Saturday night, early Sunday morning I had a meltdown and a major ah-hah! moment. Now I want to tell what I realized, the article that hit home, and how I am taking the first step to help myself.
I taught Special Education for 16 years. I have dealt with all kinds of students with Learning Disabilities, ADHD, Autism, you name it. All of my students came in with the same question. "Am I dumb?" And I would tell them "No, you just have a different way of learning and you're in here for us to teach you how to learn. You are not dumb." Every time I would hear parents say "I know they are smart. Why can't they succeed?" would bring back a slew of memories from my own childhood. "Why can't you be more like this girl?" usually that meant "why couldn't I sit down and do quiet activities instead of being outside 95% of the time hanging upside down in a tree and playing with my dog." I loved being around my dad and granddad who were always outside doing things. My mother wanted to teach me how to sew, do embroidery, or make me more civilized. I suffered through piano lessons. "She is so talented, she should be doing so much better!" My parents sat through parent teacher conferences that started out "If she wouldn't daydream so much in class, she wouldn't be behind." or "I don't understand why she has so much trouble with math, she is very smart." We all suffered through my report cards that had a range of grades from A's to F's. A's in reading, language arts to F's in math and strangely enough P.E. Since I didn't marry a doctor, lawyer, or rich rancher, I had to go on to college to end up failing miserably and almost having a nervous break down because I just couldn't cope. I must be too stupid, too lazy, not good enough, not motivated enough to be successful. In reality, I was overwhelmed, scared, torn up with anxiety, and my self esteem was at an all time low. I was drowning in a sea of expectations. So I quit. I went through the charade of going to school. I lived at home and drove 30 min to campus. I lived in fear of my parents finding out. They did. We talked, I told them how I was feeling, and they agreed to let me go to the local junior college. From there, I did much better in an up and down sort of way. I went on to get my teaching degree, got engaged, got pregnant, got married and after 13 years got a divorce, raised our 4 amazing kids, got remarried, and here I am at 57 years old, retired, and wondering what the hell is wrong with me?
I have always suspected that I had ADD. I couldn't see myself as having -ADHD, I'm not THAT active. But, ADD isn't that far fetched. My family has laughed it off when I forget things, talk a mile a minute and my fun projects get started and most times get shoved into the back of the closet never to get finished. I hate mirrors because I never look pretty enough. I am on time because I fear being late. I can't decide what to do with myself because I am overwhelmed with the prospect of starting something new. I fear rejection. I am depressed because I can't seem to get motivated. The world around me is overwhelming. I am stressed with our day to day and with our finances. All I want to do is hide. I was sitting in the middle our bed crying and wondering what was wrong with me? I thought "if I had ADD, I would say that I was having a bad day. But I don't." I paused and thought "Maybe I do." So I grabbed my laptop, wiped my tears away, and started googling. Here is what I found.
Women with ADHD or Inattentive ADHD find themselves misdiagnosed with anxiety, depression, mood disorders, or bipolar. They find themselves wondering why they can’t seem to pull off life like others do. They feel inadequate and suffer low self-esteem. They are creative, intelligent people that just can’t get it together to follow through on ideas, projects, opportunities which leave them depressed and wondering what is wrong with them. They buy planners and organizational tools that end up gathering dust. Stress is a constant state of being. Mounds of paper clutter their desk, their purse, their car, their personal space at home. Spending time in stores, malls, social gatherings leave them feeling overwhelmed. Their mind drifts when holding conversations on topics that don’t really interest them. Remembering important dates is hard. Being the mom that always does the cute treats and gets them to their child’s class is a lost cause. The list is a long one.
What to do if you recognize yourself in that short list? Google it. Read the articles about it. See if you recognize yourself in the symptoms and signs. If you do, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss it. Find a psychologist or psychiatrist that is familiar with or well versed in women that have undiagnosed ADHD. Make sure that they are familiar with Inattentive ADHD as well. The articles that pointed me in the right direction came from https://www.additudemag.com. This site has a lot of information on ADHD in general and also for women with ADHD. It has articles on signs and symptoms of ADHD in women that is presented in a format that is easy to read and understand. Another article that hit home is How ADHD Symptoms Commonly Present in Women by Keath Low. This article presents common signs of ADHD in a way that any woman reading it can recognize those signs within herself if they are there.
What am I going to do with this knowledge? I have made an appointment with my doctor to discuss having undiagnosed ADHD. I will continue to do my own research to find ways that will help me deal with living with ADHD. This article is a major step in the right direction as it is the first complete article that I have written in several years.