ADDA Helps Raise Awareness with New Adult ADHD Infographic

Do you or the people in your life have questions about adult ADHD? If you’d like to know more about ADHD, or you’d like some help explaining your ADHD to someone, we have just released a cool infographic that helps describe what adult ADHD is, it’s prevalence, how it is diagnosed and how it appears in adults. Download the infographic and share it with people you’re trying to educate about adult ADHD. Help them know more!

The statistics say adult women who have ADHD most often exclusively present the inattentive symptoms.  Of course, statistics are used to represent the population at large and are irrelevant to the individual. That is clearly my case, and I’m curious if other ADDA Insider readers have found that they don’t follow the “averages?” Are you a woman with ADHD who is hyperactive? Are you a man with exclusively inattentive symptoms? I’d love to hear your comments.

I have had the impulsivity and hyperactivity symptoms of ADHD since childhood, and they’ve continued to affect me in virtually all aspects of my life. I never knew my various social and related problems growing up had a label until the past decade. Of course, I also didn’t know I could seek help to make life easier for myself and those around me…or to at least make myself less annoying.  Maybe I could interrupt less, talk less, gamble less, relax more, drink less, or even sit through an entire movie without talking and fidgeting in a seat changing my position at least 200 to 300 times or getting up at least 5 times to use the bathroom?

I have no idea if I was born with ADHD or if it developed as I got older, but I definitely had symptoms when I was young because I could never sit still. The impact changes as you get older, but ADHD continues to affect me. Now I forget to pay bills and get overwhelmed with finances to the point I don’t think I will ever be able to buy anything large.  Socially I get so overwhelmed with the social aspects of job interviews that jobs are hard to come by. I am underachieving in life despite having a very successful record working as a book editor and news reporter before mass layoffs and illness set me back in 2009. I am 36, still living with my mom and I don’t see that changing.

The upside of my ADHD is I have many friends from many walks of life who enjoy my eccentricity. My friends, many with ADHD or other quirky personality traits like me, are always funny, spontaneous, considerate, generous and fun. I think we developed these qualities from a lifetime of being put down for being different.

I think having ADHD has many benefits despite a lifetime of not reaching my full potential and being told I’m not reaching my full potential. It’s beyond frustrating to work hard and not reach levels of success that I should be reaching, even when I set the bar low. I believe eventually the right employer may discover how talented and hardworking I am, but until then I’m confident I’ll find ways to get by and pay bills and have fun as I always have.

Another benefit of my ADHD (with a capital H!) is that I spread ADHD awareness just by being as outgoing and outspoken as I am. But if you’re not as outspoken as I am, and you’d like some help answering questions, you’ll find our new infographic extremely helpful to get the conversation started.

    • Karla Rollinger
    • May 19, 2017

    Oh, yeah. It started early for me. I would take long walks around my neighborhood and sit on other people’s porches and talk to neighbors. Not unusual, until you realize that a) I didn’t tell my mother I was leaving the yard; and b) I was 4 years old. Ever since Kindergarten, I was the kid who had to be first in line, couldn’t stop fidgeting, never stopped talking or interrupting. Didn’t change after high school and college. I ran with the kids who got into trouble and got into trouble with them. Smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol, no drugs (terrified of needles and hated taking medication). Lots of bad relationships followed me throughout the years. I went from job to job, never staying in one for more than five years. Now, I have a clerical job and write on the side. I have a very aware spouse, who happens to work in health care and gets me. I have two grandsons who have been diagnosed with ADHD, too. It was a great relief to know that this is an actual thing, where my brain works differently. Family and friends throughout the years have been pretty harsh with the name-calling (“scatterbrained”, “space cadet”). Still working on the self-esteem issue. Baby steps.

    • PH
    • April 25, 2017

    I am a 56 year old woman. I lost my mother and only sibling on Christmas Eve night when I was five. After my father married a very abusive, medically diagnosed, schizophrenic woman, things were unbearable to the point of fighting to stay grounded mentally. I was suicidal by age eleven or so. I always attributed my inability to focus on ‘dramatic trauma’. In recent years, though, I also wonder if I’m not ADD as well. I am impulsive; have the ability to excel, but haven’t; have changed jobs and relocated frequently. I have also married and divorced 6 times.
    I am very self conscious, and introverted now.
    I avoid people even though I am very drawn to help others.
    I take anti- depressants but was also diagnosed with PTSD, so, I don’t always feel they work.
    I rely on my faith in Jesus for my peace of mind and focus now.

    • aaa
    • January 7, 2017

    As someone with ADHD, this is a lot of words to read and stay focused on.

    • Stacie Warren
    • December 21, 2016

    Being a victim of discrimination is painful to children who stuffer from this illness.

    • KC
    • October 27, 2016

    So I too, fall into the category of women with the hyperactivity (ADHD) side. When I was a child, my Dr. recommended limiting my red dye food intake, because there was a link to hyper kids and impulsiveness. My mom recalls that I once lied down in a department store on my side (shoulder) and kicked my feet around like a clock, I was so spastic. I also talked, a LOT! I got swats in elementary school every year for talking, and I constantly was moving or fidgeting (I still do that ). I had one amazing teacher, who figured out how to focus my energy. She gave me a bell on my desk, and for every assignment I completed, I could ring the bell and the entire class would clap for me. It worked for awhile, until I couldn’t stop accidentally ringing it with my pencil. (o well).

