We can do it

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moms and Women

This was a fantastic article sent to me by a friend.  You may just pass it over but it is worth a read.

Is it just stress, or could you be a woman struggling with undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder?

Most of us are familiar with hyperactivity and attentional problems in kids, and the debate over whether Ritalin is being over-prescribed. You may have also read an article here or there about ADHD in adults. John Ratey and Ned Hallowell's book on ADHD, Driven to Distraction, made its way to the New York Times best seller's list. But chances are that you haven't read much about girls or women with ADHD. Why not? Because ADHD has long been considered a male problem that affects only a few girls and women.

What are the signs of ADHD in women? ADHD in females can often be masked. Women with ADHD are most often diagnosed as depressed. And many women with ADHD do struggle with depression; however that is only part of the picture. As Sari Solden, author of Women with Attention Deficit Disorder, describes it, ADHD in women is the disorder of dis-order. In other words, for most women with ADHD their lives are filled with disorder which can feel overwhelming - piles and clutter out of control. There are some women with ADHD who have successfully compensated for their ADhD, but the price they pay is to expend most of their waking energy combating their natural tendency to be disorganized. Many women with ADHD feel a powerful sense of shame and inadequacy. They feel constantly behind, overwhelmed and frazzled. Some women with ADHD feel that their lives are so out of control that they rarely invite others into their home - too ashamed to allow anyone to see the disorder, too overwhelmed to combat the disorder that pervades their lives.

ADHD can be mild, moderate or severe. Some women are able to cope with the demands of daily life until they become a mother. For other women, their coping abilities don't collapse until baby number two comes along. The job of housewife and mother is especially difficult for women with ADHD because of its very nature. To raise children and to run a household well we are required to function in multiple roles at the same time, to cope with constant, unpredictable interruptions, to function with little structure, little support or encouragement, and to not only keep ourselves on track, but also be the scheduler of everyone else in the family. Who has soccer practice? Who has a dentist appointment? Who needs new shoes? Who needs a permission slip signed? Where is the permission slip? Who needs to go to the library? Who needs us to drop everything this minute because they skinned their knee or because they have an ear ache and want to come home from school? And in the midst of all this we are supposed to keep on track, planning meals, doing housework, laundry, planning social events, and, for the majority of mothers, working full time.

ADHD has become a more challenging problem for women as the demands in our late twentieth century lifestyles become greater and greater. Now we are expected to juggle homemaking, child care and full time employment, along with a full complement of extra-curricular activities for our children. What is highly stressful for a woman without ADhD, becomes a continuing crisis for a woman with ADhD. These women frequently suffer from anxiety, depression and low self-esteem because they find they can't live up to the superwoman image that so many women attempt today.

What is the difference between ADHD and stress? Stress is temporary or cyclical. A woman who feels disorganized and overwhelmed due to stress will heave a huge sigh of relief when the holidays are over or when the crunch at work has passed, and will set about returning her life to order. For a woman with ADhD, the stressful times are bad, but even in the best of times there is a feeling that the wave of "to do's" is about to crash over her head.

You may have ADHD if you: Have trouble completing projects and jump from one activity to another. Parents and teachers told you that you should have tried harder in school. And are frequently forgetful; have trouble remembering to do the things you intended. Frequently rushing, over-committed, often late. Make impulsive purchases, impulsive decisions. Feel overwhelmed and disorganized in your daily life. Have a disorderly purse, car, closet, household, etc. Are easily distracted from the task you are doing. Go off on tangents in conversations; may tend to interrupt. Have trouble balancing your checkbook; difficulty with paperwork.

Having difficulty with one or two of these things doesn't mean you have ADHD. This list isn't meant as a questionnaire for self-diagnosis; but if you find yourself answering "yes" to many of the questions listed above, it may be very helpful to seek an evaluation from a professional very experienced in diagnosing ADHD in adults. (A good place to begin your hunt for such a professional is to call the child ADHD experts in your community.)

If you are an undiagnosed woman with ADHD, help could be just around the corner. Women who have blamed themselves for years as lazy or incompetent have received help, through ADHD-oriented psychotherapy, medication and ADHD coaching and are now feeling and functioning much better.


Fishsticks and Fireflies said...

What a great, informative article! There seems to be such a stigma attached to an ADHD diagnosis for women, and I suspect it is for a lot of the reason mentioned in that article. Women, and particularly mothers, are expected to be able to mutlitask and run their household effeciently, and are often the butt of jokes about laziness and inefficacy when they can't, leading to shame and low self-esteem. (Not that I know any of this from personal experience. Ahem.) I hope that women read this and see that they are not alone and that there are resources to help them. Thanks for sharing!

(And Driven To Distraction is totally on my bookshelf right now - and should be on my bedside table.)

laelee said...

This is me to a T :)

Great article!

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Kevin said...

I don't know ANY woman this all doesn't describe. It's called being a MOTHER! At least if you feel your doing 1/2 of it right anyways.

Gingers Mom said...

I agree that all women can identify with alot of these elements. And at time, most of them. The significant difference lies in the fact that women with ADHD are drowning in these symptoms on a daily basis. It is something long lasting, chronic. Not something that comes and goes. Again, stress is differentiated from ADHD here.