Monthly Archives: May 2015

My 8-year-old self

Inspired by this post by Melissa. A reflective question: what would your 8-year-old self think of your life today? I started responding as a comment, but then decided to hijack it because…

My Lord, how different my life is than I could have imagined. I never tried to imagine it…

My 8-year-old self didn’t have much concept of a future. Her idea of the future was wearing a white dress to the grade 7 ‘prom’ which we had in South-Africa. I can remember how it looked in my fantasy: off-white, with tied spaghetti straps and simple and sweet. She just went to school, did art and drama, wore glasses, did Voortrekkers (like scouting but SA style) and read too many books. I had read all the Secret Seven and Famous Five books by the time I was 8, along with most of Saartjie and Trompie… (Afrikaans children’s books). I’d even read Oliver Twist when I was 8 or 9… I was a curious girl who knew a lot and learned even more. I loved planes after I went on one, thought it would be amazing to be a pilot but knew it wasn’t for people with glasses. If people asked me what I wanted to be I said a professor like my dad -not that I really knew what he did, it just sounded interesting- or a teacher like my mum. The latter was the least favourite option because I had teachers myself and it wasn’t very cool to be one. I hadn’t thought about it, really. (I only thought about it when I had to apply for university!)

My 8-year-old self didn’t know I’d be a C-cup when I was 13, making the spaghetti straps a bit more complicated if you’re the only one who can’t get away without a bra any more.
I suppose my 8-year-old self saw herself pretty much going along with the groove of life, growing up, going to uni, getting married, getting a job, having babies… She didn’t really think of happiness, happiness isn’t something given much attention where she grew up. She expected to grow up into the wind and grind of adulthood she saw around her, perhaps she imagined a sort of importance. She was taught to work hard, and that she needed to take care of her family one day so she needed to do well in school to get a good job. My 8-year-old self was fascinated by stories about children elsewhere, but never imagined she’d be one of them.

I don’t know what she’d think of my current life. I think it would open a whole new world for her, to be honest. She was raised in a very Christian world. I’m not sure what she’d think of me living together ‘in sin’ and possibly having a baby out of wedlock even some day. I’m living together with a non-believer. When I was 8, I thought everyone believed in God. I think that would have been a bit tough for her to grasp. Also interesting: he’s Tall, Dark and Handsome. And Spanish.. Sounds a bit like a prince from a fairy tale! (Except that his white horse is a broken white bicycle and his castle is an apartment, but we can still hold the ‘happily ever after’ option open).

She would be thrilled to know I’m no longer cross-eyed and don’t need glasses!! Also she would be happy to know she was more or less right about her hair turning brown when she grew up. She’d be really devastated about missing out on the grade 7 dance though. We moved to Holland just before I turned 12.She’d hate Holland. Too cold.

I am also not sure what she’d think of me not being thrilled about my job all the time. “But you’re a DOCTOR”. Yes, it’s not all that you think it is. It’s what I do, and not who I am. I help people, yes, and I can pay my half of his mortgage with it. I am more than my job, my life is more than my job. I think, if I went back in time and I told her this, she’d make different choices throughout her life.

My 8-year-old self could never imagine growing up into the current me.

Yet, if she knew, I could never imagine what she’d make out of my life.


Posted by on May 31, 2015 in Dear Diary, I believe


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Considering a Busy Baby

Considering a Busy Baby

So a while ago I thought I’d write about ADHD and relationships. I don’t have much material and I don’t think we’re facing more issues than other couples. Perhaps I should write about it more, then. Everything is, in generally, going well.

I’m 29 and in some sense I suppose a certain clock has started ticking. Perhaps it’s just that I’m in a phase where everything is well, and that leaves me time to -gasp- think about the future. Children is something that seems to have moved from the ‘maybe one day’ time slot in my head to the ‘possibly relevant over the next few years’ time slot. I won’t be talking about trying to conceive on here, I’d just like to keep certain things to ourselves. I will probably mention it again when that possibly-somewhere-in-the-imaginable-future Busy Baby is actually on his/her merry way.

It’s just that here I am, thinking ahead.

Yes, the world is about to end.


Hey, wow, it’s still there.

I’m anticipating that pregnancy would bring along certain challenges for me. I have a complicated past, I have ADHD and use medication for it. I would have liked to get more info on what to expect, what helps, what doesn’t.

So I googled.

‘ADHD and pregnancy’ in 2 languages and a few different ways, gave me one almost useful result: a blog post from 2012. The rest was all about medication and ADHD: we still don’t know if it’s safe. What I found a bit disturbing is the amount of results focusing on things to do during pregnancy to cause ADHD in your offspring. Most popular one: tylenol or paracetamol apparently. I’m pretty sure that’s skewed research and perhaps the reason WHY women need pain killers can be the risk factor? Stress during pregnancy is a known risk factor, pain causes stress so… duh. Besides, why are people so terrified of ADHD anyway? At least I’ll know what ’caused’ it if I have a kid with ADHD…. me.

