don't touch it. When it describes the characteristics of objects in the world, right? That's fine. But most advice that aims to help us achieve a goal that we find ourselves currently unable to achieve is going to be your mileage may vary, regardless of who you are. But there are some types of advice, particularly related to self management write things like you know, why don't you just start a bullet journal? No, I'm not.
Why don't I just more like start moving for 10 minutes a day?
Just yeah, yeah. Or like, you know, just, you know, have folders in your inbox or don't have folders in your inbox like, like, so for things that are related to organization or productivity or like, you know, just think fewer thoughts are think boring thoughts, like, any type of advice in that realm? I think anyone neurodivergent should be wary of sort of advice that you might find in something like the New York Times or like Travel and Leisure magazine, right may not suit your brain. And what you're describing Lee, about working with both of your kids, is that you have to have a shared goal, that they're not meeting and that they have to agree that they wish to meet that goal. And then you have to find a way to make it possible for them to do it. Because I get a certain point, like even I learned before my kids diagnosis that forcing them to do homework was just making them hate learning. Yeah, we've ever ultimately got it done. We just spend more and more and more time doing nothing, but just getting angry at one another. Yeah, right. And that homework never even got completed. It was like this isn't working. And like all the advice was like do this and set up a time and, you know, do short bursts and do before supper and it just didn't work. And it's because we know we're failing. Often, it's very hard for us to think that maybe the advice is the problem, and will sometimes go ahead. I
was gonna say it's also like, I was never able to do this. And maybe if I can do we can do this, I can fix you. So you don't have the same problems that I'm gonna have, as opposed to just saying they have the same problems as us because they're neurodivergent like us and so therefore maybe what did and work on us will not work on them either no matter how hard we how much harder we try to try and force it on them. I think that there's there's a lot of that too, right? Like, I felt like, I felt that way. I've got to go to another meeting. But I felt that way a lot about sleep with my kids. Right that I was so worried when I when when the kids were babies that I was going to break their sleeping, right, because my sleep was broken. And I was in a must have been something that happened to me when I was little. And so I am going to do a better job with sleep with them so that maybe they will not have the same issues I had,
despite our shared genetics. Yeah, they will not have the same genetic predispositions that I have.
Yeah. Well, again, at that time, I didn't know it was a genetic predisposition. Right. I didn't know I had ADHD. And so I didn't know that insomnia comes with that and you know, everything along so it's, that was very much like a lot of anxiety around sleep until I figured out I'm like, Oh, this is miserable, but it's normal. Okay.
Well, you know, Lee, parting bit of research I did in the middle of the night is, you know, just how we were discussing running shoes. Now the science says the best running shoes are the ones that feel comfortable on your feet. It turns out that morning people do best in morning focused schedules, but that some people are not morning people, and that they could do their best work between six and 9pm. If workplace is allowed for that, right they're like you guys aren't performing at work. You need to become morning people to like, but what if we were night people all the time, and we just can't be night people that way. So transit Oh, either. That turns out that your circadian rhythm is best to determine your productivity during the day and what times of day, right? So so there we go. It's like insomnia. It's like, when should you check your email versus not check your email? When should you schedule meals versus when should you not want to do work in a quiet environment? When should you be allowed to count sheep right?
It's close clothes Am I allowed to wear?
What kind of clothes Am I allowed to wear? What type of hairstyles Am I allowed to have? Now that I'm so aged? That I can't be trusted to make my own decisions about your
advice? It sucks. Yeah, and the end. So we have no advice to give me no advice. Don't listen to advice, including our own, which is I don't know what's going on anymore.
Chaotic, chaotic. It's
great, though. I love it. I am ready writing on Twitter. And if you are to up between two and six in the morning, you may find Did you want on Twitter as well?
Or you want engagement. Okay, feel if you're wanting to engage me on my Twitter, that's the time to do it.
Yeah, to also feel free if there are rabbit holes that you want me to rage research or things that she can boredom herself with? Not as advice just topics, that's all. Feel free to email us at all the things email@example.com And we'll be back. We'll be back next week with another episode. We sure will. Hopefully Amy will have slept because you know, I'm curious to see at what point we have to stop recording the podcast because it's just like, I haven't slept in three months. And really at this point.
I think the level of crosstalk and confusion in today's episode is entirely down to I am unable to process information. Yeah. Oh no. And
I mean, I totally get it and I think a lot of our listeners will probably be able to relate to so. I know all right. We will see you next time.