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My Autistic Self Has Friends, but My ADHD Self Is So Lonely.

Since my autistic burnout, my ADHD side terribly misses people of her own kind.

During my life, I always had two kinds of friends, even if I didn’t realize that. When I got the diagnosis, the distinction became much clearer. One group is friends of my autistic side, and the other is friends of my ADHD side. These are very much different groups. But the second one isn’t really safe for me right now, so I don’t have them in my life anymore – and I miss them so much that it hurts.

Autistic burnout and social phobia left me unable to make connections

Five years ago, I had an autistic burnout that left me completely socially crippled and unable to take care of myself. But even before that, I developed a social phobia. It was during my college studies. I couldn’t cope with the academic demands. Well, not exactly the academic demands, but every other aspect of the college experience, especially the social ones.

I can learn well when I’m not all stressed out, but I learn best by reading quietly, by myself. I gained nothing from the lectures as I don’t process information in an auditory way. And being present for the group work… that was my kryptonite. It always took all of my strength just to endure it. As a result, I didn’t really learn anything there. And that kept backfiring on me during my master’s thesis. I was lacking crucial skills, and I felt like a fraud. It got worse and worse. And lo and behold, a social phobia was born.

I didn’t have any academic accommodations, because I was not diagnosed by then, and because even if I was, in my country people don’t really know a thing about autism. Or ADHD. Also, I couldn’t cope with living in a dorm room with another person that I didn’t know, that kept changing every year or even more often. I cracked, and kept cracking, and started hiding, and kept hiding… until I couldn’t be among people almost at all anymore. It continued after school and got only worse and worse. Hence, the burnout. And social phobia.

Social situations overwhelm me immensely

It isn’t just a social phobia, though. As an autistic person, I have always needed a lot of time by myself. And what I feel isn’t a fear of social situations, as would the social phobia diagnosis suggest. It’s more of an anticipation of the immense overwhelm that they will cause me. And then the actual overwhelm. And then the rumination over what I have said or done wrong for hours after I leave the situation.

When I’m among people now, whether I know them or don’t, I always get overwhelmed. I sometimes hide it even from myself, until I collapse and I’m unable to do anything but hide in my bed for a day or two, crumbling inside.

I need only safe people around me right now

My mental health is really bad and I’m terribly fragile right now. Have been for years, since the burnout. This has led me to keep only safe people around me. And guess what? Those safe people are mostly the ones who are autistic. They are always calm and rational. They don’t show many emotions. They speak softly. They don’t argue but talk things out in a rational manner. They have a quiet, dry sense of humor. They are not prone to outbursts of emotions. They won’t hurt me. They are safe to me as I am now.

I don’t mean to stereotype, because every autistic person is different, and I’m sure there are those who don’t fit into this description. But this is how my autistic friends are.

But my ADHD side yearns for the people who are everything but safe for me right now

My ADHD side, on the other handShe needs wildness. She needs unpredictability. She needs laughter. She needs silliness. She needs adventures. She needs freedom.

But being AuDHD, I will always need two different kinds of things. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe I can have both. Eventually.

Don’t take me wrong – I love all of my autistic friends dearly. They are all amazing people and I’m grateful for them. I value them so much. I wouldn’t want them to change in any way. And I feel like I’m betraying them somehow by the fact that I need something more.

The people who fit the needs of my ADHD side don’t have to have ADHD themselves, but they are generally wilder, more impulsive, more spontaneous, more playful. They can can go with me on unplanned trips and adventures. They create whole imaginary worlds with me. They always do silly things, and I LOVE that more than anything. I love being silly with my friends so, so much. They create imaginary worlds with me.

They can do really amazingly crazy stuff and make amazing crazy plans… And now I can’t participate in those plans anymore, because I would fall apart. That’s one of the worst things about my current life. I can’t do things that I want with my friends anymore. Those are the things I miss terribly in my friendships right now. And my friends are leaving me behind. They go on without me. And it breaks my heart. I feel kind of betrayed, even if it’s just the way of life.

I can’t deal with those of my friends who aren’t careful with my emotions

But the same people who fulfill the needs of my ADHD side are also highly emotional. Unpredictable. Dangerous. Dangerous to the mentally fragile being that I turned into after the burnout. They could easily shatter me. They wouldn’t even know.

They will argue with me or among themselves. They create drama. (I HATE drama.) They sometimes can be hurtful, mostly unintentionally, but because of carelessness. And even if they later apologize, it still hurts. They don’t always get my quieter, autistic ways and needs – they don’t understand me as I am, and I need to be understood. That’s the basis for any intimate friendship I have. (And my autistic friends, on the contrary, don’t understand the wild ADHD side of me, the one that wants to run with the wind.)

