Episode 256: Cults, Child Marriage and ADHD Optimism with Dr. Tamara MC

ADHD for Smart Ass Women with Tracy Otsuka

Tracy Otsuka


Oh my gosh. Okay. So the way you tell if you’re part of a cult because I think we have a lot of cults in this country right now. You know? How do you know again? Say it again.

Dr. Tamara MC: Are all people being given the same rules and are they all following the same rules? Or are there only certain people that have to follow the rules, and there’s other people that don’t have to follow the rules?

Tracy Otsuka: Richard Branson, Michael Phelps, Justin Timberlake, James Carville. Wait a minute. Where are the women? Greta Gerwig, Lisa Ling, Audra McDonald, Simone miles. That sounds like a list of highly successful titans in a variety of industries. They all have ADHD, but you don’t hear much about that now, do you? You know what else you don’t hear about? Are the 43% of people with ADHD who are in excellent mental health. Why aren’t we talking about them and what they’re doing right? I’m your host, Tracy Otsuka, and that’s exactly what we do here. I’m a lawyer, not a Doctor, a lifelong student, and now the author of my new book, ADHD for Smartass Women. I’m also a certified ADHD The coach and the creator of your ADHD brain is A Okay, a patented system that helps ADHD women just like you Get unstuck and fall in love with their brilliant brains.

Tracy Otsuka: Here, we embrace our too muchness, and we focus on our Our strengths. My guests and I credit our ADHD for some of our greatest gifts. And to those who Still think they’re too much? Too impulsive? Too scattered? Too disorganized? I say no one ever made a difference by being too little. Hello. Hello. Hello. I’m your host, Tracy Otsuka. Thank you so much for joining me here for ADHD For Smart Ass Women.

Tracy Otsuka:

Look, if you’ve been listening for a while and you’re thinking, I wish I had all the highlights of the podcast, and I wish they were all in one place. I have great news for you. You can find everything you need to know about ADHD She and my brand new book with Harper Collins called, surprise, ADHD for Smart Ass Women, and that is now available for preorder atadhdforsmartwomen.comforward/book. Okay. We got that out of the way. So you know my purpose is always to show you who you are and then inspire you to be it. And in the thousands of ADHD women that I’ve had the privilege of meeting, I’ve never met a one, not one, that wasn’t truly brilliant at something. And so for all of these reasons, I am just delighted to introduce you to doctor Tamara MC.

Tracy Otsuka: Doctor Tamara MC is a cult, child marriage, and human trafficking lived experience expert who advocates for girls and women to live free from gender based violence worldwide. Her PhD is in applied linguistics, and she researches how language Manipulates vulnerable populations. Tamara attended Columbia University where she earned her MFA, and you’ll find her work published in prestigious outlets such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, and Newsweek. Tamara is currently working on her debut there. On her debut memoir, Child Bride, My Marriage at 12, she’s traveled to nearly 80 countries, mostly alone in backpacking, and is a polyglot. I had to look that up. That means you know a lot of languages, and she studied more than 6 languages. She’s an empty nesting mama to 2 sons and a grandmama to 2 feisty and adorable ADHD pups.

Tracy Otsuka: I don’t know, Tamara. How do you know they’re they have the ADHD? Gee. A Boston terrier and an Australian shepherd. When she isn’t writing and reading, you’ll find her road cycling, running, and playing pickleball. Tamara, did I get all of that right? And welcome.

Tamara MC: Thank you so much. Yes. Thank you so much for the introduction.

Tracy Otsuka: So how do you know that your dogs have ADHD? Have they been diagnosed?

Tamara MC: They have not been diagnosed. I think that they take after their family members.

Tracy Otsuka: Oh, well, right, biology and environment. Right? Isn’t that what we say? Yes. I don’t know. All of our dogs have always had So much energy.

Tamara MC: And I don’t know. I’ve not yet ever had a calm dog.

Tracy Otsuka: I don’t know what it is. I wonder if it’s the kind of dog that you have. For example, Australian shepherds. Right? They need to be moving. They need to be working, and they’re constantly hurting everybody, so It makes sense. And a terrier I was told by a dog trainer that terriers are basically untrainable, so you have to train yourself so that you can deal with the dog.

Tamara MC: That’s great. We train you. Well, we’ve had all sorts. We’ve had Weimaraners, Golden Retrievers, Everything, chihuahuas. So all

Tracy Otsuka: of those dogs though, Tarni, were active. Right? Maybe. Yeah. You need a Great Dane.

Tamara MC: I know. Great Danes are so sweet. Yes. I know. I’ve been thinking or or a Frenchie.

Tracy Otsuka: I don’t know. Yeah. Maybe a Frenchie. They seem pretty mellow. Great Danes though, I don’t think I could live with the 7 year lifespan. Right? Oh, is that it? Oh, I didn’t know that. Well, because they’re so big, but they’re so they’re just these gentle giants. So anyway, you know our rigmarole around here.

Tracy Otsuka: We always start out by talking about your ADHD diagnosis first. So could we go there? Can you tell me How did it come about?

Tamara MC: Sure. So I did not get diagnosed until I was 50 years old, And so that’s quite late, and that was just I am 51, so it was about a year and a half ago that I was first diagnosed. I was professionally diagnosed, like, with a neuropsychologist, and I didn’t actually go in because I Thought I had ADHD because I have so many friends who I don’t even know. I’m not gonna use the right words, but who Present as if they do have ADHD. They’re misplacing things. They’re late, all of that. And I didn’t have any of those signs. So I really didn’t think that I had ADHD, and I was tested on a computer test.

Tamara MC: It’s called the CPT. I don’t know if you’re Yeah. I mean, you’re I yeah. Yeah. And so I just remember sitting there and you have to like bang this thing, like you have to do it. And And I just knew that I was failing miserably. I could not hit the bar at the right time for the life of me.

Tracy Otsuka: So I Just so our audience understands. So this test and I’m not sure if yours is the same one that I took. I I I took the, God, is it Tulsa or something along those lines, and there would be a blue square. And they would tell you that whenever the blue square comes up or the red circle, Can’t remember which one. You had to hit a button. I think the space bar. But then they start they make it go slow. They make it go fast.

Tracy Otsuka: And it sounds super simple. Right? But when you’re sitting there for 20 minutes, it is the most boring, difficult thing I think I’ve ever tried to do. Not really, but, yeah. Is was yours like that? I’m not familiar with

Tamara MC: There was another one as well, but I just remember, like, smashing the space bar. Like, I was getting so angry at the space. I was just like, I’m just ready to smash it. Like, I don’t even care when it comes up anymore. And I was just like, you know what? Afterwards, I think I failed this test. Like, I just do not think that I passed. And then sure enough, when my diagnosis came back, it was like I I obviously did terribly at that and as well as other, tests as well that I don’t really remember. And so I do I was diagnosed with combined ADHD.

Tracy Otsuka: Okay. And the test, I just looked it up. Good Lord. It’s Tova. Tova one that I took. Yeah. So it you know, there are obviously more than 1. But what was interesting about the Tova is, and I didn’t know this when I took the test, I came back in the 99th percentile for hyperactivity, which kinda surprised me, but kind of a little bit didn’t.

Tracy Otsuka: And what I didn’t know is there was a camera watching me the whole time that I was taking this test.

Tamara MC: Oh, my gosh.

Tracy Otsuka: It could tell when I was, like, moving around and yeah. So it was it was watching me.

Tamara MC:  hope they’re gonna camera watching me because I was getting violent with the computer. I was so angry at

Tracy Otsuka: it. Exactly. Exactly. So I call your diagnoses, 50, actually 45 and older, as maturity onset ADHD diagnoses. And That is because we now know that what am I trying to say? We know that estrogen modulates dopamine. So whenever a woman has changes in her hormone levels, you know, pregnancy, puberty, Obviously, perimenopause and then menopause, our ADHD symptoms, I mean, sometimes they get better. Like when I was pregnant, I was on fire. I didn’t know why.

Tracy Otsuka: I just assumed it was it was hormones. It was pregnancy. I remember my mom saying she loved to be pregnant. I loved being pregnant too, but it was that change in hormones. So it makes sense that you would start to what were the symptoms though? If you say that you We’re not late. You didn’t have problems with messy spaces, all of that kind of stuff. What were the symptoms that made you even think about ADHD?

