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ADHD as an Adult, cis-Gender Woman

Hi, I’m Aidan (she/her). I have anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Below is my 5000-turned-2000-character recount of how I came to the realization that I have ADHD as an adult cis-gender woman. Jeez… It’s like I can’t stop talking or something.

I’ve never been fidgety. I’m not one to make careless mistakes. I am constantly organizing my planner & calendar to stay on time. I generally have a good work ethic & attention span for classes & meetings.

I’ve also always been the person with long, winding stories (e.g. this first draft). The person who picks up a new activity for 3 weeks, only to lose interest & leave it to collect dust. The procrastinator AND perfectionist. The “wait, what was I doing again?” person. And I lose my glasses 10 times in a day… in my own home.

I’ve struggled with anxiety & depression for as long as I can remember. Therapy has made me learn new coping strategies, & really get a handle on managing my mental illnesses. Once I was able to... dare I say… perfect *GASP* my coping mechanisms, new behaviours that I have been masking took over: Impulses. Memory loss, forgetfulness. Lack of concentration. Hyper-focus on tasks. Intense dissociation and brain fog. I just laughed at myself, called them "quirks", thought everyone experienced this in some form. But I knew, deep down, there was more to it.

I found friends who I was comfortable acknowledging my struggles with, who agreed & pushed me to consider a co-existing diagnosis. That’s when I really learned about the disconnect between child-diagnosed ADHD, and ADHD presenting in adults, specifically cis-gendered women. I put my working-PhD to good use, to do my research, and then talked to my doc and therapist. Hey guess what... there's not a lot of research out there! This must change. ADHD does not look the same on everybody, and absolutely presents differently as adults (and don't even get me started on the bias towards men versus women and BIPOC in the studies...).

Friends, I do not have "quirks", it’s ADHD! This gives a rhyme & reason to extreme-procrastination… crying in frustration at spending 45 minutes looking for my glasses in my own home… mid-day "crash naps"... sitting at my desk for an hour dissociated... forgetting every event that is not immediately put into my calendar... giving my entire headspace to learn a new hobby for 3 weeks… making 3 different “to-do” lists in order to remember what I need to do in one day… to why I decided to dye my hair, get a nose ring, & book a tattoo in a matter of 2 weeks.

Hi, I’m Aidan. Nice to meet you!


We thank Aidan for submitting her story for #PhDStrongerTogether ! Find her on Twitter (aidan_mowat) and Instagram (_aidanmowat).

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1 Comment

Ryan (she/her)
Ryan (she/her)
May 10, 2021

Yes! My story sounds similar to yours and this article from the New York Times really resonated with me:

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