But who am I really? Even I don’t understand how can I exist as two completely different people in one brain, each of them with a different set of needs and wants.

So I have slowly let those people go. It wasn’t even my intention, just my way of avoiding pain. They gradually disappeared from my life, because I didn’t have the strength to cope with them. But I miss them. I miss them a lot. I think about them often. But I can’t let them back into my life, not yet.

When I’m who I want to be again, I can have the relationships I need – and more.

First, I need back the capacity to be hurt. To bear the unpredictability, the heightened emotions. The occasional careless words that cut deeply. Because when I will be able to accept all those things again, I will get in return all the amazingness (is that even a word?) of these people in my life once more. And I will be so happy when that time comes!

I will finally be able to have friends for my autistic side for quiet times and dry jokes, and friends for my ADHD side for wild adventures and spontaneous silliness again. 

I miss the friends of my ADHD side deeply. I miss them so much that it hurts. But most of all, I miss myself. I miss who I used to be. What I used to be able to do. The freedom. My wild, unpredictable, silly, authentic self. Not only the quiet, careful one.

I need the kind of friendships that help my ADHD side thrive. I need them so much.

But most of all, I need myself back.

I hope this dream will come true one day.

Two women in the rainbow-colored background with silhouettes of cog wheels overlaid over them. Vyhledávání fotoaparátem

I Created a Facebook Group For AuDHD People

There is almost no information on being both autistic and ADHD and it’s time we changed it.

When I got my autistic and ADHD diagnosis, I went to search for information about both of them. It inevitably led me to a question — what happens when autism and ADHD coexist in the same brain? How do they influence each other? Do they enhance some traits? Do they mask some traits? I learned that AuDHD people often don’t identify with the experiences of just autistic people, or people with just ADHD. We are different, but how?

Being the bookworm I am, I turned to Amazon. But I was disappointed. To the date of writing this article, there doesn’t exist any single book about AuDHD that I could find. I hope some neuropsychologist will see this lack of relevant information and rectifies the situation soon. But in the meanwhile, we have only each other to learn from. To compare our experiences and try to work out what makes us tick. Find solutions to our specific problems. Find out what those problems even are.

We often suffer without even knowing that we have stressors in our life that we could mitigate or remove completely, that we can adapt our life to suit our needs and not the other way around, because we look at neurotypical people and try to be like them. And when we get our diagnosis, we look at autistic people and try to be like them. And the same with people who have ADHD. We can learn something from both of these groups, but we don’t fit among them. We are something slightly different. And nobody helps us understand ourselves as we are.

Nobody helps us to understand how to make our lives easier for us. What helps with autism can go against our ADHD needs and vice versa. ADHD medication can bring out the autistic traits. Autism can mask ADHD, or ADHD can mask autism. How to find some sense in this puzzle that is our neurotype? And yet I believe that if we understood our brains more, we would find the way.

The biggest problem for me is that we don’t understand ourselves enough. Especially those of us who are late diagnosed. There is no one to tell us how being autistic and having ADHD at the same time work. Autism can pull us in one direction, and ADHD in the exactly opposite one. The autistic side of us gets overstimulated, while the ADHD side is understimulated. They fight each other inside our brains.

We don’t fit in the autistic box. We don’t fit in the ADHD box. We barely have psychiatrists that are educated in one of those conditions, but both? No chance. 

So we look for information on autism. We look for information on ADHD. We experiment and try and discard solutions and find new ones. We record our experiences to help others like us make sense of their brain. And we try, try, try.

Did you know that there is only one Facebook group for people who are autistic and have ADHD? A single one in the sea of all the neurodivergent groups that crop out like mushrooms after rain. And don’t take me wrong, those groups are useful. I visit a lot of them. But there is only ONE group for AuDHD people. And one with very strict rules about what could be posted there.

I learn about myself by seeking information. But every single question I asked in that group was declined. “Research” questions are not allowed, even if that is the only way how I can understand myself better. I don’t want to talk badly about this group, I’m glad that it exists. But it isn’t one I can feel at home at. So I decided to create another one. Yes, now they are two AuDHD groups in the whole wide Facebook lands! 😀

You can find it here: Exploring AuDHD.

All AuDHDers are welcome in this group!
Please, join only if you are BOTH autistic and have ADHD. I apologize to all autistic and ADHD and other neurodivergent people — but we need a space where we can connect with people like us, so we don’t have to search for the lonely voices amidst the sea of neurodivergent people. 

The group is meant primarily for education, so feel free to share your blog posts, Facebook pages, Youtube videos, and any other forms of information about AuDHD and life with it. But even if education is the focus of the group, seeking support is allowed too. You can come here to talk about every aspect of life with AuDHD. Come, and make yourself at home!

