Hello to my loyal followers from over the years… sorry there’s not been another book since Break Up Club. Working on one now…:) Before news of that I wanted to say this: Thanks for enduring a tsunami of ADHD related content on my socials the last few months. Hope its given you some insight into what it’s like to live with a frenetic barrage of scattergun things in your face all day every day! But I thought I’d take a moment to put it all in context.
ADHD is funny AF. It’s as close as you can get to everyday clowning without a Gaulier diploma. Leaving the house takes five re-entries, minimum. You lock up. You forget something. You go in to get what you forgot, put something down. Lock up, remember you’ve left that thing. This goes on and on, ad infinitum. (See our sketch ‘Filling’). I truly believe there should be a bell that rings out every time an ADHD-er manages to finally leave the house and start their day.
But having ADHD is also f&cking horrific, and f*cking hard. It affects the brain’s executive functioning and your ability to ‘adult’… in a multitude of amusing yet tragic ways. Imagine you had a SatNav and you’d programmed where you were going, but it turns out the Satnav is possessed and keeps changing its mind… also the driver is an orangutan on acid and keeps turning the wheel and veering off into B roads. That’s what it feels like to have ADHD all of the time.
Like you’ve gone into a room and forgotten why you went in there.
Like you just cut a huge chunk of text but forgot to paste it and now it’s lost in the sky forever.
Like you’re fighting not to interrupt someone but you know if you wait your turn, the thing you want to say will have melted like a Dali clock.
Like your brain has an air traffic control centre but all the operators are having a nap, so all the thought-aeroplanes and ideas keep crashing into one another.
Like when you have an idea, there’s another four inside it, nesting like matroyshka thought-bubbles which could burst at any time if you don’t act on them that second… Like you’re writing a blog about ADHD and keep jumping metaphors, or you keep jumping medium from play to film to sketch to book to music
track to live show to podcast and then back to book again… but by now you have 42,217
different documents with file names like
you forget to instal updates so now it’s not compatible with this operating system so you lose
a day copying across the changes manually and now you’re out of memory space and you’ve lost your wordpress login and your charger’s stopped working inexplicably and they’ve stopped making that sort now so you have to buy a tiny adapter on eBay and instal some extra RAM but eventually you get to type the words PUBLISH and there is no greater feeling on God’s good Earth.
Yeah. It’s EXHAUSTING. So if you know anyone that’s always losing things or always late but you’ve never understood why they can be so selfish – spare a thought today for what their brain is doing to them that day: I promise you inside they’re crying inside and chastising themselves for letting you down – more than you’d ever know. They love you really but their brains just work differently. Their brains move at lightning speed but in all the wrong directions. They are constantly seeing connections between things, instead of the things themselves. They’re trying desperately to go straight ahead but they can’t because someone else (often an orangutan) keeps grabbing the wheel.
The confusing thing about ADHD is that the symptoms seem normal. Lots of people lose things, struggle to get out of bed, run late… But here’s the thing: to live with ADHD is to have the symptoms of inattentiveness that neurotypicals (NT)s identify with occasionally… but dialled up to the power of clusterf*ck , to the point where your brain is on fire and you’re curled up on the floor of a supermarket aisle with indecision paralysis. That’s when you’re not just ‘a bit scatty’, you need to seek help.
“You Can’t Have ADHD. You’ve had books published.” The comedy of errors that is female diagnosis.
The biggest challenge of it all is its invisibility. The second biggest is getting diagnosed in this country: a ten-year Crystal Maze ‘Admin’ zone for people who clinically can’t do admin.
ADHD is still dangerously misdiagnosed, among female-identifying people in particular. Far from being just a thing noisy little boys have, it’s a condition that affects approximately 4 % of UK adults, of all genders. Like many women, I don’t have the ‘H’, and I’ve also been a relative high-achiever, which is why it took me 37 years to get properly diagnosed. I was told I couldnl’t have it because I got a First at university and because I’ve published books. Because of this stereotype and misunderstanding of the condition, many girls have ‘lost’ half their lives – being written off as having anxiety or depression. What’s closer to the truth: they’ve probably LEARNED anxiety after 20 years of masking, and trying to live with a square-peg brain in a round-hole world.
Send in the Clowns
Luckily for some of us, the ability to laugh at our folly, or turn it into comedy has been a lifeline, and its got me out of some very dark places. That’s why I wanted to write this today – to give a bit of background. After being made covid-redundant from what was allegedly one of the most ‘inclusive’ and ‘diverse’ agencies in the UK, with only one month of furlough, I found myself living in lockdown with my best friend from childhood Lauren Taylor, also ADHD but the inattentive type (I’m over-focused).
