Yes – you read that correctly, ADHD women need to stop hiding.
I know that after years of subtle, and not so subtle messaging you believe that it’s not ok to show the world all parts of you.
But that’s the thing – you’re not who you think you are. You are more.
Many of us living with ADHD are trying really hard to “pass” for normal. Whatever normal is.
This struggle to appear normal always makes me think of the following quote:
“It’s funny about ‘passing.’ We disapprove of it and at the same time condone it. It excites our contempt and yet we rather admire it. We shy away from it with an odd kind of revulsion, but we protect it.” – Passing, Nella Larson (affiliate link to an amazing book!).
In our social media driven society we get lots of messages about, “being ourselves”, or, “living our truth.” But the reality is that we all hide things about ourselves.
So, even if you aren’t trying to “pass” for normal then I would bet my last dollar you are probably hiding some other aspect of your personal struggle.
I know what you’re thinking, “Liz has lost her mind.”
Last week while screaming at my child in the pediatrician’s office, and then driving home blind with rage, shrieking at him…I would have totally agreed with you.
Maybe I have lost my mind.
All the same, I’m just starting to see you, my readers, more clearly.
Reading through all of the emails I get one thing has become abundantly clear:
You all think you ARE ADHD. Like it is the one thing that means everything.
ADHD is a part of who you are, it does not define you as a person.
Let me say it a different way; there is more to you than just the ADHD diagnosis.
And even worse, some of you think you need to fix or hide al the parts of you that don’t fit neatly into a pretty little box.
As Sari Solden says, “Only dogs and dishwashers need to be fixed.”
I’ve been guilty of trying to fix things for you. I’ve offered lots of bandaids in an attempt to give both of us a sense of control over a complex issue.
ADHD is a label. And while it does help us to understand why we think/feel/behave the way we do – we often construe the label to mean we are flawed and in need of fixing.
“Humans like labels. We define ourselves by them. They get us through life, for the most part, more effectively than if we operated without them. But as we get comfortable relying on them, we forget something: Their utility is in what they accomplish, not what they represent. They are valuable, yes, but what they represent is an approximation — occasionally wrong, often problematic. You are not the words you define yourself by.”
You are more than just a woman with ADHD, or a problem to be fixed.
ADHD women need to stop hiding
You are strong
Listen, being a woman is actually a really cool thing.
Strength shows itself in obvious ways, like giving birth. But strength can also be more subtle – Like the single woman who takes care of her elderly parents, while also running a business and taking care of her children.
Do you view your ADHD label as a strength? Probably not.
But you got the diagnosis, which was brave and difficult.
By reading this article right now, you are empowering yourself and growing as a result.
You are strength personified.
You are ME (and I am you)
We live in a world where we all have a double life, not by choice but by necessity. See my article on the disease of busy.
We have to take pretty pictures of ourselves and our families to post on Facebook, because what will our friends and neighbors think otherwise?
The other day I rushed into a meeting apologizing because I was late. My friend was like, “You’re so together I knew you would show up.”
I laughed out loud at that. Then I told her I create support and services for ADHD women. In all the years I have known this person, I never told her the truth about what I do for a living and why I do it.
She was totally shocked.
I played the game so well that I had stopped being real about who I am and who I represent.
I am just a more public version of all of you.
You are not broken (or in need of fixing)
Some of you write to me feeling anxious and depressed because it’s not safe to reveal your ADHD diagnosis to the world. Or even your family.
Because of mental health stigma, the label is shameful and we feel need to project a more neurotypical persona to the world to “pass” for normal.
Every moment of every day, while reading this article and fighting with your kids and folding laundry, you are normal. Humans are thinking, feeling beings.
So you are normal. No need to fix anything.
I promise, I am not going to try to fix you anymore. I am going to connect with you and support you instead.
Educate yourself about ADHD – what it is and what it isn’t.
Just small steps, like learning about executive function can give you the confidence to create the supportive relationships you need to move forward.
Develop your inner voice. Listen to that voice above all others.
ADHD brings with it some unique emotional challenges.
At the end of each podcast I always say, we are stronger, together.
And it really is true.
You are more than just a woman with ADHD, or a problem to be fixed. ADHD women need to stop hiding and start living bigger, brighter, bolder lives.