The ADHD Homestead

Building a good life with ADHD.

Month: April 2015

Falling through the cracks: one ADHD girl’s story

About the author:

CarolynCarolyn is a single mother of two and a Registered Nurse working in General and Cardiovascular Surgery. She also has a background in Behavioral Health. She’s just started a new blog at www.thedistractedmom.com, where she writes about parenting with ADHD while raising ADHD children.

Follow Carolyn on Twitter at @NurseMallon.

Thank you, Carolyn, for sharing your story!

Missing the warning signs

Do you know what it feels like to be a girl with ADHD?

I do, as do nearly 6% of all girls. But many of us struggle for years before we figure out why things seem so much harder for us.

We expect boys to be boisterous and loud. Even without a diagnosis of ADHD, it surprises no one when a boy acts like a clown, and they give him a pass when he talks back (after all, he’s got to grow up to be confident, right?).

We expect something else from girls.

We want them to follow directions and be tidy, and to be mindful of the feelings of others. There isn’t as much leeway for being messy and haphazard.

As an ADHD girl, you’re forever falling short of everyone’s expectations, never living up to your “potential.” You try to stay organized, but the lists and notebooks just get lost. You forget plans and goof on names. You struggle to fit in with the other girls, and you feel like everyone else has a cheat sheet of social rules.

As an undiagnosed ADHD girl, my childhood and teen years were awful.

I was depressed and crippled by anxiety attacks and a school phobia. At one point I had an ulcer made worse from the meds I was taking for my ‘emotional problems!’

I was only 12 years old. I just wanted to know what was wrong with me!

My older brother had ADHD, but he had the obvious kind — and he was a boy. He was hyperactive and oppositional. He engaged in risk-taking behavior that was hard not to notice. I worked very hard to behave and do well in school, even when it was obvious to me I wasn’t keeping up.

The tragedy was that in working so hard to hide my impairments, I only succeeded in postponing proper treatment.

I was intelligent enough to leave an impression on my teachers. In fact, I was in the gifted program, but I lacked the organizational skills to meet their academic expectations.

If I found a subject interesting, I could do well easily, but if a subject didn’t grab me, I could stare at a homework assignment for hours and still not make progress. I would try to follow the class lecture, but if I lost track of what they were discussing, I might as well have wandered alone in the woods. I just couldn’t catch up.

After a while, I started skipping classes to avoid the shame and embarrassment of having no assignment to turn in or knowing I was going to flunk a test. This contributed to my poor self-image: I felt like a loser and a delinquent.

By 11th grade, I wasn’t in honors classes at all anymore. I was failing remedial math and getting suspended for truancy. I was drinking, experimenting with drugs, and feeling more miserable than I’d been in my life.

This is often the lot of the undiagnosed ADHD girl.

ADHD’s far-reaching effects on women & girls

ADHD is the most common childhood psychiatric disorder, marked by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. While girls often present with those symptoms, they more commonly have difficulties sustaining attention, initiating and maintaining effort, and organizing information. Many struggle with learning impairments.

Left undiagnosed, girls tend to under-perform academically. Each year that goes by becomes a longer history of failure, social problems, and feelings of under-achievement.

More so than with ADHD boys, these impairments often lead to peer rejection. Relationships among girls are sophisticated and require more maintenance. Boys tend to be more forgiving of forgetfulness, hyperactivity, and inappropriate outbursts. Social awkwardness it not as easily forgiven among teen girls. There’s a perception that girls should know what to say and when; how to keep a secret; how to keep their lives in order and make it look effortless.

If they can’t do this, they feel like something is wrong with them.

What Happens When You Can’t Keep Up?

Depression and anxiety are common with ADHD, but even higher in girls, who tend to internalize problems. Whereas boys engage in oppositional behavior, girls more commonly internalize anger and engage in self-injury. Half of ADHD girls report self-harming behavior (Child Mind, 2012).

Perhaps not surprisingly, girls are also particularly prone to substance abuse disorders, possibly related to later diagnosis and high levels of stress as they try to self-medicate.

45% of women diagnosed with ADHD also meet criteria for another disorder.

But it’s not the end of the world, right?

Well, it can be the end for some. 18% of teen girls with ADHD report suicidal ideation (Rucklidge, J.J. 2008), and the incidence of successful suicide is five times higher in those with ADHD (Medscape, 2013).

