Korra O’Neill: ADHD & biohacking our menstrual cycles

Dec 18, 2023


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“I take a lot of pride in thinking about how my ancestors were probably the warriors who protected the village and took care of everybody in a way not everybody's brain can handle.”

Korra is a queer AuDHD period biohacker and co-founder of Unleash Your Superpowers. Diagnosed at the age of 29, she now uses her understanding of period science, neurodivergence, and queer theory to help thousands of people feel empowered by the body they're in.

Korra also co-authored the book “Your Toolbox To Unleash Your Super Powers,” a menstruating human’s guide to biohacking & hormonal harmony, and created the Superpowers Planner, a gorgeous calendar that not only helps you track your phases, but gives helpful tips for movement and nutrition based on your phases.

We talk about how our menstrual cycles affect our ADHD symptoms, what foods align best with our different phases, and lots of other ways to naturally support our hormones.

And, I want to add that at one point in this episode I am desperately trying to remember the name of an author and just couldn’t for the life of me remember her name — I’m sure many of you can relate — anyway, the woman I’m talking about is Kate Northrup, who is the daughter of Dr. Christiane Northrup.

Anyway, you’ll definitely want to grab a pen and paper for this episode — this was a super helpful conversation that I for one plan to revisit often since I’m endless confused by our hormones and our different menstrual phases.


Website: unleash-your-superpowers.com

Tiktok: @unleashyoursuperpowers

Instagram: @unleashyoursuperpowers



Korra’s book: https://unleash-your-superpowers.com/superpowers-book

Korra’s planner: https://unleash-your-superpowers.com/our-planner

Food For Your Phases: https://unleash-your-superpowers.com/food-for-your-phases



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Korra O'Neill 0:00
If you are neurodivergent or a woman or someone who gets a period, or disabled in any way, biohacking is using what resources are available to you to get yourself to the level that society expects us all to be at with a means that you can control because our society our system wasn't designed to support anybody who isn't a sis hit white, able bodied man.

Katy Weber 0:36
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 strings, both professionally and personally. Well, before we begin, I would like to take a moment to wish all of you a very happy holiday season. After this episode, I will be taking a two week break and we'll return on January 8 with an all new episode. I have some fantastic guests lined up for the new year. So I hope you will join me. In the meantime, I hope you'll be able to catch up on any episodes you may have missed. And if you haven't already, make sure to check out my other podcast the ADHD Lounge, which I co host with Alex Gilbert, you can find that anywhere you listen to podcasts. Okay, here we are at episode 168 in which I interview Cora O'Neil. Cora is a queer ADHD period biohacker and the co founder of unleash your superpowers diagnosed at the age of 29. Cora now uses her understanding of period science neuro divergence and queer theory to help 1000s of people feel empowered by the body they are in. Cora also co authored the book your toolbox to unleash your superpowers a menstruating humans guide to biohacking and hormonal harmony. And she created the superpowers planner a gorgeous calendar that not only helps you track your phases, but gives you helpful tips for movement and nutrition based on your phases. We talked about how menstrual cycles affect our ADHD symptoms, as well as what foods align best with our different phases and lots of other ways to naturally support our hormones. Also, I just want to quickly add at one point in this episode, I am desperately trying to remember the name of an author and I just couldn't for the life of me remember her name? I'm sure many of you can relate to this. Anyway, the woman I was talking about is Kate Northrup, who is the daughter of Dr. Christiane Northrup, so keep that in mind when you hear me fumbling to remember her name. Anyway, you were definitely going to want to grab a pen and a paper for this episode. This is a super helpful conversation packed with facts. It's definitely one I plan to revisit often since I find I am endlessly confused by hormones and our different menstrual phrases, especially when it comes to my ADHD symptoms. So without further ado, here is my interview with Cora. Hi, Cora, thanks for joining.

Korra O'Neill 3:28
Hi Kati, thank you for having me.

Katy Weber 3:32
Gosh, I feel like I don't know if you've heard this on the podcast. But like I grew up in a very religious family. And I my mother refused to allow me to go to any sex ed classes. So I've always felt like I am way behind when it comes to so much about sexual health, menstruation, all of that. And so I'm super excited to talk about all of this but like I literally had to look up the different menstrual phases before I started this because I was like, I can't like I don't know the difference between follicular and luteal and I'm sure I'm not I can't be the only woman who has that issue. And I am also going to be using the phrase women as I do with the podcast, as a kind of catch all phrase for anyone who menstruate or was socialized as a girl. Just moving forward. Okay, so let's before we talk about any of that, I want to hear about your diagnosis because you are ADHD and autistic were you diagnosed with both at the same time or kind of what was happening but how will how long ago were you diagnosed? What was happening in your life that led you to really think I need to look into this

Korra O'Neill 4:39
all at once and also not at the same time at all. I as most eight folks with ADHD or autism my whole family has ADHD. I was taken to be diagnosed when I was a kid back in the 90s with my younger brother who was came back they said he has ADHD and they said she is bored reline but like, as we know now, there's no such thing as a borderline case of ADHD you have a neurodivergent brain or you don't. But so I went my whole life going, my brother's the one with that issue. I'm, I don't know, I can't I have trouble socializing, I have social problems. And then flash forward to the pandemic, I went viral on Tiktok, for talking about periods and all of the things that we're probably going to talk about, I was dealing with autistic burnout without realizing I was dealing with autistic burnout and the depths of the panic, and the meltdowns and burnout that I was going through made me stop and assess. And go, there is something really wrong here. I want to look into an autistic autism diagnosis. And where I was lucky that where I went for an autism diagnosis, they also specialized in ADHD. And in my assessment, at the very end, the guy goes, Yeah, I would say that you have autism. And I also think you have ADHD, just based on everything that's been happening in this conversation. And I went cool, that actually tracks so it's like all at once. And also not at the same time. Yeah. Wow.

