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ADHD in Women

My Life

When I was three months old, I caught measles from my older siblings When I got into kindergarten, my teacher told my parents that she suspected I had a hearing problem.  I was tested and I was found to have a moderate hearing loss caused by nerve deafness.  They didn’t have hearing aides for kids then.  I was placed in the front row in all of my classes and attended lip reading classes with a boy my age.  I’m guessing this teacher came to my school once a week, in elementary school. Throughout school, it was hard to pay attention.  I found myself daydreaming a lot.  It got worse in junior high & high school.  I was often the butt of jokes, not being able to understand what was being said, coming up with the wrong answer, etc.  I didn’t really fit in.  I had trouble doing homework & taking tests.  I could not remember things & didn’t do well in history, math & some other classes.  I was very happy to be out of school, & going to college was out of the question.  My parents were not in favor of going to college, anyway. 

Having a hearing impairment caused me emotional and self-esteem problems, made worse by having no support or understanding.  What I didn’t know or understand, was, not only was I having hearing problems, I had comprehension and concentration problems.  As hard as I tried to study, information wasn’t sticking in my brain.  This was very embarrassing, but I didn’t know what to do.  Mentoring was never suggested.  I just didn’t know “what was wrong with me.”  I knew I couldn’t hear “normally” but I didn’t know what “normal” was, never having experienced it.  And somehow, other problems I was having, like not remembering, being impulsive & depressed, didn’t really go along with having a hearing impairment, but it was all I knew as an excuse.  Subconsciously, I must have known, because I kept asking myself what was wrong with me?  I spent most of my life trying to solve a mystery.

Although I tried to get help by seeing therapists, they only diagnosed me with depression and I was given antidepressants which I took for many years.  I was never given any tests which might point to something that was wrong in my brain.  “Happy Classes” didn’t do anything for me.  I always lacked a sense of motivation, except when I was forced to get things done, or when I was extremely interested in something.

Many memories of things in the past would completely escape me, which my husband found very hard to comprehend.  Disorganization was always a problem as well.  Just another thing to try to comprehend.  Things started to come to light when Dr. Gabe Mate was being interviewed on T.V. about his newly published book, “Scattered.”  He describes some of the same problems I had.  I immediately became interested and read many books on the subject.  One in particular I could really identify with, “Women & ADD” by Sari Solden.

I took an online test for ADD and it was positive.  I realize that, in the past, only boys supposedly had ADD.  But “Women & ADD” was written in 2005 and “You Mean I’m Not Lazy or Stupid?” was written in 1993.  There may be others written earlier.  So, professionals knew about women having ADD as least since 1993.  That’s 21 years ago!  A big delay for people suffering from an unknown disease!  Dr. Russell Barkley has been working on this subject for 25 years.

Replies

I was not diagnosed until I was in my late 30s. You’re not alone.

I found this website to be very helpful, not only for myself but for my 13 yo son.

You will figure this out and you *will* figure out what strategies work best for you.

You may also want to watch ADHD and Loving it. It’s funny and full of insights.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zq8zVgumJ6I

Posted by chrisd on Apr 11, 2014 at 4:45am

You bring up a good point that there was a big delay from the time they new more about ADD and the time professionals were open to the possibility that women could have ADD.

Posted by becca2322 on Apr 11, 2014 at 8:31am

I have had ADD all of my life, but was not diagnosed until my 50th birthday.  That was over 17 years ago. Life is not perfect, but it is much better since finding out what was causing the problems.

Find some tools to help you.  At least try some of the less expensive tools… 

I use a paper-based planner, a smartphone, tablet, and my laptop.  I follow Flylady to keep my home in order, too. 

I also established an account at COZI family organizer online.  The calendar and reminders can be sent to other family members via test message and is easily updated online.

I have a PIM program on my computer.  Outlook by Microsoft is an example of a “full service” PIM program.  It contains calendar, address book, planning and reminders for things that are upcoming.  I use Daytimer PIM software and have since 1995 when it first came out.  I was one of their beta testers.  The software is still available through a Yahoo group named Daytimer. 

In my home organization efforts, I use a color code for filing in our home office.  Finance is green, Must Do items are in yellow.  Insurance is in green.  Miscellaneous is in Blue.  That system alone keeps the paper clutter down to a minimum.

The biggest lesson I had to learn was to ask for help when I need it.  We ADDers tend to become self-isolating.  Whether that comes from embarrassment or other factors is not what is important.  What is important is that we isolate ourselves because we believe that we are “less” .<whatever/whoever>.

With things and people to help me, I can achieve anything.  I may need help from time to time, but most of the time, I can handle it all and feel good about the results.

This is your life.  You get to make the decisions, so do what you need to do and do what you want to do.  Make your own life better.  Nobody else can do that for you.

I hope some of that is helpful…

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Apr 11, 2014 at 10:12pm

This is a very special club and I’m so happy to be a member!

