ADHD was something that I never took seriously. It was for little boys who couldn’t sit in chairs, right? The kids who got in trouble for throwing things in elementary school. Who talked too much. In the 80s, ADHD wasn’t something that was considered for little girls who wrote in their journals instead of taking notes. For the girls who never remembered what they were supposed to be doing. Who consistently felt like they were failing over and over when they couldn’t maintain routines or remember what they just read.
I was diagnosed in my late 20s. But it’s taken me another decade to figure out what it actually means to have ADHD. This is what ADHD looks like for me as a 37 year old mom:
- I can accomplish insane amounts of things in one day. Like, truly ridiculous things. Either that, or I do absolutely nothing. There is no in between and I have little to no control over what kind of day it is. Sorry, toxic positivity warriors. It isn’t as simple as just “getting it done.”
- I lose stuff. A lot. I go through debit cards at least 6 times a year. I found my phone in the fridge last week. I have misplaced just about every single things I own, including things like cars.
- I forget things. It isn’t because they don’t matter – they do. I forget important things and important things and I feel really bad when I don’t remember things that I should remember.
- Hyper focus is awesome but it is not something I can channel at will. Write a book in a month? Totally. But don’t ask me which month because I literally have no idea and cannot do it until my brain allows me to.
- There is a severe emotional dysregulation component. It has gotten significantly better since I figured out how to recognize the cause, but my emotional response to any given scenario could be wildly disproportionate. Most of the time I know I’m being irrational, but I can quickly go from “I forgot to do this thing” to “I am a complete failure as a friend and a mother and I do not deserve my family.” And I won’t say it. But I will think it and it is real.
- In this vein, Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) is a thing. I process rejection and criticism differently. Even things that aren’t actually rejection. I know I do it now, but I spent a lot of my life thinking everybody hated me and that tends to put a strain on relationships.
- It’s sort of a multitasking superpower for me. The rules of typical neurotypical behavior do not apply here. I thrive in chaos, because my brain is chaos. It makes sense to me.
- Impulsivity runs my life. I married one of the least impulsive people on the planet and that has mitigated a lot of disasters. I don’t think things through a lot and get excited about things quickly. Some days I wake up and sell our entire dining room set to install a library. Sometimes I decide to renovate my kitchen (BY MYSELF) and tear the house up for a week. Usually, I don’t regret it. But it is chaotic. I apologize a lot and thank my husband for being patient.
Mostly, I’m sharing this because ADHD isn’t something people talk about in adults, especially in women. It isn’t simply not being to sit down. It isn’t not paying attention. ADHD is more than just mom brain. It exists in adult women and a lot of times having children can exacerbate symptoms that were once tolerable. So, if you have executive dysfunction issues and never know where your keys are, you’re not a screw up. You could be a stressed out mom.
Or, you could have ADHD, too.