There are other risks associated with “slipping through the cracks” and not being diagnosed. Left untreated, ADHD increases the risk for driving-related accidents, particularly for teen girls. Adolescent girls with ADHD also have a higher risk for teen pregnancy (30-40%) and a fourfold increased risk for STDs (Rucklidge, J.J. 2008).

As any grown-up girl can tell you, low self-esteem and poor impulse control do not add up to the best decision-making.

I had all the symptoms — how was it missed?

The therapists and doctors saw my anxiety and depression, my sense of never being focused or present, my inner feelings of restlessness, anger, and self-loathing. I also engaged in self-harm, but my impulsive behaviors looked like psychiatric symptoms, and didn’t point to ADHD. They threw around words like “dysthymia,” “generalized anxiety,” and “borderline.”

What they missed was ADHD combined-type — and just enough shame about my impairments that I managed to distract from the issue entirely. Rather than let anyone know how disorganized and forgetful I really was, and because I interpreted that as a personal failing, I focused instead on how miserable I felt. Understandably, they focused on that, too.

In doing so, we all failed to address the symptoms that were contributing to my unhappiness and poor self-image in the first place.

You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to relive my teenage years.

It’s not too late

Dropping out wasn’t the end of my story. I did get my life back on track eventually. But first I had to address the self-image issues holding me back and the ADHD symptoms keeping my life in disarray.

If you know a girl struggling with attention or anxiety issues, whether she’s been diagnosed or not, let her know she doesn’t need to struggle like that. And she’s not alone.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but one intervention that does fit every situation is support. Not lectures, not tough love, not “ignore it; she’s just doing it for attention,” not hollow reassurances. Just support. Let her know that you notice her, and you want to help, and you’re there for her. Then ask how you can help.

References

ADHD Persists in Adulthood, Ups Mental Illness, Suicide Risk. Medscape Medical News, Psychiatry. Wed. 10 April 2015.

Cumyn, L., PhD., French, L., PhD., & Hechtman, Lily,M.D., F.R.C.P. (2009). Comorbidity in adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54(10), 673-83. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/222845215?accountid=3783

Mikami, A. Y., Ransone, M. L., & Calhoun, C. D. (2011, 12). Influence of Anxiety on the Social Functioning of Children With and Without ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 15(6), 473-484. doi: 10.1177/1087054710369066

Ramsay, J. R. (2005, 12). Girl, Repeatedly Interrupted: The Case of a Young Adult Woman With ADHD.Clinical Case Studies, 4(4), 329-346. doi: 10.1177/1534650103259741

Rucklidge, J. J. (2008, 12). Gender differences in ADHD: Implications for psychosocial treatments. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 8(4), 643-655. doi: 10.1586/14737175.8.4.643

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Link roundup: distracted moms, allergies, messes, and spontaneity

  1. The Distracted Mom
    “It’s a struggle worth sharing since I know I’m not alone in it,” says Carolyn. I’ve been waiting, wishing, and hoping for more blogs about living with ADHD. A mom living with ADHD is just icing on the cake. Carolyn has created a lovely new blog that promises not just to be a strong voice in the adult ADHD community, but a hub of information from around the web. The Distracted Mom logo
  2. A-choo! IgG, Immunity, and ADHD via ADHD Roller Coaster
    Dr. Charles Parker sheds some light on the connections between allergies, food sensitivities, and ADHD symptoms.
  3. The Blessings of a Messy Life via Be More With Less
    I cannot abide a mess. In an ADHD household, this kind of attitude is both helpful and disastrous. Here, blogger Courtney Carver provides some silver-lined wisdom for dealing with life’s messes.
  4. When Being Impulsive is Not Spontaneous via The DIY Librarian
    Oh boy. This one hits the nail on the head for me. Many people claim the spontaneous! fun-loving! zany! ADHD traits as assets, but as I get older, I find myself more and more exhausting. If you’ve ever felt the same, read this.
  5. Sorting Through Sentimental Keepsakes via Unclutterer
    My very unscientific life observations have taught me, ADHD’ers can have a terrible time with sentimental attachments to objects. I won’t speculate today on why that might be, but this post offers some solid advice on managing sentimental attachments while trying to live a simple, less-distracted life.
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3 ways to make good habits stick

Habits: you have plenty of bad ones. How many good habits have you sustained over the years?

For ADHD adults, the answer is often none — or at least very few.