Tamara MC: I didn’t actually think about ADHD. I thought I was more autistic than having ADHD. So I’m really going in to be tested for that, which I did test for as well. So I was diagnosed with autism as well. So I think is why I don’t fall into kind of being late and being disorganized is because of my autism. So I think the 2 of them are working together. And so I am super organized. I also have OCD, so I’m super organized.

Tamara MC: Everything has to be in its place. Everything is color coded. Everything in my life is is very organized. I put my keys in the exact same place. I put my purse when I come in the house in the exact same place. I have rituals and routines. And so I guess because all of that, I didn’t See the ADHD, but then when I start going back and especially as I was really thinking about being on this podcast and I was just, like, really having to go back to my childhood and, like, going back in time and, like, saying, wow. I just thought that was me, which it is

Tracy Otsuka: Right.

Tamara MC: But there is also, like, the ADHD in the background because I have So many interests. I am so passionate about so many things, but I also have like this constellation of interest And they always kind of seem to work around each other, so I’m not going in multiple even though I’m going in multiple directions, I’m also not, like, Finishing things. Like, I always complete everything that I do, which is kind of interesting because that doesn’t sound very ADHD. But everything I do, I just have all these goals and I’m always accomplishing, but I probably have a dozen goals going at one time. I have so many interests. And I think it’s really in my I think it’s cerebral. Like, I feel like my ADHD is in my mind. Like, my mind is just going a 1000000 miles a minute.

Tamara MC: And so I don’t know if that’s possible, but that’s how I feel it is.

Tracy Otsuka: Yeah. Well, that’s what women with ADHD men too talk about all the time, right, especially inattentive ADHD, which sometimes I wonder, okay, what really is the difference between inattentive and hyperactive or combined type because I’ve never seen an ADHD woman who doesn’t struggle at some, you know, at some time with just these thoughts and not being able to shut them off. So when you talk about all these thoughts and ideas, Is there also an emotional component where you’ll overthink things? And why did I say that?

Tamara MC: Yes. Yes. I do ruminate a lot. I really think about everything that I say. I have major sleep issues. Before I go to sleep, I’m constantly thinking, replaying the I spin out on things. I can’t stop my mind from thinking about the same thing over and over again. So I definitely have that.

Tracy Otsuka: Okay. So were you diagnosed with inattentive ADHD or combined type? Do you have some external hyperactivity?

Tamara MC: Yeah, I guess so combined means that I’m hyperactive and impulsive, correct?

Tracy Otsuka: So you were a combined type?

Tamara MC: Yes. And I’m combined. And again, like, I didn’t realize that I was hyperactive, but Yeah. Because I’m also I’ve always kind of been a very kind of quiet person. But Really, when I look at it, I’m always moving. I’m playing a sport. I’m running. I’m walking.

Tamara MC: I’m cycling. I’m playing pickleball. I can’t stay still, like, when I’m on my computer or I’m walking, like I have to do 3 or 4 things at one time in order For me to be calm, like, I can’t just do one thing at one time. I have to, like, be doing multiple things. Like, when I go on my bike ride, I’m listening to my podcast. I’m coming up with ideas for my book. It’s like my whole mind it always feels like it’s exploding. So there’s really Not a downtime.

Tamara MC: I only have 1 downtime. And this is, like, my guilty, lovely, pleasure, which is watching reality TV. And that totally took my mind down. Like, it’s over. Like, I just watched 90 Day Fiance, and I am just, like, in heaven. I can’t think about anything else But what’s going on? Like on 90 Day Fiance or Doris Caan.

Tracy Otsuka: Oh, you’ve never watched 90 Day Fiance? No.

Tamara MC: Oh my god. Oh my god. It’s the best. There’s so many. There’s, like, so many different iterations of it, but there are people that, like, Come together and they have 90 days to decide if they’re going to be married. They’re usually international couples, and so they live together for 90 days and then they have to see if at the end, they’re gonna stay married. And so they usually meet abroad somewhere and then they come Oh, that’s

Tracy Otsuka: fun, that part. Right?

Tamara MC: Yeah. No. It’s it’s all about dating. I love dating shows. They’re just So fun and so silly. And Golden Bachelor, have you watched that?

Tracy Otsuka: I have not. I heard about that. That was the only one that I thought, you know What? I might be interested in that, but is it

Tamara MC: it is so I’m so, so it is the best TV, like, that has come out in forever. Particular one is so good. Is so

Tracy Otsuka: good. Oh my gosh. And it’s because they’re more mature and they’re not, like, maybe they’re not doing There are things that they were doing in the other one.

Tamara MC: Is just this wonderful, kind, nice person that you just love watching, And he tries a lot. He, like, is all like, what? And the women are all in their sixties seventies, and they’re just So beautiful and so vibrant. And it’s just like this show that just makes you feel happy when you’re done watching it.

Tracy Otsuka: Oh, my gosh. Okay. You know what? I have been such a, like no bachelor. I can’t do bachelor, but I think I could do that one. That one actually sounds Like, positive. Right?

Tamara MC: Very positive. It’s very positive. You just And is it inspiring? It’s so inspiring, and you leave with Hope. And you just look at these women, and they’re all so nice to each other and they’re supportive. I mean, of course, there’s maybe of course, there’s maybe, like, 1 woman who isn’t exactly, but I won’t

Tracy Otsuka: Give that away. So Yeah. Okay. I’m gonna I’m gonna put it on my list and I’m going to try it. So it’s interesting that Nothing else works for you, but reality TV will allow you to shut the brain down and actually focus on what’s going on.

Tamara MC: Yes. Because I can, like, insert myself into other people’s lives, which makes me not be in my life and in my brain. I can, like, experience what they’re feeling, and I can experience their highs and their lows. And it just feels so separate from myself, whereas everything else, I just It’s so much part of me. The other thing that I do is play pickleball. And unlike cycling and running pickleball, I have to concentrate on the ball.

Tracy Otsuka: And the score. Right? Yes.

Tamara MC: And the score, which is very hard to keep track of. Oh, lord. I’m always like I’m out there and I’m like, oh my gosh. What’s the score? I just I never know the score. I don’t even know who’s serving. I just served, and I’m like, am I supposed to serve? I didn’t even know if that

Tracy Otsuka: was ADHD. Exactly. Exactly. And it you know what’s interesting is I know so many ADHD women that play pickleball, and most of them say exactly what you say. I I took, I think, 3 classes on on pickleball. I bought it for my husband for Father’s Day who didn’t wanna do it because I wanted to do it. My daughter was in town, and so we did it. And by class 3, we got to scoring, and I was just, I’m out.

Tracy Otsuka: You know, whoever I’m playing with just needs to tell me, you know? That’s great, because it is very complicated and you do have to pay attention.

Tamara MC: Yeah. And I I started playing pickleball with my son who’s in his mid twenties. And so we my mom’s been she’s like the OG of pickleball. She’s been playing for, like, 11 years, like, before anybody even knew about it. So she’s been trying to get me into it, and then I got my son into it. But my son would always be like, you know, we’d be partners’ mom. Why don’t you know the score? Like, why can’t you get the score? I’m like, no.

Tracy Otsuka: I don’t

Tamara MC: know, but maybe it is my ADHD.

Tracy Otsuka: Oh, I think it’s definitely ADHD. For me, there is no frame of reference. Right? It there isn’t it’s not like tennis where it makes sense to me. It is so complicated and you have to go to the kitchen and I’m I’m like, That’s supposedly what they call a front part. Right? And Right. Yeah. Let’s cook on this line and, I still can’t get it. So I just decided if I’m gonna play, I’m just gonna do it for fun, and I’m really good at pickleball as long as I don’t have to keep score.

Tamara MC: Well, that’s okay. So somebody else is always keeping score. Don’t worry.

Tracy Otsuka: I love exactly. But they could be telling us something that isn’t true, and we wouldn’t even know. Well, that’s I love that you are playing pickleball with your son. I love it.

Tamara MC: Yes.

Tracy Otsuka:  So it’s interesting that you talked about Being diagnosed with autism going in, being diagnosed with autism, and then, oh, by the way, you also have ADHD. And so I’d love to know where you think the line is between, you know, what are the symptoms that are ADHD, what are the symptoms that are autism, and then, You know, what are kind of shared by both?