Very early on I realized that I thought differently.  I was inventive and read but I lagged in grade school, daydreaming and did poorly.  That, of course, made to feel more and more out of it.  However, as I approached my teens it was almost like a light bulb came on.  Insightful teachers challenged me and I read everything about mental discipline that I could find and adopted what worked for me.  For example, when I was taught how to outline a paper I couldn’t stop sharing it with people and believed that I had just been handed the keys to the castle!

All my life I’ve loved my ability to see things other people didn’t and specialized in problem seeing and solving.  My ability to relate to people and help them see and choose options helped me thrive in the hospitality industry, event planning and design and sales.  “My thinking” was “the best part of me”! I didn’t know how I did it but could rely on myself to have multiple goals and flit from one to another and at the end of the day everything was done and tied with a bow.  Then as menopause set in that ability to “see” and act on it faltered.  I slowly lost faith in myself as did my employers.  Friends forgave me for forgetting appointments etc. I WAS suffering from increasingly serious sinus infections that went from once a year, to 3x a year, to one every month, then one a week.  At that time, 4 years ago, I went on paid leave from work…I was just spent and depressed.  I was regularly bouncing from medical docs to psychiatrist and therapist.  After 6 months of tests for everything imaginable, the medical docs kept going back to thyroid but it wasn’t so really bad. And, of course, the sinus infections eased but continued.  Finally, 1 week before I went back to work, I was diagnosed with a low grade but worsening infection in my jaw which was causing the sinus infections.  Though I still went back to work, my career was over with that employer and after 3 months, I took early retirement instead of being fired. 

My plan was to take a month off and jump into finding my new job.  A month to the day later I wrenched my already damaged knee and came down with the flu.  But I persevered and began taking classes on job hunting determined to be employed shortly after I had my knee surgery.  Despite the physical issues including knee surgery and 6 months of rehab,  I now see that I wasn’t able to slow down enough mentally to connect to the classes.  I just took them but little stuck. After about 10 more months my therapist asked me to talk to a psychiatrist about bi-polar or ADHD. My psychiatrist ruled out bi-polar early and reluctantly tested me for ADHD.  Just as I had in magazine questionnaires for years, I passed the test with flying colors and was started on Adderall.  Bit by bit, milligram by milligram, I started to feel better….once we discovered extended release I began feeling competent (and hopeful) again. 

I was 61 years old, had been unemployed for a year and a half following the additional 6 months of leave; I was unable to even write a resume let alone apply for a job….but I was finally diagnosed with ADHD.  On just the pills I was much better.  But, neither my therapist nor psychiatrist was well informed about the disease itself.  For example, a couple of months after starting on the extended release pills which helped the most,  I lost them unpacking from a trip.  I wasn’t concerned figuring they’d show up but after a week or so I called the doctor to delay my next appointment since I’d misplaced the pills.  He wasn’t alarmed and just changed the appointment.  Little did I know that I was slipping back into my former stupor.  Pretty soon I was just sitting…..I sat through my Cobra payment and lost my health insurance (and the ability to pay for the extended release meds).  On top of that, realizing the depth of my lapse scared the bejeezus out of me and my depression returned and increased.

Shortly after that, my therapist, concerned that I was struggling again, consulted some of her peers who specialize in ADHD.  They gave her a wealth of information about CHADD, this magazine, etc.  Through CHADD I found 3 peer groups fairly close to me and attend them monthly.  I also found a wealth of information in ADDitude magazine (and these forums),and the CHADD magazine (Attention).  But, it is the interaction with fellow ADHDers that has helped me the most.  My therapist tried to help me as well but she just could never relate to what I needed even though she was instrumental in discovering it.  Of course, without health insurance, soon enough I could no longer afford to go to her anyway.  Still using all the ADHD resources, I have been slowly getting better.  Finally, after exhausting all my savings, I qualified for health care again 4 months ago.  Now I again have two therapists, a psychiatrist who deals in ADHD, and most importantly, a greater understanding of me and what I need.  My new doctors are monitoring my blood pressure since it is rather high now, though all my life it had been unusually low.  My new therapists are helping me with my ADHD issues as well as significant practical issues I’m now facing.  Financially, I am at my lowest point ever…but mentally, spiritually and emotionally I’ve never been better.

Finally, one thing though that I’m sure was inevitable is that over the last year I have been grieving a lot over what I missed in my life because of ADHD.  Though I was able to thrive in three seemingly different careers I now see the effort it took.  I’ve read several times about how much more effort it takes an ADHDer to do things.  I never saw it at the time, but realize now that to handle multiple goals everyday with ADHD took a lot of time and effort.  Enthusiasm and stamina made it happen and despite all the work I ate well, exercised and slept 7 hours + most of my life.  Still, even though I was closely relating to people I wasn’t able to reach a sense of sharing and belonging that over these last few years I have been able to enjoy.  But, it’s taken every long step through the denial, anger, bargaining, depression and now, slowly, acceptance. 

Being able to write this in a private forum to people who understand….is priceless.  Reading and relating to what everyone else shares here is equally priceless and an important part of my recovery.

Thanks,
Ruth

Posted by Ruthizabel on Apr 12, 2014 at 1:50am

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