I will be waiting for you there.

A blue cleaning pan with two violet rubber gloves on top on white background

5 Simple ADHD Hacks for Getting Chores Done

When you have ADHD, it can be insanely hard to get anything done, ever. That goes for keeping your house clean and organized too. It can be hard when you need to adult every day, but your brain just won’t have it. So I found some methods to work with the quirks my brain has. I adapt my daily tasks according to what I know about myself and it shows some results. I hope some of this will help you too.

1. Know your priorities

My energy is very limited right now, so I did some thinking about what is the most important to do and what can wait. I decided that feeding myself, drinking enough water, and sleeping enough come absolutely first, as they are biological needs, and I would break down if I don’t take care of them. The same applies to my mental health care. After that comes personal hygiene. Then comes work. Then comes cleaning and organizing the space where I live. Etc. etc.

Because of that, things like cooking and eating lunch are the highest priority tasks, as is taking time to lie in my bed, tune out the world, and rest. For example, if I have to decide between cooking lunch and washing my hair, I cook the lunch and simply make peace with the fact that my hair isn’t washed. But if I’m deciding between sweeping the floor and washing my hair, my hair gets washed and the floor can wait. I’m in long-term burnout right now and I have very low energy and executive functioning, so I just had to accept that not everything gets done

I work from home part-time, and obviously, work is very important, but it always comes after my biological needs. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do much work anyways. I set a rule for myself:  first rest, then work, not the other way around. Rest gives me the energy to do the work. (And yes, I realize that not everyone can afford to do it like this, and I’m privileged. But I also think not being able to take care of yourself leads to burnout, and then your body and mind stop you from working anyways. It is worth it to try to find ways to care for yourself before that happens.)

2. Do one chore for 15 minutes a day

I set a timer for 15 minutes and during that time, do whichever unpleasant task that needs doing – like washing the dishes. If I told myself I will wash dishes and clean the kitchen for an hour, I couldn’t find the motivation to begin. But I can bear doing it for just 15 minutes.

It’s much easier to finish a short task. And if you do this every day, you clean most of the things that need to get cleaned and do most of what needs to be done. Also, I like to listen to energetic music while doing household chores and other low-concentration tasks and it helps me keep my energy up.

3. Task switching

This point is a bit similar to the previous one – with a twist. I set a timer for 15 – 20 minutes and work on one chore during that time. But after that time passes, I switch to another task. After another 20 minutes, I can go back to the first thing, or pick a totally different one. I alter between several chores this way until I run out of energy – but by then, even if the tasks aren’t completely finished, a significant portion of the work is done. This rapid task-switching ensures that my brain won’t get bored. I discovered that sometimes I can work for hours, as long it’s something different every 20 minutes. Who would have thought?

4. One step at a time

I was always postponing things like putting the dishes in the dishwasher or hanging the clothes to dry. Sometimes I had to rewash the clothes three or four times because I couldn’t myself wash them. I didn’t know how to make myself just DO the damn thing.

And then it dawned on me.

I don’t hang up the clothes because there are still clothes hanging from the previous washing. It feels like too long and difficult a task to first put them down, fold them and put them where they belong, and then put the newly washed clothes up. So I only do one thing at a time.

I put the dry clothes down. Sometime after, I fold them and put them away. And another time, I do the laundry and I’m able to hang the freshly washed clothes because it’s just one task instead of two or three.

Now, I don’t even start the washing machine if the clothes hanger isn’t empty. Much better! The same with the dishwasher. First, the clean dishes go out. That’s doable. Later, I can add the dirty ones as I go and put them to wash. 

5. Sort-of-a-routine

As a person with ADHD, I’m bad at routines. Seriously bad. But as an autistic person, I crave them. So I make a compromise: I observe what I’m inclined to do during my day, experiment, and think about any small tweaks that I could implement.

I try to insert various tasks at various times of my day or attach them to other routines I have already down. I keep what works and discard what doesn’t. I try to do things in a way that feels easy for me

For example, I decided to add writing of my morning pages directly after my usual morning relaxation over a cup of tea. The morning pages are a method of creating a writing habit and tackling the writer’s block that is described in The Artist’s Way. It’s pretty easy –  you just write whatever comes to mind and let your thoughts flow on the paper. It helps me with my mental health – I can sort my thoughts and feelings on paper, realize what makes me tick, and find solutions to problems.

I observed I’m getting very stressed and unsettled when I finish my morning tea because I feel I should get to work right away. But I never feel like it yet, and I wanted to create some gentle transition. It worked. Now I finish my tea and breakfast, write a few pages, ride the stationary bike for a few minutes and then I can start work calmer and more refreshed.


