Rest and Shame and ADHD Awareness Month

12 Oct

There’s this thing with ADHD where you only have two speeds: zero and 60. For most of my life, if something wasn’t due tomorrow, I wasn’t doing it. That’s unsustainable and awful, obviously. I’ve managed to get past it, mostly, but I’m left with a lot of lingering…I don’t know what to call it. Fear, maybe. Misplaced urgency.

Shame, let’s say.

Between medication, support, and healthy coping mechanisms, I’ve become pretty good at breaking up projects into chunks. I understand and respect my limits. I make manageable goals, and I can stick to them about as often as your average NT person. I hit deadlines without panic. It’s new and exciting and DEEPLY relaxing. I’m super proud.

But also, like, today?

I’ve been working steadily on a project, deadline about two weeks. I hit today’s goal, did a bit more, and then knocked off. I’m on track and have plenty of time to finish without rushing, but my lizard brain doesn’t know that? So I’m quietly freaking out because I haven’t finished yet? “What if I just did a little more? And then a little more? And then a little more after that?” Never mind I’m hungry and tired and wouldn’t be doing my best work, and need to stretch my poor arms/wrists/shoulders. I HAVE TO FINISH IT NOW, else things fall apart, the falcon cannot hear the falconeer, etc. Nothing is good enough. I’m shaking as I type this.

This happens a lot, it’s stupid, I hate it, I resent it, I resent the years and people that brought me here, I’m angry and tired and I just want to relax. I want to unclench my jaw and stop glancing at the calendar in fear of the thing I’ve inevitably forgotten.

I lived in a constant state of urgency for a long time, because the only coping mechanism I knew was “try harder.” Or apply myself, or whatever it was people kept saying.

My daily planners were a horror show. My room/apartment was a clusterfuck. My notes, when I look back at them, are illegible disasters of trying to sort out my own thoughts. I kept lists obsessively, drove like a bat out of hell, set my clocks ahead, went to school without breakfast or lunch or books or glasses or coat or socks, pushed the limits of exactly how little sleep I could get and still function well enough to shit out a paper, knew exactly how much of which drinks would get me through an all-nighter, lay in bed at night listening to my heart try to escape my chest, had what I now know to be panic attacks, got deeply into debt, fantasized about driving my car off a bridge or breaking my own leg rather than go to work. More than once I taped a sticky note to my forehead before bed. I got yelled at everywhere, all the time, by everyone. I had trouble falling asleep, trouble waking up. I self-medicated with gallons of caffeine and sugar and am so fucking thankful I didn’t know where to get cocaine.

I cried all the time.

I tried until it hurt, until I made myself sick, until I just wanted to die, and then I kept trying. but I dropped the ball over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and–

Nowadays I’m fine. The apartment is fine. My creative output has never been better. I’m (almost) always on time, prepared, and wearing clean clothes. A rational human being could understand my to-do lists. I kicked caffeine with no trouble except a headache. I’m properly medicated. I understand how my brain works, and so do the people around me. But shame is beastly hard to shake. It lives inside my bones, between my teeth, in my veins, so I have no choice but to hear it. One of these days I hope to finish unpacking its baggage and send it on its way, but in the meantime…sometimes…it is just so, so hard.

October is ADHD Awareness Month. I am pretty damn aware, so let me speak to the other members of this weird little club: I see you.

I see you. I see your struggles. I see you trying. I see the chattering shame monsters following you around. Wherever you’re at; whatever people are saying to you; I see you. I can’t fix anything, I can’t take the hurt away, but by Grabthar’s hammer, I see you.

Our failures are not a sign that we are a failure. Our worth is not defined by our production. Our reasons are not excuses. Our disorder is not made up. Our medication is not a study aid. Our best is good enough.

I see you. And we deserve to rest.

Well ACtually…

7 Sep

Since Dragon Con went virtual this year, my core con group and I had our own little socially distant Quarantine Con. For the grand finale yesterday, I put together a game of Well Actually (which is a blatant ripoff of College Humor’s Um Actually).

