Tag Archives: mental health

Roaches are a Metaphor

A few months ago, my brilliant and talented friend Carl stayed at my apartment for a few days while visiting New York. Though we don’t see each other all that often, we have the kind of friendship where we can be honest with each other, even when things aren’t so pretty. It’s something I value and am incredibly grateful for. Most of the time.

On the last day of his stay, I had some errands to run, so I left him at the apartment to do his thing. A few minutes later, I got a Snapchat from him – it was a picture of a dead cockroach on its back, a few inches from my radiator.

“KILL IT WITH FIRE,” I responded, as any completely sane person would.

Roaches are just a fact of life in New York. No matter where you live or how long your apartment building has existed, you’re going to deal with them at some point. They’re gross, but I’ve kind of just accepted the fact that I am invading their turf. They were here first. And they’re probably not going to kill me. Probably.

Still, it’s embarrassing as hell to have a guest find one in your home.

I live alone, so when it comes to my apartment, I don’t really have anyone to answer to but myself. No one’s nagging me to wash my dishes, or take out the recycling, or clean my refrigerator (seriously, who has the time?). I keep the place as clean as possible for myself and try to get in a good deep cleaning session at least once a month. It’s not always easy, though. I’m a busy person – some weeks I’m only home long enough to get in a good night’s sleep. This was more or less the norm back when I was working 50 hours a week.

I let things pile up. I hide my messes when people come over. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes the cracks show.

Despite being a Virgo, I am far from a perfectionist. I know that I can’t control everything. I know that I can’t make everyone feel safe. And yet, when someone finds something off about my home – a leaky faucet, an unclean glass, a roach carcass – I feel like they’re seeing my truth. That I am a messy person who can’t take care of herself. Someone who enjoys living in filth. Someone who just doesn’t care.

If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that I can’t wallow in that feeling. I can listen to it and acknowledge its presence, but I can’t let it control me. That just leads to more hoarding, more ignoring, more surface-level cleaning. If anything, that Snap was a wake up call.

Last night, I finally had some time to investigate the problem further. It turns out that my sink has been leaking for…who even knows how long. One thing roaches love more than human food is damp spaces. And I gave them a nice place to play.

It feels shitty to acknowledge the fact that I’ve been ignoring this problem for so long. I feel like I lost all my “cool girl who lives alone” cred in that moment. My apartment can look cool as hell, but what’s even the point if things don’t work properly?

I took a second to wallow, and then called my super. He’s looking into it today. It may take a few days to fix, but we’ll find a solution. And who knows? Maybe someday it’ll start leaking again. At least I’ll know what to do.

What It’s Like To Be An Adult with ADHD

It’s a lot of hiding. Dodging questions until you can’t dodge them anymore. “Why do you write everything down?” “Why do you drink decaf coffee?” “What’s with all the doctors appointments?” Eventually your tendency towards brutal honesty gets the best of you and the truth comes out. You pray that your latest confidant will understand. They do, more often than not.

A part of you wants the whole world to know, so that you don’t have to explain yourself over and over again. You want them to recognize when you’re having a Bad Brain Day, to know that you can’t always give 100%. It’s not an excuse. The volume in your head is just a little too high. You need a moment to breathe. To reorganize.

Work isn’t like school. There’s no letter from the disabilities office for you to hand to your professor at the beginning of the semester, explaining everything. There’s no parent-teacher conferences, no IEP meetings. Your mom can’t call your boss to tell him how your brain works. You have to advocate for yourself. But what if they don’t understand? What kind of accommodations can you even ask for? Will they see you differently? You replay nightmare scenarios over and over in your head and decide to just keep your mouth shut.

Some days you struggle, but you persist. You’ve accomplished so much and exceeded everyone’s expectations. You learned a language! You’ve starred in musicals! You earned a bachelor’s degree! You have a full-time job! And yet, you still feel like you’re fooling everyone. When you trip over a word. When something falls through the cracks. You have days where you allow the words from those first evaluations, from your third grade teacher, from the middle school Cool Girls, to make you feel small. Words from over a decade ago, when you were a totally different person.

Relationships are difficult. On the train to a party you fret over making the right impression, saying the right thing, not interrupting people when there’s something you just HAVE to say, not talking about yourself too much. Small talk is a drag. You’d rather discuss film theory or religion or how we’re all going to die some day but aren’t we so lucky to be alive at the same time as Patti LuPone? Or just look at your phone.

Some friendships move fast and furious while others get neglected. Old familiar faces of one-time best friends show up on your Facebook feed and you wonder what happened. Scheduling conflicts. You got busy. You forgot to text back. Things got too loud. You got distracted. Out of sight, out of mind.

It’s finding a community of wonderful, brilliant neurodiverse people in your travels and online. It’s those beautiful “No way, me too!” moments with coworkers and strangers at parties who know how to unlock your secrets. You compare diagnoses and medications and the alternative therapies your parents subjected you to before you turned 18. You start to get out of your head a little bit. You start to feel less alone.

Your Brain Brothers and Sisters show you that your diagnosis comes with superpowers and teach you how to unlock them. You teach yourself how to harness your hyperfocus and turn down the noise when you need it gets too loud. You learn how to multitask the right way, writing things down so you don’t drop any balls. You start a bullet journal. You buy a fidget cube. You lose it almost immediately.

You grow up. You gain perspective. It never goes away. But eventually, you learn how to be kind to yourself.


This is something I’ve wanted to talk/write about for a while, so it feels both great and scary to hit post. ADHD has been a part of my life since I was 9, so I have a lot to say on the matter. If you have questions/topic suggestions you’d like me to address in future posts, let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

I also recently got to talk ADHD with Zach Valenti on his podcast, focused.af. It was a really fun conversation and Zach is the bomb. Go check it out!