If You Have, Or Think You Have, ADD

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Women with Attention Deficit Disorder (with or without Hyperactivity) are a special breed. We are not what anyone expects. Not only are we adults, but we are female, and that doesn’t fit the stereotype of the person with ADD. But we are real and have a real disorder. Not only that, but being a woman adds special features to the ADD profile. One is that a woman’s role in society makes her look and feel like she has ADD even if she doesn’t. So imagine how much more difficult it is to feel functional and normal if she does have the disorder. A person with ADD never feels normal, and that is all the more true when one is a woman.

I am a woman with Attention Deficit Disorder, Inattentive (I’ll get into classifications later). I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 48, which is not at all unusual. Even if a girl is diagnosed with ADD, for a long time it was not thought that ADD continued into adulthood. And girls are much less likely to be diagnosed than boys are in the first place.

My ADD may well be aggravated by my age and the fact that I’m going through menopause. Both conditions can affect your memory and sometimes that’s what ADD feels like: that you’ve lost your memory, especially short-term. But that’s only one part of the ADD picture. What I hope to do with a series of posts about ADD is flesh out that picture, for the sake of my own understanding and perhaps the understanding of others. I’m supposing that other women with ADD will be interested in hearing from one of their own, especially since there are relatively few of us. (ADD is thought to affect approximately 2-4% of the adult population.)

When women with ADD hear each other’s stories, it is as if they’ve come home. Finally, there is someone who understands. Even your doctor, however sympathetic, cannot give you that feeling. Reading about ADD helps you to understand what’s going on with you, but it doesn’t really describe how it feels. When another woman describes what it’s like to be her, you feel as if she knows you. And you find that you’d like to get to know her better.

So, here’s a chance to get to know one another and hopefully, by doing so, learn to stand together. Possibly the worst thing about having ADD is that people don’t believe that you have it. We can stand for all the women who suffer from this injustice and help them to stick up for themselves. We can experience ADD solidarity.

[Adapted from my ADD blog, ADD Women.]

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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