Katy Weber 6:17
So did you did you go back to your parents? And what was their reaction? Yeah,

Korra O'Neill 6:24
it it took my dad a while to come around to it. And he still, he's got his own internalized ableism about it, because I also think he has the same thing. I do have both diagnoses. So from his point of view, it's he can't accept it and other people because he hasn't accepted it himself. kind of situation. My mom was really accepting very early, she was like, Oh, this, you make sense now. Which was really validating, so it, my dad is sensitive to it, but he's not gonna go out of his way to acknowledge that these are the struggles that I experience having the brain I do.

Katy Weber 7:08
Interesting. Even the term borderline, ADHD makes it sound like it's like, be careful. Like you're gonna you know, if you don't watch yourself,

Korra O'Neill 7:17
you can tip the other way if you eat too much sugar. Yeah.

Katy Weber 7:21
Right. Like, again, it sort of puts the onus on you as a child to like, you know, shape up. Interesting. You know, we've talked so much on this episode, or on this podcast about how differently we're socialized, right? And so, so much of the time with boys, it's socialized with like, Okay, let's see what kind of help we can get for this person immediately. with girls. It's like, you better watch out you better, you better get your act together.

Korra O'Neill 7:43
I also think that's so indicative of how we raise boys to take all the risks and we raise girls to be perfect.

Katy Weber 7:52
Yes. Okay. So that I didn't know about the viral video. So what was your just interested already in menstruation? Or? Yeah,

Korra O'Neill 8:00
it wasn't just one video, it was the entire account. I gained 90,000 followers in the span of three weeks. Doc, tick tock panic times. As a piece of advice to neurodivergent folks out there, think twice before you think oh, I want to go viral on social media because especially the notifications as they're rolling in, you need tools to be prepared for that and I did not have them. But yeah, I was a integrated Integrative Nutrition health coach several years before the pandemic and I got really into Elisa videos work and because she's the pioneer of this kind of biohacking for periods field, I got really into her work and I was helping a lot of friends deal with their periods at the time. And I was trying to think of something that I could put on tick tock, I was an actor for a while and all of my actor friends were putting on theatrical things. And I was like, I, it's the pandemic, I just shaved my head as a form of pandemic panic. I, I don't want to like sing a song, I want to talk about something that I think is really interesting. So I talked about the difference between the ingredient cycle and the circadian rhythm or the in Freudian rhythm and the circadian rhythm, which is the menstrual cycle versus, you know, the 24 hour hormone cycle that everybody has. And yeah, the Tick Tock account exploded.

Katy Weber 9:41
Wow, actually, I feel like a baby. I saw that video. Were you talking about like workcycles and productivity cycles? That's funny. So yeah, right, because it's really it's really true. What do you think about how much of our work day and our weekly productivity cycles and our expectations of ourselves are all based on a 24 hour cycle instead of a monthly cycle. Yeah, I got really into Christiane. Oh God, what is her name? She's the daughter of a doctor who actually speaks in the i n. Did you go to IBM as well? Yeah, yeah. So one of the lectures,

Korra O'Neill 10:25
I'm also the daughter of a doctor. So oh, gosh, must be a thing.

Katy Weber 10:31
I should have this like written down somewhere because I feel like I referenced her a lot. When I talk about productivity. She Anyway, her whole thing she was she was comes at it from much more of a business perspective. Her her mother was like a feminine health doctor, famous doctor. And she's speaks all about the productivity cycle in terms of our energy and our ovulation cycle. And how you know, there is that time, like half of your time needs to be spent low and internal. And like that is necessary in order to have the manic, energized cycle. And it was one of those things that we talked about a lot because I'm you know, so many of us had that pendulum before our diagnosis of feeling like what's wrong with me when I'm can't get off the couch, because there's times when I'm doing all the things. And you feel like the time when you're doing all the things should be evidence for always doing all the things as opposed to realizing that they're both needed? Isn't they're both essential. So talking about menopause, and the menstrual cycle. What do you think in terms of ADHD and autism? What are some of the things in that our cycle? Like? How does our behavior or our thinking or our energy, how does it change from one cycle to the next?

Korra O'Neill 11:43
Do you mean the fate because you mentioned menopause in your question, do you mean oh,

Katy Weber 11:47
I meant menstrual? No, I don't know why I said menopause. Sorry. We'll get to that.

Korra O'Neill 11:52
Yeah, so it changes big time. First off, our hormones change our bodies and brains from week to week, just across the board, whether you're neurodivergent or not. And then when you add things like emotional dysregulation, sensory sensitivity, dopamine, hunger, the different phases are going to drastically change all of those things, because we're since we're more sensitive to that sort of stuff. Should I go through the different phases of the cycle and just like mark down what's happening in what in regards to ADC

Katy Weber 12:30
ism? Oh, my God. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. Cool.

