AJ's User Manual

Angela’s ADHD, Queer, Autistic Wonderland

You asked for it so here it is. Angela’s story. Angela takes Molly on a tour through her Wonderland. The story starts in Weirdville and takes a side quest to Queertown. A trip to Autisticland brings back memories for Molly as she recalls Angela’s first visit before she realized that it was home. And Angela admits that she hid in the burrow of ADHD for the longest time not realizing that her real home was where all of these places converge. The interstates are all connected at the heart of Wonderland where Angela now spends most of her time. 

Boobs, Baptists, and Boyfriends

“Is this Jessica Rabbit?” (Molly 30:38). No, no, Jessica Rabbit wasn’t Angela’s first love, but at 11 years old, her first “true love” was a girl. No surprise, she wore glasses. They like that!

Angela never cared one way or the other about genitals. Boobs, on the other hand, were a different story. “I would wrap my breasts. I did not want them” (13:18). They also explain how they never understood why, as a young child, they had to wear a shirt while her brother’s didn’t. “And my dad was like, ‘Young lady, go put your shirt on.’ And I’m like, ‘but you don’t have your shirt on’ (12:52).

And then there was that time Angela was harrassed for kissing her girlfriend. This was just part of the process of being queer in Topeka, Kansas where Fred Phelps started the Westboro Baptist Church (28:18). This was her last relationship with a woman before marrying her first husband.

Angela admits that relationships have not always been easy. “I live life in a good way now with my current partner. I lived my life in a good way prior to my first marriage, yes. But in between that good life and this good life, there was some serious shit” (29:22). 

My Buddy, My Buddy…ADHD and me

At 22,  “I was getting diagnosed with clinical depression, and generalized anxiety, and borderline personality and being put on medication, and I was like, nananana, no, this isn’t right. This isn’t right. This isn’t right” (Angela, 21:17). And she didn’t like being therapized but she found a great psychologist who finally recognized their symptoms for what they were – ADHD.

Angela goes on to share how that diagnosis took her back to school to become a teacher because she recognized needs for students although she still didn’t see how her own needs weren’t being met. “I was not aware of all of the sensory stuff. Like I had the sex stuff over here that I was understanding. And then I have the ADHD stuff over here that I was understanding, but I had yet to merge those together for me” (23.58).

The Environment is Disabling Me

Fast forward 22 years and this happened. “…basically everything about the environment is disabling for me” (Angela, 40:19). Moving and coming off of a medication that had been suppressing nerve pain for years meant that Angela was experiencing emotions and the sensory environment differently. Understanding that they needed some support was what finally led to realizing that she is, indeed, autistic. 

Angela says, “I wanted to be able to respond instead of react. And [the psychiatrist] was like, ‘what I really think is happening here is that you’ve got some sensory processing stuff going on.’ And then it was like, all of the years of education went, click, click, click, click, click, click” (43:59). She came to the “realization and an understanding that I hid inside my ADHD for many, many, many, many years. Right, allowing the ADHD and asking the ADHD to help me survive” (45:32). 

Ultimately, Angela reflects on their late diagnosis and the neurodivergent community today. “I want us to listen to the community…do community based participatory research where we’re making changes…it’s all community led with people who have lived experienced as well as professional experience coming together so…our kids don’t have to experience…what we did” (47:19).

We get asked a lot about diagnosis. Here’s a resource you might find interesting: