ADHD sucks, but it’s often treated as the disorder everyone and their kid brother has. When it’s on television, the actor portraying it often is jumping off the wall, he’s easily distracted, and he is almost always a man.
I have yet to see a portrayal of a woman with the inattentive type of ADHD.
It’s a common assumption ADHD is overdiagnosed, and that is a possibility —when it comes to being diagnosed in boys.
However in young girls and women, it’s underdiagnosed.
Part of the reason it’s underdiagnosed is because ADHD manifests differently in women. It manifests as the inattentive type, which is a lot harder to detect because it’s less disruptive than its hyperactive counterpart.
Instead of bouncing off the walls, young girls with inattentive ADHD are often daydreamers, staring out of the window instead of listening to the material their teachers are presenting.
This seemingly lack of symptoms makes it harder for teachers and parents to recognize ADHD and to give the girl the support and tools she needs to manage her ADHD, especially if the girl has satisfactory grades.
And kids don’t “grow out” of ADHD. They just create coping mechanisms such as perfectionism to help them through their lives.
Unfortunately, these coping mechanisms break down.
OCD, anxiety and depression are all comorbid with ADHD, and that’s just when it’s diagnosed.
Speaking from experience, it’s even worse when you don’t know what’s wrong with you.
I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type until I was 19.
I did well in high school: a 3.9 GPA and took a lot of AP and concurrent enrollment courses. However, I still struggled.
On every math test, I would get 80 percent just because I dropped a sign or misread the numbers.
I would miss questions on tests because I missed a NOT in the question.
I would miss out on what my teachers said because I was distracted by a bird outside the window.
Sitting down to do homework, even if it was for a class I enjoyed, was a constant fight. I managed to do it though, but not without a lot of stress and anxiety.
Then when I got to college, things got worse.
Not only did I have homework to do, I had bills to pay, work to juggle, a car to register, and chores to do around the house.
All these tiny things I had to do piled up. I felt overwhelmed and to fix that, I procrastinated. In order to get shit done, I had to drop one thing and focus on another. But that just created more anxiety.
And that anxiety just made me feel worthless. In high school, I was able to juggle all these things, so why was I failing now?
I knew something was wrong, but I had no clue what.
So I did research, and then went to see a specialist to see if ADHD was the problem.
And it turns out, ADHD was indeed the problem.
Finally I knew what was wrong and what I could do to combat it. But I went undiagnosed for so long because I was a woman with the inattentive type.
October was ADHD awareness month. ADHD is not just something that young boys struggle through. Adults and young girls have it too. Just because the most visible symptoms aren’t there, it doesn’t mean that people like me don’t exist.