I find this aspect of ADHD particularly demoralizing. Even fun habits that make me feel great — playing a musical instrument, practicing yoga, reading fiction for pleasure — eventually fall victim to entropy. I want to continue my daily habits, but I don’t.

Are you feeling similarly discouraged? Here are three tips that work wonders for our family:

Break it down…way down.

I know, I know — people harp on this all the time: just break it down into managable pieces! Everything will be easy! But what does that really mean for ADHD adults struggling to organize our time, behavior, and thoughts?

We need to break new habits down until they feel insulting.

I want to work on my manuscript every day. How am I doing it? By opening the document. That’s it. No page or word count goals, just open the document.

It feels obvious, but it’s not. We want goal-setting to feel exciting. Our stimulation-hungry brains crave the rush of saying “I’m going write 1,000 words per day, five days per week.” We want to stand at the base of the mountain, gaze up at the top, and say, “I’m going to climb that today.”

While this works well for hiking, it doesn’t work at all for life goals. Blogger and bestselling author Stephen Guise claims aiming high actually decreases your motivation and focus. “If you slip up and fall behind,” Guise says, “the pressure of catching up and meeting the goal is going to crush you. When a goal seems out of reach, it’s only natural to give up completely.”

Imagine your most unfocused, frantic, tired, and/or demotivated day. Now imagine you’ve forgotten your daily habit until you’ve already climbed into bed. Can you hop out of bed and do it quickly so you still have a confidence-boosting success? If not, you need to go smaller. (In the case of my manuscript, I can open the document from my Dropbox smart phone app.)

If you’re truly interested in lasting change, I recommend checking out Guise’s essays Take the One Push-Up Challenge and How to Change Your Life Permanently With Small Steps.

Stop short of the summit…for now.

I call this the “one more thing” cycle: when you keep striving for just one more thing before you move on. In ADHD terms, we call it ‘hyperfocus.’ Hyperfocus exhausts our cognitive resources and steals our focus from other things.

Blogger Leo Babuta of ZenHabits recommends that we always leave ourselves wanting more.

“When you’re on the computer, shut it down before you’re done with everything,” Babuta recommends. “You’ll never be done with everything, and shutting down early means you’ve reserved some of your mental energy for other pursuits offline. You’ll be raring to go tomorrow. You won’t be as spent.”

This is easier said than done for most ADHD’ers. Ask someone to help you shift your focus at a predetermined time, set a timer for your work, or set a goal with a defined end…and stick to it.

Get comfortable with imperfection.

Remember Monday’s post about moving forward little by little, even if you don’t have a perfect solution? Don’t let fear of failure trip you up.

ZenHabits’ Leo Babuta recommends embacing the “fail faster” mantra so beloved by the software development community: “you’ll only gather the real-world information you need to make the habit stick (exercise, diet, meditation, reading, creating, non-procrastinating, yoga, etc.) by actually doing the habit.”

Try your habit. Make mistakes. Fail. But don’t beat yourself up. Try to figure out what went wrong and work around those obstacles in the next iteration.

Perhaps that’s the most important habit-building advice of all: don’t let another failure convince you that you’re a failure. Set tiny goals to build your confidence. When you fall down, get back up again and keep walking. Dedicate yourself to modeling resilience and persistance, not perfection.

In short: never stop learning from mistakes, and never be afraid to start over.

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Loosen task paralysis with one small thing

There are many reasons not to start on a task — more, I’d bet, than there are reasons to get started.

Excuses include:

  • I don’t have enough time or energy to do the whole thing.
  • It’s a big project and I don’t know how or where to begin.
  • Conditions aren’t ideal for starting today.
  • I’ll worry about it tomorrow.
  • I’d really like to buy some more supplies first.

The list goes on.

So it’s been with our basement workshop, a well-established hub of clutter and disorganization. Tools cover every horizontal surface. Cabinets overflow with piles of random stuff. Sometimes the floor gets involved and I climb over a saw to access the washing machine.

Sure, we could fix it this weekend, but our new workbench isn’t built yet, and we can’t install a new organizing system until we remove the old bench, and…see above list.

hanging tools

That’s why I was so impressed when I walked downstairs the other day. There, on the wall behind the workbench’s temporary home, hung a neat row of tools.

The next day, I saw a few more. And the next, yet another.

Stop stalling and just do one small thing.

