All Aboard The Hot Mess Express!!
Hey everyone! First - I want to thank you for taking the time to read this. I know our ADHD brains see a block of text and think “AHHH!”
For those of you that don’t know, I’ve recently decided to take the plunge and put my entire heart and soul and bank account into What in the ADHD? When I made that decision, I was super close to monetizing from YouTube. Unfortunately, I’m still super close, and haven’t made much progress. This is mostly because, in order for me to monetize, I need to have enough "public watch hours" on my videos.
The problem with this is that it takes me soooo long to actually publish a video. I spend hours gathering the most accurate information I can find, determining how to present it, recording footage, and editing it. The entire process takes anywhere from 50 to 100 hours per video. It’s… exhausting, to say the least.
And - videos aren’t the only thing I try to put out for the ADHD community.
I design surveys (which is WAY harder than you may think.) You have to come up with questions and options that have the potential to produce decent data.
If ya make a crappy survey, ya get crappy data.
I close the survey after 600-1,200 people respond and start analyzing the data - mostly “by hand”, meaning: I don’t have a fancy supercomputer that can spit numbers and figures out for me. I organize, format, and determine trends using only my brain and pre-arthritis hands. That's all.
If I had to guess, I spend about 30-80 hours on data formatting and analysis per dataset. Then, I spend about 5-12 hours making decent-looking figures and charts that everyone can look at for 6.83 seconds before they continue scrolling.
I’ve also started making quizzes based on said surveys. (You can find the link on my homepage!) These aren’t for data collection - these are for “fun”. The idea is that someone can take my quiz and learn where they stand in comparison with the original survey population. My first quiz was on Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria - there’s about 22 questions; and at the end, you can see how severe your RSD is compared to 636 other ADHDers (and some neurotypicals for control purposes). These also take lots and lots of time. I believe I spent 60-ish hours on the RSD quiz.
And then there’s the tweets and infographics that we all love. I have to stay relevant in the community, so I have to make sure I’m consistently sharing decent content with the Twittersphere.
I spend well over 80 hours per week on What in the ADHD? Some weeks, it’s over 100.
But I’m not here to whine about it, because I honestly love it.
The problem is that I don’t really make any money from what I'm doing yet. I don’t have a “Big Girl Job” ... for lots of reasons - there’s no way I’d have time to do what I do if I did have a Big Girl Job, anyway. So, my family mostly relies on my husband’s salary and the occasional Ko-Fi tip sent my way.
My husband is a high school biology teacher and my son is in kindergarten. Fortunately, we don’t have to pay for daycare anymore, but it’s still expensive to just live these days.
“Why doesn’t she just get a real job!?”
I thought you’d never ask!
Once upon a time, I was a graduate student. I was working on my Master’s degree in Microbiology and Genetics, and I was planning on getting some sort of research job when I graduated in the Fall of 2020.
… Let me guess, you just did the math. If you didn’t, I’ll do it for you:
It’s now the Fall of 2021 and I still haven’t defended my dang thesis. I’m sure one of the big reasons for this is kind of obvious: The ‘rona.
COVID-19 hit in the Spring of 2020 - I wasn’t allowed to be on campus to finish my experiments or speak with my advisor face-to-face. As the lockdown weeks crept by that spring and summer, it became more and more clear that I wasn’t going to graduate that year.
That's around the time the depression hit me and never left.
I fell so behind that it didn’t even seem like I was going to be able to finish by Spring 2021, either. My advisor - my wonderful, amazing, patient, fantastic advisor - kept encouraging me. I managed to stay on top of things, but then I became a little distracted when I found out I was pregnant in late January 2021. I was so excited. My husband and I were finally ready to add one more kiddo to the family, and we were fortunate enough that we didn’t have to try for long to get a positive pregnancy test.
But... I began to have weird heart issues in mid-February, and my concern with the pregnancy became my only concern. The thesis could wait.
TW // blood, miscarriage
By the time early March rolled around, I had new issues pop up with the pregnancy: I started experiencing light bleeding. This never happened when I was pregnant with Quenton, my now-kindergartener - so you can imagine how panicked I was when it kept happening.
Finally, I was diagnosed with Placenta Previa. This is when the placenta partially or completely (in my case, completely) covers the cervix, or the opening between the uterus and vahihi. My doctor reassured me that spotting is completely normal with Placenta Previa.
Six days later, on March 26th, I lost my baby. I named them Shiloh.
