The ADHD Homestead

Create the life you want with the mind you have.

Tag: ADHD Roller Coaster

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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“It’s different for girls:” My ADHD story

report card, second grade

report card, second grade

As I reached out for support, my friends and family struggled to sympathize. After all, I looked smart and successful—from the outside. My friends assured me I was either expecting too much of myself or making excuses for not bringing my behavior in line with that of other adults. My occasional verbal outbursts just meant I had to think before I spoke. Of course my desk got messy sometimes, but didn’t everyone’s? Surely I didn’t think I was the only one who felt overwhelmed from time to time?

Surely not, but my struggles extended beyond what could be considered “average.” I lived in a constant state of frantic anxiety, knowing I had too much to do but unable to bring specific tasks into focus. Bills went unpaid. Close relationships felt insecure and suffered from my irritability and overemotional behavior. Feeling others’ trust and respect was misplaced, I battled persistent guilt and a fear of being “found out.”

Sometimes I shy away from telling my own story here. I want The ADHD Homestead to be about more than that. I want this space to be about helping others, sharing ideas, providing support.

But the truth is — judging by the comments — sharing my experience via this guest post on ADHD Roller Coaster did help a lot of people. Specifically, my words helped women with ADHD, who are far less likely than boys to be diagnosed as children. This lag in diagnoses generates a whole host of mental health issues as we navigate the tricky world of adulthood: anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, to name a few.

It received a brief mention at the bottom of my 2014 Blog Action Day post, but I’m sharing it again in here because it’s important. It’s important for women with ADHD to see their experience mirrored and validated by someone else. It’s important for parents, spouses, and everyone who loves us to understand the differences between ADHD in girls and boys. It can make all the difference in the world.

To read the full essay quoted above, visit the original post on ADHD Roller Coaster. Then, please share your own experiences in the comments (here or there).

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Blog Action Day: Inequality (and what it has to do with women & ADHD)

Note: This post is part of Blog Action Day 2014. Please click here to check out the live stream of posts about inequality!

ADHD may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “inequality.” Likewise, a teacher isn’t thinking about it when she recommends a female student repeat the second grade instead of undergoing an ADHD assessment.

I suspect my own second grade teacher didn’t have ADHD in mind when she sent home notes about my poor behavior. On my report card, she wrote that I “often [did] not ‘feel like’ working and staying on task.” No one mentioned ADHD.

Unfortunately, the gender gap in effective diagnosis and treatment has improved little since my elementary school days. Girls are still consistently less likely to be diagnosed and treated for ADHD than boys.

This is not just a tragedy of wasted potential — it’s damaging our mental health. Women and girls with ADHD self-report more issues with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem than their male counterparts. The effects of missed diagnoses are compounded by the fact that female friendships can require more skill in reading social cues and interpreting others’ feelings. Women and girls are especially prone to social isolation and rejection as a result of their ADHD.

The other side of ADHD

ADHD often looks different in girls, making timely diagnosis more challenging. Society drives us to please others more than it does boys, so girls’ academic performance suffers less often. Like many girls with both high IQ and ADHD, I had no trouble coasting through school. It was only in adult life that everything began to fall apart in earnest. Because girls are also less prone to disrupt classroom activities, their struggles often go unnoticed by educators.

Your brain (and meds) on estrogen

Adding another layer of complication is estrogen, which studies have shown to improve memory and cognitive functioning. It stands to reason, then, that during periods of lower estrogen — before the menstrual period, postpartum, and at the onset of menopause — we would experience more severe ADHD symptoms.

I’ve experienced this firsthand. I dreaded stopping my stimulant medication for my pregnancy, but my doctor told me, “wait and see, you may find you feel great.”

To my surprise, I did feel great. I continued to feel great for six months after my son was born. Then, as he began exploring solid food and gradually decreased his intake of breast milk, my symptoms came back with a vengeance. By the time he weaned at 14 months, I felt like I was witnessing the final moments of a slow-motion collapse.

Don’t assume medication will insulate you from the estrogen roller coaster, either. While estrogen is believed to render stimulants more effective, the converse is also true: you may find your meds don’t work as well during those low-estrogen periods. Additionally, progesterone — found in higher levels during puberty — dampens the effect of stimulants. Women entering puberty and menopause should be prepared to make dramatic changes to how they manage ADHD symptoms.

Seeing past the stereotypes

If you’re still picturing a hyperactive little boy when you think of ADHD, you’re part of the problem. Undiagnosed ADHD can have crippling effects on girls’ self-esteem, social relationships, and mental health. The good news is, you can change for the better today by educating yourself on ADHD in all its forms: male and female, hyperactive and inattentive.

What you can do

  • Educate yourself on the unique challenges of women with ADHD
  • Know the common symptoms of ADHD in women, and how they differ from most men
  • If you’re a woman with ADHD, make sure your mental health care provider is familiar with treating ADHD in women; if your meds don’t feel right, say something
  • To help make the most of your treatment plan, keep a daily log of your symptoms throughout your monthly cycle; look for patterns in how your symptoms fluctuate
  • If you have a daughter with ADHD — or you suspect she has ADHD but she hasn’t been evaluated — be prepared to advocate for her and push for a diagnosis and reasonable accommodations; also, look out for changes in her symptoms or the effectiveness of her medication as she enters puberty

Further reading

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