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I’m an Ambitious 31-Year-Old Woman. I’m Not What ADHD Is ‘Supposed’ to Look Like.

what it feels like to have adhd

As a neurotic, overachieving teenager, I never got in trouble. Except…

…for when it came to the state of my bedroom.

While my peers were being grounded for missing curfews or bringing home poor report cards, I was being reprimanded for the fire hazard that served as my sleeping quarters. On most days, it was difficult to walk through between the piles of clothes, seltzer cans, granola bar wrappers, highlighters, glue sticks, textbooks and flash cards (my preferred studying method) strewn across the floor. An empty bag of microwave popcorn that was once a midnight snack could sit on my nightstand for days. The messier it became, the more overwhelming it felt to try to clean it.

For my 16th birthday, I was given a beautiful, large desk made of oak. The idea was that it would help me to be more organized. I would no longer have to sit hunched over in bed (among popcorn kernels) to study. If my desk could remain spotless and pristine, maybe my brain could learn to be the same way.

My new desk remained tidy for a few days, but then quickly became a piece of furniture that I could fling discarded clothes onto. The drawers, their contents once sparse, became so full that they could barely close. In exasperation, my parents wondered, How can she get straight As but still be unable to do the simple task of keeping her bedroom clean?

To them, it was laziness. A sign of disrespect. For me, it was just my brain. It wasn’t until I was almost 30 that I realized it was also ADHD.

When my psychiatrist told me that I had the symptoms of ADHD, it felt like emerging from a heated sauna and taking that first step into the cool, crisp air: relief. I wasn’t crazy. It wasn’t all in my head. My diagnosis wasn’t an excuse for my behavior, but rather, a reason why my brain acts the way that it does.

When you think about a person having ADHD, that person likely does not look like me. In fact, ADHD among women and young girls is frequently overlooked; their symptoms misdiagnosed as a mood disorder or just seen as being “spacey” or “dumb.” The reality is that women with ADHD tend to be less hyperactive, but more “disorganized, scattered, forgetful and introverted” than men.

Looking back, the signs were always there, but I shoved them away the same way I shoved clutter into a drawer when friends would visit. I was good at hiding the messy, disorganized version of myself. But the shame didn’t begin to manifest until adulthood when I started to compare myself to my peers. How did my friends maintain such spotless, Instagram-worthy apartments? Why were my colleagues and I at the office the same number of hours but they managed to produce twice as much? I started coming into work hours before my team members in the attempt to “get ahead” because I knew there would be fewer distractions.

For me, ADHD feels like sitting down at your computer to start a research paper about the Revolutionary War and somehow, you’ve managed to find yourself on the “Personal Life” section of Bobby Cannavale’s Wikipedia page. I’m not sure how I got there, but all I know is that many hours have passed and I’m still staring at a blank Google doc. It feels like having 50 Internet browser tabs open on a screen and none of them are related to each other. It’s a vicious cycle of being distracted by something small, becoming increasingly unfocused and then spiraling into a state of paralysis because I’m so overwhelmed from the task that lies before me.

It didn’t help that as I progressed in my career, my anxiety climbed as I acquired new stresses and responsibilities. Putting away clothes was still torture and cleaning my room was an all-day marathon, but I’d also forget to pay bills or show up for a doctor’s appointment. Once, at midnight, while packing for a cross-country flight that departed the following morning, I remembered that my wallet was sitting at the nail salon a block away. I have been 30,000 feet in the air somewhere over Pennsylvania only to realize that my laptop was still in a bin at JFK security.

“Phone, keys, wallet,” my therapist told me, as I sat on the couch across from her after my trip. “Repeat that to yourself every time you leave your apartment.”

Sometimes, I think, If I can barely keep up with myself, how will I ever take care of kids one day? Why can’t I bring myself to make that phone call or wash those dishes or finish writing that book? How much more could I accomplish if I didn’t get in my own way?

Every day, I take small steps to get out of my own way. I set phone reminders to meditate. My desk is mildly disheveled (to put it generously), but I put away my laundry today and crossed menial tasks off my to-do list. Sometimes I’ll pour myself a glass of seltzer and accidentally leave the bottle on the counter, but my boyfriend will generously put it back in the refrigerator without comment. I have 23,493 unread emails in my inbox and I’ve accepted that I’ll never be an “inbox zero” person. Pre-pandemic, I kept a neon sticky note on my door that reminded me to bring my water bottle to hot yoga. In class, while my limbs were twisted into pretzels and I was sweating from every pore, my teacher would say, “Being a human is hard.” And when she told us it’s not about having the perfect pose; that it’s okay to wobble or even fall, I believed her.

Just as I no longer strive to achieve that perfect Warrior III, I no longer strive to have a “perfect” brain. I’ve accepted that my ADHD is a part of who I am, just like my anxiety, humor and ability to give impeccable manicures. My ADHD isn’t good or bad — it just is. I’m now gentler with myself. I tell myself that my self worth is not my productivity; that I am not defined by the chaos that is in my bedroom or my brain. And so I move forward and pick up another pair of pants off the floor.


Taylor Trudon is a journalist based in Brooklyn. She frequently writes (and tweets) about youth culture through the lens of social media, identity, politics and wellness.

Thank you so much, Taylor!

P.S. How to help stop anxiety, and the Grand Canyon trick.

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Emma says...

    Thank you so much Cup of Jo and Taylor for this amazing post. It resonated so much with me that I researched the symptoms of inattentive ADHD and made an appointment with a psychiatrist. I just had my evaluation this afternoon and she confirmed my diagnosis. I’ll be starting medication this week and am working on researching strategies for managing it. Thank you so, so much. Had it not been for this post, who knows how many more years I would have spent feeling like a broken failure. I’m so excited and relieved to be starting treatment.

  2. Kate says...

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post and the comments. Reaching out to this amazing community to see if anyone has recommendations/resources for the unique challenges of being a parent with ADHD? I think there are such helpful conversations about ADHD resources for school and work, but I have yet to find much of anything about parenting.

  3. Katherine says...

    Late to the party here, but just came to say that I’m another late diagnosis ADHD woman. It wasn’t until I was 27 and filling out a screener for a student that I realized I ticked all the boxes, too. I’ll never forget the first day I took my meds; it was like what I assume getting glasses is like for those with vision impairments. I cried with relief at realizing help was out there. My family does not “believe in” ADHD, nor are they supportive of my taking meds, but my husband also has ADHD and with his (and my therapist’s) help, I’m learning to work through the shame and stigma. I am also pregnant for the second time, and a full time SAHM to a toddler, and have been taking low doses of my meds basically the whole pregnancy. I stopped taking them when I found out I was pregnant, but parenting during a pandemic has made everything so much harder; I was struggling so much and felt so beat down, I was crying daily and felt like such a failure and I could feel my depression and anxiety creeping back in. So, I discussed it with my doctors (psych and OB) and they decided it is fine to be on a low dose, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel awful and guilty about it every. single. day. I feel like I must be ruining my son by exposing him to drugs in the womb; I feel at once like the worst mother for taking meds while pregnant but also, like I’m a good mom because I’m taking care of myself so that I can take care of my daughter, who is two. Anyway, this is just to say, I super appreciate this article and am glad to see I’m alone.

    • Katherine says...

      Whoops, that last line should say, I’m glad I’m *not* alone!

  4. Gill says...

    Thank you so so much for this post.

    I was tested for ADD when I was 21, but my positive test result was written off by myself as anxiety due to school, I couldn’t accept it and didn’t look into it further. I’d always been fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants smart, and I had other reasons at the time to superficially blame for my struggles. I’ve tried with various degrees of success since to manage myself but always felt like I just got in my own way, that it was my fault that I couldn’t focus, and that I just wasn’t trying hard enough or didn’t care enough to try. It’s really hit hard on my self-esteem. Definitely didn’t help with the anxiety.

    This article encouraged me to get tested by my doctor again this week, and the result was the same six years later: positive. Now I’m working with my doctor to get another test with a psychologist (for a second opinion) and starting a non-stimulant treatment (am a bit nervous about stimulants). I am a bit sad that I didn’t realize it six years ago, but honestly just feel very relieved.

    Thank you CoJ and Taylor <3

  5. Kate says...

    Hi – This totally resonates with me as a 35 year old woman. If I suspect I may have ADHD, do you suggest talking w/my primary care doc? Also, have you found that meds help?

  6. I love every bit of this. I also have ADHD, and was not diagnosed until adulthood. In my case it was probably best that it was missed, because I adjusted to my own way of doing things, and have carved out a life that I am very happy with. We have had 56 foster teens over the years, and three biological kids of our own.
    My biggest detriment? I would say that I have a tough time sticking with something once I have mastered it. It loses its appeal. Mainly, I think, because it no longer requires me to focus, and although that is NOT my area of expertise, I enjoy the challenge.
    Thank you for sharing your story. More people need to know that ADHA, and other similar diagnoses, never look the same from one person to another. I continue to work with teens through my current bussiness, and have met countless parents who never sought help for their daughter because their daughters ADHD didn’t check the google search boxes.

  7. K says...

    Gosh this has made me so confused. This describes me to a T – super unorganized and forgetful and it’s always been a joke with friends and family what a forgetful spaz I can be…I remember even from a young age in kindergarten I was known for being ridiculously messy. And like so many others, I’m technically a “high-achieving”, successful adult, but I’ve always thought my lack of organization, time management, forgetfulness to be my weaknesses. I’m SO curious if I have ADHD. But what a complicated diagnosis! How can we truly differentiate what is just personality and natural variances in human behavior from a true psychiatric pathology? I mean it sounds so tantalizing that all those things that I’ve struggled with in my life (that came so naturally to other people) I could achieve with just medication! I’ve always just labeled myself a “type B” person and people who don’t ever struggle with those issues as “type A”… Argh. Well, this has definitely motivated me even more to book an appointment with a psychiatrist. Thank you for this article!

  8. April says...

    This is the article I have been waiting for. Thank you CoJ, for being so inclusive

  9. LP says...

    Reading this article was so helpful. I have been recently struggling with the diagnosis of ADHD and it has gotten increasingly worse (esp during pandemic) in my late 20’s. I cannot tell you how many times I have had these same thoughts about work and working and thought I was the only one who felt this way or felt there was something “wrong” with me. I quite literally say “It feels like having 50 Internet browser tabs open on a screen and none of them are related to each other.” to my husband almost daily when I tell him what it is like to live in my head.

    It has been such a struggle and I used to be so apprehensive to medication but it is getting to the point where I think my life would improve significantly if I did take it because it is getting so hard to live in my brain.

    • CL says...

      Hi LP! I was diagnosed with ADHD last year at 28, and went on medication shortly thereafter. I was a bit hesitant about medication, too. There’s a bit of a stigma around it since it’s pretty widely misused, and I had a hard time making the decision to try it out, in part because I had gotten through 28 years without it.
      I started out on a very small dose (literally what they would give a child) to try it out, and while it’s not a perfect cure – I could probably be taking more – it really has helped me so much. For me, it’s still hard to do the first productive thing of the day, but once I get going I can keep going, and I sometimes look back on my day amazed at what I was able to get done, or how fast I completed certain tasks that seemed daunting.
      I’ve talked with my boyfriend, who also has ADHD, about whether or not we’d want our kids to be medicated if they have it, too. We’ve both recognized how much easier some things would have been that didn’t have to be hard, and how our individual struggles impacted our beliefs in ourselves and what we’re capable of. I’ve heard the concern that it’s important to develop the skills to manage life non-medicated, which I understand. But another friend of mine with ADHD was medicated through childhood until he was 25 or so, and he found that the habits he formed through years of medication gave him the framework to manage his life without it, albeit with some effort and determination. All that to say – it was freeing for me to understand why I am the way I am, and that certain struggles are related and not “my fault.” While I can’t speak for everyone, gaining that understanding sooner and having the tools to mitigate the challenges would have only been positive for me.
      Ironically making appointments is hard for me and many others with ADHD, so it took a few years for me to pull the trigger and see a psychiatrist. :) I hope you feel good about whatever decision you make!

  10. Great essay Taylor! We’ve got to give ourselves grace. 🕊

  11. Hanna says...

    Relate to this, but cause I also have OCD tendencies, the mess I cause makes me anxious! Haha, I can’t start work when there is stuff around the house (my husband is good at leaving things around). So having it clutter free and clean helps me. However, I loose things all the time, my brain goes from one thing to another. I get anxiety attacks cause of time keeping. This was actually one of the first things that was noticed by my therapist. So she told me to always take the bus before, to leave the house before I needed to. To set reminders cause yes I would remember something an hour before but still forget my appointment! As a child this was so difficult cause I forgot all my appointments and exams. Working my butt of but struggling so hard at school and it was unnoticed. I wish they had helped me when I was younger, but I didn’t get tested until I found a therapist in my early twenties.
    Key things I’ve done:
    – Tell my husband. He reminds me of everything before we leave
    – Have every meeting and deadline in our Todist app (even his stuff)
    – Set reminders for birthdays (again, remember it the day before, but wake up forgetting it)
    – Leave before I need to and give myself more time
    – Keep my place tidy so my mind stays clutter-free
    – Give myself more time with work
    – Hire that accountant!
    – Work the way that works for me (school was very difficult until I changed to a more “creative thinking” school and I was allowed to scribble while they talked
    – Have Zoom calls instead of meeting clients
    – Tripple check those flight details and even check flights again after purchasing
    – Don’t book anything for quarter to or quarter past. I don’t know what it is but I always mix up the times then. Having it on the hour is easier cause I then have an hour to get ready or go somewhere
    – Accept that I am different and stop trying to be like other people!
    – Working for myself is hard, but I can control my days more

  12. Kat says...

    One of the things that is absolutely wild about being a woman in your 20s now, or maybe just for me, is the amount of my friends who are just discovering their ADHD. We’re talking phd students, scientists, teachers. Women who have for years been wondering why they can’t conceptualize time, what it means that they can’t process words when people are speaking to them, and why sometimes nothing they do feels right or can get rid of a weird, empty feeling. In watching several friends go through this, I’ve learned a fair bit but the first is that folks who have gone without a diagnosis or medication into adulthood have lower amounts of dopamine transmitters (sorry to whoever has to fact check comments!) and when your baseline level of dopamine is lower, a lot of your behaviour ends up being non-typical to try and get some. My heart goes out to the women who have just been ignored because they were assumed to be space cadets but I’m happy to see that people are at least now figuring out why they behave the way they do and can start strategizing for it.