Tamara MC: You know, I wasn’t actually sure, like, where Where one began and one ended because I feel like they’re so together. But, you know, I was listening you know, I’ve been listening to so many of your guests speak and you had a guest And I can’t recall her name, but she was talking about traveling, and she ended up in Spain, and she was running with the Bulls. And, like, She had this story where she was just jumping off and doing these things, and I was like, oh, that’s me, but I didn’t know that was ADHD. Like, I’ve traveled to almost 80 countries, usually backpacking. I’m by myself. I end up somewhere, and then I’ll just go without a plan. And I just have to see every little thing, and I end up having all these crazy situations and exciting situations that always happen. But I didn’t ever think about it that it’s that constant stimulation.

Tamara MC: Like, I always, like, need to be seeing new things. I don’t like to eat in the same Restaurants, I don’t you don’t either. No.

Tracy Otsuka: I wanted to be missing the best restaurant. Right?

Tamara MC: Yeah. But I just wanna experience everything. Like, I want and, I mean, this is kind of maybe I don’t know if this is bad or whatever, but I didn’t even realize this, but, like, I love to have lots of women friends because I don’t just wanna have 1 or 2. Like, I want tons of them because, like, that’s Exciting to me. I get to learn all of their stories. And so I think in that way, I think my ADHD is always, like, Just throwing me in the middle of having to know a little bit about everybody, everything, every place. Like, I need to know all different books that are out. It’s just this constant, like, this this curiosity and just wanting to meet people and experience constantly new things.

Tamara MC: Which seems

Tracy Otsuka: to most people when they think about autism, the exact opposite. So you’ve got that side of you, which is clearly ADHD, right? But then you have the side where in certain parts of your life, Rules, structure, routine are really important to you.

Tamara MC: Yeah. And that’s that’s again, it’s like, I get up at the same time every day, and I get up super early. I have to get up, like, sometimes between 3 or 4. Oh, I always have to get up and work for about 4 or 5 hours before I even begin my day. And so I begin my day by 9 o’clock, I’ve already worked for about 4 or 5 hours. And I have to drink my coffee. And that was something I never thought about. But When I started my PhD, I could not focus.

Tamara MC: Like, reading texts were so so hard for me. I didn’t understand why, but it had always Everything just came easy to me, so I was just able to skim things. I was able to kind of get away with Mhmm. Doing very little. But then in my PhD coursework, I really had to get into text. And I was like, I don’t even see this paragraph. I don’t see this chapter. And so it was super hard for me.

Tamara MC: So I never drank caffeine in my life. And then I started drinking caffeine during my PhD, And it was like my magic drug.

Tracy Otsuka: Yeah.

Tamara MC: Like, my mind just suddenly I can focus so much. Like, I can just Just stimulant. Yeah. I love it. I love it. I love coffee. So

Tracy Otsuka: I love it too, and I love the whole social everything around coffee, but I can’t drink coffee because I I just get so anxious, you know, and it’s like medication. That’s why medication doesn’t work for me.

Tamara MC: Okay. Yeah. Because, you know, coffee can do different things for different people. Coffee to me does not give me anxiety. Yeah. It makes me focus. Now I actually only drink decaf, which is kinda silly, but it does have, like, a few milligrams of caffeine. But it’s just the right amount for me That I don’t get shaky in any way.

Tamara MC: And I can drink like 2 or 3 cups of decaf and just enjoy the whole experience without getting Too buzzed to where I’m gonna jump out of my chair.

Tracy Otsuka: Right. So now it’s about the experience. Right? I’m sure you wake up, and I wish I had your schedule where I could get up at okay. Not 3, but for 4 in the morning, get a bunch of hours of work done because that probably completely quells your anxiety then, and your dopamine is sky high, right, by 9 o’clock.

Tamara MC: Exactly. Like, When I don’t have my work done, I get so much anxiety. So I usually get my work done, and then I do my exercise. So already by, like, 10 or 11, my exercise and, like like, my my creative work where I need my mind is already Done. So then I’m like, I can, like, breathe, and I can be like, okay. Now I can take all of my meetings. I can schedule you know, in the afternoon, My days are very, very scheduled. You know? In the morning, I’m always doing creative work.

Tamara MC: And then in the afternoon are my meetings, my doctor’s appointments appointments, anything else. I’ve created my day because then I can do all of that because I don’t need my highest brainpower at that time.

Tracy Otsuka: Yeah. So I’m curious what time you go to bed.

Tamara MC: I like to go to bed around 7.

Tracy Otsuka: 7 PM? Okay. So what happens as far as you’ve got all these friends? How do you go out for dinner? How do you when do you watch The Bachelor? Okay.

Tamara MC: So yeah. So I don’t go to sleep at 7. I get into bed at 7, and then I turn on The Bachelor, And I have a beautiful TV mounted on my wall in my bedroom, and I just turn on The Bachelor. I turn on 90 Day Fiance, And I will watch that for, like, an hour to 2 hours. And so I’m usually getting to sleep by 9 o’clock.

Tracy Otsuka: Okay.

Tamara MC: Going back to I don’t eat dinner. Dinner is not a meal I’ve ever eaten. So I like to usually Eat, like, a brunch after my workday, like, at about 10 ish or so. That’s, like, my 1st meal. And then I like to eat at about 3 or 4, so that way I’m also Kind of

Tracy Otsuka: European of you.

Tamara MC: Yeah. So I’m not good with late night meals. My friends know that I don’t really get together at night. Like, I’m just not a night person.

Tracy Otsuka: So do you do a lot of lunches And then weekend kind of brunch kind of stuff?

Tamara MC:  Yeah. A little bit. I’m I’m really not that social lately. I’ve been focused on my career so much That Mhmm. Maybe this is my ADHD and autism working. But Yeah. I I really work 7 days a week because I have to work Every morning, 7 days to complete all the things that I want to complete. Mhmm.

Tamara MC: So I do not miss a single morning. I am single, so I don’t have an intimate partner. So I can just kind of do whatever I want, like, in terms of I’m not, like, waiting to have brunch with somebody on the weekend or something like that. I think my social interactions have really lessened in the past years, especially since the pandemic. And, you know, I have my family. You know, I always set Time aside for like my mom and my boys and but other than that, I’m very, very selective in how I spend my time. I say no to a lot, a lot.

Tracy Otsuka: So I do hear a lot of ADHD and autism in what you’re telling me. You’ve created a lot of structures, what works for you, what makes you feel good. Right? And, of course, you’re able to get a lot done because you’ve created all this structure.

Tamara MC: Yes. I think so.

Tracy Otsuka:  So I’m curious. Before we leave the diagnosis story, I wanted to know what tomorrow was like as a young child.

Tamara MC: Yeah. So I was spending a lot of time thinking about this question. I was super quiet, super shy. I didn’t talk a lot, in school, but then there was this other part of me, which, I was explaining this to somebody the other day, but I couldn’t stay in my chair, which I guess is totally ADHD. But it isn’t in the way that like, my son, he’s never been diagnosed with ADHD, but he was really could not stay in his chair. So it’s totally different. But I was just never interested in what the teacher was saying. They always sounded so boring.

Tamara MC: So I would always just want to walk around and talk to everybody and ask them questions about what they were doing and what they did over the weekend. I was always so interested in everybody’s lives, And I guess somebody said, oh, that’s the interviewer in you because I’ve always loved to ask people questions and get to know. So I guess That was always just part of me that I was just always so interested. There were, like, a couple of boys in my class who Had ADHD, of course, there wasn’t a I don’t know if there was a diagnosis then. I mean, I didn’t know that, but they were just running around wild all the time. But I would actually be put at the fence with them during recess often. So I’d have to put so our backs Acts would have to be to the playground so we couldn’t see what the other kids were doing, and our noses had to, like, touch the actual, the gate, you know, the metal. So So the whole time, like, our noses had to be there.

Tamara MC: So for all of recess, often, I’d be sent there. And on my report cards, it says Tamara is too talkative, like, whenever they’re so it’s a horrible thing to

Tracy Otsuka: do to kids. I can’t even imagine. So what they need is to work off all that energy, and instead, they’re forced to I’ve never heard this before. Literally with their noses to the gate?

Tamara MC:  Yeah. There yeah. My nose would have to touch the gate. That was the rule. And we could never turn around, which I just remember feeling like, I just had to turn around to see what everybody was doing. Like,

Tracy Otsuka: Wow. Oh my gosh. So you were clearly an active child, but it sounds like school was a piece of cake for you.

