My name is Gretchen. I'm a postdoc studying natural resource management, and I have ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
I've seen therapists off and on since age 19, and never thought I needed meds. But once I started grad school, all my normal coping mechanisms began to fail. When I started writing my dissertation, I became completely paralyzed with anxiety. I started seeing a therapist, who referred me to a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder at age 32.
The anxiety disorder diagnosis didn’t surprise me, but ADHD did.
My brother and dad were diagnosed with ADHD when I was a kid, and they both have 'classic' hyperactive symptoms. (No surprise, since most ADHD research is on young white boys!) Adult ADHD diagnosis is more typical for women, who tend to present more inattentive symptoms (e.g. daydreaming). There are also significant disparities along racial and ethnic lines for ADHD diagnosis and treatment.
My ADHD symptoms mainly present as impulsivity, being easily distracted, inattention, difficulty switching tasks, and trouble with focusing on or starting tasks (unless there is a looming deadline!) After treating my anxiety, which was masking some of these symptoms, I started taking ADHD meds in early 2020.
Medication has been an important part of my treatment plan, but I also see a therapist weekly. I use cognitive behavioral therapy to address distorted thinking resulting from anxiety and ADHD. I also use behavioral strategies like automated reminders, online calendars, writing groups for accountability, and a daily task journal.
I try to talk openly about my mental health and treatment strategies, both in my ‘real’ life and on social media.
I started the #AcademicsWithADHD hashtag on Twitter to find other scholars with ADHD. This community has been really helpful for me! I post about ADHD, anxiety, and being an early career academic across Twitter (@GretchenSneegas), Instagram (@sistrgoldnhr), and on my blog. You’re also welcome to subscribe to my "Academics with ADHD" Twitter list!