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ADHD in Women


Grateful to find this site. SO MANY helpful women! I’m experiencing some of my worst symptoms of ADD for a few months now. I’m focusing on a hobby in this post, but it represents every creative outlet I try in my life.

I’m hoping to hear from anyone who has crawled through their own wormhole.

Holidays are coming and my stress level goes up while productivity bottoms out. Yet, I don’t have any responsibilities besides knitting for my kids, nephews. I’ve been promising them socks, hats, scarves, for Christmas years. Sadly, it’s a running joke.

Overall problem: I love knitting every night for hours. Yet I rarely produce anything. I’m never satisfied,  or I change my mind, get bored, make mistakes….let’s just say I rip out almost as much as I knit. The few small things I produce are well received by my 20-something kids, but they don’t EXPECT ANYTHING from me.  I try SO hard and spend sooo much time trying to finish.

I’ve turned the basement into a war zone of tangled yarn (yes. I have closets full of it) my bedroom is the same with needles, supplies all tangled in as well. When I can’t find anything I’ll spend a whole weekend perfectly organizing it all. 4 days later….the mess returns.

Beating myself up worse than usual and I’m not functioning in other areas of my life now. I am absolutely trapped in a web of my own making.

Sorry for the long whine. I’m at my wits end and need a way to re-think this. All my old techniques aren’t working.


Hi Berky!

Sound like a really creative person with some great ideas and talents!!  Can you remember the last time you started and finished something?  What worked for you then?

Posted by GreenPopp on Nov 10, 2013 at 12:35am

I am over 60 and have found several things about our “gift” that helps to make it work for me.
1 “Keep it simple”  (a trick from 12 step program i learned years ago).
  As you may discover, we (adults with add) often complicate things by over-thinking, over-complicating and over-expecting perfection.

Try starting with a list, choosing the simplest projects to do first, then work up to the more difficult. The accomplishment of completing the quick, easy projects will help keep you motivated to go on to the next.  It will also keep you from giving up if you make a mistake and if you have to make a correction, because it may not involve as much time to do so. 

2. Work at it like it’s a job. It is a task.
  That means, having a start and stop time along with timed breaks to walk away from it and refresh.  You don’t have to hold yourself to a ridged time schedule, just make sure you can do the project at a time without being disturbed.  I tend to carry small ones to the doctor visits or other places I have a wait time.  I like to break things into 15 to 20 minute pieces over the day.
  Stop when you get too tired and continue it the next day when you’re refreshed.  Because, when you are tired, you are more prone to mistakes and frustration.  Often, we figure problems out we we’re relaxing or going to sleep or in our dreams.

3. Make it a goal but avoid skipping the simpler project to do the most difficult project. 
Just like skipping to the last chapter of a book…you know who done it.  Why go on with reading? 
  That will cause you to loose interest or become bored with it and give up.
  and… Add some music in the background if it helps you concentrate and keep it flowing.

Last: a little humor
Just think of ADD as a super power.  It makes us more creative, more aware, more intuitive, and often more intelligent than others.  We have to learn to control our powers to do good for ourselves and others.

Happy knitting

Posted by Randino on Nov 10, 2013 at 1:50am

Oh GreenPopp, kind words to focus on.
Thanks! and Good question.  I HAVE finished a handful of things. Light bulb! Each time the kids had chosen a simple pattern and the yarn. No choices, no inventive input from me. Boring, lol,  AND I finished it. I was much calmer back then.

And It ties in nicely w/ what Mitzi shared.  I can tell my brain is not functioning well when my home is more cluttered than usual and I’m clutzier than normal. (do other people w/ ADD experience this I wonder? falling, tripping, dropping n breaking stuff aaargh)
I had started a High Fat/Protein No Sugar Low carb diet last Jan. I felt better but wasn’t on it long enough. stopped when my dad got sick and I was flying/staying w/ him until he died a few months ago.(could be a reason I’m struggling so much)  I am going to try all of your suggestions.incl. neurofeedback. Thanks for your feedback.

And Randino! I am also 60 and familiar w/ 12-step programs. And have not tried a single idea you shared so THANKS. So much better to have a plan. Typically I’m so inconsistent I give up before I start but I am ready to grab that ‘life preserver” you’ve offered me. I esp like #2. It’s so crazy it just might work! lol

I am grateful to meet you all.

