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Changes: Toddla T & Josie Long

The audio version of this episode is available here.

Annie [00:00:05] Hello, it is Annie Macmanus, welcome to Changes. I am not in my normal place. I am in the Steeze Factory which is the studio belonging to T. 

Toddla T [00:00:13] Yeah, yeah. 

Annie [00:00:14] Tom, who is here, my husband. How are you? 

Toddla T [00:00:17] I'm good you know. 

Annie [00:00:18] Okay. You're here for a reason, which is that we are going to record an episode with regards to your ADHD. Because we did an episode of Changes, which you may know about if you're a regular listener, last year- it was actually a year and a half ago and it's one of the biggest, most talked about episodes we've ever done on Changes. So T kindly agreed to come back and talk a bit more and have a bit of an update and a check in to see how he's getting on with his ADHD, how it's working in his life, in his work, in his relationships. And then halfway through we are going to be joined by multi-award winning comedian, writer, podcaster and filmmaker Josie Long, who was diagnosed with ADHD during lockdown. So we really wanted to specifically talk about female ADHD which we didn't do the first time round, so that's what we're going to do. First of all, T, how are ya? 

Toddla T [00:01:15] I'm great right now, in general. No infact I've had a bit of a slump for a few days but in general I'm brilliant. Yeah man, I can't believe it's been eight months. 

Annie [00:01:26] I know. It's been crazy. 

Toddla T [00:01:27] Yeah, it's mad because like, you say about it being a popular podcast and it's so funny init when you do music or any entertainment and you work your backside off every day and then you just have a conversation with someone and then you're known for that *laughs*.

Annie [00:01:45] We went viral. 

Toddla T [00:01:46] Viral! And now I'm Mr. ADHD spearhead, which is fine. 

Annie [00:01:50] *Laughs* T! 

Toddla T [00:01:55] But also, I guess awareness is everything and people can take the information and walk with it same way. I know that the upnness of diagnosis has rocketed last few years, and I'd be interested to know why. 

Annie [00:02:10] Well, apparently it's not that there's more ADHD in the world. 

Toddla T [00:02:14] *Laughs* right. 

Annie [00:02:14] It's that there's more people looking for a diagnosis, there's more awareness of what it is. There's a kind of hunger to try and get clarity on neuro divergence more than ever before. And there's more- I mean, it's still shockingly inequipped the NHS for this, but there is more access to people who claim to be experts or who claim to be able to give help. 

Toddla T [00:02:37] Yeah, that makes sense though. 

Annie [00:02:39] So I think there's just more reasons for people to be able to get a diagnosis as opposed to there being more ADHD in the world. It's always been there. 

Toddla T [00:02:49] Right, it's not just popped up

Annie [00:02:50] It's just been uncovered.

Toddla T [00:02:51] I didn't start the trend? 

Annie [00:02:52] You didn't start the trend babe. 

Toddla T [00:02:54] Ahh, viral! 

Annie [00:02:54] I suppose looking back at the 18 months between then and now, you explained in your first and last episode that you have got a guy that you go see with regards to your ADHD and you have anxiety as well. Is there a special name for that? 

Toddla T [00:03:11] It's just anxiety disorder I suppose but when my anxiety gets bad, it gets so bad that you can't- you know, say like when you're about to go on a flight or you might be scared of heights and you got to walk over a bridge? Alright, times that by 100 and leave it on all day. That's the type of stuff that sometimes creeps into my life. It's quite disabling, but I've learned to live with it. But it's not like, oh, get on with it, you're just a bit scared. Like, the anxiety that I can experience is literally crippling. But, I've learned to deal with it since my early twenties and I just coast through. But I've had it the last few days for no reason other than I think I've burnt myself out slightly, which comes back to the ADHD bit because when I'm on form my mind is going at 3 million miles per hour every part of the day and I'm thinking of stuff and I'm doing stuff. And then inevitably you're going to kind of crash, and that's what I think these last few days have been because life's great and I'm blessed and these crashes happened way, way less than they did and when they do, I'm more equipped to deal with them. So my ADHD in a way, like I feel like it's brilliant because it's a superpower and I sit in here and I make loads of music with great people of a similar mindset, so we align and it's beautiful. Characters are great, like arts great. But then the downside is like, things like that that seep into other parts of my brain that are way more negative affecting me. 

Annie [00:04:31] So, well let's talk about sleep. 

Toddla T [00:04:34] Okay *laughs*. 

Annie [00:04:35] Because I think that's a really interesting thing that I never would have thought about with regards to ADHD, but you- and please correct me if I'm wrong, but in my experience, seem to- during the week you go to work, like your brain works at 100 miles an hour. You're fully like engaged, dancing around making tunes, and then you come home and there's always a period of transition between T in the studio and T at home. 

Toddla T [00:05:01] Yeah, proper. 

Annie [00:05:01] Which takes at least an hour. Yeah, you come home and you kind of sit at the dinner table and I'm like, get back- where are you? Come back in the room. 

Toddla T [00:05:08] Yeah, it's so hard to transition to that.

Annie [00:05:09] But then in the week, the way that you sleep, you are pretty good in the week of- like you go to bed quite late- like I would say 12 is late. Like half 11, 12, and then you wake up at 7. But then at the weekend you CRASH.

Toddla T [00:05:25] CRASH darg. You know Gabor Maté who you had on here? 

Annie [00:05:28] Yeah. 

Toddla T [00:05:28] I remember reading his book and he was saying about the adrenaline of the week served him so well that on the weekend he was just a myth. 

Annie [00:05:35] Right. 

Toddla T [00:05:35] So I kind of relate to that you know. The adrenaline of making music and being at work and the routine for me is so important. Being booted up at 7, doing the breakfast with the kids, hanging out, getting out the door, doing school drop, legging it down here, get a coffee, fired up! Boom, boom, boom, boom, bosh I feel good. I feel like rewarded all day with dopamine and the adrenaline is positive, right? And then I come home and then I have to transition into being dad again, which is tough because I've just revved myself up so loud. And then I sort of slow down and then boom I'm in bed at 11. I'm back! Repeat, repeat, repeat. It really works for my mental state. But then inevitably on Saturday I'm just squashed. 

