The Very Real, Totally Hidden, Costs of Being an Adult With ADHD. An Interview About Her Article w/ Author Jillian Ivey
Jillian Ashley Blair Ivey (please, call her Jill) is a communications consultant, content strategist, writer, editor, voice actor, and yoga teacher based in South Philadelphia. No, she does not sleep. The thing that ties all of Jill’s work together—yes, even yoga teaching—is storytelling. Jill has two degrees in creative writing that, contrary to her parents’ initial reservations, she puts to use every day. She helps clients develop an authentic voice and works with them to create compelling narratives that resonate with their intended audience, and she helps her yoga students live the story their bodies tell. You can find Jill’s recent essay, “The Very Real, Totally Hidden, Costs of Being an Adult With ADHD” on Medium. We’re old friends, and this is what we’re talking about today.
In this episode Peter and Jillian Ivey discuss:
1:20 – Intro and welcome Jill!
1:40 – Jillian’s article on Medium that inspired today’s visit
2:18 – So tell us your backstory; when did you get diagnosed and all of that?
5:30 – About early morning risers and quiet time
6:00 – Tell us about what inspired you to write this article?
13:53 – So what’s our answer, what’s the solve; Robots??
14:80 – On activism
16:00 – Give us a couple of hacks that work for you, that allow you to keep these kinds of things from happening?
18:30 – We honor Nancy Shankman’s time-honed “task list scratcher” technique! Ref: https://www.followupthen.com
20:30 – Jill this was awesome! How can people find more about you and what you’re doing?
20:52- Jillian’s consulting and new live story auditing service is at http://www.jilletante.com
21:35 – Thank you Jillian! Guys, as always, we are here for you and we love the responses and the notes that we get from you; so please continue to do that! Tell us who you want to hear on the podcast, anything at all; we’d love to know. Leave us a review on any of the places you get your podcasts, and if you ever need our help I’m www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse!
22:41 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits
Hello, everyone, happy day, whatever day it is, but it’s probably a Wednesday. Cause that’s when this podcast comes out and is actually a Wednesday here as well and I am recording live from New York city is a beautiful day out as finally. It looks like we’re about to get to summer. The sun is shining. Birds are singing. People in New York are still assholes, but that’s who we are. Anyway. It is great to have you on another episode of Faster Than Normal. I’m thrilled that you joined us as I always am humbled and love the fact that you’re here.
We are being joined today by an old friend of mine, a wonderful woman named Jillian Ivey. Jill and I have known each other since God, the early aughts, I guess, as they call them probably around, mid. 2007 ish, 2006 ish, something like that, I don’t know. Uh, I’ve known Jill; she started in PR and then she went on her own, she started writing. Uh, I, when I met her, she was working for Philios, which was a similar site of Gothamist. Um, and she does a a hundred million things I’ll let her tell you about, but one of the reasons that I wanted to bring it on the podcast, other than she’s a great friend and I love her, is because she went an article a couple of weeks ago on Medium. She’s a very popular [does he say contributor on Medium?]. She’s a phenomenal writer. And she wrote a piece about the untold financial costs of ADHD. Jillian does have ADHD; she’s one of us. And she wrote a really interesting piece that I wanted to talk about because a lot of times we don’t think about other things, other than oh Adult Hyperactivity Disorder blah blah, we don’t think about the hidden costs of ADHD. And so with that- welcome Jillian!
Hi, Peter. It’s so good to be here.
So tell us your backstory before we start, tell us, uh, when were you diagnosed and what was it like as a kid and, you know, the, the usual, the usual drama?