It’s played like this: the moderator reads a statement about some aspect of pop culture/nerdy shit. The first contestant to buzz in and correct that statement gets points, IF they begin their correction with “Well, Actually.”

Since I’m incapable of doing anything that isn’t for an audience, here they are!

  1. In Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie and Darcy marry and live happily ever after at Longbourne.
  2. Henry 8th, King of England, famously married six different times, including two Katherines and three Annes.
  3. Former 90s heartthrob Freddie Prinze Jr has since had voice acting roles in Mass Effect 2, Star Wars Rebels, Dragon Age Inquisition, and Kim Possible: A Stitch in Time.
  4. The second of the Noble Gasses, Neon, has an atomic number of 12.
  5. In the Lord of the Rings movies, Faramir brings Frodo and Sam to Gondor and almost turns them in to his father the king.
  6. The most delicious board game, Candyland, was created in the 1940s by a woman recovering from polio, tested by patients in the same hospital ward, and sold to Hasbro.
  7. Gillian Anderson, of American Gods, Robot Chicken, and many a young lesbian’s sexual awakening, has won many awards, but never a Golden Globe for her work on The X-Files.
  8. As clearly established in Thor: Ragnorok, The Hulk has seven PhDs.
  9. The very expensive musical Hamilton originally featured the talents of Daveed Diggs, whose geeky filmography includes roles in Sesame Street, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Star Wars Rebels.
  10. King Lear, the play that self-righteous twits like to remind us Shakespeare wrote in quarantine, was first performed on Boxing Day for an audience of Elizabeth I and her court.
  11. One of Albus Dumbledore’s claims to fame is discovering the 12 uses of Dragon’s Blood, such as oven cleaner, acne treatment, and cough syrup.
  12. According to the Star Wars Visual Dictionary, the Galaxy Far Far Away has approximately 3.2 million habitable systems, and includes regions such as the Deep Core, the Colonies, the Inner Rim, and the Eastern Reaches.
  13. Impressionist painter Claude Monet had several children, including a biological daughter who was also a painter, and who, by the way, married her stepbrother.
  14. Of all the child stars to come out of the Disney Machine, Britney Spears has the highest net worth at a reported $59 million.
  15. Wonka Candy’s Nerds come in flavors such as Surf-n-Turf, Spooky Nerds, and Sour Lightning Lemon, once had a chewy cousin called Dweebs that has since been discontinued, and are all vegan.
  16. The Archive of Our Own is an open source fanfiction site, winner of a Nebula Award for Best Related Work, and is a project of the nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works.
  17. In addition to his own career, Prince wrote many popular songs made famous by other artists. These include Manic Monday, Nothing Compares 2U, and I Will Always Love You.
  18. Wonder Woman made her debut in 1941, which means she predates Aquaman, but not Superman, Batman, or The Flash.
  19. In the film and book series Twilight, main character Bella names her child Renesme, after both her mother, Esme, and mother-in-law, Renee.
  20. Measured by gallon, human blood is less expensive than black printer ink, but Johnnie Walker Blue is more expensive than both.
  • FINAL ROUND:
    • Dragon Con started in 1987, expanded to two hotels in 2001, and debuted the parade a year later, in 2002.
  • The TIEBREAKER we didn’t need because the winner had double the points of the second place finisher:
    • The 501st cosplay organization takes its name from a Timothy Zahn Star Wars novel, and later the Revenge of the Sith novelization.

Dragon Con: At Home Edition

28 Aug

Dragon Con, like everything, is going virtual this year. This is a good decision and I applaud it–but I am (and I cannot stress this enough) REALLY BUMMED.

To ease my poor sad little nerd heart, I made myself a schedule to mimic the quintessential Dragon Con experience.

Wednesday

*kick your feet up and relax, because you aren’t frantically packing right now!