Annie [00:06:12] And interestingly also, the routine is kind of out the window on a Saturday. 

Toddla T [00:06:15] Yeah, it's a myth. 

Annie [00:06:15] So let's talk- this is another thing we realised, is routine and the importance of that. 

Toddla T [00:06:20] For me. 

Annie [00:06:21] For you. 

Toddla T [00:06:21] 100%. So me and you went America the other week for a gig. 

Annie [00:06:25] Yeah, so I had to play a wedding in Washington, D.C., and T came as my tour manager. 

Toddla T [00:06:29] Yeah *laughs*. 

Annie [00:06:29] And we were really excited, it's the first time we've been away together in such a long time. We got like flossy flights and lovely hotels and- tell me about your experience. 

Toddla T [00:06:41] Well, it was great in terms of all that, but like, there was just something in my gut that was not happy. There was something in the back of my mind the whole time that wasn't it and it felt chemical. Like when I used to binge, naturally on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday-

Annie [00:06:53] Booze you mean? 

Toddla T [00:06:53] Yeah man, I'd feel like all unbalanced, but that makes sense, right? This felt like that type of vibe. Like, why am I unbalanced? Like, I'm in a great place with my love of my life and we're cool, we've got everything set up but I don't feel right, you know what I mean? And it felt like- the only way I can describe it is like, chemically, like just wrong. Like, I'd been to Glastonbury *laughs*. 

Annie [00:07:17] Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Toddla T [00:07:18] But I'm in America man, living life like, it's love. Then me and you got to the show and the day of the show we had a nap and all, remember? 

Annie [00:07:26] Yeah, our sleep was all over the gaff, we were all jetlagged and we were trying to catch up on the day and- 

Toddla T [00:07:30] And so then we've gone to do the show, we've gone bed. The next day I felt so anxious and depressed it was a mental. Right, so then boom I've rode it out-

Annie [00:07:39] Baring in mind T is sober. He's not drinking. No sort of hangover here. 

Toddla T [00:07:44] Nah man I'm up and running like we'd swam, everything. That's what I'm saying about it feeling chemical because socially everything was on point, right? And then I get back and it was just- it just did my head in so I spoke to my head dude about it. Before I did that, I Googled it and cortisol is the stress hormone in your body right? That's the thing that when I get anxious, does not stop dripping into my blood. It's horrible. And it's something to do with jetlag can really affect that and because I'm sensitive to feeling and chemicals and all them things there, I think that the jet lag just licked me you know! To some next degree which is annoying because it's like come on T, you've just gone on holiday, but it really had me up. And then I spoke to my head doctor and he was like bro, get up at the same time every single day. And I was like, that makes sense because at home when I get up at 7 with the kids, I feel good. But these times there I don't. And on the weekend-

Annie [00:08:31] It used to always annoy me because whenever you got a lie in, you'd wake up and complain that you felt like shit and I'd be like, I'm the one that just got- you got the lie in!

Toddla T [00:08:38] Yeah, yeah, so on the weekends now, I'd go ahhh I need to catch up on sleep so I'd kip in till whatever, eight, nine, ten, and then just feel off centre and fucking laggy and a bit anxious and a bit weird and not centred. And he broke it down perfect, he said every time you have a lay in you're giving yourself mini jetlag. I said, bam, bam, bam! 

Annie [00:08:55] That's it. 

Toddla T [00:08:56] So for me personally, sleep has been a big thing of just like verifying that like... Just routine for me and my hypersensitive body that's just- we're all just big bodies of chemicals, you know? Big sacks of chemicals combined and people's are different. Like, the routine thing is soooo good for me to the point when the kids stop going to school, we might have to get a dog or something because I need to be booted out the house bro at 7:30 *laughs*. 

Annie [00:09:21] So what else do you do in your life to maintain that middle, that balance? 

Toddla T [00:09:25] I find the industry that I'm in really toxic. 

Annie [00:09:28] That's the music industry. 

Toddla T [00:09:29] Yeah. I feel like the creative side is beautiful and the business is disgusting. And the business side is a must. So if I want to make a living off this opportunity and blessing I've been given then we have to work with that side. My management is incredible. She understands me, she knows what I need, she knows what not to say, she knows when to say the right thing because at the end of the day, I can give it the big one all I want about being strong and this but the wrong person says the wrong thing at the wrong time and I'm spiralling. Because I'm hypersensitive deep down. So my boundaries have tightened up so tight in my job, but I don't- there's so many things we can get into but I've tied them up and I have a new studio space- what a blessing I have this space man. I've got natural light, I've got a beautiful community of people here that I speak to every day, and I feel like over eight months to a year of being here and my boundaries being tightened, nothing happens overnight. I feel more content, still and happy than I ever have. 

Annie [00:10:25] With the routine of coming here like a 9 to 5 job, which is major, like you have really consistent working hours. 

Toddla T [00:10:32] Yeah, I have. I'm really lucky by the way, when I say all these things I appreciate that I'm a very blessed individual, but I just feel like that has done more for me than any meditation, yoga, eating green beans, putting a bloody yoga stick up your ear or whatever *Annie laughs* people want to try has done for me. But it's been a bit of a stretch, you know, and don't get me wrong, I do dip and I do go left and right, but that's never going to change. But right now I feel like the boundaries I've set within my industry and this new space I'm in has been super beautiful for me. 

Annie [00:11:08] As you say, like you work for yourself so you're able to set your hours, you're able to make the room right for you. If you are someone with ADHD, then it's like, how can you get through life, get, you know, talk to your boss, talk to the people that you work with, and try and explain how your brain works differently and thrive in your job? And that's a really interesting discussion. And it's like having the courage to be able to do that. And a lot of the time having the courage to be able to do that involves getting a diagnosis. So knowing for a fact that you- like in the same way you need a doctor's note to get off sick, it's like you need to be able to bring them something on paper from a professional to say this is why I am the way I am and why I need to work in a way that might be different than how you would normally work. So that whole thing is really interesting. 

Toddla T [00:11:57] It's tough though init because the NHS is so stretched. And again, I'm lucky enough to be able to put some money down to see my doctor. 