These are the things that help me to manage my daily load. I’m still disorganized, messy, and nowhere close to where I would like to be, but at least I can keep the explosion that is my life somewhat in control. Yay!

Do you know any useful hacks and tips for ADHD/neurodivergent housekeeping? Help others out and write them in the comments! I would love to hear more advice to add to my repertoire! 🙂

Two twin zoung women lzing on grass side bz side, one of them upside down to the other.

I Love My ADHD Side but Hate the Autistic One

I didn’t know I was autistic or had ADHD until adulthood. Then I was diagnosed with both at once. I went for the assessment for autism and got two diagnoses for the price of one.

The autism I kind of expected, even if I debated with myself for years if I can be really autistic, or if I’m just making it all up. Ironically, It didn’t occur to me that I could have ADHD – but when I got the diagnosis, I thought “Huh. Of course. That totally makes sense.

I accepted my ADHD side immediately. I still haven’t found my peace with the autistic side. I have a problem identifying with it because of my internalized ableism and outdated stereotypes of what autism looks like that still somehow live in my unconscious mind. I have autistic imposter syndrome. I’m having trouble accepting autism as a part of my identity.

The ADHD side wants to live to the fullest… and the autistic side is holding her back

For me, the ADHD side represents my ideal self – adventurous, bold, friendly, outgoing. She is the person I want to be. She longs to live the life I yearn for: having adventures, cherishing new experiences, connecting to all kinds of people and making friends, and living every moment of life to the fullest.

I feel that my autistic side is keeping me back from this all. She is easily overwhelmed. She has problems with new environments and new things. She is easily exhausted by human contact. She craves routine and is unsettled by the lack of it. No matter how adventurous I feel, I have to always, always keep in mind my limitations. And that rankles. I despise them. I want to be free.

I follow the adventures of various people who travel a lot, hike in nature a lot, do new and interesting things a lot, and I feel like they are somehow living MY life, the life that should belong to me, the life I always imagined I would have. This is one of the most terrible feelings I know.

And now I know I would probably never have that kind of life. But I can’t make myself let go of that dream – not yet. So I just silently suffer and feel like I’m not really myself. I haven’t felt like myself for years.

Oh, the adventures I had… Until I didn’t.

When I was a teenager, I happily jumped on whatever opportunity for a new adventure that came by. I went on a skiing trip designed to bring together able-bodied and disabled children and I got lost in a snowstorm with two of the other girls. I went planting trees with an ecological organization. I was the youngest one there and had to be helped home by one of the older guys because I got a fever.

I went on a horse camp that went terribly wrong (read: exciting) as we had to move from the campsite that somehow wasn’t paid for into an old house that was falling apart. We smuggled food leftovers to a scrappy dog that lived there and were enjoying ourselves. At another horse camp, they just sat me on a horse and started galloping – so I learned how to ride a galloping horse while doing it. At first, I clung to him for my dear life, but by the end of the camp, I was riding with my back straight and a smile on my face.

One summer, I went to a Shaolin-themed camp (by another ecological organization) which was one of the best experiences of my life. They did things like gather us in the middle of the afternoon to tell us that we are to go away for a weekend in groups of two or three, and we can bring only 5 items for a group in addition to what we had on our person. No money was allowed. We had to complete a list of tasks in various villages and towns around the campsite. I went with two of my friends.  We hitchhiked, we slept on a train station bench and ate fruit that fell from trees. I had the time of my life. 

When I came home from one of the weekends spent in such a fashion, my friend from school remarked that I somehow seem taller. I felt taller. The world was my oyster.

I don’t feel like myself anymore

And all that time, I was suppressing terrible anxiety and wondering why I’m always more tired than everyone around me. As the years went by, my reserve of strength and willpower ran out, and suddenly, I couldn’t go on adventures anymore. And I stopped feeling like myself.

I have yet to go backpacking in a foreign country. I have yet to go on the pilgrimage to Santiago do Compostella. I have never seen the total eclipse of the sun, never been on another continent, never slept in a desert with a sky full of stars. I have so many dreams that I’m not any closer to fulfilling and I’m so frustrated, so sad because of it.

The autistic side and the ADHD side of me are in a constant battle over the way I should live.

Other people can prefer their autistic side

I know of some people that have it the other way around. They want nothing to do with their ADHD side and feel much more comfortable in the autistic one. One person said to me that he got into so much trouble because of ADHD. He was on the verge of big legal and financial problems when he started being treated for ADHD, and it felt liberating for him. His autistic side is the one that keeps things in order and organized. He likes it a lot.