Sure. So I, um, I’ll work backward. I was diagnosed when I was 36 years old. I’m 38 now. So this is a pretty, pretty new thing for me. And it was something that my therapist had been suggesting for a long time before she just kind of came out and said, you know, I, I think that this is something that, like you should look into more. I think that you have ADHD. And so she sent me some things and I, I looked into a lot of articles because for me, having, you know, having grown up in the 1990’s is when ADHD was the thing that everybody was talking about, with like the hyperactive boy in the class, the boy who couldn’t sit still and who was talking a mile a minute and PE was the only class they ever actually enjoyed. And so that wasn’t me at all. I was a really good student. I have two degrees. I have a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree from Rutgers Camden, uh, in Creative Writing, both of them. So there, there are degrees that involved a lot of time spent reading. And so I immediately just kind of wrote her off until I started to look into how ADHD is often missed in young girls, because they don’t always have that hyperactive sort of behavior. And so if they don’t have that behavioral marker that’s associated with ADHD, or at least was in the nineties, then it was, it was missed. It was missed really, really frequently. Uh, what I had instead was hyper-focus. And so the things that I, I chose to hyper focus on were reading and writing. I was a really good student because I loved doing those things. And I’ve learned that as students, if you can find that thing that you’re really interested in, that’s how you’re able to kind of see that hyper-focus work to somebody’s advantage. It just happened to be for me that it was that. For some people it might be interested in dinosaurs or it might be an interest in math. I have no, no real aptitude for math at all. And I think part of it was that I started to see the numbers and my brain just shut off. And so I started, I started looking into that and I also started to look into some of the behaviors that are associated with ADHD that they don’t talk about in kids very much; things like staying up really late, uh, which I’ve always, always been a night owl. And one of the things I like about staying up late at night is that it’s very quiet. And so I feel like I can get my work done without distraction. Um, my husband is not a huge fan of that behavior. Um, but I recently.. I was talking to my mom about ADHD. And my mother is a grade school teacher. So for her, it really is still about that hyperactive boy in her classroom she sees it’s just, oh, Jillian, you don’t have ADHD. And I was like, mom, think about how often I was staying up late at night to work when I could have done my work earlier in the day. And you know, some of it I was doing, I was doing theater. I was doing a lot of other extracurricular activities. And sometimes I couldn’t start my homework until nine or 10:00 PM, but sometimes I just didn’t want to. And my mother is also a night owl. And when I pointed that out to her, the line just went silent.. and she goes, oh, well, you’ve given me a lot to think about. I’l; t alk to you later. The only time I’ve ever talked to her about.
You make a really good point though, because I think that, that there’s something to be said for people they need to see there’s something to be said for silence. You know, there’s something to be said for, um, for being able to shut out the rest of the world. Um, for me, that’s early mornings and I was a night owl; growing up college. I mean, I, I was, I don’t, I didn’t get it. If I didn’t have a class, I didn’t get out of bed till noon. Right. And then, but I was up to like three, four every, every night. And, um, you know, or in the morning or watching the sun come up and, and it wasn’t until my late twenties, when I discovered exercise that I discovered getting up early and now, you know, but the same thing is a few hours. I’ll get up at 3:34 AM and get on the bike for a couple hours. Um, you know, and no one’s there and it’s my time. Right. It’s just our time down here, type thing. And so, so that’s a wonderful, a wonderful feeling.
Um, so I want, wanna, I want to touch this article because I really was blown away by this. You, you, you, you put into words, everything that I think so many of us think of, but we don’t really think about it until it’s as need be. So, so you talked about you, you called the article the, I don’t remember the actual title, but the subhead was, “another collections agency called today”. [The Very Real, Totally Hidden, Costs of Being an Adult With ADHD
Or: Whoops—I got a call from collections again!] Okay. Great. So tell us about the article and then tell us sort of what prompted you to write it. I’m assuming, you know, obviously wrote it from personal experience, so talk a little bit about it.
