Heather Jean Ransom: Chronic pain, spoons & burnout

Jan 29, 2024


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“It feels so detached when I say ‘I have ADHD’ because it is part of me. I can't discern it from myself. I am ADHD.”

Heather Jean was born in England and now lives in Germany with her husband and two daughters. She was diagnosed last year with ADHD at the age of 47. 

We talk about her journey to diagnosis after a leave of absence due to chronic pain and fibromyalgia, and we discuss the frustrations many of us have felt describing our lived experience and endless rabbit-hole research findings to clinicians, only to discover we know much more than they do about neurodivergence and suddenly we’re in the position of having to convince the “expert” to take you seriously.

Heather Jean does an amazing job of describing what it’s like to have ADHD, Autism, and chronic pain. We talk about spoons and spoon theory — if you’re not familiar with the term, I’ve put a link in the episode show notes that gives a nice quick primer on the concept of spoons.

We also talk about alternative names for ADHD (Heather Jean and her daughter came up with some fantastic ones!) and the inherent difficulty in finding a name that accurately reflects the condition when so many of our experiences are so different from the DSM and from each other. 

And, of course, we talk about Scrat from Ice Age, who really should be the official ADHD mascot — you’ll love Heather Jean’s SCRAT acronym as an alternate name for ADHD!


Links & Resources:

Gemma Wilson: Chronic pain, fibromyalgia & ADHD

Pain and Prejudice: How the Medical System Ignores Womenā€•And What We Can Do About It by Gabrielle Jackson

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity by Devon Price

What Is Spoon Theory? (VeryWell Health)

The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino



Heather Jean Ransom 0:00
disorder always sounds weird which is why I like actually prefer spectrum because spectrum leaves it open. Whether it disables you or not. And disorders always the focus on the other. And I don't like that either it's disorder with Ms. How much does it inconvenience everybody else? I mean, hello, thank you inconveniences me most, and inconveniences me more when you hate me for it

Katy Weber 0:34
Hello and welcome to the women and ADHD podcast. I'm your host, Katy Weber. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 45. And it completely turned my world upside down. I've been looking back at so much of my life, school jobs, my relationships, all of it with this new lens, and it has been nothing short of overwhelming. I quickly discovered I was not the only woman to have this experience. And now I interview other women who liked me discovered in adulthood, they have ADHD and are finally feeling like they understand who they are and how to best lean into their strengths, both professionally and personally. So before we get started, I wanted to give you a bit of a backstory before introducing my guest this week. So the overwhelming majority of reviews I get for this podcast are five star glowingly positive reviews. And for that I am incredibly grateful and fortunate reviews are my lifeblood. And I'm always begging you for reviews because they really do keep me going and they light me up and I just cherish each and every one of them. That said I do occasionally get negative reviews. And I get it. I'm not for everybody. So a few months ago, I received a review that really struck me first of all, it was a three star review. And since I have ADHD and rejection sensitivity, anything other than a five star review is basically a soul crushing experience for me that I will dwell on for weeks. So the review said This podcast was recommended to me by a friend and fellow neurodivergent. I really wanted to like the show because the premise is really great late diagnosed ADHD women and all the challenges, complications and beautiful happenings that come along with it. However, it seems the only women interviewed are in high power, amazing careers, business owners, upper management, etc. It doesn't seem to include quote unquote, regular women. So this podcast just isn't for me. Actually, I was crushed when I read this review. But honestly, it's not the first time I'd received this particular kind of constructive feedback, and I get it, it can be really annoying to listen to people talk about how great their lives are when you're at a place where you're really struggling. But I also know that my guests and I talk a lot about struggle. I've never tried to sugarcoat neuro divergence, I am the last person who would call neuro divergence my frickin superpower. And my favorite guests have always been regular listeners of the podcast who've heard the stories of other guests and just wanted to share their own story in the hopes of helping other women. So at the time, I was frustrated. And naturally, I took to my Instagram stories to vent I basically said, I don't know who these high powered guests are. But I try really hard to interview and represent all women from all walks of life. And I messaged back and forth with many followers that day discussing the issue because I don't think there is such a thing as a regular ADHD woman. So I believe women with ADHD tend to see ourselves as failures. And usually it's because we've been treated as such for most of our lives. But while we see ourselves that way, there's often overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I think ADHD tends to amplify our own negativity bias. I have yet to meet a woman with ADHD who isn't phenomenal, curious, interesting, in addition to having many struggles, and you know, I often joke that nobody comes to their ADHD diagnosis because they want to name for this superpower. Many of us are deeply hurting when we are diagnosed. And even after the diagnosis, we continue to struggle on a daily basis. I never want to discount that. So my aim has always been to have regular women on the podcast. But that can be difficult because a there's so much stigma around ADHD that a lot of women are afraid to be open about their lived experience on a platform like a podcast, especially if they have employers. I totally get that and be usually when I get to talking to somebody I discover really quickly that they're anything but regular and they have a lot to offer this world. So after my ranting and venting on Instagram, I put a call out for regular women with nothing to sell or profess they just want to share their story. And I asked them to apply to be a guest on the podcast. And honestly that's all I've ever wanted out of this podcast was to have thoughtful conversations with other neurodivergent adults about our lived experiences. That's it. So anyway, after I put the call out I had a lot of applications come in and I'm slowly but surely going through the So if you're out there and you haven't heard back from me yet, I sincerely apologize. But today's guest was one of those women. So here we are at Episode 172, in which I interview Heather gene ransom. Heather gene was born in England and now lives in Germany, and she was diagnosed last year with ADHD at the age of 47. We talk about her journey to diagnosis after a leave of absence due to chronic pain and fibromyalgia. And we discussed the frustrations that many of us have felt describing our lived experience and our rabbit hole research findings to clinicians only to discover we know much more than they do about neuro divergence. And suddenly, we're in this position of having to convince the quote unquote expert to take us seriously. Heather Jane does an amazing job of describing what it's like to have ADHD, autism and chronic pain. And we talk about spoons and spoon theory. If you're not familiar with the term, I've put a couple of links in the episode show notes that give a nice primer on the concept of Spoon Theory. Heather Gene and I also talked about alternative names for ADHD. She and her daughter came up with some really fantastic ones, as well as the inherent difficulty in finding a name that accurately reflects the condition when so many of our experiences are so different from the DSM and from each other. And of course, we talk about Scrat from ice age who really should be the official ADHD mascot and you're gonna love Heather jeans Scrat acronym as a replacement for ADHD. So without further ado, here is my interview with Heather Jean. Hello, Heather, how are you?