Korra O'Neill 12:33
So I like to start off with the follicular phase. For folks listening who do not know the different phases of the cycle, it goes your follicular phase, ovulation luteal phase, then your period, I do period last. But if you talk to your doctor, your doctor will use your first day of your period as the first cycle. But anyway, the follicular phase is when estrogen is starting to rise. And with ADHD, it's very important specifically, because estrogen helps bind dopamine to brain receptors easier, and has even been shown to create more dopamine receptors. So women with ADHD are going to notice that they don't have as intense ADHD symptoms in the follicular phase when they have higher estrogen than the rest of the time. And the follicular phase is really like, as you mentioned, like it's the reference the time when we're feeling more energized. And we've like, we can spin all the plates and everything's fine. I feel like it's when my ADHD and my autism become really more of a superpower. And even more so in the ovulation phase, which is just follicular phase magnified, because it's when estrogen peaks and we also get a little bump of testosterone. So we've also got like the grounding of the testosterone Askey giving us this drive to do what we set out to do. We're especially with in regards to autism where we may be feeling like social cues aren't our super skill during ovulation. Our brains are better primed to read and give out social cues as if it's a second as if it's innate for us. So socializing a lot easier during ovulation, which is helpful for autism. And then the luteal phase is when everything goes awry. The luteal phase is when estrogen drops and progesterone peaks and progesterone is a precursor to cortisol, which is the stress hormone. The change in your face? Yes. So when estrogen drops, we are losing that extra helping to get some more dopamine that estrogen was giving us in the first two phases. So for folks with ADHD, this will be the time when we're really scatterbrained we're really reaching for For those, like self medicating fixes like extra coffee, extra chocolate, extra sugar, or sleeping problems or even worse, and with autism, and with ADHD, but sensory issues are going to be a lot worse. Like for me, my, one of my biggest triggers is a leaf blower. And I can kind of handle a leaf blower in my follicular and ovulation phase. I can walk away and not feel like I'm under attack. But in my luteal phase, as soon as I hear a leaf blower it is fight or flight. And to exacerbate the luteal phase issues. There's a very strong link between folks with ADHD and having PMDD which is a grossly mis undiagnosed misunderstood condition. So a lot of folks with ADHD have an even worse time dealing with the luteal phase than they even need to because we again, I haven't mentioned this, but we just aren't really studied in terms of women and people who get a period. And then lastly, the menstrual phase is if our hormones have been balanced the whole month prior than the menstrual phase can actually be a really relaxed and rejuvenating sort of time. It can still feel like ADHD is just constantly dopamine farming. But I lost my train of thought, because I'm in my luteal phase.

Katy Weber 16:39
I feel like you know the menstrual phase is like the cocooning phase right? In like going inward.

Korra O'Neill 16:45
Yeah, it's definitely the time when it's easier to lean into drinking soup. And feel it cocooning phase. You nailed it with that explanation. I'm trying to find another way to further explain it, but you nailed it. Yeah.

Katy Weber 17:02
So the luteal phase. Okay, for me the luteal phase is when I'm like, What the fuck is wrong with me? Why am I angry? Why can I Why do I have the concentration of a gnat and then that my period comes the next day. So I feel like that's like clockwork because I'm terrible at tracking. I know that tracking would be so helpful. But it's also something you know. And this is another thing I wanted to get to too with perimenopause, which is I'm you know, in perimenopause right now, so I will go, you know, three months without a period right now in this phase of my life. So I don't know, how do you track your period if you have an irregular period,

Korra O'Neill 17:40
um, there's a difference between having an irregular period because you're in perimenopause, and you're having an irregular period because you have a hormonal imbalance, like me at 31. I'm, I could be going through perimenopause. I'm not but if I was having a irregular cycle, it would be because my hormones are out of whack and I could fix it through biohacking means food, sleep, lifestyle changes with perimenopause. It's a little different, because that's exactly what's supposed to be happening. As fun as that sounds. With tracking for perimenopause, I think the best course of action is really like taking it day by day. Like, as you've noticed, I start to feel this way, and then I get my period. So like you, you've already got the internal signals, but because it's supposed to be kind of random and chaotic as your menstrual cycle is kind of tapering off, there isn't going to be a way that you can calculate Next, when your period will be coming. Or even if you are still ovulating. I think that's like, the best that can be done with that. Yeah,

Katy Weber 18:57
one of the things that's been really helpful about the ADHD diagnosis is just having a lot more grace with like, if something if I'm reacting a certain way, there's probably a good reason, right? So even when I talked about not getting off the couch, I used to get really frustrated with my low executive function days. And now I'm kind of like, Oh, right. I probably was working really hard on something. So I'm going to enjoy and lean into this day of rest, right? And like, you know, I don't necessarily plan for the rest because I'm terrible at planning and tracking. But when it's happening, I'm not going to like get angry at myself if I can't, you know, if I'm having a really low productivity day, I'll just be like, Okay, I surrender to this day, I might as well enjoy it. And I, you know, having faith that the productivity comes back. Yeah.

Korra O'Neill 19:46
I also like to go about those days thinking about what's the bare minimum that I have to do? Because like, we don't live in a world that allows we like, as you said, brought up before, like, we don't live in a world that allows For the cyclical kind of living, so we really need to make that space for ourselves. And it's really helpful when you're able to foresee that happening. But you have to be in the phase of your life when your period is regular. And you also need to have balanced hormones so that it is regular, which is really hard. This very small group of people who have that going on, because we don't have a lot of support for people who get periods. That sounds like a great way to go about is just have your high functioning days and have your really low executive dysfunctioning days and go what's the minimum I could have to do and take off for the rest? Yeah,

Katy Weber 20:42
I mean, it's easier said than done. I feel like I you know, I very privileged as a self employed person that I can do that, I

Korra O'Neill 20:50
would think it would be harder being self employed, because you are the whole paycheck and kitten caboodle of everything, like being self employed, you end up spinning all the plates yourself,