Um, so I, uh, I, I started it actually as a Twitter thread. I, um, to make a long story short, I do go into this in the piece. I used to see a therapist through a company called Thrive Works, um, and Thriveworks is a huge company. They have offices all over the place. They have a bunch of therapists, and I went to see them. I already had my therapist who I love, but I had a very specific issue that I needed to work on. And my therapist said, this is probably something you should go to somebody else for. So for awhile, I had two therapists, um, which was, was really fun. Um, but I needed somebody who took insurance and a friend of mine saw a therapist from Thriveworks, and she said, because they’re so big, most of their therapists do take insurance. And so I found somebody who not only was local to Philadelphia because at the time it was pre COVID. And so I wanted to see somebody in person, um, but they took insurance and they had an availability the following week. So over the course of this. I was in distress. There was a lot going on in my life that led me to the point where I needed this therapist. And while I was being onboarded, while I was setting this appointment up, I’m sure they told me that, you know, part of being a member of Thriveworks, you have to pay a monthly fee to be a member. I don’t know what the membership fee actually gets you. I still haven’t quite figured that out, but whatever. So this would have been February, 2019, where I started, uh, started this process, started seeing this therapist by March of 2021. She had left the practice. And so I, I don’t know. I just kinda forgot that I had this monthly fee because I’m not somebody who ever goes and looks at my checking account, which I know I probably, I look at the balance, but I don’t look at the individual transactions. Um, and then when I was doing like getting ready to do my taxes at the beginning of this year, I saw that I was still charging, being charged with ThriveRx. And I thought, oh, you know, I must’ve just been on an annual plan where since she left in March and my, I started seeing her in February, I must just be on the hook for the next year. And in March, I get an email saying your subscription has been canceled. I’m like, great. Not going to worry about it. Uh, checking email is also not a thing I’m particularly great at, and I’m sure that that’s a, that’s a common behavior that a lot of us have. Um, so what I missed was the email that came up it was in my spam folder saying, oops, sorry, we didn’t mean to cancel your account. You’re still getting charged. And so when I saw that. Oh, I wasn’t actually, uh, like this, wasn’t an annual commitment that I’d made. This was a month to month commitment. So I contacted, Thriveworks, and I said, Hey, I’m going to need you to refund everything that I’ve paid since my therapist left the practice. And they said, oh no, we don’t do that. It’s on you to end your subscription when your therapist leaves the practice. And I added up what I had been paying since she left. And then I started to add up all of the other things that I have had to pay because I forgotten to cancel something, or because I’ve missed a deadline and then I’ve had to pay a late fee. And so it started as a Twitter thread and then I was like 11 tweets in it. Isn’t oh, no, probably a out to move this over to a longer form where I can really start to explore it.
It is amazing, right? When you, you sit down and you think so, it’s so funny, you, you, you, I feel very seen, heh, based on what you just said. Um, you know, I, I, I have a website, I have several websites that are hosted and. Recently, about a year ago or so I took my two biggest ones and I moved over to a separate host site that monitors them privately. And, um, it’s much better, you know, if something goes down, I don’t have to worry about it, they fix it. But, you know, I still have a bunch of others that they keep on this, on this other hosting platform. And I just randomly one day got an invoice and I think it was waiting for a flight, so nothing to do. So I clicked on the link and read the.. I was still being charged for the two big websites, even though they haven’t been hosting my accounts over a year and you know, you get the notification that says, okay, your website has been officially taken off this platform. I think there’s something about the ADHD in us that wants to assume it’s going to be handled for us. Right. Because if I have to think about it and then deal with it. That’s a whole process. Right. So, so yeah, I was paying like an extra $40 a month for like past year for absolutely nothing. And I can’t tell you how many, how many times I’ve done that. I mean, you know, I think for, for us sites, like, uh, is it Truebill or whatever those are are, are, are godsends, but they’re also scary as hell. It was like God, when they go through our, for their first run, this is going to be really depressing.
Yeah. Yeah. You know, I think that it’s great that there are platforms like truebill and other services that allow you. I mean, I have, you know, there are, there are planners that are catered to people with ADHD. There are all sorts of reminders that you can set on your phone or your calendar to pop up an alert, like things that pop up once a month to, to remind me, you know, I have a subscription and if I don’t want to get billed, I need to make sure that I tell them not to, not to charge me this month. Um, so, so that’s all great, but at the same time with technology, there’s really no reason that a lot of these companies can’t do this stuff themselves. Like when my therapist left the practice. It would have been so easy for Thriveworks to go through their CRM and say, you know, pull all of the people who have seen this therapist in the last year and contact them and say, as you know, this therapist is leaving the practice. Exactly. Exactly. It’s not the..
Company’s bank on people like us, like on everyone, right, forgetting to do that.
Exactly. “It’s not a bug, it’s a ‘feature’”! [fml]
There’s a great episode of, uh, I think the first episode of a TV show on HBO or Showtime called House of Lies with Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell. Um, they talk about how they’re going to, uh, uh, they’re going to re revamp a big banks image. Uh, you know, that during the housing crisis, all these people lost their homes and the banks made billions they’re going to revamp their image by. Uh, offering lone amnesty and that the CEO was like, absolutely not. And they said, no, you don’t understand you, you, your normal DQ, like 90% of the people won’t qualify. 8% of screw up in the application. Half a 4% will die. You know, you’ll give out a couple hundred grand back, you know, and you accept the award of the year because they it’s exactly the case. They don’t expect us to follow through. And normally 910 times when we won’t.
