Aug 23

Women With ADHD: Often Looks Different Than Men’s

Women with ADHD: the condition often looks different for girls and women than it does for boys and men.

Therapist Sari Solden pointed out years ago that girls with ADHD are often overlooked. She’s the author of the groundbreaking and bestselling 1995 book Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embracing Disorganization at Home and in the Workplacerevised and expanded in 2005. Her newer book, A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldly, and Break Through Barriers, followed in 2019.

Dr. Ellen Littman, co-author of Understanding Girls with ADHD, indicates that girls’ symptoms often increase after puberty, which is the opposite for many boys. And Solden notes that girls who are smart and receive good support and structure are less likely to draw notice.

Solden devised a self-test regarding women with ADHD. Click on the link.

One of the newest books about women with ADHD is Adult Women With ADHD: The Unconventional Guide To Coping With Neurodiversity With Tips for Avoiding Distractions, Managing Emotions and No Longer Feeling Like a Failure, Turning Into a Superwoman by Pansy Bradley. Enough said!

Zoe Kessler, who didn’t find out she had ADHD until she was in her 40’s, wrote ADHD According to Zoë: The Real Deal on Relationships, Finding Your Focus, and Finding Your Keys (2013). The online Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD Questionnaire helped her self-diagnose (HuffPost):

By question four, I panicked. I had no idea why these questions were even on the test. Wasn’t everybody like this?

Apparently not.

Getting diagnosed, though, led to a “positive shift in self-perception” for her. She adds, “Knowledge about ADHD will set you free from a path of unmet goals and unanswered questions.”

Another resource is Linda Roggli‘s website and book. Midlife women with ADHD can find support at Roggli’s Her 2011 Confessions of An ADDiva: Midlife in the Non-Linear Lane has been widely praised by those who can relate.

A few brief quotes from “This Is My Brain on ADD”, found on her website

The psychiatrist who specialized in adult ADD told me to come by at 3:00 p.m. I arrived at 3:14 p.m.
He wasn’t surprised.

I did try medication—several of them, in fact. Some of them made me sleepy, which piqued my interest. If my brain slowed down on stimulants, maybe it did have some wiring problems.

Ultimately, medications didn’t work for me (in part because I couldn’t remember to take them).

The following two guides are also from the chapter in question:

ADD clues you won’t find in the DSM-IV
• Illegible handwriting
• “I have to do it my way”
• Profound sense of failure
• Feeling like a fraud; hiding yourself
• Overcontrolling of self, others, events
• Interrupting yourself
• Easily frustrated; quick trigger to anger
• Very emotional; highest highs, lowest lows
• Obsessive tidiness
• Constantly reorganizing, creating a new “system”
• Making simple tasks complex
• Inability to stick with a diet, exercise; weight issues
• Many intimate partners; impromptu sex
• Difficulty with spatial tasks–puzzles, etc.
• A constant sense of being “swamped”
• Anxiety; a baseline of unease in the world
• Sensitive to labels in clothes, bright light, loud noises

The Truth About Diagnosis
• There is no absolute test for ADHD
• It’s OK to get a “second opinion”
• A “functional diagnosis” can be made via a thorough intake interview with an ADD-savvy physician or psychologist
• Expect to feel relief and grief after diagnosis
• Not everyone has ADD – despite what you may believe
• Having ADD does not mean you are brain damaged
• Medication helps some people; expect to try several of them

See this page for additional books by various authors on this subject.

Aug 16

ADHD Love: “Dirty Laundry” and “ADHD Advantage”

Two books that aim to empower those diagnosed with ADHD are the new one by ADHD Love founders Richard Pink and Roxanne Emery, Dirty Laundry: Why Adults with ADHD Are So Ashamed and What We Can Do to Help and Dr. Dale Archer‘s The ADHD Advantage: What You Thought Was a Diagnosis May Be Your Greatest Strength (2015).

I. Dirty Laundry

This was written from the perspective of both members of a couple: Rich is the spouse of a woman, Rox, who has ADHD. They’re widely known for their ADHD Love brand, available on several social media platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

From the publisher: “Every chapter starts with a common symptom of ADHD, like impulsivity or struggles with finances, and an earnest moment from their own lives to show you how they navigate the symptom together. Rox reminds you to be kind to yourself and love yourself for who you are; Rich offers tips on how he uses compassion and honesty instead of jumping to conclusions.”

In their book’s Introduction: “Why is Everyone Crying?!” (available on the Amazon book site), Rich writes about fans’ common response to them: “Of course, my ADHD wife knew exactly why this young woman, and all the rest of the people we met, were crying. It’s almost like they speak the same language, an unwritten dialogue of understanding that comes, ironically, from a lifetime of being misunderstood. She knew why they were crying because she’s one of them.”

