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ADHD in Women

New Member - Looking for Some Guidance and Understanding?

Hello, I guess I should start by introducing myself? I’m new here, and a little nervous since I’ve never sought out support like this. I’m twenty years old and was diagnosed with “Inattentive ADD” in 2004. I was put into special classes because of it, which was both a blessing and a curse. While other students didn’t generally pick on me, the school system did not handle my case well. My teachers would not let me go into advanced classes despite my high scores in English, this being due to my ADD and my disability in Math. While I do have my list of complaints on my experience, I cannot deny that I was lucky enough to be taught how to cope with my ADD. However, there were things that they could not help as easily such as Social Skills. My teachers all saw me the same way: Shy but sweet. Though, I gave them nothing bad to say. I only did enough to not be noticed in class. It would be amazing if I ever spoke more than three sentences to my teachers, even most of my special education teachers. I avoided contact at all means possible. I was never the type to open up to others very easily.

Elementary school, for a time, was fine. I had a group of friends, though a small group, that were accepting and encouraging of me. They helped me and provided inspiration to do as well as they were in school, to read and write as much as they were. For a few years we would even sit together at the library and write for five hours together. My spelling and grammar improved significantly, as did my grades in English. Once we entered high school, we were separated into different schools. Ever since I struggled really connecting the way I did with those friends. Every year I found myself sitting with a different group at lunch and I could never keep up or even find interest in their conversations.

I’ve made two friends in my college experience so far. I go through phases of planning to spend time with them and phases of thinking I’m bothering them. Furthermore, my mother has made the observation on how I behave in public, explaining that my body language says I want to be left alone. At the same time, I’m absolutely terrified of being alone and afraid of rejection. I’m very withdrawn around people my age, but I really want to make connections to other people the way I did in Elementary school. I don’t need a lot of friends, I don’t need to go out partying every night (because parties are overwhelming and kind of boring, I’d rather be home watching movies), and I’m not even interested in getting a boy friend quite yet. I just need those few connections to people my age.

Is this shyness and lack of social skills part of the side effects of ADD? I’ve read before that one of the underlying issues would be Shyness, does anyone have advice on how to make the connections? I find it difficult to just open up to others, for my friends in Elementary school, it took time. I think I can really make connections to my two friends I’ve met in college, but just “opening up” on a whim is difficult.


I really feel for you. I’m 43 and had sort of similar experiences with college. Maybe in HS and elementary too although I was un-bothered by the experience of being friends with multiple groups. I made friends but seemed to be in the background and the friend they would turn to when problems came up and not so much the party girl. I hate being alone but find conversation hard and prefer to be in a group rather than one on one only talking when I have something to say if that makes sense. I find being social with acquaintances hard work. Having those friends who know and understand me is easier. I have learned over the years to try to keep my social uncomfortableness and sad thoughts to myself. No one likes a Debbie downer and people want to be around people who make them feel good. Keep trying. Consider it a job. Honestly marriage, friends, any relationship is WORK!  (Back me up married ladies!) but it’s so worth it if you put the effort in.  Everything is in my calendar. Birthdays special things, reminders to call someone, check in w a friend who is having a medical procedure etc.  People in this world want to be acknowledged. I find the more I put myself out, the more it comes back to me.

I hope any of this made sense?!  Keep trying!!! The more you learn about ADD and yourself, the more aware you can be with ways to compensate.  Good luck!

Posted by Alioop143 on May 17, 2014 at 10:30pm

A quick observation—No, not all who have ADHD are shy (or introverts).  In fact, the more extroverted hyperactive ones (especially when that hyperactivity manifests as motor-mouth) tend to be extremely outgoing, lack much of a filter to filter out OVER-sharing of info). 

Lately I’ve started wondering even more about the accuracy (& therefore utility) of how we classify ADHD into inattentive & hyperactive/impulsive…how many people who are just more introverted/shy & possibly DO have some of the less-than-obvious signs of hyperactivity get labelled as inattentive, etc.

Main point: your unique challenges in not “opening up” to people may have some bearing on ADHD but may simply be the effects of personality & life experience.

The bad thing about being identified or singled out in education simply on the basis of having ADHD is just that—way too much focus/emphasis placed on that one thing at the exclusion of looking at the whole person.  Your personal example would be being excluded from taking advanced classes in one subject on the basis of ADHD…it ignores the fact that all people have strengths in some areas, maybe not ALL areas. 

Don’t know if that “helps” with anything, just throwing out some ideas/opinions.

Posted by BC on May 17, 2014 at 10:42pm

Regardless of the why, you are who you are. I tried too hard to fit in with my college crowd and wish now that I had not spent all those weekends in the bar.  What I have learned is - Do what you love and love and friendships will follow.  I took art and dance classes (I kept my ballet teacher laughing!) and rode my bike everywhere.  Friday night TV will kill your soul so you might want to join a book club, join the gym, join a ‘Meetup’ group in your area or get a part time job.
Your mom is right about body language…read up on that and be aware of how you stand. 
By the way, I met my husband at work…he saw my bike and asked me to go for a ride…..

Posted by stellarella on May 18, 2014 at 6:19pm

I do not have ADHD, but I struggle immensely with social anxiety—I have my entire life. What you are experiencing could be anxiety and have nothing to do with ADHD.

I learned as an adult that my fear of social rejection looked like I was a snob to others—like I felt I was too good for them.

At nearly 40, I still struggle with social anxiety.

