The Effects of Prolonged Masking

This is something I have been spending a lot of time on this week. It started with TikTok.

I’ve been spending a fair bit of time on there lately, with a focus on content related to ADHD/ASD. I’ve been wanting to start posting, but I hadn’t been able to get myself to post my first video. It has huge potential to be a marketing staple for my startup, so I knew I had to start exploring it.

But I couldn’t get myself to post a video. I started to record videos a couple times, but I didn’t like how they started so I got rid of them. I’ve been trying to understand why I couldn’t get myself to post.

That’s when I realized something. I saw a video where the creator was talking about how their therapist asked them a question. The question was something along the lines of “where do you look when you are on a Zoom call? Do you look at your own picture or everyone else on the call?”.

Apparently, one of the signs that someone may be neurodiverse is their reaction to their appearance, for example on a video or in a mirror. There seems to be some sort of disconnect in the brain with recognizing how to mirror behaviors and this can manifest in some behaviors such as paying extra attention to your own face when in front of a mirror or on a Zoom call.

That really clicked with me. And that’s when I realized something else.

I wasn’t able to record videos because I had no idea what to make my face look like.

I didn’t know what mask to wear.

Being in a corporate environment for the past 10 years did a bit of a number on me. But I did get really good at masking my behaviors. I kept getting reminded that people were always watching. I knew I had to maintain certain appearances. But after all that time, it became almost impossible for me to drop my mask.

The problem is that the mask requires other people around me. I need to know what mask I should wear. I wear a different mask when talking to my wife (that’s an issue that is for a different day) than I do when I am talking to colleagues. But on TikTok, I didn’t know who my audience would be. So I didn’t know which mask to wear.

Once I realized that’s where my holdup was, I was able to record my first video. And my second and third. And then a 7 parter. Because ADHD. And 1 minute isn’t enough.

I didn’t wear a mask. I just recorded and published. There was no post-production work. That part is still hard for me. But it’s getting easier and that’s what I was hoping for.

Feel free to check me out here.

Here’s an article that examined how/why I started masking as deeply as I did.

I’ve also been working frantically at getting my course going. I’ve already started to get some feedback on what topics people would like to see. Here are some examples:

I hope that part of your curriculum includes coping with inconsistent hours of availability (due to disability/fatigue) and inconsistent bursts of focus. Thats one of my biggest hurdles.

how am I supposed to network/expand my circle when I'm socially impaired? Tips on networking and socializing in a formal setting would be awesome.

I think those questions will probably be pretty common. I’ve also experienced them so I understand how to deal with those. I would love to get your feedback. Let me know if you relate to them or have any other topics you would like to see me cover!

I just kicked off my fellowship for creating transformational online courses and I am really pumped to see where it takes me. The group of people I will get to work with is unlike anything I have been part of before. If you’re interested in learning how to tackle entrepreneurship from the angle of the neurodivergent, sign up here.

Here are some resources I found while researching:

Zoom Fatigue Gives Neurotypicals a Rare Glimpse into the Experience of Autistic Adults

Broken Mirrors

Also, yay me actually publishing on Sunday! :)

I feel like I’m finally starting to get into the routines that I need to.

Until next time,

~Leo