38: the one about being consistently inconsistent




Moira’s talking about ways to see and measure growth when it’s hard to notice or even recognize. With ADHD one thing we can consistently count on is inconsistency. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Two steps forward and one step back is still forward. It does take us in the direction we want to go. Moira once again lets us into her life sharing a brief writing activity, her ADHD metaphor—a horse named Mabel and taking an ADHD friendly approach to change (aka an inconsistent one) that surprisingly, made a big difference. It has made it easier to spot unhelpful tendencies, improved her self-awareness, acceptance, and confidence in herself and her growth. All while still consistently finding humor in her consistently inconsistent ADHD.

Welcome to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle Podcast, for those of us with ADHD, who have had enough of trying harder and want to live a more comfortable, healthy, and happy life with less frustration and overwhelm. It’s time to get rid of guilt and shame–around having ADHD, our needs, and challenges through stories, knowledge, and humor to speak up about the experience of women, moms, and being late diagnosed with ADHD. 
We can build acceptance and growing our self-compassion over time, to help us take care of ourselves, ask for help when we need it, and be comfortable with who we are. Join me, Moira Maybin, as I share knowledge about ADHD to make your life easier, and what choices you have to make your tomorrow a more ADHD Friendly day.
Thank you for being part of the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle, hosted by Moira Maybin. Subscribe to the show on iTunes and leave a rating and review. Join the conversation today!
Have a question suggestion or want to reach out? Email Ask@adhdfriendlylifestyle.com

Show Notes:

Topics discussed in today's episode:
Moira shares her first snapshot & her ADHD Metaphor—a horse named Mabel 02:32
  • Moira shares where she was at in January with turning 50, and feeling like she was starting to emerge from the struggles of the last 3-4 years and ready to try to use some capacity and energy to get stronger physically, work towards a fuller life without the decade’s long struggles of undiagnosed and untreated ADHD
  • The approach was slow, incremental, and required patience—and paying off
  • Also included using where in her cycle, or state of well-being to create something that is easier to sustain—on low-capacity days this means accepting that and altering expectations
  • Tamara Rosier author of Your Brains Not Broken recommends having a metaphor for our ADHD and Moira shares her horse metaphor for her ADHD
Relearning to understand and trust ourselves 08:09
  • Moira shares that this winter as she has started to feel better, more peaceful, and calm she wasn’t sure if she could trust it or herself
  • She experimented with taking it day by day; practicing acknowledging out loud when she felt good, happy, or not getting as stressed out–even if she had things to do, and wasn’t clear on how that was going to happen
  • Acknowledging how she was in the moment was a great way to build self-awareness and trust in herself
Rabbit holes, Avoidance and Externalizing Support 11:14
  • Her biggest challenges in January were with transitions and feeding herself consistently
  • Was the struggle related to being in a rabbit hole and hyper-focusing or was it the actual pause and transition?
  • Moira realized she was feeding herself half truths about stopping so was curious about what was happening
  • From Your Brain’s Not Broken she saw part of the problem was going down rabbit holes, and did nothing about it
  • Then Your Brain’s Not Broken she saw part of the problem was avoidance for many reasons, and did nothing about it
  • When she tried co-working with 30 min check ins she learned four things: she didn’t go into hyper focus, she took better care of herself, she didn’t forget all about other priorities and she wasn’t as depleted afterwards which led to more capacity later in the day
  • Unpacking her avoidance tendencies made it clear how food related they were and more likely to happen when it was time to stop for food
  • Meanwhile perfectionistic tendencies would try to keep her working
  • Moira shares ways she has taken the power away in recognizing and reducing the impact of these struggles.
Recap 24:38
  • Once a month on our calendar set aside 10 minutes to write to our ADHD, our body or from our body. Reviewing it can help reveal insights and understandings that we might otherwise miss or discredit. Part of this process can involve things like creating your own ADHD metaphor and relearning to understand and trust ourselves.
  • our challenges can be multi layered and complex, we may need to slow down to find them. Moira’s include rabbit holes, avoidance, and the value of externalizing support.
  • We can learn from writing down what we think and do, then look back at it.
  • Snapshots in time made it so much easier to find unhelpful tendencies, build self-understanding and have confidence in the decisions we make.