Thursday

*celebrate Check-in: put a $2000 hold on your credit card

*eat a burrito

*argue with your housemates about who gets the souvenir keys

*call a friend every fifteen minutes asking where they are, and should you meet them to drop off your portion of the hotel or leave it in the room or what, and did they bring a towel rack, and what are dinner plans?

*celebrate Badge Pickup: turn on very loud music and fill your mouth with marshmallows, then yell complicated instructions at your housemates

*spend your entire food budget at CVS buying the toiletries you forgot to pack

*forget to eat dinner; fill up with candy and promise you’ll get a good breakfast


Friday

*wake up early and bring your housemates coffee because you’re SO EXCITED!

*eat a burrito

*do an elaborate makeup look

*spend fifteen minutes looking for your badge

*celebrate the Art Show: make hundreds of miniscule changes to the arrangement of your wall art

*make 3d12 laps around your neighborhood

*eat another burrito

*have a heated discussion with your housemates about an obscure point of an obscure fandom

*eat one single vegetable and feel very healthy

*forget that you are older than you used to be and have far too many drinks, yelling “it’s a marathon, not a sprint!”

Saturday

*celebrate the Parade: get up at dawn, wrap yourself in your thickest blanket, and stand in the sun for two hours

*take a shower, do an elaborate makeup look

*spend 15 minutes looking for your room key
*eat a burrito while sitting on the stairs; every few bites, say “keep the stairs clear,” get up, mill about aimlessly, then sit on the stairs again

*put on your least comfortable shoes and make 3d12 laps around your neighborhood

*take another shower, do a different elaborate makeup look

*celebrate the Elevators: poke one of your housemates in the eye while yelling “go down to go up!”

*get into a fight with a housemate about whether “go down to go up” actually helps, or is instead part of the problem

*before you go to sleep, fill your bed with chips, small rocks, and glitter


Sunday

*chug half a bottle of Pepto, do an elaborate makeup look

*eat another burrito because you’re too tired to stand in any of the longer lines

*cue up a video of something both extremely interesting and right up your fandom alley; doze off in the middle and feel really guilty about it

*make 3d12 laps around your neighborhood wearing only socks

*celebrate the Masquerade: swear to learn how to forge steel/tan leather/embroider/work with LEDs for 2021 cosplay; balance a sword (knife, spoon, letter opener, straw) on top of your head

*forget that you are older than you used to be and force yourself to stay awake until you are weeping with exhaustion

*add fake dirt, crayons, and ramen to your bed


Monday

*celebrate the Vendors Room: throw all your money out the window, then pack yourself and your housemates into the smallest enclosed space in your home

*try to wash the ground-in mess out of your sheets in the bathroom sink

*celebrate Check Out: fill a suitcase with bowling balls; carry it down the tallest stairs you can find; repeat 3d12 times

*fall asleep on the floor

Aesthetics I Wish to Cultivate in my Wardrobe Whenever I Next Wear Something Besides Pajamas

25 Aug

Creative writing teacher painting her nails instead of saying the Pledge

Dad at a cookout, but slutty

Post-apocalyptic glitterpunk sorceress

Kathryn Winnick in Wu Assassin meets Katee Sackhoff in Bionic Woman

Angry Nightmare Goblin Woman (as opposed to Manic Pixie Dream Girl)

Freelance magical assassin who needs information from the loose-canon undercover agent and is irritated about it

What If Vice Admiral Holdo Was In A Riot Grrl Band?

