Talks by Kerry: ADHD in Girls and Women

I recently wrote a guest piece for the Talks By…. Megan blog, all about ADHD in women and girls. Read it here, and make sure you follow Megan’s blog too! She is really great to work with and inspirational.

I’m Kerry and I have a lifelong history of mental ill health diagnoses. I advocate for women and girls who are being overlooked, who are being told they are crazy, ill-equipped to deal, ditzy or over-sensitive, when in fact they have ADHD.

I am a Mum to a boy age 12 and a girl age 9. My son is autistic, so neurodiversity is woven into our lives. But did I think my daughter and I were autistic? No way! We were two messy, sociable, artsy peas in a pod; completely different characters from him. But then I learnt about how autism and ADHD often huddle closely together under the genetics umbrella and how ADHD often looks different in girls (not like how most people see it and measure it; how it mainly presents in boys). That’s when the proverbial light bulb moment hit.

Maybe, all this time, after decades of medication, failed relationships, close scrapes and panic attacks, I have had ADHD; not anxiety, depression, PTSD, and all the other labels slapped on me. Maybe I wasn’t useless and lazy, maybe there has always been a neurological reason why I am so messy and forgetful, have never achieved all that I wanted to, and have always been distracted by the new shiny thing just out of reach rather than appreciating life in the here and now.

I look at my daughter and it is like looking in a mirror. Her reflection looks back at me and demands a better life, full of more understanding. 

I am now doing all I can to get my daughter and me an ADHD diagnosis. People may wonder why I feel the need to pursue a diagnosis for us, why I want to put us both in a ‘box’. But I am not after a box; just the correct toolkit and map to navigate life and get the most out of it. When people are diagnosed with mental health conditions when they actually have ADHD, it is like giving them a map of Thailand to help them find their way around Vietnam. Very similar places on the surface from afar, yes, but a map of Thailand when you are actually in Vietnam is useless nonetheless. And this needs to change.

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