Heather Jean Ransom 6:34
Okay, tea? How are you? I'm fine, thank you.

Katy Weber 6:40
Well, hopefully it won't last long. Once we get started and start chatting, we could talk for hours. And hopefully we'll have that same experience. So thank you for joining me. I'm very excited to learn more about your story. You were born in England, but your family moved to Germany when you were a

Heather Jean Ransom 6:56
toddler? Yeah, two years. Correct.

Katy Weber 7:00
And what prompted that move?

Heather Jean Ransom 7:02
My dad's job, basically, he's an engineer for space and things like that. And there was no job. He was in northern England where I met my mum. And they offered him a job in northern Germany. So he took the job. And we kind of followed I wasn't asked at the time. So

Unknown Speaker 7:22
nobody asked, you know, nobody

Heather Jean Ransom 7:23
else was supposed to be temporary. Actually, that was the idea. And then the job situation didn't change. We'd rented a house, then they wanted to move into that house, we couldn't find anything else to rent. So we ended up buying a house, ended up going to school, and somehow we just got stuck.

Katy Weber 7:41
That's how I feel. I've been living in the US for 22 years at this point. From moving here from Canada, I always say I fell in love and got trapped here.

Heather Jean Ransom 7:54
That's why I'm in the town I am in now actually, that's not my home. My home German town. It is a bit further south. And my husband's from here. So kinda

Katy Weber 8:05
awesome. So you were diagnosed with ADHD? About seven or eight months ago at this point? Officially? Yeah. And when did you start to think you might have it? And what were some of the things that made you think that I should really look into this?

Heather Jean Ransom 8:20
That is actually really funny, because it wasn't me. I hadn't a clue. Absolutely not. I'd actually assumed my eldest daughter may have ADHD and I had eight years ago, we had our tear cities. She had, she's dyslexic and has selective mutism and, or a lot of other things kind of, and I suspect he but there's no ADHD, right? I think that was wrong. In hindsight, with my knowledge I have now that I just let it pass at the time. So basically, I've been off sick for one and a half years. Fatigue and chronic pain, presumed fibromyalgia, but here in Germany, it is a bit biased with some people don't believe in it. And the people that do don't want to use the word to diagnosis it is complicated.

Katy Weber 9:20
Well, whatever. sounds very familiar.