Katy Weber 21:01
that is true. And I was gonna say, oh, yeah, there's, oh, God, we're gonna get into this. Yeah, like, because? Well, it's true. Like I, you know, a lot of the stuff about being self employed means I work seven days a week, because I never know when I'm going to have that productivity. And sometimes I just have to go with it. And it's been really difficult to like, plan weekend breaks. Speaking of burnout, too, right? Like, that's something I think people who are self employed experienced a lot, especially neurodivergent. And what the last time I experienced burnout, I didn't have my period for six months. And it didn't occur to me until after I got better, and got it back with a vengeance that I was like, Oh, this must have been related. Is there any kind of research into burnout and lack of menstruation? Or have you even noticed? Not

Korra O'Neill 21:54
that I know of, I do know that there's a very strong correlation between lack of get a memory and not getting your period and stress, which, I mean, that is burnout. I don't think I haven't seen any research explicitly tying burnout to a amenorrhea. But again, we aren't studied nearly enough, we've only they've only started including people with periods into or women in studies is everything was like 2016, which is not very long ago in the grand scheme of things at all. And even then they will use they will mainly use postmenopausal women instead of women who have periods. So finding our research is few and far between.

Katy Weber 22:40
Now, the other thing I was curious about when we were talking about moods, and cycles, how do our meds affect our phases? If at all, has there been any research into that, that you know of, in terms of any kind of psychiatric or psychotropic medication, because I know that like one of the things I like about my SSRI is the fact that it really like makes me even keel and takes away a lot of that edge, especially when it comes to like social anxiety. But the flip side is that I feel like I'm kind of dead inside most. Most of the time, like, I've lost the pendulum that I actually I really miss, right? Because I really, especially as an entrepreneur, like I miss having a lot of that excitement that I used to have, I feel like the SSRI really takes the edge off of that. And I'm curious if there's been any research into how psychotropic medication affects our phases.

Korra O'Neill 23:40
I haven't read much on it, they're still working on studying the different types of birth control and how that actually affects our menstrual cycles. Some types of birth control put us in such a deep state of stress that we don't even respond to stress, which I do believe is also kind of how SSRIs kind of work like it shuts down your stress response. So I would imagine that there is definitely a very intricate something going on there. But I really love for us to say what it is.

Katy Weber 24:17
So you have all sorts of wonderful books em, you have a planner too, which I think is super cool. I was looking at the plot the superpowers planner and I love the fact that it's got like movement suggestions and different exercise suggestions for different phases. But also is there nutritional stuff in the planner? Yeah. Okay, what do we should what should we talk about? First, let's talk about the superpowers planner. How did you come up with that? It's awesome.

Korra O'Neill 24:41
I think you I came up with that because I needed it myself. And there's there was a strong saying in the theater community that I was in that the world doesn't need you to like create big, amazing things the world needs you to put into it what you need. So because I needed that So I, I made a PDF form for myself and my collaborator for my company on nature, superpowers. terilyn steel. Before we made, the company she came up to me was like, Hey, I see you're going viral on Tiktok, which I told you you would do, you would anyway, I think we should make this into a business. And I was like, oh, cool, I made a planner. For myself. She's a great, let's make it real. So that's she's a functional range mobility specialist. So all of the movement pieces are from her and all of the breathing things that are in there, also from her and all of the food and lifestyle aspects are for me. So we, we came together to create a superpower team for helping you unleash your superpowers. Yeah, yeah,

Katy Weber 25:49
I am a huge fan of holistic approaches to treatment. So what did you notice? And when you were talking about your foods for different phases of your cycle, those are some of the videos I have seen of yours, where you're just how did you kind of get into that research? And let's go over some of the foods to embrace or avoid during different phases. Yeah.

Korra O'Neill 26:10
I don't remember how I got into it specifically. Once I found it, I really gravitated towards keeping it in my life. Because being audio HD, I love routine, but I hate sticking with a routine. I love making new routines and having a different grocery list that I had to utilize or different meals to make for different weeks of my life. Like in rotation like menstrual phase, we're buying this and we're making this follicular phase, we're buying this and we're making that it made grocery shopping feeding myself 10 times easier. And that's why it's stuck with me so much and why I talk about it so much all the tiktoks You've apparently seen, thank you for watching us by them. So yeah, the different phases and what they need in starting again, with the follicular phase, which again, right after your period ends, that's when the follicular phase starts. follicular phase needs complex carbohydrates, citrus, fermented foods, and what's the other thing micronutrients, so really micronutrient dense veggies, the follicular phase is a time when we're kind of like sponges both symbolically mentally and physically. Like we can learn to do a handstand in a week instead of two months, if we tackle it in the follicular phase. And similarly, our bodies are more micronutrient absorbent during that time. So if we pack in all of the micronutrients in our follicular phase, then come much later down the line in the luteal phase when our body is like, our immune system doesn't matter because we have a period to get ready for we are more less likely to get sick. So all of the things that you would think would keep you healthy and strong. Packing that into the follicular phase is a perfect time for that. I don't want to jump ahead, but I'm going to the follicular phase is kind of like the luteal phase in that it's a time when you like you might be reaching for sugar a lot and it's different. So in the luteal phase, we're reaching for sugar because of the ADH, especially if you have ADHD for because of ADHD issues of needing that dopamine needing that little kick to kick you out of the executive dysfunction get you off the couch get you doing something. In the luteal phase we might be reaching towards sugar because we need more complex carbohydrates. And if we are not getting enough energy, and electrolytes then we will reach for sugar, which are going to make us feel like we're getting those electrolytes and that energy that would be coming from a complex carbohydrate and healthy fats. That's the only thing I knew I was forgetting one. So follicular phase is healthy fats, micronutrients, fermented foods, citrus, and like I said micronutrients and complex carbohydrates

Katy Weber 29:26
all the things okay.