Moira Maybin  00:00

I acknowledge with gratitude that I’m a settler who lives in creates on the unceded traditional territories of the Semiahmoo First Nation, which lies within the shared territories of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Tsawwassen, and Sto:lo First Nations.

Moira Maybin  00:18

With ADHD, one thing we can consistently count on is inconsistency. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Two steps forward and one step back is still forward. It does take us in the direction we want to go. How can we see and measure growth? When we don’t even notice it? Let alone recognize what is going on? How often do you feel like you are spinning your wheels? Not doing getting or being enough? Wanting different are desperate for change yet feeling stuck in repeat mode. It can seem like an unsolvable riddle, one that others have the answers to, and we were away the day they handed up the guidebook and answer key. So what now, writing to myself, I’m still not calling it journaling because that word doesn’t work for me, revealed more consistency, change and growth than I knew. I don’t have an ongoing reflective writing practice. I have a date in my calendar that reminds me once a month to rotate through writing to my ADHD to my body or from my body. In looking back, it helped me capture slow and seemingly inconsistent growth that I would have completely missed and even discredited. Yet slow growth is the most sustainable way to make change. a trickle-down effect is actually quite helpful. The things that I didn’t realize I had set in motion are picking up steam, making it easier to spot tendencies that don’t help me and improve my self awareness, acceptance and trust in myself. 

 Welcome to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle. I’m your host, Moira Maybin a woman, mom, educator, and I have late-diagnosed ADHD. This is the place to practice getting rid of guilt or shame and spending more time with our strengths and passions. There are things that I wish I had known about my ADHD sooner that is allowing me to make different decisions to make my life more ADHD friendly, and I want to share them with you. For show notes, including next steps, resources, and articles on this topic, visit ADHD friendlylifestyle.com.

Moira Maybin  02:32

It showed up on my calendar as it always does unassuming and silently. I knew it was coming from my weekly planning. I’ve accepted that it doesn’t take long, but I do prefer quiet and picking a time I won’t be interrupted. What time is it? It’s time to take 10 min to write a letter I’ll never send. It’s just for me.  I begin to think about how my ADHD and I have gotten along in the last few months and decided to take a peek at my last letter from two months ago. I’m so glad I did. It turns out that thoughts and perceptions I have now aren’t as new or as tentative as I would have guessed, I thought that my take on my ADHD were things that were just starting to emerge. Not only that, if I didn’t have that snapshot in time, I wouldn’t have seen the bigger pattern that was connected to a much higher level of consistency. Who knew? Not me. In fact, the consistency wouldn’t even have been recognizable. Because when I frequently changed up how when and what I was doing something, I could have seen it as giving up. But saw it as just stopping solitary or random events. I didn’t realize that the impact of what I had done, even if in my mind it was not complete resulted in trends in the direction, I want it to be heading. Wahoo! 

Let me explain what I mean because without me writing it down, I never would have seen it. Back in January when I turned 50 I spent some time thinking about how my ADHD and I were both doing when I got to thinking about it my awareness of how important our mutually dependent relationship was prominent. My ADHD and I take care of each other during these tough times. Since falling off a cliff in 2018 resulted in brain and back injuries that would have required a lot of healing and surgery. This is on top of the collective global trauma we’ve experienced. Those things along with being almost five years into ADHD treatment meant I felt I could now consider using some of my capacity and energy to do more than get through the day in the hermit convalescing pandemic style that was necessary. I want to get stronger physically work towards having a fuller life than I’ve had in the last two years and do so without the struggle of decades long, undiagnosed and untreated ADHD. My approach nowadays needs to be slow, incremental and requires patience. Three things that while they’re hard to find in my toolbox are being cultivated, I don’t do much anymore with the vim and vigor of my 20s and 30s. Well, maybe I still think it’s fast, but I don’t try to act on it. In January, I restarted exercising yoga and meditation, and ADHD brain I know said today, sometimes yoga is resting in corpse pose. Yes. 22nd century Moira is all about not following a prescribed routine, or activity levels. But a general one. I am aware of increasing time and intensity, to strengthen, lengthen and increase flexibility. And at the same time, and using where I am at in my cycle, or my state of well-being to create something that is easier to sustain. On low-capacity days, I’m accepting that and altering what my expectations are for myself. If you haven’t yet heard will curb of hacking your ADHD recent episode on how to manage low-capacity days, I’d recommend checking it out. Another great episode is with one of my favorite people. Dr. Tamara Rosier author of Your Brain’s not Broken. She recommends having a metaphor for ADHD, I realized that I already had one that like many ADHD ideas I had spontaneously stumbled on in my brain. You know that expression about getting back up on the horse. It’s a metaphor about resilience, and the value of following through on difficult things. That’s something all of us with ADHD can identify with on some level.

