“Appnesia. Synapstuck. Multicrashing. And Other Neologisms That Make My ADHD Relatable.”
“I am sometimes socially awkward. I lose track of conversations and forget things too often. Rather than apologize for my ADHD, I’ve honed a different strategy that makes my symptoms feel less foreign, less embarrassing, and more endearing. It’s positively geeky.”
appnesia (app nee shuh) n.
Having so many apps on your phone that you forget why you put them there or what some of them do, exactly.
I love making up and sharing words. I’ve been doing it since I learned to talk. Over the years, I’ve collected little gems like endorfriend, beditating, and phockets — plus roughly 13,532 others.
“Aren’t those just gibberish?” people often ask.
Maybe to you they are. But to me, they’re real words with a “twist” — a different take on something familiar that adds mystery and creativity and invites conversation.
funcrastination (fun cra te nay shun) n.
When you keep putting off finishing your old project or to-do item because the new one is shinier.
I call my comic word creations Grantasms. I come up with them daily for ADHD laughs, personal growth, and creative stimulation. They’re inspired by my own true stories, and they help me better connect with people. They playfully encourage the people with whom I share them to innovate as well. Once you get the hang of it, it’s hard to resist doing it yourself.
carjackass (kar jak ass) n.
When you try repeatedly to unlock your car in a parking lot, only to realize that it’s someone else’s car.
Why make up your own (twisted) words?
synapstuck (sin napp stuhk) n.
When the synapses in your brain don’t function correctly, which for an ADHD person is 90 to 99 percent of the time.
In the past few years, I’ve come to realize that these twisted words are more than just for laughs — Grantasms actually help me sharpen my mental focus for managing, even thriving with, my ADHD.
imboretant (em boar tant) adj.
Boring but important. Ya gotta do it, even though you really don’t wanna.
An ADHD Solution and a Better Way to Communicate
When ordinary words from the dictionary just won’t do, Grantasms help me express myself better. Everyone knows the feeling of an uncomfortable or awkward social encounter. For me, Grantasms provide an affable way out. Using them is stress-free (and stress-relieving), make me feel more confident, and add to my charm (if I do say so myself).
indirections (en dur ek shuns) n.
When your GPS sends you far off course.
They’re also more than fun icebreakers; they’re “ice-crushers!”
I’m not the only one who makes up words. William Shakespeare is said to have invented more than 1,700 words that are now commonly used. He changed nouns like elbow into verbs — “A sovereign shame still elbows him…” King Lear1 — and enjoyed stringing together never-before-connected words like green-eyed, to describe jealousy in the Merchant of Venice.2
Award-winning TV writer and comedian Rick Green was diagnosed with ADHD 20 years ago and also has a habit twisting words. He frequently shares his “Rickisms” with his wife, Ava. “I wonder if everyone who has ADHD and/or dyslexia plays around with words this way?” he told me recently. One of his favorites is “grunching”.
Grunching (grun cheen) v., adj.
Singing a tune by grunting the melody.
“[Grunching] came from a skit I wrote many years ago in which a scroat (a term of abuse for a despised or despicable person), played by me, named Timmy Target, arrives on the doorstep of an upscale home to deliver a Grunt-A-Gram. The woman is baffled. My character explains that it’s like a singing telegram, only I grunt it. I then proceed to do a very off-key version of ‘Happy Birthday’ while snorting like a constipated rhino who desperately wants to meet a lady rhino.”
A Way to Laugh at Behavior You’d Like to Fix
Not long ago, I sat down with Peter Shankman, ADHD speaker, entrepreneur, and host of the Faster Than Normal podcast, for an interview about my book. (Yes, I’ve made up that many words!) He told me he uses his own twisted words as a prompt to help him focus on behavior he wants to change. Sort of like turning one’s struggles into a creative game.
whiteout (why tout) n.
Blanking out while seemingly conscious. You forget what you’re doing while in the middle of doing it.
“I’ve been in situations where I started doing something, and I completely forget why I’m doing it,” says Peter. “Then what I try to do is to figure out what I was doing that caused me to forget it…It’s about setting up those rituals that keep you sort of on task.”
gymnesia (jim nee zhuah) n.
Opening every unlocked locker in your local fitness center because you forgot which locker you used.
“I thought I was the only person who takes a picture of their gym locker number every single time!” Peter admitted when I shared a picture of me using the very same trick. The word “gymnesia,” helps me laugh at my own ADHD-related behavior and provides some powerful mental imagery to prevent it from happening in the future.
ADHD Work Around: Healing with Humor
messytasking (mess ee tas keen) v.
Multitasking with less-than-favorable results. (i.e., being sloppy with your multi-tasking.)
Becoming easily distracted is a struggle for most people with ADHD. Humor can help us recover from a bad experience, and beat back feelings of shame. If ADHD symptoms somehow made the situation worse, a twisted word can help you laugh at yourself and grow as a person. It can also help another person understand what it’s like to live with ADHD. The next time you’re struggling with something, don’t let it get you down. Make up a Grantasm and move on.
How, exactly? Think up a fun, relatable word that describes your mistake, like “multicrashing.”
multicrashing (mull tee cra sheen) n.
When you physically collide with someone because you’re distracted by a digital device.
Renaming this modern-day problem makes it less embarrassing and more relatable. Plus, your triumphs and shared struggles help others.
Playful Mindfulness and Working Memory
notifriction (no teh frik shun) n.
The anxiety felt from too many notifications coming out of your digital devices.
Grantasms improve my emotional intelligence, working memory, and social skills. They help me get outside my comfort zone and flip anxiety into creativity, boredom into a brain game, distractions into directions, and icebreakers into relationships.
Many of my Grantasms are tongue-in-cheek, but I also create them for human connection — a social bond through a funny, shared experience. The more I create and share them, the more I learn about other people and myself, and how we’re connected — including people I wouldn’t otherwise have anything in common!
maybeD (may bee dee) n.
A person who talks about ADHD like it’s a passing thing.
Making Communication Fun (Again)!
n. A person who identifies as a geek, nerd, dork, and or creative ADHD type who is striving to be a remarkable social citizen.
v. To get all geeky, nerdy, and dorky with someone with whom you’re hoping to form a social bond.
We don’t have to go through life distracted, lonely, depressed, or misunderstood. Go ahead, Grantasm and make up some twisted words today! They just may connect you to a new geek.
1Folger Shakespeare Library. Common Phrases from Shakespeare. Accessed June 12, 2020.
2Grammarly Blog. 15 Words Invented by Shakespeare. Updated April 18, 2016. Accessed June 12, 2020.
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Updated on July 6, 2020