Writer and podcast host Emily Farris joins Zibby to discuss I’LL JUST BE FIVE MORE MINUTES, a hilariously honest and heartwarming essay collection about life, love, and finally getting an ADHD diagnosis at age 35. Emily and Zibby start by discussing the prevalence of ADHD among creative women and its misperception as a young boy's condition. Then, Emily discusses her journey to an ADHD diagnosis and its impact on her life. She delves into her struggles with alcohol, how she manages relationship and work challenges, her experiences during 9/11, and her coping mechanisms for managing executive dysfunction, such as setting multiple alarms and using calendar reminders.


Zibby: Welcome Emily, thank you so much for coming on Moms Don't Have Time to Read books to discuss I'll just be five more minutes and other tales from my ADHD brain.

Emily: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I am so excited to be here.

Zibby: Emily, I could not put this book down. I read it like cover to cover, laughing out loud, dog earing all the pages. I feel like we've had so many similar things in life. I also think you are one of the funniest women I've read and I just love your voice.

Love, love, love everything about it.

Emily: I'm going to cry. That's like such an amazing thing to hear, especially from you. So thank you so much.

Zibby: Oh my gosh, of course. I also am now fairly convinced I also have ADHD, but that's okay. It's okay.

Emily: You know, I'm hearing that kind of a lot from people in my circles and It's not entirely surprising because the people in my circles are creative women who wear many hats, I would say, do lots of things, get lots of things done, have many interests, have lots of projects.

And, you know, those two things kind of tend to go together.

Zibby: And to your point in the book, you know, it's not something that was widely diagnosed when we were growing up for women in particular, for girls.

Emily: No, not at all. ADHD was thought to be this, you know, young, young white boy problem.

Zibby: Yeah. People, kids who just like couldn't sit still had like bounce around in class and all of that.

Okay. Emily, first let's just start with when you decided to write this book, what it was like getting a diagnosis of ADHD and I just want to hear how you wrote the book, because it's so funny, and I love how you did it in short snippets, and it's like so perfectly crafted, and there's so many, I mean, the fact that you end it with your resume, I mean, the whole thing is like so clever, just so clever.

Talk about how you got going and all of that.

Emily: Thank you. You mentioned my diagnosis and that's, that's a, that's a longer story. That's kind of, that's in the details in the book, but I'll get into how I got the idea to write. Yeah. Okay. Um, so it's a real moms don't have time to read books situation because I was, it was April of 2021 and it was my very first walk that I took by myself without a dog or a child or a husband.

It was the first time I was alone, alone. Out in nature in a year, 11 months, 12, 13 months. I'm bad at math. 13 months. And earlier in the day, I had been tinkering with something in the house and telling my then husband like "I'll just be five more minutes". And it kept being five more minutes and five more minutes, five more minutes.

I had long joked, for years, maybe decades, that if I ever wrote a memoir, it would be called Five Minutes Late and Covered in Dog Hair. And when I was out on this walk, I thought, Oh my God, wait, I'll just be five more minutes. That's a great title and obviously it should be essays because I can't write like a long chronological detailing of my life.

Actually, I probably could, maybe could, but I timed out of reading comprehension on the GRE. I saw that like 10 years earlier, and I thought, if I'm ever gonna write a book, I need the accountability of an MFA program and diagnosed a ADHD, didn't know it at the time. And so I thought, well, I, I can only do essays, they gotta be short, gotta do essays.

And that's how I liked, I prefer to write anyway and I cut my walk short and rushed home and like rattled off this email to my agent and he got right back to me. He was like, I love this idea. The timing is right. This is so you. This is perfect. Let's do it. And you know, the, the dopamine was flowing and I knocked out a proposal pretty quickly and he shopped it around and, and I got to work on it by October of 2021.

Zibby: Wow.

Emily: And wrote it in a year.

Zibby: It's awesome. It's so awesome. One thing that you referenced, and I'm just going to like jump all over it because it's that's the nature of the story. It's the nature of the story. Drinking a Love Story is one of my favorite books by Caroline Knapp. Love, love, love. And I also, and I wrote about this in my own memoir, which I feel like you have to read because you'll see like we have a thousand things in common.

