Medical Mystery: Why Am I Distracted and Clumsy?

My epiphany occurred in 2016, following a fall down the stairs and an ankle fracture. I had become sidetracked once more. This time, I was contemplating what I’d just learned about light reflectance values as I walked down a flight of stairs in my home while looking at paint chips.

I had plenty of time to reflect on what felt like my life’s failings while confined to a bed for six weeks of recovery. Despite having a master’s degree, I spent my endlessly dull classes daydreaming, doodling, and making lists of my future plans. My only method of study was a combination of excessive caffeine consumption, all-nighters, and make-up exams, which kept my grades from falling below an A. Naturally, while trying to read while climbing a flight of stairs in college, I sprained both ankles. I was finding it harder and harder to manage my life as an adult. Every week, my credit cards and keys disappeared. I made three appointments—with the dentist, the car mechanic, and the doctor—and no matter which one showed up for, I would be late.Explained my tardiness by saying that I was preoccupied or perhaps just stupid. I couldn’t possibly follow a set of instructions without reading them three or four times, after all.

Every day, the pile of papers where I wrote down Important Things I’ll Do Tomorrow grew taller, and then it spread to other piles. I would randomly enroll in classes and then stop going when I realized how much sitting and listening was required.

I had easy access to caffeine as a freelance writer for both motivation and reward. Even so, when I started working, I was so engrossed in my usual Facebook trifecta, Internet clickbait (What Is the One Secret Trick? ), or hyper-focus on a particular topic, like paint colours, that hours passed without my realizing it.

I had been to several therapists about my failure to organize my life and seek depression treatment. I mean, I was supposed to be an adult by the time I was 39. How much could I fall, what would I forget, and what had I forgotten?

A surprising possibility

I recalled what a friend had said to me as I sat and healed from my ankle fracture: “You sound like me,” she had said, “like you have ADHD.” She was funny, smart, and talkative. I was perplexed because I thought that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was only diagnosed in hyperactive, trouble-prone boys. No, she replied, pointing out that there were various forms of ADHD, including one that caused impulsivity and hyperactivity as well as another that was caused by inattention.

When my ankle was strong enough to allow for walking, I scheduled a visit with my family doctor. I was hesitant to inquire about ADHD because I assumed she would laugh it off. She instead gave me a lengthy questionnaire to complete about my symptoms. By the second page, I was in tears because so much of it related to me and I had previously believed that I was permanently damaged. She questioned me further after going over the results, gave me a tissue, and then wrote a prescription. I had to try a few different drugs before I found one that worked well, but the one I’m taking right now helps me maintain my focus for the entire day.

Women with ADHD

According to psychotherapist Sari Solden, author of three books on ADHD, including co-authoring A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldly, and Break Through Barriers, many young women aren’t diagnosed because of ADHD stereotypes.

Girls internalize problems because they are people-pleasers, especially if they are intelligent, have some structure, or have strengths as they grow up, the author claims. Young women with ADHD are rarely noticeable as being disruptive or overactive.

According to psychotherapist Terry Matlen, who specializes in women with ADHD, boys typically display more impulsive and hyperactive behaviours. Girls frequently daydream, doodle, and fidget subtly (for example, playing with hair). It’s also possible for hyperactivity to be minimal or acceptable, like talking excessively.

Also Read ABout I Have ADHD. Here’s What A Week In My Life Is Like.

Because you’re relying on your intelligence or creative thinking, being intelligent often means you’re not as limited as a young person. Young women with ADHD have “developed or figured out your own accommodations, which get you through those years of schooling,” says Matlen. However, college can provide clues, such as adamantly avoiding challenging or time-consuming subjects.

Some women become aware of their ADHD issues for the first time in college. Others reach a breaking point when they can no longer meet the new demands, according to Solden.

Parenting, a family, friends, and a career can create additional demands, obligations, and difficulties. Women also encounter particular difficulties.

When they come to the realization that they simply cannot keep up with the chaos, women in their mid- to late 30s frequently seek a diagnosis, according to Matlen. Some people are diagnosed with ADHD in their 40s during the perimenopause, when hormonal changes frequently make working memory and executive function symptoms worse.

Finding my way

Women who receive an ADHD diagnosis later in life may have a distorted sense of who they are. You must separate your mental challenges from your fundamental self, advises Solden. “While having ADHD can be challenging and overwhelming, you don’t want that to influence how you live your life or what you choose to do with it.” Understanding executive functioning is necessary to avoid the negative narrative, she argues. You need to comprehend the following if you have ADHD:

  • Where you operate well
  • What environment you do best in
  • Accommodations you might need
  • How you communicate needs with your family and friends, employer and coworkers

You have a right to help and a life that works for you, she asserts.The ability to creatively combine various ideas is one of ADHD sufferers’ strengths. Women with ADHD might be animated, fascinating, humorous, and have a unique viewpoint. Understanding your challenges without letting them define who you are requires looking at yourself holistically rather than just in terms of your strengths or weaknesses.

Also Read ABout I Have ADHD. Here’s What A Week In My Life Is Like.

Over the course of a few years, I created a framework for understanding why meeting deadlines and staying organized are such struggles for me, as well as tools to help me. My lists have shrunk over the last three years. I don’t triple book, I generally arrive on time, and thanks to tools like Tile, I hardly ever misplace my phone or keys. I still have trouble starting tasks or projects that seem too big, but I’ve learned how to divide them into smaller, more manageable steps.

Beyond medication and ADHD mind tricks, however, realizing that I have a neurodiverse brain and that I’m not stupid or lazy significantly increased my self-confidence and willingness to see the bright side.

Could You Have ADHD?

Because they typically don’t experience the hyperactivity component of ADHD, women are harder to diagnose. In the absence of a serious trauma or a depressive disorder diagnosis, consider determining whether you have ADHD, advises Solden:

  • Chronically overwhelmed
  • Severe disorganization with regard to time, money, or things
  • Difficulty maintaining routines and keeping track of logistics
  • Piles of paper and clutter
  • Feel disorganized, but spend a lot of energy trying to get organized
  • Great difficulty blocking out distractions such as a barking dog or random internal thoughts
  • Tendency to hyper-focus on one subject
  • Challenges with addictions such as gambling, Internet use, or shopping
  • Underachieving at work or in relationships
  • Trouble making decisions while getting dressed or shopping

Also Read ABout I Have ADHD. Here’s What A Week In My Life Is Like.