Heather Jean Ransom 9:24
Strange. Yes, I was. I recently listened to your podcast with Gemma I think it was number 164 and found that extremely relatable. Yes, thought right. How convenient that is smile. So part of my story. Well, whatever that started years ago that I started getting pain and more exhaustion and everything and things kind of escalated one and a half years ago, and I've been sick since then. And in that process I've been sent to Dr. ABCD II saw stuff and have been looking for a place for therapy psychotherapy, which I still I'm still on waiting lists. I'm still waiting after one and a half years almost. Hurray. But I've had you call them preparatory sessions, that's assault trial sessions, kind of, that's the German system, you can have up to five trial sessions with some other and then decide, does it fit? Are they going to take me whatever and they've had some with three different therapists. I'd say one, I've still got the waiting list, the other are retiring soon and discovered that they haven't got the capacity. But one of those and that was in March, my first time I saw him, I kind of started off with what my goals for therapy are why I'm here, this, that and the other. And in the middle, he kind of said, Has anybody ever considered you may have ADHD? Has anybody suggested that? And I said, No. Why? And it was me all over the place telling my all my sacred stories noodling out, leveling, having, talking about people pleasing, perfectionism, procrastination, emotional dysregulation, not in those words, but kind of as my primary goals and everything. So it said, Yeah, well, he has a hunch that it's maybe thought of, and if I'm interested, he do the evaluation with me. So I said, Yeah, okay. So we scheduled appointments, and I think it was three weeks later. And of course, you can imagine what happened in the meantime, I started researching attitude mag, books, everything, huh? Maybe he's right. Just just yet, right. And then next step, how on earth didn't anybody ever see ya to Brighton to me. And you know, the story sort of so. So that was that kind of what happened there. And then the unknown was evaluated, came out with diagnosis. I already had a psychiatrist at that point, because everybody was trying to figure out if I had depression, and if that was the problem, basically, I think we actually figured out that that is actually one of the problems. I don't have. I have I have a lot of others. But that is not one. And yes, so I've been going there. I've actually, I'm on medication. Notice when I suppose. Because I can only take a low dose because I'm very, very sensitive to effects and side effects with if something's wrong, but it is having an effect. It has calmed me down. And it has actually reduced the pain a little bit. Oh, yeah. Which I found really, really cool. It's got a bit worse with my COVID in recent COVID infection again, but it's only three weeks ago. So I'm still hoping that it'll go again. But I've actually FBA I couldn't read. I wasn't in a mental state to read books beforehand, properly. I love to read and now I can actually hyper focus on a book for a day and then I was, I don't know, do you know spoon? Theory? Oh, yes. Yeah. So my spoons are very limited. And when spoons are empty, life is empty. Not what doesn't work well with kids. Because not much life is left at noon, for instance. Now it was in the state, I couldn't even lift my arms to wash my hair. And now I can actually open bottles and carry things. No. I was on box actually. Yeah, you get it. My storytelling is quite typical. Yes, I've been there. I actually asked him if because I came across. When you research ADHD, naturally, you come across autism general note or neurodiversity, neuro divergence, the UN or that lot? And they actually I don't know, there were some things that he always said. Yeah, that doesn't quite fit that is unusual, but in basic, right. Could that perhaps be autism? No, can't be never. I have not gotten official diagnosis yet. But my last seven months of diving into the subject and I've also been to the Autism Center here. They don't do diagnosis but they do consultation a lot and and thingie and I've had quite a few appointments with one of the people there who does that and we've now decided well she she decided but basically from seeing me it was really funny the first time we saw each other she she just said her radar just jumped. So I now actually have the confidence to say I am autistic as well because It fits. And it it feels right. That's

Katy Weber 15:03
a great point, I totally relate to that idea of having, you know, feeling so confused about the autism if you've listened to the podcast, it's something I talk about a lot, right. But I liked the way you phrased it with the, it just fits right. And I think that that's something about the these neurodivergent diagnoses where it's like, so much of these previous diagnosis that we have gotten in our, in our adult life just never felt right. And there's something about this that just fits to the core. And with the autism testing, I always found like, I'm sort of always on the borderline. And I never understand what that means. And then I'm always questioning all the questions and figuring out if the testing is appropriate. And then everybody you know, friends of mine with autism are like, Yeah, that's the autism site. Right. And then I remember when I was reading unmasking autism by Devin Pryce

Heather Jean Ransom 15:53
fantastic book, I love this. And it's such a great book, such a good bike ride halfway through it, but I Oh,

Katy Weber 16:01
well, even just the I listened to the audiobook, but the audio book came with a download of PDFs of all of the different charts and everything that it referenced in the book, which are just so helpful. It's such a great book. I'll definitely put a link in the show notes for this episode. But Devin price talks about you know, people who aren't autistic don't spend a lot of time questioning if they're autistic. I always think about that, quote, what I like going down the rabbit hole of do I or don't I? Because it's a weird question to think like, you know, a lot of experts say there's a huge overlap between ADHD and autism. And I'm sure there is of course there is but but why is it an overlap? Why isn't it also audio HD? You know, I think that the for such a long time, clinicians could only diagnose one or the other they weren't allowed to diagnose both until this most recent DSM. So I think it's really interesting to think about how we're redefining both of those. So now with your daughters that are either of your girls, have they been diagnosed? Or you said you received before we hit record, you said you were seeking a diagnosis for the year oldest?

Heather Jean Ransom 17:02
Yes, I'm actually on the waiting list or actually getting an appointment where I had her evaluated for dyslexia at the time. And being a speech therapist, I actually saw it very, very, at a very early stage that she was dyslexic and searched to get an evaluation so that as early as I could, so that she could get the accommodations that she needed. And I actually had to walk that person through sat but okay, do you hate it as well that you end up having so much more knowledge than the people that you're actually sitting across from as opposed to do no more than you basically?

Katy Weber 17:41
Oh, my goodness, well, actually, the fact that your their psychologist recommended it and was an adult male, I think is a tremendous, that's very rare. Oh,

Heather Jean Ransom 17:50
I find that he they did it as well. So you I was talking about,