Tamara MC: It was, I guess, but but I don’t really, really remember it. Like, I don’t remember hearing what the teacher said. I’m close in my own world all the time. I don’t even know what happened. Like, I remember kid like, I’m still friends with my elementary school And they’ll talk about the things that we learned in 4th grade or, and I’m like, how do you like, I don’t remember learning that. Like, I learned how to write In college, I did not learn how to write in elementary, middle, or high school. Yeah. Even though I went to class, I didn’t know how to I mean, I will definitely tell you, I don’t think I knew how to write.

Tracy Otsuka: And I know that in our conversations back and forth, you’ve you’ve told me that, you not only have ADHD and autism diagnoses, but Clearly, there’s ADHD and complex PTSD. And so I’m curious how much of and we’ll get into, you know, the the main reason you’re here, frankly. We’ll get into that next, but I’m also curious how much of what was going on there was PTSD versus ADHD. And you’ll never know really for sure. Right? But

Tamara MC: Yeah. But I kind of you know, I think about that a lot, like Like where, where is trauma? Where is autism? Where is ADHD? Where’s OCD? And I just think that when I really look back at myself, I really do think that I had ADHD before the trauma. Like Yeah. But I think it was intensified through the trauma.

Tracy Otsuka: Of course. Of course. Yeah. And just watching how, How you’re constantly moving? I can see that. And just, you know, the stories that you’ve already shared with us. So Before we leave this area, I would love to know what you think has really changed since you were diagnosed.

Tamara MC: Yeah. I think I feel so much calmer since I was diagnosed. Like, there’s a name To what I was experiencing because I felt different. I didn’t know The vocabulary for what that was, but it was just this feeling that I always felt different. And so I guess just having that vocabulary. And now it’s just it’s so wonderful, like, with your podcast, with all the different podcasts and all that is out there and the Instagram accounts, it’s like, This is the best time in history to be diagnosed with ADHD, truly. Yeah.

Tracy Otsuka: Yeah.

Tamara MC: You know? For a woman or for a girl to be diagnosed with ought to be neurodiverse At this point Yeah. There are so many resources. Like, I can say that now as a 50 year old and, like, coming in in this point in history, Had this happened, like, when I was 12 or 15 in the eighties, I would not be as thrilled with my diagnosis. I would have been lost. Like, I would have It would have felt so different, but now I’m like, oh, that’s why I act these ways. And it just it’s really my superpower, I feel like. It’s Just, you know, during all of my school years, nobody said to me, oh, Tamara, you may have ADHD. Nobody.

Tamara MC: Not once. The chair of my dissertation committee, she said to me that I was idiosyncratic. That was the word that she used for me.

Tracy Otsuka: Which is such an ADHD kind of reference, right? I think so consistently inconsistent. Like, it makes no sense to the outside world.

Tamara MC: And I was like, I didn’t even know what to take with that. It’s like, I don’t really know what that means. And she said, no. I’m saying it in a really positive way, but it didn’t feel positive. But Even though it might have been, I’m not going to say what what her intentions were because I really do think that they were good. But I think that that’s the only time somebody, like, mentioned, like, wait. There’s something a little different with you, like maybe he’s just a little different.

Tracy Otsuka: Yeah. I love that. Okay. So talk to us about what it means to be a cult, Child marriage and human trafficking lived experience expert.

Tamara MC: Yeah. So a lived experience expert is somebody who has lived Through all of those. So, yay, me. I’ve I’ve gone through all of that. So when I was 5 years old, my father Joined a cult. And when I say he joined a cult, it wasn’t as if he joined a cult. Nobody says I’m joining a cult. He joined Right.

Tamara MC: He joined a community, an idealistic community, where it was supposed to be utopian and everything was supposed to be wonderful. Where was this? Yeah. The community was in Texas.

Tracy Otsuka: Texas. Okay.

Tamara MC: Mhmm. So it was in Texas. So he joined this community. Him and my mother separated. So I spent Part of the year with my dad and then part of the year with my mother. My mother did not join the community. They separated because she refused to. And so my father then moved away, moved to Texas, remarried.

Tamara MC: His wife had 4 other children, so I immediately had 4 step Sablines.

Tracy Otsuka: Is she part of this community?

Tamara MC: Yes. Yes. She was part of this community as well. And So I would start spending time with him there. The place was built in the middle of Texas, in the Hill Country of Texas, like, on nearly 200 acres, there was nothing around except for these buildings. There was one way in, one way out. All of the children were homeschooled. We weren’t allowed to read.

Tamara MC: We weren’t allowed to write. We weren’t allowed to watch Television. And I think a lot of me watching television right now is transgressive because I’m like, I’m gonna watch really junky TV because I’m not sure if we’re allowed to.

Tracy Otsuka: So was that girls and boys were not allowed to read, write, school, none of that?

Tamara MC: Yes. It was girls and boys. Girls and boys were separated, though, so we were completely isolated from each other. So the girls Kind of had their girls’ spaces and the boys had their boys’ spaces. And we did have religious studies, so there were, like, a lot of religious studies. My interest in language began then because we also learn languages, so that’s how I became a linguist and a polyglot. And then I went on to get my PhD in languages. So, really, even though there’s so many negative things that happened in the cult, it also, like, has followed through with, Like, has followed through in my life in terms of my love of languages, my love of cultures.

Tamara MC: Like, so much has also followed me that was very positive. Actually, you know, I think like growing up so I was an only child with my mom and my dad and they were both only children. And so I had a very, very quiet upbringing with my mom and with my dad and then just with my mom after my dad left. But in this community, there were about a 150 people. There were maybe 50 children. And so I think I was constantly being stimulated. So in a way, that was so good for my ADHD because I had so many friends and I would run here and I’d run there. And so in a way, I guess that that was very positive.

Tamara MC: So that’s kind of the beginning of the cult’s life. The leader always really liked me. I was named the most Special child from the time I was 5 years old. I was given a new name, which is very common in cults is that you’re completely renamed, so I no longer had the name Tamara. I had a totally different name, which meant most beloved. And so I Mara had a totally different name, which meant most beloved. And so I became the most beloved girl child in the community, which Meant that I see, I that’s what I find is so funny with my diagnosis, this impulsivity, because I was never impulsive in that way. Like, I just always followed rules.

Tamara MC:I never broke rules. Maybe that’s my autism. Yeah. It’s like I took everything so literally. If somebody told me I couldn’t do this, I would never do that. I guess I also, like, Believed in people’s good intentions is something that I’m also beginning to learn. But that’s

Tracy Otsuka: no ADHD. Right? We’re just such optimists, I think about other people. We see the good in them when maybe nobody does.

Tamara MC: Oh, yeah. That’s inter yeah. Because I always felt So optimistic. Like, despite my dire like, now when I look at my circumstances, I’m, like, in shock at my life.

Tracy Otsuka: Yeah. That you live that. Right?

Tamara MC: Yeah. That that was my life because when I was in it, I guess I always Not even try. I just make the most of everything I’m in. Like, I somehow find it interesting or exciting or I make this new friend or something. And so I guess I was still very positive during that time. But yeah. So the leader really liked me. Right after I completed 7th grade, I was 12 years old.

Tamara MC: I Went to go stay with my dad because, like, the day after school ended, I went to my dad’s in Texas. I took my airplane. I used to fly by myself. That was before there was laws of kids not flying by themselves. So I would fly by myself. And I arrived in Texas. And after I got there, I my dad told me that the leader wanted me to live with him. And I didn’t really know why, and I was Like, okay.

Tamara MC: I mean, I didn’t have a choice. It’s not like I said okay. The next morning, my dad put me in the car, and so The community lived about an hour away from the actual leader himself. He had his own property, which we called The Hill. And on the hill, he had 3 wives that were living with him then, his mother and 6 children at the time. My dad drove me up to this hill, and there was an intercom system before even going in. There was an automatic gate. So this was The eighties.

Tamara MC: Like, nobody had automatic gates to get into, like, properties. And so, like, my dad called up. He beeped in, and they said, okay. We can go. The automatic gate Opened, our car went in, we drove up the steep hill, and my dad took me to the 2nd wife’s house And dropped me off and left me. He didn’t really know what was going to happen. And so I was there and I didn’t No. At the time, of course, but I was there to really become their child domestic servant.

Tamara MC: The 2nd wives, She had 4 children all under 6. She had a 6 month old baby and a 2 year old and then 2 other children. And the other wife had 2 other children too. So I was there to take care of their children. I was immediately the next stay. I was put in what was called the playroom, which really had no toys. It was just a futon on the floor, and I was left with Four children, and I was supposed to be caring from them from sunrise until about 10 o’clock at night. And so I was totally alone with, I mean, a 12 year old taking care of a 6 month old that couldn’t even sit up at that point.

