So, 2022 has been an interesting year. (Happy Advent, by the way.) It’s been a return to normal after the absolute horror and chaos of coronavirus lockdown pandemic, and personally, it’s been a gradual worsening of everything about me until I got some help.
Oh, I know, I know, my health is old news now. I’m bored of it myself. But this year, I got an *explanation* and Gentle Readers, it has changed everything.
I’ve been writing on here for years about my chaos, about my mad behaviours and my generally unreliable self. It turns out…there’s a fucking reason.
Ladies and Disappointments, I. Have. ADHD.
“LOL,” I can hear you all laughing now. “As though you’ve ever been hyperactive.” OH BUT MY CHILDREN I HAVE. And anyway, it’s not hyperactive type ADHD, it’s inattentive type ADHD, and Gentle Readers, I’m telling you: they might as well have been watching me my whole life and just writing down the things I do.
I was first clued into a possible diagnosis during lockdown, when I joined the app “Tiktok”. I wanted cute cat videos, I got a timeline full of helpful tips on how to manage your ADHD. No matter how many times I reassured the app that I was not interested in tips for managing a disorder I had not been diagnosed with, Tiktok insisted I did have it, and I should listen to my fellow sufferers. After several months of this, I looked up the symptoms of ADHD.
Gentle Readers, I had them all.
- Feeling overwhelmed – women with ADHD may often feel ‘on the brink’, as if one more thing will push them over the edge and they are barely coping. – I’m never on top of things. Ever. I clear spaces in my diary to just have panic and anxiety attacks. If my life were a circus act skill, it would be tightrope walking.
- Easily distracted – environmental noises, their own thoughts, new tasks and phone calls can result in a task being abandoned midway and often those with ADHD find it difficult to focus on a task for any length of time. – I love YoungerBro. I love talking to him, I love catching up. But halfway through a sentence, I will drift off, forget my words, lose track. WHILST I’M TALKING TO HIM. THE WORDS ARE COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH, and I will start watching a bug climb the wall. I fucking hate myself every time I do it.
- Feeling a fake – many women develop successful coping mechanisms to deal with some of the challenges that ADHD brings with it, but this can mean they feel they are constantly ‘acting’ at being competent. For some, they are able to ‘hold it together’ at work but then might feel things fall apart at home. Yep.
- Forgetful – it’s common for those with inattentive ADHD to forget birthdays, appointments or where their phone or keys are. I’m so used to forgetting birthdays, that when I saw my friend the other day, I apologised for missing her birthday. Confused, she frowned and said, “No you didn’t, you got me a lovely present.” I assumed I had forgotten.
- Depression and anxiety – unfortunately ADHD is often accompanied with a co-morbidity – another condition caused or a result of the ADHD. Feeling overwhelmed, socially isolated and a ‘fraud’ can leave those with ADHD with low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. It’s thought that 50% of those with ADHD also have a co-morbidity with anxiety being the most common. – I have been weepily depressed for nine years. I’ve been anxious my whole life.
- Running late – my friend doesn’t bother to meet me at 11am anymore. She just gets there for 11.15.
- Socially isolated – it may be hard for women with ADHD to feel they have much in common with other people and that they simply don’t fit in. For this reason they may isolate themselves. – Lucy at sixteen, “I feel socially inept.” Lucy at twenty: “why I have no friends?” Lucy at 24: “never mind. Argh my thyroid.” Lucy at 36: “Fuck it, I’ll die alone.”
- Feeling incompetent – studies showed that women with ADHD were much more likely to give up on challenging tasks because they felt the task was outside of their control to complete (Rucklidge, 1997). I mean, it’s challenging because it’s actually hard?! This seems reasonable to me.
- Low tolerance to stress – I DO NOT COPE WELL WITH STRESS.
- Impulsive behaviour – whilst levels of impulsive behaviour might be less than for those with ‘Hyperactive’ ADHD, it’s common for those with ADHD to shop or eat impulsively. I absolutely have never ever bought a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts and eaten them in one sitting. I don’t know what you’re talking about – filthy lies.
- Disorganised – clutter, an inability to keep on top of paperwork or spending lots of time trying to find the perfect organisation system are common in those with ADHD.1 I bought five planners this year, and invested money in three online organisation systems!
When I got through my assessment for ADHD and the psychiatrist agreed I had ADHD and this was why everything was a struggle, had always been a struggle and would always been a struggle – I was so relieved, I didn’t even mind that the internet algorithm had collected so much data on me it could diagnose me without a second’s hesitation.
I was just happy with an answer.
I’m not mad, I’ve got a disorder.
1: Thank you to Clinical Partners for this annoyingly accurate and helpful list: https://www.clinical-partners.co.uk/insights-and-news/adult-adhd-aspergers/item/adhd-in-women-why-is-it-so-undiagnosed
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