Katy Weber 17:56
but that's how this shouldn't be. I love that. I

Heather Jean Ransom 18:00
know that Cohen's coincidence, and I'm really, really so grateful for it. And I'm so sad that he's retiring and couldn't take me on because we really clicked it was really great. I felt really seen for the first time in I don't know, what was such a fantastic feeling. I just cried. Yeah, as I say, I actually already had a hunch. It may be ADHD, but they decided it wasn't the knowledge I have now I say, yes. Well, I understand why you didn't see it. But I know now, I'm absolutely convinced that time, right. That is us also for DHD. So I'm waiting now at the same place. But I've also got another place that I may be able to get an appointment. That was a recommendation from the Autism Center, actually, that they also that girls get diagnosis as well. Start anyway. And I mean, she's she'll be 17 in January. But yeah, but I have to actually go to a set appointments to then queue to then hopefully get an appointment for her. Two months later. That is their system. My other daughter is already in that psychiatric clinic. I think you'd call it because she was diagnosed with depression. She was in a really bad state two years ago, one and a half years ago and she's now taking medication that's helped a lot. And she actually has her ADHD evaluation tomorrow. Oh wow. Because we are so very similar. And she is already almost has that did the IQ test in the process and it was 127 or so. Something like that. I think that here the The level is 132 B. I don't know if you call it gifted, I think in English, don't you? Yeah. So she and she's at the same school that my other daughter is she chose she didn't want to go to grammar school or school that everything would be hard. She preferred her to go to the the inclusive school. When they have all said she can also also do all her qualifications there and carry on for a levels more my seven almost 17 year old is doing that is in 11th class they call it tense is GCSE level, I'm not quite sure what the American equivalent czar and 11th to 13th Yes, three years of a level classes, where you get them the German Abby tour, as it is called. Yes, so she had but it is they have a different system and it is more inclusive, and more focused on not pressure and having to achieve and learn learn Verlander like this. In out in out, it's more focused on more inclusive learning different methods. And also with disabled people of all kinds of, it's a mix, you have all the different levels of intelligence sort of in the classes as well. So, and she is top of her class, she is bored. But she says she prefers to be bored than to have pressure, I get that. And I can really relate to that, because she's a perfectionist a people pleaser, doesn't want to be perceived negatively. But she has also quite a bunch of executive dysfunctioning. And the emotional dysregulation, we both have that extremely, very strongly. I spend most of my time co regulating, because I'm actually quite good with that. Because I understand. I can and I can find words for both of them, actually. And I don't know, I have the impression that it helps them a lot. So we'll see what comes of that tomorrow. And I'm still waiting for the other because my eldest daughter said, please get me evaluated. I want to be able to say to this, because hardly anybody believes it's not quite true. Her actually her teacher she had for six years. He had a hunch that she may be autistic and he's been very good for yes, we have a family history. I spoke to my mother as well total about it and gave her ideas, exams and everything she said, You know what, a couple of years back I thought I may be autistic. Interesting. Yes, we've been had had a lot of contact discussions. Talking and also it's it's been an interesting past statements. Good

Katy Weber 22:55
sir has right. But what about your partner as he do you feel like you might be neurodivergent? Or what does he thought about this journey? Um,

Heather Jean Ransom 23:05
I think he's a little confused when I gave him as he goes, absolutely. He doesn't. You have trouble understanding ADHD? Whereas I see a lot of things that could be neurodivergent divergence in him as well. It might just be chronic stress. He's an IT consultant in management positions. So that is also, I don't know, they're just this that in the other. I don't know if he ever thinks about it. I watched I actually had suspected him to be the person that might have given it to my daughter. You see, I was so blind on that subject. And then we talked about daughter, yes, this that could be and she says, Mom, you do that too. And I always praise myself with being so such being able to reflect so well. Yeah, obviously I really was blind, completely blind. Now. But when I've not tell him told him the autistic traits, he said, Oh, yes, definitely. Absolutely. He really saw me in that. Yes, I don't know. It's it's, it's a journey and we'll see how it goes. And everything. Though, I

Katy Weber 24:26
have to say looking at your resume, the signs were there a log, it's just I have to read this out. So you went to school for music? Then you end biology?

Heather Jean Ransom 24:36
I did all sorts. I know. Right? And

Katy Weber 24:39
then you were a certified speech therapist, and then worked in cultural studies in philosophy and literature, and then your side quest, which I love that I'm gonna have to put that on my resume from now on official category of side quests, which was oh, yes, and I'm also a lactation consultant.

Heather Jean Ransom 24:58
That can be connected to my speech. therapy there. Oh, okay. Because wondering is orders of all kinds and belong to speech therapy? I don't know in German, there's, it's a different expression. But there's the equivalent would be British is actually, well, English is speech therapist, but it's basically also voice disorders and also swallowing disorders, all age groups. And yes, I always had the idea to combine. I mean, if you want to treat the pathology, you need to know the physiology. Yeah, wherever you're coming from, basically. And actually, when I was, we lived in a different town, because my husband was doing his doctorate. That was in Lubec if that means anything to you, right? In the north of Germany, we were there for three years. And I was in. Yeah, breastfeeding group, basically. And the person there I find found it extremely inspiring the work that she did, and how she helped and the community and how it was organized. I said, Yeah, I want to do that too. Because it really inspired me. So I joined. This is a German expression, if ifs, or buts about it's called a fire stick, I bet it's gonna match a fire stick or whatever, it doesn't matter. Whatever. So I signed up with them. And I joined I did the training for it got certified. And yeah, and actually ended up having my own group for five years, and otherwise doing telephone or personal. But then I, as I say, I tried to I did also training, workshops and everything from the speech therapy side to learn and get the qualifications for that. So I could basically treat babies and toddlers. And that was actually quite unique. And the reason for that. So the only problem with that is that doctors, pediatricians rarely see a problem, when there really is a problem you have parents struggling with trying to get their kids fed, and to the extent they go to and everything. And then the doctors just say, Oh, I was gaining rate, no problem. And so me getting prescriptions for it was a really, really hard thing. And then at some point, it wasn't that I'd had enough. It was in my early 40s, when I'd actually wanted to have more kids and they didn't work out. And I got to a point where I needed a bit of distance from babies. Which is why I kind of put that to one side and went more into adults with Parkinson's, after strokes, things like that. That's a nice thing about speech therapy. You have so many different disorders and age groups. That's a nice ADHD thing. Focus on one. And when it gets you if you feel you need a change, you can just transfer to something else and specialize in that. Absolutely. I actually had the perfect job when it came to that. And that was actually quite beautiful. Yes, but No, those are the lactation consultation. I really loved that I had my my own group in a mother's place every two weeks. And yes, that was a hard thing. One of my side quests was the other was the quiz and the

Katy Weber 28:44
yes, the quiz mistress.

