The 5 by 5 Rule & Selective Energy

I tend to live life in the gray. Meaning, I’ve never fully felt like an extrovert, nor an introvert, I’m not full blown OCD about things, but I am Type A – it’s my way, or the highway (most of the time) but I guess that’s the Taurus in me. Yet, I do firmly say it’s only my way most of the time, because I actually strive to find compromises with people so everyone can be happy… but one thing I incessantly struggle with?

I usually get worked up over the tiniest of things.

This reverts back to the whole Type A thing, when I have a certain way of doing things, and I communicate this “amazingly perfect” way to others – I assume they will hop on board and think, “Oh yes, wise Emily, your way is spectacular I wish I had always known this manner of doing this task! I will now and forever do it this way!” But the crazy thing is, most people don’t automatically hop on my bus. They can see in the moment how great, efficient, and fluid my way is… but it’s not their vibe. They have their own preferred way and *deep breath* I have to accept that.

Something someone had told me years ago was the 5 by 5 rule:

“If it’s not going to matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes upset by it.

And honestly, up until like three days ago, this rule always bugged the crap out of me. It would make me want to yank my hair out and scream, “I CAN’T THINK ABOUT FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, MAYBE I WILL STILL BE BITTER THAT THE WRONG FONT WAS USED FOR THAT THING. DON’T TELL ME TO REDIRECT MY ENERGY!”

But this is the thing, little “errors” like spacings, or fonts, or filters, or scheduling genuinely could get me worked up. Like, I have explicitly laid out this yellow brick road for you Dorothy, why are you rollin’ down that red path?!

But you know what? If Dorothy wants to drift and do her own thing, that’s her business.

This whole crazy covid life we live has really put the 5 by 5 Rule in perspective. I can tell you right now that any of the stressing I did in 2015 has no business in my 2020 mind, and I can only assume that 2025 will have its own problems and its own blessings (trying to stay positive here).

The world is already so messy right now, don’t let the mess take over your head. Especially with the current happenings, the scary unknowns, don’t waste your time stressing on small things – focus on the big picture, the stuff that matters, and when the little things start to get under your skin, put the 5 by 5 Rule as the background vibe in your mind and turn your immediate focus to a tangible beauty for a few minutes.

A tangible beauty being something like absorbing the sunshine (even just sitting in front of your window), a quick laydown in your comfy bed, a slow walk around the neighborhood… find a tangible beauty in life to replace the current irritations attempting to dig roots into your skin.

Don’t feed the beast – it’s so, so easy to feed it. But imagine what feeding the beast could do, with each angry bone you toss it, the thing grows and grows, and what does that do to your inner child? Have you ever seen a child excited for the company of a terrifyingly rude and ruthless beast? One that could scream at them for the littlest of things?

Nope? Didn’t think so.

Don’t misunderstand, the big thing I’m not saying is “Don’t stress – ever!” Stress is inevitable, being totally carefree is hard and anyone who seems carefree all the time… or says they’re carefree all the time… is probably full of BS. But what they’re doing right (maybe) is not sweating the small stuff, they only stress about the things worth stressing about.

Ultimately, when you catch yourself getting worked up and overwhelmed, think about the 5 by 5 Rule, yes – but mostly choose where your energy goes.

Sometimes it’s as simple as firmly saying to yourself, “I’m not going to give into this stress. I’m not going to give into this situation. This is not my vibe, this is not worth my precious time and energy.

. . .

Misdiagnosed and Misunderstood: ADHD in Women

“Look! A squirrel!”

“You’re running on dial-up while everyone else is running on WiFi.”

“You’re such a blonde.”

“What are you looking at? Are you paying attention?”


These are just a few of many phrases I’ve heard as a woman with ADHD. I do have to admit, the dial-up comment is hilarious and was said out of love from a friend. But you get the idea.

News flash to all the assholes out there: ADHD is more than having “squirrel” moments. It’s being withdrawn, having anxiety, low self-esteem, medication shame — the list goes on, y’all.

And the worst part? Even though we are making strides towards the issue…

it’s still a man’s world.