When I asked my husband about this new development, he confessed he’d finally gotten sick of knocking tools off his work area. He stuck a French cleat to the wall and made a hanger for a saw. Then, as he stood back to admire his work, a level clattered to the ground. He made a hanger for that, too.

It’s easy to become paralyzed in the face of real-world conditions: it’s not a perfect time to do it, you don’t have the perfect tool for the job, etc. The problem is, if you wait for the ideal time to get it done, it’s not getting done anytime soon.

Next time you get stuck, ask yourself what one quick, small, seemingly-insignificant thing you can do to make the situation better.

For us, it was hanging up a few tools, even though we’ll have to move them to a new spot in a few months.

Sometimes it’s not about creating the beautiful, gratifying, impressive final product right there and then. It’s about moving forward one tiny step at a time.

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The zen of ADHD gardening

Yesterday marked the official start of gardening season here in Baltimore. While some may gripe about the return of weeding and mowing, it comes not a moment too soon for me.

zen of ADHD gardening FB

Remember what I said about exercising through play?

If that doesn’t float your boat, or if you lack age-appropriate playmates, try gardening. Whenever I need an extra dose of focus, calm, and positive energy, I start with the backyard.

It’s no surprise that ADHD adults benefit from getting their hands dirty. In addition to brownie points with your spouse, you get:

  1. A free, productive workout.
    Unlike a jog or a trip to the gym, mowing the lawn or digging up the garden creates immediate, visible results. A freshly weeded flower bed or an appreciative spouse will help reinforce the behavior and motivate you to get out there more frequently. So will the sense that you’re actually doing something — a feeling you won’t get from 30 minutes of treadmill running. For a bonus, consider using manual lawn tools whenever possible. We have a relatively small yard, and I can’t get enough of my manual reel mower. If you don’t want to give up the power push mower, try turning off the self-propelling feature.
    green therapy for your ADHD
  2. All-natural relief from your ADHD symptoms.
    Though most research has focused on children, there are strong indications that acute physical activity improves executive function enough to serve as a complementary treatment for ADHD. Outdoor physical activity provides a double win because exposure to “green” or natural settings may further reduce ADHD symptoms.If you rely on stimulant medication to do the heavy lifting, you may be amazed at the impact increased physical activity and outdoor time can have on your life. Every little bit helps!
  3. A channel for your fidgeting impulses.
    Are you the dinner host who gets up from the table every two minutes to refill water, clear plates almost before your guests finish eating, or look for a missing pickle fork? I feel this way when my kid plays outside. I avoid sitting still by pulling stray weeds, filling planters, pruning bushes, and raking leaves.
  4. Instant gratifcation…
    There’s nothing like surveying the fruits of your labor. The finish line is always in sight, and once you get there, you get a nice dopamine rush when you look at all the work you’ve just done.
  5. …and a project that teaches you to wait.
    That said, you can’t rush a garden. Once you plant your seeds, you have to wait for them to sprout. No amount of impatience, all-nighters, or meddling will speed them up. Just don’t forget to mist them with water while you’re obsessively checking them every afternoon. And gardening doesn’t just require patience while the plants grow. Gardening teaches you to slow down and be gentle with those little seedlings. You may not succeed at first, but you’ll get it eventually.
  6. A natural high
    Getting your blood flowing on a sunny day won’t just ease your ADHD symptoms, it’ll brighten your spirits. With a boost in mood-enhancing serotonin from the sun and, if you really exert yourself, endorphins from working your heart and muscles, you’re bound to feel pretty good when you’re done.

So what are you waiting for? Get out and start digging in that dirt!

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Don’t forget to play

It’s no secret that physical exercise provides acute relief from ADHD symptoms. While it probably won’t replace stimulant medication for most people, it provides many similar effects.

So why aren’t we all in great shape?

Well, exercise can be boring. It’s another habit to maintain, task to complete, and commitment to fulfill. It requires motivation to do something that’s good for you, but not necessarily fun or easy.

That is, unless you’re a kid.

adult playground photo

Get in touch with your inner child (in a good way)

For all our foibles, many ADHD folks are described by friends and family as fun-loving and spontaneous. It’s time to (for once) use those qualities to your advantage.

It’s time to go out and play.

Yesterday morning, I exhibited some childish and embarrassing behavior that, much like bad behavior in actual children, was remedied by a trip to the playground. And coffee and breakfast, but that’s another post.