Heather Jean Ransom 28:47
That happened accidentally as well, that was actually a waitress in that place for two years, started in between jobs somehow stuck, then carried on and then I quit. Because I broke my foot at Irish dancing, and then they changed owners and and then at one point few months later, I got this telephone call this panicky one. Could you imagine doing the quiz, the people who've done it before the new owner, and then they didn't get on and they needed somebody to do it? And I said, perhaps. So that kind of happened originally it was yeah, we'll give you one you just have to read it. I tried that trying to host a quiz and then you get questions on the things that you haven't written or researched yourself. I just couldn't do it because I need to know what I'm talking about. I don't know if that's the perfectionism or on the thing I don't know. But it's kind of a need to know. And I need to know what's the to answer questions and how to pose the questions and how to help them In between in any way, the whole concept, that's the person who had written it wasn't my concept. So I kind of ended up doing my own complete thing, which was an awful lot of work every week. But I have an awful lot of random knowledge as well, because of it every time something comes up. Oh, I know that because I had a quiz question. You see, the, yeah, I have been doing that for also one and a half years. Because as I say, I'm off sick, and I get paid for it. And even if I only did it once a month, I'm a bit scared of my health insurance that they say, Oh, if you can do that, you can go back to work. And I'm afraid No, I can't. That doesn't work. I do it for various reasons, chronic migraines, fatigue, you know, the whole thing that spoons and everything and not reliable for patients. So that's why I actually started studying at what you call it, when you're external. It's not, I don't go to the place, I do it all online, I get scripts, I get do exams, I go there for the exams, during Corona, I did them online. And I read up and I do tasks and everything for it. But it's not that I have lectures where I go to, there are video lectures occasionally. And also seminars that are sometimes online sometimes, somewhere else. But I'd say I've got that on hold as well at the moment, because my brain just wouldn't do anything intellectually, emotionally, or physically. Everything was just draining. I just couldn't, couldn't handle it. So I went actually it was cultural studies, with focus on philosophy and literature. Because kind of I could go into my interests of philosophy and learning more about the world and learning to write better because I am absolutely hopeless at structuring written work. And overwhelmed. I actually I know basically what I'm supposed to be doing. But it's like, trying to write a summary. I can write five different on one text, five different five summaries, and they can be all different depending on what I prioritize. Or if I prioritize everything, and the summary is longer than the original text. I need somebody to tell me what they want me to focus on. Because I can't make the decision. What's most important, or what they want me? What then what are they? Yeah, I have that in a lot of things. Then I've got all this vast, enormous amount of knowledge in my head, and half the time I can either not rip it, can't access it, or can't structure raise it, even though I'm actually able, but I need somebody to walk me through a is only through all my research that I've actually figured out where my trouble my problems are at the time I've had all my life, and what accommodations will actually help me. Yeah,

Katy Weber 33:05
I remember interviewing Catherine Ellison. Very early in the podcast, we were talking about that exact thing because I remember long before my ADHD diagnosis feeling like I might have some sort of processing disorder, because some sort of learning disorder because I felt the exact same way I had I loved you know, input that she called it stuck on input, which was I love learning I love voraciously reading. I was like, I would obsessively go down these rabbit holes, but I wasn't able to then turn around and explain what I had learned or, you know, break it out into like, you know, what was that book about? Uh, I don't know, I just knew I liked it. Right? Like, it was very difficult. And especially in school and university, I had a really hard time. You know, I would read and read and read and prepare for an essay or when I had to turn around and write a paper I just was so difficult, like you said, like getting all of that knowledge into some kind of order. And so I always thought there was like a prioritization processing disorder in there. So I just didn't know what to call it. Now I know. So now I'm curious, have you looked at Have you found anything? Or are you do you have any theories about the connection between autoimmune disorders and neuro divergence? Because I feel like there's such an overlap. And I'm curious if that's it's so common, if you know fibromyalgia, but also a lot of autoimmune disorders are, are related to stress and burnout. And I'm curious what your theories are, if anything on that.