Not because I'm trying to sell another comic.

Emily: No, it is actually on my list. I promise you it is on my list.

Zibby: Because you're going to be like, me, that's me, that's me. Because that's how I was with you, which has not happened to me with like any other book. I don't think I've read that. Anyway, um, how you turn to alcohol, like wine coolers when you were young and then got to a point where when you were older, you're like, let me see if I can stop drinking for six months and all of that. Talk to me about the role of alcohol and how it relates and even the dopamine and all of it, just where that fits in and where, what your relationship is now.

Emily: Yeah, uh, I'll try to remember them all. I, I started drinking really young. Some of that I think is, is where I grew up and how I grew up in the Midwest in a suburb, suburb is a nice term of Kansas city. And I, Started drinking young as a social lubricant, I felt. awkward. I couldn't talk to people. I would say the wrong things. I wanted the courage to talk to boys. I wanted to fit in. And so I started drinking and I realized that I at least in my own head, I thought I fit in better when I was drinking. And so I would drink more and it was fun. And I felt less inhibited as one does, whether they have ADHD or not, but it helped me as someone who I started drinking when I was 14.

Do not recommend, do not try this at home children. By then I had already, I knew that like, I would say the wrong things or I was awkward or like I wasn't like the people in my school who had lots of friends and were really social and cool and drinking at least made me feel like I could be those things sometimes. And I just kind of grew up thinking that like alcohol was how I could be social. That's how I could be around boys. And it just made me feel, I hate to say the word normal because it clearly being drunk is not normal, but it made me feel like I could talk to people, like everyone else could talk to people and that continued for far too long.

And it got to the point where I was like, didn't know how to go on a date without getting drunk. And then it got to a point where I was just like, it was, I would wake up and it was cringy and it was, I felt gross about it and just about my drinking in general. And I was, I was still in my twenties, like I think a lot of people reach this point in their 20s. And hopefully most of them can say, "Oh shit". I need to stop drinking so much. So I did, I took, I said, I'm going to take a six month to a year long break and just to see if I can, because I wasn't, I didn't know if I could, I was like, am I an alcoholic? I don't know. And so I quit and I could, and I just found something else.

I started running and I got really into frosted animal crackers, the kind with sprinkles and Diet Coke. Um, and maybe I just replaced one thing for another, but I kind of had been doing that throughout my life. And it wasn't that I like needed a thing. I was just like, okay, well I'll just get interested in this other thing now.

And the fact that I quit. And I could quit and I didn't crave it and I felt great and life was great. I was like, "Oh, okay, I guess I'm not an alcoholic", but I definitely had a drinking problem. I was drinking too much. And so I slowly reintroduced alcohol into my life in a much more grown up way. And I have a much better relationship with alcohol now.

I will say that there are still times where I drink too much out of social anxiety and I, I rein myself in and like, "Oh, better take a break, cut back", you know, "Cool it". And I, and I do, and I'm too old for that now. I'm 41. I have two kids. I'm tired. I don't know. I don't have time to get drunk anymore. But you know, I like, I enjoy a cocktail.

Zibby: You can host the Moms Don't Have Time to Get Drunk podcast. How about that?

Emily: Oh my God. Yes.

Zibby: Wouldn't that be funny?

Emily: That would be so fun.

Zibby: Oh my gosh.

Emily: Let's do it. Let's co host it. We'll have one low alcohol drink.

Zibby: Oh my gosh. Okay, so from that, your experience on 9 11, which you wrote about beautifully and sadly and funny and heartfelt and all the things.

I could not believe how, well, why don't you tell the story, how you quit this job the night before and narrowly missed being there. You should have been there.

Emily: Yeah, I was working as a stockbroker's assistant, which is, of all the jobs I've had, that's the one that's like, this thing is not like the others.