Annie [00:12:04] Yeah, he's private. 

Toddla T [00:12:05] Yeah, he is. 

Annie [00:12:06] Cost a fucking fortune. 

Toddla T [00:12:07] Fortune bro, but I'm blessed init so it's like, how does former me when I didn't have a job do it? Like, this is the thing, it's tecky, it's very tecky and the NHS is so stretched in all departments. I feel so like, there's so much information online, you can pretty much- if you feel in a way about it, you can clock it and probably like get a vague idea if you are in that box or out of that box, or if you want to-

Annie [00:12:34] Or in a couple of boxes, like you say you could have a few different things that are interconnected. 

Toddla T [00:12:39] Yeah, there's quite a lot of self information but that doesn't help when you're telling Barry in accountants that you're really struggling, you know? 

Annie [00:12:47] I think a lot of it is just about awareness. Like having an awareness- like the amount of people I've spoken to since we did our first episode who say they felt seen and heard by listening to us and kind of finally saw themselves or saw their own predicament in ours. And that was really interesting because I think even without an official diagnosis, you can read up on it, you can speak to other people, and you can realise that you might have something like this. And then the next thing you can do is you can look back at your life and you can see everything clicking into place and be like, shit, that's why I've been like this. That's why I've always been like that. I mean that must have happened to you when you got your diagnosis. 

Toddla T [00:13:29] Oh yeah, like I said, I think I said I nearly cried out of joy because I just felt like I wasn't like a idiot in certain places and just like, oh, finally, like something that fits in- because obviously like, everyone's different. I can't think how you think or feel how you feel, but I think I knew beyond my anxiety sprees, *laughing* something not normal, you know? So like, when that landed I was like, ah, wicked. Like, this is a thing, it's not just me going mental. 

Annie [00:13:53] It's not me, it's not my personality, it's my brain. 

Toddla T [00:13:56] Yeah man, so then from when you find that and put it into place, and then whoever you're working with and alongside, whether that be friends, family or colleagues, you can just justify it to yourself a bit, it gives you self-confidence. 

[00:14:07] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:14:16] As a parent of sons, how will your experiences, I suppose, dictate your parenting? Like make you look at your kids in a deeper way or in a different way because of your ADHD? 

Toddla T [00:14:29] I guess it's like, I don't think I'm particularly conservative in terms of the way I look at young people and the way I feel that they should flourish. Like people- even our kids, six and ten, I learn off them every day and I feel said that they should grow their way, not necessarily in the box of the education system or society that puts them in. And I feel that it just verifies that a bit more. So what I'm trying to say is like, because of the way I am around people and particularly young people, I think it just encourages me even further with our kids and the young people I work with in here and the kids that I do little community work with another, to just be like as out the box as you feel so you need to be. Do you know what I'm saying? Am I making sense? 

Annie [00:15:16] Yeah. So it's kind of like don't feel like you have to follow the rules that society puts on you. 

Toddla T [00:15:21] Yeah, literally. 

Annie [00:15:21] Like you don't put any cash on school really. I know like, for you, it's because you had a shit time at school. So your thing with school is just like, I just want them to know how to live in the world as opposed to be great at history. 

Toddla T [00:15:31] Yeah literally, and that's always been my mantra anyway but I feel so like this has just verified that because the box that education is in- it's a part of society to get you into university and all that, and I understand that and that's great if it works for you, but there's loads of other boxes in the world you know. And a lot of people that are not meant to fit in that box because their brain wasn't that wired that way. Like, you don't have to, that's my point, I guess. But like, with my kids and that it's like, uh, I see traits of myself in both of them, of course, but for me it's more as a parent it's like, just have to be so disciplined with myself and just like, remind myself all the time to focus. Because that to me- I think as a parent, dunno about you Annie but the main thing I want my kids to be when their older is not fucked up *laughs*. 

Annie [00:16:18] How do you mean? Describe fucked up. 

Toddla T [00:16:19] Well, basically we're human beings, right? We're sensitive things, we're dynamic, were great, were horrible, were left, we're right, we're up-down and all that and it's so hard to mould a human being into an adult and not put anything you've got on you on them. And it's bloody impossible actually. 

Annie [00:16:38] Yeah, it is. 

Toddla T [00:16:40] So it's a full time effort. You talk about trauma and generations and breaking cycles and things like that in certain places and communities and stuff like that and I'm not necessarily talking about that, but what I'm talking about is like how I- my lack of attention in the house could affect them as young people and thus for an adult. 

Annie [00:16:57] Okay. And when you say your lack of attention, what do you mean?  

Toddla T [00:17:01] Like, not fully there in the room sometimes or like being distracted or being on my phone or all these things that I know on paper doesn't make this child flourish- is that the right word? As much as they could. And I know that on paper, but putting it into practice is a whole different thing, I'm a human being I'm as contradictory as anyone else, but I'm always mindful of that. And just trying to work on that bit, just like be more in the room with the youts. 

Annie [00:17:31] So I mean, it's really good for people to hear how you're pragmatically putting that to use because we know that along with ADHD and anxiety, you have addictive tendencies. We know that from the first episode. You were- I dunno if you call yourself an alcoholic, but you definitely had addictive tendencies around alcohol. 

Toddla T [00:17:46] Yeah, for sure. 

Annie [00:17:47] You're sober now for years, you've done really, really well with that and you know, don't do drugs or anything like that. So a phone is highly addictive, it's designed to be addictive. 

Toddla T [00:17:59] Mm hmm. 

Annie [00:17:59] What do you do to try and not be on your phone all the time? 

Toddla T [00:18:05] Right so, a phone- 

Annie [00:18:07] By the way, I have been so annoyed with T on his phone that once I did actually put it in the kitchen bin. 

Toddla T [00:18:11] Yeah there's a-

Annie [00:18:13] I hate his phone.

Toddla T [00:18:14] The kids still like, tell that story like you're the queen. "Remember that time when mummy threw daddy's phone in the bin? Waaaa!". That's what I mean, like that's an example of like, knowing that that was a shit thing to do, but I'd still do it. You know what I mean, it's like putting in the work there.