Tamara MC: It was just it was a lot. So that’s how I spent my whole summer, And that’s how I was a human trafficking survivor. But also in the cult, all the girls did all of the work for the community even before that from the time I was 9. A girl would become a woman at age 9. That’s when a girl was considered a woman in our community, which meant that they had to do The childcare, they had to do the cleaning, the cooking, that was their role once they became a woman. So that was what happened from a very young age was my workload. But going back to my ADHD, like, yeah, I’m just thinking about that. I haven’t really thought of it together, But I think I did such a good job with the kids because I just made up stories.

Tamara MC: I made up games. I would dance with them. I would sing with them. I would make up songs. I would, like, I’d put them in PE class, Like, in this room, like, we’d have, like, these different relays and rate like, whatever I learned in my elementary school, I, like, brought to these little kids. And so I think I just had such high energy and such high motivation. And then my autism part was I was So reliable. I was so organized.

Tamara MC: They could count on me. They knew that nothing would ever happen to their children because out of all the children, Out of all the girls, I was chosen as the 1 child to, like, be there, which was the greatest honor because to be close to the leader was what everybody in the community aspired to do. The men, the women, everybody, and I had this honor.

Tracy Otsuka: So when you were there, 12 years old, Spending your summer in this room with these 4 kids, did you ever think, oh, my gosh, this totally sucks. How do I get out of here? Or did you just kind of make the best of it and find joy in that? Like, were you angry at your dad for dropping you off and your mom for allowing knowing this.

Tamara MC: I can’t really say anger was what came up to me. No. I really wasn’t. I was exhausted. I was tired. I was a little bit scared. I was scared, but I really did have a lot of joy because I was taught that this was something like, Like, I was just given this opportunity. So I really thought it was an opportunity because It was gonna get me closer to God.

Tamara MC: It was gonna get me to heaven, like like, on a much larger level. And then on this other level, we were also told that, like, service is like we had to be of service all the time. So when we’re And when I say we, I mean young girls, not the adults, not the men have to be absurd. Right. No. But that I’m fulfilling my role that I was brought into this world to do. So here I was yeah. So here I was in this situation where I was being able to serve.

Tamara MC: So I just was so proud that I was able to do that. And I really Fell in love with these kids. I mean, I just I I mean, I I love kids, but I fell in love with the baby. The baby I consider, he was my first Baby in my life. Like, he’s the one who I just I took care of him exactly the same way that I took care of my kids. Like, I just protected him and, like, I just loved this little baby. So I guess in that way, there was all of that going on too. Like in later life, when I go back and I look at what happened and I was like, wait a sec.

Tamara MC: How was I working for free and how was I a child? You know, then it’s it’s With my adult brain now, of course, that doesn’t all make sense, but at the time it was all I knew.

Tracy Otsuka: Right. So what happened after that 1st summer? Did you go back to to your mom?

Tamara MC: Okay. So then so then the Because the second thing that happens that summer is after I’m sent to the house so I live in what’s called the servant quarters. It was like a shed that was Formed into, like, this room. There was a sliding glass door, but it didn’t have a lock on it. But within a couple of days, The adopted son of the leader snuck into my room and began sexually assaulting me.

Tracy Otsuka: Oh, I’m so sorry.

Tamara MC: Yeah. And then within a few days, he came back in and he said that because that he wasn’t acting Religiously, and so that he had to marry me. And because we came from like purity culture. Like you couldn’t be intimate with somebody without being Married to them. And so it was at midnight, because he would sneak in at midnight because that would be when I was done with the Children. I was done with the dishes. I just got into bed. And he I mean, my my sleeves were soaking wet at that point.

Tamara MC: And he came in and told me that he had to marry me, and then he said I had to repeat after him in a language. So in this type of marriage, you don’t have to have any witnesses. Nobody has to be there. So the person the man can actually marry himself. I’m use the word girl, not woman because I was to a girl or a woman. I mean, really? And so he just said I have to repeat after him. And so I said, in a language I didn’t understand because it wasn’t in English. I said, I take you to be my husband.

Tamara MC: And just like that, we were married, like, in less than 20 seconds, And that continued for the rest of the summer. He would sink in at about midnight. I’d have to wake up with the little kids at about 4 o’clock. I would maybe sleep an hour for the entire summer. I wasn’t eating. I really wasn’t drinking. So I had really no food. I I don’t even know how my clothes got I cleaned because nobody cleaned my nobody was taking care of me.

Tamara MC: Yeah. So I I don’t think I might have had a couple of outfits, and I don’t even think they ever got washed. But I didn’t smell. I’ve never smelled because, like, I have OCD, so like smell is like a big thing for me, but hypersensitivity. Yeah.

Tracy Otsuka: 5 years ago, I created this podcast to learn with you, to learn from you about ADHD and how it affects women. Guest after guest and all the research I’ve done on the solo episodes confirmed what I had suspected all along, that I needed to change the conversation around ADHD because I was certain that we were getting it all wrong. And I knew that because every single time I met another one of you, it confirmed again what I say on this podcast every episode, that I’ve never met an ADHD woman that wasn’t truly brilliant at something. Not one. And at this point, we’re talking about thousands of ADHD women. So I know I’m right. In all of those 5 years of recording over 250 episodes, I have not monetized this podcast. That means I’ve absorbed all the costs.

Tracy Otsuka: My concern was to do what I thought was best for you, my listeners. I did not want to distract you. Since then, we’ve had over 5 a half 1000000 downloads. We rank in the top One half percent of all podcasts on any subject in the world. I don’t know any podcast with these kinds of numbers that hasn’t monetized by taking on sponsors. About 2 years ago, I started considering sponsors because I was approached daily, and I was told I was a fool for not having them. But I haven’t been able to find the perfect fit. And so I said no time and time again.

Tracy Otsuka: I can’t take on a sponsor whose product I don’t personally use and really see value in for our ADHD brains. I just can’t do it. This means I’ve left a lot of money on the table every single year. Money that frankly could have defrayed a lot of expenses. It is very expensive to record a podcast week after week, year after year, Hey, the audio engineer, the podcast producer, my graphics people, the VA, all the people, right, that make this possible. With that in light, right now, for the first time ever, I have a huge favor to ask of you. I wrote a book called ADHD for Smart Ass Women with HarperCollins William Morrow. This book was inspired by all of you.

Tracy Otsuka: In fact, Many of your stories are in this book. It is a distilled version of the most important episodes of this podcast to help you and women like you Fall in love with your ADHD brain. Everything you need is right here, all in 1 place, all in 1 book. So My ask of you is this. If you have ever received any value from this podcast Or if you’ve ever felt supported by me through this podcast, or if you’ve ever sent me an email and received a response back or a video back or advice from me, then it would mean the world to me to have your support in return by preordering a copy of my book. Why is it so important to have your preorder rather than have you order on the day the book comes out? Because preorders have historically been viewed as a predictor of a book’s success by retailers. Look. If your book is getting buzzed before publication date, Booksellers give those books more exposure, which makes it more likely that that book will hit the bestseller list.

Tracy Otsuka: So why is this important? Because the more buzz your book gets, the more reach we get. Right? The more women will hear about it. And the natural offshoot of all of this is we can help more women fall in love with their ADHD brain. They no longer need to live in shame. Please help me spread the word, and please support this cause. I need to hit a goal of 200 preorders every week until publication date. Now that probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I am telling you it is Really hard. I need everyone’s help.

Tracy Otsuka: Would you help me by pre ordering your copy And maybe a copy for, I don’t know, All of Your Friends for the Holidays. The book comes out on December 26th After all the holiday craziness subsides, unless, of course, you celebrate Kwanzaa, in which case it’s also a perfect Kwanzaa gift because Kwanzaa starts on December 26th. I really appreciate your help. And when you preorder right now, I’ve got wonderful bonuses for you that you’ll get for free. Bonuses like workshops with me. One on what ADHD really looks like in women, another on ADHD stress and sleep, specifically how to get better sleep. These are strategies that work, and they’re from a former sleep denier, me, who has since been reformed. You can ask my husband.

