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“Roe’s Overturn Sabotaged My Executive Functioning”

“I was in the middle of researching why women die when I found out that the U.S. Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade.”

Brain damage. Woman loses part head falling apart, pixels. Concept psychological health, decreased functions mind.
Credit: RamCreativ/Getty Images

I was in the middle of researching why women die when I found out that the U.S. Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade.

I write press releases about the health-related studies conducted by university professors and students, and my latest assignment was on women’s cardiovascular health. That Friday, the day of the ruling, I was moored on the couch with my laptop, Googling reputable sources to confirm that heart disease was the leading killer of women. I was focused — maybe even hyperfocused. I was in the zone.

Then my husband descended the staircase.

“Well,” he announced, “they did it.”

I didn’t even look up from my laptop. “Who did what?”

“They overturned Roe.”

Goodbye, focus.

I have ADHD, and learning about Roe’s ruling sabotaged my executive functioning almost instantly.

[Special Report: Roe v. Wade Ruling May Disproportionately Impact Girls with ADHD]

Lagging executive functions — or the mental processes that allow us to plan, prioritize, manage, and motivate ourselves — is a central feature of ADHD. I can know that I have an important task to complete, but I’ll still struggle to conjure the motivation to do it. I don’t want to do things; I want to want to do things.

Usually my ADHD medication helps me overcome this problem, but for maximum effectiveness I have to combine it with other strategies — like dividing large tasks into tiny ones, setting reminders on my phone, and trying to “beat” Mrs. Cluck, my kitchen timer shaped like an adorable chicken.

But after I heard about Roe, my executive functioning tanked, and there was nothing my meds or Mrs. Cluck could do about it.

I stopped researching cardiovascular health. I didn’t schedule the interview the press release required. I didn’t make lunch. I didn’t make dinner. When my phone reminded me to clean my cat’s litter box, I ignored it and glared at Mrs. Cluck, who was silently judging me for it.

[Read: “My Period-Tracking App Helps Me Manage My ADHD. What Do I Do Post-Roe?”]

I just doomscrolled and despaired. What was the point of it all? The work in front of me seemed so small compared to the urgency of our eroding rights, though I knew it was all connected.

The weekend wore on. Monday arrived; Tuesday followed. I still made no progress on my work. Instead, I impulse-purchased Kate Bush songs. I posted manically on social media. I ate a lot of Starbursts. I doomscrolled some more.

And I might have spent the whole week doom scrolling if not for a realization I had Wednesday: Pregnancy can stress the heart and circulatory system.

Might the overturn of Roe result in more cases of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, eclampsia, and other conditions — including fatal cases? I didn’t know. But I desperately wanted to find out. And I knew just who to interview about it.

Women’s Health and ADHD: Next Steps

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