Sergeant Squeaks is in the house! Molly may not have known they were neurodivergent their whole life–but now that she does? Well–that’s what this episode is all about. Reflecting on the highest and lowest points of her past to acknowledge the (now obvious) signs of her ND life. Listen as Angela helps Molly talley up the list of uniquely squeeky things that make Molly the unique geek she truly is. When the mice wake up Cinderella and the aqua marker enters the scene, things truly land in the Delta Quadrant. Engage!
Movies, Markers, and Masking
In true Molly fashion, Disney shows up at the beginning of the conversation. But first, she remembers a family video where her 2 year old self, while coloring with her dad. “You want an aqua marker, daddy?” (5:12) That’s not exactly typical for 2 year olds to know the subtleties of color differentiation, right?
Back to Disney. Molly is a big lover of Cinderella, although Belle was her first crush! (9:11). But Cinderella was the only right way to wake up in the morning. script exactly. “It’s one thing to be like ‘Cinderella is cool’…but taking it to that next level where you’re literally reenacting a scene to start your day because that seemed so wonderful for have her to have that routine and want a routine so significant, that you’re reenacting one to give yourself that” (7:52).
And later, in high school, Molly spent 2 years at Duke Ellington School of the Arts where “everybody there was themselves. There was minimal, like, masking” (41:11). Molly was one of those “quirky art people” (Angela, 41:40) who hung out with people where they remember “there being lots of alphabet letters” before she realized what this really meant for herself (42:11).
Although she experienced her first major depressive episode during this time, Molly reminds us that core memories can be made and a whole range of emotions can be experienced at the same time. Reminder…if you haven’t yet watched “Inside Out,” we highly recommend it! (44:20).
Olaf, in Summer, with No Magic
Molly melts down. It happens, right? “I feel like I am an ice Cube. Normally…molecularly I can stay together. And then somehow, I can’t and like it just like, rapid melts…I’m Olaf, in summer, with no magic” (15:25). Along with sensory overload, being told to stop doing the things that helped them regulate, like stop ticking—that’s hard, and an unrealistic expectation, for someone with Tourettes to do—led to frequent meltdowns as a child right up into adulthood! She says, “There was also just lots of crying, lots of emotions. I was very much a sensitive kid” (17:23).
Molly shares some specific stories that stand out. The time her aunt mimicked Emeril, “BANG!” Molly remembers, “I screamed, jumped, and then proceeded to bawl…uncontrollably because it was so loud and so unexpected that it hurt” (18:47). And then there was the burnt cheerios. “She’s blow drying my hair, and to be silly as adults do with children, she proceeds to burn my cheerios…I tasted a significant difference!” (20:15).
Cookie Cutters Only Work for Sugar Cookies
Today Molly knows that she is Bipolar and has Tourettes. Both of these were diagnosed as an adult. Their experience informed her philosophy that “cookie cutters don’t work well, except for sugar cookies” (26:30). They say, “I was doing things [cookie cutter solutions] that I was being told would get me somewhere, even though I kept seeing sign after sign after sign that it was bullshit” (26:16).
Trying to do things in a prescribed fashion just didn’t work, and eventually, Molly burned out. “There is this type of mind body connection where you mind can do amazing, ridiculous things to protect itself” (27:46) and, eventually, she would get sick and have to completely stop working and everything else to recover.
Masking to hide her tics and vocalizations, being a mom who is touched out, experience hormone fluctuations through infertility and PCOS, fighting against all the things that make you feel good in order to fit in—it all worked together to create the perfect scenario for burnout. Sound familiar? Remember, “We are here for those kinds of conversations and can help you find resources. We don’t want anybody to be struggling because they feel like they can’t talk to somebody. That’s the whole point of our podcast” (46:56).