I’ll leave out the details, but the experience was truly heart-shattering and by far the most traumatic thing I had ever experienced in my life.
Let’s take a peek at late May of this year: things were getting a little better with regard to mental health, and I had started communicating with my advisor again. After a video call one afternoon, we decided to go for it: she talked me into setting a date for my thesis defense! I couldn’t believe it - it was FINALLY going to happen. We chose July 21st as my defense date.
We notified my thesis committee, I made ALL of the social media posts, and I was writing up a damn storm! I was going to finish!
On June 19th, I took a pregnancy test and found out I was pregnant again. We had been trying, because at that point, my logic was: I’m so depressed at this point, and I feel like the only thing that can alleviate it just a little bit is if I can grow another life inside of me. Like the time before, it didn’t take us very long to conceive. I was over the moon. I was expecting to feel a lot of anxiety, but I honestly just felt calm. I was content. I was at peace.
I made the announcement super early this time because I really needed the support. People were ecstatic for me. I received so many loving and thoughtful messages, and it really helped keep the tiny amount of doubt I had at bay.
On July 6th, I was wrapping up the Discussion for my thesis, but couldn’t quite finish it, as I was exhausted and had been working on it all day. I wanted to get my full draft to my committee by the 14th, so it was crunch time. I sent a quick message to my advisor to let her know that I’d send the final edits to her the next day, which happened to be my 28th birthday.
TW // miscarriage
But I had no idea that would never happen.
2 hours after midnight on July 7th, I woke up to find blood between my legs. Another one of my babies was gone. Just like that. And on my birthday, no less.
I sent a text to my advisor about an hour later to let her know that I’d be taking an indefinite break from working on my thesis. I just didn’t have it in me. And I still don’t.
Since my first miscarriage - and especially since my second - I’ve been dealing with a lot of intense pain.
To spare you the long sob story, here’s the summary: I’ve been telling doctors for 14 years that I believe I have endometriosis, as my mom had it and I had been experiencing severe monthly pain. Here’s a HUGE shocker that none of you will see coming: doctors didn’t listen to me.
“That’s normal,” they would tell me. So, I spent years thinking it was “normal” to be crippled over in pain on the bathroom floor every month because it felt like my insides were being ripped out.
For those of you that don’t know, endometriosis is a disease where uterine tissue begins to grow outside of the uterus. When the body gets ready to shed blood each month, the tissue swells up and eventually releases said blood, and we get the beauty that is menstruation. (Heavy sarcasm) The problem is, all the tissue that’s growing outside the uterus swells up, too - but unlike the rest of the tissues, it can’t get rid of the blood. So, it just stays inflamed all along your bladder, bowels, intestines, nerves - you get the idea.
It hurts. Really, really bad.
Some days, it’s hard for me to just walk around my house, because every movement triggers severe nerve pain that shoots up my back and neck. Because of the nerve pain, my limbs become tingly and weak; so weak, sometimes, that my joints begin to dislocate. (I had to brace my shoulders several times this past summer because I could feel them begin to dislocate.)
When my nerves aren’t hurting me, my uterus is hurting me.
When my uterus isn’t hurting me, I’m sobbing in the shower because I can’t stop thinking about how far along I should be with Shiloh and Blue, my second baby I lost.
In short, I’m a hot damn mess.
Because of all of the nonsense going on in my life, I’m not able to get a Real Job; nor do I qualify for disability - that I know of - mostly because doctors don’t think anything is wrong with me. (Cue laughter)
Anyway, this was a really long-winded way of asking for help.
On Thursday, September 30th, I have a consultation with a doctor in St. Louis that specializes in Endometriosis, Infertility, and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss. Relevance of this information?
The appointment is going to cost me $500 out of pocket.
Relevance of all the stuff I told you about the work I do behind the scenes for What in the ADHD??
I just wanted to show that I do work. I work really, really hard. But it doesn’t pay any real bills, if I’m being honest. I’m hoping that I can find sponsors at some point and finally reach the monetization goal on YouTube… but until then, I’m basically overworked and unemployed.
If you have it in your heart and wallet to throw some cash my way to help me pay for this appointment and the excision surgeries to come, I would appreciate it more than you know. I’ve been in pain for over a decade because of this, and I undoubtedly lost two of my babies because of this. It’s taking over my life and ruining it altogether - I’m not sure how much longer I can hold on at the rate things are going.
All I need is your help.
I just want to feel better.
Links to donate: linktr.ee/WhatintheADHD