If you’re having a rough day — or if you just want to be at your best — find fun, spontaneous, playful ways to get some exercise. This is especially important if you also have active kids in your life. Follow their lead once in a while! Some of my favorites have included:

  • Climbing walls or practicing pull-ups/bar hangs at the playground with my kid
  • Throwing a tennis ball against the house and catching it until my heart rate is elevated
  • Running up and down the stairs when I feel restless (this is a variation on my toddler’s habit of running laps around an area rug, something that makes most adults too dizzy)
  • Playing Just Dance or Dance Dance Revolution on the Wii/Playstation
  • Going to the rock gym with my husband

You don’t need to join a gym to increase your overall health and mental well-being. You don’t even need to put on your running shoes. Start by remembering what it’s like to be a kid. Go out in the sun, run around, and get your blood flowing, even if you’re just jumping over obstacles in the yard.

Oh, and be sure to ignore any funny looks from neighbors. They’re the ones missing out!

How do you trick yourself into being more active? Please share in the comments!

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Do what works

The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution. -- Bertrand Russell

It’s so easy to nag, demand, berate, or give up on our ADHD loved ones. I mean, really, how hard is it to…

  • get home from work on time?
  • stay sitting at the table for dinner?
  • stop picking fights?
  • keep track of your keys?
  • take out the trash?

Before I go on, let me tell you, it’s okay to feel frustrated.

But then ask yourself this: am I trying to solve the right problem?

Is getting home from work on time really the issue? Physically sitting at the table? Or do we need to dig deeper, discovering that our true meaning is really…

  • I want to feel like you value our family as much as your job
  • I want to connect as a family
  • I want a peaceful, effective morning routine
  • I want to trust that you’ll fulfill your commitments to our household

When we consider what’s really bugging us, the conversation shifts. It becomes about us and our feelings, not others and their faults.

Next time you’re tempted to nag or criticize, pause. Challenge yourself to open up about the real issue and listen to your ADHD’ers’ suggestions.

Of course, you’ll need to prepare for the “I don’t know” answer, too. Working from honest feelings rather than accusations, assumptions, and judgments creates a safe space for you to solve the problem as a team.

These conversations require self-awareness and emotional availability — two tough spots for ADHD folks. If you struggle with communication, I suggest reading Difficult Conversations as a family.

Experiment, observe, and find what works

When troubleshooting in an ADHD household, be prepared to experiment.

In a science experiment, you don’t work from what you want or what you think should happen.

You observe what is and you work from there.

For example, we don’t do family dinner at our house. I grew up with family dinner, and everywhere I looked, someone was holding it up as the gold standard for healthy, functional, connected nuclear families.

Well, guess what — family dinner doesn’t work for us right now.

Did I fret over how I could make it happen so we could be a “real,” “normal” family?

I sure did. But did it help?

Nope.

Eventually, I realized family dinner wasn’t the problem. It was the need for a family meal.

The solution: we eat family breakfast together seven days a week. My husband gets our son out of bed and dressed, giving them extra time together in the morning. Our weekly family meeting happens after breakfast on Saturday because that’s when we know we’ll all be together.

It’s a little unconventional, but it’s what works for us.

 Forget expectations

If you’re still obsessing over how “normal” or “responsible” people solve problems and organize their lives, try to let it go. Step back, observe, and look at what really works for your family.

Make sure you’ve defined the real problem, then work on a real solution.

Don’t let external judgments and expectations define how you run your home and family.

Find what works and let go of the rest.

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Sometimes, it pays to pay

Has an area of your home or yard gotten out of control? Do you need a breath of relief?

Sometimes, it pays to pay. Pay someone to get you back on your feet, that is.

When a few loose ends become a lot of trouble

A friend once told me about a job he took over winter break in college. A professor asked him to help clean out his office. When my friend arrived, he found it worse than he ever expected: the professor accessed his desk at the rear of the room via a tiny path through a tunnel of clutter. Visitors actually had to pass under the junk balanced overhead.

Perhaps you’ve experienced a similar situation in your own life. Maybe it’s not the whole house, but just a closet or a room that gradually got away from you until cleaning it up felt too overwhelming. I know it has happened to me.

Looming, unfinished, unattended projects sap our mental energy. If you’re feeling stuck, you may need to close one of those open loops.

Taming the jungle — with some help from a pro

Several years ago, I got fed up with our garden. I’d let it get out of control following a springtime shoulder surgery. Finally, I decided enough was enough.