See Fig A. This photograph which was taken around the time we both suspected we might have ADHD and began the 10 year process of getting diagnosed. Living with Lauren again in 2021 after covid hit, she persuaded me to take a year off to focus on comedy… and we started work on this… a nesting doll of comedy content from a neurodiverse universe – about what it is to feel like a square peg in a round hole world.
The first thing we did was finally edit a sketch we’d shot a year before a ‘Russian Doll’ which after the most chaotic edit imaginable, eventually won an an award from British Comedy Guide for editing, and mentoring with posthouse The Farm!
This next show catalogues the chaotic process of the edit, and it also shows more scenes with the Russian Doll character, Lola. And then came Fiona Fey singer/songwriter/ADHDer with her beautiful original theme song. TBH I’m not sure if it works or not or is massively cringe – but Tristan Alice Nieto made the best of it with amazing editing, SFX and graphics. And I’ve just found out that the ADHD Foundation love it and want to use the material which is pretty mind-blowing and makes it all worth it. Amazingly there’s been only positive comments from the ADHD world and NTs alike… Some of the sketches have blown up on Tik Tok, FB and Youtube already, and we’ve had 100 new subscribers over the last 2 days which is a lot for us! Also lovely tweets from Rory Bremner:)
‘Life in ADHD’ was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, simply because – in the strictly pre-Zuckerberg sense of the word – the ‘META’ ness of it became unmanageable. The attempt to put into words & film what the ADHD brain feels like – to make the viewer and reader feel a little of what it’s like – but on film – while also trying to write a book about it (side note must finish that)- the actual editing process of that became so endlessly brain-smashing that Lauren & I nearly drove ourselves utterly insane, and we had to sound the Meta Alarm.
So it couldn’t have been done without the brilliance of Tristan Alice Nieto – who stepped in around May 2021 when I’d had a total meltdown. She took my swirling pit of creative matryoshka dolls and mixed metaphors and made sense of it all… and shaped it into something a neurotypical viewer can actually process. Truly her ASD superpowers saved the day. So the end result – despite being another no-budget venture – is something I’m really proud of – and I’m chuffed to say was made only with a neurodiverse team.
Because here’s the other thing: as much as it is a disability, when ADHD is treated and understood, ADHD is also a super-power. Some of history’s greatest thinkers had/have it – from Albert Einstein to Richard Branson to Ant McPartlin As Rory Bremner put it in his BBC documentary, ‘People living with ADHD are the shark bait, the ones that go the extra mile and warn others of danger… We’re the ones who take the risks… show others where the possibilities are…. that’s great. We’ll have that.” So the end result is a half hour TV pilot, and 15 little nesting short films that fit inside it, just like the ADHD brain. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but do check it out and take it in the spirit it’s meant: to find a way to laugh at the challenges of neurodiversity, and also to celebrate its power too.
I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone that’s helped along the way – most of all graphic artist Tristan Alice Nieto! If you know anyone wanting an editor, graphic artist or story-finder, hit her up; she’s your gal.
As I write this, the word ‘Neurodiversity’ is still being underlined with a squiggly red line, like it’s not even a thing. Sure, society is slowly becoming more inclusive of divergent brain types, but when Google and Microsoft don’t recognise the word itself, we clearly still have a way to go. So if you’ve made it this far without someone else grabbing the wheel then thank you for enduring this self-indulgent ramble! Please consider watching some of the videos and sharing them in whatever way you do…if you know someone with ADHD that it might help…!
With love & dopamine, Lorelei x
PS two months after it came out (like, standard ADHD time!). I meant to write this for the last day of #ADHDAwarenessMonth and of course I started it but I then got chronic overwhelm and gargantuan tech issues so instead it sat in drafts while I started a million other projects and then a massive admin bomb went off when I made the snap decision to move to Thailand for winter, and I left just before the Indiana Jones trap-doors came down and I’ve been in the sunshine writing my new book about the hilarity & horror of female ADHD ever since. It’s about half-written. Just need to pick from the 4 billion titles.
CC:The ADHD GiftADHD humourADHDAdultsJenn has ADHDNeurodiversity Support GroupNeurodiverse AFNeurodivergents and FriendsADHD Shitpostinghelp with ADHDLaura CleryNeurodivergent RebelADHD Foundation (pls share if useful)