Jessica Jones, but scruffy

Poe Dameron meets Kara Thrace in a back alley to exchange sexually charged insults

Kristen Stewart in Charlie’s Angels meets Kristen Stewart on the cover of Marie Claire meets Kristen Stewart in the SNL Totino’s skit

Warrior Nun, but slutty

Annoying Things My Body Selfishly Continues To Do Despite The Need For Us All To Do Our Part In These Troubled Times

22 Apr
  • hurts? for no reason?
  • ovulates
  • wants to be fed multiple times a day (in THIS economy?)
  • sometimes the eyelashes on my left eye sort of braid themselves into a big ol’ clump
  • creates ingrown hairs on my TITS, WHY IS THIS A THING
  • itches in places I cannot reach such as inside of ears
  • just fuckin’ freaks out for no reason 
  • wants sex but sometimes just won’t orgasm despite all best efforts?
  • can SMELL the badly-smelling thing, but not LOCATE the badly-smelling thing
  • only wants sex at extremely inconvenient times, like while the partner is on a work video meeting
  • remains allergic to stuff
  • requires new glasses
  • puts things down and then immediately forgets where they are
  • doesn’t want to sleep at night, doesn’t want to get up in the morning
  • menstruates
  • continues to not look like Keira Knightley
  • refuses to spontaneously learn to do cartwheels
  • needs to pee just all the time

Fallout 4 Settlement Build: Post-Apocalyptic Avengers Tower

29 Mar

I have no excuse for this post. But I don’t NEED an excuse for this post, because it’s my BIRTHDAY, and therefore I don’t have to feel weird about making a whole blog post of screenshots of a very specific inside joke that I spent untold hours creating in Fallout 4.

Ahem.

The Post-Apocalyptic Avengers Tower is at the Starlight Drive-In settlement. I used the Scrap the Settlement mod, the Creation Club packs Home Decor and Slocum’s Joe, and DLC packs Wasteland Workshop, Contraptions Workshop, Vault-Tec Workshop, and Nuka-World.

Fallout 4

Welcome, my friends…

Fallout 4 (11)

…to Avengers Tower

Six stories of concrete, Nuka-Cola, and dreams. Designed to be secure and imposing, but also a comfortable place to live, raise kids, hunt mirelurks, and defend the surrounding wasteland. Exterior views of the main tower and resources–and some of the puppy dogs! There are at least six dogs. I lost track.

 

Outside we have a bathhouse (there’s supposed to be a roof, but the goddamned thing would not snap, and I gave up after a truly embarrassing amount of time), gym, and even a play area for the kids, hidden behind fencing and mutfuit trees and guarded by turrets, a guard tower, and lots of guard dogs:

Ooooh, what a view

Everything the light touches is our kingdom.

The ground floor is designed to be defensible. Ya know, just in case. There’s a decontamination arch at the front door so nobody tracks rads all over my nice clean carpet, work benches, lockers, a guy we hired out of the wasteland to cut our hair, the usual.

The second floor is the kitchen and dining room. And, perhaps most importantly, the cats. I lost count of how many there are, but I THINK it’s at least four.

Third floor! The family room. It’s decorated so classy so we can pretend adults live here.

Bedrooms start on the fourth floor. Here we have the office; Daniel and Carolyn’s room; Rykie and Chris’ room; Kate and Indigo’s room; and an extra bathroom, because sometimes you don’t want to go outside to pee in the middle of the night.

Fifth floor! First aid; Morgan and Phil; David and Amber; Lisa, Chris, and the kids. Please note the baby gates in front of the rooms where dangerous items are stored. Never let it be said that we don’t take safety seriously.

Sixth floor! Jenn’s room; Lina’s room; Lindsay and the kids’ room.

The rooftop terrace!

And there in the back yard…a junk fence surrounding…is that…?


…yes. It is, in fact, David and Amber’s Secret Backyard Torture Room That Everybody Definitely Knows About But Nobody Wants To Acknowledge (plus bonus Torture Toilet).

So there you have it: Post-Apocalyptic Avengers Tower (and another shot of the gym that I forgot to include up top).

 

TA-DA!

Up next, Isla de Disaster (on Spectacle Island), and all the weird shit I’ve made in some of the other settlements.