  13. Shannon says...

    I read this article and related to it and read a ton of comments from those who relate to it. I think it’s very important and helpful to find support and camaraderie in our individual struggles, but I also find myself wondering if this is very normal human behavior that has just become “not ok” by society’s standards?

  14. I was diagnosed 24 years ago at age 6, and have taken ADHD medication for most of my life. although I now view those circumstances as life-savingly positive, it was and is very lonely to be set apart, and to have it be known by all (myself included) that I would never truly fit in or “keep up”. last year in 2020, I heard the term ‘neurodivergent’ for the first time — and you can’t imagine the surge of relief that has flowed through my life. there is so much misunderstanding and misinformation out there about ADHD. I’m now working to move beyond the language of disorder/dysfunction to frame my own experience. I have incredible talents and perceptual superpowers which more than make up for where I fall short in other areas! my brain and nervous system are simply wired differently than those of neurotypical folks. I highly, highly recommend checking out Divergent Minds by Jenara Nerenberg for a great read on the circumstances of neurodivergent women :)

    • Kate says...

      Thanks for the book recommendation, A.E.! I also found the term “neurodivergent” freeing and see the ability to hyperfocus as a superpower.

  15. Violeta says...

    After a year of adjusting to motherhood (age 38) I went to a therapist to work through whether I might have PPD, as I just felt so overwhelmed and lost and unknowingly penned in without my usual coping mechanisms. She suggested I read ‘driven to distraction’. It was an eery experience, as I recognized myself so well. All the crazy impulsive things I did, the addiction to last minute planning, constantly feeling bad for being chronically late, my endlessly enthusiastic personality that drew many new friends but my lack of planning to actually do meanwhile activities that would develop these friendships…..I could go on and on. When I tried amphetamine salts, it was almost a euphoric experience, as if life had begun anew. When someone greeted me in the office in the morning, it ended there, I didn’t spiral off into 5 mins of thinking if they were being friendly or snotty. I could actually finish tasks at work and be done with them, not constantly second guess myself. But knowing that I wanted to have a second child, I paused the meds after two weeks. Exercise, coffee, good sleep, planning tools and self-love have helped me meanwhile but wfh during the pandemic has been very very challenging. I’m ready to take on getting help and just this week set up an appointment to work with an adhd coach and an appointment with the doctor to explore med doses again.
    Joanna, your blog yet again cuts to the heart of women’s lives, their untapped potential and their community. You truly are amazing. Thank you!!!

  16. Lauren says...

    As a neuropsychologist, I’d highly recommended neuropsychological evaluation to those of you wondering if you have attentional and/or executive functioning vulnerabilities or Autism Spectrum symptoms. These evaluations comprehensively assess cognitive, behavioral, and emotional symptoms and can be really helpful in understanding strengths and weaknesses and how they may manifest in daily difficulties. I see a TON of patients in their 30s/40s/50s who are convinced they have ADHD and while many do, others don’t. Symptom checklists result in high numbers of false positive diagnoses. As women we are expected to do so much, so well, in so many areas, that many of us end up feeling scattered, disorganized, and forgetful and its not ADHD.

    • Sara says...

      Wow, thank you for this! My “undiagnosed ADHD” is a running joke between me & my family/friends and even though I laugh with them, I occasionally find the possibility that I really have ADHD disconcerting because, as a teacher, I’ve been required to be involved in the diagnosis process and just never felt confident in the accuracy! So thank you for confirming that suspicions also suggesting an alternative!

  17. Gwen says...

    This story described me to a tee. I always got straight A’s in school, graduated with honors from college and grad school, and am a faculty member at a university, but I have a really hard time with basic things like putting stuff away after I use it and staying focused at work. My distraction at work has gotten even worse since I have been working mostly from home during the pandemic. My untidiness wrecked my relationship with my mom as a teenager (we’re ok now), and is putting a strain on my marriage. Even though people are generally positive about my work, I always feel like I am doing less than my colleagues. I see a therapist and a psychiatrist for anxiety and depression and these symptoms often come up, but they usually tell me that everyone experiences this and not to beat myself up about it. Since distractedness can be a symptom of both anxiety and depression, I assumed that was the cause, but maybe I should ask about ADHD.

  18. Marie-Eve says...

    Carrie, I totally relate to what you are mentionning. My house is also a mess, my desk at the office is also a mess. I can do very hard things, but keeping my house tidy is impossible. Its exactly as you describe it… I sometimes clean a room then its back at square one pretty fast. I am thinking of getting rid of stuff of most of my stuff, so I don’t have to organize it. Its exhausting just seeing the mess and I feel like a failure most days because of that… I have a lot of writing to do at work and yes, its pretty difficult to organize this to. If I have a big report, I will write it in s super disorganized way. Its fine in the end, but its definitively not the most efficient way to do it. I am trying to find ways to make life easier… I hope you find some ways too!

  19. Lexi says...

    I would also LOVE to see a future article about strategies for adults in relationship with a partner that has ADHD. I’ve really learned a lot from the comments on this article. My partner of 5 years has been diagnosed with ADHD previously, but it has really come to head during the pandemic and living together 24/7. We are still working on ways to share household duties. We have a chore chart where we put check marks next to things once they are complete. I also put sticky notes around the house, on mirrors or below the computer screen. The dream would be to have a cleaning service come every few weeks.

  20. Cat says...

    I was diagnosed after my second son was born and the chaos brought me to the brink! I started medication three months ago and it has completely changed my life. And brought some grief with it (but onwards!) Thank you for sharing.

  21. Krystal says...

    Thank you to the author and to everyone who commented. Such a relief to be in good company. I’m awaiting the results of an ADHD test with my therapist and I am so hopeful that the signs were right so I can start treatment. I also host Shut Up and Write events with pomodoro timers to manage symptoms.

  22. Katie says...

    Does anyone have resources for women with ADHD? Podcasts, audiobooks?

    • Katie says...

      There’s a website called additude that has a wealth of articles and information. I enjoyed reading the book ‘you mean I’m not lazy, crazy, or stupid’.

    • There is a national organization for ADHD, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), that provides resources, support groups and more for people of all ages with local chapters across the country, too: https://chadd.org/

  23. Thank you so much for this article today! I just turned 30 and was diagnosed with ADHD last year. What was life changing for me (aside from extremely helpful medication) was I started to forgive myself for all my shortcomings. Knowing that my brain just works differently than others has given me the space to learn to work with it instead of against it.

    Something that’s really helped me when I’m feeling down about myself and totally overwhelmed is I pretend that I’m viewing my life as if I’m a character in a sitcom (I’m usually set in Mary Tyler Moore’s studio apartment). I immediately gain so much more compassion for myself. I think, oh she is so fun and quirky! She’s always making people laugh, especially when she’s always forgetting things and making the best out of bad situations! I wonder what antics Shannon is going to get up to next?!

  24. M says...

    So great to read this & thanks so much for sharing, Taylor.

    I was only diagnosed in my early 40s. My ADHD therapist told me all the coping systems I’d invented over the years were classic strategies for managing ADHD she’d have recommended (like lists, rewards, alarms, putting things like keys, bags, etc, in the same spots every day). I started medication on my therapist’s advice (she thought it would make me less tired since it’s more work for me to just keep it together) a year ago and it helps. At first, I was embarrassed and disappointed to think I had this, and I was embarrassed to take a medication like Ritalin, too. But the diagnosis helped me understand some of the challenges I’d faced in school (I always had good grades but being organized was really challenging & people often thought it was a moral failing because I performed so well otherwise), and the Ritalin isn’t something I’m embarrassed about anymore. (My stepson also has ADHD and it’s really nice to be able to share coping strategies w him & he listens because he knows I have it, too. It’s also nice to be able to normalize it for him.)

    This year has been really hard, though, and I still struggle with feeling scattered and being unable to concentrate.

    Like you, I’m pretty high-achieving (whatever that means — ambitious? smart? trying really hard to adult it even in my 40s but most people don’t know it’s a hustle?), and reading stories about women with ADHD really helped me understand how I work best (with background sound, rewards for small tasks completed).

    Things I like about my ADHD: the deep focus, being energized by being implicated in a number of projects, a kind of big drive behind my curiosity, the knowledge I accrue from this and how it helps me think about the world.

    Worst part: Exhaustion, spreading myself too thin, interrupting people (I have to work on this daily).

    I’m glad we’re talking about this more.

  25. Carrie says...

    As someone who currently has 3 rooms in her house which are reaching hoarder level chaos, I felt so seen and understood reading this article. I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until college. It was the infancy of research on the condition, so I am only know learning how many things about myself are a result of my ADHD.

    I don’t like to be messy or chaotic, and I try so many times to correct it but things always seems to revert to the former state. Now the rooms in my house are so insane, and no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to make a dent in the cleaning process. I’m angry at myself all the time because I can do other difficult things, but I can’t do this. My therapist and I are trying to work on solutions but despite our best efforts, they never seem to last.

    I ran a marathon with the flu. I finished graduate school while working full time and dealing with the academic side of ADHD, but I can’t clean a stupid room.

    It’s incredibly frustrating to try to do the hard work and just not be able to push through what feels like walls in your brain. I am not a lazy person but I constantly feel like one and I know others see me that way too which is incredibly disheartening.

    Also does anyone else with ADHD have an extremely difficult time writing papers or anything really?

    • M says...

      When things feel impossible, I start with the smallest, smallest, tiniest task. It makes me feel like I’m working & it can work to trick me into getting into that concentrated vibe I need to get whatever it is done. My friend uses timers & sets them at 25-minute intervals, which seems like a good strategy, too.

  26. Julia says...

    Would be lovely if we could make a list of books to read that were recommended through out these comments! As I swallow my Adderall that doesn’t really help and for sure gives me anxiety down with coffee. I could write forever on this subject but I don’t feel like crying ugly tears and ruining my sunny friday. BUT THANK YOU FOR POSTING. Would love any and all book recs.

  27. Lauren says...

    I needed this article so badly. Thank you, thank you.

  28. I’m currently reading a wonderful book on this subject (per my therapist’s recommendation). It’s considered a ‘classic’ or ‘must read’ on this subject, and the author (Sari Solden) has done a lot of work in this field. The book is: Women with Attention Deficit Disorder. It really highlights and illuminates how ADHD differs for women, why it’s often overlooking/misdiagnosed and what it feels like for the many women who struggle. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  29. Kristen says...

    Thanks so much for sharing! Several years ago I read an article on this topic and I remember crying ugly tears over it as I read because I recognized myself so strongly. I can relate to the feeling of relief to hear someone explain what happens in your head. I needed this reminder…thank you.❤️

  30. S. says...

    I don’t think it has anything to do with being in France : both terms do exist in French (TDAH, non-binaire) and are widely used and known. You could always google if the translation / meaning eludes you! (Saying this kindly, as a fellow French person)

  31. Emma says...

    Loved this! As a teacher I have seen students (both boys and girls) with what appears to be ADHD and it often gets overlooked. It is also a diagnosis that isn’t considered as important in the school system (If they don’t disrupt the class that much and are academically ok, they don’t get pushed towards getting tested which could provide them with more support!) Do you recommended any specific reading on the subject as I know little about about how to help and support students? Specifically younger students (age 7-12).

  32. D says...

    Me too! I got diagnosed at about age 27. I would never in a million years have thought I had ADHD. I have always had very bad generalized anxiety, and thought that it mostly stemmed from having PCOS and body image issues. But I kept bringing up in therapy how I couldn’t follow through with any of my creative/ passion projects, get where I want in my career. I get distracted and have so many ideas.

    But what REALLY prompted my therapist to give me an ADHD test was how I told her that I couldn’t get ANYTHING done until I had coffee. Not in a normal way, but before I had coffee I was truly depressed and felt kind of hopeless about the prospect of doing anything. She said that the fact that a stimulant truly changed how I felt so much was a clue for her.

    Anyway, I still struggle but notice a big difference when I take Adderall. I used to be so hesitant towards medications for my mental health but now I figure… I want to live my best life. And these medications give me the tools to actually do the other things to make me feel better… meal plan, get work done, exercise.

    I just wrote another comment on the “What do you want to talk about in 2021” article, asking for a conversation about PCOS. I feel like this is similar– something under-diagnosed and overlooked in women– and ultimately causing a lot of frustration and shame!

    • Katy says...

      Second the PCOS comment! So many have it and it presents itself differently in everyone!! And it’s very hard to get a knowledgeable provider who doesn’t just tell you ‘stop eating pizza and lose weight’. I do love being on hormonal birth control and metformin personally, they help with my symptoms but i know that isn’t the case for everyone. Would love a post on PCOS!

  33. Melanie says...

    Thanks for writing this. My beautiful teenage daughter has ADHD, and we deal with her anxiety and perfectionism daily. It breaks my heart to see her be so hard on herself. Any tips on how we can support her? What do you wish you had known or had as a resource at age 13?

    • Sarah says...