I agree with comments above, find some things you are super interested in and participate. Common interests often make it easier to open up to others, and vice versa.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on May 19, 2014 at 5:49pm

I recently was diagnosed with ADHD. I’m so relieved because it explains so much about me that I didn’t have the answer.  As a child and adult, I’ve experience similar social issues. I never kept friends until my mid 20’s. I became bored with their conversations, situations… heck the whole friendship.  It was overwhelming. I felt I was a horrible friend so I drifted from the friendship. Within the last 10 years,  I have develop friendships with the greatest friends due to us having similar interests. This has been a great experience as far as relationships because I know now I can have success with some sort of relationship.  As previously stated, it’s hard because I value my friendships so I have to keep up with important things that matter to them.  Luckily, they understand me and don’t take offense to things I miss or if I’m late. I have been told I’m mean or very private. I don’t see it as a bad thing because once a person speak with me; that barrier is broken. It takes time but once you come in contact with great people that understand you; it will be more than enough to deal with as far as friendships.

Posted by cmack08 on May 20, 2014 at 8:49am

Hi Kreina, I understand how you’re feeling so well. Ok, I’m a guy and posting in the “ADHD and Women” forum but aside from that, I can relate to what you’re going through. I’ll be 54 this year in a couple of months and how you describe your life so far is very reminiscent of my early life. I was in remedial reading in elementary school until I found books and how much they could spark my imagination, then I devoured book after book and my reading shot up to the college level. I also only had a couple of good friends through high school but since I was good at sports I had a lot of acquaintances. I also never felt like I fit in. In college I also only had a few good friends that I connected with. A lot of this was confusing to me until the last few years when I found out about the ADHD personality and also about Introversion/Extroversion. There’s a book I found last year that was a major ligh tbulb going on - Quiet by Susan Cain. Get a copy as fast as you can and read it, it’ll explain a lot. I understand now why extreme extroverts exhaust me, why I can stand parties for about an hour, why I enjoy my alone time reading, thinking and writing. I’ve also thought about having and losing friends over the years and how many have come and gone in my life. Don’t worry that this is happening, I believe it happens to everybody as people move through life. You will find a few very good friends who you connect with that you will stay in contact with or they will stay in contact with you. Don’t worry about finding them, they will show up when it’s time. Another important thing to know when you are as young as you are now, this site and many others concentrate on a fragment of your personality and usually define you within that framework. I’ve introduced you to another framework also by suggesting the book Quiet. Even though we look at ourselves through these prisms, we are really the combination of a myriad of qualities, good and bad, everyone is. We like to break ourselves down into constituent elements just as we break light into a spectrum through a prism but it’s never that cut-and-dry. Each part overlaps, influences, merges in and then diverges with the rest constantly. You are who you are, a unique person, be happy with yourself even though some days it is difficult. This is what I’ve learned over the years and today I’m pleased with my life and how it has unfolded (except when my boss gives me one of those crazy deadline projects, but he does that because myself and my team can handle them).

Posted by Meltonian on May 20, 2014 at 5:43pm

Join something that really interests you.  Dance class, photography class, study group, etc.  You will then have a common interest to start conversations.  I am now nearly 50 yrs old.  My life mirrors yours.  I had no idea until I was 45 that I had ADD and I am just starting treatment this year.  You are so blessed to know the reason for some of your struggles so young.  Now you can focus on your strengths.  Stretch yourself.  I was asked to teach a class about 10 years ago.  I would never have imagined that I could do that.  I did it as a favor for a friend and I am still doing that today.  The stretch made me grow in relating with women, managing the time of the class, and I learn so much each week myself!!  You do not need a lot of friends to be successful in life, just a few good ones that will stick by you and vise versa!  Blessings on your journey!!

Posted by CHMY on May 20, 2014 at 9:08pm

I was diagnose this past year at 36, as ADHD inattentive type and though I never had a problem.with shyness I’ve had the exact.same issues with friends. I had a group of friends through high school, some of which I still do keep in touch with, but ever since then have had a hard time making any real connections. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and this definitely is an ADHD issue. One really useful piece of advice I have been trying to implement is to schedule time to connect. I think that it doesn’t come naturally to us so we kind of have to force it. There are a few women I’ve met but I didn’t k is how to go from acquaintance to friend, if you know what I mean. What they say to do is, and I know it sounds kind of stupid, but to put in your calendar even things like, ‘call so and so to say hi’ or go.out on a limb and ask someone to get coffee sometime. It’s one on one and quiet. There are probably some groups through your college that might interest you as well and would be a good way to might people. I bet there’s even some kind of ADHD support group where you can meet people that are going through what you are. Try a bit of research where you can find out about these these things, maybe a school counselor? Good luck!  Oh, and by the way, while I have problems making women friends, I am happily married, 3 kids, completely disorganized (and working on it) my point is, life goes.on, things evolve, you learn coping skills, and you find what works for you.

Posted by nicklepickle on May 25, 2014 at 7:43am

I think it’s telling that a couple of times you mentioned being bored at parties and disinterested in conversations. Sounds like you are trying to force yourself to be someone you are not. I wonder why we introverts need to feel something is wrong with us and it is “right” to be an extrovert- the world takes all kinds! Cherish who you are. Personally, my handful of friends are all extroverts, with the gift of gab, they made the moves to become friends with me and are comfortable carrying most of the conversational load. It is understood that after about 30-40 minutes at a party I am “done” and head on home to a good book.  That being said, as you go further through life and meet more people (some who will be long term acquaintances) you don’t want to be perceived as snobby or cold when that is not the case at all.  Force
yourself to make idle chit-chat and eventually it will become more comfortable for you. I am 55 and due to job responsibilities in my 30’s, had to talk to many different types of people, which helped immensely. Most importantly, don’t worry or fret,  you will make friends naturally.

Posted by boomer on May 30, 2014 at 1:07am

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