02 Oct

Being an Adult with ADHD

What causes someone to have difficulty writing?  Why write, and write, and write and then seem no longer interested?  This is what I have had to ask myself.  I have been wanting to write.  And there is so much subject matter, you would think I would never run out of material.  What happens though if you want to write about a certain topic and the desire to write about it is conflicting with the fear of writing about it?  This has been been my struggle for the past weeks.

Why would I have fear writing about a certain topic?  There is a stigma attached to mental illness and I have already wrote about depression and anxiety.  In this instance, the fear comes more from the fact that I do not fit the mold.  I am a woman, being diagnosed at 46 years of age, with ADHD.  I can hear the exclamations now.  WHAT?!  HOW!?  REALLY!?

That was not my first question when first hearing the diagnosis.  My first question was, “How do I live for 46 years with NO ONE knowing that I am struggling with an illness that affects so many facets of my life?”  I will get to that answer in a moment.  My first thought was, finally, an explanation for SO many things.  Having had bouts of depression and anxiety, I have learned symptoms of those illnesses.  When those symptoms ease up, why do I still feel different from everyone else?  Now I know!

There is so much to share about this illness and how it affects girls and women.  That will be the context of how I write future articles about ADHD.  How does ADHD affect girls and women?

Today I want to tell you how girls and women are going undiagnosed.  I created a page that lists the books I have read or am reading, websites I frequent, and magazine articles I have come across.  I have been researching ADHD since the date of diagnosis.

A stereotypical assumption made about ADHD is that it is an attention deficit, HYPERACTIVITY disorder.  There is SO much not said about the illness in that name.  It is boys that are usually diagnosed with ADHD, after presenting with symptoms that are causing problems at home and school.  The hyperactivity being the primary symptom.  Girls typically, do not suffer with the hyperactivity symptom.  First way they get missed.  Girls also try a lot harder to fit in and compensate for symptoms.  Second way they get missed.  In their efforts to try harder girls are usually very successful in school.  Third way they get missed. Without these symptoms the girl cannot have ADHD then.  Simple as that! Wrong!

Girls struggle with inattention.  You can ask an ADHD girl to do something.  She will turn around to go do the task and it will be gone immediately from her mind. Thus, she is thought of as forgetful.  She will lose things she needs for homework or projects at home.  She will not know where these items are.  Still forgetful. Can you imagine having NO recollection of where you put something?  And not just occasionally.  ALL THE TIME!   I learned a long time ago to put key things in the exact same place every time I put them down.

Ok, that might be part of the inattention component.  How about hyperactivity? What falls in this category are things like; fidgeting, feeling the urge to move around, and impulsivity.  Have you ever done something, with NO idea why you did it?  This is impulsivity.  Do you move your feet or hands when trying to sit still?  Without being aware?  Do you feel powered by a motor and find it difficult to sit still?  These symptoms are part of hyperactivity.

I was chatty when I started school.  I very quickly learned that I had to be quiet.  I compensated by becoming shy and not talking very much at all.  I had great marks all through primary school, completing each year with honors.  I did not get into trouble at school.  I could have though,  I was an eraser thief in grade 1.  I sneakily rounded up all the erasers in the class.  I got caught with play dough at home, it came from school.  I thought it would be a great idea to hide at school, in order to spend the night.  None of my friends would stay with me.  Weird!

In high school, I never did homework.  I could not remember to bring it home.  I was usually doing it in the hallway in the morning, if not during the class I was supposed to have done it for.  After school, mom would call home and ask me to start dinner.  After hanging up the phone, I would go back to what I was doing, as if the conversation with mom never even happened.  I could never understand why I could not remember the simplest things.  And, needless to say, I was grounded, A LOT!

And of course, the symptoms continued, along with other characteristics of the illness.  Compensation became second nature.  I knew I was different from others.  A big hit to the self confidence.  I often regretted things said during conversations with people.  Not knowing however, where the words were coming from, or how to stop them.  It became difficult to be in group or social environments.  I was so afraid of people not liking me due to something I might say or do.

You can see how a sense of relief was exactly what I felt upon hearing diagnosis. There was a reason for all of this.  Now, how to fix it?  That is a conversation for another day.  Until then…..just do the next thing!


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