      When I was that age, I was sure that everyone else had some kind of secret. I think my 13-year old self would have benefitted from learning about more kinds of experiences, meeting adults I admired who talked openly about failure and fumblings.

    • Sonja says...

      I second Sarah’s response, beautifully put!

    • M says...

      This very loving question has been with me all day. My first thought is that it’s great that she was diagnosed so young. Hopefully understanding both the superpower aspect (the deep concentration can be a real advantage) alongside the more challenging parts of managing ADHD from a young age can help your stepdaughter build the skills she’ll need.

      I kept thinking about your question today & trying to remember how I felt at her age. I wish I’d known I didn’t have to be 100% all the time. I wish I’d known that all grownups also fail, that failures are a normal and necessary part of life, and not something to be ashamed of. I think at that age I saw things as black and white (maybe a development thing, maybe the effect of how we talk to kids about the world aka: smoking evil, good grades amazing).

      I think there are probably a lot of good resources for teens these days? I’d share them openly and casually, if ever you think that would work in the context of your family.

      Mostly the fact that her family supports her and believes in her is the best.

    • Lauren says...

      When I think back on my teenage years I remember getting teased by family members, teachers & good friends about losing things all the time, leaving my computer in the backseat of the car, my house keys in my laundry hamper… the list goes on. I remember in summer camp I had a ‘friend’ hide my key card because she thought it was so funny how often I lost track of it (It was a math camp on college campus).

      There was so much negativity back then, so much shame over my spaciness. If I could go back and tell my family & myself something it would be a bit of grace, a bit of gentleness. My brain doesn’t act quite the same as other people’s and that’s ok, it’ll make some thing easier and some things harder and eventually it’ll all be ok.

    • Emily says...

      I’d agree with the other responses. It wasn’t until well after I was diagnosed, came to grips with it, and started some therapy that I could move past my own perfectionism and the perfection requirements I realized I was placing on others. But I do remember as a teenager some movies and TV were useful when characters would make mistakes. Bumbling comedic characters less so, but dramas where mistakes were pointed out and acknowledged but everyone moved on were really impactful. Finding one with characters that make mistakes with whatever she’s hardest on herself about may be therapeutic. For me it was social interaction. The most minor of infractions or awkwardness I perceived I’d had would cripple me all evening. But, I actually still have vivid memories of various shows that helped me let go of whatever minor thing I’d done that day that I was just beating myself up about.

  34. k says...

    I got diagnosed at 42, and now, a year later, I am so grateful to have a better understanding of my brain. I got so used to fighting my way through life and hiding the struggles that I didn’t think I had an issue – I really believed that I was just a mess.

    Seems like there are a lot of us out there who don’t fit the stereotypical description of ADHD. What made a huge difference for me was finding content out there created by people with ADHD – it gave me a better understanding of day-to-day life with neurodiversity, made me feel less alone and a whole lot better about myself – and gave me the push to get diagnosed and treated. It’s not a substitute for real, medical information, but I had so many “a-ha moments” while looking through memes & videos – those moments of connection with others who understood meant so much to me when I was trying to figure this out. I learned a lot from:

    • the_mini_adhd_coach/
    https://howtoadhd.com – the site’s down, but she has plenty of videos on YouTube

    Thank you so much for this post, COJ. Anyone have other recommendations?

    • Kristen says...

      Thanks! I was scanning through the comments to see if anyone else had helpful resources!

  35. Laureline says...

    OK, so I have a comment to make that would be valid for several posts: what does ADHD stand for? I started reading the article but dropped off because I didn’t know what it means. The same kind of comment comes to my mind regarding the latest house tour, where the home owner talked about non-binary people. What does that mean? I think as Americans it may be commonly known, but here in France I’ve never heard of ADHD or non-binary people. I’m sure my comment would serve lots of other people too :)

    • Anne S says...

      Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s a neurobehavioral disorder. It’s commonly associated with little kids (mainly boys) who can’t sit still and can’t focus, but it can have a huge range of symptoms. Women are frequently undiagnosed because their symptoms are so abnormal, similar to the way autistic women are misinterpreted because their symptoms present so differently.

    • Sarah says...

      Google is a wonderful tool! :) The author is not responsible for doing all the work.

    • abby says...

      Great questions! I work in social services and as we talk in our community around issues of equity, we have to constantly stop ourselves and remember that we can’t assume everyone knows the terms and we’re speaking of. Spelled out, ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is a medical diagnosis. As with many diagnosis, this can mean a great many things but spans issues of difficulty with focus, poor memory, poor time management and organization, inability to sit still and more. Non-binary refers to individuals who don’t identify with a specific gender (man or woman). My understanding from non-binary folks I know is that their gender is much more fluid typically choosing pronouns they/them. Hopefully this helps.

      And if anyone has something different to add or correct, please do. I am by no means an expert.

    • ADHD stands for “attention deficit hyperactive disorder”. It’s a terrible name, but there it is. It used to be just ADD for “attention deficit disorder”.
      And non-binary indicates an individual’s decision not to identify with the traditional gender binary of male and female. This one’s a little more complex than the the meaning of the ADHD acronym, however that’s it in a nutshell.

    • Sisu Garcia says...

      ADHD- Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder
      ADD- Attention Deficit Disorder
      Non-binary people are people who do not identify with either two of the binary genders that we are accustumed to talking about (women or men) they might identify as neither as both or as something beyond gender. I am by no means an exert on tese matters, so google might be more hepful =)

    • Laureline says...

      Thanks all for your replies, it does help to make it clearer!
      Sarah, sure I could use Google, however I think when writing an article about a topic that’s an acronym you have to ensure that at least once you define it by its complete name, so everyone knows what you’re talking about. That’s what I was taught in school. However I do recognize that I was kranky yesterday and didn’t feel like googling it though!

  36. Tracy says...

    Thank you – I think this will help so many people. I’m 55 and I was diagnosed three months ago. Talk about a lightbulb moment! My son was diagnosed two years ago. In both cases it took a psychiatrist to figure out what was going on. A certain percentage of people have non-standard reactions to medication and a psychiatrist can help to really fine tune medication. Medication isn’t for everyone, but it has been life changing for both of us. Not only are women under-diagnosed, but people with other neurological conditions can be, too. Advocate for yourself – make waves until you get the help you need (don’t wait until you’re 55)!

  37. MK says...

    My mom was diagnosed with ADHD at 62, she’s now 73; the diagnosis and the meds have helped her so much! It’s never too late to pursue a diagnosis for something you’re dealing with.

  38. Enid says...

    I would highly recommend “ Scattered Minds” by Gabor Mate to anyone trying to understand why they have ADHD. it’s powerful because there are so many environmental factors at play that exacerbate it. And it’s helps you understand why and how in the most beautiful way showing it’s not your fault. It is not easy to understand yourself, and family members but this book is a stepping stone for anyone who is willing.

  39. Ashley says...

    Does anyone have any resources on coping with rejection sensitivity? I’m 26 and was diagnosed with ADHD just a year ago. As I’ve learned about different symptoms I’ve realized that rejection sensitivity has severely impacted my past relationships. (Like Taylor wrote, I’m not saying this as an excuse but rather as a reason). I want to get married someday and really feel like managing rejection sensitivity is an important step on my journey to find a partner.

    • Marian says...

      Hello, friends! I was diagnosed in my 20s and thankfully did find a lot of success with meds. I’d been mildly self-treating before, using “systems” that seemed to tame the beast a bit. :)

      I’ll also say that as I’ve learned more about ADHD (especially in women), there are some truly beautiful things! I’m a creative and often opt (with my Dr.’s knowledge) not to take my meds on weekends so I can enjoy the many positives of this quirk we all share too! Here’s to our beautiful brains!

    • Sunny says...

      I got my diagnosis 2 years ago and this is what I did: (sorry for my english!)

      Handling my high sensitivity:
      My ADD-Coach suggested this scenario: I am the Captain with two leading employees. One stands for my emotions, one for my ratio. When I started with coaching, Mr. Emotion was too mighty. He whined or yelled the whole time, feeling upset or hurt about something. Mr. Ratio was overruled. I learned to get in charge as the Captain again by explaining Mr. Emotion that he is still important and that I will continue to listen what he has to say. But that I will hear what Mr Ratio has to say, as well, and that Mr Emotion has to shut up during this conversation. I gave Mr Ratio his voice back, and it is a calming, balancing and healing voice. He might gently remind me to hear the other side. To consider that even if something was rude, it might be better for myself to choose no big drama. That everybody makes mistakes. That I, too, must be patient with others. And so on.. sort of weird, maybe, but for me, it was very helpful learning to handle my feelings.
      Step by step, I practised those thoughts. To remind me every day of my willpower as a Captain, I meditate 5 mins with „The Daily Stoic“ by Ryan Holiday.
      I was, and always will be a high sensitive person. But I do not want to mess up all my relationships and my mental health by insisting that everybody else has to deal with it. I learned that I had to move, too.

      Feeling healthy:
      I learned to cook healthy, mostly plant based and without food additives. Cutting back sugar was a game-changer. I sleep more. I started to exercise Yoga with Adriene, btw thanks to Jo`s lovely aunt for the recommendation! I still can’t believe it! If I can do it, everybody can do it!

      Getting things done:
      I take medication, a very low dosage but it makes everything so much easier. Ha, this is how they do it!!

      And, so important what Taylor wrote in her last passage: Being generous with myself, when I mess things up.

      Hope/ maybe this helps!

      A big hug to my fellow brains and all you uncredible guys who love and support us!

    • Nikki says...

      This article really helped me. I’m now on a combination of medications (was diagnosed this past year, shortly before turning 35) and it’s been eye-opening.

  40. Francesca says...

    Wow. This is me. I had no idea. And I’m a psychologist. Can I ask how you were diagnosed?

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      Hi! I did a lot of my own research beforehand and then brought it up with my psychiatrist. She said it was very likely given my symptoms (and family history). The tricky part (at least for me) was attempting to differentiate my ADHD from my chronic anxiety as they typically go hand-in-hand.

    • Jenny says...

      I’m a psychologist too…and also have ADHD! I didn’t figure that out until—while on residency—my supervisor helped me uncover that an adult client I was assessing—quite literally the smartest person I’d ever encountered—had underlying ADHD. That “discovery” was life-changing for that client. It was life changing for me, too: I’d struggled for years with many of the same things that client had, and was ultimately diagnosed with ADHD myself shortly thereafter. (finishing my dissertation would’ve been A LOT easier had I known about my ADHD—and started taking medication—earlier in life). Today I devote a large part of my practice to assessing and supporting women and girls with ADHD. Taylor’s story is so relatable.

    • K says...

      I’m a therapist too and I was shocked that it had totally escaped me. My therapist mentioned ADHD after I referred to myself as lazy and forgetful, described how stuck I felt. I have tried to figure out for so long how others do it, when it seems so hard for me – all the regular life tasks. Definitely worth looking into!

  41. M says...

    This article was me 10 years ago. :( I never ended up sticking with medication – I couldn’t find the right fit. I ended up overhauling my diet and lifestyle via the autoimmune protocol for other health reasons, which reduced my bodily inflammation and turned around my health. As an unintended benefit, my anxiety, brain fog, and distractibility greatly improved. I also found digital tools to keep my life in order (To Do list app, Google Calendar), and eliminated tech that was preying on my distractibility (social media). I feel the toxic soup we all live in, the standard American diet, and technological tools that prey on our focus are increasing the number of people with ADD/ADHD symptoms, which is very concerning.

    • Candice says...

      Thank you for addressing alternative approaches and the real impact of social media.

    • Roxana says...

      Oh, M! Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m 42 and was diagnosed at 38. I haven’t been able to make medications work (this is on top of my skepticism/lack of trust in allopathic medicine). I was just wanting to ask “Has anyone done any dietary protocols or nutritional supplements?” Did you just do an AIP diet or did you work with a practitioner? Do you still follow a strict diet? Or have you been able to reintroduce certain foods? I know everybody is different, but I’m curious. If you have any other recommendations to share, I would be so appreciative! Also, I completely agree that our western lifestyle (diet, technology, a corrupt medical care system, etc.) has us in a “toxic soup.”

      Now I’m going to do some research! ;)

    • Jax says...

      I appreciate that you’ve been able to manage some of the ADHD aspects through diet. As a non-ADHD person living with 2 ADHD people in my family, I can attest that while social media and devices may be increasing ADHD aspects of all people, I can definitely see a difference between someone who genuinely has ADHD and who doesn’t.
      I really appreciated hearing Taylor’s account and I think it’ll be super helpful for a lot of people, esp. women with ADHD, to read. I would’ve liked to have also heard what she might appreciate about having ADHD — creativity, being visually and artistically gifted, for example, sometimes, the hyperfocus can help with passion projects, thinking out of the box, etc. There are gifts of ADHD as well. Of course, maybe she may not be able to see these benefits currently.

    • Kate says...

      My heart goes out to the struggles of the writer, but sometimes I worry we are pathologizing being human.

      I’m not suggesting that’s the case in this particular circumstance, but I wish there was room for people to be eccentric or disorganised or whatever without it being a disorder. Modern life is hard and often overwhelming…for nearly everyone. What teenagers DON’T have disaster-area bedrooms? I just wish we accepted a wider variety of what is “normal” instead if diagnosing every variation of human-ness.

  42. Loren says...

    If impairments in executive functioning are accompanied by things like sensitivity to sound, dislike of being touched, vision or balance problems, difficulty maintaining arousal and focus while sitting still, a quick temper or a tendency to withdraw and tune out, emotional rigidity, a tendency to hyperfocus and difficulty switching gears, the cause is most likely due to impaired sensory processing and pockets of delayed central nervous system maturation, which can be evaluated and treated by an occupational therapist specializing in sensory integration therapy.

    • Inbar says...

