One night in Taos, NM, while boiling pasta, a friend and I threw a few wet noodles on the wall to test their readiness. Enjoying the quirky shapes they formed, soon we had about twenty noodles displayed before us. We delighted in the abstract pasta characters formed, so we next drew in the imagined faces.
Only later, while painting layer upon layer to cover those creatures, did I realize that ink bleeds through paint and can pose problems when trying to get a rental deposit back. One might wonder if I had impulse control problems or, was I just young, spontaneous and having fun?
When I left Taos to get a ‘real life’ and maybe get a degree, I found myself having trouble managing day-to-day life. As the child of a highly successful academic family, I was confused and ashamed of my struggles with basics like paperwork, time, and order.
Sari Solden, a therapist who wrote Women With Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life has said that,
“Simple and routine tasks that traditionally came with womanhood; grocery shopping, cooking dinner, keeping track of things, and paying bills, are difficult with ADD. “
Solden also notes that girls with ADD,
“See their trouble prioritizing, organizing, and paying attention as character flaws. No one told them it’s neurobiological.” True.
I never would have suspected my difficulties with such things were symptoms. I assumed my messiness; forgetfulness and inattentiveness were signs of personal failure, and not a neurotransmitter issue.
No matter how intelligent a person is, ADD can cause enormous amounts of shame, stress, anxiety, low esteem, or even depression.
Some mental health professionals have noticed that many ADD girls with high IQ’s or supportive families are adaptive enough that they are not suspected of having a medical problem. In addition, these girls can often hyper-focus on what they love doing, seemingly evidence that any issues that arise with them is not ADHD. ADD girls also slip under the radar because they do not have the dramatic behavior issues of some ADHD boys and men have that; like an undertow, might create a drag on everyone in its wake.
These girls are usually not diagnosed until they hit huge obstacles, like college, marriage, employment issues, or when they have children. As a result, young girls and women often spend years with shame, depression, and anxiety over perceived flaws and personal underperformance.
Attention: there is hope ahead! If you suspect you may have ADD and are undiagnosed, read some of Sari Solden’s book and see what you think. Most women I’ve met in similar positions are enormously relieved the minute they begin the book!