Annie [00:18:33] But I always think it's so fascinating with people with ADHD because we know that ADHD- a lot of ADHD is the reward system being the dopamine, your brain reacting to dopamine. So on a phone, it is designed- 

Toddla T [00:18:44] It's a dopamine machine. It's perfect.

Annie [00:18:45] It's a dopamine machine. For people with ADHD specifically, and I'm excited to speak to Josie Long about this, like phones are- 

Toddla T [00:18:52] Ahhh, they're beautiful. 

Annie [00:18:53] Crack. 

Toddla T [00:18:54] Literally, I mean their crack for everyone. 

Annie [00:18:55] They're beautiful *laughs* listen to this! 

Toddla T [00:18:58] Yeah but they're crack for everyone. But they're CRACK for people like me. I am now officially off social media. I have people- 

Annie [00:19:07] Oh yeah, you are.

Toddla T [00:19:07] I have people who post for me and I occasionally have a little scroll through yours when I'm looking for a little top up, but I'm off... For various reasons but the main reason was toxicity of it but the addiction of it. Why am I looking at this thing, coming off an hour later feeling bad about myself? Goodbye. Life's hard enough as it is. 

Annie [00:19:29] Respect by the way. I'm still working on trying to do that. 

Toddla T [00:19:31] So Gram is gone but I do post still, but my team post. Because I still want to share and you know, get some ego boost and dem ting dere, but really I'm not- it's not a forum. 

Annie [00:19:41] It's just trying to do what's right for you so you have to- in your case you have to be extreme. 

Toddla T [00:19:44] Yeah. 

Annie [00:19:45] It's all or nothing. 

Toddla T [00:19:46] That's fine. 

Annie [00:19:46] There's no middle. Oh it's great.

Toddla T [00:19:48] People say extreme like a negative you know. Nah it's good, it's great. Yeah, yeah. 

Annie [00:19:53] So, listen, before we got Josie Long on, can I just ask your experience again, since you've become the face of ADHD *laughs*, what your experiences are of women with ADHD? I know you work with a lot of female songwriters in the studio. Have you come across a lot of women, artists? 

Toddla T [00:20:11] 100%, most of them. 

Annie [00:20:13] And what have you learned, I suppose, of the differences, if any, between female experiencing ADHD and males? 

Toddla T [00:20:18] I mean, I'm seeing it from a male gaze, so it's never going to be as authentic or as on point as a female but I think I do see and notice, and something that is often bounced back at them is like, ah, she's dippy or she's scatty or she's a nightmare. 

Annie [00:20:34] Fascinating. 

Toddla T [00:20:35] Yeah, but I work in a male industry though. So all the blokes are like 'ahh she's a bit dippy or she's so scatty' or whatever like... Alright, take that scattiness out and see how many songs you get. 

Annie [00:20:46] Yeah *laughs* booooom! 

Toddla T [00:20:50] Reality. So yeah man, I do see it in this room a lot. It's beautiful man. Honestly, It's- 

Annie [00:20:55] It's nice for them they can talk to you about it. 

Toddla T [00:20:58] Yeah man, so the writer will sit here and then hear a melody and I can literally see, like, a neon thing come from the ceiling in their brain, and it goes round that and it comes out their mouth. 

Annie [00:21:06] Yeah. 

Toddla T [00:21:06] It's incredible. 

Annie [00:21:08] Wow, yeah. Well, we're going to speak to someone now who's a proper creative when it comes to words. She's a writer, she is a podcaster, she's a filmmaker, and she's probably best known as being a comedian. Her name is Josie Long. She got diagnosed with ADHD when she was pregnant. So we're going to get her on now and have a chat. 

[00:21:38] *Short musical interlude*. 

Annie [00:21:38] Hi Josie!

Toddla T [00:21:40] Wagwan Josie! 

Josie [00:21:41] Hi. Thanks for having me! I'm excited that you both have been talking already about ADHD and things have been like, I wonder what they've already said?..

Annie [00:21:43]  One thing we didn't talk about is, you know, the female experience of ADHD, which is obviously massive and huge and, you know, so such a big awareness now of people who have it and so many more diagnoses. So I really wanted to speak to someone with their own experience of ADHD, and you got diagnosed when you were pregnant! 

Josie [00:22:08] It was just before I started trying for my second daughter, was when I was diagnosed. But I really noticed first time I got pregnant- now, in retrospect, I can see how much my symptoms of ADHD worsened when I was pregnant. It was wild. 

Annie [00:22:26] So I've heard that hormones in women make the ADHD even more pronounced, or the symptoms of ADHD. 

Josie [00:22:35] Yes!! 

Annie [00:22:35] I've heard in menopause and the hormones really affect the symptoms. So how did that manifest for you? 

Josie [00:22:41] So when I became pregnant, I really felt like I'd walked into a fog and that I didn't really walk out of it again until I stopped breastfeeding for the first time. Second time around, it's been slightly easier, I think because I'd had the diagnosis and because I'd done it before, it was like, forewarned, forearmed. But the first time around I remember just feeling like... Ahhh, just like mentally I was not myself for a long time. And it came down to things like, I think getting a lot less executive function, you know, being able to think less, do less. And I know that some of that, you know, your thinking can be a bit like harder when you're like, especially heavily pregnant and it's like hard to get into things but I really felt like I was in a fog with it. And like, the only hard thing is like, is it breastfeeding hormones that did it, or is it the sleeplessness? You know, like, is it the extreme tiredness or is it being at that stage of life? And so there's a lot of things that- it was like the full package, but the effect of the full package was really debilitating for me. So I remember seeing friends who kind of came into a lot of power or like felt they were really thriving in pregnancy and I just felt like I've got no brain, I can't do anything, I'm in a fog. So that was a big, big part of it for me definitely. 

Annie [00:24:06] And can I ask, what were your motivations for getting a diagnosis, for looking for that? Like what was the final straw I suppose, and you being like, I have to get this diagnosed. 

Josie [00:24:14] Yeah, well it was because- it was during the pandemic and we had the sort of first lockdown, the mega lockdown, and that had been so hard, we had the toddler and it was just like terrifying and intense and me and my partner both have ADHD, we massively struggled with- 

Annie [00:24:27] Oh, your partner has it too?! 

