It was not all that long ago that clinicians and scientists alike
believed that ADHD existed largely if not exclusively in boys.
Teachers didn't understand that a girl that sat quietly with her head in the clouds, without displaying any hyperactivity at all, could possibly have ADHD. Today many women discover their own ADHD when their kids are diagnosed, and they begin to recognize similar patterns in themselves.
Women, as a rule, multi-task. Whether they are cooking dinner as they are helping kids with homework, planning a dinner party as they write monthly checks, or text teachers in the middle of a business meeting...we do a lot at once. When executive functions are challenged...by that I mean the ability to decide, prioritize, organize and manage time effectively, life can get very stressful.
To exacerbate the problem, women with ADHD tend to be "people-pleasers". Saying no is not in their DNA. With a baseline of overwhelm, they are frequently the first to volunteer their efforts to their local community, yearly fundraisers, social justice, or extra projects at work. Feeling stretched, overwhelmed and totally inundated, these women feel a great deal of shame, feeling that they just "can't keep it together".
Making matters worse, research shows that husbands are less tolerant of their spouses with ADHD than wives are of their husbands with ADHD.
Lastly, the hormonal changes that women experience throughout their lives have a very real and profound impact on their brains. Menopause can be challenging enough but add ADHD to the mix and you are experiencing a double dose of brain fog, memory loss, and distraction.
All of this helps to explain why women with ADHD experience:
- Chronic stress related health issues.
- A higher rate of depression and anxiety.
- Strong feelings of overwhelm, frustration and despair.
- Low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness and isolation.
There are few clinicians experienced in treating adult ADHD and even fewer who understand the unique issues faced by women with ADHD. As a result, many doctors use standard psychotherapeutic treatment. A Canadian therapist who specializes in ADHD and Women, Sari Solden, has written some wonderfully insightful books worth reading. Stimulants can help with focus, anti-depressants can help with anxiety, and talk therapy may be a good release, but none of these strategies will help a woman manage her ADHD on a daily basis. That is where working with a coach comes in.
You have ADHD, now what?
Building a network of support will make the world feel like a different place.
A combination of multimodal treatments work best:
Medication (if you choose)
Mindfulness or Meditation
ADHD Coaching to develop strategies and create accountability
A creative outlet
A network of support
Here are some things that you can do for yourself at home to get you started.
- Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.
- Accept your ADHD diagnosis, learn as much as you can about ADHD and develop compassion for yourself.
- Start to look at the sources of the stress in your life. Once you start to identify them, try to make small incremental changes when possible.
- Utilize Whatever support that you already have in your life; family, friends, siblings, religious affiliations, ADDA support groups, and community affiliations.
- If your kids have ADHD, seek support for them as well.
- Schedule daily time outs for yourself. Whether it's meditation, movement, gardening, reading, painting or writing.
- Do whatever gets you into the "zone" for at least 20 minutes but preferably longer.
- Focus on self-care. Eat well, exercise, sleep and laugh.
- Be grateful for what you have and have patience for the changes that you will make.
- Remember to build a network of support and start with finding a great coach!
"Having Sharon as a coach has helped me to overcome my feelings of overwhelm and be able to focus
on what matters most to me. She supported me emotionally when I was struggling to understand why
I was having so much difficulty in my marriage. She has helped me improve my communications skills and I have
learned to pause and reflect during difficult conversations with others. I am better able to regulate my emotions and reactions with others on a whole new level, providing far more positive interactions and healthier relationships. I am now making choices for myself that are based on what I need to be happy and am excited about what lies ahead."
Tamie, San Diego
My professional training is through the ADD Coach Academy. ADDCA is the only ICF and PAAC certified coaching program dedicated exclusively to training ADHD coaches. Working with me you will reach your most ambitious goals faster than you can alone. If you're committed to creating a more satisfying life, contact me today for a FREE CONSULTATION.