Heather Jean Ransom 34:32
I find it awfully hard to find information on that actually, I came across a third must have been about the same study that Gemma came across. I think it was a 2018 study or something like that, where they figured out that a lot of people with fiber and women with fibromyalgia have actually undiagnosed adhd with the recommendation if they have a Fibromyalgia diagnosis, do us reasoning for ADHD as well. And I think it makes an awful lot of sense. Because I think part of Fibromyalgia is a deliberate dysregulated nervous system. And when you imagine what ADHD wreaks havoc in your body on so many levels, that it's actually I don't find it much of a coincidence that that can be a result, especially as a female. And then of course, you have the hormonal things that seem to play some kind of role in it. I read my as a pain and prejudice, Gabriel Jackson, I found that very, very good book, basically on female pain history and all the kinds of pain disorders that kind of overlap or interact. And also, her idea of Mark is the auto immune thing that can't be proven in so many cases, because everything just comes up with no results in the end. And if that is the case, as a factor, then you can choose from A, B, C, and D, what it may be what relates most to and sometimes I wonder if it's basically all one and the same thing. And just depending on where your symptoms come you late more than that is the name you'd have get. Sometimes I wonder if that could actually also be with ADHD and autism that in 10 years time we'll end up calling it something completely different Spectre neurodivergent spectrum as an overall idea. But yes, no, I think as a brain nervous system and hormones, I think there's so much interaction that we do not understand. But I'm having actually trouble finding more information every time I kind of try and Google and find things on it. It's scripts and scraps and this but it's always Yeah, we don't know enough. And actually, we have no flippin idea,

Katy Weber 36:59
and also what happens to women. So we're not going to look into it.

Heather Jean Ransom 37:04
Feminism is one of my special interest always has been an intersection or race. So yes, I'm well aware that that is actually one of the main problems, it doesn't get funded. Nobody's interested. It's only women. That is not another thing that why ADHD goes so yeah, well, that that downhill with with women and that they get these conditions, that the whole socialization, the whole trying to fit into the rails, the whole having to excel and be better if you even want to do something, or I'm for one, I'm not really happy. And I hate cooking and cleaning the whole lot. I don't have this gene, I'm happy doing these things. But I like eating so naturally, I have to cook, because somehow nobody else does it divide into it. Let's face it. But yes, I don't know. It's there's an awful lot of social pressure. And when you have ADHD, you have even more of it because you feel as a failure and get told you're a failure in on so many levels that yes, just being a woman is also already a problem. But with ADHD to go with it. I'm not surprised that the studies come up with 40 to 50%. That they go together sort of nothing can manifest in pain. So I'm not surprised if your your brain is everywhere, all the time. Brain on who

Katy Weber 38:33
you know, in school now to become a mental health counselor. And so we've been talking about burnout a lot. And the definition of burnout in in the curriculum there is is much more about like a sense of hopelessness, a sense of giving up, right, you don't want to do things you don't. You don't want to go to work. You don't want to make these phone calls, whatever. It's an avoidant kind of sense of burnout. And that's not how I experienced burnout at all. I feel like burnout for me is much more of a physical, it's much more in the nervous system, right? So I feel like it's this, you run yourself until you are completely out of battery. And then your body is screaming at you to shut down like your body. Like that's how I kind of experienced burnout. And I was trying to, it seems like autistic burnout is very different from the medicalized understanding of burnout. And I'm just talking about this on the top of my head. So I'm not really sure if there's any official definitions, but this is my new rabbit hole is trying to figure out the difference between neurodivergent burnout and burnout as it is sort of understood and discussed in the medical field with clinicians because it seems to me that the way they're describing it as not my own personal experience of it, which sounds like a lot of life when you're neurodivergent, right, the way, the way, the way clinicians describe things, even depression, I feel like the way we experience depression is very different from how it looks on paper.

Heather Jean Ransom 39:59
Yeah, I actually, I've tried to IV ever since past years I've been trying to figure out, do I have depression or downtime? Where are the differences and when I listen to my daughter and other people that I know, you have depression, it does definitely manifest differently from my, my emotional dysregulation. When I get into an emotional paralysis, call it or complete overwhelm that I, I have it that it's related to hormones with me that this guy got quite extreme. Now around my age, it's around ovulation. I done anyone says, I feel like I just can't cope and overwhelmed and I just want to press a button and be out. It is it is all too much. And I know I just have to hang on, I know it'll be over in two days, I just have to hang on, and the state will pass. But the intensity, and the thoughts and the feelings I have with it. Our heart are really, really hard. And when my daughter talks about these things, and about depression, or my friends and the thoughts and everything they are in a state, they have no recollection of the past, they can't remember that they were happy that they felt good. And they can't relate to the fact that they will feel good again, they are caught in this process. And I find that is a really, really big difference. Because I know it'll pass and I can remember how it is to feel good and happy. That will be one thing. The other thing was a burn outs. Seeing symptoms is it's I my foot. I don't know burnout, chronic exhaustion. Fatigue is as he said, it's it's on a physical level. But even even when I can't do it intellectually or emotionally drains me as well. But it still ends up being physical in that sense of I can't I have to rest I have to lie, I have no option, I can't do anything else. It's not activation is the completely wrong way to go about it. I really have to pace myself. That's where my ADHD really regularly trips me up. I have a really big trouble pacing myself because I am enthusiastic about so many things I have, I enjoy doing so many things, they want to do so many things apart from things that they have to do. Unfortunately, leveling that out is a pain in the neck anyway, so but it's kind of, but I can't and I have to stop myself from doing it so that it has a completely different quantity. What I feel in that sense. And when I say when I'm really really bad, I can't even read I can only listen to something. And then it has to be something things. And that is the I don't know there's a drive the impulsivity, the the hat, I want to do things and I'm not happy if I can't do that. So I get into a bore out even though I'm burnt out. And yeah, and then you have the autistic thing, which is all the sensory stuff on top of everything, which is what I'm just trying to unmask and figure out and that is this is quite quite weird, where you basically start noticing where you are. So you push through and what, over your limit over and over and over and over again. You've lost your complete sense of self, who you really are and what actually affects you and that and that is that is so draining. That's basically where my psychiatrist even though I don't have an official diagnosis, though, and he doesn't do it. He says he has no idea. They don't do it in their clinic. They're fine. I love him for that. You rarely meet a clinician who says, I don't understand this. I have no idea. And I really love him for it. That is people should do that a lot more often. Yeah, I agree. But he's with me, he started actually trusting me. And also the Autism Center person who actually jotted it down. And when I said right, I'd like to just work with them. Even though the fact we'll just pretend that it is well I don't have to pretend but he has to pretend that my way of trying to get out of all this mess. Leeds buyer accepting I'm autistic and working with my autism and ADHD and not against it. And that's just taken because that's actually my best bit of recovering and getting out of it hopefully at some point and this the fatigue and the paper my energy are stuck and I'm done. But I didn't want to accept that yet. I'm not I've not got that.