Josie [00:24:29] He does, he does. And he started taking pills for it and it has been life changing for our family. 

Annie [00:24:37] Wow. 

Josie [00:24:38] Yeah. In terms of him- again, again, is it tiredness, is it overwhelmed, whatever it is he used to really find it physically incredibly overwhelming and overstimulating, and that would stress him out. And now he's able to take ADHD medication he's able to just be his happier self and it's amazing. And it's definitely really changed things and also just like seeing him being like- getting all the things done he'd wanted to get done for five years. 

Annie [00:25:04] Wowwww, like what? Give me examples. 

Josie [00:25:09] Ahhh, just like-! Even down to like sorting out his office or- *Annie laughs* he has this project on the go at the minute and he'd really wanted to kind of organise applying for funding to it and just like, as soon as he was able to access medication it was like, right, getting it all done.

Annie [00:25:27]  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  

Josie [00:25:34] Because it's sort of stuff that's a bit more adminy and dry as a bone, that you'd be like there's no way I'm doing that!

Annie [00:25:36] Yeah, yeah. 

Josie [00:25:36] And I'm in a funny place because I was trying to get pregnant when I got diagnosed, I couldn't then go on medication and I'm still basically breastfeeding so I'm in a place where I'm still not on medication nearly two years later. 

Annie [00:25:47] And is that something you'd like to do, do you think? 

Josie [00:25:50] Yeah, I would just to see. Just to see. And if it doesn't work out, the hard part is I've built it up in my mind and I feel like if I do start taking EG stimulant medication and it doesn't turn me into William Shakespeare *Annie laughs*, I'll be like this-. 

Annie [00:26:06] What the fuck? Yeah. 

Josie [00:26:07] How fucking dare they? They've conned me! But I feel like- I'm trying to temper that because I feel like I'll take the pill and It'll be like limitless and I'll be like, great! Everything's been done. Um, so yeah, but it's been good seeing him so it can temper your expectations so it can be like actually, it could just mean that a house has less of a chaotic energy to it *laughs*. 

Annie [00:26:30] Mmm, I mean you tried meds didn't you?

Toddla T [00:26:31] Yeah, I tried the meds yeah, but basically it was mad because there's a short term one and a long term one, I can't remember but the ones I had was literally like a recreational vibes. 

Annie [00:26:43] It's like he was doing an E.

Toddla T [00:26:44] Yeah man, so you wake up and you have it after breakfast or whatever, and then you start your day and I'd feel it coming up and it were reet nice and it hit this sweet spot where I felt really like just active, like, just like I can't describe- you'll know the vibe just like. 

Josie [00:26:58] Yeah. 

Toddla T [00:27:00] Just on it man! 

Josie [00:27:00] It's calm isn't it.

Toddla T [00:27:03] Calm! But then-. 

Josie [00:27:03] It's like calm and bright.

Toddla T [00:27:05] Beautiful but then what happened with mine is it just went further and I was literally like, in my studio like *growls*. 

Annie [00:27:11] It was, it was too much. 

Toddla T [00:27:13] It was too much but that's just me, right? There's loads going on with me in my brain, you know what I'm saying? So like, I would never want that to put off other people because there was a sweet spot that was beautiful, I just couldn't get it right.

Annie [00:27:23] And maybe if you- I can imagine it might take a bit of patience. 

Toddla T [00:27:26] Yeah man, you've got to just- 

Annie [00:27:26] Try and find the right amount for you. But it's cool that your husband has already got that experience of doing it, so he can be really helpful with that. 

Toddla T [00:27:35] And if you forget yours, he's got his! 

Annie [00:27:37] Yeah, there you go. 

Josie [00:27:40] *Laughs* Well, we'll have government mandated speed. 

Annie [00:27:41] *Laughs loudly*

Josie [00:27:45] It's the most beautiful thing. But he- yeah he tried one that was non stimulant first and that was absolutely terrible for him.  

Annie [00:27:53] Really? 

Josie [00:27:54] It completely knocked him off his sort of peace and we had to like, put a lid on it really quickly. Oh, I'll tell you something, this is how I came to the diagnosis was basically, after all of that lockdown where we'd both been like- I guess we didn't know we both had ADHD, we both had lost all our coping mechanisms, all the ways that I would do intense exercise, cold water, stuff like that, you know, things that would like help me regulate myself. Gigging, which like gave me sheer beautiful- 

Annie [00:28:28] Dopamine! 

[00:28:30] Dopamine *laughs* and even just like, working more, that gives you sort of nice feelings that get you- you know, all of that, travel, new sensations, everything I used to do gone, and so we're both in this real funk, finding it so incredibly difficult, seeing people around us be like, 'this is the most creative time in my life' and I'm like, how? *Annie and T laugh* Who are you? You're a monster! And then what happened was, I finally- once we'd been going through the pandemic for about six months, I remember there was a period where the rules were slightly more relaxed and you could do some work in some places, and I discovered that I could cycle to the arts emergency office, which is an office that I shared with the charity-

Annie [00:29:05]  Sorry Josie, can you explain to T what the arts emergency is? Because I haven't told him what that is yet, you'll love this. 

Josie [00:29:20] Yes, I'm very proud of it. It's a charity which helps empower people who don't come from privilege, don't come from money, to access, enter and stay in the arts and humanities. So be that studying careers, even just artistic practice, it's there to support people. And it's also like, there to support people quite long term. 

Toddla T [00:29:37] Yeah, wicked. 

Josie [00:29:37] Like we have lots of different ways. I love it, honestly I'm so proud of it.  

Toddla T [00:29:42] Yeah you should be man, big up. Well done, man. 

Josie [00:29:43] But I was there to like, start it, and now I'm not that useful, and they actually have good people.

Annie [00:29:47]  You just use the office! Just use the photocopier!

Toddla T [00:29:48] *Laughs*.

Josie [00:29:50] *Laughing* yeah, exactly! I got the good bit and then I left. 