Korra O'Neill 29:29
The ovulation phase is just like the the follicular phase in terms of what it needs. A lot of people notice that they have less of an appetite in the ovulation phase and that is because during ovulation our bodies are more apt to burn our own fat stores so we have less of an appetite. That really just means that if you feel like eating less, don't feel like you need to eat more just because you ate more last week. You're Fine, your body knows what it needs. And that's those first two phases. Let me know if I'm going too fast or if I'm jumping around I am in my luteal phase and my scatterbrain is a scattered then we have the luteal phase. The luteal phase is where everything that we think that we assume to know about health science and nutrition kind of goes out the window because of how progesterone those high levels of progesterone turn into cortisol. So quickly. We need a lot of protein, we need a lot of like root veggie complex carbohydrates because that's low in sugar. And this is important for folks with ADHD especially is we are more insulin resistant. So when we have a doughnut for breakfast, the doughnut is going to affect our blood sugar levels, way more than any other time of our of our menstrual cycle. So starting off our day, this, the luteal phase is the problematic time, but it's the time to start off your day with protein instead of a coffee right away and water like get yourself at a stable level. And then if you still feel like you need the coffee, drink the coffee, but don't start your day off with it. And that's kind of about it. For the luteal phase, we just need a lot of protein, a lot of complex carbohydrates, and to downplay our sugar. And the other thing about the luteal phase is that our metabolism is higher, we need something between 50 to 500 extra calories a day. So we end up eating we need more food, but not more sugar, we need more complex carbohydrates, and protein. Because the and that it really all comes down to managing our blood sugar because the protein is going to stabilize blood sugar and the complex carbohydrates are going to stabilize blood sugar and mitigate and cushion the stress response from the appt cortisol. Does that make sense?

Katy Weber 32:10
I mean, as much as it can, I'm getting overloaded with information. But I'm like, I'm going to listen to this episode over and over and over again. Because I feel like this is so helpful. And like you like they were saying like I love the idea of just having this sort of stuff mapped out. And why don't we like this is the thing that gets me frustrated. It's like why? Why don't we know this stuff? And why isn't it sort of more mapped out in this way? It's so helpful,

Korra O'Neill 32:38
because we're not men. But I will say we at unleashes superpowers, my collaborator and I we made a recipe subscription to help people work through this because every month you get a grocery list recipes that you can make for it. And after couple months of that you have an entire cookbook of food that you can reach for that is going to be sectioned out by whatever phase in your cycle you're in. Because it is important.

Katy Weber 33:12
I know Yeah, that's amazing. I saw that on your website, too. I thought that was really cool. Um, does it change depending on where you are in the world to in terms of your regional environment?

Korra O'Neill 33:24
It should I think we do set it up though, so that it's seasonal. So like if the conventional grocery store kind of seasonal so like tomatoes,

Katy Weber 33:35
right? You're not telling me to eat a lot of berries and December and that kind of thing? Yeah,

Korra O'Neill 33:40
correct. Oh, we're in winter because if you're in Australia and it's December you might have a ton of berries at your disposal.

Katy Weber 33:49
Right? Okay, and so then the for the menstrual phrase is that is that the ice cream right? When do we get to the

Korra O'Neill 33:59
chocolate in moderation phase might actually be oh wait chocolate phases the menstrual phase? Yeah. Because we do need more magnesium in that phase. So that's your chocolate phase. The ice cream phase is please manage your sugar levels the rest of the month but indulge because taking care of your emotional health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. That's the ice cream phase. Maybe ovulation but depends on how sensitive to sugar you are. And menstrual phase is the chocolate phase. It's also the purple foods phase, which is a weird category but at the same time everything with purple Foods has this type of poly phenyl that is very helpful for a body that is actively shedding an entire inner lining of an organ. So it's chocolate if you want it, which I'm sure everybody does. Because it's chocolate, purple foods, seaweed, seaweed has all of the micronutrients that we are asked Losing by shedding our uterine lining. And there is one more seafood but not like salmon and tuna seafood more like clam shell fish, octopus, kind of seafood, the kind of stuff where you eat it and you can taste the salty and that works this similar way to the seaweed where it's it's got a lot of the things that we're losing as we're actively bleeding.

Katy Weber 35:31
Cool. So this is all part of biohacking. Actually, we probably should have said at the beginning what biohacking really is for people who don't listen to humans lab. So what in your How would you define biohacking?