So, no useful info.

I then realised it may just simply be ‘new’ grounds. I’m part of the first generation of women who go into pregnancies and motherhood KNOWING they have ADHD. There probably is very few research about it, there’s simply a lot more glamour in -I don’t know- demasking Paracetamol as a possible cause of ADHD than there is in finding out how pregnancy affect women with ADHD and how to make the most of it. It’s not that the data isn’t there. Women with ADHD have been having children since women have been having children, but to find out about ADHD and pregnancy you’d actually have to go talk to them, you know.

I’d like to know how to cope, that’s all. ADHD forums (something I’ve been avoiding, to be honest) are littered with the meds-or-no-meds debate. Not useful. Meds are only 50% max of what you can gain.

And I suppose perhaps that’s the answer.

I’ll have to find out what works for me and I’ll have to find support from those around me.

Just like ‘normal’ pregnant people.

So I went out to look for a normal pregnant book. (Ok, fine, I walked around the city centre, looking for a book, mainly because I was off my Concerta and needed the business and the walking to think. Getting it online would have been easier, but I needed to think). I wanted a book that was fun and practical. Because of Dutch being my second language, I went to the American Book Store first, but What to expect when expecting and the like was too text-y. Mindful pregnancy or something like that seemed too Buddhist… I ended up getting this colourful Dutch book, which seemed just right:


Yes, I know, I’m a doctor and I don’t need fruits to explain to me how big Baby is, but it has a lot of practical tips and overview tables which I do find useful. It’s cheerful, it’s fun. TDH complained about it being too ‘simplistic’. I handed him my Gynaecology and Obstetrics text book from med school. ‘You don’t really think I’m going to read that, do you?’ he said.

I’m probably going to go for some preconception advice at some point, considering everything. I just don’t know where to go for that. In this country, midwives do preconception stuff too, but then I’d have to find a midwife I like and who understands this kind of thing first. It might end up with the same impasse I’ve run into before: I’m a doctor.

I think rule number one is to just chill out.


Then I was thinking about what kind of mother I’d like to make. I’ve heard that I have a natural ‘knack’ with children a few times. That I’d probably be a very relaxed mum. Possibly true.

My own upbringing has more resemblance to Bringing up bebe than the ‘self expressive’  upbringing common in Holland. Despite many things I would want to do differently, I think I owe a lot to my parents for that. Especially considering who I am and what my shortcomings are. I was reading something about the French style, and it reminded me of the way I grew up. I think I want to read one of the books about the French parenting. Imagine how disastrous it would have been if my parents had given in to my whims. If I try to think what I would have been like if I’d been raised like the Dutch, I can’t imagine a functional outcome.

I wouldn’t be so resourceful if my mum didn’t send me back to go amuse myself if I complained about being bored.
I wouldn’t have the frustration tolerance I have -and need- if I hadn’t been told to wait till the grown ups finished talking, or to wait until dinner.
I wouldn’t have my perseverance if my parents didn’t teach me that.
I would have frustrated my parents too much if they didn’t set boundaries like they did. I wouldn’t have learned to make the best out of what I have if they had accepted ‘not in the mood’ or ‘a C is enough, do what you please.’

I fully believe I would have been less creative if the focus had been on self-expression.

It comes down to this: I believe in boundaries for children. I believe that they need to learn that they’re part of this world, and that it’s harmful to them to deny them a safe ‘cadre’. We can be friends when they grow up. They can do as they please when they’re older.

Sorry, Busy Baby, you have an Afrikaner mum.


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Posted by on May 17, 2015 in adult ADHD, Busy Baby, I believe


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Toad rage

Toad rage

Given that I drive a Nissan Micra named Padda (frog, remember…) I’m not going to correct the typo in the title…. I’ve driven beyond the first 1000 miles and then stopped counting because I had someone else drive my car for half of the trip to the Ardennes. I’ve gotten more confident behind the wheel and I love my car. Seriously, I want to hug it, but it’s not that small.  Padda got his first serious damage, a lady in a red Twingo had some trouble parking next to him. Her insurance is supposed to pay for the repairs, so I wait, but the side damage doesn’t influence the functionality at all. After a wash I still have red Twingo paint on my car. (And turns out it’s worse than I thought..)

I decided early on to just relax while driving and I am noticing that I am more and more relaxed while doing so. Traffic jam? No problem. Hopefully there’s something good on the radio. Stressing out about it is not going to make it go faster. Sometimes I’m still a bit nervous, but I remind myself to just relax. And it works, unless TDH is sitting next to me, going on about something I did 5 minutes ago. (For the time being he’s driving when we have to go anywhere together, being lectured about something I did or did not a kilometre earlier is not going to improve my driving skills but does contribute to my stress levels).