Tracy Otsuka: In December, you’ll also get our ADHD for Smart Ass Women appendix, where we have created the best strength focused books, Websites, directories, and tools for falling in love with your ADHD brain. All of this for the cost of 1 $28 book. You can find all the information at adhdforsmartwomen.com forward slash book. Please stop this podcast and preorder Right now, before you forget, I know you. I share your brain. Thank you. So then after the summer was over, you left. Did you ever see your dad throughout that whole time during the summer?

Tamara MC: He might have come in and out. I don’t recall. Mhmm. But I kept that summer a secret. I didn’t tell anybody. He picked me up the day before I was supposed to go to the airport. He picked me up. I flew back to my mom.

Tamara MC: I never told my mom what happened. It was a secret. Yeah. And it remained I stayed with my husband for 8 years until I was 20 years old. So, And most

Tracy Otsuka:so every summer, did you go back? Is that what happened or?

Tamara MC: Yes. Summers that so I was at my dad’s at about four and a half months of the year. And then when I was 16, I graduated early from high school, and I went to go live with my dad full time.

Tracy Otsuka: Wait a minute. You grad oh, you graduated from high school at your mom’s.

Tamara MC: My mom’s. Yes. So all of the other children in the community were all homeschooled. I was the only child came in and out. So I had a public education, whereas they did not. So a lot of times when I look back, like, at my school years, I didn’t really think it was ADHD. I thought it was trauma because my mind was just trying to figure out what’s going on in my life, like, with my family.

Tracy Otsuka: Both. Right?

Tamara MC: Oh, right. Right. But then, like, I didn’t even think about this, but, like, I graduated high school. At that Time, it was unheard of and I just decided my senior year in 3 years. So I graduated my junior so I only graduated at 16. So my junior year, I was taking college courses at the community college, like freshman comp and all this stuff. I was doubling up on courses so I could finish in 3 years. And so I finished high school in 3 years.

Tamara MC: So, again, I think that’s probably my ADHD. Like, my mind can hold so much information. I can just put it in, put it in, and I can organize it. Like, I don’t know. My mind can just take in so much. Wow.

Tracy Otsuka: Wow. Okay. So how do we go from this child marriage that lasted for 8 years as part of this cult. And I’m curious, is this cult still in existence?

Tamara MC: It’s not in the same way. People still follow in He

Tracy Otsuka: has not been arrested.

Tamara MC: No. No. That yeah. They’re they’re international now. Most of the people

Tracy Otsuka: Oh, my gosh.

Tamara MC: Yeah.

Tracy Otsuka: So how do we go then from you’re in this cult, you’re in this child marriage, And now I know part of you being an expert with lived experience is then human trafficking. So what is that part?

Tamara MC: Yes. So when I was 16, I went to go live with the leader full time. He lived abroad, And I worked for him until I was 20. He now had 10 children, and I did the same thing. I was cooking and cleaning. So I was a what’s what’s termed now a modern day slave, which meant I was unpaid labor. So pretty much from the time I was 9 years old until I was 20 years old, I was being human trafficked to be working for the leader and his family. So that’s how the human trafficking comes in.

Tamara MC: My husband at the time, well, he ended up

Tracy Otsuka: This is husband, right, with air quotes, like Yeah.

Tamara MC: The air because it’s what I’m going to say, when I say husband, no child let me make this clear. No child can con can con can con be married ever. No. So the idea that this was a marriage is like how can marriage.

Tracy Otsuka: Yeah. It’s It’s off well, it’s criminal is what it is.

Tamara MC: Right. Right. So he married another woman when I was 20. So our cult is as I mentioned in the beginning, the leader had 3 wives. Almost all the men had multiple wives. So this was a completely polygamous cult. And so my husband married another woman And I didn’t know we married her. He kept it a secret.

Tamara MC: We then saw each other and he told me. And because I grew up the way that I did, I knew that I could never live in polygamy. Like, that was my boundary because I had grown up with the leader. All 3 of his wives hated each other and fought with each other, And I was always in the middle of all of them. And then also in the cult itself, like, when I wasn’t with the leader, There were so many problems between cowives. And so I just knew that I couldn’t do that. I begged my husband to leave this other person. He said no, that he had to be married to both of us.

Tracy Otsuka: He had to be.

Tamara MC: He had to be. He loved this other woman so much, he would tell me.

Tracy Otsuka: Oh my gosh.

Tamara MC: So, and now I think it’s hard for people to understand this. And I think unless, like, you’ve been through it. And I think that so many women have been through sexual assault in many different ways. But I grew to think that I really loved this man.

Tracy Otsuka: It’s not hard for me. I haven’t been through this experience, but you were 12 years old. I yeah. I I understand how this can happen.

Tamara MC: So he was really all that I had known. Like, he he had promised me so much That we were going to have in life. Like, he would tell me we’re not gonna be in polygamy like the rest of them. Like, he had promised me that that wasn’t gonna happen in our lives, That we were gonna live differently, that we were gonna have money because our cult like, the cult leader had so much money, but the members lived with nothing. So we grew up in Extreme poverty. Now food. I mean, it was just you know, I would go, like, from my mom’s to my dad’s. And I would come back and lose, like, 10 pounds.

Tamara MC: And I’m not even 4 foot 11 now, so I’m, like, small as it is. So I was probably 4 foot 7 maybe, 4 foot 8. Probably weighed 70, 80 like, That’s a lot of weight for a child to lose. Like, that’s not a little bit of weight. So I would, like, lose a lot of weight. I really thought that I loved him. So making the decision to leave him was the hardest decision I had ever made. Like, All I had to muster every bit of courage that I could’ve I just I and we were living abroad, so I was also stuck in another country.

Tamara MC: Like, It wasn’t like I was even in America anymore. And so I made that decision. I found a way to fly back to America, And I flew back and I left him and I left the leader, and that was really when my life really changed and began was at that point or began in a very different way.

Tracy Otsuka: So at this point, Tamara, You still hadn’t told anyone, right, about all of this, like your mom and your dad?

Tamara MC: My mom, no. Like, that’s That’s a totally different my mom was very separate from what was going on because the whole cult was to keep a secret of the cult and because I did follow rules.

Tracy Otsuka: But they do. Right?

Tamara MC: I did not tell anybody what happened in the cult. Like, people just knew, oh, she goes to Texas for the summer. You know? So there wasn’t really an understanding. I never told anybody what was happening. So I was keeping all of this within myself. Like, I was harboring the secret, The biggest secret ever. In the community, it was known by then. All of the girls began getting married by 14, all of my girlfriends.

Tamara MC: I was the 1st girl that got married, but then almost all of my girlfriends were being married off by 14 because that was the age that we were told, like, girls had to get married by them because after 14, they would become trouble. They could run away. They would become promiscuous. They would have boyfriends. So the whole point was to get us so that we didn’t have boyfriends. We didn’t run away. We didn’t start wearing skimpy clothes, like according to what they would say.

Tracy Otsuka: Right. Right. A pair of shorts and a t shirt. Okay.

Tamara MC: Yeah. Exactly. Yeah.

Tracy Otsuka: Oh my. Oh my. So You weren’t telling anyone, but clearly now you’re telling everyone. And you’re writing this memoir, Child Bride, My Marriage at 12. What motivated you to write this book and what message do you hope your readers, especially women, will take from your story or will take away from your story?

Tamara MC: Yeah. So after I left, I started waitressing, and then I enrolled myself in college all by myself. And, Again, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 3 years. I was taking 28 to 33 credits a semester, which was like insanity. And, again, I think that’s like my ADHD where I can just, like, do so much. And I was working then too. I was, like, Also, a waitress somewhere else as I was going through school. Like, I was supporting myself.

Tamara MC: I was doing all of these things. I graduated with master’s. I graduated with PhD. So I went through school. In between then, I also was married my junior year Or my sophomore year of my bachelor’s degree, I had my 2 children. I was married for nearly 18 years.

Tracy Otsuka: And Oh my gosh. Wait. Through all during all of this, you have 2 kids?

Tamara MC: Yeah. So I went to school while having, again, a 6 month old nursing baby and a 2 year old. I started my Masters. And, I did my PhD when I had these these kids. So I did it all. And We got divorced after about 18 years, that was about 12 years ago.

Tracy Otsuka: Can I ask, so your ex husband, Was he different in terms of was he very supportive and, you know, or or was it the the typical gender roles and you were responsible for all of this, as well as far as the home and the kids and then, you know, getting yourself through school?