Social Isolation Lists, Part Two

24 Mar

Other Things I’m Doing On Day Nine Of My Unpaid, Unwanted, Indefinite Vacation 

  • mending a necktie
  • cleaning and organizing half of the office
  • cleaning out my wallet (half-used public transit cards: 3)
  • scrubbing out the plastic thingy that holds the toilet brush in the bathroom we never use
  • soaking the cat box scoopers in a mixture of vinegar, hot water, and dish soap
  • laundering every piece of clothing at least once
  • organizing the pillows
  • cleaning out my purse (tubes of lip color: 6; guitar picks: 1; missing gloves: 2; dollars in change: 4)
  • proofreading my mom’s doctoral thesis
  • critiquing manuscripts from three critique partners
  • nearly having a heart attack upon realizing I had forgotten about having jury duty
  • really really hurting my finger somehow seriously how did this happen?
  • cleaning out an empty lotion bottle so that I can put lotion in it from a different bottle that isn’t as easy to use
  • playing so much goddamned Fallout
  • having the worst nightmares
  • yelling at my high-rick family members to stay inside for fuck’s sake
  • unsubscribing from a lot of mailing lists
  • just crying a whole lot
  • fixing a toothbrush

Things I’m Not Doing:

  • writing

Renaissance Faires in the Time of Pandemic

18 Mar

I want to talk about what the Corona virus situation means for the ren faire community, because I’ve seen a lot of misinformation and misunderstandings.

First, a little background about the ren faire circuit. It’s a niche community, after all, and historically pretty private (though American Princess got a lot of things right, it never really delved into some of the harder aspects). I’ve done enough traveling that I’m familiar with the lifestyle, but it was never mine. Road rennies, please feel free to correct me where I’ve stumbled or overstepped.

If you’re not/have never been a road rennie, I kindly request you sit this one out.

First: renaissance festivals are only open on weekends. There are occasional three-day weekends or mid-week student days. Every faire is different, and every year is different, but from my experience figure two paid working days per week, plus two extra days per season. Most major faires run anywhere from 6-8 weekends. Because of the nature of outdoor festivals, most faires are concentrated in the spring, summer, and fall; with the exception of a couple of very southern faires, winter is a dead zone. A “full season” is four 8(ish)-week faires. The community is just coming out of the traditional winter break, which is a time to refresh and renew, but also a time without steady work.

Second: very few people working at a ren faire are getting paid on W2s–maybe the faire’s office staff, the food service workers hired from temp agencies, and some of the people who work for vendors (disclaimer: I don’t know much about how ground crews operate). Some get paid by the festival; some get paid by the vendors they work for. People who get paid* are overwhelmingly getting 1099s and/or cash (whether in tips or under the table). That means no unemployment benefits, no workman’s comp, and no health insurance. Health care is already extremely difficult to access for many rennies, due to the nature of travel and poverty and the harshness of the lifestyle.

Third: most people who work the circuit, i.e. travel from one faire to another throughout the year, live in the campgrounds behind the faire they’re working, whether in an RV or otherwise. When the faires close, so do the campgrounds. When a faire is forced to close because the state has declared an emergency and forbidden gatherings of more than 10/20/50 people, that leaves rennies without employment and a place to live, often thousands of miles away from where they winter.

Fourth: there are more than just entertainers and vendors traveling the faire circuit. There’s also the people who run games, the people who work booths but don’t own them, the people who sell roses and make coffee and braid hair and paint faces and manage booths and sling beer. And behind the scenes there are ground crews, babysitters, teachers, kids, and more.

Fifth: the pay is not great. Some people make bank. Many, many more people are living on $100 a day (or less)—and remember, that’s for a two-day work week, so that’s $200 a week. Or less. When a faire doesn’t open, it’s vanishingly rare that anyone will get paid.

Now that the essential background is out there, let’s talk about the current crisis.

Here are the major faires that I know of which have closed early:

  • Arizona (AZRF) – last two weekends
  • Florida (FLARF) – last two weekends
  • Bay Area (BARF) – last two weekends
  • Sherwood – last five weekends

So far these major faires have announced a delay in opening:

  • Georgia (GARF) – first two weekends
  • Scarborough – first two weekends

So far these faires aren’t opening at all this year:

  • Renaissance Pleasure Faire
  • Philidelphia

That’s only so far. And that’s far from all of them. You can see a full list here, including the dozens of smaller, one-weekend faires, because I only have so much time, and frankly cataloging this was making me even more anxious than I already am.