    But, I recognize the behavior you mention, Explicit Informant, about coping through reclusiveness. As an adult, I learned that I have a very low ability to filter what I say or do (reckless driving, alcohol consumption, listening to loud music, getting a huge tattoo on my arm at 40 — IM a MOM of 2 daughters in conservative suburbia!!). So I resign myself to just be quiet and observing more than participating in social get togethers. But after building a relationship, it does leak out, and I have to mend friendships often.

    I recently read a journal article by Dr. Ellen Littman, on dopamine seeking behaviors, and it was really SPOT ON!

    I’ve recently picked up an odd obsession with a movie actor, which led to a 6 month hiatus watching all his past work, participating in social media viewing, writing fan-fiction stories about him and his characters, and then impulsively spending about $400 for a ticket to meet/greet him. (Seriously…this cannot be normal for other 40 year old moms who work in corporate America.) Now that I’m on the other side of that event, I’m suffering from extreme let down…. like planning a wedding for years, and then having no reward to look forward to anymore after it’s over.

    I have had luck in the past with the medication Vyvanse, but the over hyper-focus made some behaviors a little worse (if I lapsed into crying, it was DEEP crying and wailing). At 40, I’m starting to struggle with some low grade depression, so I’m getting ready to start Wellbutrin, which seems to have some affect on limiting the reuptake of dopamine — I am hopeful this will work for both the depression and some ADHD symptoms too!

    Im really glad to see the support out there for women, and see some of the erroneous information be cleared up through continued education. I am convinced that I inherited this condition from my mother, but she refuses to think she has it (despite the fact that me and my brother are both diagnosed). She still thinks that ADD and ADHD are linked to failure to be successful at anything, and since she considers herself really responsible and functioning, she doesn’t have it. I personally see it as a plus! But just wish I could reign in some of the thwarting problems — unable to achieve certain goals, and find jobs that are more rewarding. My greatest dream would be to have my own business, or write a book — still working on these.

    • Explicit Informant
    • October 11, 2016

    “Are you a woman with ADHD who is hyperactive? ”

    I am not sure on this one! I was apparently a very outgoing, gregarious child up until sometime in 1-6th grade. (I don’t really remember much of my past, so I have no memory of being outgoing at all…) By the time I was an adolescent and early adult, I was inhibited, anxious, and riddled with shame. I learned that people are generally not interested in me, what I have to say, or anything beyond what I do for them (i.e., the dreaded homework). So I learned to only be myself in private. I did stay busy — cleaning my room, going through my internet bookmarks, drawing, reading, playing video games, etc.

    Now, after getting diagnosed as an adult, and shedding some of that toxic shame, I find I am feeling much more energized, but also less in control. It is almost like I only have the two settings — don’t show up to an interaction at all, and just play out a memorized kind of role, and inhibit everything else (thereby making zero friends). Or I can show up and be myself — but then it almost feels slightly like an out of body experience, in that instead of there being a wall of thinking between me and the world, I am standing in front of the wall and afraid of losing my balance. There is very little filter, and a lot of, “Well, I am saying these things, so I guess that is what I am saying, and I can’t change it now so screw it, they can judge me if they want to I guess.”

    I do know that as a kid, I didn’t go the overly compliant route like many women describe — I definitely paralleled many boys with ADHD in developing some oppositional traits and behaviors. I sometimes wonder whether impulsivity in young ADHD kids could show up through a fritzy inhibition setting (i.e., overinhibited or underinhibited, no happy middle), instead of always through underinhibition? For instance, I am sure if someone was standing over an impulsive ADHD child with a ruler, and smacked them hard every time they did anything that wasn’t following the rules, I could see them becoming very inhibited. It wouldn’t be that they learned how to not be impulsive, it would be that they’ve made a sort of traumatized retreat from interacting with the world. For young girls, the social judgment and punishment for impulsive or hyperactive behavior could maybe work in that way — leading them to retreat entirely when around other people.

    As for hyperactivity… I’m told I used to read books in class — later I would draw in class, make line designs, sort and organize my papers and bookbag, anything. Even in graduate school, where I can’t doodle without coming off as unprofessional, if I am getting bored I will take my notes in cursive, or write out To-Do lists, or write out about how bored I am. So it isn’t that I am losing focus, or that I am vibrating out of my chair — instead, I always had some way of keeping my brain engaged and occupied. Though I don’t know that I realized I was having trouble paying attention so much as I knew lectures were universally more pleasant when I had a background activity going on.

    I agree with your implicit question though — I wonder how much the inattentive/hyperactive divide between girls and boys has to do with how we identify hyperactivity, and how each sex is rewarded or punished for certain behaviors. For instance, among boys, being wild and impulsive might be impressive to a degree (?). Among girls, where socialization is geared towards relationships, listening, cooperating, etc., girls may get punished just as severely as they do in school and elsewhere. I certainly feel more inclined towards hyperactivity when I am not feeling low-grade depressive symptoms…

    I wonder how many others found that once they got diagnosed and treated (for those who had this happen in adulthood), they experienced an increase in both self-esteem, and in potentially hyperactive/impulsive behaviors?

      • Mary ann Postle
      • October 12, 2016

      Wow that’s how I feel every day.Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I am constantly beating myself up. I am raising a daughter 15 and we are like 2peas in a pod.

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