Korra O'Neill 35:46
I think there are really two types of biohacking and I think it depends on who's doing it. I think if you are a sis able bodied, neurotypical man, biohacking is bigger, best faster, better, stronger than the next guy. Whereas I think if you are neurodivergent, or a woman or someone who gets a period, or disabled in any way, biohacking is using what resources are available to you to get yourself to the level that society expects us all to be at. It's kind of helping yourself, help yourself with the means that you can control because our society our system wasn't designed to support anybody who isn't a sis white, able bodied man. So it's getting us to help ourselves, because the system won't and while the system should. That doesn't mean that we should be at the mercy of it just because it doesn't, right. Absolutely. I

Katy Weber 36:52
think yeah, in its most literal sense. I think it really is just how can you like retire talking about how could you kind of holistically approach how to be your best self in in all ways, which makes a lot of sense. It's just feels like it's been taken over by douchebags. And I feel like the same way about the term superpower, right? I mean, I think superpower can sometimes feel to many people. Like it's like it's toxic positivity, right. It's like ADHD, when we talk about ADHD, being a superpower. It's a phrase, I feel like it's very, can be really problematic. Sometimes when it's like, let's ignore all of the struggles that have led you to this diagnosis. And let's focus on all the things that you're great at. But at the same time, like in the literal sense, there are some fantastic sides of ADHD if you can listen and pay attention and and tune in and honor your cycle and your cyclical energy, it can be pretty amazing. And it can feel like a superpower. It's just how do you get there? And like I said, paying attention and keeping track are not things that I've ever been good at. So did we cover everything we covered the planner, the book and the recipe? So that's a monthly subscription. That's super cool. And then you just you everybody gets recipes and recipe lists or like ingredient lists. I

Korra O'Neill 38:16
think it's it's four recipes per phase. So that's 16 recipes with a grocery list per week.

Katy Weber 38:24
That is so awesome. Is there like a community involved in it? Not

Korra O'Neill 38:28
yet. We are working on that. Our next project that we're looking at, is working on an app, and also changing our website so that there is a community element because we recognize that that's really going to be very helpful for people who use our services.

Katy Weber 38:49
Right? Yeah, the Do you still work individually with people as a coach? Yes,

Korra O'Neill 38:54
I do coaching through unleashes superpowers. Still, I my hours are really limited in terms of what I can do, because I am currently in law school. So Oh, that's

Katy Weber 39:06
right. How long have you been doing that?

Korra O'Neill 39:11
I'm on my third year now. So it's my last year. So were you diagnosed before you when I was diagnosed as I was deciding to go to law school, and I decided to go to law school in what I feel is a very my brand of ADHD kind of way. Where my mom said what about law school? And I went oh, yeah, why not? And did it

Katy Weber 39:35
what do you want to specialize in? Do you know yet?

Korra O'Neill 39:37
I want to go into policy making. I am obsessed. It might be the combination of my neuro divergence. I'm obsessed with systems and making them equitable for everybody.

Katy Weber 39:50
Yeah, I feel like we talk a lot about social justice and neuro divergent drive for social justice and that kind of empathic quality but also So, burnout and overwhelm, and how do we deal with those two at the same time? Oh, that's so cool. So, you also see you also like to collect certifications and degrees, which I think is another nerd emerging. Just like that idea of like, why not? But ya know, that's super cool. I'm always fascinated, because I never would have gone back to grad school had it not been for my ADHD diagnosis. Because I'm like, now I can feel like I could do it. Whereas I don't. I don't think I could have. I don't think I ever would have had the confidence in myself to do it beforehand. So now, are you close with your brother did is he? I guess, how have your conversations changed around neuro divergence?

Korra O'Neill 40:44
Yeah, um, he thinks he outgrew his ADHD.

Unknown Speaker 40:50
Okay. All right.

Korra O'Neill 40:54
That tells you a lot. Whereas so I'm the eldest of four, my sister below both of us just below both of us. She has ADHD. She's very vocal about having ADHD. She, she also went to law school. She's a traditional student, I took a while. So she already graduated. But she started a disability club at her school. Because folks with ADHD, it's also a disability. We talk about me and her talk about neuro divergence a lot. And actually, she was, she said, she was studying me for a year, because she suspected I had autism. And when I because we watched the Hannah Gadsby special where she talks about her own autism diagnosis. And my sister had this moment where she was looking at Hannah gas who talked about autism and then slowly turned to me with a light bulb going off. And I talk about it with my mom all the time, because we my mom has ADHD without my mom and sister both have ADHD without autism. And I talk about ADHD with them all the time and my autism with them all the time, because they, they have this very intense need to understand people and empathize and all of the underutilized, soft skills that we now associate with women with ADHD.

Katy Weber 42:18
This is where I get so confused about what we're even talking about sometimes with ADHD, because oftentimes, like, I feel like, are we talking about a certain type of brain that has ADHD and thinks a certain way, like the way we talk about autism? Or are we talking about ADHD as like, as behaviors that exhibit struggle when you're in environments with a narrow, divergent brain that aren't friendly to you? Right? So I'm like, if you figure out your cycle, if you lean into your strengths in certain times, and lean, you know, if you live a life of that of acceptance, and you live in us in an environment that is helpful to your ADHD at all times, and you're not necessarily quote unquote, struggling? Do you still have ADHD? You know what I mean? Like, because we look at ADHD so often, in terms of the deficits, that's when I start to feel like well, wait a minute, are we actually talking about autism in terms of the brain and the thinking and that kind of thing? Where does Where do you feel like your autism and ADHD don't intersect? Or like, if you say, if you're looking at your sister and your mom and saying they don't have autism, what are the differences for you? I feel like that's the autism in me, which is like, I need to know exactly how to characterize all of these things. And there's too much ambiguity.

