BY DR. CLAUDIA ORELLANA
Do you ever feel like you are drowning in a sea of trivial tasks? Does your life feel chaotic? Do you forget important things? If you have ADHD, your average day may look like a similar version of this:
You planned to go to bed by 10:00 pm, yet you were doing the most random stuff until odd hours of the night. When you finally plopped into bed, your brain flooded with random thoughts. You forgot to set your alarm. In the morning, you sprung up in panic, late for a meeting for which you should have prepared for weeks ago. You went through a mountain of unfolded clothes to get dressed. You tried to jump into your car but didn’t have your keys. You reviewed your mental checklist of must haves. You brainstormed your presentation as you sped down the road, not seeing a stop sign.
In the meeting, words flowed out of your mouth. No one noticed your internal turmoil. You finally took a breath when the meeting was over. After this initial rush, you made yourself catch up with the 2,328 emails in your inbox. You were 10 emails away from finishing when you realized you were late again for your child’s game. You are now hungry, and in need of a bathroom, but have no time to eat or use the restroom.
If this sounds like you, you probably feel overwhelmed, but do not beat yourself down. The should-haves, must-haves, and could-haves may cycle in your head like hungry hyaenas having a feast, devouring your self-esteem, but this wave of shame and guilt only makes you more overwhelmed. However, you are not alone.
Women with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often battle self-sabotaging inner dialogues. This keeps them from becoming the best version of themselves. Although ADHD stands for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, most women with ADHD are not hyperactive. Instead, they may experience inner restlessness, impulsivity, inattentiveness, always being on edge, or rushing or floating through life.
Impulsivity may look like being very talkative, not having a verbal filter, being a reckless driver, or having more unplanned sexual encounters (leading to a higher risk of STDS and unplanned pregnancies). Inattentive symptoms, which are the most common in women, explain daydreaming, forgetfulness, inability to stay on task, procrastination, and the constant struggle to keep up with the “simplest” tasks.
Coping may include self-medicating with substances, food, toxic relationships, overspending or overdoing. This may result in more relational, legal, financial, and occupational instability.
Untreated ADHD is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Although this may not show as fatigue due to high energy, your body keeps count and it may show up as somatic symptoms like headaches, gastrointestinal upset, muscle tension, pain, or insomnia. You may undergo multiple medical evaluations and treatment for other ailments before arriving to a diagnosis of ADHD.