But somebody at my college at the time had said, I know this person needs an assistant. And I was working for her for the summer and it was supposed to be a summer thing. It went into the fall. Didn't love the job, loved the regular paycheck, even though it was small. And yeah. One night, I was having gin and tonics with my cousin and his girlfriend in Astoria, and I just started telling them how much I didn't like my job, that I just hated it.

And once I get it in my head that like, I feel a certain way about something, I can't get it out. And I was like, I think I have to quit. I can't wait two weeks, this job, it'll be miserable. And I've never done anything like this before. But I snuck into the office at like 1130. at night. Uh, I had a key, so I wasn't really sneaking.

Left a note that said, I can't work here anymore. I'm sorry. And this was before Berger left the note for Carrie. Just FYI, I did it first.

Zibby: Okay.

Emily: It was me. I was first. And then I took my things and I went home and I went to bed and I woke up, I was living on West 4th street at the time at 6th Avenue. And I woke up to my roommate banging on my bedroom door to tell me that a plane had run into the World Trade Center. And the office where I was working was on Rector Street, which was, you know, it's not super close, but it was, I would often get off at the World Trade Center, stop and walk to work. And I don't think I would have been like right there or in any immediate danger.

But I also know that I'm the kind of person who jumps into action in a crisis. Who knows what I would have done. Would I've gone back to help people? Probably. I would like to think that I would because that's the kind of thing I do. I'm the kind of person who will like run toward a burning building to help someone.

So I ended up helping people. I was living next to a church at the time and I ended up helping people that way. But it was, it still kind of blows my mind the way that the, just the timeline of all of that and how that happened.

Zibby: Well, I loved hearing about it and how, you know, just the role of fate and all of these decisions in the universe and why things happen.

And I don't know, you know, can I read this one?

Can I read this section about texting, which was so funny, and I have the same thing as I'm sure so many people do, and they forget to text people back, or they see it and they're going to do it later, but then they don't, and then they're embarrassed. This is like my life. Anyway, can I read this one?

Emily: This is the single sentence essay.

Zibby: Okay. Why, oh my god, I didn't even realize it was one sentence, but that's even funnier. Oh my gosh. "Why I never responded to your text. Because when I saw the preview pop up, I could tell you were asking me a question. And Kyle, which is by the way my husband's name, was trying to explain to me why we didn't have the money or the time to paint the hallway, but he didn't know I'd already bought the paint and I just didn't have the mental energy to give anyone an answer to anything. So I decided it would make the most sense to leave your message unread so I'd remember to go back and reply later, except it got buried by other messages I also didn't read. And even though I've only had this phone for two months, I somehow have 33 unread texts, and I just get completely overwhelmed every time I look at my home screen. And now it's been like five weeks since you texted, and I've thought about writing you back a million times. But I was trying to come up with something more original than, so sorry for the late reply. Because that's what I always say. And when I finally decided I was just going to pretend I missed your text altogether and come in with the classic but impenetrable, oh shit, I missed this, I realized you probably already found the answer elsewhere, and that replying at this point would only result in yet another reply from you, and it just seemed like the responsible thing to do, to delete your message so it would stop haunting me. And now you're probably mad at me." So good. So funny.

Emily: So true.

Zibby: These are the things that like go through my mind all the time. I miss this text. Should I, now it's gotten too late. Like the constant, you know, dialogue and all of that. I don't know. But this also speaks to one of the larger things, which is like sort of executive function or executive dysfunction, which you write about a lot in the book.

Talk about that and how that plays into sort of day to day interactions like texting.

Emily: Oh, I mean, I am, I just constantly feel behind in everything, paperwork, bills, texts, emails. I mean, I have, what, seven different, 12 different email accounts and I will sometimes just start a new, email account, because I'm just like, I can't, this one is, is too much.