Here is the crux of the matter: When you’re living on a few hundred dollars a week, a bad day (rain, competing events, just mysterious weirdness) means tightening an already tight belt. The loss of one day’s work is a major problem. The loss of weeks’ or months’ worth of work with no end in sight is a catastrophe. There are people without the money for gas to get to their next destination. There are people who don’t have a next destination, because remember, most of the faire campgrounds are closed too. Public RV parks and campgrounds are not cheap. The community at large lives on the edge of disaster, and while we are very good at rallying to support our own in times of trouble, there’s only so much we can do when everyone is in trouble.

And now, the call to action:

If you have ever enjoyed a ren faire, and especially if you consider yourself a super patron/playtron/regular/Friend of Faire, now is the time to act. The community that makes your weekend passion project possible is suffering. People are unemployes and stranded. People will starve. People will die. If you’re still working, the ren faire community needs you. Open your hearts, yes, but most importantly, open your wallets. Check out the Rennie Relief Fund and No Rennie Left Behind. If your local faire has been canceled, reach out to management to ask what they’re doing to help. Buy from vendors. Look for artists and entertainers on Patreon. Search for fundraisers. And share, share, share.

If you want a renaissance faire to come back to next year, you need to help the people who make it happen.


Before I go, I’d like to briefly address some of the suggestions I’ve seen from well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) patrons.

  • Online sales/shows – this is something the community has been exploring for a while, hindered by the extremely unreliable internet on faire sites (most are very rural, after all). When you see links to online sales or shows, get involved!
  • Side hustles – I promise you, everyone has thought about this, or already has one or more. “Week work” is pretty common, though it’s difficult to find outside of the community owing to the transient nature of the lifestyle (it’s hard to get hired somewhere for two months when you can’t work weekends). Anyway, lots of side hustles are suffering right now too—my day job is closed. Unless you have a very solid lead (i.e. “I am hiring for X thing immediately”, this is not a helpful suggestion.
  • “Stop whining” – fuck you, buddy

*It’s impossible to make blanket statements about all ren faires, but most of them have huge networks of unpaid volunteers, “apprentices,” etc.

Social Isolation Lists

17 Mar

Things I Ought To Do During My Involuntary, Unpaid Six-Week* Vacation:

  • finish all the critiques I’ve agreed to do
  • start a draft of a new novel
  • finish organizing the office, a project I began and nearly finished in December
  • practice guitar, assuming I can do that without aggravating my injured index finger
  • clean the stuff off the balcony
  • do some yoga on my own, since I can’t go to class
  • seriously how did I mess up my finger so badly it hurts literally all the time

Things I Will Probably Do Instead During My Involuntary, Unpaid Six-Week* Vacation:

  • rewatch The Witcher at least once
  • cry over every Martin Septim/Hero of Kvatch fic on the internet
  • just…so many cookies
  • two words: CLONE WARS
  • finish all the critiques I’ve agreed to do, because external deadlines make my world go ’round
  • struggle to get out of bed in the morning
  • build elaborate and impractical structures in every single settlement in Fallout 4

*six week period is estimated based on current projections, but let’s be real

Tell Me If Anything Ever Was Done

17 Mar

TW: suicidal thoughts

Many years ago, I went to an exhibit at the High Museum in Atlanta: Leonardo da Vinci: Hand of the Genius. I don’t remember much about it*; the only thing that sticks with me is that like 75% of the stuff on display was unfinished.