I’m learning to love and accept autism as a part of myself

When I was speaking about this to my therapist, she suggested that I make a list of the positive qualities my autistic side has. And I found quite a few. For example, she helps me to get enough rest. I would never stop and be still without her. I would burn out so quickly! She can keep my things organized. (Well, mostly.) She grounds me. She is the one that loves reading and immersing herself in imaginary worlds for hours, which is my favorite activity.

Of course, the attributes I assign to my autistic and ADHD side aren’t necessarily directly caused by autism or ADHD. That is just my interpretation of them. My autism and ADHD both live in the same neurodivergent brain and are so intertangled that there is no separating them.

I can’t change who I am – but I can change if I love myself or not

I have come to realize that I’m ALL of this – ADHD, autistic, a woman who wants to live an adventurous life and who fears it at the same time, someone who is a passionate bookworm, who goes for walks daily, who likes writing, and who thinks poodles are the best dogs ever. All of this is me.

I now strive to accept all my sides. After all, I can’t be anyone else than whom I really am. I don’t want to struggle for the rest of my life with things that I find difficult to accept about myself and miss out on how they can enrich my life.

I want to love who I really am.


What about you? If you are AuDHD, do you prefer your autistic side or your ADHD side? Or do you like both of them? Neither? Share it in the comments!

several red and pink hearts hanging together from threads, decorated by daisies

5 Facebook Groups That Are Very Useful for Autistic People

I was diagnosed with autism and ADHD about a year and a half ago. Over that time, during exploring my condition, I found some very useful groups on Facebook. Some of them are my go-to when I need advice, support, or just to vent a bit.

Not every neurodivergent Facebook group I found is friendly – some of those I found are pretty toxic. I unfollowed quite a few. But those five are places where you can explore and interact without fear of judgment and feel safe. 

1. Autism Late Diagnosis/Self-Identification Support and Education

This group is for people who were diagnosed in adulthood and want to explore a new understanding of themselves. You can ask questions here, vent about your troubles and generally hang out with people who understand you. The atmosphere of the group is friendly and welcoming. Because I was diagnosed in my thirties, this is my go-to group for all things autistic

You can join the group here: 

2. Day To Day Tasks Explained Step By Step

I love this group! This is not a group specifically for neurodivergent people, but I believe that many autistic people will find it extremely helpful like I do. You can ask anything that you have always been ashamed to ask because it seems that everyone should just “get it”, and other members will give you step-by-step explanations, without any judgment. You can explore here things like housekeeping, personal hygiene, work, or even navigating social situations. The range of topics is endless.  It’s a fantastic resource for autistic people like me! I’m so grateful to the person who created it. 

You can join the group here: 

3. Neurodivergent Cleaning Crew

This group helps me with everything related to keeping house, cleaning, and organizing my stuff. You can ask for advice, get support and read tips from others. You will find no judgment here, everyone has their own struggles and understands how difficult is to keep your home in a good state. 

You can join the group here: 

4. Neurodivergent Cooking Crew

This is a group that will help you with everything food-related. You can find easy-to-cook recipes, and ask for suggestions for low-spoon meals or for any other type of meal. People often ask here for tips for food that fits their specific limitations, cheap and filling food, or food that can be made from the ingredients they have at hand. You will find here a lot of tips and inspiration for quick, easily prepared, and healthy meals.

You can join the group here:

5. Neurodivergent, But Make It Community

This is a group for people who want to find and explore relationships. You can socialize here with other people like you. You can find advice about finding and being part of a community. You can explore here making friends, ask for advice about social situations, and much more.

There are many thematic groups like this one on Facebook. Search for “Neurodivergent, but make it” and it will show you many other groups on various topics! For example, Neurodivergent, but make it food, Neurodivergent, but make it fashion, Neurodivergent, but make it plants. Neurodivergent, but make it home… Whatever you manage to think of.

You can join the group here: 

I hope these groups help you as much as they helped me!

A drawing of flowers in soft pastel tones, with the words "My Business Idea Garden" written above them in the same shade of green that the flower stems are.

How (Not) To Start a Business When You Have ADHD

Like most people with ADHD, I have no problem coming up with an idea (or a few hundred) for a business. I come up with a new idea every few days. But the problem is how to choose the right one that I want to stick with in the long run – which is definitely not easy for someone with ADHD. 

I want to start an online business. It’s my dream, even if I have a long way to go yet. But I wasnt able to finish anything. I started to work on dozens of ideas, then abandoned them as I realized they aren’t something that I really want to do. Or I just got bored with working on them. It doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist and I try every product I work on be the maximum possible product, not the minimum viable product. I had to realize this and force myself to change my approach. But it still wasn’t enough.