And I'll end up with like, I'm going to, I'm going to keep this email, I'm going to keep this inbox clean. I'm going to get inbox zero. And then like two months later, I have 3000 unread emails. Part of it is I work in media. So I get pitched a lot at the wrong email address all the time, wherever people can find me, they write me, but I also, you know, when someone I know and love writes me, and I want to write them back. I'll read their email, but I'm on my way to something else. And of course I'm late because I'm always late for everything. Or I'm behind on a deadline. I'm like, I'm going to write back when I can write back in kind, when I can really give this thoughtful response. Well, I'm sure we all know how the rest of that goes because then I get buried in other things and I get other emails and then I never get back to it and then I feel terrible. That happens with, my dad has ADHD and he got diagnosed a few years before I did, though no one told me until after I got diagnosed.

Zibby: Interesting.

Emily: Yeah. I remember when I was a teenager, I would come home and sometimes the electricity would be shut off or the water would be shut off.

And it wasn't that he couldn't pay the bill. It's that this was, well, this was the nineties and you couldn't set up auto pay was part of it. And so he sometimes just forgot to pay the bill. And I am where I am today because of auto pay. I will say that. If auto pay did not exist. I would still have like the worst credit score.

I would just be paying late fees all over the place. And when I say where I am today, I am in a new apartment that I am actually have movers moving my furniture in today.

Zibby: It's beautiful.

Emily: Thank you. And for the first time, I got married and bought a house before I got diagnosed. So for the first time ever, like I applied for an apartment and I got approved within five minutes and everything was easy because before my diagnosis, before meds, before I understand that the tools and systems I needed, even though I set up a lot of systems before I was diagnosed just to survive in the world, my credit was terrible.

I never had money in the bank. I was just struggling and I was behind and you know, I went off to college with debt. So it's not like I had a great starting point financially, but I am in a much better place now because I understand. my brain. I have systems in place to help me manage those things. I also have a full time job that I love, a job that I've been at for two and a half years.

And I, before my diagnosis, never stayed in a real, like a job, job for more than nine months. I still have my executive function issues. My to do list, it gets a little too long. And I, You know, scramble with time management and deadlines sometimes. But just the ability to stay on top of just like the mundane day to day tasks associated with being an adult are very hard for people with ADHD because those things don't give us dopamine.

They don't make my brain say, yes, let's get into this. Unless something terrible happens or I want to, you know, fix my credit to buy a house or I don't know. I want to go on a vacation and save money. Then I will start a spreadsheet and I will become obsessive and I will track everything. I will, you know, pay extra on my credit cards and track my credit score and track my payments and track my credit utilization percentage and log into Credit Karma every day.

But that's only if I'm like, hyper focused on a goal. And when I'm not, it's impossible for me to focus on those things. That happens in relationships sometimes too. I've written pretty publicly about my marriage ending, and I don't, there are a lot of reasons that my marriage ended, many, many reasons. One is that my husband and I weren't like really matched.

Attachment style, you know, he really wanted to spend a lot of time together and I value my alone time and I had to in our, and I get hyper focused on projects. So a few years ago I had to set calendar reminders to say, check in with Kyle, call Kyle, tell Kyle you love him because I would get so hyper focused on things that were exciting to me that I wouldn't always check in in my marriage.

And he took that as she doesn't love me, and that created a lot of problems. And so executive function can really affect more than just bills and calendars and texts. It really is even texts, right? Like I don't text my friends back. Do they think I hate them? I don't hate them. I love you, friends. If you're listening, I just couldn't reply to your text.

It was a very rambly early morning answer for you.

Zibby: I loved it. I loved it. I just want to sit and listen to you. Like I want the book to continue in my head, direct with you.

Emily: You can go listen to the audio book now.

Zibby: Okay, perfect. I loved your ideas of systems because, like you, and I'm sorry that I'm, I feel like I'm using, it's like too personal.

I'm like, this is, this is something I need because I'm constantly always just like a minute or two late for everything all day, and I'm always like just a little behind, and then I forget things all the time, and I'm like, anyway, like that's all day, every day. I mean, I'm not usually like too late. I rescue it, but I've always thought like, even with the alarms, like you said, you said multiple alarms and you have it going off.

So tell me your strategies for not being late. What are some of those?