      This is really helpful. I’m 47, got diagnosed with ADHD at 46. I always knew I was ‘different’ I found that as life got more complicated (kids, mortgage, career) it was harder to cope and my anxiety rocketed. When we explored it for my daughter I was also diagnosed and felt a huge sense of relief. It explains a lot, but not everything, and I’ve also started to learn about the role of the nervous system and sensitivities, which I’ll be exploring this year with an OT. Diet hasn’t made a different for me, My diet is super healthy, I exercise, I socialise, I mediate, and I still need the medication, the medication (for my it’s Vyvanse) is gold! Good luck to all the women out there, I encourage you to explore, to test, to find the support you need, and to talk about it. In support of my daughter, I made a vow that whenever I felt psychologically safe, at work, in the extended family, socially that I would share my diagnosis, to do my bit to reduce stigma and increase awareness and understanding, and every time I’ve done that, I’ve been rewarded- women open up about themselves, or their children and I’ve forged wonderfully stronger connections with people as a result. xx

  43. Lydia says...

    Like so many others here, I am high functioning, conventionally successful, driven…and was diagnosed with ADHD in my late 20s. I’ve tried medication but it didn’t quite work for me. Simply knowing and understanding this aspect of myself has helped me a great deal in managing it, harnessing the powers it gives me, and simply being kind to myself.

    A book that was very helpful: Delivered from Distraction. Highly recommend. I felt so seen. Love to everyone on this journey.

  44. Rachel says...

    Yes, all of this! Like so many of the commenters, I’ve carved out a wonderful and messy and complex life for myself. And, to those of you in the same boat who don’t have kids yet, it can(!!!) definitely be done. “Imperfect people raising imperfect people imperfectly” is the motto in this house. My kiddos are kind, generous, smart and funny. I try to be transparent and find the teaching moments. There are times of panic and anxiety and lots of lists and schedules, but there is also an amazing amount of joy and love.

    Big hugs to all of my ADHD woman out there. We’ve go this (or not, and that is okay, too).

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      Oh wow, I love this comment so much! Big hug right back atcha. xo

    • Mac says...

      I second that! It can be done. Something about pregnancy and breastfeeding made me feel like I had a super-brain, probably the hormones. And something about mothering was exactly what I needed to take charge of my ADHD instead of the other way around, as it had been my whole life.

    • Elizabeth says...

      All of this is so true! Being a working parent (during a pandemic) is just what I needed to become a more efficient, higher functioning woman with ADHD. Something about being pressed for time and having too much to do has kicked me into high gear. It’s like when I used to procrastinate in college or grad school!

  45. Veronica says...

    This article couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m 35, and my parents didn’t necessarily believe in ADHD, so I brushed my symptoms aside only to struggle my entire school career and into my 20’s. I was always the little girl with her “head in the clouds.” After a talk with my OBGYN telling her some of my symptoms, she suggested I book an appointment. And I booked that appointment yesterday! 2021 is the year I’m going to put my health (and mental health) first.

  46. Emma says...

    This is so crazy because just today I had my second psychiatrist appointment and am walking over to CVS to pick my first dose of ritalin as soon as I am done writing this comment (got distracted on the way out the door….ha)

    I grew up “high-functioning” (basically meaning A’s in school) and with parents who did not believe in ADHD (they have a similar attitude to the once described by the commenter from France!). But my brain has always raced a million miles a minute and everything has always felt so much *harder* for me than it is for other people. Although interestingly enough, I am pretty neat and have not struggled with messiness (only my brain is messy).

    In my adult life, being “high-functioning” hasn’t cut it. For years, I have felt like I am constantly treading water, working so hard just to keep my head up for air. ADHD has made me debilitatingly insecure when it comes to work challenges and pursuing new jobs. I opted out of graduate school because I feared failure (I always have a lingering fear that any new challenge I undertake will be the one that exposes me). I developed severe anxiety and depression as a direct result of my undiagnosed and untreated ADHD. And now, at 30, I am finally beginning to connect all the dots.

    Now, armed with a diagnosis from a psychiatrist I trust, I am beginning to feel hope again. I am optimistic medication will help me. I am even beginning to researching graduate schools again….Suddenly, it feels like there’s a reason WHY everything has been hard for me!

    Big hugs to everyone struggling with ADHD, and huge shout out to COJ for publishing this piece, which would have been so helpful to me in my early 20s.

    • Sarah says...

      My therapist has just pointed me towards the steps to explore medication, but I really relate to your experiences here. I was a “gifted” kid in school, and breezed through K-12, but never had to study. When I went to college, I crashed and burned hard because I had no idea how to do independent work. Cue anxiety and depression. I’m not a messy or daydreamy person, but my brain DOES race, and when I finally saw some social media content that pointed out that “hyperactivity” can mean thoughts, too, it was a huge internal “WHOA” for me.

    • Dan says...

      Wow, I also started my first ever ADHD meds on the day this article was published! My story is very similar to yours. Very successful in school, mostly because I oversubscribed myself to stimulating activities so I would be forced into an “always on” state (great recipe for an epic burnout, btw). Struggled mightily once I made it to a desk job, failed to understand why what I thought was depression just didn’t look like anyone else’s, and finally connected all the dots this year at age 35 when I scored “possible” for ADHD on a mental health assessment. Finding other stories of adults like me was absolutely overwhelming in a way I had never experienced before.

      I’m thankful that I’m finally starting to figure out my medication, but even more thankful to have a new way to understand my own brain. You mentioned anxiety. Maybe you’ve read this before, but it opened my eyes so much: anxiety can be a consequence of ADHD, but it can also be a *coping mechanism* that we adopt because it gives our brains the stimulation we need to push through challenges. If you unwittingly use that strategy your whole adult life, it’s hard to recognize you’re even doing it. This really clicked for me when I started on some meds to treat my depression and anxiety a few months ago. I felt much better, but my ADHD absolutely went bonkers and I couldn’t get anything done! Turns out, I had unwittingly nuked my most trusty coping mechanisms. It feels a bit like one step forward, two steps back, but it sure does feel nice to be an a more promising path than before.

  47. GL says...

    How timely! I was just diagnosed a few weeks ago at 37. Classic case of being overlooked as a girl when both my brothers were diagnosed. I’ve known for awhile I should look into testing. Every year my career has progressed I’ve found myself drowning a bit more. but the clincher was (in the kindest/gentlest way) losing my job last year. The org blamed external factors, but I’ve always felt if I’d been focusing – therefore performing better -they’d have kept me.

    My therapist also recently suggested I may be on the spectrum, and while I brushed it off at first, I recently picked up the book Divergent Mind. The author wrote it when first diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, and wow if I’m not on the spectrum I AT MINIMUM have a sensory overprocessing issue. Ive been using my husband as a neurotypical control when I notice the overstimulation I’ve normalized so long now, asking questions like: “do you feel overwhelmed and like part of your brain shuts down when it’s windy out? NO?!” 🤯 fascinating…

    Kk I should get back to work…

    • Sonja says...

      Ooh yes the book Divergent Mind is so so good! I am starting to explore this field with a sneaking suspicion that I may be neurodivergent… reading that book helped me see how there are so many different ways to be different besides the limiting stereotypes for autism, ADHD, etc.
      I already strongly identify as HSP (definitely challenging for me) and I have synesthesia (that one I don’t mind!). But I’ve started to become aware of a bunch of other junk that goes on in my brain and doesn’t seem to happen to “typical” people, and so many things just seem so hard, so *much.* It’s especially challenging because I’m a determined, organized, executive-type person who presents as neurotypical and can adapt to many different situations. In reality though there are a lot of hidden symptoms rummaging around beneath the surface.
      I’m encouraged by this article + thread to keep gently pursuing myself!

  48. Victoria says...

    SAME & now I have the kids and they look perfect and I walk out of the house without a winter coat or shoes on

    • Rita says...

      Haha, same! I ws just going to comment that above, that my mothering brain seems more put together than my regular one, at least so far!

  49. Amanda says...

    Thank you for sharing your experience as a woman with AHDH. I grew up in a household where my father, oldest sister and younger brother also have ADHD. I remember my sister’s bedroom(now home), much like yours, my dad’s military precision to stay on task and follow a *to do* list(a coping mechanism). My brother, a hot mess when he entered grade school. Couldn’t complete work, etc.
    When I was in college studying early childhood education I was told in my education courses to watch for the child that pays attention to *everything*. Not just what you say or do as their teacher but their entire environment is pulling their attention elsewhere. It reminded me of that moment in college when you wrote about 50 browser tabs being open in your brain, none of them related and not knowing how you got there. It really paints a picture for anyone on the outside observing what they see, and allowing us to understand what is going on in their mind.

    • Sawra says...

      Great post! I relate to so many of the comments! I was also diagnosed in my 30s after having my third child when life got that much busier and chaotic that the coping techniques I had been using previously (but didn’t know I was doing) didn’t cut it anymore! I was an A student, overachiever successful athlete and therefore never even considered the possibility of adhd! But now as I look back I realize I figured out how to “scaffold” myself. My two daughters we diagnosed with ADHD before I realized I had it. Although this has its challenges I also feel that I can understand how their brains work and do everything I can to teach them the skills to thrive! There is nothing “wrong” with the ADHD brain.

  50. Emma says...

    Thank you so much for this post, COJ. I’ve struggled so much for a long time, even more so since the pandemic started and I left my job. I was so optimistic thinking that I would finally have the time to “get my shit together” and now, months later, my house is still in shambles. I connected with this post so much, it was such an “Aha!” moment for me, and I will be reaching out to a psychiatrist as a result. So grateful and relieved to have possibly found an answer.

  51. Dana says...

    We are in the process of having my 10 year-old-son assessed for an ADHD diagnosis (at the advice of his therapist). So much of what you wrote resonated with me! He also doesn’t display what my idea of ADHD is (was?), and because he is a rule-follower and a good student no teacher has ever picked up on the fact that something might be going on. It took the pandemic and move to all-online school for things to fall apart enough to see that he is struggling in ways we didn’t know. But reading through the parent portion of the ADHD assessment, it was like a light went on in my brain–so many things I’d misread as his mom made sense in this light! It’s been really hard to watch him suffer and struggle so much, but I’m so grateful that this also means we get the the chance to help him develop strategies while he is still so young.

    • NJ says...

      As an ADHD person who was messy-but-keeping it together until my first year at uni – that totally doesn’t mean he’s not ADHD. I only started falling apart “enough” very late in my life, and I’m very gifted and very competitive, so my school teachers were always frustrated with my “carelessness” or “lazyness” when I simply couldn’t be organized enough to turn in my homework or papers on time, and yet aced my exams without studying. I’m extremely lucky to have parents who’ve always believed me and my diagnosis, and supported me, and helped me find coping methods and eventually a helpful kind of therapy – being that person for your son is the best gift he can have.

  52. liz says...

    I related to this way too much. I sent it to my bf and he asked me if I wrote it! lol thank you for sharing. I think I need to consider what next steps should be!

  53. Tara says...

    I feel this SO much! My first boss, at nurse at UCSF sat me down and said I think you are ADD. I cried, then I got tested. I am very ADD but have found ways to adapt. I am very type A and love organizing so it manifested in a different way. I worked SO hard to not be ADD as a child by organizing all my shit like dolls and creepy trolls (90’s), but I am still very ADD. My stories are like candy land and now can mute myself during meetings when I feel like just HAVE to say something. I set alarms for myself. I give myself treats when I accomplish tasks that I hate at work. I am Pavlov’s dog. Ginger ale is my treat today. GOOD JOB, you shut the fuck up, and also completed the boring ass report. I am learning to LISTEN.. There was so much stigma about ADD as a kid of the 90’s but as an adult I talk about it on dates now. Thank you so much for this!

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      This made me smile. I give myself treats too when I accomplish something, just like my puppy! Whatever works! xo

    • sandra says...

      Alarms are very good, I use alarms a lot as well. If I may kindly suggest something: please try to use a different, more caring tone of voice when you congratulate your self! You are obviously doing a great job and it was very fortunate your boss took time to say something!

    • Becky says...

      Oh my gosh I almost packed a can of coke today to treat myself but told myself the good chocolate was enough. These comments are the support group I never knew I needed.

  54. Joanne says...

    As someone with 100 tabs open all the time, laundry piles everywhere, a constantly cluttered house, an ADHD mother, etc… I think I’m finally coming to terms with whatever my version of ADD/ADHD is. I don’t think I had connected that avoiding “boring” tasks was such a central piece, since I generally function okay in society. (Just don’t come over to my house!)

    Does anyone have a medication that’s worked for them without severe side effects? I know step one for me should be to go to a doctor or psychiatrist, but I’ve tried adderall and there’s no way I can take it everyday. I just read through the comments and see tons of people noting medication, but I would love a specific recommendation or to hear what’s worked or hasn’t worked for people. Thank you!!

    • Sisu Garcia says...

      Hi! I just recently started medication and so far it’s worked for me but you really need to talk to a doctor. They prescribed me 10mg Methylphenidate (the substance in adderall and similar meds) and i was shaking and it felt like I was taking 5 espresso shots a day so I told my doctor and he told me to half it to 5mg and it’s worked like a charm! I still feel like I get a boost in my day to day life, certain things have definitely become easier but obviously not 1000% cured, but i nolonger feel like i’m about to burst in a million pieces if I don’t use up all teh energy. So it’s not only a question of which meds are right for you, but also how much of those meds, and well… doctors know best

    • KG says...

      Hey there!

      My life was forever changed by Vyvanse. I’d recommend you speak with your doctor or psychiatrist about this. One of the reasons that I like it so much is that it basically works with your body by being digested, so it slow releases over a period of 8-14 hours (depending on your body’s tolerance and your dosage). I only have to take it on days where I have a lot of work to do, and the only side effect is appetite suppression (which is easily handled by eating meals at a scheduled time despite perhaps not feeling hungry).