You need to keep all the ideas in the same place

After a year or so flailing around the internets and attempting to do ten things at once, I’ve finally realized that I need to write all of these ideas down, not on a million little sticky notes that I file away somewhere and never find again. Otherwise, I will 1) forget about them soon, and 2) my mind will be overflowing with new ones, stopping my brain from functioning properly. There goes the last shred of my concentration! 

Later, I realized that I also need to write down (and follow) a process by which I can implement the ideas, step by step. And no, I really can’t skip researching if an idea is viable before I jump into it with enthusiasm. 

Tonight I came back from a friend’s place, where I got my mind off this topic for a few hours and obviously it gave my brain some space to process. Suddenly, it dawned on me. I picked up one page of notes filled with various ideas, and a second page on how to go about implementing the ideas. I put a third, blank page on the top and I simply wrote: 

You don’t have to do things just because they’re possible!

Heureka! ADHD Heureka. It’s kind of obvious to other people, I guess.

How to choose a good idea to work on

I wrote a note to myself:

“Consider every idea: Do I enjoy it? Does it make me happy? Is it meaningful to me?”

I opened Google spreadsheets, and I wrote down a list of my bazillion of ideas for different projects and businesses in the first column named “WHAT”. I named the second column simply: “WHY”.

This was a game-changer for me.

I have eliminated all the things I didn’t have enough reasons to create, which means I would run out of motivation after the initial spurt of excitement. On the other hand, the spreadsheet helped me to clarify what makes the most sense for me and pick one thing to work on

You need to let go of some ideas – to create space for even better ones!

Some of the projects I’ve discarded include:

  • Selling low content – specifically journals – on KDP. My “Why” was “Because it’s trendy right now and it’s easy to do, but I don’t actually use a journal myself and I wouldn’t enjoy creating them very much. Also, I wouldn’t probably make much money because everyone and their dog does it”. (The second thing wouldn’t discourage me if I loved the idea – but creating something for an overcrowded market and not even enjoying the process? Hard pass.
  • A long article about 7 good habits under 15 minutes that can help you be happier.  This was supposed to be a freebie on Gumroad. I wanted to list 7 things that helped me in my daily life, but I quickly became too bored to write about them. Too blinded by all the other shiny new ideas. 
  • AI-generated coloring pages books. It seemed a good idea at first, but I have tried it and the results were underwhelming. It would take too much time to get it to create something that I could use, so it really isn’t as quick a way to make a product as I thought. 

What I chose instead:

For now, I started polishing the idea spreadsheet itself, adding more functions to help sort the ideas, and making it into a product – and I DID finish it! You can find it as the Cultivating Success: Your Business Idea Garden 🌼 (Not Only) For People With ADHD . It’s a mouthful, so you can use “BIG” for short. It’s available on my Gumroad. And it’s completely free to download! I realized that if it helps me, it can also help others. So here you go!

(And, of course, you can use it even if you don’t have ADHD. It can be a useful tool for everyone who has a lot of ideas or a tendency to run towards the Shiny Next Thing at top speed.)

As a second idea, I chose to write this article. And the third idea I will work on might be a short book! The topic is secret for now 😉

Your Business Idea Garden will help you pick the best ideas for you

If you want to use this tool, don’t think too much about what you write in the “Why” box. Write whatever comes to mind first. Your brain usually knows your deepest thoughts you haven’t even formulated yet and is just looking for a way to bring them to the surface.

You want to pick an idea that makes the most sense to you right now. You can put your energy into it and if it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to your neat list of ideas. Keep writing down everything that comes to mind and you’ll have an inexhaustible well of ideas for business over time. 

Then you fill in a few Yes/No answers about the idea and the BIG helps you to automatically sort the ideas from the best to the worst! Important note: Pick just ONE of the best ideas to focus on right now. You have a much better chance of finishing it now when it’s an idea that fits you well!

Final thoughts 

By getting clearer on what is most practical, meaningful, and valuable to me, I hope there is a better chance that I will finally stick with something for more than a few days. I will keep you updated! (That is, if I don’t find a new, better, shinier project to work on… 😉)

Are you an entrepreneur with ADHD? Share your experience in the comments! 

🌼🌻🌼 ➡️ Download the Business Idea Garden here ⬅️ 🌼🌻🌼

A woman in pink glasses with a surprised expression on her face, pointing to her right. Image by sheikh86295328 from Pixabay.

Surprise! You Are Autistic… and ADHD!

It hurts. The stream of water hits my small body and I shrink in myself. I hear the other children, shrieking with laughter. Are they having fun? I’m suffering. But I must endure it. It doesn’t occur to me to just step aside, to run away, as the teacher in the pre-kindergarten sprays us with water from the hose in the hot summer. 