Emily: They don't always work, but one thing that does work that I have found, it's like the only thing that really works for me. So I do set multiple alarms. I have an alarm on my phone, I'm on my calendar and there are, there are like notifications on those.

I also have Google home devices. I even have one next to my bed, like a nest. So I have it set an alarm for me. And then I set an alarm on my phone for every like, no, just for more for getting up in the morning. Um, but then for events, I do have a calendar reminder. So I have it send me an email a day ahead, give me a notification in the morning, give me a notification 30 to 10 minutes before, depending on the event, then it buzzes on my watch.

So it goes on my phone, my computer, my watch, my Apple watch, I will say has changed my life. I've never been a watch person, but having a, like I even have my watch face set to tell me my next thing. Like I see on my, my wrist. What my next thing is and what time it is. The only thing though, that has really, really, really helped me be on time to things and it doesn't work for everything, but when I schedule an appointment and I can't do this all the time because then I would know, but when I schedule a dentist appointment six months out or my psychiatry appointment three months out, because I have to see my psychiatrist every three months to get my meds refilled, or I schedule something kind of important.

When I put it on my calendar, I put it on my calendar for 15 to 20 minutes earlier than it actually starts. But I can't do that every time because if I did, then I would know I'd be like, Oh, I lied to myself. I do it just enough and usually for more important things so that I don't catch on. And I, and I questioned like, I don't even know if I lied to myself or not, so I better be on time.

Like I just, and I worked toward that earlier time to get there. And you know, people have said to me over the years, if you cared, you'd be on time. Yeah. You can be on time. You know, you don't want to be on time. I hate being late. It stresses me out so much. I hate it so much. It's not the good kind of dopamine.

It's like, you know, I get stressed out. I get flustered. I don't want to show up anywhere flustered. That's not a good look for me. I'm already like a hot mess sometimes. So there's something called time blindness. And that is the theme of the title, I'll just be five more minutes, and the titular essay toward the end of the book.

People with ADHD have a really hard time perceiving the passage of time. And so we think, "Oh, I can get ready in an hour. I can do this. I got this". And we just, we don't got this. But the same thing happens when we give ourselves two hours, like it's, there's just something like, "Oh, I have two hours. Well, now I can do my hair" or like "I wasn't going to wash my hair, but I have two hours. So now I'm going to wash my hair". But then I forget that I have really thick hair and it takes me like way too long to blow dry my hair. And then I have to style my hair. And then if my kid needs something or my dog gets out or like the phone rings, not that I answer it, but if somebody I feel like I need to answer it, like any little thing can just throw us completely off and.

It's really, it's just really hard. I wish that I had a, like a really great, succinct explanation, but it's really hard to perceive the passage of time. And no matter what I do not have, it's like, no matter how much time I give myself, I'm going to be late. I see these memes on social media about like the worst thing for a person with ADHD is a middle of the day appointment.

Like, I was teasing you before we started recording, this is very early and I'm not a morning person, but an early morning, something is actually very good for me. Because if I have something like an important appointment at noon or one or two, my whole day is gone because I'm just like hyper focused on like, okay, I have this appointment, I can't do anything else.

I can't focus on work. I can't do laundry. Like I'm, I have to focus on getting to this appointment. And even if my brain is like completely focused on just getting to this midday appointment, I might still be late.

Zibby: What is your advice if someone is married to somebody like that? Or like you're in a relationship, right?

Emily: Yes, I would say, number one, the most important thing is do not take it personally. If you are married to someone with ADHD, the fact that they are late for dinner, or that they are not checking in with you when they're you know, hyper focused on something. It's not about you. It's not because they don't love you. It's not because they don't care about you. It's because their brain is, is telling them focus on this right now. So not taking it personally is really important. Positive reinforcement is, that's a huge one. If you're a neurodivergent person, isn't giving you the attention you want, getting mad at them for it is the absolute worst thing you can do.