Annie [00:29:54] *Laughs*

Josie [00:29:54] I was in the office and it was in this big office block where nobody else was there except for this one guy who ran his own small business and he had a little office there. And it was really funny because him and me, it was like we were haunting the building. I'd be sat in this big office on my own, finally had time and space, and all my life I've wanted to write short stories. When I was a little kid I used to do it, when I was a teenager. When I was at university I was like this  is what I am, I do comedy but my real thing is this, you know, and I'd been wanting to do it and never been able to get the ability to kind of get it done around comedy because it's so consuming, but also, I guess not able to do it because of ADHD. And then I finally had the time and space and I'd sit there and it would be like agony. I couldn't do it. It was like, I want to do this, I have ideas. I can't do it. And it was like this feeling of anguish, like lack of confidence, lots of things like that. But also just physically it felt impossible and mentally it felt impossible. And I just was going into a bit of a spiral about it because I was like, I have the time and space to do this. I want to do it, and yet I'm still not doing it. What's going on? Then I've got a friend called Jamie McKelvie who's an artist and he was putting on his Instagram things about having been diagnosed with ADHD and it was this feeling of like, every part of it applied to me and I felt so like desperately seen and it was- and at first I was like, oh don't be silly and then by the end it was just so obvious. 

Annie [00:31:27] And what were the bits, Josie, that you read that were like indisputable, that you were like this, oh shit, like it's me. 

Josie [00:31:33] For me, I'm only really motivated by things that I love. I can't do things I'm not interested in really at all. Like, I'm not interested. I can't do things as a means to an end very well. So like, e.g. I want to be able to drive. I've not learned to drive. I keep trying and I can't get there because it's a means to an end *Annie laughs*. I as a comedian, I can write what I want to write, but I can't imagine what other people write and write for them. I can only do what I can do. Or, you know, I feel like I can only be THIS *Annie laughs*. But also it's things like, just always feeling that you didn't quite fit in or that you were getting things wrong socially, that you were awkward, people said- feeling weird, being told I was weird, being loud, interrupting, impatient, massively impatient! Absolutely impatient! And I used to just be like- what's funny and it's interesting, I don't know whether you have this where you sort of like- when you find out that you are neurodivergent, in some ways you feel a bit like no, I'm not different. I am the default and this is a thing! You know? 

Annie [00:32:50] Yeah, yeah. 

Josie [00:32:50] There's something to wrestle with where you're sort of like, oh, mentally I am different to people. And that's sort of- that was a bit hard in a way, because I guess before the way I'd got through it was being like, no I do things the right way! 

Annie [00:33:04] Yeah, yeah, okay, okay. 

Josie [00:33:06] Other people are doing it wrong, and some people get it! 

Annie [00:33:09] Yeah. So you have a narrative you tell yourself, yeah, yeah, yeah. And then suddenly your narrative is someone else's narrative. It's like, no actually I am a definition that someone else has described. It's not me anymore. I'm in someone else's box. 

Josie [00:33:24] Yes, but it was kind of helpful as well because this is the thing that like, I've been wrestling with was like, you stop seeing yourself as a bad neurotypical person or like a broken neurotypical person. And that's really helpful cause you're like, why can't-?! So I can't- I'm really bad at forming habits. I do things for like three months and then I forget about them *Annie laughs*. To the extent that I do things- I say stuff on stage, like I remember saying on stage about things I'm really into. So I'll be saying ohh, I've changed my life at the moment, I'm doing X, Y, Z and I love it. And then ten years later someone come up to me and they go, I've never forgotten you said that on stage, and it's really helped me and I still do it now. And I'll be like, what? *Annie and T laugh* And they'll be like, you said you have porridge every morning, and I'll be like oh shit, yeah, yeah, I did do that for three months 10 years ago yeah. 

[00:34:09] *Short musical interlude*. 

Annie [00:34:32] People generalise about what ADHD is and a lot of the time they generalise ADHD in the prism of male symptoms, so hyperactivity, impulsivity, all of that. Whereas female ADHD seems to be very different, people mask it, women seem to be able to hide it or it seems to be attached to other things, more kind of integrated into other neuro divergences as well. And also hormonally means it's fucking all over the gaff and so much more harder to diagnose because they don't have the very obvious examples of hyperactivity and so it's inattentive, isn't it? You actually have inattentive, that's what you're diagnosed with as well. 

Josie [00:35:12] Hearing you say that, the first thing I felt I wanted to say was about rejection sensitivity dysphoria, which is something that I see in my family and I see in myself, that you just are so hypersensitive, you feel desperate pain at the thought that you've upset people, or that you've done things wrong, or in my family, the way some people have behaved has been, you know, anything is perceived as a deep criticism, even though it isn't. And for me, I'm not so much like that but I am desperate that I have upset people and I feel awful pain about it and stuff like that. And it's like a very- I think for me and in the women I know with ADHD, I think the way it can manifest sometimes is a very hyperactive mind that is hidden, and a very hyperactive emotional system. So you have very overfeeling and over thinking, the highs and the lows are so extreme, and one of the reasons I feel sad about having a late diagnosis is I look back at my emotional state in my twenties and I would be feeling this like deep, dark melancholy over nothing. And now I'm like, yeah it's fucking ADHD. It wasn't real. But at the time I was like, I've got to change my life, you know? And it's the same like, as much as I feel I feel a lot of joy in my life, I also feel like there are these, you know, depths of it. And the same with overthinking. My brain is always like thinking so it's not necessarily my body, although I do fidget a lot and like --- and stuff. And in terms of hormones, oh my God. Now this is not scientific. I'm not a doctor or scientist, and perhaps someone who is will be listening telling me I'm wrong, but to my mind progesterone is the devil's hormone. And the day I have progesterone in my system- and especially during pregnancy it's like a ten day progesterone spike or something, I was in hell. It drags me so far down. I go from being like, oh, I'm really enjoying my life to being like, everything is pointless, I am a failure. 

Annie [00:37:10] Do you know what, that's so interesting, I have two female friends who've both been put on progesterone for various reasons and have gone into deep dark depressions and had to come off it like as soon as possible. That's mad! 

Josie [00:37:21] I think it's the devils hormone. 

Annie [00:37:23] But people take progesterone for HRT, don't they? But then they take it with oestrogen, so I think it's the combination of progesterone and oestrogen together means that it doesn't affect you in such a way. 

