We all know the typical image of ADHD that most people have in their minds.
It’s a hyper little boy who is causing trouble in class and can never seem to sit still.
Nobody takes notice of the quiet girl in the back, twirling her hair and staring out the window. She’s not making a scene. She’s not disrupting class. She’s somewhere else entirely. She’s busy in her own overactive imagination. But she’s not acting out, so she’s probably fine.
This little girl is struggling. It’s a quieter struggle. Less noticeable. So she’s written off as a space cadet and the hyper little boy is given the help he needs.
As this girl grows up, she struggles with immense amounts of guilt because no matter what she does she can’t seem to keep up. Maybe she can’t get out of her own head long enough to study, and she’s making horrible grades. Or maybe she’s making decent grades but she is putting in three times the effort that everyone else is putting in, leaving her with no time to relax and enjoy her youth.
Maybe she feels like she’s less intelligent than her peers. Maybe she feels like she’s lazy and she’s beating herself up for it. The older she gets, the bigger the consequences get. Soon it’s not just grades she has to worry about. She has to worry about losing her job. She has to worry about her marriage and her kids. The feelings of guilt pile on more and more as she struggles to keep her house in order, to keep up at work, and to keep her marriage and family life running smoothly. She always feels scattered and behind. Never quite catching up, never quite reaching stability on any front.
If only her teachers or parents had known what signs to look for when she was younger. If only they’d known that she didn’t have to be bouncing off the walls to be diagnosed with ADHD. The little girl staring out the window all day needed their help too.
I was one of the lucky ones. When I was a little girl, my parents and teachers noticed my inability to pay attention. They noticed that the amount of effort I put into school work didn’t match up to my grades. They saw that I needed help. I was medicated at a young age and things improved for me. Medication didn’t “fix” me, but it helped drastically. Unfortunately as a teenager, I decided on my own to stop taking my medication. Things went very much downhill from there, both in my school life and in my life outside of school. But that’s a story for another time.
Now, as an adult I decided to try going back on medication and my life has done a complete 180. I used to overdraw my bank account almost every month. I haven’t done that even once since starting medication. My house was never clean, and even my personal hygiene wasn’t in order before I was on meds. Now my house is pretty much always clean, at least the main stuff like the dishes, and I take meticulously good care of myself. My entire life has improved on all fronts.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I was never diagnosed as a child. What if they never knew I needed help? Would I have even made it to high school? Knowing myself and my relationship with school work… I think that without medication I would have probably had to repeat a couple grades, or maybe worse. I was never good at school, and being on medication sort of brought me to a base level of being able to at least pass my classes. I can’t imagine how much worse it could have been.
A lot of women get diagnosed later in life. They start to wonder why everyone else around them is so effortlessly keeping it together, while they’re looking at a pile of dishes that’s been there for over a week, their electric bill is overdue, and they’ve lost their phone for the hundred millionth time. What gives? Why is everyone else so much better at life? “What’s wrong with me?” becomes an accidental mantra.
I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing wrong with you. You just have a different brain, and unfortunately society isn’t set up to cater to a magnificent brain like yours. It’s set up to cater to the “neurotypical” brain. Which isn’t a wrong brain to have either. It’s just different from yours.
I’m going to share this list of symptoms of ADHD in adult women that ADDitude put out on their website for people to use as a sort of test. You can go through the list yourself and see if any of it applies to you. And if you want to read their whole article, click here.
NOTE: This test is not intended to diagnose or to replace the care of a health care professional.
The more questions you answer in the affirmative, the more likely you are to have ADHD. Be sure to share your completed checklist with a doctor.
Symptoms of ADHD in Adult Women
-Do you feel overwhelmed in stores, at the office, or at parties?
-Is it impossible for you to shut out sounds and distractions that don’t bother others?
-Is time, money, paper, or “stuff” dominating your life and hampering your ability to achieve your goals?
-Do you often shut down in the middle of the day, feeling assaulted? Do requests for “one more thing” put you over the top emotionally?
-Are you spending most of your time coping, looking for things, catching up, or covering up? Do you avoid people because of this?
-Have you stopped having people over to your house because you’re ashamed of the mess?
-Do you have trouble balancing your checkbook?
-Do you often feel as if life is out of control, and that it’s impossible to meet demands?
-Do you feel like you’re always at one end of a deregulated activity spectrum — either a couch potato or a tornado?
-Do you feel that you have better ideas than other people but are unable to organize them or act on them?
-Do you start each day determined to get organized, and end each day feeling defeated?
-Have you watched others of equal intelligence and education pass you by?
-Do you despair of ever fulfilling your potential and meeting your goals?
-Have you ever been thought of as selfish because you don’t write thank-you notes or send birthday cards?
-Are you clueless as to how others manage to lead consistent, regular lives?
-Are you called “a slob” or “spacey?” Are you “passing for normal?” Do you feel as if you are an impostor?
-Is all your time and energy taken up with coping, staying organized, and holding it together, with no time for fun or relaxation?”
Like they said before the list, if you answer a lot of those questions with a yes you probably want to take your results to a doctor and see what can be done from there. I hope this list can help you shed some light on your situation, and I hope that you find the help you need if this felt relatable to your experience.
Until Next Time,
Keep Calm and Grow On