Rox explains further: “It’s shame. The same shame I had felt for my entire life, until I received an ADHD diagnosis at age 36 and, soon afterward, became part of an incredible internet community of people just like me.”

And further down the page: “I know the dark nights that people with an ADHD diagnosis have had to get through, often alone. I know the shame that living undiagnosed can bring, and I know the absolute relief of watching a 30-second video on TikTok and being able to breathe for the first time in 30 years, because Oh my god, it isn’t just me.”

II. The ADHD Advantage

Dale Archer espouses his own type of ADHD love in The ADHD Advantage: What You Thought Was a Diagnosis May Be Your Greatest Strength. His previous bestseller was Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional.

From Publishers Weekly on “the ADHD advantage”:

According to Archer, possible benefits include the ability to work under pressure, rebound from crises, multitask, and conceive of ideas outside the box. Part I of the book provides historical, genetic, and pathological context, Part II focuses on the so-called ‘ADHD advantages’ in more detail, and Part III connects them to entrepreneurship, athletics, and interpersonal experiences. Part I also contains the most potentially controversial material: Archer’s recommendation that ADHD sufferers and their guardians avoid managing the condition with medication and instead follow a ‘skills, not pills’ approach…

What are some other ADHD traits that can be helpful? According to the review by Anne Parfitt-Rogers, New York Journal of Books, they include:

  • lateral thinking
  • compassion
  • a sense of humor
  • good spirits
  • hyper-alertness when occupied

More about the medication issue? “The book presents a balanced approach, not ruling out medication altogether but reserving this as a last resort or for the most severe cases. As one specialist puts it, ‘Pills without further therapy don’t do much at all.’ Dr. Archer also mentions the serious adverse effects, such as stunted growth and suicide.”

Instead of medication? Included suggestions are “increased involvement in sports, associative learning styles, behavioral training, and addressing factors such as sleep and family problems. Promising results from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy as well as ‘medication holidays’ for those on prescribed drugs are discussed.”

Aug 10

Women Are Mad: And By Mad, I Mean Angry

Several years ago Kamala Harris was labeled a “mad woman”—angry, in other words—by Trump. Feminists in general over the decades have been called mad. These days women of all backgrounds and beliefs are truly mad—so mad they’re showing up in droves (along with male allies) to vote for the rights others want taken away. Abortion rights, for instance.

In Rebecca Traister‘s Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger she takes on this phenomenon. Selected quotes:

We are never forced to consider that rage—and not just stoicism, sadness, or strength—ere behind the actions of the few women’s heroes we’re ever taught about in school, from Harriet Tubman to Susan B. Anthony. Instead, we are regularly fed and we regularly ingest cultural messages that suggest that women’s rage is irrational, dangerous, or laughable.

Perhaps the reason that women’s anger is so broadly denigrated—treated as so ugly, so alienating, and so irrational—is because we have known all along that with it came the explosive power to upturn the very systems that have sought to contain it. What becomes clear, when we look to the past with an eye to the future, is that the discouragement of women’s anger—via silencing, erasure, and repression—stems from the correct understanding of those in power that in the fury of women lies the power to change the world.

...(W)hat is bad for women, when it comes to anger, are the messages that cause us to bottle it up, let it fester, keep it silent, feel shame, and isolation for ever having felt it or re-channel it in inappropriate directions. What is good for us is opening our mouths and letting it out, permitting ourselves to feel it and say it and think it and act on it and integrate it into our lives, just as we integrate joy and sadness and worry and optimism.

…(W)e must come to recognize our own rage as valid, as rational, and not as what we’re told it is: ugly, hysterical, marginal, laughable.

The other side of the anger is the hope. We wouldn’t be angry if we didn’t believe that it could be better.

In a New York Times piece Traister eloquently stated the following:

If you are angry today, or if you have been angry for a while, and you’re wondering whether you’re allowed to be as angry as you feel, let me say: Yes. Yes, you are allowed. You are, in fact, compelled.

If you’ve been feeling a new rage at the flaws of this country, and if your anger is making you want to change your life in order to change the world, then I have something incredibly important to say: Don’t forget how this feels.

Tell a friend, write it down, explain it to your children now, so they will remember. And don’t let anyone persuade you it wasn’t right, or it was weird, or it was some quirky stage in your life when you went all political — remember that, honey, that year you went crazy? No. No. Don’t let it ever become that. Because people will try.

A couple other interesting books that address the idea that women are mad are Brittney Cooper‘s Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower (2018) and Soraya Chemaly‘s Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger (2018).

Aug 09

Shyness: “Shrinking Violets” by Joe Moran

Whether discussing embarrassment, stammering, stage fright, or reticence, Moran considers the impact of shyness on creativity and its myriad contributions to fiction, art, and music. Beautifully written, appealingly candid, and thoroughly engaging…Christopher Lane, author of Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness, about Joe Moran’s Shrinking Violets

Christopher Lane, PhD, who’s quoted above, has been a critic of pathologizing and medicalizing shyness. It’s no surprise, then, that he appreciates cultural historian Joe Moran supporting this same type of position in his 2017 “field guide” subtitled The Secret Life of Shyness.

