• Alana Stern

ADHD Woman's Day - Every Darn Day!


International Woman’s Day 2019 has come and gone. I had wanted to post this blog in time for it, but, you know – life happens – including my dog chewing through his leash and running away this morning as I finally sat down to GET THIS DONE!

DEFINING ACHIEVEMENT

Anyway, the hype from last week’s International Woman’s Day got me thinking. A day where women get recognized for their achievements. Achievements? How do we define achievements? I know ADHD women who are so bogged down with struggling to function in a world not built for their brain make-up, that remembering to brush their teeth in the morning is a serious achievement!

I don’t mean to make fun. I really do admire these women. Every ADHD woman I have met is courageous, spontaneous, interesting and hugely creative. It makes my heart heavy when I read that women with ADHD are more severely impaired in adulthood than men.

ADHD IN MEN VS WOMEN

Why is this? Well, for one thing, as girls, they were often never diagnosed. They are more likely to have the inattentive presentation of ADHD, so they fell through the cracks. They were socialized and expected to tow the line more than boys, so often they were just as successful as their peers in school. It just took 400% more effort to stay on par. And this made them feel ashamed. “Why is it so difficult for me to be organized? Remember stuff? Be on time? Work consistently?

Additionally, the structures and supports offered by some schools are just what these girls needed to thrive – deadlines, order, schedules. It’s when this it all taken away that they really start to struggle. It’s when they enter the big wide world, where they are expected to manage themselves, that their impairments really start to show up. They become wives and mothers in a world with unwritten expectations involving huge organizational skills, both at home and work.

Can you imagine finding the following ad in your local newspaper?


Upon calling for more information about the job posting, you might receive a more detailed description of the ideal candidate as follows.


As Sari Solden rightly asks in her seminal book, one of the very first written on the topic of women and ADHD: “Would anyone with ADHD (or even without for that matter) deliberately apply for a job like this? Of course not! Yet women with ADHD cling steadfastly to this image and often remain determined to achieve this ideal standard.”

So how do women experience ADHD differently than men? Sari goes on to explain it like this:


So, although women and men may have similar symptoms, over a lifetime, women feel the effects more intensely. Here's how common ADHD symptoms express themselves in women:


So there you have it. That's why I consider you a hero for brushing your teeth. And that's why I think you deserve every day to be international ADHD Woman's Day.


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