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ADHD Real Life Story By Eddie Foster

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neuro developmental condition which can be inherited from a parent at birth or developed through exposure to trauma through childhood. It is also possible to develop it as an adult.

It lies in the under development of the prefrontal cortex, which controls attention and organisation, and the limbic system, which regulates our emotions, autonomic functions, and behavioural responses.

ADHD brains also have low levels of dopamine which helps to control the brain’s pleasure and rewards centre.

It is estimated that there are over 2 million women in the UK who have ADHD, but are still undiagnosed. These women, like myself, who was only recently diagnosed at the age of 38, will no doubt have been suffering all their lives thinking at times that they’re stupid, thick, weird and wondering why they struggle with so many everyday things that other people seem to find effortless, such as short-term memory, organisational skills, and severely struggling to regulate emotions. Often these symptoms will be misdiagnosed as anxiety or depression, or both.

Due to new research primarily based on adult women, as opposed to the young, white male research model which was what people associate with ADHD: more women are thankfully now being diagnosed, which is why in some circles, the amount of women now being diagnosed has been described as a ‘trend’. It is not. For those women, like myself, finally having a diagnosis is illuminating and relieving.

When it comes to ADHD symptoms, boys generally show up differently to women: being rude in class, hyperactive and having so much energy they are bouncing off the walls, so it is far easier to spot in males from a young age. For females, however, that hyperactivity can become internalised, resulting in hyperactive thinking.

For me, on an average day my brain feels like I have 6000 tabs open on a computer and not knowing which one to focus on. Or being at a junction with 60 traffic lights all flashing different colours.

But it’s the incessant stream of intrusive thoughts which are like popping candy which cause the most disruption as they warp reality and can cause severe paranoid thinking.

As a child I was brought up with two siblings and two parents in a household full of chaos and dysfunction.

In some regard I feel like having a nervous system constantly on high alert due to exposure to constant fighting and unhappy parents is somewhat to blame for a good portion of my anxiety.

Trauma can be closely linked with ADHD but it’s nuanced and complex. Something which is different for everyone and is reason why ADHD has been so lately diagnosed in life for many people as some of the symptoms can manifest the same for both.

At school, I remember being around average in class – good at art, but my mind would drift off to places frequently in all other subjects and if things weren’t hands on or creative or interesting to me I would lose myself in hours of daydreaming.