Sometimes I look at myself and wonder what the hell has happened to the person I was only 5 years ago. But then I remember what has changed in the past 5 years and just how far I’ve come. Living with ADHD as a late-diagnosed woman, perimenopausal, mother to ND kids and through a pandemic has changed everything for me. But whilst it’s been tough -and still is at times. I honestly believe it has made me not only a better mother but a better person too!
Almost 10 years ago now I started with some symptoms which at the time were just unusual and that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Food allergies and intolerances I’d never had before. Feeling incredibly hot in bed all night long and struggling with insomnia. For a couple of years, I didn’t link them, and I certainly didn’t think it was menopause. I wasn’t even 40 and had just had Samuel a year or so earlier.
It took another 3 or 4 years to realise it was in fact menopause after symptoms started to get worse. I started experiencing the more common symptoms of hot flashes and brain fog. Then the fight began. Roll on another 4 years during the height of lockdown and finally a GP would listen to me, none would believe me/listen before then. She diagnosed me as perimenopausal over a telephone call (by then I was literally falling apart!).
Present day and I’m now on my third type of HRT and feeling so much better (bar the weight gain but that’s a whole other story, read my previous post for that). We need to keep talking about menopause and allow women to realise they don’t have to suffer in silence. To fight for GPs to be better educated on menopause and the devastating effects it can have on some women. To have women realise that for the majority HRT is a game changer!
Meanwhile, whilst all this was going on I was also dealing with realising that not only was my youngest severely Dyslexic, but he was also likely ADHD. So we began his still ongoing journey to ADHD diagnosis. On the back of all of this, it became my older boys were both ND too. The school automatically screened them when I told them about Sam’s dyslexia diagnosis. H was discovered to have DPD (delayed processing disorder) and F had dyslexic ‘tendencies’. So began organising support via the school for class and exam time.
As I began the journey with Sam’s ADHD answering questions and filling out forms, I realised that it also ticked a lot of boxes for F. I spoke to the school and they were of the opinion he just needed to knuckle down. But I knew deep down it wasn’t that and so I spoke to the GP and he advised me to self-refer him. The full story of our ADHD journey is here, but suffice it to say he was referred and diagnosed with the year. Getting him the proper support at school was another fight I wasn’t ready for.
I think for me it’s really tough to explain to others just how life with ND kids is a struggle. Not only do we have to deal with emotional dysregulation and executive function problems. Not only do we have to fight at every step to get our kids the support and education they deserve. But we also have to fight for acceptance of their diagnoses as there is still so much ignorance and lack of education out there.
So is it just me, but I still really struggle with the years and when the pandemic began and ended? It really is like we lost a couple of years along the way. I really struggled at the beginning and am not ashamed to say that my anxiety got the better of me. Add in undiagnosed perimenopause, undiagnosed ADHD, ND kids and homeschooling and it’s a recipe for disaster.
But I overcame my anxiety, I fought through it. I took the time on furlough to learn what worked best for each of my boys. I learned to let go a little. But I learned so much about what we could all ‘take’ as individuals. I fought for Sam when it became clear he wasn’t getting the support and work that was appropriate for him. And I also began to understand how differently H & F dealt with things. The pandemic taught me that we were all stronger than we realised.
ADHD in adult women
Because I wanted to learn all about ADHD, Dyslexia and DPD (what I now know is hyperfocus) I began reading as much as I could on the subjects. Reading about ADHD I began to come across articles about ADHD in adult women. How so many were missed as children. It started to make me look at my own life, my own childhood. The more I read, the more made sense. And when I learned that it’s genetic and that hormone imbalance can exacerbate symptoms (i.e. menopause). Then suddenly all the pieces of the jigsaw began to click together and I could see clearly.
I spoke to my GP and he sent me through the screeners for both ADHD and ASD, I scored highly on both so he referred me to begin on the pathway for diagnosis.
What I’ve learnt living with ADHD as an adult woman
So yes I struggle to regulate my emotions. I find running a household hard with my executive function issues. I find transition difficult – school holidays to BTS, and the other way around. And I like my routine, hate the chaos around me, and I get overwhelmed easily. But learning about my brain and how it works has given me the tools to work on coping strategies. Losing my filter has allowed me to be able to say the things I previously wouldn’t. To fight for the support my kids so rightly deserve. To stand up for myself where before I wouldn’t.
I have a unique insight into how my kids’ brains work. This has allowed me to develop patience and resilience that before I lacked. I have learnt to pick my battles and understand my children and their behaviours. Knowing what works for me, allows me to introduce to my kids and help them. I also hope more than anything that they see how I’ve dealt with my journey. See my openness and honesty and realise that they can do just the same.
I’ve learnt a lot in the last 5 years and I cannot wait for the next 5 and onwards! Living with ADHD as an adult woman isn’t easy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Thanks for being on this journey with me guys,
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