Martine van Bijlert is a writer and researcher from the Netherlands. Now 52, she grew up in Iran and worked in places like Kabul, Grozny and Tehran as an aid worker, diplomat and researcher. She now divides her time between her own creative projects and her work for the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a Kabul-based think tank she founded with friends.
She is self-identified autistic and ADHD, and says she feels like she has always been surrounded by neurodivergent people, as a child, during her studies and in her work abroad, and perhaps because of that she thought things were easier for her than for other people, not harder – which is probably one of the reasons it took her a while to unearth her own neurodivergence.
We talk about:
➡ Finding life more difficult as she’s got older
➡ Realising that most of her family were probably neurodivergent, including her Bible-smuggling grandfather
➡ Being drawn to foreign countries after spending her early childhood in Iran
➡ How her neurodivergent objectivity, pragmatism and cool-headed logic helped her in dangerous situations
➡ Her experience of burnout after setting up and running an organisation in Kabul – and its links to neurodivergent idealism and how we can lose our internal compass as a result
Squarepeg is a podcast in which neurodivergent women, and trans and nonbinary people, explore navigating a neurotypical world and share their insights, challenges and successes.
I hope that these conversations will be inspiring and thought provoking, open you up to new ways of thinking about being neurodivergent, and help you feel more connected to a worldwide community of people with similar experiences.
I’m Amy Richards, and after being diagnosed autistic at the age of 37 I’m now on a mission to learn more about different perspectives and issues around being a neurodivergent adult in a world that feels like it doesn’t quite fit.
Martine’s website: www.martinevanbijlert.com
Her (beautiful!) Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mvbijlert/
AAN website: www.afghanistan-analysts.org
If you’d like to connect or get in touch with Squarepeg, you can find me on:
Or on my website: https://squarepeg.community/
THANK YOU TO MY PATRONS!
A HUGE thank you to my amazing patrons, who support my work on the podcast:
Abi Hunter, Adam Klager, Amy Adler, Amy-Beth Mellor, Anika Lacerte, Annette, Becky Beasley, Ben Davies, Caroline, Cat Preston, Catrin Green, Cindy Bailey, Clare Forrest, Clare Holmes, Corinne Cariad, Dana Bradley, Danielle Warby, Dawn Trevellion, Dennis McNulty, Elizabeth Williams, Erica Kenworthy, Erin Pineapple, Fiona Connor, Galina, Gwyneth, Hannah Breslin, Jackie Allen, JF, Jayne Hutchinson, Jeff Goldman, Jen Bartlett, Julie, Katarzyna Tomaszewska, Kate and Kathryn, Kate Faust, Katharine Richards, Katherine Lynch, Kenneth Knowles, Laura, Laurencia Saenz Benavides, Lea Li, Leo Ricketts, Lilli Simmons, Linda Brown, Liz, LQ, Lyb, Mandy Allen, Marjory Webber, Martine, Melissa Shaw, Meredith L. Freyre, MN, Paul Harris, Pete Burke, Rebecca Biegel, Rebecca Kemp, Sarah Cottrell, Sarah Jeffery, Sarah Ivinson, Sarah Swanton, Suzanna Chen, Suzanne, Talia’s Nature, Tammie Fabien, Tamsen Staniford, Tegan Bailey, Tessa Valyou, Tree Hall, Vic Wiener, Vicki Temple, Victoria Chang, Victoria Routledge, Zephyrine Craster and Zoe Lee.
If you’re enjoying the Squarepeg podcast and would like to help me carry on making new episodes, you can become a member of the Squarepeg community on Patreon from £3 per month: https://www.patreon.com/squarepegpodcast