      Couldn’t recommend it enough! You’ll need a formal diagnostic test to get the prescription (if you don’t have it already), and it can be difficult to get in some states as a controlled substance (same with Adderall). But I’ve found that all these things have been worth it!

      Wishing you all the best in this and all your endeavors!

    • Angie says...

      Hey,
      Medication is very person specific, I was diagnosed 20 years ago so I’ve been on different ones with varying success. I will say that for me the right medication has been ice changing. It doesn’t solve everything but helps so much and gives me the focus to work on lifestyle changes, therapy, etc. if you can I highly suggest trying to find a psychiatrist who specializes in adults (especially women) with ADHD. Try to find someone who is knowledgeable about medication as well as supplies and other ways of treating adhd. I have found supplements greatly helpful in addition to meds. Best of luck!

    • k says...

      Hey Joanne! I take very small amount adderall, and I can’t take it every day. I worked with my doctor to come up with the right dosage and schedule – I take it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday – Thursdays and Sundays are off for me. Every few months I take a week off to detox. I could not get through 5 days in a row of medication, and struggled with other meds. Somehow, taking Thursdays off made a world of difference for me.

      I hope you find a doctor who is a creative thinker and can help you find something that works for you!

    • Joanne says...

      Wow, so many thoughtful replies!! Thank you Sisu, KG, Angie, and K! This is very helpful and I’m going to ask my primary care doc to help me figure out something and/or get a referral for a psychiatrist! THANK YOU!!

  55. Quincey says...

    This is my story! I was diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type at 26. During my entire childhood and early adulthood I struggled with my chronically messy room, paper strewn backpacks and poor time management. It filled me with so much shame especially being a girl because “women” aren’t “messy and disorganized”. Even today when I tell people my room is messy they are really shocked as otherwise I am “so put together”. Since my diagnosis I’m able to see it in a different light and although I still struggle I’ve developed better organizational strategies (thanks phone reminders). Also a little self acceptance can do wonders. I always worried no one would love me because of my disorganization but my partner says “You just have a different relationship to the physical world”.

    • K says...

      I also have felt a lot of shame around being a woman and being messy and disorganized, those feeling definitely increased after getting married and having kids and somehow being a full time stay at home mom. It’s like how do I have this job that plays to none of my strengths, minus the actual parenting part which I know is most important, but its been surprising how much they other running a house stuff has discolored my stay at home esperience.

  56. em says...

    One tip for having a spotless, Instagram-worthy apartments as someone with ADHD (like me:) would be to get a rescue dog that chews anything that is left out! My home has never been so clean. LOL

  57. E says...

    My partner of 2 years was diagnosed with ADHD around the beginning of our relationship, and knowing the diagnosis has hugely helped our relationship grow and flourish. Behaviors of his that are irritating or confusing to me, are so much easier to work on together, or let go of when I see them as products him coping with a natural dopamine shortage rather than character flaws. Knowing that he’s a fully functional adult who still struggles with executive functioning allows me to focus on the many things I love about him and our partnership, rather than the fact he has *never* been early or on-time to a date.

    I would love to hear in a future article about strategies that adults with ADHD use in their marriage and co-parenting relationships. How do you make the sharing of household and parenting duties equitable?

  58. karen says...

    I come for the beautiful essays and return 10x’s a day for the comment section. I always learn so much!

  59. Mary says...

    It’s like you wrote my memoir! This. Exactly. I spent 3 hours last night trying to put my laundry away, so was floored to read this today. : )

    Having ADHD is really hard. But as messy as my room constantly is, I truly think it’s also been a kind of super power for me. I can so easily jump from thing to thing to thing and it’s allowed me to juggle starting two companies in the last 18 months and wear all the hats. Thank you so much for sharing and normalizing.

  60. Agnès says...

    Do I have ADHD? That essay is definitely disturbing. See, in France that’s not an actual condition it is more considered as a made up sort of syndrome, by american psychiatrists. And so I have always been conditioned to believe that. But I so recognize myself. There is hope! I will think about it…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it is absolutely 100% real!

    • Agnès says...

      I know it is real and in France psychiatrists recognize it but very rarely. We are so so so conditionned to think it is laziness or bad education. That essay really makes me think. Thank you so much.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Totally makes sense. Sending you a hug!

    • Capucine says...

      Ah, Agnes. It doesn’t feel so good to not be seen, to be dismissed! My husband is French and we spend several months at a time with his family there. There is indeed a cultural subtlety at work. As my kids grew up, if I wondered aloud about possible ADD/Autism/Dyslexia in my kids and the various cousins the way American moms idly do on playgrounds here, there was invariably a startled moment and then head shaking and laughter, ‘non non of course not, you Americans’! In my experience, I have noticed that mental-emotional struggles are dismissed more in France, while physical problems are honored more. (The influence of easy access to doctors for physical maladies can’t be understated, either, America only has that if you have money.) My theory is it could stem from the pride in resilience still running through the French culture after the world wars, when crumbling emotionally was out of the question but physical suffering was a legitimate complaint, whereas Americans have been succeeding in that same timeframe by a general culture of being curious and openly sharing and claiming something new for their own, since nobody has their family nearby after immigrating and war never came to the doorstep. In any case, it would be perfectly wise in MY eyes for you to research the lifestyle changes people with ADD make and add them to your own life. Medication would, quite obviously, be a separate struggle, but all folks with ADD need the lifestyle changes as well. Diet! Habits! Acceptance! May you thrive, whether your neighbors agree or not!

    • Agnès says...

      I so agree Capucine really interesting to read your insight. Thank you so much.

    • Séverine says...

      Hi Agnès, I live in Belgium where the view on ADHD is much the same as in France… Since I read the article yesterday, I am doing online search to find a neuropsychiatrist for a diagnosis… it’s not easy but I find there are a few now. I hope you’ll find assistance! Hauts-les-coeurs!

  61. C says...

    This is helpful, not because I have ADHD (I definitely do not), but because both of my long term partners have had/have it. It is so hard to relate why they are messy, scattered, and forgetful, and it’s a really hard balance to strike to be supportive and watch out for things falling through the cracks while not devolving into a nagging parent. This is especially true when I have offered a gentle reminder, then it still doesn’t get done, and something bad happens from it. The “I told you so” doesn’t need to be said to hang in the air.

  62. riye says...

    My “niece” has ADHD and its been a struggle for her and her parents, who are still having a hard time believing she’s not doing things to bug them. My friend (her mom) is trying to learn to pick her battles and not get mad over every single thing but its been tough for everyone. She responds really well to ADHD medication but struggles to remember to take it. Plus my niece is a teen and going through all those awkward/embarrassing/upsetting things that happen at that age. I wish I lived closer to them so that I could help.

  63. Jo says...

    Thank you for this. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD at 35 years old. I, too, am a woman and I too presented very differently than how ADHD is commonly portrayed.

    The biggest thing for me has been learning that people with ADHD, unlike those who don’t have it, really struggle to complete tasks that are “boring” (to them). I ALWAYS envied friends who had the attitude, “I don’t love it but it’s work, and it pays the bills.” I wanted to be able to do that so badly. But once something felt boring for me I could NOT stay focused. All of the sudden I was organizing my cabinets, throwing out old food in the fridge, folding wrinkling laundry I had done a few days prior, or looking up random stuff that had absolutely no relevance in my life. Oh that person I never responded to a week ago? Right now is a perfect time to do that! It was (and still is) so hard to finish tasks that are necessary but not necessarily pleasant.

    It’s a horrible cycle to not be able to get things done that need to get done. It’s real, and it makes life really hard. Imagine trying to accomplish things well into the late evening and eventually giving up, only to lie in bed with intense anxiety about all that still needs to be done / all that you didn’t do. So, after a restless night, you get up early the next morning – cutting into your already poor quality of sleep. Today is going to be the day you’re going to be productive! You’re going to cross *multiple* things off your list. Only, you struggle again. And then it’s nighttime again. And you decide to give in and get some sleep so you can “be better tomorrow.” And then you are lying in bed with anxiety….and so on, and so on. And you repeat that cycle every. single. day. That’s what it has been like for me. It has definitely played a part in my depression and anxiety. Unmanaged, living with ADHD can feel like you’re constantly playing catch up on “adult” things that need to get done (just getting your bills paid, your work done, your home cleaned), leaving little or no time for tasks that fulfill you as a human. So much empathy to everyone who has or is suffering. Good luck!!!

    • Jo says...

      \I just want to add that I have been on medication now for about two months. It has been life changing, truly. I’m still me, it’s not like I’m a natural and the things I struggled with before, but it feels like there’s something helping me stay on track. I feel more confident in my work product and I feel like I am capable of handling what needs to be handled. I haven’t had many side effects but admittedly, I’m still at a fairly low dose and have already had to increase it. Anyway, I have seen a few people ask about medication, and I am a proponent of at least trying it if you are interested, willing and able.

    • meg says...

      Can I ask how you went about getting a diagnosis? I’d like to talk to my RN about this but honestly I’m not sure if I’m just looking for an excuse for why I can’t manage my own life.

    • Elizabeth says...

      This is the exact cycle I’m in. It’s truly awful. Thank you for sharing.

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      Ooof yes, throwing old food out of the fridge is a big struggle for me and the constant feeling of trying to “catch up” on “adult” tasks is real. Sending empathy your way as well! xo

    • Jo says...

      I can’t figure out how to reply to Meg. So putting it here – hopefully you see it. I don’t know if you read the linked pieces in the original post, but they both touch on the reality that women are often doubted when it comes to this. I think a part of that reality is that we learn to self-doubt. If you feel like you can’t manage your own life, that is definitely worth taking seriously and exploring. Maybe it’s not ADD, maybe it’s something else. But we all deserve to be able to get through our day. Some of us need medication, some of us need therapy, some of us need both, some of us need something else – but whatever it is, you deserve to find out what you need. I think you should absolutely bring it up to your RN, and if they aren’t receptive, find a medical professional who is.

      I REALLY had to be my own advocate. I went to my insurance’s website and found a doctor in-network. I did not focus on finding someone with a lot of or amazing reviews. I just needed the cheapest person, and someone who could help me get formally evaluated. After my first meeting with the psychiatrist, I walked out with a prescription to an anti-depressant. After a couple days, I was like, No, I am going to get f**king tested if it’s the only thing I get done in 2020. So I called the psychiatrist back, told him I wanted to get formally evaluated so I could either rule ADD out or address it. I want to add that I am privileged to 1) have insurance, 2) have a therapist who is not only supportive but without whom I wouldn’t have even thought about exploring this – he asked me about 18 months ago if I had ever been tested for it – totally took me by surprise, and 3) have a job and was able to pay for this. It wasn’t crazy expensive, but it wasn’t cheap – every doctor’s visit and follow-up was $ and the evaluation itself cost me like $140 I think. Plus the medication is like $35 after insurance, so there are real costs involved. It was a lot of me calling to make sure I got the appointment, make sure I got the follow ups scheduled, etc. And I did go back in about a month after the initial evaluation to “re-test” the areas where I had scored really low on (only this time after taking medication). It was annoying doing all the calls to schedule my own follow-ups, and and a little intimidating to go back to the psychiatrist and say hey, I want to do this and I’m paying for it, so help me do it. But it was totally worth it.

      Elizabeth – I am so sorry to hear you’re in this awful cycle. I hope you’re able to get some relief soon.

    • K says...

      This is so very me and it brings tears to my eyes to read these words. I ask myself every day how do people do it, what is wrong with me that I’m a high functioning adult with a masters degree, but literally can’t go through bank statements, hang pictures, take care of life’s boring but necessary chores.

      What you said “I ALWAYS envied friends who had the attitude, “I don’t love it but it’s work, and it pays the bills.” I wanted to be able to do that so badly. “

    • Megan says...

      This comment is me to a T, and it’s so hard to explain to anyone who doesn’t have this struggle. It’s also why it took so long for me to realize this is my issue, and why I struggled in elementary/high school but flourished in college, and struggle again with job tasks that I find thankless and boring.

      The best thing about my (recent) diagnosis is that I can let go of beating myself up for not being able to do these things as others do, because it’s literally just that my brain works differently. It’s led to a really healthy self-acceptance and I’m profoundly grateful for that.

    • Sarah says...

      This This This This. I am an organized person, and I have a great memory. But work has been a struggle because if it’s boring WHY. But I’ve had such a hard time overcoming the inertia of working for myself or trying entrepreneurship. So I convince myself I have to stick it out in a job, but then my mental health spirals. I feel EXACTLY like you describe here.

  64. Maria Rowley says...

    10/10 relate to this. I was diagnosed with Inattentive Type ADHD at 32. It’s really so nice to read about a shared experience when you feel like, a lot of the time, you’re the only one around you who struggles like this.

    It’s hard work to remember (and act as if it’s true) that our productivity, our efficiency, our picture perfect anything, determines our worth. But it doesn’t, and thank goodness for that!!

  65. R says...

    I always struggled in school and college. I would have meltdowns while doing homework, could never finish my reading in time, failed to make seemingly easy concepts click in my head, etc. etc.

    It was so embarrassing because I knew I was smart, but I couldn’t get the grades I wanted. Oh, and I was often treated like I was stupid, which was even more humiliating.

    It wasn’t until I went to a psychiatrist for anxiety in my early 30s that I found out I had ADD. She asked me about school, and my self-esteem, and perfectly put into words everything I’d ever dealt with. Just knowing it isn’t “my fault,” that I’m not dumb or lazy, has been such a relief.

