An answer…and a new journey

I haven’t posted on here in some time, because during the past year I have been trying to figure out what I can say that others aren’t already saying so well…Since I’m not currently decorating pages much, it felt a little redundant to keep posting on the bullet journal format.

Given a recent turn of events, I experienced the odd click when a number of seemingly separate pieces tumble into place.

This part’s personal. Not salacious nor dramatic. Sorry! But it’s personal nonetheless.

This year, my daughter…my amazing, bright, and sensitive daughter…was diagnosed with ADHD (combination subtype). In the lexicon of some people, she’s “twice exceptional” — intellectually gifted, with a few…well…challenges such as ADHD and a discrepancy between her understanding and her processing speed. Wait, does that make her “thrice exceptional”?

During the process, I learned about many misconceptions about ADHD in girls. For several reasons, girls are more likely to be diagnosed later, if at all. In fact, many women are diagnosed in adulthood only after their children are diagnosed.

Which leads to my “a-ha” moment. The more I read about how ADHD manifests in women and girls, the more I realized that many of the challenges I face stem from similar symptoms. The why and the how isn’t particularly relevant here, but I will say that I participated in an extensive evaluation process and received my diagnosis about one month after my daughter’s. This was not a haphazard process, and I feel quite confident this isn’t a case of “everyone struggles to focus in this day and age.”

What does this have to with Clarifilo, you ask?

Well…it’s amazing how things piece together when you have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight. It turns out that my love of lists and routines likely stems from techniques I developed to compensate for the untreated ADHD.

I think that in the coming months, I’m going to revisit Clarifilo as I try to incorporate what I’ve learned about structure and ADHD management. It turns out that paper planning suits many of my needs well, so you’ll see posts with the latest version of my bullet journal, more discussions of apps and routines, as well as some information specific to ADHD. I may also address strategies I am using at home to support my daughter. We’ll see. What I do know is that so much makes sense now, and I’m excited to continue this journey on Clarifilo.


4 thoughts on “An answer…and a new journey

  1. learningtomakeadifference

    Hi Mary,

    Last week I came upon your blog for the first time – and this was part of an “odd click” similar to yours.

    I hold a daytime job and am a part-time student in Philosophy. I have suffered for some time now from what I have been labeling as a writer’s block – but reflection has taught me only very recently that I really “suffer” from unproductive habits, having to do with bad focus/concentration/attention. Surfing the internet, I came upon articles about ADD. Seems that my personality traits fit the bill – I was almost stunned to read other people’s stories and being able to strongly relate to them. I say “stunned” because I have not pegged myself as “qualifying” for some kind of diagnosis or other.

    In my search around the web, I stumbled upon the Pomodoro technique, and after googling pomodoro and academia – presto! – there was your blog post on your writing schedule, and today your post about your “odd click” and diagnosis.

    What I’m wondering now is how do you fare with your schedules and deadlines relating to your postgraduate studies/research/writing – and in light of your recent diagnosis?

    My writer’s “block” is the result from a lifetime of unproductive study/writing habits – until now I have “sailed through” on the strength of my intellectual competence, but now that hard and disciplined work is called for, I am hitting a wall. It is very sobering to be forced to come to grips with this insight.

    Best wishes from the Netherlands,

    Karin de Bruijn

    1. Mary Post author

      Thank you for reaching out, Karin.

      The diagnosis is still quite recent, so I’m not certain how things will stand once I have tried medication for a reasonable period. While I was waiting for the formal diagnosis, I did some research into strategies to manage some of the symptoms.

      As a result, I have become more productive. In part, I think that can be attributed to a change in mindset and a sense of optimism. At times, when feeling as if everything is somehow harder for me than other people, I struggled to manage my symptoms. Now that I feel like I have an answer other than I am somehow weaker than others, I feel empowered to use strategies that others have found helpful. Again, that’s a shift in outlook that is motivating.

      Right now, here are the things I have found indispensible:

      1. I MUST start the day by writing out a plan of sorts. I’ll post either today or tomorrow about my current bullet journal format. Without the plan, I end up going hours with what Gretchin Rubin calls “productive procrastination.” I get work done, just not the work that is really a priority. Furthermore, I think the process of writing out the plan is a mental rehearsal.

      2. I am done with coursework now, and as a result, while I have LOADS to do, I have very little structure. My research assistantship is flexible enough that I can work from home for much of the time. I don’t have an office, and my advisor lives an hour away and is fairly “hands-off” (doesn’t get too involved in supervision). This lack of structure led to several periods where I was unproductive. I have now developed structures for myself. First, I require myself to do one hour of my own writing FIRST. Then, even if I get sidetracked, I have still done something. Doing it daily adds up, and often I feel so much better that I continue for longer. I have software that blocks access to websites that are “time suckers” during the day. And I have made a deal with one of my mentors to send her an e-mail every night with a report of what I have done. When I asked if this was possible, she knew I’d been suffering with the lack of structure, and I said that I wasn’t asking her to read or respond to the e-mails. I just knew that if I had someone who expected me to accomplish something each day, I would be more productive. The added bonus is that I feel a boost of confidence when I repeat what I’ve accomplished.

      I set these structures in place before the diagnosis, and I reasoned that, even if I didn’t have ADHD, I would benefit from problem-solving.

      I just presented at the major conference in my field, wrote a report summarizing two years of research in another project with my colleagues, and am starting a proposal for another conference. I also heard back from a journal that our manuscript has moved onto the next stage of review by the editorial board, so I am in a much better place than I was a few months ago.

      If graduate study in the Netherlands has elements that are similar — less structure, more flexibility — I highly encourage you to experiment with strategies that offer structure. There is one important caveat: ADHD people tend to get wrapped up in finding the “perfect” organizational strategies, which can be a distraction (read through some of my old posts, for example). Please keep it simple. Pomodoro technique is still a favorite of mine. ADHD people in particular get overwhelmed by large tasks, and saying, “I am going to write for 25 minutes” is much less intimidating than “I am going to write ten pages,” etc.

      I can relate so much to what you have written, and I hope these comments prove useful for you in your journey. Please stay in touch.


      1. Karin

        Thanks for your advice, Mary. I’m glad to hear you’re doing better. The cavaet you mentioned above is very familiar 😳 Will keep you posted, and will follow your blog posts.


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