If my divorce is any indication, but you can raise them when they do give you attention you know, give them positive reinforcement when they do make time for you. don't spend that time complaining about the time they don't make for you. Make that time something that their brain wants to come back to and have a sense of humor about them, about yourself, about life.

I think for, I think it's true for anyone, right? Like it's so hard to go through life. Especially this life in this world with kids and jobs and stress. And if you can't have a sense of humor about it, like it just makes everything so much worse. But again, like for, for really specifically being with someone who has ADHD, don't take it personally and focus on positive reinforcement versus negative.

Zibby: I mean, that's just good marriage advice in general. I have to say, yeah. Anything, any behaviors you want to increase.

Emily: It's true. And good parenting advice.

Zibby: And a good parenting. Yeah.

Yeah. I've heard it for parenting. I just haven't heard it as much for marriage.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah.

Zibby: Oh, gee, you remembered your water bottle today for school.

That's great. But not like, oh, you, you know, I don't know. I don't know. Recently I, I told my husband that like, logistics are my love language. Like if he can manage just one thing in the day, it's great. I am like so indebted to him. So if he like orders an Uber or I don't know what it is, something that makes like the logistics of the day, I'm like, Oh my gosh.

And I mean it, that's so much more valuable to me than like, I don't know, a thoughtful gift of some kind.

Emily: Yes.

Zibby: Like if you get, if you can make the day go smoother, that's it for me.

Emily: Take something away from my brain that I don't have to do. Take one step away. Just do something. Yeah.

Zibby: Yes. I love that.

Emily: And don't get mad about it.

Just do it.

Zibby: Amazing. Tell me more about your current job, your plans going forward, like what we have to look forward to from you, all of that good stuff.

Emily: So my day job is that I am the Senior Commerce Writer at Bon Appetit and Epicurious. And I love my job. It actually, I think, is the perfect job for someone with ADHD because I write about shopping.

So I get to shop online all day, kind of. I mean, I obsessively research products and then I obsessively test products and then I write about them.

Zibby: Amazing.

Emily: So, and I have a food and drink background, so it's, it's very, you know, it's, it's right up my alley. It's, it's a really great, fun, amazing job, and I'm so lucky to have it.

And project wise, Right now I'm going to focus on writing more personal essays. I talked to my agent recently about, you know, book projects. Um, you know, the dopamine is flowing from a book and I'm kind of excited to write another book, but given the stage of life, I mean, I'm in some major life transitions.

I don't feel like I have enough distance from them right now to commit to a book about them. But I am in a place in my life right now where I can write some essays. I have a lot to say about a lot of things. You know, I'm, I'm very excited about this new home, my divorce pad. I, before I told my husband I wanted a divorce, I started writing an essay called like women don't want to live with men anymore.

And I was like, Oh, I can't write this because then my husband will divorce me. But now that I'm divorced or I'm not officially divorced, now that I'm getting a divorce, I could write that essay. And I just, I have a lot of things I want to say and I think essay is a very good format for me because I do like the short form and it's very personal.

I think I'm gonna stick with that for a while and then, you know, I think the next book, I hope that the idea comes to me like the last one did. Like I'm out on a walk and I'm like, that's the book and then I will go and rattle another email off to my agent and he'll say, yes, this is the book. And I hope that's what, I hope that's what happens.

I imagine it would be essays again. We'll see. Who knows?

Zibby: Well, I am a huge fan. I will read everything you do. I'm, where's the best place? Where do you write for the most? Where should people find your stuff?

Emily: Well, so by day, Epicurious and Bon Appetit. I also have a sub stack that I'm really, really behind in, but it's that Emily Farris, Dot substack.com and Ferris is F-A-R-R-I-S.

I don't wanna spell it with an E. And if you want, I, since I mentioned my divorce, I have an essay about my divorce as it relates to the publication of my book at Cup of Joe. So there are places to find me on the internet.

Zibby: Perfect. Amazing. Well, Emily, congratulations and

Emily: Thank you.

Zibby: I really am so rooting for you.

Emily: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Zibby: My pleasure. Have a great day.

Emily: You too.


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