Moira Maybin  06:24

For me, what needs to change with ADHD is the shame and guilt so often involved in anything to do with that horse, especially getting back up on it. My ADHD horse metaphor is now an absolutely beautiful horse. And it’s also an animal that I’m literally slightly afraid of, well to ride Anyways, if she is standing there calmly waiting for me, we’re good. I know how most of the time how to get on that beauty without guilt or shame. Sometimes she is slow. Sometimes she’s more jittery. And what it takes to ride her is always changing. But, and I love my big BUTS, I have also stopped doing the things to my horse, that if she was real, I probably would be find jailed, or both. My main tendency was to ride my horse like we were racing until she collapsed. Then when she was lying on the ground, desperate for respite, I would try any way I could to pull her across the finish line. Sometimes I would hurt myself badly if she fell. And when lay there under her feeling like I deserved my injuries and pain. Or I would be thrown clear, crawl away and just leave her there. Hmm. Is this all a bit dramatic? Perhaps I suspect you understand my metaphor. Having this metaphor makes it easier for me to see my tendencies and consider what my choices are. I tend to treat my ADHD horse with a love, care and support it needs now, I care for her so much that I’ve named her Mabel. She does love carrots and apples who this is the fun part of having ADHD. The not so fun part. There’s no getting around. When we have less capacity. ADHD has a part to play in it. It’s mutually beneficial when I can listen more to what we need. 

 2021 was not my favorite or best year. And after so many days of feeling tired, slow, or just playing math to start 2022 feeling pretty good. And coexisting peacefully made me slightly suspicious and hesitant to recognize or even acknowledge it. We are one being and what happens in our body, or our brain impacts every part of us. We can’t get away from that this winter has include experiencing erratic cycles, some pain over the last few months and adjusting to new thyroid meds, which seems to have improved my mood sleep and energy level. I didn’t know if I could trust the positives, or if I would be able to consistently count on Waking up that way. So I took it day by day, acknowledging it actually out loud when I felt good. That felt weird, but good. Or acknowledging that I was happy. I noticed that I didn’t seem to get stressed out. I decided I was going to enjoy this feeling. Feeling good in the moment became enough an unexpected result. acknowledging how I was in the moment was a great way to build my awareness and trust in myself. My struggles this winter seemed to be with transitioning to feeding myself consistently and getting to bed at night. I was curious what this was about hyper focusing, going down rabbit holes before transitioning, or was it the actual pause and transition? I initially thought I got stuck at the transition. A smart ADHD brain I know asked me what’s the story I told myself when I prioritize staying on the current thing, instead of switching to the next thing, especially when the next thing was very important or time sensitive. At night when I’m relaxed before bed, I am worn out and no longer have match left in the tank, it all seems too hard. The few times I have been able to have a booster dose that helps so much with that one, I am still waiting to see about that as a regular option. But hope that there’s a solution there. I know there are other strategies that I can use. My reasoning is this getting stuck is about low executive function and capacity, which I can tackle more easily than my bigger problem. When I am working, I tell myself, I will take a break soon. Or that’ll probably be done soon. Something that’s rarely true. Now that I know I’m telling myself something that isn’t true. What next? What can I try differently? Full disclosure here. This exact thing has happened repeatedly while writing this episode. I haven’t moved or done anything else for two hours so far today. I need to stop, take a break. Have a shower and a snack. What about you? What do you need to do now? I managed to become pretty good at pausing to go to the bathroom. But it took nearly 50 years. I would bet my firstborn child that some of you could use a trip to the restroom. I regularly go to the toilet now. Because when I nip to the loo, I feel better and I’m less agitated. 