  66. Jo says...

    This might be too flippant a comment on such a great article, but I can’t not share this: did you know you can organize your tabs into groups in Chrome?? The frazzled feeling of literally having 50 tabs open has now melted into at least a veneer of organized calm for me. H/T to Haley Nahman for pointing this out in a recent newsletter–if she ever shares a way to group tabs in your brain I will come back with an update.

    • Fiona says...

      I had this SAME realization last week when I read her newsletter–it totally blew my mind…and I promptly forgot about it. Thank you for the reminder!

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      OMG I did *not* know this. Thank you for the tip! xo

  67. Just yesterday, I was getting mad that I can never complete tasks or projects that I know I’m capable of doing. The exact words I used when explaining it to my husband were “I hate that the only thing stopping me from being a thriving adult is me.” I’m forgetful. I loose things. I space out when people are talking. And I try so so hard not to. This article is wonderful food for thought and I think I’m going to bring it up with my doctor at my next appointment. Thank you.

  68. Anna says...

    Me too Taylor. Thanks CoJ. Thank you others who have commented practical coping strategies.

  69. jane says...

    I feel like the digital age has made this trend worse for everyone. Especially since devices are engineered to retain attention. I hate excess regulation but shouldn’t THIS be regulated somehow? Parents should be especially active on this front.

    I am really tired of the abuse silicon valley has subjected us to – so far without repercussion simply because of the boatloads of money this type of engineering generates. It is a real problem, in my opinion.

  70. Cate says...

    I was diagnosed with ADHD at 32, as a mom of three kids. Parenting made it clear that the tools I had taught myself to cope were no longer enough on their own. Medication changed my life. I cried the first day I was medicated. I could not believe I’d gone my whole life without it! I yelled at my husband, ‘how could you not tell me a brain could work like this?!’ I cried for my younger self, for how hard I was on her. And also for happiness, hope for my future.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is fascinating and amazing, cate!

    • Mollie says...

      As an unmedicated person with ADD, I’m dying to know: what does it feel like to be medicated? Could you give us an example of the day and how it felt? I am pregnant and plan to have another kid in the next few years so I am putting off start medication, but I am very curious.

    • c says...

      This is so common with women with ADHD – often we hold it together and figure out ways to cope/mask, but as adult tasks shift or get added it sometimes becomes too much. Often women are not diagnosed until after they become mothers!

      Mollie, for me medication literally feels like adjusting the focus on a camera. Unmedicated I can see and function, but with medication everything is completely in focus, and I can see things that I didn’t even realize were unfocused before. It did interfere with my sleep and ultimately I stopped taking it, but for me it was helpful to be on it for a few years and learn some better coping skills. For a lot of people it’s good long term, but wasn’t for me.

    • Michelle says...

      This is exactly how I felt the first day that I took medication for the anxiety that had been snowballing for five years. So glad you found something to help.

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      I’m so glad you found something that works! I just started taking Ritalin recently and am starting to notice a difference! (Of course, half the challenge is actually remembering to take it haha.)

    • Angie says...

      For me it feels like the huge amount of effort it takes me to initiate a task is hugely minimized and I can power through. Like my brain is no longer sluggish and fuzzy. I am also way less irritable. Yes the response above about things coming into focus is very apt. I was off meds for several years while pregnant & breastfeeding and it was very tough.

    • K says...

      Mollie, I agree with the camera analogy as well re: medication. It just makes me feel like I have the sharpness that comes from a cup of coffee, but for a sustained amount of time. I have done plenty of recreational drugs in my life and it feels nothing like the altered state that comes from that. I’m sure everyone responds differently, but that has been my experience. It’s been tremendously helpful.

    • Inbar says...

      I totally get that, me too, but you got there, better late than ever xx

    • I cried to the first day I took medication. I absolutely could not believe it. Sad for myself how hard I realised I was working at living, relieved to know that I was not useless but actually doing really well considering!

    • Katie says...

      The first week I took medication I cried each day when it kicked in. For me it felt like glasses for my brain. I don’t think people without ADHD have that kind of epiphany when they take stimulants. It’s reassuring in a way that ADHD is real. Before I took medication I was 90% sure I had it but after taking medication there was absolutely no doubt in my mind.

  71. Sara says...

    “For me, ADHD feels like sitting down at your computer to start a research paper about the Revolutionary War and somehow, you’ve managed to find yourself on the “Personal Life” section of Bobby Cannavale’s Wikipedia page.”

    TRUER WORDS NEVER SPOKEN. Curious to know if you’ve ever sought medication for ADHD? Also a scatterbrained 31 year old woman, without insurance and never been officially diagnosed but certain I suffer from the same disorder. Wondering if medication has helped?

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      Hi Sara! Yes, I recently started taking Ritalin and have started to notice a difference. Admittedly, it’s sometimes hard to discern because I also have anxiety and depression but anything that moves the needle just a bit helps! Medication can be pricey but if you look on GoodRx they have discounts––sometimes up to 70% off! xo

  72. CG says...

    This article resonated with me, too. My husband hates how messy I am, I would never remember to pay bills if he didn’t nag me to do it, I lose and forget things, and always have 50 tabs open on the computer other than work, and yet…I am successful at my job, my house is decently organized if never totally picked up, and I don’t usually forget big important things. I mostly just chalk it all up to having too much on my plate all the time with a full time job, three children, and lots of other interests. I just took some of those diagnostic quizzes and I don’t really meet the criteria. So I’d love to hear some recommendations for people who lean this way but probably would never merit a formal diagnosis.

    • Maryn says...

      I’m in the same camp, CG! I feel like I experience a lot of the symptoms of ADHD, but I talked to my therapist about them and she was pretty confident that they stem from perfectionism and anxiety rather than ADHD. Wish I had answers for you.

    • Brooke says...

      Totally resonating with this.

  73. Claire says...

    I’m a full-time student in my forties, and I just had a conversation with my advisor in which I told her that I feel like I’m in high school again. I was never a good studier, though I have really good grades. I spend so much time getting in the weeds about tiny inconsequential things that I’ve begun missing deadlines, and that ain’t good. She asked me if I’d ever been diagnosed with ADHD, something I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

    I just cannot get organized, no matter how much I try to tackle the piles on my desk and around my house. I always manage to squeak by, but I’m always so scattered that I feel like I’m going nuts most of the time. Thank you for putting this down. It made me feel seen (by myself!) in a way that’s hard to describe. I went ahead and reached out to my doctor right after reading this. Fingers crossed that I can get out of my own way!!

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      So glad to hear it, Claire! Good luck and sending a virtual hug your way. xo

  74. R says...

    Thank you for this article! I have two nieces and their ADHD presents the same way. It was a struggle for them to get an accurate diagnosis. Women also present differently for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and often aren’t diagnosed until much later than males. This is why it matters to have more women be part of scientific studies! I would be grateful for a similar article from a person diagnosed with ASD later in life and their experience. We are currently going through this with my daughter and would love to hear other experiences, both in an article and in the comments (which are always of such high caliber!).

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      So much YES to this! Women have historically been left out of scientific/health research at every conceivable level. Rooting for you and your daughter. xo

    • Rita says...

      Thank you so much for this post, I think this is me as well, even though undiagnosed and untreated, but I have long suspected it.
      I think a lot of hacks have helped me improve recently, my main struggles are long-winged projects and emails – I read productivity tips of all kinds, but I just don’t know how other people manage to forget to reply to half of them, and all articles about it seem targeted at people with way different concerns…

      ( I also say “phone, keys, wallet” every day before leaving the house, and it has worked for years, my bf fails at this so often and I get this smug smile like “once in my life, I am on it!”)

  75. Leah says...

    Thank you for writing this. My husband was diagnosed with ADD at 34. We have been together since we were 20 and it was a very up and down fourteen years. Your description of coming out of a fog after your diagnosis is exactly what he has described and his life. Since diagnosis his life (and our relationship) have improved more than I could describe.

    Now, we are certain my 9 year old daughter has ADD – the innattentive type you describe. We feel so grateful to know this when she is so young so that we can support her and research how to best to foster strong self esteem, patience with herself and routines that will serve her well as she grows up. But, honestly it is so scary at the same time. She is a gifted girl – she read young and voraciously, is creative, sweet, funny, silly and beautiful. But she struggles to stay focused, her room is insane and she feels terrible about herself about it all. I want only for her to see herself as you seem to now – a human who will have her own set of struggles that are okay, but also her own gorgeous strengths.

    Anyway, I just want to say thank you for this. It brings me incredible hope.

    Leah

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      Oh my goodness, this made me well up! Your daughter is so lucky to have such supportive, loving parents. Wow. Thank you for this. xo

  76. Sisu Garcia says...

    AS always Cup of Jo seems to read my mind on what is necessary for me to read. I am almost 28 and I was diagnosed with ADHD about two months ago and it is so weird and frustrating to have found out about it until now but also such a relief. It makes things in my life make so much sense. And As Taylos Says, I also have never been what one usually (sterotypically, i might say) thinks of ADHD. But looking back and learning about the other ways ADHD manifests it is ALL there. All of it. I have managed up til now mostly through fear of failure and a bunch of anxiety not to complete fail at things but I always felt I was falling short and unable to commit to my own personal projects because there was no outside pressure for me. I am now getting medication for this and looking into it in therapy (before I was only going for my anxiety which turns out is a symptom of ADHD!) so hopefully things will start looking up and I will get the necessary tools to manage this!

  77. A says...

    Hello,

    Thank you for sharing your story. Every time there is one person sharing his story, it helps dozen seen that they are not alone ! This is so important!

    Here is some reference as some people ask: The adult ADHD tool kit (from Russel Ramsay), Mastering Your Adult ADHD: A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program (Safran) or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adult ADHD (Solanto). Sure it helps to have a therapist (those books are really huge) but you can pick up thematics you want to target.

    Medication is great, therapy helps to understand and change habits… but sometimes we have to be more gentle with ourselves and accept what makes “me”, what is due to my personality. A pleasant journey to everyone!

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      Thank you so much for these resources! Looking forward to checking them out. :)

  78. Steph says...

    I’m in my early 30’s and recently started seeing a therapist to address my ADD. I was diagnosed in my teens, but thought I would outgrow it and thought I had since I have been successful at work. However, now I’m in nursing school full-time, working part-time, have a daughter with special needs from a rare genetic disorder, a husband, etc., and I very often feel like I’m drowning. I was diagnosed with ADD again and started taking medication and it does help so much. It does not fix anything but makes me feel a bit closer to the surface. This therapist also helped me discover my anxiety was really a symptom of my unmanaged ADD and not a solo diagnosis. It’s so hard, but it gets easier. I hope.

    • Isabelle says...

      Hi Steph,
      I’m glad things are getting better for you, you’re being very brave!
      I’ve been diagnosed in my early forties and I’m so glad I’ve been, I feel so much better now !
      Medication and therapy have helped a lot and for the first time in years, I feel proud of myself.
      I’m a single mom raising 2 teenage girls who also have ADHD. I try to teach them the silver linings of the condition and there are so many; believe me, things will get better every day! I (not so secretly) think we are better humans than the “neurotypicals”, more accomplished and interesting 🤗

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      Hi Steph! I agree with you re: medication. I recently started taking it and while it’s not a cure-all, it does make things a tiny bit better, which to me, is the goal. Sending empathy and support your way! xo

  79. Amanda says...

    I can relate to this… I was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) two years ago when I was 36yrs. NF1 is a “childhood” cancer that I should have know about a very long time ago. A random pain in my arm (from a tumor pressing on a nerve, ouch!) started the ball rolling and I was able to be diagnosed. It explained SO MUCH about who I am.
    A few examples of the symptoms (that I have) are: Flat, light brown spots on the skin (cafe au lait spots), clusters of freckles, tiny bumps on the iris of the eye (Lisch nodules) – eye doc told me I had freckles on my eyes, Soft, pea-sized bumps on or under the skin (neurofibromas), Learning disabilities, Poor balance – for me this applies to riding bike! and poor spatial awareness. I list these since they all seem so random to each other, it may give a reader some insight!!

  80. Ramona says...

    I’m not saying this to make any statement….but I remember growing up (in the 60’s) people used to say some kids were “quirky” and it just makes me wonder how many of them actually were on the Autism spectrum or had some other challenging learning issue? I think we’ve become much better at diagnosing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!! so many kids were left to fend for themselves because they were undiagnosed. I’m so glad more kids these days are getting the tools and therapies they need. xoxoxox

  81. Becky says...

    There are 60 tabs open on my phone, some duplicates because I forgot I already looked them up. I keep so many tabs because I have every intention of coming back to them but hardly ever do. Sometimes I’ll screen shoot things but won’t remove them until I’m purging my phone months later. I have all the time in the world to read my books but reading my verbose dry graduate textbooks are pure torture. Usually I remember to write a grocery store list when I’m reading them then forget the list when I need it. The grocery store is a whole other level of stress.
    When I was in my early twenties I did see a physician about adhd (constant foot tapping, anxiety, feelings of unaccomplishment) but was discouraged from medicine and I never thought to ask for some behavioral suggestions. But honestly I was told I was such a good student with high drive why would I need to fix what wasn’t broken.
    Thank you for this article. Something to chat with my newly found therapist about in the next session. I always tucked it under a rug but now is the time to address it. Thank you.

    • Kat says...

      I set my tabs to auto close after 1 day (if you have an iPhone, it’s under settings -> safari) and OH MY LIFE! I feel so much less weighed down by all the “should” in my browser.

      Also… being a good student so why would you need to fix what wasn’t broken – it made me so frustrated to read that others have had this response too! it’s just… not helpful. At a time when you’re actively asking for help. Attainment is not the only thing that matters! (And as a very insightful friend of mine put it, it says something kind of gross about capitalism that *that* is the threshold for being seen to need help). Argh.