It blinds. The light is too bright, too much. I squint, trying to see, my eyes full of tears. I stand rooted in place, blinded. Mercifully, one of the teachers notices my struggle and lends me a pair of sunglasses from a kid younger than me. The brightness stops. I breathe out with relief.

It calms me. I’m standing alone, facing the corner, in a room full of children. I’m dancing with my imaginary friend. I’m not interested in the children. I’m content. 

The signs were there from the beginning

In retrospect, it should have been clear. I was a quiet, bookish child, but I often had what my parents called “tantrums”. I was at the same time too adult and too childish for my age. I was too obedient, taking things too literally. 

I was so picky with food that when my mum asked me, slightly desperately, to write down my own meal plan for the weak, I wrote “eggs” and “potatoes” over and over for every day.

I walked through the preschool with my hands balled in fists, a gesture that nobody at the time recognized as a sign of deep anxiety. I didn’t talk much to the other children. I think I was afraid of them. I never picked the “good” toys. Instead, I was waiting for what would be left.

Everybody remarked how similarly I behaved as a child as later my little autistic cousin did. But in my childhood, in a newly democratic country that was still recuperating from long decades of communism, “women couldn’t be autistic.”

The psychiatrists didn’t find out I’m autistic. My aunt did.

The first person who had any suspicion was my aunt, who has an autistic child and is autistic herself. Not a single one of the small army of doctors and therapists that surrounded me from my early teen years when my mental illness broke out of control and nearly killed me had a clue.

They showered me with psychiatric diagnoses, but they weren’t the right kind of diagnoses. I went through two months-long psychiatric hospitalizations, and still, the person who “diagnosed” me with autism was my aunt. She sent me an article about how autism can manifest differently in women and how it often goes unrecognized.

At first, I was hesitant about the whole idea. I was very, very careful of thinking that I could be autistic because I discovered that in a corner of my soul, I was scared by how much I wanted it. 

It would mean that it wasn’t my fault. That I could stop blaming myself for the many things I lived in shame of for my whole life. That my social awkwardness, lack of understanding, all of the cringey moments weren’t my fault. That many of my psychiatric conditions may simply result from an environment that doesn’t accommodate differences

I could forgive myself for being different

Autism is invisible, but it isn’t intangible, like anxiety and depression. It’s a physical handicap, a physical difference in my brain from the brains of other people. At the time, I thought of it as a disability that in my eyes was not much different than someone missing an arm or a foot. If I knew I had a real, physical handicap, I could go much easier on myself. Now I realize that my brain isn’t disabled, just different – with its advantages and disadvantages.

Because I wanted that convenient label so much, I was very hesitant about claiming it. To me, for my whole life, I was “normal”. Yes, different from the others, but normal for me. Now I had to dive into a deep rabbit hole of my oddities and try to see things that I would rather not. I didn’t want to think of myself as “weird”.

Autistic imposter syndrome

I didn’t think autism really belonged to me. I didn’t want to appropriate the condition. I thought that perhaps I just wanted to be autistic because it would absolve me of my many shortcomings. This kind of thinking is called “Autistic imposter syndrome”.

I was also afraid that from the moment I was diagnosed, if I was diagnosed, I would try to avoid things that hurt, uncomfortable things, “because I’m disabled”. I was scared of losing my drive for overcoming. 

And there was also a dream to mourn. A dream that one day, in the future, I would be cured and as healthy and able as anybody around me. Because if I was autistic, there would be no cure.

A surprise ADHD diagnosis

It took me years to finally decide to get diagnosed. I applied to the best institution in our country. I was lucky that I have been able to pay for it then. They sent a lot of questionnaires, and interviewed my parents, my boyfriend, and finally myself. And then the verdict came: Not only I’m autistic, but I also have ADHD.

38 years of my life and I was finally holding the beginning of the answers in my hands.

But… people don’t really know what autism is

The diagnosis hasn’t been the all-absolving solution I hoped for. Shortly after finally getting diagnosed, I realized that telling people that I’m autistic won’t help me much. Because pretty much nobody around me understands what that word really means.

One of my friends said to me, hesitantly: “But I thought autistic people lack empathy, and you are the most empathetic person I know.” Contrary to popular opinion, autistic people are empathetic – in fact, we can even be hyperemphathetic, which is my case. I can’t even watch a sitcom because the humor is based on the premise of unpleasant things happening to people.

I decided that when I need to communicate something related to my autism, I will concentrate just on the relevant part.

“The music is too loud for me. Could you please turn it down?

“I need to be alone right now for a moment.”

“I can’t recognize and remember faces very well, so it’s very likely that we will introduce ourselves to each other several times until it sticks.”