Posted by Berky on Nov 10, 2013 at 10:40am

Hello, I understand your pain. I recently decided to take extremely small steps to get to the larger goal. The small steps are frustrating but are easier to measure and present a better outcome for me.

Maybe dedicate only an hour to knitting, write down specific goals with an aim of what you are trying to accomplish.
I know absolutely nothing about knitting but here is an example of what I suggest.

Knit - Sweater
Sleeve 1
Sleeve 2
Shirt Portion

You get my drift?
Only complete the each of list components in one sitting. Check off what you completed and this will create a sense of accomplishment without the overwhelming package we always try to complete and still miss our mark.

Before you know it, you will have a completed project.
As an educator and ADD recipient smile we have to slow our mind down. The way that has worked best for me is baby steps.


Posted by Ivorygirl88 on Nov 10, 2013 at 7:12pm

I can’t give you any advice on how to finish anything because Im still working on taxes from last year (almost done with tips from this group) so much organizing to do before a project even begins.

But, how about making something else instead of your usual awesome items.  Like pillow covers, small throws for their sofas or sitting chairs, maybe a cape for a grand-daughters doll, what Im trying to say is you need new ideas to make it interesting again, bring the love back to your hobby (wish I could learn, I want a sweater so bad).  Your adhd brain may be bored with the same routine.

You can knit and that’s a true gift, maybe knit a table cloth and embroider the edges or embroider a flower into a pillow cover or sham. 

Probably not what you wanted to here but my ideas are way outside the box, I think like 1% of the population.  I thought it and decided to type it.  Best of luck

Also, try bright or shiny yarn that might spark something.  I also have attention to detail and it can be awful.

Posted by BexIssues on Nov 11, 2013 at 6:39am

Hi again, I’d like to say that I’m almost 47 .  I use 400mg of Magnesium at night, its an all natural muscle relaxer and it calms your mind this is essential for people with adhd/add.  Crushed Flax Seed for my omegas, vitamin D, B vitamins and maybe you could use a multi vitamin (I take individual vitamins also to make sure they get absorbed) also gluten free and very little meat (usually none).  Without these I would never get anything done, since I don’t work either I understand how you feel.  Remember just do it

Posted by BexIssues on Nov 11, 2013 at 6:47am

I have a hard time finishing projects too.  I get mad at myself.  Right now, I am writing a book, doing crafts, changing slides into pictures, making photo books, working on a video w/music and pictures, looking for a job, plus trying to make myself presentable in public.  I realize I try to take on too much.  I am trying to simplify my life and just do what I can.  It is hard to promise another person something you take so long to produce.  Now, I don’t make promises and am trying to slow down.  It is worse when you have many things you are trying to do at the same time.  It is easier to give a gift card or take a friend to lunch.  If I try to go too fast finishing a project, it is somehow missing something or does not turn out right.  I am trying to force myself to slow down, keep life simple, and not make too many promises.  Everything just gets all mixed up and nothing gets done.  You then become disappointed in yourself and your self-esteem goes down.  Sometimes, I cannot answer the phone to “chit chat” because the next thing will not get done and the day is almost over.  Places you needed to go are almost closed.  You just put yourself into a tiring, wasteful day.  It is hard to discipline yourself, but you must think about what this does to you as a person.  You begin to be late for appointments and just make yourself look irresponsible.  I have to work on these things daily.  If I do not, the day is gone and the enjoyment disappears.

Posted by JADD on Nov 11, 2013 at 11:41am

Gushing. Seriously people.

I’m in a field where I counsel others and as a result of your posts (and my reaction to them) now realize
A. I never ask for help, and should
B. that I really need to make some friends lol
C. that even if I change nothing, the sense of acceptance and understanding I’ve gained here is so helpful.

And because of the great input, I went to (found here somewhere) and bought a few gifts to give my kids so I’m not empty-handed if nothing gets completed. whew.

JADD…Yes, we live in a parallel universe. That’s def the downside and it’s a ‘crazy-making’ place when my mind feels as stuck as it does right now. Thanks for your insight. I see now that it’s about ‘slowing’ my mind down, but not to ‘stop’, which always seems to be my alternative!! It’s been, 5 things at once or NOTHING. Both ending w’ similar results.

lol, Bexi! Hope I never get audited by the IRS. #youwantmetoprovewhat? You’re 1% thinking is perfect…cause u hit the nail in terms of my ‘hobby’. I’ll keep it in mind in the future.  My relief at not focusing on gifts now is refreshing. Maybe a scarf for, well, ME! or a sweater for you…..........Noooooo!! ;-}  I own TONS of colorful and shiny yarn and the kids only ever want monotone/dull items. Thank you for the supplement info. I’m making an effort at taking vitamins so knowing what helps others will make it easier to, um, swallow.