Some people do make me mad though.


Dear impatient driver,

Apparently I irritate you very much by, I don’t know, not doing things as fast as you (think you) do them Apparently you were a perfect driver right from the moment you got your licence. In your mind, at least. In your mind you apparently also have the right to have an opinion about those around you. Based on the colour of your hair, you’ve had about my entire life at least to gain experience on the road. Based on your fairly new Ford, Audi, Volvo or BMW you’re also doing fairly well for yourself at that job that requires that neatly ironed shirt. I find it funny how you’re very often male. Not sure how you can be a good driver if you have that little control over your Y chromosome’s influence, you know. I sometimes wonder if you just hate small cars.

Just because I slow down for a few seconds to make sure the truck in the lane next to me doesn’t slam in to me does not give you a reason to become impatient, it gives you a reason to watch where you’re going.

If you’re merging in behind me, you’re supposed to start merging when the car fits in the gap, not hoot at me because I’m going too slow for you and now suddenly your Merc is too close to my bumper for your comfort. I’m going slow because the three cars in front of me are going equally slow. If you hit me, it’s your fault. Simple as that.

Do not cut in line, do not use on ramps and off ramps to cut in front of traffic jams. You don’t have to show off having a small wee wee like that. I know your ego is big, but get over it. Also, don’t overtake me when I’m accellerating a bit slower than your car can, it’s an 80hp Micra. If you want to go faster, fine, stay in the left lane for a bit, but please don’t cut in front of me again because, well, I was accelerating and am now going a bit faster than when you were still behind me.

Get the hell off my tail. Tailgating will not make me go faster, it will just make you liable in case of accident. Tailgating makes me consider going even slower… Yes, I know your car packs more horsepower than 80hp Padda, but that does not give you more ownership of the road and the same speed limit applies to you. I’m not intimidated by the logo on your car’s nose.

Don’t hoot if I take one second to realise the light is green. We all have slow moments. Not a reason to overtake me either, especially not if I have to overtake you then.

Also, when I keep some distance from a slow car in front of me because there’s no gap in the left lane so I can overtake, it does not mean I’m the slow car. Thanks for using my prospective gap to overtake me, and good luck with the slow car. Now if you don’t mind, there’s another gap now, see you later.

And dear sir in the black Audi who got pissed when I wanted to park my car: if I brake and put my blinker on next to an empty spot, it means I intend to park. You can either wait patiently or calmly pass me. I actually wait a second before proceeding to give you the chance to pass while I gauge the distances. See, my car doesn’t park itself, and not everybody is super-quick when parallel parking. (I did it in one go, mind you, took me a few seconds!). Your aggressive hooting and then making a big drama out of overtaking me was really uncalled for. It’s a residential street, people park, doesn’t matter if you like it or not. Get over it.

I can go on for a while, but you get the point. Look, I know I’m relatively inexperienced, but I’m doing my best here. My skills are improving every day, remember, and you too were in my position once. Regardless of me and my driving experience, you’re an asshole and you tell me how that’s improving!

Just chill out for a sec, will you? All that rage is probably bad for your heart anyway.

And to the person in the green Toyota Starlet: did you actually try to outrun me on the highway? Let’s just consider this for a moment. You must have forgotten that it’s a Starlet…



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Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Dear Diary, society


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Wardrobe Management for Chaotic Fashion Victims

Also posted on busydarling blog

Time for another post, and time for another useful (or, so I like to imagine) ADHD post. But, also quite useful for anyone who likes organisation or who owns more than five tee’s.

My recent project (almost finished…) was to switch winter and summer clothes. The reason behind the switch is overview: there technically is enough space in my wardrobe for all my clothes, but I find it easier if I can’t see the stuff I won’t be wearing for a while for obvious reasons (such as summer dresses being a bit chilly in the snow). I have a lot of clothes, and I’ve impulsively bought too much over the past years. I’ve been guilty of buying something I NEED or MUST HAVE double because I forgot that I already owned something similar… And simply put: being organised as much as possible really helps if you’re a chaotic type.

In my previous home I had a walk-in closet (shuffle-in-sideways), which was ideal. I lived there for a year, before that most of my clothes have been stuffed inside a small wardrobe, boxes, or simply somewhere in my room. Every now and again, I’d discover things I didn’t even know I had. When I got the walk-in, I organised the stuff and had space to put it all. Then I had to move, and just had too much stuff. And somewhere, I got a brilliant idea: to turn the hooks on the hangers, and I worked it out to something that works, more or less. So, here comes.

