ADHD

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A romance novel sort of saved my life.

Published January 3, 2023 by Malia

This is a story that begins with TikTok. Specifically, BookTok.

I’m not sure how important this is to the story, but I feel like I need to explain what TikTok is like for me. At this point, I’m fairly certain that the TikTok algorithm is confused by me. I don’t really fit into any specific community. So, my For You Page is a bit of a mess. My little ADHD-fueled brain gets so much joy from the chaos. I’ll scroll through and go from a video about cleaning dryer vents to a guy in Florida watching sharks swim down the street. This will then be followed by people rating the bat-shit crazy level of items they’ve found at Goodwill. Sprinkle in loads of theater, archaeology, autistic/ADHD adult experiences, healthcare workers, Bluey, and evangelical deconstruction. And trust me, that list is barely scraping the surface of what I typically watch on there.

Now, sometimes the algorithm will think it’s started figuring me out and I’ll start having more of a specific type of video fed to me. In fall of 2021, I was getting a fair amount of BookTok videos where people were gushing over a certain romance novel.

Yup, that one. The one that we’ve all learned got its start as Reylo fanfic. Nothing wrong with that, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been very pro-fanfic since I first discovered it was a thing back in the early 2000s.

Anyway, I kept seeing these videos about this book, and I wasn’t very interested. I’ve been burned by book recommendations so many times, I’m very hesitant to base a reading decision on a stranger’s word. And yet, middle of November ’21, I found myself deciding to give the book a try.

When I say I went in with low expectations, that’s not an exaggeration. I fully anticipated that I would hate it, but I wanted to read a bit of fluff and knew that if it really was as awful as I was prepared for, I could toss it onto the DNF pile.

I didn’t hate it.

I REALLY didn’t hate it.

Was it the most well-written book I’d ever encountered? Nope. Did it give me all the feels and a happily ever after? Yes. Yes, it did.

My depression really got bad by early December ’21, and that was when I took to my bed (how’s that for a dramatic turn of phrase?). One of the only reasons I’d leave the blankets was to take the dogs out and feed all the pets. We headed into January 2022, and I’m not sure if I showered more than once that month. It’s entirely possible I didn’t shower at all. Things didn’t improve much when February hit, though I did start showering at least weekly, so that was a positive.

Everything changed Febraury 24th, 2022.

Throughout my entire stuck-in-bed depressive episode, The Love Hypothesis (which will be referred to as TLH from this point forward) had been the one thing that stopped me from completely giving up. During those few months, I read and re-read TLH more times than anyone probably should. Was it the most healthy coping mechanism? Some will probably say no. Whether healthy or not, I don’t really care at this point, because it helped me not completely give up on life and didn’t let the darkness win.

The book is told from Olive’s, the main female character, point of view (pov). While some romance novels will hop back and forth between the two main character’s pov, TLH only gave us Olive’s side. Adam, the other main character, we can only speculate about. Towards the end of January ’22, not having Adam’s pov really began to bug me. There was a story there that I needed to read.

So, I went to the internet and searched for fanfics that would fill this need. At the time, there were very few TLH fanfics, and the ones that did tell things from Adam’s pov were only short little glimpses into pieces of the story. That was not what I wanted. I wanted to read the entirety of TLH from his side.

The morning of February 24th, 2022, I awoke with my brain screaming that enough was enough. If no one else was going to give me Adam’s version, I’d write the damn thing myself. What happened next was the most insane ADHD hyperfocus experience of my entire life. I started the fic that morning and finished March 4th, 2022. If you’re counting that’s nine days. In nine days, I typed 63, 445 words. Just to be upfront, I wanted to stay as close to canon as possible, so I did use quite a bit of dialogue from TLH. However, I also wrote decent amount that wasn’t in the book. And it was all from Adam’s pov.

On a whim, I decided that maybe someone else would be interested in reading the fic, so as I finished each chapter I posted it to Archive of our Own (AO3). I did not think that it would be read by more than maybe two or three people. This really was something I was doing for myself.

I was dumbfounded when people started to read and leave kudos and comments. It wasn’t just one or two people, either. In fact, as I’m typing this, that particular fic has had almost 20,000 hits. It was overwhelming, but it was a good overwhelming. The internet is such a cesspool of hate, I was terrified when I saw the first alert that I’d received a comment. My fears were unfounded because people were so incredibly kind.

What all those wonderfully kind people didn’t realize is that those sweet words did a tremendous job of yanking me away from the dark abyss. Every day, I was less inclined to crawl under the covers and hope that I’d never wake up again.

Over the next few months, I wrote piles of fics. The quality varies from story to story. (Trust me, I’m under no illusion as to the level of skill I have when it comes to writing.) The majority of them are finished. I currently have a handful that are waiting for me to finish.

It’s still a little crazy to me that novel had such a huge impact on my life. Thanks to it, I’ve made great progress in figuring out what I’m doing with my life, and I’ve made friends with people I’d likely never have met if it had not been for that book.

Two final notes regarding this whole experience:

  1. If you want to read the fic that started it all, here you go: Fluke or Miracle? And from there, if you’re really wanting to read your fill of romantic cheese you can access my other fics. Fair warning, many of them have sexual content. It’s always consensual between adults, but it is still there and some of it is pretty explicit.
  2. While I do have a very soft spot in my heart for TLH, I have been fairly disappointed by the other stories Ali Hazelwood has published since TLH came out. Her novellas are okay. I have many feelings about Love on the Brain, which came out this past fall. The majority of which are not good. One of these days my anger toward the book will ease enough that I’ll be able to express my thoughts regarding it.

Finally, if you want to see my TikToks, you can find me here: Memary84.

Is that enough shameless self-promotion for one day? Probably.

Can I just have a pile of dogs to cuddle with?