  82. Maureen says...

    Like so many others who have commented here, I can completely relate to this article. For a while now I have strongly suspected I have inattentive ADHD. I have always had real problems focusing, to the point where I never really studied for school or university exams – I always just managed to stumble through them. I am ridiculously easily distracted: the writer’s anecdote about getting lost down an internet rabbit hole is too relatable (this trait has got me in trouble in jobs). My time management skills are appalling. My husband is always admonishing me for not listening or seeming to be on another planet. The thing is, I absolutely hate being this way – I have spent my entire life wishing I was different, wishing I could focus, and have tried so hard to change. I have found some techniques which have helped but the cloudy brain is always there, waiting to drag me down. I haven’t been to the doctor because I suspect I wouldn’t be taken seriously or my problem wouldn’t be viewed as severe enough, particularly right now in the middle of a pandemic (I live in the UK and our National Health Service is completely overstretched).

    • Claire says...

      Oh my gosh me too, me too, me too!!!

    • jane says...

      Diet hugely affects brain fog or cloudy brain as you called it. Try avoiding fats, grains, flour and sugar and smashing fruits and vegetables for a month and see if you feel clearer.

      I love cheese (fat) but I know I will be mentally useless for at least a whole day after eating it. Sad but true.

    • Dan says...

      This article (https://amp.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/02/the-lost-girls-chaotic-and-curious-women-with-adhd-all-have-missed-red-flags-that-haunt-us) had the most hauntingly accurate description of ADHD internet rabbit holes I’ve ever seen:

      “On a good day, it’s like watching a train whizz past you while you’re trying to read the text on the side and make out faces in the windows. On a bad, a bird might land in front of you. Curious, you pull out your phone, Google the bird and get stuck in a “pigeons of the world” vortex. You discover cassowary eggs are bright green and in 2005, UK police found a leg of swan in the Queen’s Master of Music’s freezer. Two terrine recipes later, the train has long passed and night has fallen. Dazed, you sink under a dark cloud of self-loathing, lamenting another lost day. You don’t remember what kind of bird it was.”

      Attitudes have changed a lot in recent years. I hope you are able to speak to someone about your struggles and get the validation you deserve!

    • bainbridge says...

      Thank you so much, Dan – that article was a giant light bulb of recognition for me.

  83. K says...

    This article spoke to me on so many levels and I see myself in so many of the author’s experiences. I say “phone, keys, wallet” to myself whenever I leave a location, but what has really saved me on many occasions is a lockbox outside my apartment with an apartment key.
    I’d love to hear about women’s experiences with getting a formal diagnosis/ finding coping mechanisms – as a woman with these traits, the process seems overwhelming.

  84. TLS says...

    I am really grateful for this today. My desk looks like an excel spreadsheet explosion, I have 2 bedrooms full of clothes I am going to sell on the internet, just got done reading about the inauguration on the internet – all while I am sitting with a work project due tomorrow and realizing this might be me as well. I actually feel like seeing a therapist may be one more thing on the ‘to do’ list I won’t get done. Will medication help focus, or does it somehow mute your energy? I am interested in which medications anyone is having success with? Thank you so much for this today!

    • Mac says...

      Hi hi. For me, a diagnosis and knowledge and therapy helped in innumerable ways. I tried many different medications with no luck-I’m so sensitive to stimulants that I don’t even drink Coke-it makes me feel buzzy and awful, and Strattera helped a bit, but not enough to make the side effects worth it. But! My brothers both use Adderall and it’s been hugely helpful. One of them described the difference to his attention as using a scalpel instead of a butter knife. Both get the job done, but one much more elegantly.

    • Isabelle says...

      I’d say medication just makes you a more focused person. I’m still energetic, creative and full of ideas.

    • C says...

      I took Adderall for several years and the scalpel/butter knife comparison Mac used really nailed it. One issue I had with it was that it turned my anxiety up a few notches and also wasn’t great for my sleep. I stopped taking it a few years ago because I got pregnant and just didn’t start up again, but I would happily give it another try.

  85. Marie-Eve says...

    Thank you for this! I totally relate to what you shared! I recently read a book about ADD by Gabor Mate and felt that it completely described me and I am pretty sure I have ADD. Like you, I have always been a straight A student, but I get distracted so easily that I am late in my work projects and get anxiety about it. I have a million of ideas and feel like I am constantly distracted by the next shiny object. I am very disorganized and feel shame when I see those perfect house on IG. I so wish I could have a beautiful, organized home… I look at the stuff in the house and don’t know where to start! When I decide to declutter it becomes an even bigger mess…. Where to put things? How to organize?? I am 40 and my partner always tell me that I am a teenager because of my mess (which I find super insulting, its not like I do it on purpose). However, I have to say that as a mom, I function very well. My kids are my no 1 priority, I have no trouble remembering that its gym day, that they need to bring this or that to school, their appointments and other things. Its like my brain can focus on what is judged important, but is unable to focus for other things… Thank you again for sharing, I feel less alone in all of this!!

  86. Ann says...

    This is so refreshing to read. My older son has ADD-In-Attentive type and he lost his wallet the day before Christmas. He was so frustrated with himself. Thank you for this.

  87. lauryn says...

    Wow, I just turned 30 this past July and I feel so seen. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD but my sister and I have always suspected our dad has gone undiagnosed since he was a child. In the last few years, I have grown so exasperated with the weight of daily or weekly tasks and I really put the PRO in procrastination. I feel so forgetful and spacey at times, like I’m losing my mind. My boyfriend often says “it’s because you’re in your head so much.” Yet, all my coworkers and bosses tell me I am “organized”. Nope – just overcompensating AF. I am encouraged by this post and these comments that I am not alone. The idea that ADHD might manifest in other ways than we’ve been conditioned to think, especially for women.

    • Can So relate! I feel as if I have a degree in Procrastination!!!!
      I call myself a teenager, cos that is how it feels….oh thats ok, I will do eventuallyts or it can be done another day etc etc

  88. ange says...

    I am 50 and only realized that ADHD had been a factor in my life in the last decade or so as it has come into public awareness. I’ve always been anti-medication but even if I hadn’t been it is very unlikely I would ever have been correctly diagnosed as an older woman.

    The sheer amount of mental and emotional trauma I’ve endured, battling what I’ve always worried was “laziness” is boggling. Not to mention incredibly exhausting. I remember thinking when I was 20, “I am so tired. How will I make a life?”. I was forced to rely on sheer grit. Many many times in my 20’s and 30’s I used to wish there was a meter that could measure stress and wondered if I was simply being a baby or – was I the strongest woman in the world? I can laugh now but it was seriously no joke back then. By my 4o’s I had both learned to cope fairly well and accepted what I “could not change” as well as finally begun to realize that I might have ADD.

    A few insights I was able to capture along the way: In my case I feel like benign parental neglect and the panic that caused in me as a child plays a giant role. I needed their attention and didn’t get it and likely the very self-sufficiency I was forced to develop too early led them to think I was fine without their interaction. Big mistake. I am only sharing for the benefit of the parents who may read this and can understand that children REQUIRE love and attention. Not helecoptering – but consistent love, affection and engaged attention. They cannot just be abandoned to devices or tv, even if they protest.

    The other coping factor I’ve employed has been to hire a personal organizer/house cleaner if things get out of hand. Before I learned how to use this technique as a foundation for recalibration afterwards, it was too difficult to do myself, though Marie Kondo’s strategic system is Genius if things are not too out of control. I LOVE her so much. I say, just hire a Konmari pro if you can. Give yourself that gift.

    From my meditation practice – highly recommended for ADD people – I learned that once the space is sorted I can apply the practice of mindfulness to the idiom, “a place for everything and everything in it’s place”. It is really obvious that a mindfulness practice is key to eliminating many housekeeping/life organizational issues. A calendar/life organizer is crucial. As a teen I could simply not function without my daybook. Now I rely upon my phone but still like to keep a paper version on my desk at home.

    • ange says...

      To be honest I’ve actually been considering trying a round of ADD medication just to 1: see if it actually helps and 2: get through this especially challenging time right now without melting down entirely. This is a big decision for me, ideaologically. I am really not into pharmaceuticals but accept that emergencies could possibly be ok. It’s a meditation lately.

      Taylor you don’t mention anything about medication – I’d love to know your thoughts on the topic. Have you tried any of them or are you considering it?

    • Lisa H says...

      This is very much my story too. I’m 59, and have had a lifetime of it. No female my age would have been diagnosed with anything like ADHD. It wasn’t until my daughter sought help from our family doctor, that I found that both of my children had, what is now called inattentive ADHD. I immediately realized that I was the same.

      Benign neglect indeed, I pretty much raised, and educated myself.
      My older sister was an incredible student, without any assistance needed from anyone. When I began school, my parents never considered that I might need support. I fell farther behind every year, which wasn’t helped when my family moved multiple times. My self esteem suffered greatly. I ended up leaving home at 17, and married at 19. I am lucky that my husband turned out to be a great husband and father.

      In the past decade, I’ve taken time to work through a lot of my feelings about the past. I’m sad about what I missed out on, and mistakes i made, but grateful that my life turned out well. I forgave my parents, they gave of themselves in other ways.

      As for coping now, I have to say I’m struggling. I retired right before the pandemic. I have family responsibilities, with beautiful grandchildren, but I would benefit from a more regular routine. I was counting on my group fitness classes, my book group, and regular get togethers with friends. The rabbit hole of the news, and the internet is intense. It’s hard for me to pull away from. I am really not able to tune out current events, and what a year of it!

    • ange says...

      Lisa H, are you considering medication?

    • Lisa H says...

      I’m not really considering meds. I feel that when the pandemic is over, and a more regular routine is possible, that my life will feel better. Not working-being retired means my responsibility is only to myself, and my family. It might be different if I had work obligations I was letting fall through the cracks.
      I also hope that now the inauguration is over, and competent leadership is in place, I won’t need to expend all of my mental energy trying to solve our country’s problems!

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      Hi Ange! Yes, I recently started taking Ritalin. I wouldn’t say it’s “life-changing” but it certainly helps increase my focus. I’m still deciding if I think it’s effective enough to continue using but in the meantime, am just taking it day by day. xo

  89. Erin says...

    I was diagnosed with ADHD in my early 20s, during my fourth college and fourth attempt to finish my bachelor’s degree. I had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety in the past, but neither of those captured the sinking black hole I felt trapped in as I’d fall behind on easy assignments I couldn’t motivate myself to “just get done.” In high school, regular deadlines, generous teachers, and the occasional lie kept the chaos hidden. I was successful at different jobs and would tell myself and others, “I love working but just hate school,” knowing that wasn’t the full story. Once I read a piece similar to this and advocated for my own diagnosis and medication, my life was transformed. Now, I’m 26 and able to better direct my own passion, curiosity, and energy- and I will be graduating with my Bachelors in June!! Thanks for sharing your story.

  90. Ashleigh says...

    Thanks for this. I loved it.

  91. C says...

    Wow, this is beautiful and as many others have noted I also feel very seen! I was diagnosed around the age of 30 myself. I also work as a therapist now and have worked with countless women who have had similar experiences. For me the biggest challenge was the crushing perfectionism and anxiety I developed to overcompensate and “mask” my ADHD. I’ve addressed all of that now through a combination of therapy and medication (though I am not on medication anymore) and am so much more content and happy.

  92. Lola says...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! My whole life shifted into perspective when I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 32 – and the more I learn about it, the more I understand myself.
    One thing I *do* find frustrating, and I wonder if other high-power women notice the same: all of the hints/tips/tricks I read about I’ve already rolled into my life; it’s how I cope/d. I don’t need suggestions for making lists – I have years of lists in notebooks on my shelf.
    But what do I do when the world is spinning so far out of control that I give up on my lists? How do I address that deep, underlying paralysis of the mind that makes me fall asleep rather than think about what’s in front of me?
    (Not rhetorical questions – I’m grateful for any suggestions from this supportive community. Maybe the world will even stop spinning out of control on a weekly basis soon…!)

    • ange says...

      Please see my long comment above but in a word: meditation. A mindfulness practice is not only calming but really does allow you to learn to focus. You have to allow yourself to be a beginner however. That means allowing time for your skill at meditation to grow. The beautiful thing though is that it’s like yoga – it’s not about the flex ; ) it’s about the practice itself. The PRACTICE what meditation is. There is no destination. Only the mechanics of the practice. Like a mental fidget spinner, in a way.

    • C says...

      Totally agree with Ange. ADHD is so often accompanied by anxiety and mindfulness has been so helpful to me in keeping myself in (or bringing myself back to) the present moment to the task at hand. I feel like mindfulness is a term that gets tossed around so much that it almost loses its meaning, but it finally clicked for me not too long ago. Also, medication can be really helpful. For me, medication allowed me the opportunity to quiet my brain enough to really put some of the more brain-based coping skills into practice.

  93. Adel says...

    LOVE this!! As someone who is the opposite of ADHD but as surrounded by it as you can get- husband, best friend, children, and my job! As a psychologist, I treat children with ADHD. I literally live with second hand ADHD all day- there is not enough emphasis put on the gifts of ADHD. Most of my ADHD people are creative, energetic, spontaneous, loving, forgiving, present in the moment (no mindfulness exercises needed here!), kind, understanding- and so much fun! Annoying to live with at times? Maybe- but so am I with my overachieving, sometimes rigid, CEO like personality- who’s to say my way is better? Just because I seem more put together and may accomplish more “on paper” with my life? Let’s celebrate these wonderful people in our lives (at prevalency rates of 7-10%, chances are everyone loves someone with ADHD) and focus on their sparkling strengths- because they are so beautiful!

    • Emma says...

