I was laid awake last night; as often it does, my brain ran away at 100 miles an hour. That’s when it came to me, I remembered how when I was young at school I was always daydreaming. And in fact, I used to fall asleep quite a lot too. Suddenly more memories started to flood back, and the signs I have ADHD seemed really obvious.
It’s been reported today in The Observer that Dr Tony Lloyd of the ADHD Foundation charity suggested there has been a 400% increase in the number of adults seeking diagnosis since 2020. I know that one of the biggest factors when looking at ADHD in older women is whether the symptoms were there in childhood. So I thought it’d probably be a good indicator to go back over my younger life.
I slept a lot! I was still having a nap every day when I started primary school – the boys did too. And remember quite often falling asleep in class for a long time (even into secondary school!).
I daydreamed a lot too. In fact, I think it was commented on in pretty much every school report I had in primary school. I still remember being pulled up on it in secondary school for it but knew by then I had to feign interest at least. Or wangle sitting at the window near the back to hide LOL.
Exaggerated Emotional Responses
I was always dramatic, but coming from an ‘Am Dram’ (Amateur Dramatic) family I guess it was just taken as par for the course. But I remember ‘feeling’ things a lot deeper than others. I could read a room at the drop of a hat and I learnt that my gut was always spot on very early.
Following on from above, I really do remember crying a lot. Crying with happiness, crying in pain, whatever the emotion I would pretty much always cry (and I still do), even a 30-sec advert could make me cry.
Disorganized and messy
I was never very good at tidying my room and luckily I had a room of my own, but I do remember the feeling of calm when it was tidy. I learned early on that I much preferred a tidy environment, to the point of extreme. My school books and work were always immaculate, as is my work desk now. However, my bedroom floor was, and is, always covered in clothes; and don’t even ask to see in my car now.
Highly sensitive to noise and fabrics
I always remember labels on clothes annoying me massively, to the point of distraction. But I thought everyone was the same, it wasn’t till I saw my boys cutting their labels out (I wouldn’t have dared LOL) and read up, I realised it was Sensory Processing Disorder.
I like my music loud, the louder the better, and listen to the same song or album over and over for months at a time. Whilst more than one person talking to/near me makes me want to scream in pain; when I need to concentrate then loud music is an absolute must. It drowns out the constant ‘noise’ in my head. My own internal monologue follows me through life 24/7.
Now this is absolutely me, I still slam doors to this day, and I find it really hard not to when I’m angry. I noticed that Sam does exactly the same and between us, we have broken so many door fixings. I remember doing it when I’d left home and lived with my first husband (I had a lot to be angry about). No memories of massively doing when I was young and at home, but then I don’t remember being that angry then.
Often late (poor time management)
Now this is a funny one as until menopause I was never late, like never ever. So on initial glance, this looks like one that doesn’t fit me. But taking some time to look a little closer I realised that actually I (with help from mum) had just developed an extreme coping strategy to help. I would always be very, very early. I would be super early for school, I would be super early for work and I would be stupidly early for travelling anywhere. I even rehearsed/planned journeys to ensure my timings were accurate.
I’ve always struggled with my self-image, bullied through my junior years of primary school. I learned that humour was my coping mechanism. I spent secondary school knowing I didn’t ‘fit in’, but luckily found my tribe and we hid in the music block. I have always struggled to look in the mirror and never really look at myself and think I look nice.
Takes Time to Process Information
For as long as I can remember, I would always say ‘what’ after someone spoke to me. I remember because my mum would always correct me (as I do with my boys now) and say ‘Pardon, not what’! However before whoever was speaking could repeat what they had said, I would have replied. I still do it now and I know now that it isn’t because I wasn’t listening or didn’t hear, but because it takes my brain a little bit longer to process what a person has just said.
ADHD Combined Type
Looking back now, I can see the signs that I have ADHD so clearly. But for a lot of girls and women, as it was for me, it is brushed off as hormones; as being too this or too that; as having depression or anxiety. We don’t display the classic ‘hyperactive naughty behaviour’ that is still so intrinsically linked to ADHD. Our hyperactivity is quite often in the mind a lot of the time, a brain racing, that never stops. The inattentive trait is fobbed off as daydreaming. Our impulsivity can be seen in relationships or purchase habits, rather than say dangerous play or activities.
So, how did you first realise you may have ADHD? Can you see the same symptoms in your childhood?! I’d love to know your experience in the comments below.
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