Korra O'Neill 43:40
The most obvious difference for me when I think about my mom's sister and myself with them having ADHD and me having audio HD socializing is innate for both of them. And for me, I had to study my peers, like a field scientist for a year, where I made rules for myself. And for that, from there, I was able to understand but the learning curve in socializing is way steeper in my experience of autism, and I have a cousin who also is autistic but thinks he has ADHD he was diagnosed in the 90s. And they do he wasn't Sheldon Cooper. So they didn't know what to do with him. Was like, one time when the ADHD diagnosis is incorrect, but he also same social issues. very black and white thinking and I'm at the point where I do more gray thinking than black and white thinking but if I go back to childhood me the black and white thinking the this is the rule, we're not breaking the rule. We are following the rule and that need for hard clear cut structure is not something that I see in my mom or my sister, but that definitely exists in me and my cousin for example,

Katy Weber 45:01
hmm, that's a great way of putting it. That's true. Yes, I can see that in certain people when when I when I talk to women who sort of are just ADHD quote, unquote, because I always laugh now I'm like, I feel like ADHD might be the gateway diagnosis for most of us. But, you know, so I've always thinking about, like, what is the difference with somebody who just has ADHD or just or also has autism and and that's an actually a really interesting point, I would kind of right now I've just gone back to school. So I'm like diagnosing all of my teachers, and all of the people in my class, doing that with your professors.

Korra O'Neill 45:36
It's especially fun when they listen, and you're right, and it changes their lives. I have a call or a half roommate, because she's only here a couple of days a week. But when I first met her, I was like, you know, I a lot of the things you're doing, like they, that seems like very ADHD to me. And I wasn't saying you have ADHD, but I was saying like behavior she was doing. She was like, huh, and she took it to her doctor. And it has completely changed her life having an ADHD diagnosis. She went through a very traumatic last year. And she said, I have no idea how I would have gotten through all of that, if I didn't know that my brain works differently. And I need different things to cope. I was like, that's so cool. I was right. I know

Katy Weber 46:22
that is amazing. And it's it is absolutely life changing. And it's really hard to articulate why Right? Like, because I'm also sort of like, why does this feel like such a novel concept, to think about ourselves in terms of being an individual and different approaches to thinking it shouldn't be that novel?

Korra O'Neill 46:41
Yeah, I've seen a lot of things. I've seen autistic advocates, or activists on Instagram, who have said, like it that really sort of relates to the stigma of having ADHD or autism, because these diagnosis have only been something that anybody could have for like, a decade. Whereas if you go as far back as even the 90s, having autism or ADHD was well that that fucked up kid, you know, like, he can't, he's not doing well in school, then it was only diagnosed two boys who weren't achieving what they thought they should be achieving. And the autistic activists, one of the posts that I saw that I think really summed up really well was like, there's a difference in perception between saying, I'm autistic, so I need some extra, I need some downtime while at this party versus I have social anxiety, and the lights are too bright for me. Like people have a completely different perception of saying, I'm autistic versus I have social anxiety, and one is well received, and people relate to it, whereas the other people go, Oh, that's, that's on you, your that must be really hard for you. And I think it also relates back to how we center able able bodies enable minds and how when somebody is disabled, we throw them in the pile with the other and say, well, shrug your shoulders, that's about it, all we can do for them.

Katy Weber 48:27
Right. And I think also there's, there's so much of a subjective view of struggle too, right? Like, I think there's a lot of that idea of like, well, you're not struggling enough or, you know, are you you mask too well. And so, it's not obvious how much you're struggling? And I think that's such a fascinating conversation in this in the social context, right up, like how much should you or shouldn't you be struggling but I feel like there's so much resistance to the increase in autistic diagnoses. In for adults, there's like a real backlash from like parents of autistic children who are like how, you know, you don't have autism, this is what autism looks like. And it's like this resistance to expand the viewpoint of the of the spectrum of autism as though it's going to reduce their help or it's I think some people actually thrive on the stigma in some ways, right? Or the stereotype like there are certain populations that need that stereotype because it feels like it validates their struggle. Whereas if more people are coming out, and and especially self diagnosing with autism, I haven't been formally diagnosed. Like, I think it was just this idea of like, it's threatens the gravity of autism or something. I don't know. It's an interesting time, I think for this for this for like, how do we define it and what are we even talking about? Because I feel like I have that question a lot of the time, which is like, Is this even ADHD? Are we just talking about like regular quirks that everybody has like social anxiety or whatever, you know? And so are if we bring all of that under the ADHD umbrella. Are we somehow diluting the ADHD diagnosis?

Korra O'Neill 50:15
Yeah, I have that conversation with my sister a lot, actually, especially recently when, because there was the resurgence in official diagnoses. And when they ran out of, I forget which medication it was, but they were running out of meds and people were popping up on social media going, Hey, my meds didn't work. I think they are placebo pills. And my sister was very upset about it. She had a friend who was thinking that she might have a ADHD diagnosis. And my sister felt like, if she has ADHD, then that invalidates how hard I being my sister has to work to pay attention in a meeting, sitting through law school, somebody taps her pen, and she would completely lose her ability to focus with the whole class. She was like, it's not fair that my friend can focus through class and is doing just fine. But she thinks she has ADHD because she gets anxious sometimes, and can focus when she gets home. I think also with one, so much education about ADHD seems to be coming from tick tock, which I think is totally fine. It's a lot of people sharing their experiences. And a lot of people who are studying this actually sharing what they are finding, I think it's really cool. There's so many people who are on Tik Tok, who might not have ADHD, but they're engaging with an app that kind of simulates ADHD because you've got the constant scroll, and there's the like, it forces your brain to focus to have less and less of an attention span with the algorithm that they shoot out of like shorter videos, get, get more eyes, and all that sort of stuff. And for a lot of people, especially people who don't have ADHD, that's going to trigger burnout a lot faster. So they might be sitting there being Wow, I can't focus on anything for more than three seconds. Because that's how long the videos I've been watching are. And now I'm burnt out because I've been overstimulating myself because I don't have a brain that's made for this depth of speed. And my like, my sense, this was actually my sister's theory that like tick tock is kind of simulating ADHD for people and encouraging self diagnosis in it when there isn't one to begin with. I think it's a little more complicated than that, because everybody's got their own unique experiences and history to it. And I don't want to invalidate diagnoses, I