      This was such a lovely comment, Adel! I recently started dating a man with ADHD and I love that you see all the good that comes along with it. We are quite opposite in the same way you state, so it’s a very unique balance as we get to know each other. But I always feel like he is fully present and focused with me, so incredibly thoughtful and he really is a blast to be with. It’s a part of who he is and I like everything that comes along with him!

    • Kimmie says...

      Oh man, this made me tear up. I have never given any thought to the positives living with adhd, but reading your words right now, I feel a little calmness and self-love.

      Thank you.

    • Jana says...

      I feel the same way! I’m a speech pathologist and work with so many people who have diagnosed or go on to get diagnosed with adhd. We’ve also started questioning it in my son. I’ve loved the reading I’ve done on “neurodiversity”. It is frequently used to talk about Autism, but adhd is right in there with being a part of neurodiversity in humans. Fall down that internet rabbit hole – you won’t regret it!

    • lee says...

      Thank you for this comment Adel! I’m super type A, overachieving and rigid and my husband has ADHD (the inattentive type). He has taught me so much–how to be more gracious and forgiving and how to be more in the moment. He also says “phone, keys wallet” every day and every time before he leaves the house. His life really changed when he got on medication and then when he started working with a sort of ADHD life coach who gave him a lot of tools and systems to work.

      What I find so frustrating is that most work environments don’t understand how to accommodate folks with ADHD–my husband works such long hours and is expected to produce at the same level of folks who don’t have ADHD. I just wish that more workplaces were accepting of different work styles and paces!

    • Adel says...

      I’m so happy to hear about all of your experiences! @Lee- it’s really tough to see someone you love being underappreciated at work because they are only seen for their weaknesses. My husband struggled with that a lot too until he became his own boss, and is thankfully doing quite well now. Alas, a luxury not all have. Another thing about people with ADHD is that they produce best when under pressure and at the last minute. We- their bosses, friends, spouses and loved ones- need to realize and appreciate this. As an organized “precrastinator” it used to drive me nuts. But I’ve learned that my husband/best friend/daughter- will get done what they need to- at their pace, in their way. It’s my job to give them grace, in the same way they give me grace when I mess up in my way.

  94. Louisa says...

    After being home with my husband 24-7 for this pandemic, I am on the brink of divorce. He rarely puts things away; rarely finishes the laundry he starts; rarely pays a bill on time; his home office is horrifically messy; I cannot rely on him for so many things. And last week while talking with my therapist, she asked “so has he ever had a formal diagnosis?” “of what?” “ADD?” “Oh he can focus on things he wants to focus on…” “Yes, exactly. That’s ADD.” MIND. BLOWN. This article is so timely for me.

    I don’t know what to do with this information, but it feels like a ray of light.

    • honore says...

      Let him read this post and the comments. People want to be well.

  95. Gill says...

    Thank you for this! I’ve thought I’ve had ADHD for some time now…the disorganization, the inability to focus and prioritize, losing everything. How does one go about getting diagnosed or starting that conversation/any tips if you can’t access a professional to help you out (because I’m an american and live in a country where health care is not a basic human right).

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      Hi Gill! I think reaching out to a medical professional is the first step in terms of seeking a diagnosis but I wouldn’t hesitate to be transparent about your financial situation. So many other people are in the same boat as you and there are so many professionals who are willing to be flexible or offer a sliding scale if need be. In the meantime, I find a lot of support and comfort in ADHD Instagram accounts like @adhd_alien and @authenticallyadhd. Rooting for you! xo

  96. M says...

    I love this and all conversations about neurodiversity! As a person who lives with people with ADHD I’m wondering advice about the emotional regulation aspect. It seems so hard for my loved ones, but also it’s really hard to be on the receiving end of big emotions so often! I probably need to read some books :) but wondering if anyone has anecdotal advice…

    • Danielle says...

      The book Focusing Forward by James Ochoa might help for you both. The stuff about the emotional regulation aspect of ADHD was enlightening for me. There’s also a Taking Control podcast episode with him about this that was helpful.

    • Hi there! The emotional regulation aspect of ADHD is a relatively new association but one that is really difficult to manage . I don’t know how you feel about medication but besides coaching, therapy or other supports there are some new medications that support exactly the issue of emotional regulation, hyper arousal etc…. Stimulants tend not to be as effective on this particular ADHD symptom but recently well informed physicians have supplemented with a non stimulant group of medications called “alpha agonists” . I am not sure if I am allowed to mention drug names here but If you research ” emotional regulation ADHD women” you should get some good articles from reputable sources dedicated to ADHD like “Attitude Magazine” etc… This supplementation has been a game changer for many women who experience excellent results for focus and concentration but little relief of the emotional dis-regulation. It often works so well that dosages of stimulants are lowered. More than an anecdote but when I saw your comment I had to respond. :-)

    • I realized that your comment was how to work with others but maybe the information in my previous comment will be helpful to them. I just wanted to clarify. It may have been mentioned by now but I highly recommend “DIVERGENT MIND” by Jenara Nerenberg. It is a fascinating and easy read (or listen) for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of neurodiversity.

    • sandra says...

      Thank you Anastasia! Great tips

  97. Olivia says...

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!!!!!!!!!! I am a 28 yo woman and have been putting off (lol, of course) an appointment specifically for ADHD evaluation the past few months. My brother and sister growing up were “obviously” ADHD – hyperactive, leg shaking, losing everything, talkative. I thought I had escaped that beast. But as I get older, and am working, I am realizing that I am constantly working so much harder to achieve so much less than I know I am capable of. It took watching my husband effortlessly do simple things for me to realize for some people it really IS that easy. Is it too millennial to admit that it took an ADHD meme page, where I recognized myself in SO many, that this could be me? I have asked my husband to sit with me so I can finally (finally!!!!) complete the intake form to see someone

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      Some of the most spot-on representation I’ve seen has been via meme accounts! They’ve been enormously helpful in articulating how I feel and I constantly send them to my bf. :)

  98. Wendy says...

    Thank you for this- finally, after sitting in my own brain and space while working from home this past year, I was able to label what kept me struggling as ADHD. Having the name has helped so much- I can look for support and suggestions from people who understand why ‘normal’ tips/ advice just simply will not help someone who is neurodivergent, and I’m learning how many different ways it affects someone. It has helped me reconcile with my younger self, who was looking for coping tactics, and start to forgive the feelings of shame and misunderstanding. I love hearing about other adults who are learning, too!

  99. Laura says...

    Thank you for this. I was diagnosed as a child after my father was diagnosed. He spent a lifetime trying to figure out why things were always such a mess. The gentle support I have received from those who love and understand me is one of the greatest gifts in my life. Now, as a 40-year-old mother of two children who delight in how different I seem from other mothers, I am so grateful to continue to have this portion of my character acknowledged and appreciated.

    Please be bold and continue to love what makes you unique, Taylor.

  100. Chelsea says...

    I’m finally realizing this about myself and struggling to figure out next steps. I see many of the same things- seems like high achiever but feel like I’m underperforming and able to mostly mask the issue. The really hard part is now getting assessed and finding a provider during a pandemic when I’ve never seen a mental health professional previously. Google can only get you so far and I’ve been told already by one place they aren’t doing testing until they can do in person appointments but going a few more months feels awful when I’m fixated on this. Any tips on actually starting that search are welcome!

    • Sam says...

      Hi Chelsea! I great tool I like for therapy resources is the search function on PsychologyToday.com. It sounds weird, but you can filter by location, insurance, therapy style, you name it! It’ll give you a curated list of therapists in your area that you can contact directly from the site, and will often list whether they are currently taking new patients or not. I find it nice to have a list in case someone isn’t a good fit or isn’t available, you don’t have to start from scratch again, and have helped friends find therapists this way as well. I wish you well in your search!

    • Wendy says...

      Chelsea- I feel ya! It took me months to connect with my psychiatrist , co-work group and therapist who has a focus on ADHD, but I’m so happy with them.
      I don’t know where you live, but the co-work session I do once a week has people from all over on the zoom, you can sign up for it on Monday for the Wednesday free session
      https://m.facebook.com/ADHDCollective
      If its ok to share that stuff here!

    • Chelsea says...

      Thank you, Sam! I used psychology today and was able to schedule an initial consult for Tuesday. So grateful! I’ll also be checking out that resource group, Wendy. Thank you so much!

  101. Lauren says...

    I’m in my mid thirties and was also diagnosed with ADHD at 30! I relate so much to everything you have written. Thanks to Cup Of Jo for posting this!

  102. Marie says...

    40 years old ADHD Engineering PhD here! I feel so seen by this article! I will tell you though, that while I am not “cured”, after having two boys in quick succession on my late 20’s I was able to make many changes to focus on what’s important… Did I tell you that I went to grad school and completed the PhD when my boys were 9-10 years old? I still do a terrible job of putting clothes away, when I remember to fold them in time they sit on top of the drier for a week and that’s where my boys look for them. I have day of the month set aside to paying ALL bills, after having many months stressed about not taking the few minutes to pay the electric bill. I just remember that they still need to go schedule the boys yearly physicals… Thank you for this <3

    • june2 says...

      I respectfully submit that 9-10 year olds are exactly old enough to fold the laundry for you, taking that chore, at least, off your plate entirely. If you don’t begin to delegate how will they learn to be useful humans? *disclaimer: spoiled boys are a pet-peeve of mine so 🙏

    • Amanda says...

      Not related to ADHD, but as a 31-year-old currently contemplating going to grad school to do what would be a pretty major career change, I LOVE hearing about people who went to school “later” in life and how they made it work! Thanks for sharing.

  103. Steph Gilman says...

    This really hits. I just found out a few weeks ago, as a 32-year-old, that I also have ADHD. (Honestly, it’s ironic to read this. The reason I’m here reading this article right now is because I’m distracting myself from my real work. And I also have 22 tabs open on my computer.) I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression and OCD-like symptoms since I was a kid and adding a new diagnosis at first felt really disorienting. I had figured out my identity as someone who needs extra help and therapy for depression. But now this new diagnosis reveals another layer of my story. I’m realizing ADHD has been there for a very long time and that each additional diagnosis has probably fed the others. I’m a writer too and for a long time I’ve had this inability to be productive in any quick or easy way, and I am constantly comparing myself to other successful women (my favorite bad habit is looking up writers I admire to see when they published their first book and how impressive their LinkedIn looks and how many followers they have and how many big words they use in their New Yorker articles)…it’s exhausting and defeating. But with this diagnosis, I feel just like you said…like I’ve emerged from a heated sauna. Now I’m trying to figure out how to help myself through it, alongside my amazing therapist. Ideally without medication.

    • Ana D says...

      One vote for meds. I love my meds. I need them and they help me. Without my meds, I can still “get by” but I’m surviving with very little shot at thriving. Some people with diabetes need insulin, some people who have mental illness and/or are neurodivergent need medication too.

    • Catherine says...

      Hi Steph:

      So glad you have a wonderful therapist! To second Ana’s comment: my undiagnosed ADHD has always been apparent but I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar 2 at 34 years old – 1 year ago. It was a complete shock. Medication is revolutionary for me – I feel physically lighter (like I finally unloaded a weighted backpack and kicked off my cinderblock boots), less obsessive, and less anxious. Certain menial daily tasks like putting a dishwasher away no longer feel insurmountable as the anxiety is in check (more than before, at least) and I am actually able to take a moment to envision the plan and process and relief of the outcome. I feel better than I’ve maybe ever felt in my life.

      I am also diabetic (T2) and just like those meds aid my body in processing sugar more efficiently, my “happy pills” help to stabilize my brain’s chemical functions. I hope that you continue to feel better – you deserve it!

      I also recognize my privilege to have access to this care and I believe we need to make this a priority for our fellow Americans. Thanks, Taylor Trudon for sharing this and thank you, Cup of Jo, for advocating!

    • Steph Gilman says...

      Thanks, Ana! Totally understand, and I’m so glad it has helped you thrive! Medicine changed my life when I started them 17 years ago. I’ve been on many different types of antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds since I was 15. I decided to try weaning off of them and this year managed to do so with the support of my therapist. It’s been a nice change for a little while and I’d love to see if my body and brain can find another type of support without meds for awhile before getting back on them. (We also may have a kid in the next few years.) Someday maybe!

  104. CC says...

    I’m sitting here, crying at my slightly messy desk, compelled to comment for the first time. I’d like to stand up and raise my hand and admit I also have very severe ADHD, and yet I’m a high functioning law student who had a highly successful career before law. I struggled for years before being diagnosed later in life, after feeling less than for so long. I have learned that ADHD can be a blessing, and a curse. I Have a lightening fast brain and process information much quicker than my peers but often forget to pay my bills. Ultimately, because women like you have begun to speak up, I no longer feel so ashamed at the oddities and quirks ADHD asks us to live with. My brain and my contributions are gifts, just as everyone else’s. I’m grateful to you for sharing your story so I could to.

    • Taylor Trudon says...

      “My brain and my contributions are gifts, just as everyone else’s.” I couldn’t agree more. Messy brains = good brains. :)

    • rose says...

      CC I feel for you. If you haven’t yet gotten a diagnosis of course you must do that but your comment highlights to me the way men traditionally got married at the beginning of their careers because it was obvious they would never be able to succeed at work without an entirely other, whole, second person to manage the meals and laundry and household, etc. No one expected them to be able to do it all themselves. That modern women expect to be responsible for it ALL is simply silly.

      Just hire a PA. It’s not that expensive. You can find virtual ones but also you can just hire an actual person, part-time even. They are available at ANY BUDGET. It is a practical necessity that doesn’t even require marriage. Same goes for housekeeping, btw.

      Alternatively you can hire one to set-up automatic bill pay, if nothing else.

      I know how difficult it is to think of obvious solutions when one is overwhelmed. But that’s what friends are for : )