Grown women don’t have ADD, do they?!?
Oh, yes. In fact, women are the fastest growing population of newly diagnosed ADHDers.
Do any of these sound like you?
“I know exactly what I need to do, but I just can’t get myself to do it.”
“If I’m so smart, why do I feel so dumb?
“Why do the simplest things seem so hard for me?”
“Why can’t I get my act together?”
Have you ever felt this way? If so, you aren’t alone — in your conflicting emotions, your healing, or your chance at a new start.
Maybe you’ve gotten the ADHD diagnosis or you suspect you or someone you care about lives with it.
Here are seven steps to get the ball rolling to understanding yourself better and living the life you want to live your way!
1. Become an Expert
Does your life feel like one big struggle? Are you perpetually disappointed and frustrated? The first step in your ADHD journey is to pursue a correct diagnosis. Begin by learning all you can about adult ADHD — to the point where you’re more educated about the condition than your doctor! Talk to her about related conditions — like anxiety, depression, or thyroid problems — to help you explain symptoms ignored or misdiagnosed in the past. This resource will help you make sense of the different professionals you can seek support from for diagnosis.
2. Allow Yourself to Feel and Process Your Emotions
Getting an official diagnosis can be empowering. It explains why you are the way you are; why aspects of life are more challenging for you than other people. It can increase your self-esteem and confidence, because now, you know your struggles aren’t because you are lazy or careless, but because you have real, neurological differences in your brain. There are also some darker emotions that surface as you think of having this new ‘official’ information about yourself: Anger and sadness that your life could have been different if you had known sooner. Sometimes, it’s the thought of those emotions that prevent people from getting diagnosed.
3. Re-Frame Your Life
Begin to look at your life in two distinct phases: pre- and post-diagnosis. After your doctor tells you that you have ADHD, it’s a whole new beginning! But first you need to get closure on the pre-diagnosis phase, so make sure you deal with your emotions. Don’t judge your emotions or thoughts. After you work through your feelings you can start moving forward with a clear vision of your life post-diagnosis.
4. Consider all Treatment Options
Once you’ve accepted your diagnosis, begin considering your options for treatment, including medication, diet, exercise, therapy, mindfulness, and coaching. Don’t assume the professional who diagnosed you has all the treatment answers. It is very rare they do. Most professionals will recommend medication and therapy because they are not aware of ALL the options out there. Many have found this Resource helpful to start evaluating options past medication and therapy.
5. Evaluate Co-Existing Conditions
ADHD rarely travels alone. Most ADHDers have at least one co-existing condition that exists in tandem — depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and OCD are common. For example, when diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, it is common to have suffered with anxiety or depression earlier in life. Science still hasn’t figured out if the struggles of living with undiagnosed ADHD caused these other conditions or if they would’ve existed regardless. The whole chicken or egg question really doesn’t matter. There is something you can do to positively deal with any of these conditions. If you’re concerned about a related condition, the first step is to find a doctor who can tease apart symptoms and figure out where the ADHD stops and the other condition begins.
6. Regulate Your Hormones
Ok ladies, this is a tough one. It’s so hard to tell what’s going on sometimes. The joys of being a female, Yikes! Hormones during menopause, puberty, and a menstrual cycle change how ADHD symptoms manifest and how medication affects women. During menopause, for example, estrogen levels drop 60 percent, which means lower dopamine and serotonin. The result is less mental clarity, difficulty concentrating, and more distraction — which, when combined with ADHD symptoms, can make life incredibly challenging. Self-care is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Get the rest you need. Exercise. Don’t judge your emotions. Allow yourself to be “off” some days and move on. More research is needed, but in my experience, alternative therapies can help to keep fluctuating hormones under control.
7. Teach Them About ADHD
Sometimes, family members and friends just don’t get ADHD. If you were diagnosed late in life, this can be heartbreaking — we all just want to be accepted for who we are. Your family can either step up to the plate and grow with you, or they can fight you. Help them choose the right path by sharing what you know and teaching respectful ways to talk about ADHD. Remember, though, that your diagnosis is for you, not your family. If they can’t play nice, you need to stand up for yourself.
If you’ve been diagnosed as an adult, you may have spent a long time feeling “less than” other women. This is hard to get over, and can leave its mark even after you’ve been diagnosed. Working with an ADHD Coach can help you to un-learn the negative self-talk so you can learn to love yourself. You deserve nothing less.
Here’s a little Coaching to get you started!
Take a few minutes to ask yourself these important questions and answer them without judging your answers. Be honest and open with yourself.
1. What is possible when you learn more about yourself?
2. What will happen if you do nothing?
Now you are ready to:
1. Make a list of the next steps your are committing to take.
2. Identify a family member or friend who can support you on this journey.