Attention all people born biologically female who struggle with procrastination, depression, and anxiety:
I’ve recently discovered that the reason I’ve struggled with procrastination issues, and resulting anxiety and depression my whole life, is because I’ve been living with undiagnosed ADHD. It is NOT WIDELY KNOWN that symptoms of ADHD can present VERY DIFFERENTLY in female bodies!!!! I am by no means a professional on the subject, but from what I’ve gathered so far, if you experience and have experienced throughout your life
- Daydreaming/deep inner thoughts/vast imaginary worlds that you created as a kid
- Lack of focus
- Crying a lot
- Being a chatterbox as a kid or still as an adult; i.e. interrupting people when they’re talking etc.
Then READ INTO IT. Many women with ADHD go completely undiagnosed because they DON’T ALWAYS EXHIBIT THE HYPERACTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH THE DISORDER. That’s one symptom that I have never dealt with. (That’s not to say no women do at all, but it’s just less common.)
I have learned through very brief research that, until scarily recently, nearly all of the research done about ADHD throughout most of the 20th century excluded girls and women completely, because people just didn’t think that women were affected by it.
Little boys (who commonly exhibit the hyperactive part of the disorder), are singled out as the “trouble children” in elementary/primary school, and are subsequently tested, diagnosed and medicated in order to make them less disruptive in school.
GIRLS with the disorder, however, are typically good students early in school. Gifted, smart, mature for their age, they don’t have trouble with the minimal school work required of them early on, and slide under the radar. No one looks for the symptoms that they exhibit in place of the ones that boys commonly do, because they don’t typically disrupt the orderly environment of the classroom. In fact, those daydreamy, chatterbox symptoms are historically written off because of negative stereotypes about women; girls being ditzy, stupid, and too talkative!
However, when these girls reach their teen years in late middle school/early high school, and they take on bigger loads of schoolwork and advanced classes, because, hey, they’ve always been smart and it’s what’s expected of them, THAT’S when they start to struggle. Suddenly, school is difficult for them. They can’t keep up with the work, can’t make themselves get things done. Classmates who they’ve always typically done better than are suddenly soaring past them.
That’s EXACTLY what happened to me. I started to wonder what was so wrong with me, that I couldn’t do the things that my friends seemed to be able to do so easily. I thought, maybe I’m just not as smart as I thought I was, maybe I’m just stupid, I’m just lazy. And because of those thoughts, depression and anxiety started to take hold. And now, at 21 and in my junior year of college, I’m struggling to learn how to be an independent, functioning adult. I’m barely hanging onto my scholarships at school, and my depression and anxiety are worse than ever.
This is what happens, I’m learning, to SO MANY girls with ADHD. Nobody has ever told them, “Hey, this is why you have these problems,” and so they internalize their frustration, and it grows from there into low self-esteem, sadness, anger at themselves. They start to view themselves as less than capable. And they don’t know why or how they got to that point.
I’m currently working with my psychiatrist and doctors on trying new medications and doses aimed at treating ADHD. The more I read into the subject, the more it started to resonate with me, and I thought, damn, this explains literally EVERY problem I’ve had my whole life. And my doctors and psychiatrist have confirmed my hunches. I was just never diagnosed as a child, for all the reasons I described above.
It’s estimated that between 50%-75% of cases of ADHD in little girls go COMPLETELY UNDIAGNOSED. If you’re struggling, and if any of this resonates with you in any way, START LOOKING INTO IT. Talk to your doctor, your therapist, your psychiatrist if you see one. I’ve spent five years being treated unsuccessfully for depression and anxiety, when I wasn’t really being treated for the root of all of those problems. I think I’m finally on the right track to taking control of my life and achieving the things that I was starting to think I wasn’t gonna be able to. I’m becoming optimistic about the future for the first time in a LONG time. I hope sharing my experience and findings can help someone to do the same!
I’m 100% willing to share more of my experiences with anyone who wants to know more. Just shoot me a message!