Tamara MC: He was very, very traditional. He also was a consultant and didn’t work in town. So I was home alone with my boys 5 days a week, he would usually come home late Friday night and leave Sunday. And when he came home, he was there to relax. And so Oh my. I did all of the Compared

Tracy Otsuka:to your experience, Tamara, you probably thought, oh, well, this is way better than where I was. Right?

Tamara MC: I did think that. I thought it was so much better. Now when I look back, I’m like, oh, no, that wasn’t great either. Well, that wasn’t exactly a picnic either. So, no, I just I did you know, No. I paid all the bills. I did the landscaping. I did the pool.

Tamara MC: Like, I did it all. And that’s probably also, like, goes Ask my ADHD. Like, I can do things. Like, I have so much energy. Like, I can figure it out. You need me to clean a pool? I’ll figure out how to clean a pool. You need me Do this, I’ll figure it out. Like

Tracy Otsuka: right. I totally get it actually. So what is the message that you want to deliver to women out there based on your experience.

Tamara MC: You know, I grew up in a very extremist Fundamentalist environment.

Tracy Otsuka: Mhmm.

Tamara MC: And it was very black and white thinking. It was very us versus them. It was very much this group of people is going to heaven and this group of people is not. It was about women having certain roles, women dressing certain ways, women being able to love only certain people. It was an incredibly patriarchal community and that’s like patriarchal on like the high, high end of the spectrum of patriarchy.

Tracy Otsuka: Yeah.

Tamara MC: And so I think for me, when I went to university, I learned how to think critically. I learned How to read texts and how not to take everything that, ingesting and to believe it. Because in the cult, I just believed everything that I was told because, of course, this man knows more than me. Of course, this person who’s older knows more than me. And so I would just believe that. And so I learned to think critically and I am the exact opposite of how I grew up. Like, there is no us versus them. There is no better person and no lesser person.

Tamara MC: I am so against hierarchy. I am just all about freedom, like freedom of choice, freedom For a woman to be anything that she wants to be, to study anything that she wants, to love whoever she wants, and To decide what she wants to do, if she wants to work in the home or not work in the home, whatever it is. So for me, I guess, like, it’s really about Freedom of all beans and freedom of all sentient beans. Like, I’m also a vegetarian my whole life. I love animals so much. And so and but again, I don’t put that on anybody. That’s just my choice. That’s how I believe.

Tamara MC: And so we all have the right to believe how we believe, but it becomes a problem when we expect other people to believe like us. That’s where it becomes the problem.

Tracy Otsuka: Absolutely. Yeah. No. I get that, and I’m, amen, part of your religion. So What I would love to know, I’d love for you to talk to us about your research on how language manipulates vulnerable populations. Can you give us some examples of this and how it might affect girls and women in particular?

Tamara MC: Oh, Wow.

Tracy Otsuka: I know it’s a big broad question. Yes. What I’d like to do is then look at it through the ADHD lens. Oh. I mean, clearly, there was something going on in this whole cult thing. Right?

Tamara MC: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Tracy Otsuka: It was all about language and how language manipulated, Frankly, all the young people, all the women, all the girls,

Tamara MC: right, and men. I guess it’s in the cult, it was how language was used differently. So language was used differently for girls versus the adults, for example, or even Even for the women. Like we were talking about being of service, for example.

Tracy Otsuka: Mhmm.

Tamara MC: So what does being of service mean to a girl? Like as a girl, I’m being told the ultimate goal of my life is to serve. So I’m there to serve. So then you look at, Okay. Who am I there to serve? So that’s like a question. Oh, okay. I’m there to serve men, Leaders, women. I am there to serve all these people. But now, do the men, women, and leaders, Are they also there to serve? Like, are they also being given that word? Are they being taught that? Absolutely not.

Tamara MC: So there’s absolutely no reciprocation. There’s certain rules and words that were only used for us that were not used for anybody else. So the leaders, for example, would tell us exactly what we had to do all the time, but they didn’t do those things themselves.

Tracy Otsuka: Okay. So clearly they were using that language too though. Right? They were teaching that language, yet they weren’t expected to do to do any part they were Friggin’ hypocrites is what they were.

Tamara MC: That’s exactly right. And that’s one of the ways to tell if a place is a cult. Like, are all people being given The same rules and are they all following the same rules? Or are there only certain people that have to follow the rules and there’s other people that don’t have to follow the rules?

Tracy Otsuka: Oh, my gosh. Okay. So say that again, the way you tell if you’re part of a because I think we have a lot of cults in this country right now, you know. How do you know again? Say it again.

Tamara MC: Well, there there’s many different ways to tell if like a community is verging into Cult like behavior, for instance. One of the ways is, are there different rules for different people? So Do the girls have specific rules, for example, that are only for them that the leaders and adults don’t have to abide by? Or are there rules? See, in our cult, the girls were the lowest on the hierarchy. We were the absolute lowest. Mhmm. Women had a lot of power, and they were pretty much the ones who had us working so hard. And so I don’t put myself with women because my experience wasn’t at all. The women had a much better life than us. Yeah.

Tamara MC: Women actually Could have food, for example, whereas the girls, you know, we would have a certain amount of food and then whatever was left over would be left To the girl children, we were fed last.

Tracy Otsuka: Oh, my heavens. So the boys, the little boys were fed before the little girls? Yes. Yes. Oh, jeez. I mean yeah.

Tamara MC: So so the leaders were fed first. Their families were fed second. The men, The higher men, then the lower men, then the higher women, then the lower women, then the boys. Oh, no. The babies, you know, the younger children, then the boys, and then the teen and tween girls were fed last. That’s assuming there’s any food leftover.

Tracy Otsuka: Okay. Can you give us another example on how language manipulates vulnerable populations? Because the thing about the cult is, I mean, if you are a young child and you grow up in this and you don’t know any difference versus someone that’s an adult that comes in, like they’d have, you know, much more context, right, around how the world works. But if you’re a little kid and this is where you grow up, what are you supposed to believe? Because adults are the ones that are teaching you.

Tamara MC: Right. I mean, I think, like, even the language of food was such a big deal for us because As children, we weren’t allowed to have sugar. We were always on a specific diet, which cults, like, control food in that way as well.

Tracy Otsuka: I didn’t know that.

Tamara MC: Yeah. So we were macrobiotic for many years, which means, like, tomatoes were considered evil and eggplants were considered evil. So the nightshade vegetables. You know? But all of that was was, like, for example, like, we were told all of these things, But it wasn’t really about keeping us healthy. Really, it’s a way of control and it’s also taking away Protein from young girls as well. And so we were vegetarian because that also meant that we didn’t have protein in our diets. We were basically living off of beans mostly, which also would stop our periods, which would then make us not get pregnant. And so there was so many different ways of control.

Tamara MC: Like we’re being told that we’re eating healthy. This is Vegetarianism, this is healthy eating. But then in the meantime, the leaders are eating meat. Like, everything is different. Like, they’re sneaking sugar. They have fruit. Like, we couldn’t even have Fruit. Like, I remember to get an apple or an orange would have just been like sometimes we’d see an apple or an orange and we’d want it so bad, but We weren’t allowed to eat it.

Tamara MC Only, like, the adult could eat

Tracy Otsuka: Oh my gosh. And so did the men and the cult leader, So anybody up higher, were they allowed meat or they didn’t eat meat either? Allowed meat. Wow. Okay. So let’s apply this to ADHD and women and the conversations that have been happening around that for decades, or I should say the conversations that haven’t been happening around ADHD and women.

Tamara MC: Could you say that a little bit differently or what you’re are we still talking about the cult or something totally different?

Tracy Otsuka: o. No. No. We’re talking about, Well, I mean, I guess the cult can be involved as well if there are people in the cult that have ADHD and they happen to be women. But, you know, for For the longest time, there’s been no conversation. Right? There’s been no language around ADHD and women. And so instead, what’s been happening is Many of us have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and all of the personality disorders when in fact, had we had the information, you know, we could have realized that it was ADHD. And I think a lot of the personality disorders and the anxiety and the depression, It comes from the ADHD.

Tracy Otsuka: So if we could have been treated for ADHD early on, I think a lot of women, The shame would have been reduced, right, because we would have known what it was, and then we would have learned workarounds on, okay, well, how do we address the challenges that we might be feeling around ADHD. And frankly, focus on the strengths instead of all the things that we can’t do.

