Because girls with attention deficit don’t usually have the hyperactivity component that accompanies ADD, they’re thought of as being “emotional” or “difficult.” When they do have the hyperactivity factored in, then people call them tomboys or think of them as flaky or flighty. These girls also have more fights with peers because of their emotional spikes, and still, nobody recognizes that the girl is ADD. The interesting part is that they share all of the attention deficit symptoms with males, such as disorganization, impulsivity, and issues with time management, but still nobody recognizes the attention deficit side of some girls until they become adults. Usually, this is when their own children are diagnosed.
Yet, when ADD girls grow up to be women, many of the symptoms give them a very hard time. Girls are often expected to become multi-tasking women, and then, some definite issues that are special to women with adult ADD arise.
Many women, whether they have adult ADD or not, have the feeling that women have to be better than men to succeed in the workplace. This expectation creates an incredible feeling of anxiety for adult ADD women, who see things that way, and the anxiety is only increased because they realize that they have issues with organization and focus. But as they see it, society expects them to be perfect, when that’s just not possible for anyone, let alone someone with attention deficit. If a woman can’t meet the expectations she sets for herself or that she sees as society setting for her, she becomes depressed and her self-esteem just plummets.
Shame and guilt compound the negative feelings when a woman has trouble with things like getting her kids to school on time or having the family evening meal ready on time. Since women with adult ADD have difficulty with organization, her house is often a chaotic mess, and because of that, she prefers that no one comes over to visit. In fact, the stress that she feels over someone knocking at the door when she can’t keep a tidy house can be stressful, and because women tend to internalize their feelings, depression can set in.
And when adult ADD women have to work outside the home, there’s added stress. They have to get to work on time and perform their jobs at an acceptable level. But she has to deal with the added stress of what to do with her kids while she’s working, getting the groceries, dropping off cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, and all the other things a mother is expected to do. Due to her inability to manage time well and be organized, this can be very, very difficult. But that’s only if there’s a complete family, a two-parent household.
When an adult ADD woman becomes a single parent due to divorce, which is highly possible in adult ADD relationships, what happens? Now, she not only has her job, and her regular household duties, but now she has to take on the onus of the other partner, as well. Everything having to do with the house is her problem. What does she do when the water heater blows or when there’s a leak in the roof? Oh, she’ll deal with it like any other adult, but when so much is expected of her, it can be devastating, especially since these pressures on the adult ADD woman are not just external.
The hormonal imbalances associated with menopause or the monthly cycle can cause emotional ups and downs in all women. Yet with an adult ADD woman, these symptoms and emotions can be more intense.
When many girls with attention deficit reach maturity, they have learned to control some if not all of their symptoms. They may have a tendency toward impulsiveness, for instance, but have solved the issue with time management. But women shouldn’t allow the remaining ADD tendencies to control them. If they fall too far, they can find the dark side of attention deficit—depression, addiction, and crime. Exaggerated symptoms may require professional assistance, where women can learn to employ the good side of adult ADD–the creativity, the exuberance, and an incredible ability to hyperfocus, among others. Professionals can show women how to make ADD work for them, rather than against them.