According to verywellmind.com, ADHD is a condition traditionally thought to affect mostly males. Not only that, women often don’t show as many physical symptoms as our male counterparts. Women are more prone to have inattentive ADHD, to where males deal more with hyperactivity/impulsivity. Luckily, thanks to knowablemagazine.org, I found that the diagnosis rate is now approximately 2.5 boys to every one girl.

For those that don’t know, ADHD/ADD manifests itself in three different ways: hyperactivity, inattentiveness, or a combination of both. I’d say I’m about 75% inattentive, 25% hyperactive (some may disagree on that with me though LOL).

Women are often called spacey, chatty, forgetful, air-headed… what great names to be called for a condition we were born with! Just because we’re not bouncing off the walls doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with remembering what we had for dinner last night, feel ALL the emotions VERY strongly, or my favorite, having a full-ass conversation with someone but not mentally being there the entire time. I have had so many conversations with people that after we’re done I have to sit there and recall what was just said. It’s both a blessing and a curse to be able to zone out that hard. Maybe this is what my old doctor meant when she said it’s my “superpower”.

So why are ADHD symptoms glossed over in women? Stephen Hinshaw, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley started studying women with ADHD back in 1997.

*Let’s pause for a brief eyeroll on a study about women done by a man.*

Anyway, Hinshaw found that women not only suffer the same problems as boys do with ADHD, but they have even more problems! Yay! He discovered that women “internalize” their behaviors, meaning they take all their problems out on themselves rather than other people. Of course it’s harder to diagnose a woman with ADHD if you can’t physically see her struggling. Because of things like this, girls often suffer from more anxiety and depression.

By Amber Lewis/Corvophobia on Tumblr

And then there are periods and hormones. Oh yes, these make ADHD symptoms even worse. Everydayhealth.com says, “During the first two weeks of a menstrual cycle, estrogen levels are high and women with ADHD may be in better control of their ADHD symptoms. As estrogen levels drop toward the end of the cycle, symptoms of low estrogen may start to make usual ADHD symptoms worse.” I feel this to my core. Even with my medication, that time of the month makes my ability to focus, control my temper, racing thoughts, etc. that much harder.

The article goes on to say that symptoms of ADHD have a lot in common with when your estrogen levels drop right before your period, or the years right before menopause. Estrogen affects receptors in your brain responsible for serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

Serotonin: The key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.

Dopamine: A neurotransmitter released when your brain is expecting a reward.

Norepinephrine: A stress hormone and neurotransmitter released into the blood as a stress hormone when the brain perceives that a stressful event has occurred.

The levels of these receptors dropping + ADHD = straight up recipe. for. disasterrrrrrrrrrrr honey! And if you do the math in the menstrual cycle of a woman, it leaves about one and a half weeks of having to manage ADHD without the worry of hormone/estrogen levels being affected. So ladies, take it easy on yourself. Know when to take a break.


It’s not a catchall, but luckily there are things like medication and therapy to help. Please remember that you’re not alone — I like to talk to my sweet husband when I’m having trouble (and I don’t have a therapy session coming up). Other things I like to do when my ADHD wants to get the best of me:

  • Meditate
  • Write my feelings/thoughts out in a journal
  • Take a nap
  • Talk to a friend/family member
  • Play with my doggy
  • Take a walk
  • Dance
  • Clean something
  • Breathing techniques
  • Listening to uplifting podcasts (my blog here lists some of my favorites).

And most importantly, as I already mentioned, take it easy on yourself! You don’t have to get everything right, finish your to-do list, or even keep a conversation on-track to be a good person. ADHD isn’t a superpower, but it is a part of you (and me), so we love her. We have to learn to love all parts of ourselves, even the less glamorous.

If you haven’t been formally diagnosed but feel as if this blog resonates with you, consider having a conversation with your doctor to see what you can do to get help. You’ve got this, babe.


More ADHD/ADD resources:

Honesty: Humility: Growth

This part of my story is pretty real and raw. This is the part I am not proud of. However, it’s important to share because even after I left John Doe, I struggled with self-identity, structure, discipline, and self control. I decided to make a few decisions that ultimately put myself in terrible predicaments and changed my life, but in some of the worst ways. I searched high and low for closure and answers, but all I found was temporary satisfaction, disappointment, and trouble.