I reveal the whole picture only to the people I trust – and to the people I fear. People who could make my life harder if they didn’t know there is an actual reason behind my odd behavior, however skillfully masked.

The benefits of being diagnosed

But am I glad I got diagnosed? Definitely. I found a community in various Facebook groups – and information. Coping strategies, advice, the feeling I’m not alone in this – all amazingly valuable things.

A few of the Facebook groups that I love are Autism Late Diagnosis/Self-Identification Support and Education, Neurodivergent Cleaning Crew, and Neurodivergent Cooking Crew. I also like to read Facebook pages like Diary of a Mom, who has an autistic daughter and is one of the gentlest beings that walked this Earth, Neurodivergent Rebel, NeuroWild, or young autistic advocate Summer Farrelly. Youtube videos, for example How to ADHD or Purple Ella’s videos on having both autism and ADHD are also very helpful.

The unexpected diagnosis of ADHD that I got along with the autistic one helped a lot too. Being autistic with ADHD can be a complicated thing, because the traits of both diagnoses often clash, making you a study of contradictions. The advice that helps just autistic people or just ADHD people may not suit you very well. But I could see now how much of my behavior is influenced by ADHD and I learned to understand myself much better.

I also got much better at forgiving myself. It turned out that while there isn’t a cure for autism or ADHD, the diagnosis itself can be a cure for self-hate. For the pressure that I was always putting on myself, for all the things that didn’t allow me to relax and just be myself. I didn’t lose my drive – the drive just got a different direction. I got a lot better at accepting myself as I am. And that’s what really matters.

fire and water clashing on a black background
Mental Health, Neurodivergence

If You Are Autistic with ADHD, You Are a Living Contradiction 

Ever since I remember, I have always wanted two totally opposite things at the same time – both with equally great passion. To go out with friends and to be alone, to travel and to stay at the places I know, to attend various events, and to stay at home and read.

Whatever I decided, there was a part of me that was always unsettled. As an adult, I realized that other people around me aren’t such a mess of contradictory desires. But it was only after watching this video by Yo Samdy Sam that it dawned on me – this is happening to me because the “autistic part” of me and the “ADHD part” always want – or need – completely different things.

“The inner conflict is maddening”

It’s estimated that at least 30% of autistic people also have ADHD. It’s so common that the neurodivergent community began to create abbreviations for the combination of both conditions: AuDHD, AutDHD, and others. Yet there is so little information out there about people who are autistic and have ADHD – and it’s so necessary for us to understand our contradictory nature.

There are some traits that autism and ADHD share – like executive dysfunction. But there are a lot of traits that are complete opposites. The opposing traits can mask each other, so it can be a problem to get a diagnosis at all.

For example, ADHD demands constant stimulation. On the other hand, autism means you can get easily overstimulated, so you avoid it. You can even get overstimulated and understimulated at the same time.

The first comment on the video really resonates with me. And, apparently, with a lot of others. Vinnie S. wrote: 

“The inner conflict is maddening. All the things that make me feel most alive quickly burn me out. Yet, living a quiet little life that avoids burnout triggers depressive episodes through understimulation. When making major life decisions it’s like deciding which kind of breakdown I’d rather have. Heh.”

When one side is “satisfied”, the other becomes more visible

There is also an interesting thing that Yo Samdy Sam noticed. When she goes out and her ADHD needs are more fulfilled, her autistic traits become more prominent. But when she stays at home, where her autistic side can have what she needs, the ADHD traits become more prominent instead. When I thought about it, I noticed that the same thing is happening to me. 

Which side was winning was different throughout various periods of my life. As a child, I usually liked to stay in my room and read, as my autistic side preferred. As a teen, I almost always did what the ADHD side wanted. I hopped on any action that was happening around – be it a skiing trip, camping, or a summer camp spent planting trees or repairing an old castle. And as an adult, my mental strength to overcome the anxiety that being active triggers in me had run out and I had to return to my quiet ways – even if the passion for movement and action never ceased. I still yearn for it. I desperately miss it.

Which one I really am?

I have always identified more with my ADHD side, long before I knew I had these two diagnoses. I consider her desires the “right” ones, the ones that make me who I am. But I haven’t been who I feel I am – or should be – for more than 15 years. When I stopped being able to go on camping trips and summer camps, to simply take a backpack and head to nature for days, it felt like a part of me had gone missing. That I’m not really being myself. And I miss that part of me terribly. When I lost my ability to travel abroad, it only pronounced this loss. I’m always hoping that this will all come back to me, that I will feel whole again.

But when I’m writing these words, I realize that my autistic side and her desires – like reading for hours on end – are just as much “me” and as valuable as the part who is always ready to go on an adventure. I’m both. And that realization finally brings me some measure of inner peace.