Josie [00:37:35] I think that's just what it has to be for your cycle, I think, so basically you can be on oestrogen but you have to have the progesterone to like make your body balance or something. 

Annie [00:37:44] Right, okay. So sorry, explain to me when you've had progesterone then, what was the conditions of that. 

Josie [00:37:52] Oh well I just know. So in your cycle there's like a bit where the progesterone kicks in. 

Annie [00:37:58] Oh okay, sorry! 

Josie [00:37:58] And I know that day because I feel it so deeply and I really feel- oh and as well! When it's my cycle, I get so clumsy and forgetful far more the week before my period. There's like, I notice the symptoms of my ADHD are better and worse at different times. 

Annie [00:38:16] Well that is fact that your hormones will completely exacerbate your symptoms of ADHD. That's fact. 

Josie [00:38:23] It's so unfair! 

Annie [00:38:25] It's fucking so unfair! 

Josie [00:38:27] As if there isn't enough to deal with *Annie laughs* and the idea that menopause is going to make it fucking worse. Like, I've just had a diagnosis and now you're telling me it's going to get harder?! How dare you! 

Annie [00:38:36] *Laughing* Sorry Josie, I'm sorry.

Toddla T [00:38:40] You know you're talking about that rejection thing, what would you call it again? 

Annie [00:38:44] It's called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, I think. 

Toddla T [00:38:48] Yeah. 

Josie [00:38:48] It's basically where you are very, very emotionally attuned in certain ways to whichever flavour of rejection fucks you up, I suppose. 

Toddla T [00:39:00] Because I've always kind of been a bit of a people pleaser for that reason and like certain time I won't vocalise something or whatever. And recently I've been like no fuck that, I'm not doing this anymore. But what seems to happen to me, and this is something that I'm working on, is that I will express certain things or put a boundary around a certain thing and I know that in my spirit and in my whole ethos what I'm saying is correct it and it aligns, but afterwards I still feel like... Did I piss that wanker off? 

Josie [00:39:28] *Gasps* yes! Oh, I get this like, feeling of like, utter- as if my face is on fire. It's the same thing, yeah, it's like if I'm really true to myself, really honest about it and I feel proud of it, you still get that anxiety afterwards.

Toddla T [00:39:43] Exactly, that's what am saying man!

Josie [00:39:44] Also it's hard if you like have- like if you care about protests or justice or something, if there's a protest, it's going to annoy some people that you disagree with. And yet- so you sort of don't want to upset anyone, but at the same time, this is life. 

Annie [00:40:00] I mean, but Jose, you are someone who talks a lot about politics and, you know, you're really principled in your work, through your art, through your comedy and everything. How do you cope with the fucking trolls? Like, there must be- like, how do you deal with that? 

Josie [00:40:13] I think with varying degrees of success at different times. Well, I think experience is useful so if things have happened a number of times, after a while you're really aware that they don't need to disturb your peace and you get used to certain things, so you get better ways of handling it. I mean, I don't know, sometimes, like you say, like disagreement, you know, you can't change someone's reality and if they have an opinion of you that you don't agree with, it can be really stressful and painful and stuff but I suppose all you can do- I suppose it has made me feel that online isn't necessarily my favourite place, but at the same time that's probably for the best because it means I'm trying to get offline more. 

Annie [00:40:59] How are you with phones? Because we were talking- just before we brought you on, we were talking about T and the fact that he is highly addicted to his phone. Is it the same? 

Josie [00:41:08] Do you hate that you are? I hate it. 

Toddla T [00:41:09] Yeah, I hate my phone, but I love it though. It's like an ex that I really fancy *Josie and Annie laugh* in my house. 

Josie [00:41:18] For me it's like. It's like there's like, a grizzly thing, and I know I shouldn't be interested in the grizzly thing but I like, come back to it. So sometimes it's like eugh. 

Toddla T [00:41:30] It's dirty! 

Josie [00:41:30] I hate it! I don't want to be on it. I don't want to, but yeah, maybe when I- I keep saying when I get on the meds, I won't be interested anymore. 

Annie [00:41:38] *Laughs* Can't wait for Josie on the meds! 

Josie [00:41:42] And when I get on the meds I'll also be six foot tall. 

Toddla T [00:41:43] Why don't you insta live it when you take your first med? 

Annie [00:41:47] We'll watch that livestream! 

Toddla T [00:41:48] Yeah man, viral! *Laughs* 

Josie [00:41:50] But d'you know, I've got this app that was advertised to me so much on Instagram I was like fine, I'll get the app. And it's called Opal and it blocks the things-. 

Annie [00:41:59] Well, so we use one called Freedom. We have the exact same thing we're always going on about, it's called freedom, and you try and go on Instagram and it's like 'you're free, go and do whatever you want to do' *T laughing*. 

Josie [00:42:10] I think of it as a person, I'm like, actually Opal, you don't realise that I'm trying to use Safari for something different actually! I'm not actually trying to go on Twitter and you are getting in the way of me and my child Googling prehistoric animals now *T and Annie laughing*  so actually it's good parenting, it's actually not bad parenting. 

Annie [00:42:38] *Laughing* ahhhh man! 

[00:42:38] *Short musical interlude*. 

Annie [00:42:38] So you're going to try go on the meds. I suppose with the diagnosis of ADHD, you're what, a year into having it or a couple of years into knowing now? 

Josie [00:42:45] It's two years yeah, two and a half. 

Annie [00:42:47] Okay. How has it changed you? And also how has it changed your opinion of yourself? Do you look at yourself and your life differently now? 

Josie [00:42:54] I would say it was quite a bittersweet process. Like you were saying at the start, like you look back over your life and you're like, then, then, then, then, then. Why in those education environments didn't people know? Why couldn't I have known at this juncture, at this juncture? I suppose, but after that you do end up forgiving yourself. Like I think about the number of good opportunities I've had that I basically would get the meeting with somebody and I'd be like, lovely, that's the dopamine, I don't need to pursue this *all laugh*. And it would be like, well you could have done something really good!

Toddla T [00:43:29] Job done. 