There were weeks I spent several nights at bars, drinking heavily. I made many new friends and developed a social life I never had before. I was getting attention from people, but not all of it was positive. I decided to explore the dating scene and embark on a new adventure to “find myself”. Well I admit the alcohol abuse played a part in some, if not all, of my poor decision making. I found myself getting involved with a few people and making decisions I should not have done. I was naive and very trustworthy of people when I should not have been. They lied to me and I should have known better because I always have acted better in that sense; I have always preached to my friends about being safe and making good choices and not jumping into things without completely evaluating everything. I have always told them to think about the consequences before acting. I have failed to listen to my own advice. However, feelings and actions do not justify an individual hiding important information from a person.

I refer to these few months as me being crazy and doing things I never had the chance to do. So many people told me it was okay, and that this was normal. Now looking back, it wasn’t. Or if it was, I didn’t want my normal to be like that. I changed my behaviors and decided this way of life wasn’t for me; I stopped casually dating and became very selective. I have been left with physical scars now and life has been altered for me in ways I never thought would be. I never thought it’d be me. My advice here is never forget who you are. Try to stick to your morals and be very careful who you surround yourself with. Acknowledge that theses mistakes may be made and if they already have been, understand how you got there and try not to do it again despite the temporary satisfaction and attention.

One evening I was leaving a bar and I made one of the most terrible decisions ever, I chose to drive home. Well, that ended with me in jail for the night and with a criminal charge. I was beyond embarrassed. I did the very thing we all should never do – drunk driving. Thankfully, I was not in any accident or anything like that, but it still scared me and changed my life in many ways. I stopped drinking heavily and set limits. My advice here is clear, do not rely on substances of any kind to cope with heartbreak, depression, or grief. I know it’s harder than it sound, trust me, but this was one of the worst things I ever did and I have residual effects from it. Again, trust your friends, family, therapist to help you through hard times. Talk about your feelings.

Another topic to touch on is what I realized and came to accept and admit to. I looked back on my relationship and saw things I did that contributed to an issue, unknowingly. I realized I was going out to bars more, spending more money than I should have. I also acknowledge that listening to your partner is important and communication is key in working things out. In my recent article, I mentioned that I would ignore John Doe’s requests of being left alone when he was in a fit of rage, all because I thought that was the right way to handle it all. It wasn’t and it was wrong of me. However, being honest with yourself and others is a growing process too. I was also an enabler and turned a blind eye to a deeper issue at hand for years. Admit your faults. I will never deny what I did during and after my relationship because it was a stepping stone for me to find my peace and it allows transparency. Again, doing these things still do not give a free pass for anyone to be abusive. It is important to understand that.

I went down a path of destruction, and nothing I was doing was benefiting me. I was getting no answers. I had no closure. What was I even doing?

My decisions I made during and after my separation were wrong and foolish. I made choices and rolled the dice of life. I’m not perfect and I will admit this and the things I’ve done. I’ve used these experiences to help educate others who are struggling with coping from loss—that be of a loved one or maybe even a divorce, failing relationship, stress, etc. I was ashamed but again, it’s part of journey. It’s also to make people aware of how important it is to be honest with oneself and grow from these things. It’s a chapter in my life that has closed and left me with valuable lessons.

My advice here, is anyone trying to overcome such things like stress, divorce, separation, loss of a loved one, whatever it may be — should seek out help. This is something I never did until later. I could have avoided the trouble I got in after the separation if I just had better coping skills. My advice: keep communicating with people. I will say this time and time again, talk with your family and friends. Maybe seek out a therapist or counselor. Whatever you need to do to be safe and healthy while you heal from the wounds that life left you with.

What is just as important as healing, is being honest with yourself, learning from your mistakes, and taking back control of your life. We all have one chance at life, and we need to respect ourselves more. We are worthy of that.

If you or someone you know is being affected by abuse and needing support, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-9474.

You are not alone.