Moira Maybin  11:14 Okay, let’s pause this together. Because I know we will both come back at some point. I’m going to count down from five. And then we’re going to go do the thing we’re meant or need to do now. Are you ready? 54321. Go. Okay, I’m back now fed, watered and clean. And for those of you who didn’t need to do anything, the magic of podcast means you didn’t even have to wait. Wouldn’t that be a fun button to have in real life? After about a month, I thought I had found the answer to my problem of how do I stop working in Your Brain’s Not Broken by Dr. Tamara Rosier. She writes about rabbit holes. My rabbit hole Nemesis is a divergent thinking pattern she describes as getting stuck in problem finding my version, let’s follow as many trains of thoughts as possible in all the directions for things I’m interested in, then try to find as many potential solutions or answers because what if I need to know that? How could it be enough if I don’t know all the things? Yeah, getting stuck in problem finding is a better description. Dr. Rosier explains that we can get stuck in divergent problem finding, and that the way out is to be able to switch to convergent problem solving. Being convergent means using logic and rules to narrow down options to a solution. That kind of makes sense. But I tend to prefer divergent problems solving, not only looking for the potential problems I want to avoid, but also trying to find as many solutions as possible, because maybe the next one will be the best one. What if I leave a stone unturned? What’s around the next corner? My reaction to reading about the eight types of rabbit holes we find ourselves in was a-ha here’s the problem. I’m ready to try her solution. And then I kept reading two chapters later, I’m reminded that since ADHD shows up as a loss of interest and motivation, we need to see the emotions involved when we try to get things done, and learn how to redirect those emotions. Our big emotions show up big time for me, especially when I am working. And it’s time to take a break this transition struggle sounds like avoidance feeling confused? Am I trapped in a rabbit hole? Or am I avoiding things? What am I avoiding when it’s time to take a break or eat? I like those things. There are many reasons why we avoid things. It’s easy to end up there when our thoughts and habits direct us in familiar patterns. Avoidance tends to appear when we think the experience will not be good. We’re predicting that we won’t enjoy it, be good at it, know how to do it, be able to start complete or understand it. Avoidance shows up when our capacity is low. We’re tired and we’re struggling with directing our attention. And sometimes it happens even when we want to do the thing. Now I had two reasons for my struggle, being stuck in a rabbit hole, and maybe some of this avoidance stuff. I couldn’t wait to read what to do about it. I highlighted the suggestions. And then like someone with ADHD, forgot all the details and went on with life.

Moira Maybin  14:28 I continued to struggle transitioning out of work and didn’t like the impact on me. I didn’t want to take the time, just yet to put more attention on it. I knew that when I got around to it, there were some things I could try from the book. Then something else happened that stirred the whole pot, another ADHD brain, arrange an online co working session. We got up early, got online together share what we wanted to accomplish over the three-hour timespan broken up into 30-minute segments. Everyone was doing different things I was worried that interrupting my thinking every 30 minutes would make it harder to stay on track and get into the deep thinking. I knew I needed as my dad often joke, I’m not often right. But I am wrong again. I was so wrong. Stopping and checking in with each other every 30 minutes was exactly what I needed. It served for delightful purposes. First, it stopped me going into hyper focus to the point that I disregarded my own needs. Second, it helped me remember what else was on my radar. Third, I remember to get up out of my chair, move around, get a drink, go to the bathroom, I took better care of myself, and I got things done. Fourth, I did not deplete myself as much and I had more capacity afterwards. Who knew? I have done this for three weeks now. And each time I am marvel at how effective it is for me. I need something outside of me to help me get into deep work. But also to not go in so deep that I lose myself. That check in every 30 minutes is the difference between detrimental hyper focusing, and sustainable deep work and using the benefits of CO regulation with other things that I struggled to do. rabbit holes, avoidance and externalizing support all impact my ability to transition from work into self-care and back again. Sometimes I am rabbit holing. Other times the avoidance played a role in what ways do I avoid? Well, with the transition from work to eating, it can be a combination or all of them. My relationship with food is complex, having an unrecognized and untreated eating disorder for most of my life. What I haven’t talked about too much are the struggles related to having kids with ADHD, who also are extremely picky and not that interested in eating either or at least what most adults would consider a typical variety of food groups and options. Suffice it to say that this adds a layer of complexity and emotion to mealtime in my house. So I can count the ways continuing to work instead of going to eat serves as avoidance. When this shows up, most often I’ve already worked too long, eating is too close to being overdue, and fatigue is set in. So my capacity is lower. To feed myself then means quick and easy. Which for me probably means something I won’t enjoy as much. I am not sure about what to make or have. And it seems too complex to deal with. Even when I’m sitting in my office, or working in my garden, or doing pretty much anything. I know I want to stop and make eating the priority. But the whole thing can seem like too much to figure out and do when I am hyper focusing, especially around my work with ADHD. I love what I’m doing. I love the learning the reading the writing, the talking about it, oh the people, my perfectionistic tendencies can whisper in my ear and urge me to keep going do better and do more. That makes it easier to keep going and harder to do the other thing, which has a history of conflicting emotions and experiences. Even as my story around this is changing, I need ways to remind myself that old habits and thought patterns can persist.

