It's disability awareness month in the UK and I’m writing this heartfelt piece to let the world know what I’ve learnt about being female and having ADHD.
We are awakening This may sound dramatic, but I’ve seen evidence of the tremendous surge in women getting diagnosed with ADHD because of the pandemic. Our lives and coping strategies were turned upside down overnight and many women with undiagnosed ADHD realised that something was going on. Many women have either self-diagnosed themselves or are actively seeking a diagnosis. With self-discovery comes healing and self-acceptance.
We are on a journey of self-discovery After years of struggling and staying above water, finally recognising that we have ADHD has unleashed a process of research and self-discovery. It's opening a lot of room for discovering strengths, understanding the context of our perceived “weaknesses” and “difficulties”. It’s putting things into perspective so we can understand why we have struggled for so long.
We are also grieving Alongside the self-discovery is the grieving of the lost “potential”. The looking at our past to unpack why we did certain things, or why we didn’t do certain things. What could have been if we had realised we had ADHD and got help earlier?. Grieving is important because it is a step towards self-acceptance and looking forward.
We are laying foundations for greater awareness of neurodiversity in our family After being diagnosed with ADHD, I started thinking that my mother has ADHD and started wondering who else in my family has it too. This process is very helpful because it can help break generations of ignorance towards ADHD and neurodiversity in general in the family. This will have greater ripple effects down the line as more family members get diagnosed early and get accommodations to set them up for success.
We are speaking out about our experiences Part of having ADHD is that we over-share. This has been very helpful for myself and people in my community because ADHD in women is still very under-researched. I’ve learnt so much about my ADHD from listening to other women’s experiences. We are using our voice in order to help others and helping lift each other up through shared experiences.
We are innovating For many of us, realising we have ADHD has helped us lean into our strengths. We are no longer masking our weaknesses. For many of us, we are using our problem-solving skills to innovate. Some of us have directed our energy to support our community, changing careers or just exploring a new hobby.
We are building our self-esteem After years of struggling, we are finally building our self-esteem. Our understanding of the world is changing in that we finally recognise that the shame and guilt we felt is something that society has made us feel for not fitting in. We are changing the narrative and slowly building our confidence to be different in this world.
We are resilient Through all of this, we are resilient. We have achieved so much without the accommodations and awareness that we needed before the diagnosis (or self-diagnosis). These experiences have shown how resilient ADHD women are. And we will continue to be resilient in the future.
We are a community Research has shown that one of the best ways to overcome any emotional difficulty is the power of community. ADHD women have banded together to uplift each other, share resources and support one another. I have so much hope and faith in the community I have built to continue to uplift all of us.
We are the future leaders Every female who I have spoken to with ADHD is empathetic and creative. I can’t help but think that every single one of us has the potential to become future leaders in whatever field we want to be in. Empathy is something we all have, and it is incredible what can happen when a group of empathetic women comes together to support one another. I truly believe the world needs more ADHD women to become future leaders, innovators, politicians, etc.