Katy Weber 44:54
Right. I feel like my main purpose in life now is to continually keep myself from doing 90% of the things I want to be doing. It's just this like intentional slowing down, right? So when you were talking about pacing yourself, and wanting to do all those things, I was like, oh my god, I'm sure everybody listening is just nodding vigorously along with you. So I'm curious, is there anything that works for you in terms of slowing yourself down or helping to pace yourself?

Heather Jean Ransom 45:27
Trying not to make rash decisions, thinking about things three days before I follow up on them. I manage that about 70 or 80% of the time. Looks pretty good. Yeah, I'm actually correct. The other thing is my body just crushes or not either I get to complete crap. If I when I've overdone it, and I admit I frequently do because I love going to I love to get love going to concerts, gigs, my autism doesn't, but my ADHD does, and my music and everything. So it's usually I already always go on the train, I don't drive there anymore. Because driving has spoons. Now. It takes spoons. So I take the train, of course, it's all costs. All hazard quite attacks, stay overnight. So to give me time, go in advance, take two days if necessary. So I have enough leeway, and enough time to try and recover and don't plan anything for the days after because the flare up or post exertional malaise is that is bound to hit. I know it and I go do these things, seemingly, because some things I just cannot do. And other things, this kind of thing. Yeah, as I say, takes three days. And sometimes if I really have to decide against it, and basically, it's what I have to do more is decided against doing a lot of things for other people, because I am the carer, but I don't care enough for myself. And I have to kind of switch places. It's hard. And as I say, I'm waiting for therapy to help me on that. And what I'm also trying to do is not lose all the energy over all my chaos. I've just started occupational therapy. I never really did. I mean, I'm a speech therapist and never dawned on me that that might be a good idea. And why didn't the end but I found somebody who is doing her bachelor thesis on ADHD. She's half my age, but she's great. So I'm hoping that I can save a bit of energy with her help. So

Katy Weber 47:42
wait, she's an occupational therapist who specializes in ADHD? Yes, that's amazing. Wow. So fascinating. Lucky there,

Heather Jean Ransom 47:50
sometimes. Yeah. I mean, imagine after I found out about neuro divergence in everything that I thought, right, I want to be this as a speech therapist specializing in ADHD. That was one of my first things. The second thing was, Oh, I could write a book and all the games that other children, how can I make a note to to give hints how they can be neurodivergent friendly. I don't like ideas, but I really, really have to stop myself and say they have nice ideas, and they will stay ideas for the time.

Katy Weber 48:23
I used to have a list called building my empire, which was where I would put all of the things I wanted to do and just put them there as a place to, like you said, we like that's nice. We're just gonna leave this here and move along. That yeah, that's, that's a basic now. I'm curious. One of the things I always like to ask my guests is if you had a alternate name for ADHD, would you call it something else?

Heather Jean Ransom 48:48
I think ADHD doesn't fit at all. I haven't come up with the perfect name, but I have a couple of ideas. My younger daughter and I discussed it last night. Wonderful. Basically, I'd like actually like something that includes the word spectrum, but I haven't come up with that yet. But I can I can indulge her think basically when I said that some people come up with squirrel on speed sort of, and she's we had to think of scraps from Ice Age.

Katy Weber 49:17
Okay. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, extremely

Heather Jean Ransom 49:21
hyper focused on his acorn. That's insulting to lots of twists because of it because it doesn't notice what's going on around him just chasing this icon loses it because it's distracted. And you know, from first so we thought right and acronyms scrapped would be lovely as a relatable so we had speedy creative roaming anxious thoughts. That was Reliance favorite or the scrap spectrum. My first thing that came to mind but that concern because it's I think everybody comes up with something different than cuz it's impact people differently for me executive functioning, and a mess. And I think that I actually have autism and ADHD they team up against me there I think that is going on because other things they do quite nicely. But that no, that's all I said, I had EFD executive functioning disaster describes me very nicely. Then I had the beautiful brain on tour, referring to the Big Bang Theory. I like that, then something that describes me very well is the walking contradiction. As in The Walking Dead, we could say sort of spectrum of contradictions would fit also quite nicely. So yes, I don't know. It's something that I'd like I like both. I'm still looking for a name that describes the sense of it. I mean, people do use ADHD to say I am ADHD. Because it feels so detached when I say I have ADHD because it is it is part of me, I can't disconnect