Yeah, I, um, I have the, I live in, I live in Philadelphia and, uh, the state of Pennsylvania has a website where you can go and see if you have any unclaimed funds. So this is like refunds from a doctor’s office, that for whatever reason, they didn’t prescribe it to your account. And so I have for, now that you’re saying this is probably two or three years, had money sitting, waiting for me with the State of Pennsylvania. And the reason that I have not actually been able to claim it is because it involves printing out a form AND GETTING it NOTARIZED!?! And yes, getting this and then putting it in the Mail. And so I have to go through all of these extra steps and like, that’s, I have several things that just don’t happen because they have, I have to leave my house. I can’t do it online. I have, um, I have some, I overpaid, uh, on medical expenses last year. Like I hit my out-of-pocket max. And so I have to submit forms to the insurance company, which can only be submitted by mail. There is, you can’t scan it and send it to somebody. I have a friend who works with this insurance agency in the Social Media department. And I was like, what, what the hell is this? I know, I know it’s just, it is the way that they operate. And so there is, there’s a lot of money, not only that I’ve paid, um, because of this, but I think there’s actually a lot of money that I’m owed, uh, that I haven’t pursued because of this.
So what’s the answer. I mean, what do we, you know, obviously I, you know, Hey Siri, remind me of this, or, Hey Siri, do this is, you know, Hey Alexa, do this, that is great. But there has to be, I mean, look, we’re not gonna, we’re not, the companies are going to certainly not going to do it. Right. So at the end of the day, what’s the answer.
Well, you say the companies aren’t going to do it, but I think we forget how important a role activism is in the disability community and then neurodivergent community. So I think that part of this is going to be calling your Representatives and talking about the unethical practices of the people who are charging these fees, knowing that people who are neurodivergent people who have ADHD, people who have Autism are not able to meet the requirements in order to take advantage of the system. This system is calculated against these populations in the same way that there are systems that are calculated against Women and against People of Color against people in the Queer community. And so the more that we can raise visibility here, the more we can say, no, this is a real issue a nd it affects a lot, a lot of people. And I think since, you know, the DSM has been revised and the way that we see Autism has really expanded in the way that we see ADHD has really been expanded. It affects a lot more people than you realize. And to create that visibility so that the system works for us. I think we shouldn’t, we shouldn’t forget that we at least for now, live in a society where we have representatives met as part of their job.
That’s true. And we do have that at least for another few months. Um, but no, I, I think, and I think it’s interesting because, you know, I, I keynoted, uh, disability, the first ever disability confrence for Adobe, and it was a global conference, uh, you know, 10,000 people online, all from all around the world. And the one thing that I got the most feedback on was the fact that. You know, upwards of 15 to 25% of the workforce is going to be neurodivergent in the next 10 to 15 years. That’s a massive number! Right. And if you’re a company and you’re not A. hiring for that, but B. understanding your audience.. you’re going to lose.
That’s very, very true. I wanna be respectful of your time. Give us a couple of hacks that work for you that allow you to, you know, obviously, obviously it’s not, uh, not in terms of, uh, paying, paying your therapist bill, but give us other hacks that work for you and tell us what you’ve learned and the kinds of things that you do to prevent these things from happening.
So to prevent these things specifically. Um, as I said, I have an alert that goes off on my phone the first of every month I have, I’m a yoga teacher when I’m not doing the writing and, and also consulting on, on a content strategy for folks. But, um, I have a subscription to a service called Fabletics it’s Kate Hudson’s active wear line, and you get invoiced every, uh, I think the fifth of every month, so that you get your monthly credits to get more clothes. I have more yoga clothes than I could possibly need. And so right now I have an alert that comes up on my phone the first of every month. And I see it when I wake up in the morning and before I even get out of bed, I go to Fabletics and I tell it to skip this month. And so I think that those alerts, as long as we see them, as long as they come through at a time where we’re likely to see them are really helpful. Now, if the first of the month is on a Saturday or a Sunday, and I’m sleeping in a little bit, it’s not necessarily going to be at the top of my phone. So it’s not a perfect system. But it does help. Um, I think other things that I’ve done are, you know, I, uh, I can’t always rely on.. my husband is probably undiagnosed ADHD. He’s got a lot of the same behaviors that I do. So I can’t always rely on him to remind me to do some of these things, but what I can do is put something on our shared calendar that says, you know.. Six o’clock tonight we’re going to get this thing. We’re going to be making dinner. And it’s going to say, talk about whatever this, this bill is that we need to figure out or talk about our taxes. Um, so, so it’s really helpful just to have those, those things pop up on our phone. Now, that being said, I know that a lot of folks who are neurodivergent, who have ADHD turn off a lot of those alerts on their phones.
