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I’m a woman with ADHD – here are all the reasons why I’m proud of it

0 2 years ago

On any given day I will spend a considerable amount of time tensing my muscles to the rhythm of the national anthem. I might be driving, in a meeting or writing to a deadline, but my muscles will be sending our gracious Queen victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us. Other times, I breathe in sync with the sound of traffic going past, bite my nails or pinch myself when I’m trying to complete a task, so that if my brain decides to abandon its instructions, the sensation will serve as a reminder of them. I often forget to buy food or take my medication, and often can’t recall whether I’ve showered or not. My email inbox currently has 18,485 unread messages.

Still, I am luckier than most women with ADHD. I received a diagnosis at the age of seven after a school referral. But many women come to be diagnosed later, after decades of being called scatty or disorganised, plagued by guilt and anxiety. The latest NHS figures show that while more than 100,000 men were diagnosed with ADHD in 2019-20, just 33,000 women received a diagnosis. With diagnostic standards set by studies of boys and men – who tend to show symptoms such as hyperactivity, as opposed to the introverted and inattentive presentations more common in women and girls – we are often forgotten.

That is changing – thanks in part to a growing ADHD positivity community online. There’s @the_adhd_femme_collective, @female_adhd and my favourite, @Iampayingattention. The latter is run by Jess Joy and Charlotte Mia, two young professional women with ADHD and autism who founded the account and its wider members’ platform because they wanted to create a space where people could get to know themselves, and find a community who are trying to do the same. Users share advice on strategies to help them thrive, and on how to find treatment routes. They run online body-doubling sessions where you can log on and complete a frustrating task alongside others with ADHD. Women suggest coping mechanisms for concentration, such as the Pomodoro technique, which splits up work time into smaller bursts of focus. Their positive narratives around ADHD help you to train yourself out of the guilt that comes with the inability to concentrate. The BBC radio DJ Phoebe Inglis-Holmes credits the account with helping her “unpick [her] incorrect, preconceived notions about being neurodivergent”.


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