If you have ADHD and like pretty clothes (or simply own clothes), your wardrobe is likely to end up looking like this:
Less-than-ideal. So, here’s the plan:

– Heaps of clothes.
– Iron, ironing board (skip if you own wrinkle free clothing only)
– 3 corners, bags or baskets, or any combination of the above
– Storage bins/space (I have ones that double as poofs)
– Wardrobe closet
– Hangers
– Pen and paper
– Bakers twine, string, ribbon, whatever.
– Help, but not from a rat

1) Start by designating an area/basket/bin for things to toss, things to consider, things to store.

2) Then start with something easy, like shoes. Get all shoes on one heap, clean out closet space where shoes were. Try on shoes, check their state.
TOSS: everything that is not fitting, too worn or simply something you haven’t worn in ages and shouldn’t have bought in the first place. Don’t literally toss straight away, wait till the end of the method.
CONSIDER: The shoes you can’t make up your mind about.
STORE: the shoes that will only be taking in space for the next half year because the season literally is wrong for them.
TIDY UP: The rest. Put them away neatly, paired and sorted. If needed, cleaned. I took a pair that needed fixing straight to my ‘to do’ pile in another room. You can put a piece of paper in the shoes, which you’ll remove when you wear them, so next time you do the wardrobe switch, you’ll know what you haven’t worn. I skipped this, as I don’t have a massive amount of shoes.
WRITE DOWN: what you may need to get, now that you have a nice overview of what you have.

3) Easy wasn’t it? Next: socks and underwear. Same procedure.
TOSS: non-fitting, worn or torn.
CONSIDER: Well, no-brainer, really…
STORE: Things you won’t be wearing, such as thermo undies in summer season
TIDY UP: Everything you still have left, and keep it sorted. I use two old storage bins as sock- and underwear drawers as I bought a wardrobe without drawers
WRITE DOWN: what you may need.

4) Now, for the most work…. clothing. Same procedure once again. One big heap, or… if you’re ‘advanced’ you’ll now already have a closet with ‘marked’ items, which you can remove immediately and TOSS, more about that later. Clean out the closet. Sort out the clothing, AND the clothing from storage.
TOSS: clothes you’re not wearing anymore, clothes which are ripped beyond sublte repair, stained, don’t fit, are worn or which you shouldn’t have bought anyway.
CONSIDER: well-fitting things that you may or may not wear
TIDY UP: Iron what is needed, you’ll thank yourself later. Sort: shirts with shirts (I have a pile of sleeveless, short sleeved and long sleeved), trousers with trousers, etc. Now here comes the catch: Turn hooks on hangers ‘backwards’ when hanging them, put folded clothes in the closet inside-out and tie a piece of string to the things that can’t be folded inside out.
WRITE DOWN: what you need.

5) If you’re anything like me, you’ve broken that up in pieces. You can do the same with your bags and accessories, I’m sort of sorting out belts and have forgotten about sports clothes. Now, pick up the CONSIDER heap/bin/bag. Go through it impulsively: would you feel happy in this: TIDY IT UP. No? TOSS.

6) The TOSS bag.
Put the great stuff up for sale, or give it away to someone that will give it a good home. Consider doing a clothes swap. Take things in reasonable condition to the YMCA for example, and the rest goes to recycling. H&M has this new thing for recycling fabric. Smile, you now have space!

Voila, you now have a sorted out wardrobe full of clothes you can and will wear. Gives peace of mind in some sense!!

To Be Continued…
Now, the first time is a massive hassle, I know. But, next season, it will be easier. Things that haven’t been worn in 6 months need to be tossed; unless
– it’s special event clothing
– you had a reason to not wear them, that will change in the foreseeable future; such as my hatred of the colour purple last summer (I normally love purple) or the fact that I had no real reason to wear my ‘neat’ trousers for a season, but I will be needing them soon. In general, you’ll wear fashionable items for a few seasons, unless they’re incredibly dated. Of course, if you have a massive home with no intention to move anywhere ever again, you can have a attic full of ‘vintage’ clothes in ten or twenty years, but my life is fluid and besides, in 20 years time my body will have changed. Bags can be kept for this reason, and shoes.

It helps to keep a smaller TOSS bag around from time to time, and do TOSS things that get written off during the season as soon as this happens!

I found doing this for a year now very handy, and also quite insightful about my own style. I’ve learned that I do not need another t-shirt because I have about 40, for example. I got a few outfit-ideas along the way. Clothes are meant to be worn, not to be kept in closets. I get to enjoy the benefits of an organised wardrobe, wear clothes that fit and have overview in the mornings. (Of course, this requires normal tidying up from time to time). No more looking for THE OTHER SHOE for example. Somebody else gets to enjoy the clothing you don’t, perhaps even somebody who can’t afford it. You may get some cash from selling. Also: reusing and recycling is very eco-friendly. Win-win, right?