Rather than add it to the list of overwhelming problems I swore were ruining my life, I took decisive action. My boss had a neighbor who was looking for odd gardening jobs. We were getting a tax refund. While I didn’t want to hire a regular gardener, I had to admit I needed help.

For less than the value of our tax refund that year, we had a gardener take us from here:

overgrown-garden

To here:

new-garden

That left us responsible for weeding and upkeep, which felt far more manageable than clearing the overgrown mess it had become.

Pay if you can

I realize hiring someone to give you a boost on household tasks may not be possible for everyone, but it’s worth considering. If money is tight, you may want to set aside an unexpected windfall, such as a tax refund. Or you could calculate how much you spend on one unnecessary thing and put the money in a jar for your project instead. Think cab rides instead of walking or taking the bus, lattes at Starbucks instead of making them at home, ordering Chinese instead of planning your meals and cooking during the week, paper towels instead of real ones, cigarettes when you keep saying you should quit. An exciting reward may even motivate you to create a good habit.

Also, just because you pay someone to redo your garden doesn’t mean they need to come every week to mow your lawn. Hiring a service to scan all your old photographs only needs to happen once if you’ve moved on to digital.  A cleaning service can provide a single-visit deep clean to make it more manageable for you to start a regular cleaning schedule of your own.

Even if you grew up in a household that valued doing work yourself whenever possible, there’s no shame in asking for a little help to reach your full potential. Remember, once a task becomes overwhelming (like a garden that hasn’t been tended for two years or a renovation project that’s left you without a kitchen for 10 months), breaking it into bite-size pieces and getting started again on your own will be tough. If a little money is all it takes to put you back on track, so be it.

Have you benefited from paying a professional to help you with a task that had become an insurmountable hurdle? If you have, please share!

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ADHD then and now: notes from my teenage self

People sometimes tell me I can’t have ADHD because I’m too smart and organized.

I insist I’m only as organized as I need to be to maintain a base level of sanity, not to mention cleanliness and financial security. It just so happens I need to create a lot of intentional, concrete systems to keep the ship afloat.

good student quote

I still have my rough patches, but it’s easy to forget how ADHD feels for those who are younger, undiagnosed, newly diagnosed, or just haven’t gotten the support they need to start organizing their lives.

Here’s a different perspective, written when I was 17:

…When I have to pay attention in school, sometimes I just can’t. I’ll try with all I’ve got, but it’s like a fog, a force field goes up between me and them and I can’t cut through it.

Most of the time, no matter what, I can’t sit still. My leg twitches, my fingers, tap, I fidget and shift positions, or my eyes just keep darting around.

I find it difficult to do my homework at night because I’ll start staring at something, I’ll pick up objects around me and look at them, my thoughts will wander, I won’t be able to focus or concentrate.

And then there’s my memory. I can never remember books and movies, I constantly forget to perform simple tasks, so much so that it interferes with my daily functioning in life. This is why I write on my hands. I do things in fragments because I get distracted and bounce from task to task. I must perform my morning routine in the same order every day lest I leave something out. I am very absent-minded.

I have trouble not talking when there is someone who I can talk to nearby.

See, I talked to my guidance counselor about it, and I still don’t know what to do. In order to be diagnosed with anything, a test would go out to me, my parents, and my teachers, none of whom I want to get involved. I’ve tricked my teachers into thinking I’m a good student…

I have to constantly stay a step ahead of this, I have to beat it and sidestep it and wrestle it to the ground, all to keep my head above the water. Battling with a condition of your own mind is like nothing else — it is a unique struggle, one that knows you and hits you where you are weak, one that wears you down over time and makes you feel sick inside.

I wish it could be easy, but it sucks.

Already, with ample structure in a minimally challenging academic environment, I struggled internally.

I didn’t cause much trouble at school and I graduated with a GPA over 3.5. Study halls gave me extra time for homework. I was also bright enough to get away with discreetly working on assignments during lectures without falling behind on the material. As a linguistic thinker, I relied on my ability to test well, but forgot most of what I learned shortly after the exam.

Many find this surprising, but it’s a common story for ADHD girls and women.

These are the ADHD cases that slip by until adulthood, when we must create our own structure, goals, and schedules. We must make our own day, and if we haven’t learned to do that, everything begins to fall apart.

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