What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
ADHD is a disorder that resides in the biology of a human’s central nervous system. It impairs self-regulation and executive functioning (Matlen, 2014, p. 4), which exhibits through inattention, excess energy/impulsivity, or a combination of both (Matlen, 2014, p. 4). The symptoms begin in the individual’s childhood (Henry & Hill Jones, 2011) and cause inabilities to function in one or more of their environments such as work, school, and home life (Mayo Foundation, 2019).
Executive Functioning: What is it?
Executive functioning entails skills such as planning, organizing, detail-oriented, problem-solving, and achieving goals (Matlen, 2014, p. 5). It’s the skills an individual needs to get from point A to point B. Adults with ADHD may not follow through on commitments and become easily distracted by external chaos and may find difficulty in enjoying quiet downtime activities (Matlen, 2014, p. 5). An example of impulsivity is when you walk into a store and purchase an item, not realizing that you do not need it, do not have space for it, or already have it (Matlen, 2014, p. 7). Inattentive is having trouble paying attention to details and can be easily distracted (Matlen, 2014, p. 8), which often leads to losing personal items such as keys or a wallet, or not being able to complete a task (Matlen, 2014, p. 15).
Everyday Life Difficulties: A Balancing Act?
Adult women are often misdiagnosed because of ADHD symptoms overlapping with other mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety (Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), 2019). Many individuals with ADHD have been labeled and/or may label themselves as lazy, overreactors, and/or have mass amounts of clutter (Matlen, 2014, pp. 13-14). Where decisions on what to organize, how to organize it, and thoughts of what tasks need to be completed before, during, and after the project (Matlen, 2014, p. 13) can be a barrier for most people.
Some examples involving impairment of executive functioning skills are excessive clutter, chronic disorganization, difficulty moving from an exciting motivating task to an unpleasant task, and memory lapses (Matlen, 2014, pp. 7 - 8). Clutter can occur during procrastination when the task becomes too difficult, too boring, and/or too overwhelming to figure out a system that works (Matlen, 2014, p. 15). Individuals with ADHD may have problems related to working memory (Matlen, 2014, p. 16). In short, if it is out of sight, it is out of mind mentality. Although society has instilled this stigma that everything we own must be put away (Matlen, 2014, p. 16). Women with ADHD may own junk drawers and put random items in boxes and closets (Matlen, 2014, pp. 16-17). I like to call these areas doom boxes.
Although, memory is a funny thing the items scattered throughout our home, office, and vehicle may be unorganized, but eventually these items may turn into patterns, and an individual may remember an item is in this box or one of three boxes. All these frustrating difficulties can affect emotional wellbeing. This can show itself through low self-esteem, overcompensation, and perfectionism, relating to feelings of shame, health issues due to stress, and/or fear of failure and success (Matlen, 2014, p. 17 ). The mind can be a running hamster wheel that may cause difficulty in sleep quality and eating habits (Fuller-Thomson et al., 2016), among other aspects of one’s life.
Assistance: Where to Begin?
If you find yourself and/or a loved one struggling with symptoms of ADHD, the first step to diagnosing is to receive an evaluation from a licensed practitioner such as your primary care doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or neurologist (Matlen, 2014, p. 11).
Fuller-Thomson, E., Lewis, D. A., & Agbeyaka, S. K. (2016). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder casts a long shadow: findings from a population-based study of adult women with self-reported ADHD. Child: Care, Health and Development, 42(6), 918–927.
Henry, E., & Hill Jones, S. (2011). Experiences of older adult women diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Women & Aging, 23(3), 246–262.
Matlen, T. (2014). The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus, and Get More Done. New Harbinger Publications.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, June 22). Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 8, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/symptoms-causes/syc-20350878.
Photo: Janes, C. (2020). Balance in Leadership. Predictive Success. Retrieved October 10, 2021, from https://www.predictivesuccess.com/blog/balance-in-leadership-2/.