Katy Weber 52:50
don't, right. That's why I'm like, It's a fascinating time to be discussing all of this, because I'm also like, I do feel like there are even you know, there is the genetic component. But I do think our brain wiring changes based on trauma or experience, right. And so what is to say that spending too, you know, spending an inordinate amount of time on your phone, scrolling through an app like Tiktok is going to change your brain wiring. And so you know, while I don't think it causes ADHD, I wouldn't go that far, it does feel like we're going through some major evolutionary changes in terms of who we are as human beings with these devices in our hands. Fascinating.

Korra O'Neill 53:31
Then there's also the element of like, there's other diagnoses that can fit different overlaps of neuro divergence. Like I took a test to see if I had si PTSD. And I scored, they said, Oh, according to this test, you do have C PTSD, but I talked about it after with my therapist and other therapists that I've been seeing, and they, they agreed that everything that I had checked yet, like met the criteria for was also very much explained by having ADHD or autism, which we already knew that I had. So they were like, we don't we don't think you have si PTSD. But if you were self diagnosing, it'd be very easy for you to or if you didn't realize that you had audio HD first would be very easy to think that you had si PTSD instead. And the treatment for both of those is very different. Right?

Katy Weber 54:18
Yeah. But again, it's like, well, how did you even determine the trauma experienced of a life undiagnosed, you know, growing up neurodivergent and not realizing that there's so much trauma in there and repetitive so I think one of the things that a lot of people, at least a lot of neuro divergence experience is that these diagnoses aren't pathological. These diagnoses are information that is very helpful in terms of how we live our lives right there. It's, it's really validating, and so depending on what the diagnoses are, I mean, yes, treatment can be different in terms of medication and therapy, but I think also like a lot of the time, it's just giving you more clarity and places to research, you know, ways in which you can come back to this idea of like harnessing your superpowers and leaning into your strengths and all the way that we talk about, like, how do I understand myself better and how my body works from one day to the next, so that I can stop waking up feeling like a piece of shit are frustrated with myself and start understanding like, why I'm doing what I'm doing.

Korra O'Neill 55:23
Yeah, agreed.

Katy Weber 55:25
Like, can we brought that back? Gosh, I started to ask you all the questions I prepared you for but I do what I asked you, if you had if you had another name for ADHD, would you call it something else? So

Korra O'Neill 55:41
I thought about this. And I, I think I would call it like the Warriors brain. I listened to a podcast many years ago, where somebody was, it was a, like a high end marine or something like that. Like he was like high specialist in the military. And he was talking about ADHD. And he was saying that he would want the guy with ADHD next to him on the battlefield, because our brains are able to keep up with the level of stimulation that is on a battlefield. So we don't go into shock. Or reaction time is faster, like you know, with that whole C cup, grab cup at the same time sort of thing, like we and I take a lot of pride in thinking about how my ADHD family because my whole my mom's whole side of the family, ADHD is rampant. I take a lot of pride in thinking about how my ancestors were probably the warriors who protected the village and took care of everybody in a very, like, cool way that not everybody's brain can handle. So I would call it that, because I think that's like, what it's evolutionary very helpful for, it's helpful for a lot of things. But I think that's a very strong specialty that our brains are uniquely suited for.

Katy Weber 57:04
Right? Yeah, I'm gonna butcher this but I feel like I isn't there that famous quote, which is like we are, our bodies are from 1000s of years ago, and but we're living in modern times. There's some kind of quote about that, gosh,

Korra O'Neill 57:22
like we took millions of years to evolve into the bodies we have, but we are expecting our bodies and brains to exist in a civilized state that's only existed in like the blink of an eye in the spirit in the grand scope of human evolution, right.

Katy Weber 57:40

Korra O'Neill 57:41
that's not the quote. But that is the gist.

Katy Weber 57:44
Right? I'm gonna look it up. I'll put it in the show notes. That's why I'm like, I'm gonna put all this stuff in the show notes. Because I can't remember the name of the woman. I'll have that. That'll be in the show notes. And I'll definitely I'll put so I'll put a link to your book. And your monthly recipes and your planner, the superpowers planner. Send me your Tik Tok video because I want to put the link to the viral video or is it pinned on your is pinned on your? No,

Korra O'Neill 58:09
it is the first video on the account which is way down there.

Katy Weber 58:14
It was your first video. Wow. Wow. Okay, that's awesome. Nice introduction to Tiktok. Yeah. Thank you this. I know I threw a lot of questions at you. So thank you, I really appreciate this information. Like I said, I feel like this is gonna be one of those episodes. I'm just gonna have to keep playing over and over and over again, when I'm like, Wait, what is happening to me right now? Because this is this is such important information. But I do feel like this is the kind of information that's really difficult to retain for whatever reasons, maybe it's the fact that we just need a lot of that needed in front of us. But I don't know why it eludes me. I blame my mom, but maybe there's more to it. All right. Well, thank you, Cara. This was awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your information and, and all the stuff that you are doing with at least your superfan. I'll definitely have a link to that in the site. Anyway, awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It's been great. Thank

Korra O'Neill 59:18
you for having me on. This has been a great conversation

Katy Weber 59:27
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 to 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