So one of the other systems that I used to do, I, I now I work all over my house, so this doesn’t work as well for me anymore but when I always sat at my desk at the same place at my desk, every day, I put post-it notes on my computer screen of things that I needed to do. It’s just around. The edge of the computer screen. And there’s, there’s something really satisfying about the tactility of- when you finish a task, taking that note off of your screen, tearing it up and throwing it away. Because it’s more than just like clicking a box on your computer. There’s actually something there that like, yes, I can do this. I can, I can get this done and I can actually feel getting it done, which a lot of us don’t have when we work fully digitally.
It’s funny. My, I used to make fun of my mother when I was growing up, because she had a black book and in her book were all of her contacts, but she also had a calendar and every year she’d replace it with a new calendar. And she’d write down all these tasks that were do on the day. And she, when she was done, she would spend upwards of 30 seconds crossing it out. And, you know, like, like crossing it out, like, like you’re, you’re the, uh, woman in Hamlet trying to get the blood out of..
Ah Macbeth! That’s what I meant. And I knew if anyone, if anyone would correct me on that’d be you! But you know, like ripping the page as she crossed it out. And I always asked, Mom, why are you crossing so angrily?! She’s like I’m not angry, I just did it! It’s done! LOL And I totally get it now!
Um, you know, I, I praise these guys all the time. I have no connection to them other than the fact that they’ve saved my life many times www.FollowUpThen.com. Um, I I’m sure I’ve told you about before Jill. Follow up then.com is this free service where you create an account and then you send an email to any time period. I followed them,,,?So 10 minutes had followed them to come four hours about, then it comes Thursday, March 28th, 2023. It followed that and it will simply send it back, whatever you wrote in that email to you. And so, you know, on, uh, for your thing where you have to do your Fabletics. Um, I do the same thing with certain things that have to be paid or have to be looked at, you know, um, January 5th, February 5th, March, I send one email to all 12 months and every, every fifth of the month I get an email, Hey, check your subscription or whatever it is. So yeah, those kinds of things are, are, are game changers for people like us.
Absolutely. Um, I think, I think while the system doesn’t work for us, it’s up to us to figure out what we’re able to do to kind of hack the system. So, so, you know, apps like that, uh, offerings like that, just make it a little bit easier to exist in the world that is not really always made for us.
This was awesome. Jill, how can people find you?
Uh, so a couple of ways I’m on social media, all, all platforms, except for tick-tock because I’m old and I still don’t understand it, uh, at a, at Jillian, Jillian with a J and IVs IBE, Y um, I’m also, you can find me at Jillianivey.com. Most of my work is archived there so you can find the link to the Medium article that way. And I also, in my consulting work and I am at Jill Aton, like dilettantes. Spelled with two L’s and one T because two L’s and two T’s looked weird. Uh, so Dillatant dot com. And I’m actually about to launch I an offering where I’m doing live story audits with people. So going through their website, kind of helping them to figure out whether there’s story works live in the minute I send them a recording. And I find that this actually works really well with my ADHD, because I don’t have to remember to do any followup work after I send them the recording. And that is that is it.
That’s awesome. I, you know, that’s funny. I never, for the life of me knew how to pronounce that until just now, haa! I love it. I love it.
Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today. I really appreciate it. This was a great interview. We’d love to hear what you think. And we’d love to know if you know, more people like Jill, who would want to be on our podcast. We are always looking for guests. We record a couple of times a month. We’d do like six or eight interviews in a day. So if you have someone that you know, or maybe yourself, shoot me a note, [email protected] And we would love to hear your story and perhaps get it on the air. We get about 40 to 50,000 downloads an episode. So people definitely, definitely will hear your story. And, um, we’d love to help share that. ADHD is a gift, not a curse.
Jill, thank you so much, guys. Thank you so much for listening. We will see you next week. Big shout out to my producer, Steven Byrom, the best producer in the world! [Thank you Peter!! :-)] Uh, opening theme recorded and composed by him and closing theme recorded by him. And The Voice you hear at the beginning of every episode is none other than Bernie Wagenblast the same man who says, at Newark airport. “The next stop is terminal C. Airlines at terminal C include United, United Express and United International departures.” We’ll see you next week. Thank you so much for listening! Stay safe, be well.
Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at shankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week!