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Mental Health

We Need to Stop Ignoring Women with ADHD

“Have you tried going on walks?” My psychiatrist asked me. I had just explained to her how it felt like my brain couldn’t process any information. 

“People talk to me and I wish that they had subtitles so I could understand them. When I read, I need to go back over and over the sentence to dissect every word.” This is what I told her. She asked me if I had tried going on walks.

ADHD in women is often overlooked. In the past year, my symptoms have been called “pandemic fatigue” more times than I can count. I’m sure that didn’t help, but I knew in my gut that wasn’t the whole reason.

The possibility of having ADHD first crossed my mind when I was learning about it in Psychology class. The textbook breakdown of the symptoms, specifically in women, fascinated me because I saw so many of them in myself. When I was officially diagnosed in August, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why did this take 19 years? 

My story is not unusual. Many women don’t get diagnosed with ADHD until young adulthood, sometimes even later. Society’s gender norms teach us to mask our symptoms. We are taught to be quiet, to be well-behaved, to be ladylike. We are called “spacy” and “sensitive” as we struggle in silence. We are called “lazy” and “messy” when we’re just trying to get through the day one moment at a time without getting overwhelmed. 

Receiving my diagnosis allowed me to understand a lot of things about myself. I felt validated. I suddenly understood why it was so hard for me to start tasks. I understood why I got upset so easily. I understood why certain school subjects never clicked no matter how hard I tried.

We need to do a better job at giving women the proper diagnosis and treatment. We need to include women in research. We need to stop dismissing women who are silently screaming 24/7. 

CHADD provides resources to individuals struggling with ADHD.

Jools is a sophomore studying advertising and marketing communications and is the Editor in Chief of Her Campus at FIT.
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