ADHD And Trauma

As I mentioned here a few months ago, I was diagnosed with ADHD in August of 2022.

In that post, I also made mention of how many of the symptoms associated with ADHD and Trauma overlap. Since then, I have produced a diagram to illustrate what I mean:

In the thirteen months since my diagnosis, I have done quite a bit of research on the subject of women, ADHD and how it manifests for us. Repeatedly, I have encountered people who hold the view that ADHD is a trauma response – that it is caused by trauma. I disagree. I am willing to accept that the symptoms of ADHD and trauma can exacerbate each other, but I don’t think that trauma causes ADHD. On the other hand I have read that having undiagnosed ADHD can be traumatic for some people: That constantly being treated as ‘naughty’, ‘careless’, ‘slow’, etc. can be traumatic for people who are emotionally sensitive, and feel blamed for things that are not their fault.

The medication I am taking for my ADHD has changed my life. I am no longer afraid of my own work – which may sound utterly daft, but every other woman I know who has ADHD also has this fear. We love what we do, we know we will enjoy doing it, we know that we are good at what we do – but we still find it difficult to get started because of a sense of fear, or anxiety around it. This is different to task initiation difficulty (which, of course, we have as well!), and it disappears with the medication. I know when my meds kick in because I get a small, but discernible, dopamine lift. Suddenly, I feel slightly more joyful and energised. Eagerly, I get stuck in to my work, and am able to focus so much better than previously. Since I started on the correct drug for me, I no longer multi-task, which is a blessing. It means I can concentrate on just one thing, and I don’t berate myself for doing one thing at a time, instead of being ‘efficient’ and doing (attempting!) to do several things at once.

Taking the drug makes me feel more confident, competent, and capable. One of the loveliest effects of the drug is that I like myself more. Not hating yourself is definitely something I endorse! It is important to note, however, that it is not just the medication that is responsible for my newfound happiness. I have continued to work on my healing; I have been busy working on some fulfilling projects; I have found my academic home at the University of Southern Queensland, with wonderful colleagues who value brilliant scholarship, instead of the ‘just do enough to get the piece of paper’ attitude that I encountered in Ireland. In addition, I am blessed with excellent health, an army of wonderful friends across the globe, and my children are living their best lives.

I accept that I will never be ‘cured’ of my ADHD, and I will never completely recover from the trauma I went through; but I can, I have, and I will continue to transmute the hurt into healing.