Tamara MC: Yeah. Like I said, I just don’t even think ADHD was in my mind until recently. So I don’t know if being diagnosed earlier would have helped me or because I feel like I’m it’s Such a strong place in my life now that I feel like I’d mentioned already that it was the perfect time to be diagnosed. But, yeah, I mean, I didn’t have any accommodations, like, throughout all of my degrees. I’ve never once had any accommodation. I’ve never had anybody to talk to about it. Like, actually, you’re the 1st person I’m having, like, a public conversation with. So, you know, I’ve been on lots of podcasts, but it’s not about my ADHD.

Tamara MC: So this is, like, the first time I’m talking about it. Yeah. So I think it’s really I feel like for me, this is kind of the beginning in a way. Like, this is me, like, really Coming into this in my own and like really, like, learning even more. And so So, yeah, so I think that’s where I’m at right

Tracy Otsuka: now. Yeah. I mean, I I I hear what you’re saying. I think that Obviously, what you studied for decades is language, but it can also be about not having the language, right, and people not talking about it. And so you’re just assuming that, oh, I don’t know. You’re not very smart. You obviously didn’t have that issue, but you’re not very smart, you’re disorganized, like all of the the chatter, I think, that we’ve been fed, and It’s because we didn’t know that no. No.

Tracy Otsuka: No. There’s nothing wrong with our brain. It just works differently. But if we’re not having those conversations, if we don’t have the If we don’t have the language, then, of course, we end up as women with less confidence, we don’t trust ourselves, We’re more willing to listen to others, right, like cult people, learned helplessness because why would I even speak up because every time I do, you’re telling me, no, no, no, your way is the wrong way, do it this way. I go and try do it this way, and I can’t do it. So it’s so interesting to me to basically look at language within the context of ADHD and how important it is that we are having these conversations. Right?

Tamara MC: Yeah. Absolutely. Like, honestly, before, like, going back to language, like, I wrote out my memoir 3 years ago, and it’s this monster memoir that’s, like, 350,000 words, which is, like, the equivalent of 4 novels. Yeah. Again, that’s just sneaking on, like, steroids all the time. I’m just like but I didn’t realize until I wrote that out That there was a word for modern day slavery, for example, that there was child domestic servant, that there was A child bride. I knew everybody in the community got married at, like, 14, but I didn’t have that word. Yeah.

Tamara MC: And So it’s like once I had that word and I’m just looking up the definitions, I’m like, wow. But I think it’s like the most important thing about having the language of ADHD, For example, is gaining a community because you don’t have that community until that point. So with that diagnosis, you can now say, I have ADHD, but now I have this community of all these other Strong, amazing women who also have ADHD. And now look at how amazing they’re doing And look at their strengths, and they’ve, like, become my mentors, for example. So we can be mentors for others, And then we can also be mentees, like, at the same time. So I think that’s the beauty of the diagnosis is now I can be part of all of these communities, and I can gain my strength through the other community members.

Tracy Otsuka: Absolutely. I mean, even the fact that you didn’t tell anybody, there was just the shroud of shame. And when we speak up and we start talking about whatever our experiences are, That’s the beginning of healing, right? Exactly. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. I love that. Okay.

Tracy Otsuka: So I have kept you far too long Tamara because this is just all so fascinating and so interesting. So I would love to know what you think the key to living successfully with ADHD is.

Tamara MC: So for me, I’m speaking from somebody who also has autism. So it may be a little bit different for other people, But I think that I’m an expert in my body. I know what makes me exhausted. I know that By 7 o’clock, I’m gonna be tired. And as much as I want to run around and do all these other things that I have to say no because It’s a choice because what I’m much more interested in is being able to wake up early and to work in my projects. And so if I’m staying up late, then I am not able to do all the other things that I wanna do. So I think for me, Like, my hack is just really understanding my body and how it works when I have the most energy And what I’m going to put that energy towards when I have the least amount of energy and just scheduling my days like that. I also don’t like commitments at all.

Tamara MC: Like, I don’t like I mean Yeah. My just people know. It’s like, if they Ask me out, I’ll be like, okay. Maybe. Like, I’ll never say yes. I’m not gonna commit because I may or may not feel like going at the time, and, usually, I won’t Feel like going at the time. But I just think it’s giving that that leniency that it’s okay. Like, we don’t have to say yes.

Tamara MC: We don’t have To go to things. We can leave things open. We can decide that, yeah, maybe we’re gonna go try this thing out. And after 10 minutes, we don’t like it and we can leave. Like, there’s nothing keeping us anywhere. You know, I go to so many conferences all the time and I’ll be signed up to take, like, the specific class at this specific workshop. But I’ll stay 10 minutes and I’ll leave. Like, I don’t stay anywhere because My time is my most valuable thing, so I will not give away my time.

Tamara MC: So I just hold on to my time and just, like, Love my I don’t know. It’s like my beloved thing, so I don’t give that away. And so I just think it’s really knowing our bodies and when we’re doing the like, when when we function the best. And I cannot Begin work, and I think I’ve mentioned I’ve heard you mention this as well. Like, my whole house has to be clean before I start working. Yeah. Everything has to be clean. But I started doing it years ago that I just go to a coffee shop because if I have a dish in the sink, I’m gonna lose my mind.

Tamara MC: But I’m just like I’m like, okay. I can leave my space. I know that for me with my ADHD, I love the sounds going around around me. I don’t like to be in a quiet place. So in a coffee shop, I love the and drum of people talking. I Yep. Can’t stand people on their Phones are on their social like that, no, but just regular conversation. So I just think it’s finding those things that like that make our workdays and our personal lives work for us.

Tamara MC: And our lives do not need to look anything like anybody else’s lives. Yeah. They are unique to us.

Tracy Otsuka: They just need to work. Right? And we need to feel positive emotion and, like, we need to feel good about them, and then it’s perfectly fine.

Tamara MC: Exactly. Exactly.

Tracy Otsuka: I love that. So Doctor. Tamara MC, where can people find you if they wanna know more about you and what you do?

Tamara MC: Sure. Yes. So you can find me on my website atwww.tomara, t a m a r a, And it’s just 2 letters, mc.com, tamarramc.com. And all of my social media is at tamarramcphd. So you can pretty much find me anywhere. And I really do love to collaborate and work with other wonderful women. So if anybody would like to reach out To me, I would really, really enjoy that. And I really do want some new ADHD friends.

Tamara MC: Like, I don’t have a a large group of women. So and I know you have such wonderful women on your podcast, so so that would be so awesome.

Tracy Otsuka: Yeah. It’s it’s totally different. I’m sorry, but it is when a woman has ADHD. Right away, there’s a connection for me. It’s really rare that I don’t feel that. Versus neurotypicals? Yeah. Kind of all the time. I was I was on At an event last night with my husband, it was his event.

Tracy Otsuka: And, you know, when you’re you’re with a group of people and you can almost tell them kind of tell that they’re, like, you know, pulling up against the wall because the energy is so much, and that’s when I have to tell myself, okay, you can ease up now. However, because I’ve got this book that’s coming out and that’s just how my husband introduces me, everybody lately wants to talk about ADHD. Everybody’s got, you know, a family member, a spouse, a friend, a parent. They all wanna know about ADHD. So But still, you know, I’m probably still too much. Anyway, Tamara wait. Did I get it right, Tamara? Tamara. Tamara.

Tamara MC: Tamara. Oh my god. Are we good at

Tracy Otsuka: the beginning? You do. Right. I know. I’ve been singing that song, you know, the Annie song, Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Anyway, Thank you so much for spending time with us here today. This was such a fun conversation.

Tamara MC: Thank you so much, Tracy. I’m so happy to be here and To meet you in person, I’ve always I’ve admired you for so long and all of your all of your audience members. It’s so good to meet all of you.

Tracy Otsuka: Wonderful. So that’s what I have for you for this week. If you like this episode with Tamara, please let us know by leaving a review. Our goal, you know, it’s to change the conversation around ADHD, helping as many women as we possibly can learn how their ADHD brains work so that they too can discover their amazing strengths. And before I let you go, don’t forget, preorder my book, ADHD for smart No. ADHD for smart ass women. Right? Do it right now before you forget. Adhdforsmartwomen.comforward/book.

Tracy Otsuka: As always, you’re listening to ADHD for smartass women. Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you here next week. You’ve been listening to the ADHD for Smart Ass Women podcast. I’m your host, Tracy Otsuka. Join us at ADHD for smart women.com, where you can find more information on my new book, ADHD for smart ass women, and my Patented, your ADHD brain is a okay system to help you get unstuck and fall in love with your brilliant.

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