ADHD Isn’t A Myth, It’s Time We Normalize It

As I stare at a blank screen, trying to write this piece. I find myself typing a few words, erasing them, and then writing and erasing them again. I’ll type three paragraphs, erase those, manage to write an entire article and erase that as well. I do all this just to find the right words to talk about something that feels so painful to me. 

I am a 28-year-old woman, and I was diagnosed with ADHD about five months ago. 

While it sounds jarring to be diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder, usually found in children, in your late twenties, it’s actually not. I always knew there was something “wrong” with me, especially as a kid going to school. I noticed I wasn’t like all the other girls around me. They were organized, calm, and focused, and I wasn’t. I felt all my feelings deeply, was easily distracted, and my mind was always racing about a million different things at once. 

This became heightened for me in fourth grade when my father suffered from congestive heart failure. From that moment until the beginning of sixth grade, he was consistently in and out of the hospital with aneurysms, kidney failures, defibrillators, dialysis, and more. After surviving all those hardships, my dad succumbed to an unexpected heart attack at the hospital a few days after a successful surgery. 

My world as I knew it had come crashing down. And with that came more prominent symptoms of ADHD, previously categorized as negative grieving coping mechanisms. 

I kept afloat for a couple of years, barely surviving school days. Then one day, it got so bad I landed in therapy. I was young but knew I needed help, and so did my mom. 

Even though my dad died, I didn’t feel depressed – besides the first year, which is normal. I had anxiety, but when I reflected on it, I realized it was situational and continues to be. It came after I would binge eat so badly that I felt like my clothes would never fit again, or when I put off all my assignments until the last minute and didn’t know if I could get them done. It loomed around me as an adult when I’d spend too much money or forget to pay a bill on time. 

That part of my life felt lonely. I found myself looking around at all my friends once again and wondering why most of them were able to seamlessly move through life and get everything done. For me, just starting a to-do list put me into a form of paralysis. I felt this way until someone finally listened. They didn’t look at me as a woman and thought, “Oh, she’s just depressed.” Instead, they actually heard me.

I finally met a professional who took the time to understand and work with me to accept this diagnosis. 

It changed my life completely. I felt a relief I hadn’t felt before. It was like I could breathe again, knowing that all the times things felt difficult and impossible weren’t because I was lazy or didn’t care. It was because my brain worked differently than the brains of those around me. And in the same instance, I felt like I couldn’t breathe again. Every time I shared the news that made me feel so relieved, I was met with questions and disbelief.

I would hear things like “ADHD? Isn’t that something only boys get diagnosed with? or “Oh yeah, everyone has ADHD nowadays. We’re all a little ADHD.” But my favorite one is  “ADHD is just an excuse for you to be lazy.”

Hearing these things made my heart ache so much. People found it so easy to diminish something I worked so long to find an answer to. And it was painful.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is not a myth; it was a part of my life long before anything traumatic happened. 

ADHD is usually considered a condition that only affects children, specifically boys. Because of that, ADHD is prevalent in women and not girls because we were neglected for so long and seen as “rebellious,” “chatterboxes,” or “daydreamers.” So, young girls are left to struggle throughout school and often fall short compared to others in the room because they lack the help they so desperately need. This leads women, myself included, to experience extreme frustration and low self-esteem. ADHD is not just a disorder for one specific group. Everyone has just been conditioned to help boys and men in a much different capacity than girls.

When boys can’t finish work, it’s because they have a lot of energy. And when girls can’t, they are lazy. When boys show extreme feelings of frustration, it’s almost justified. But when a girl does the same, we are “causing a scene.” If a boy has low self-esteem, we do everything to lift them up. But when a girl has it, we tell them that it’s a part of life. As a woman, I no longer subscribe to this narrative, and you shouldn’t either.

As the years pass, the public will see more women diagnosed with ADHD. And that’s a good thing.

It’s because women are finally being listened to by healthcare professionals. So maybe before you comment or ask an intrusive question, you can ask yourself if it will hurt or help the person.

I will always grieve for my dad. But I never thought a part of me would have to mourn all the opportunities I missed because I was told that I was just a bad test taker or that all I needed to do was care more. That’s the sad part: we care so much, yet sometimes it feels so debilitating to get started. Think about living that way your whole life.

If you are a woman who feels like you’ve experienced similar feelings, I urge you to seek support from a healthcare professional. Women deserve the ability to improve their quality of life. Women deserve to be heard. And women deserve to rescue their inner child who never felt seen.

Featured image via Tara Winstead on Pexels


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