Today’s post comes to you from the adhd files. Life post-diagnosis hasn’t been quite the steady march of progress that I had envisioned. Medication makes a huge difference but it’s not a magic wand. It opens doors but only if I am willing to do the work to walk through them. I get into the zone and things go extremely well, and then gradually the focus and forward motion slips away and I feel like I’m stuck.
Hence, today’s comic from Poorly Drawn Lines. I’ve come to realize that the way I’m learning to cope with my adhd brain is cyclical. I can either accept that and be kind to myself about it, or I can beat myself up for not simply getting better and better in a linear fashion. Honestly? I’ve done some of each.
A helpful technique I’ve learned about in the past year is called Body Doubling. No, not that. The simplest explanation might be that Body Doubling is having someone “keep you company” while you complete a task that is boring or you find difficult to begin or to complete. How to ADHD (Jessica McCabe) has a great explanation but I should warn you: she talks very quickly.
What is a body double and why does it help? (Two minutes, thirty-four seconds)
Body doubling is a practice that many people use without knowing it. You don’t have to be neurodivergent to benefit from it. If you’ve ever asked someone to keep you company while you do a task you don’t particularly feel like doing, you’ve experienced it. If you have been the person who shows up to keep that person company, you’re a treasure. It’s amazing how helpful that can be.
This article in The Washington Post describes how body doubling went virtual at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
René Brooks, a 37-year-old blogger based in Gettysburg, Pa., known as Black Girl, Lost Keys, started a virtual support group for Black women with ADHD on Monday nights, because that’s when she does laundry. The session isn’t specifically for body doubling, but Brooks has found that having other people “around” — even on video — makes tedious tasks feel more doable. By the end of the three-hour session, “I’ve meal prepped. I’ve done laundry. I’ve cleaned my whole house,” she said.
I’m a huge fan of René Brooks. I’ve learned a lot from her social media accounts and her website. I haven’t ever participated in a virtual Body Doubling session quite like the ones she describes, but I’ve recently stumbled on one that’s extremely effective for me. It’s a podcast.
Circle Round is a story-telling podcast from WBUR Boston. It’s creator and host is Rebecca Sheir. You may remember her from her days hosting Metro Connection on WAMU. Circle Round crafts folk tales from cultures all around the world and presents them as “sound- and music-rich radio plays for kids ages 3 to 103.” Episodes run from between 13 minutes to 19 minutes. There’s always a break or “cliffhanger” in the middle.
I have found that if my brain is engaged in the story I am able to getting working on a task and keep working steadily until it is over. 13-19 minutes may not seem like a long time. But, to an adhd brain that can spend hours fighting with you about how a task is impossible or insisting you must find the perfect way to perform a task before you begin, that chunk of time can be precious.
As you may know from personal experience, many of the tasks we put off - - or even dread - - don’t really take all that much time once we finally get around to them. Now imagine you struggle daily with task paralysis. Your life is full of relatively small tasks that take up massive amounts of time in your brain. Anything that can shift that lopsided ratio is thrilling.
I found this article about Body Doubling from Medical News Today to be hilarious and annoying at the same time.
What is ‘Body Doubling’ for ADHD? Medically reviewed by Nicole Washington, DO, MPH — By Zawn Villines on October 25, 2021
Essentially the article presents a medical assessment that looks like this:
- We don’t really know what it is.
- We don’t know how it works.
- We haven’t done any studies.
- People with adhd say it soothes them.
*Poorly Drawn Lines is a webcomic created by cartoonist Reza Farazmand. It features mostly standalone comic strips that range from just one frame to many, most of which are satirical or absurdist in tone. - - Wikipedia (Date launched: 2008)