I went to your site IG88. Love the title and look forward to more. It’s such an effort to think in terms of 1 step at a time so I’ve decided to do the opposite of most of my inclinations. My mind needs adult supervision right now With the ideas you and others have added I’ve got great alternatives.

Posted by Berky on Nov 12, 2013 at 12:15am

Randino, I keep thinking about the end of your post and smiling. great powers. great responsibilities. Working on being more responsible!

Posted by Berky on Nov 12, 2013 at 12:19am

I’m a knitter with ADD, too, I understand completely. I don’t have trouble focusing on a project I love, but which one moves me changes daily, I start new things and set them aside. I rip back for minor mistakes. I cry in frustration when I can’t get a pattern to work. Then, suddenly, hyper-focus kicks in and I don’t get ANYTHING else done until I finish a thing. So there I am with a million projects other people are waiting for and I just finished another lace shawl I totally don’t need.

For me the key to getting something that I’m not really interested in is small chunks through the day. I can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes. Sure, at one 15 minuted bit every day a pair of socks will take 4 months, but they get done eventually. I also like small goals. ‘Just to then end of this repeat’ is my mantra. And then there’s the ‘idiot knitting’. The stuff I can do when I’m watching TV or waiting at the doctor’s office. Simple socks (except the heel), basic hats, stuff like that.

My name on Ravelry is the same as here, go see all the stuff I’ve gotten done while my husband still doesn’t have a pair of handknit socks and my father doesn’t have the scarf I promised him years ago.

It’s a hobby. I forgive myself for not doing more for other people. You can too.

Posted by Taamar on Nov 12, 2013 at 11:42pm

I, too, am a crafter and am often overwhelmed with too many ideas and projects with the distraction of a cluttered house and frustrated partner. I found the most insane way to combat the swirling, whirling mess inside my head along with the stress I feel when overwhelmed. It seems so counterintuitive at first, but give it a try before you knock it. A major hobby of mine is making jewelry, so I tend to have a lot of mixed up leftover beads from past projects, finished or not. Add to that the mixes I buy at garage sales/thrift stores and the ones given to me by friends and I’d say I easily have a few pounds of mixed seed beads, crystals, findings, lampwork beads, etc. So, when I’m feeling especially stressed out, I take my jar of mixed beads and dump them out on my craft table. Then, I begin to sort. It might take me a while to do it, but the simple act of categorizing and breaking each group into smaller and smaller groups has become my zen. Somehow the weight starts to lift from my shoulders, and answers to questions I’ve had begin to come into focus and sometimes I swear I could solve world hunger if I had enough beads to sort.

Posted by throttlehog on Nov 13, 2013 at 12:26am

Thank you T. I love Ravelry. Even ranted there for help on this topic. Your items made me drool with desire and envy. And really…. LACE? You’ve got great skills and successful ‘hyperfocus’.
(Sounds like a new topic I want to start in here: epic fail hyper-focus vs. successful hyper-focus.)

TH do you ride motorcycles??? Like I’ve felt with many women who replied, I have some relief that I’m in such good company. Too many ideas. Chaos in the brain.
And I concur. I can pic in my head sitting amongst my tons of tangled yarn sorting 2 - 3 hundred double-point needles into their sizes while watching NCIS re-runs. My new happy place.

Your brief mention of frustrated husband resonated. My second husband deserves sainthood for the mess he (mostly) puts up with. Took a lot of communication. Plus he’s able to look at himself instead of point fingers. A true gift.

It must seem lame to anyone who doesn’t share the ‘gifts’ of ADD but since I’m more stuck than usual, and now feeling more positive I’m going to celebrate everything I accomplish in a day, even if it’s getting dressed, walking the dogs, making dinner, calling my mom. 
Thanks y’all.

Posted by Berky on Nov 13, 2013 at 8:12pm

Have you tried poetry? Put in all your emotions in a few poems and see how you feel. It can be about or for your family, everyday little things, etc. You can change it any time and any way you want. I do it a lot and feel wonderful afterwards.

Posted by MoonlightRose on Nov 27, 2013 at 5:23am

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