Katy Weber 51:09
from myself. It's an identity. Like

Heather Jean Ransom 51:13
I can't disconnect or tests being autistic, but I can say I am autistic. I prefer that over I have autism it just feels right and the same is with ADHD. So in English you say I have audio HD in German it's doesn't work that doesn't work very well. ADHD stick or something like that. Used to stick? No, but disorder always sounds weird, which is why I like actually prefer spectrum because spectrum leaves it open. Whether it disables you or not. And disorders always the focus on the other. And I don't like that either. It's it's disorder with Ms. How much does it inconvenience everybody else? I mean, hello, thank you inconvenience of me most. And the inconvenience sees me more. When you hate me for you know, the way you treat me the way you see me the way you talk about me the way you talk to me the way you criticize me. It is not that or way I have to function. You are disabling me? I mean, yes, my phone's disabled me as well, unfortunately. So, for me, it is a disability. But I know it isn't for everybody. And it is basically a spectrum, which also has extremely cool things to go with it as well. Yeah, I don't know, as I say, I'm still looking for the right description when it comes to that. You

Katy Weber 52:46
and me both. I haven't found anything either. But I think like you said earlier, I think as I think we will be moving more toward more encompassed spectrum language around the neurodivergent community and where we all fit within that feels just like the diagnosis appeals sort of like it that feels right. Far more than deficits and disorders and all of the all of the ways in which it was identified in the past.

Heather Jean Ransom 53:17
So it does impact have an impact in society in the world. And the way people look, I mean, there's a lot of change is still needed in the way of looking thinking and everything. When when I was diagnosed my the psychologist asked me, How do you feel about it? And I say I found it freeing and fitting. And it's only only dawned on me a lot lot later that a lot of people experience it, or feel that it is a stigma. And I noticed I don't feel that at all. But I think I just take people as they are as it is. It's just Yeah, it is in the story. And I see that with a lot of things. And I think that's one of the reasons why I was actually also fairly good at my job. I've only been able to say these things. Recently, I never really saw it dawned on me and everything that I was good at my job is I was able to see and feel the people and just take them as they were and give them what they needed. And the same with the grownups with the children, but also with the parents. Some people they they came to me they apologize for their children and they almost nearly cried and said yeah, that is that is okay. That is normal. That is not for me anyway. And that's I don't have a problem with that at all. Or I don't see that as a problem or as wrong. Yeah. And they get told that their kids are wrong all the time. And for me, it's just yeah, well we have this that nearby, but there's nothing wrong about it. You need a bit of help here and there. But the shy kids, for instance, yet so what then the kid is shy? There's nothing wrong with a shy kid? Not at all. Yeah. Why? Why do kids have to be like this? This this this or that? No, they don't I don't like that. But did you never really see the people? The how they relax and how grateful they are meeting somebody who who sees it like that and talks to them like that.

Katy Weber 55:32
That's beautifully said. Well, thank you, Heather. It's been so great. I'm so glad you took the plunge and reached out and answered my call. Thank you so much. I really, really appreciated hearing your story. And I'm sure there will be lots of listeners who deeply relate to your experience. So thank you for sharing. Yes,

Heather Jean Ransom 55:54
thank you for having me. And I think I I survived. I think I actually enjoyed it.

Katy Weber 56:01
daresay, daresay you enjoyed it.

Heather Jean Ransom 56:05
That doesn't sound nice. No, it's I'm not moving around a lot. And I'm all over the place. But I'm actually more relaxed than I may look. Let me put it that way. I feel more than that. It wasn't a drain, I didn't feel feel wrong. It was extremely nice talking to you. I could, as you said at the beginning, we could go on for I don't know, a couple of hours. Kind of, I don't know, I'm not interested in learning more about you hearing your more of your stories, the tooing and froing. It is I don't know it's, it's, it's nice. Like can we meet for coffee sorts?

Katy Weber 56:46
I do I feel that I feel that one of the things that I love about having ADHD is how we can connect with each other so quickly. And so on such a fundamental level where I'm like, if I were to I don't know if I'll ever get a chance to meet you in person, but I know if I did, I'd be like, I feel like we're best friends. Right. I really do feel that close to us all the time. It's so wonderful. So thank you again, Heather. It's been it's been a real joy.

Heather Jean Ransom 57:09
Thank you. And thank you for your work. It's really lovely. Thank you.

Katy Weber 57:21
There you have it. Thank you for listening. And I really hope you enjoyed this episode of the women and ADHD podcast. If you'd like to find out more about me and my coaching programs, head over to women and adhd.com If you're a woman who was diagnosed with ADHD and you'd like to apply to be a guest on this podcast, visit women and adhd.com/podcast guest and you can find that link in the episode show notes. Also, you know, we ADHD ears crave feedback. And I would really appreciate hearing from you the listener, please take a moment to leave me a review on Apple podcasts or audible. And if that feels like too much, and I totally get it. Please just take a few seconds right now to give me a five star rating or share this episode on your own social media to help reach more women who maybe have yet to discover and lean into this gift of nerd of urgency. And they may be struggling and they don't even know why. I'll see you next week when I interview another amazing woman who discovered she's not lazy or crazy or broken. But she has ADHD and she's now on the path to understanding her neuro divergent mind and finally using this gift to her advantage. Take care till then