Moira Maybin  18:11 What helps is when I can name it, I can claim it, I can make another decision. When I was a teacher, I would take my recess snack and put it on my desk. I am now doing the same thing in the morning and adding a craft of sparkling water to help me deal with my tendency to not eat or drink some fruit, maybe some nuts, simple things that don’t bring up feelings of avoidance. I noticed that by noon, I’m feeling tired. So at 1130 My timer now tells me to transition to lunch. And another one goes off at noon as the backup reminder. That’s helping. I’m taking bits from all of these experiences to try and make it easier. When I started creating this episode, I didn’t realize it would lead to these particular insights. Now I have a much clearer understanding of what I thought was a simple problem stop one thing to do another at a designated time. Now that I can see it’s more complex and quite multi layered. And like everything on this journey, my response will need to be individual and attentive to how I am and what I am doing. This makes it so much easier to unravel. What it become clear to me reading my two letters to my ADHD was that something more subtle had happened. My Spidey senses have been tingling, on the lookout for tendencies that may not be helping me. I have a very familiar sly and sneaky one that has reigned supreme for most of my life. You may know it’s cousin FOMO I’ve often thought I had it under control, only to find that my ADHD brain has used it to divert me from my previous intentions, goals and plans. My ADHD brain is very, very good at convincing me to buy into its rationalizations perspectives and ideas as being the best. This shows up both big and small, and is strongest when I’m trying to create time and space for myself to grow less familiar but needed parts of me So many times, I preempted opportunities that I had for time and space for my needs by filling it with another shiny or thing. Recently, I remembered how this is actually a big part of my burnout cycle, putting on hold what I need to be doing in my immediate future, something awesome and shiny, that will prevent me or delay me from how I want to be. I finally realized that this is screwing myself over. When I accept and follow that tendency, it tends to screw over past present and future Moira past Moyer at the pre planner is reflective, thoughtful, and does her best to plan and organize in the best interest of all of us. It’s been overwhelming, hard and slow. But in slowing down to speed up, I have fewer day to day decisions to make and have grown so many ADHD friendly skills, particularly related to prioritizing determining how much time and energy things take and saying no, it’s required commitment and effort to do again, and again, complete with many mistakes, tweaks, trials, all of which are essential. In January, I asked myself to try to follow the plans I made maybe just a bit more often, or in a few more areas. I thought it might also help future me, you know the one that gets screwed over when I ignore throw the plans out the window. If you have future me when I realized that I’ve used all my capacity and left myself with little to nothing, it can be so disheartening. That’s when I’ll be more impatient yell, get mad at loved ones in my path or cry. When I don’t have capacity left, it seems easier to keep whatever it was I was doing going instead of taking care of myself. The problem isn’t solved, it doesn’t go away, and it can get even bigger, I can become a hot mess. And that takes a while to recover from. I’ve only lately realized that for pass Moira, she feels like we wasted all her time and energy, and the future Moira is going to have to pick up the pieces.

