I’ve always suspected, but I thought that’s all it was, just a suspicion. I’ve been forgetful, clumsy, disorganised and late for as long as I can remember. I’m the girl that forgets everyone’s birthday. It’s not that I don’t care, I do, but for some reason, I have this mental block around remembering certain things. I feel guilty about forgetting, “I’m a shit friend, a bad cousin, why can't I just remember these things.” I was diagnosed with dyslexia just before my 19th birthday. I knew I had it and was desperately trying to get a diagnosis from the age of 15. I knew that if I had a diagnosis I would get extra time on exams which would give me a fighting chance of passing. You see I failed all exams prior to my GCSEs, purely because I didn’t finish them. And it’s not like I didn’t try. Time management has never been my strong point. I also struggle to spell, read, write, and continue to muddle up D’s & B’s, P’s & Q’s. The dyslexia was pretty obvious when I came home from school spelling my name Laura qoole… but I'm not here to talk dyslexia, the suspected thing I've been teasing is something different.
A couple of months ago a video about women with ADHD popped up on my Facebook feed. Out of curiosity, or sheer boredom, I kept watching. On my phone screen was a woman talking about all the ways I have struggled in my life. GET OUT OF MY HEAD! It’s like the video was made about me! I felt myself welling up and a tear escaped my eye to trickle down my cheek. I sent the video to my Mum along with the message “I seriously think I have ADHD.” Apparently, in primary school, I saw a psychiatrist (I have the vaguest memory of this now mum’s mentioned it) who said I had ADD, which is now simply known as ADHD (ADD is an outdated 80s term). I struggled all through school but girls with ADHD (me included) tend to do this thing called masking where we copy other "normal" people and learn ways to "fit in" meaning we don’t typically act how you might imagine someone with ADHD would act and as an outsider its harder to spot. So yes, my Mum forgot I had a diagnosis because I seemed to be coping so well and I assumed my struggles were Dyslexia. Our lives were also a little crazy back then. Since my latest discovery, I decided to join a women with ADHD in the UK* group on Facebook. A group of people like me! I have always felt I didn’t fit in. I put this down to moving from South Wales to Yorkshire then Lincoln when I was a kid. I even have a different accent to most people, and fun fact: The accent I have now isn't an accent of anywhere I’ve lived! Turns out it’s a weird thing that people with ADHD do. We mimic accents. Apparently, when there's no one around to influence us we can literally skip through accents which suddenly explains a lot about me... For the first time ever this group has got me feeling like I do fit in. And seeing so many women who think and feel the way I do feels almost overwhelming. I've never felt this way before. Always feeling like an outsider has been something I have worked on repeatedly on my personal development journey. I created a post on this group. Like most Facebook community groups there is a lot of focus on the negative so I wanted to look at the positive. The post said “I’m curious…what would you say your ADHD superpower is” I wanted to see what they came up with to see if I could relate and if I could, I would have a tonne of things to feel good about. The post has had 146 comments so far! Probably more by the time I post this. Here are some of the things they came back with:
Hyperfocus - it means when we finally get stuck into a project we can’t stop, sometimes till it’s finished. You can forget about food and toilet breaks.
Creativity - which I find fascinating that so many people (including myself) stated. I read about a study on people with ADHD that concluded that we are no more creative than the average person but we are more motivated on creative projects if there is a reward or chance of winning. I can’t help but wonder if this study was conducted on men only…
Humour - this one came up a lot, we are a funny bunch.
Problem-solving - People with ADHD view situations differently from others. Personally, I find myself problem solving daily even when there aren’t any "problems" my brain is naturally like how can we make this better/ easier.
We even stated things that would not normally seem good and flipped them to reveal how these things helped in life. Things like:
Impulsiveness - it means we don’t get stuck in situations so easily, we will happily move or even do things that other people wouldn’t normally (like showing up naked on TV perhaps).
Oversharing - I think this is one of the things that makes me a good life coach. Opening up to strangers about my life makes it easier for them to open up to me.
Miss hearing/ speaking - this is one of my fave things as it tends to end in laughter.
There were lighthearted comments like “Losing things without even moving.” we’ve all been there, right? Some were upset with my use of the word “superpower”. "How can you say ADHD is a superpower when it’s ruining my life" "There is nothing good about ADHD" "Claiming ADHD is good is disrespecting us all"… and so on.
Nothing is going to change my situation (or any of those women). I’m not going to wake up one day and my brain starts to function “normally”. So which one would you rather be? The person who sees the good in their life despite difficulties or the person that sees only bad? We all have some kind of difficulty, illness, difference, struggle, or whatever it is, in our lives. Every single one of us. You’re probably reading this and thinking "Life is no breeze for me either Laura". But learning to love ourselves no matter what is going on in our lives and making the best of this life that we have is the ultimate key to happiness.
I have wasted a great deal of time trying to change who I am.
When I accept myself as I am, then I change.
*If you are a woman with ADHD and want to connect with other women I highly recommend this group.
**If you are struggling with your health/ mental health please seek help from your GP. There is support out there for you.
Side note if you think you have ADHD or know someone who has, this book is really helping me A radical guide for women with ADHD. It feels like therapy so be prepared to cry.
This post has affiliate links which means if you purchase something after clicking my link I may get a tiny percentage of the sale. This is no extra cost to you. I only ever recommend things I love and use/ read myself.