Published May 12, 2021 by Malia

12:57 pm

I’m killing time right now, waiting for Groot to be done at the vet. Her vet is located all the way across town, and I don’t really have the gas money to drive all the way back home and then all the way back. I had asked for them to be done by noon, but noon came and went and she’s still not done.

Tom’s pre-surgery Covid and influenza tests came back negative, so the surgery is a go. I asked him how he was feeling about it, and he responded, “Fine. Looking forward to the long rest.” To be fair, he works his butt off, so at least a week off his feet with nothing required of him will be a good thing.

3:12 pm

We’re home now. According to the vet, Groot is in pretty good condition considering she’s going to be 15 in July. The vet she saw today isn’t the one she normally sees. I got a bit frustrated when she wouldn’t listen to me about the reason I won’t put Groot under anesthesia. Groot has a heart murmur, and that combined with her age makes me unwilling to put her under for a dental cleaning. The vet she normally sees is very understanding of this. However, today’s vet started listing off all the things I would need to do to get Groot a dental. Things like taking Groot to a pet cardiologist so they could check her out and do imaging. Finally, frustrated and with the beginnings of a migraine I made it clear that wasn’t an option right now, especially with me being out of a job and Tom’s kidney fun. Even then, I could tell she thought I was just making stuff up to keep from providing the best care for my baby. I used to be a vet tech at a different branch of the same vet corporation. I know when a vet isn’t listening and is judging a pet owner. Would I love to be able to provide Groot with everything? Yes, of course. She is my baby. But I also am her mama and I’m doing the very best I can for her. She gets good food, lots of attention and affection, and I will do whatever I can for her.

I’m so exhausted and I have so much to do. Yesterday, I had a whole schedule of things to complete, and then I got trapped in ADHD hyperfixation. I didn’t even realize it until I looked at the clock and realized that 9 hours had passed and I thought it had only been 1. A bit frustrating, but at least I did get some cards made.

I’m going to try to get some actual work done around the house (before this migraine goes full blown) and I have my favorite sports show on. Chopped is a sports show, right?

May we all live in uninteresting times.

Published May 6, 2021 by Malia

Behold my glamorous life…

I’m doing the slightly monotonous work of making inserts for greeting cards. I have all this really pretty cardstock paper that I’m cutting down into correct size.

I’ve also got New Girl on in the background. I realized yesterday that I fell off the show, completely unintentionally, after the second season. And since my memory sucks and it’s been a few years since I last watched it, I started it over from the beginning. The show is quite a bit funnier than I remember it being. One small problem though, since I spent so much time throwing up, my abdominal side muscles hurt super bad every time I start laughing. On the bright side, I still haven’t thrown up since before I made my non-post post yesterday. And I realize that is way too much tmi about my bodily functions. The whole point is, this show is making me laugh so much, but because it really hurts to laugh, my laughs start out normal and then quickly turns to me going, “Ow, ha, ow, ha ow ow ow!”

Tune in tomorrow for another exciting installment of “Malia is either actually getting stuff done or she’s been disassociating for the last 8+ hours.”

P.S. I do have regular dissociative episodes that frequently involve me just staring at a wall for hours on end. I frequently deal with my mental health issues by making jokes about it.

Your secrets are safe with me, because I’ll forget them.

Published April 28, 2021 by Malia

One of the truly “delightful” parts of having an ADHD brain, is that my memory is deteriorating. I’ll be completely candid, I may have shared some of this before, but I have no recollection of doing so. My apologies if this is a repeat.

I started noticing it in high school. Of course, I had no clue I had ADHD at that point, so I just assumed I was getting dumber. I mostly noticed the problem when I took tests. No matter how much I studied, I could never remember most of what I needed to know. Plus, anxiety meant I just froze and did terrible. However, I was able to keep my grades up with my homework, and so it never really was an issue.

Then, I went to college.

Classes felt pointless, because I would sit there for 50 minutes listening to a lecture, but my brain would tune out 5-10 minutes in. I had no clue what I was being taught. On top of that, I found that nothing stuck when I studied. I remember spending one weekend doing nothing but studying one chapter in my biology textbook. I realized that the book might as well have been written in Japanese, because none of the words made sense in my brain. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to spend 8 hours studying, only to realize you’ve read the same page over and over and over and over, and you still have zero clue what was written on that page?

The scariest memory moment for me came a few years back at Christmas Eve. I was at my in-laws, and I was crashed on a couch playing a game on my phone. My nephew, B, came into the room and was calling out for someone. At first I thought he was calling for Tom, and I explained to him that Tom was at work, but would be joining us in an hour or so. He looked at me confused and then said, “I’m looking for J.” Which led to me being confused, cause I had no clue who he meant. His maternal grandpa is named J, but we were at his paternal grandparents house. While I was baffled, one of my sister-in-laws came in and told him that J was in the basement. B ran off to find him, and I was completely confused. I asked her, “Who’s he looking for?”

Which led to her giving me a strange look and replying, “His brother.”

Then it clicked. I had forgotten about my nephew, J. B’s older brother. I forgot an entire person existed. I laughed it off, but even now, it still freaks me out.

Tom catches most of my memory mistakes. Usually they show up in the form of me sharing news I’m excited about, and he responds by telling me about when he told me months earlier about that news. Example: the following text exchange from a few years back. He had originally texted me the news in September, and in November I texted him with exciting news I had just learned:

I nicknamed him Sweetie in my phone as a Doctor Who reference. Also, I really love The Good Place.

However, I’m delighted to announce that even with all the negative parts of a bad memory, I have found one awesome perk. I tend to forget what happens in a movie or tv show, so I can watch something again, and enjoy almost as much as the first time I saw it. It’s not a big perk, but I’ll take whatever positives I can get.