Moira Maybin  22:01 Coming back to where we started. My 10-minute writing snapshot helped capture my growth. When I try things to help myself and it fizzles along or stop, it can be easy to think that what I did was worthless. In my case, it actually provided enough experience or understanding to impact my growth without realizing it. Looking back at my snapshots helped me to understand myself and my growth that I wouldn’t be otherwise able to see. The value of that is immeasurable to me. This process has helped me gain more trust in myself, something I’m actively pursuing. But like many of these issues, the question is, how to do it. If I trust myself, believe in my own advice, and then give it to myself. Taking my own advice is a step in that process to take a step back from the deep reflection, let’s take a moment to look at the big picture for me. Overall, I have continued to feel and do better, my timelines are getting longer, I’m still working on closing some loops from 2021. That is mostly because it takes more time to live a fuller life. And my timelines were usually unrealistic, I’m accidentally overdoing it a whole lot less, even with a more positive and stable mood. Having an erratic cycle means two things. First caring week turns out when it wants to. So I take that into consideration when making my schedule. Second, a shorter cycle means more low-capacity days. I handle that by recognizing when there is a mismatch between how I want it to be on a day with how I am like with my horse, Mabel, I am kinder, gentler, and increasingly able to express how I can function and what I need. I don’t have all the answers. But it’s enough to say it’s not a great day. But I’ll be okay. So that’s that. And by the way, that means I’m not climbing Mount Everest today. Even with all of that, I am making some progress. And that’s what all I’m looking for in my priorities from January more whitespace shepherding my time and energy from my priorities, trusting myself, saying no more often communicating boundaries, and opening myself up to more of what I consider to be good experiences, time with like-minded people laughter and more fun. Thanks to my two snapshots in time, it was so much easier to find unhelpful tendencies, understand myself more and have confidence in the decisions I am making.

 Moira Maybin  24:38 Okay, you’ve done the hard work by staying to the end your reward. Here are the main takeaways from today’s episode. Once a month on our calendar, we can set aside 10 minutes to write to our ADHD, our body or from our body, and then by reviewing it, it can help reveal insights and understandings that we might otherwise miss or discredit. part of this process can involve things like creating your own ADHD metaphor like my horse named Mabel. Our challenges can be multi layered and complex, we may need to slow down to find them. Mine involved rabbit holes avoidance, and the value of externalizing support. Three, we can learn from writing down what we think and do and then look back at it, for snapshots in time made it so much easier to find unhelpful tendencies, understand myself and have confidence in the decisions that I am making. 

Moira Maybin  25:36 I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s show. And we’d love to hear your thoughts. To get in touch you can write me an email at ask at ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com. Connect with me on my website, Instagram, and Facebook at ADHD Friendly Lifestyle, or Twitter at ADHDFL. Every episode has a website page, show notes, transcripts next steps resources, and articles related to the topic. To get these visit ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com. If you’d like to support the podcast, the best way is to subscribe to the podcast player of your choice and by taking the time to rate and review it there. There are other podcasts for your listening pleasure. On Hacking your ADHD Will Curb gives Tips Tools and insights. Brendon Mahan hosts ADHD Essentials focusing on parenting and education.  Thanks for listening. See you later.

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Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)

Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)

I help people with ADHD who are tired of trying harder and are ready to give up the struggle. This is the place for the late-diagnosed, women, moms, professionals, those who want to understand ADHD, be heard, and know they are not alone. An ADHD Friendly Lifestyle builds our ability to take care of ourselves and use our unique strengths and talents to create a life that works for us.

Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)
Moira Maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)

I help people with ADHD who are tired of trying harder and are ready to give up the struggle. This is the place for the late-diagnosed, women, moms, professionals, those who want to understand ADHD, be heard, and know they are not alone. An ADHD Friendly Lifestyle builds our ability to take care of ourselves and use our unique strengths and talents to create a life that works for us.

I help people with ADHD who are tired of trying harder and are ready to give up the struggle. This is the place for the late-diagnosed, women, moms, professionals, those who want to understand ADHD, be heard, and know they are not alone. An ADHD Friendly Lifestyle builds our ability to take care of ourselves and use our unique strengths and talents to create a life that works for us.

Moira maybin, M.Ed. (EdPsy.)