An ADHD diagnosis in a woman can be an eye- opening moment. You may be shocked because your image of ADHD was of an acting out hyperactive boy. You may not have known adults could have ADD/ADHD, let alone women! Some moms are diagnosed along with their children when they realize they struggle with the same issues. And some women finally get diagnosed correctly in adulthood after spending years not knowing the true reason for their struggles.
Finally knowing there is a neuro-biological reason for your challenges can cause both relief and sadness. The relief comes from knowing your often life-long difficulties are not your fault. The sadness comes from feeling a sense of grief over the “lost years” when you may have struggled without knowing why or felt like you could not measure up no matter how much you tried.
Letting yourself acknowledge and feel the painful emotions that can come up right after a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is an important step in moving forward. As well as grief, you may feel anger at those who judged or criticized you. They also didn’t know. My clients have described how teachers, employers, or even family members said things out of ignorance that implied they were inferior, guilty, lazy, stupid, or incapable of change and growth.
I can’t imagine how terrible it must have felt to get those kinds of messages. You may even feel angry at your doctors or therapists for not recognizing the symptoms of adult ADHD.
A significant part of receiving a diagnosis is finally being able to give yourself a break. Let yourself feel whatever arises and give yourself some compassion and loving care. You deserve it. Many people have spent most of their lives hiding their difficulties or feeling hopeless about being able to change. Now that you know what’s going on, you can allow yourself to feel some hope.
You can look at your life with a new perspective, which includes recognizing your strengths and the things you do well. Maybe research the common gifts of ADHD. You may be surprised to discover that a lot of them fit with who you are.
Once you have begun to work through the emotional aspects of the diagnosis, it’s important to learn as much as you can about it and research treatments and approaches. As well as common treatments such as medication, there are alternative ways to manage ADD/ADHD. Some people swear by homeopathic treatments and others go to naturopaths. Some find that lack of sleep or even hormonal changes make their ADHD symptoms worse so they work on those aspects of life as well.
The practice of mindfulness benefits many because it helps us recognize what we are doing, thinking, and feeling in the present moment. We can become aware of and start to change habits we have built over the years that may not be in our best interests. Learning what your stressors are and practicing stress reduction methods can also help because stress often makes ADHD symptoms worse. Medication can help most people focus, but it rarely works alone.
Through a combination of treatments and approaches, you can gradually manage your ADHD symptoms, feel more in control of your attention, and transform your life. There are skills, structures, strategies, and new habits that are especially helpful for adults with ADHD. As a certified ADHD coach specializing in women, I help my clients feel more in control of their lives and get things done.
If you would like a free consultation, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.