Josie [00:43:31] Yeah, exactly! And I look back and I think, ah, there were so many things that I messed up without even meaning to. In fact, desperately trying to do the opposite. You know, desperately trying to do what people might want but not knowing what that was because for whatever reason, I'm not quite able to do that socially. That was kind of upsetting from a work perspective  and you know, looking at impulsive decisions I've made and stuff. But what was nice was kind of being able to forgive myself more and I think I'm a lot nicer to myself and more understanding of myself. And I also think it's just good to know and it makes so many things make sense in a nice way. Like, I swear to fucking God, 80% of the people I have connected with in my life and been like, they get it, they've got ADHD. *Laughs* it's like, if somebody is my friend, I'm like, do you want to get tested?! *All laugh*. Or, they have neurodivergent family and they understand, like it's so funny. 

Annie [00:44:27] One of the things T has talked about was it being his superpower in terms of as a musician, as a producer of music, and the hyperfocus but as you as a comedian like, it feels like a lot of comedians are susceptible to ADHD, am I right? Like, what's the deal with comedy and ADHD? Why do they go so well together? 

Josie [00:44:44] I think the reason is, is a bunch of things. Performing live comedy gives you massive hits of dopamine. It gives you a thrill and a rush. It's very stressful, it's very focussed, so it basically crystallises you. And for me personally, when I'm on stage it's actually weirdly the place I feel the least anxious, the place my mind feels calm and clear. It's almost like, I guess because it's a controlled environment, I don't know what it is, but it feels a very lovely, blissful, fun, playful space. So in that way it works. In another way, if you're writing shows, e.g. for the Edinburgh Fringe or for a tour or anything like that, it gives you artificial deadlines you can't back out of that are frightening or stressful or intense and those are the things you need to get stuff done with ADHD. On top of that, I think people with ADHD are quite performing, theatrical, big personalities and it's actually a really healthy place to be that. I also think if you're a writer- I've been thinking a lot about this because I wrote this book of short stories and in it the characters are all really emotionally intense or like overthinking, overfeeling and I was like, actually fiction and comedy, that is the place for heightened levels of stuff. Creativity is a really good place. I also think I guess ADHD people are creative, their brains love to make connections. Like one of the reasons comedians do well on House of Games is that there's a round in it where you have to link to really different things in a pun, and I swear to God that is basically just pure ADHD. The brain is like, great, easy, I could do it. And as well, I think ADHD people do like humour for whatever reason. It's like a fun thing for them to kind of make jokes of things, to make those connections and to step out of social norms. And then on top of that- and we don't want to do the same thing every day. When I've done temping, I found it so desperately difficult because I got so bored going to the same place every day. I get really, really stressed with the boredom because I can't bear doing the same thing all the time. Like at school, I mean, I used to bunk of school a fair bit because I just couldn't cope with doing the same thing for the amount of time every day. And I don't know how this sounds to people who aren't- like I hope I don't sound too silly, but that was just the way I was and like, I think, yeah, you want variety, you want new things, you want seeing lots of information, meeting lots of people. Every gig is different. So it's never boring, ever. 

Annie [00:47:15] I mean, it makes so much sense. It makes so much sense. 

Josie [00:47:19] It's the same with music as well. 

Annie [00:47:22] Yeah. 

Toddla T [00:47:22] Yeah absolutely. 

Josie [00:47:22] Because you've never going to come to the end of music. And gigging is the same and it's the same evenings and performance, you know. 

Annie [00:47:28] And you, for you, you've different people in every day. He's got different people in to work with, different collaborations, different ideas. 

Toddla T [00:47:34] Exactly. Never stops. 

Annie [00:47:36] Before I let you go, you are on tour. You must tell us what the tour is, it's Re-Enchantment. What's the vibe? What's a concept? 

Josie [00:47:43] It's about finding a bit of defiant joy and happiness in difficult times. It's about reconnecting with people in the world and sort of trying to build up after difficult times, I think is how I'd describe it. But it's also just like silly, and it also has about five references to nu metal in it *Annie laughs*, which I didn't expect, but that's the vibe. 

Annie [00:48:06] Listen, love it! And also we're going to put a link on the episode notes to Josie's book of short stories, which did happen, which did come to be in the end. Because I Don't Know What You Mean and What You Don't, is what it's called. 

Josie [00:48:18] Yeah, thank you. And also, I just want to say my household is looking out for non romantic, non neurodivergent parent that can do all the organising and admin if anyone's interested *Annie laughs*. There'll be no payment and no credit. 

Annie [00:48:33] Just gratitude *all laugh*. 

Josie [00:48:35] Yeah. 

Annie [00:48:36] Thank you, Josie Long! 

Toddla T [00:48:38] Nice one Josie. 

Josie [00:48:39] Thanks so much. It's really nice to talk to you both. 

Annie [00:48:45] So T, also we need to talk about your songs. If anyone wants to listen to what happens in the Steeze Factory, which the name of T's studio, where can they go and find your music? 

Toddla T [00:48:55] Spotify, of course. 

Annie [00:48:56] Toddla T. 

Toddla T [00:48:57] T O D D L A T, and also there's a mini doc about this room called The Steeze Factory Volume One on YouTube and you get to sit there in the life of the chaos of me Toddle T from the steel city. This is the Steeze Factory, it's a studio full of brilliant people coming in and out every day and we put that into EPs and docs and stuff like that so, if you like the vibrations, you know where to go find it. 

Annie [00:49:17] So just put Toddla T into YouTube and you'll find the Steeze Factory documentary, yeah? 

Toddla T [00:49:21] Absolutely. 

Annie [00:49:22] Cool. And there's songs coming out all the time. 

Toddla T [00:49:24] All the time. 

Annie [00:49:25] So, okay, thank you so much. 

Toddla T [00:49:26] Pleasure, give thanks, big up yourselves.

Annie [00:49:30] Seeya later, 5:30 on the dot! 

Toddla T [00:49:30] Oiiii, routine 'em. 

Annie [00:49:34] Do please rate, review and subscribe to Changes. It is so appreciated and if you fancy sharing it on social media too, that would be amazing. The more people we can get listening to these episodes the better, we want to tell our stories far and wide. Changes is produced by Louise Mason through DIN Productions. Thanks for listening!