Moran, who comes out as a so-called “shrinking violet” himself, also names other shy individuals—including famous ones such as Charles Schulz, Agatha Christie, Morrissey, and Oliver Sacks—and tells their stories. He notes that even those individuals who aren’t regularly shy often admit to having shyness in certain situations.

“If I had to describe being shy,” wrote Moran in his blog, “I’d say it was like coming late to a party when everyone else is about three glasses in. All human interaction, if it is to develop from small talk into meaningful conversation, draws on shared knowledge and tacit understandings. But if you’re shy, it feels like you just nipped out of the room when they handed out this information.”

Although introversion is commonly associated with shyness, they are not actually one and the same. On the other hand, Moran makes clear, there is often overlap. Unlike Susan Cain‘s approach to introversion in Quiet, though, Moran doesn’t strongly emphasize the benefits of shyness. Sure, it “…might have certain accidental compensations — being less susceptible to groupthink and more able to examine the habits and rituals of social life with a certain wry detachment, perhaps. Mostly it is just a pain and a burden.”

Megan Garber, The Atlantic, on additional pros and cons identified by Moran in Shrinking Violets:

The shy are frequently thoughtful and occasionally brilliant. They are often sensitive to the needs, and the gaze, of others. The problem is that they live in a world that, despite the commonality of shyness, has extremely little patience for it…Shyness, so emotionally adjacent to shame, is often also regarded as a cause for it. Within a culture that so deeply values self-confidence—and that takes for granted that social skills are external evidence of one’s internal self-regard—shyness is seen with suspicion.

From the conclusion of book reviewer Paul Laity, The Guardian:

Shyness isn’t a pathology, even in the age of the selfie and Facebook’s ‘radical transparency’, nor can it be dismissed as an excuse for the socially lazy. On the other hand, being quiet or tongue-tied shouldn’t be confused with great depth of thought, or a flair for ‘avoiding the platitudinous’. Having set out his array of enjoyable examples from stuttering King George VI to Charlie Brown, Moran [states that]…shyness is…simply ‘part of the ineluctable oddness of being human’.

Aug 02

“We Are the Luckiest” Followed by “Push Off from Here”

In the world of “quit lit” two books by Laura McKowen are in vogue: memoir We Are the Luckiest:The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life and the newly released Push Off from Here: Nine Essential Truths to Get You Through Sobriety (and Everything Else). 

McKowen is the CEO and founder of The Luckiest Club, a supportive online community for those seeking recovery from alcohol addiction.

I. We Are the Luckiest

Fear of losing her preschooler daughter provided McKowen the main impetus to seek help for her alcoholism. Publishers Weekly: “McKowen makes the case that her addiction, while incredibly painful and difficult, ultimately made her lucky by allowing her to experience an alcohol-free life. Even as she encourages others to follow her path, she acknowledges it is excruciating…but promises it’s worth it. McKowen’s moving story will be a boon to those seeking help with addiction.”

Selected Quotes from We Are the Luckiest

One of the students raised his had and said, matter-of-factly, ‘I’m afraid I can’t stop drinking.’

The room went silent. All eyes went to our teacher, David.

Without missing a beat, he smiled, looked at him, and said, ‘Of course you can. Are you drinking now?’


‘And now?’

He smiled, and said softly, ‘No.’

‘…and how about right now?’

We all smiled this time.


Loneliness started to abate only when I began to really let people in and tell them the truth, and that took a long, long time. The antidote to loneliness wasn’t just being around others or sharing common ground. It was intimacy.

If something is keeping you from being fully present and showing up in your life the way you want, then deciding to change that thing is a matter of life and death. It’s the difference between existing and actually living.

II. Push Off from Here: Nine Essential Truths to Get You Through Sobriety (and Everything Else)

From the publisher: “When Laura McKowen was two years sober, she received an email from a woman whose sister was struggling with alcohol addiction. McKowen had barely climbed out from the dark place the woman’s sister was in, but she made a list of the things she most needed to hear when she was deep in her own battle.”

Here is that list on which Push Off from Here is based:

1. It is not your fault.
2. It is your responsibility.
3. It is unfair that this is your thing.
4. This is your thing.
5. This will never stop being your thing until you face it.
6. You cannot do it alone.
7. Only you can do it.
8. You are loved.
9. We will never stop reminding you of these things.

Hello Someday Coaching offers a brief description of each of the above. Scroll down the page (on the link provided) to find it.

Readers of Push Off from Here emphasize that people dealing with challenges other than alcohol addiction can also benefit from this book.