In order to talk about ADHD women and personal growth, I actually have to make a few confessions.
First, this entire website and all of the content on it was developed with the intention of building an audience. Yep- I wanted all of you to like me and follow me and potentially buy products from me. I’m a people pleaser, always will be.
I’m being honest because most bloggers and social media personalities don’t come out and say what their intentions are.
Second, I have experienced more personal growth, and learned more about ADHD in the last three years than I ever thought possible.
The personal growth industry has always been a large one, and the ADHD field is no exception.
We now have more coaches, more online education, and more social media noise around ADHD than ever before.
This puts a lot of pressure on us.
While I think personal growth is essential, I also think it can lead to a messy sense of personal identity. Like you’re always trying to, “fix” something that isn’t really broken.
ADHD women and personal growth
Below are some foundational concepts to consider.
ADHD is not a character flaw
We now have medical evidence to support ADHD as a brain based condition. But you’d be surprised how many women perceive the diagnosis as a character defect.
We both know that the symptoms are not a choice. Nor is the way the ADHD shows up in our day-to-day functioning. But we still often go to great lengths to hide our struggles.
This is one of the main points of Sari Solden and Dr. Michelle Frank’s new book A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD. (Affliliate link. See my full disclosure.)
For most of us, the realization that we were different came pretty young.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever:
Changed your hair, or chosen your clothing for someone else
Lied by omission about my ADHD diagnosis and medications
Overworked or overcompensated at work to hide symptoms
Disappointed yourself and others
Said, “YES” instead of saying “NO,” because you were afraid of disapproval
Abused your body through dieting, overeating, etc.
I never believed that I would lead a full, “normal” life. Did you?
Part of personal growth is realizing that you DESERVE to have a full, meaningful life. ADHD does not disqualify you from that.
I remember it so clearly. The meltdown led to the revelation.
It was the Spring of 2011 and I was sitting on my bed nursing my son.
“I need help with this ADHD thing.” I said it out loud to my husband while looking down at my baby, realizing that I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be without acknowledging my ADHD.
The struggle began when I was ten, then it was pushed under the rug in my teens and twenties, only to emerge again as a new mother.
It’s one thing to get the diagnosis, it’s another thing to acknowledge and accept it.
You need to throw out the idea that, “acceptance” means resignation or giving up.
You also need to examine any anger you might be feeling toward yourself and others if you are newly diagnosed.
Punishing yourself probably hasn’t gotten you anywhere.
ADHD is part of you, similar to your eye color. It will be with you forever, so hating yourself will not move you forward.
In the words of Sari and Michelle,
Acceptance means fully knowing who you are – all of who you are- and using that awareness to build a successful and fulfilling life, whatever that may mean for you.
With ADHD, you can’t just ignore it and hope it goes away.
This is another growth edge – admitting that ADHD is impacting your life and getting help.
learn about ADHD
After a visit to my doctor, I started journaling and thinking about how my life experiences had woven together with ADHD and my beliefs about myself. It was painful, but also enlightening to see the patterns.
I learned about metacognition. I studied CBT books.
And I stalked all manner of ADHD, “expert.”
You don’t have to start a website, but you should probably talk to a licensed mental health professional and learn the basics of ADHD.
If you want to feel better, you have to be willing to educate yourself because the stigma around ADHD is real and it’s not going anywhere.
If you are learning you are growing.
Personal growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Your first order of business will be to determine what types of support are available to you, and what will be the most beneficial.
I always tell people to start with a therapist that understands ADHD. This is harder than it sounds though, not all licensed therapists and counselors have an understanding of how the ADHD brain works.
CHADD is one of the major governing bodies in the ADHD world and serves as a reliable source of information. Here is a list of providers directly from their website.
ADDA serves adults with ADHD directly, and is also an amazing resource. I run a book discussion group for them and even answer online questions.
You might also want to look into ADHD coaching if you have the resources.
Here is a link to a podcast episode I did that answers many of the common questions.
Coaching for ADHD can be extremely effective and provide a much-needed outside perspective. Just make sure you find a trained, qualified coach. There are many people posing as, “coaches” online and on social media – so you have to do your homework before you invest your money.
If you want some solid information, and you want to meet other women on the same journey check out the ADHD Enclave.
We’ve created a safe space to learn, grow, and connect with other women. No ads. No funny business.
ADHD women have a complicated relationship with personal growth.
On one hand, we all want to be the best version of ourselves. On the other hand, we have brain-based challenges that make it hard for us to follow through on that desire.
Personal growth is a path to a stronger, more confident way of moving through the world.
You deserve this.