Turns out the man was constantly abandoning things to start something new. Giorgio Vasari, a 16th century art historian, wrote “Leonardo started so many things without finishing them.” It took him years to finish the Mona Lisa (which is not that big!), Virgin on the Rocks took two decades, he only finished The Last Supper because the patron who commissioned it threatened to cut off his funding, he skipped town rather than finish Adoration of the Magi. As I stare at a couple of looming deadlines on projects that I am truly excited about but just cannot find the motivation for, I can relate.

As I wandered that gallery of half-done sketches, grandiose plans for scupltures never executed, and paintings that tapered off into linework or nothinginess, I remember a deep sense of comfort. Here at last was another artist like me: trying very hard, but just not quite getting there, and maybe sometimes running off to Milan sounds better than doing any of…*waves hand vaguely*

[Right about this point in the post, I could feel my morning dose wear off. My head got fuzzy. My shoulders drooped. Every little noise started to grab my attention. By the time I realized what was happening, 20 minutes had gone by and I had reduced two fingernails to angry, bleeding stumps. ADHD: so quirky and fun.]

A few days ago I was doing who-knows-what on Beyonce’s internet when I was reminded of my least favorite piece of fan art ever: that stupid Calvin and Hobbes fancomic where Calvin gets on some kind of medication, and because he is able to focus on a piece of homework rather than go play, Hobbes turns back into a stuffed animal.

“If Calvin Was Medicated,” reads the title, “There’d Be No Hobbes.” IT’S A CLEVER SOCIAL COMMENTARY, SEE? DO YOU GET IT, SHEEPLE?

I’m not linking to this garbage. Google “Calvin Ritalin” if you must.

As is the way of things, this sent me down a rabbit hole, and I found myself reading about da Vinci and other famous procrastinators, which led me to a post about overmedication, which had this gem in the comments:

If Da Vinci were a child in today’s schools, they’t [sic] dose him with Ritalin until he settled down and became “normal”.

On his deathbed, da Vinci is supposed to have apologized “to God and Man for leaving so much undone.” “Tell me if anything ever was done,” he said. “Tell me if anything was done.” Every artist has a measure of unfulfilled ambition–it’s what drives us to keep creating. But artists who feel happy and productive don’t say things like that as they’re dying. They don’t leave their greatest works unfinished.

I’m not in the business of diagnosing anyone, much less people who’ve been dead for a zillion years, but I recognize a lot of myself in what we know of da Vinci, a man of undeniable talent and ambition who left the world having begun thousands of pieces and completed maybe twenty of them. But I’m not the only one making this connection. And here’s the point of this: if he did have ADHD, and he did get medicated, it wouldn’t have made him a mindless zombie. That’s not what ADHD medication does.

I finished a novel before I was diagnosed and medicated. It was fucking insanely hard. Writing is always hard, don’t get me wrong–there’s nothing easy about it, even when it’s easy–but it shouldn’t be this hard, even for a first novel. It took me almost a decade. It made me hate writing, myself, the whole world. More than once I cried until I made myself sick. It physically hurt. I thought about suicide, because I didn’t want to live without writing stories, but I also couldn’t bear the thought of ever doing this again.

[And that’s not the only reason I thought about it. Constantly being told you’re a failure. Constantly hanging on to a semblance of order by your fingertips. Constantly fighting your brain. It’s exhausting. It’s painful. It leads to depression and anxiety and self-harm and suicide.]

I finished another novel after I was diagnosed and medicated. I started it before I was medicated. I finished it after. The difference was night and fucking day. If writing is like pulling a heavy cart up a hill (AND IT IS), writing with an unmanaged attention disorder was like pulling a cart up a hill when one of the wheels is square and the cart weighs a ton and is full of shrieking eels. When I got on medication, it was like I could see the world clearly for the first time. I’ve written about this before: the difference is as profound as wearing glasses.

If da Vinci was alive today, maybe he would have been medicated. And maybe he would’ve gone to his death with some measure of satisfaction for the beauty and wonder he brought into the world, rather than guilt for things left undone.


*memory problems – did you know that’s a symptom of ADHD? IT SURE EXPLAINS A LOT.

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