Tips voor werkende moeders die ADHD thuis behandelen tijdens de pandemiapril 3, 2020
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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses among adults are growing four times faster than are ADHD diagnoses among children in the United States. ADHD is reported to occur in about 4.4% of the adult population. Still, most scientists believe adult ADHD remains underdiagnosed, partly because adults with ADHD often have other disorders that may mask the symptoms of ADHD.
Overall, ADHD is more prevalent in young boys. However, last month, the largest (and most unprecedented) surge in ADHD diagnoses was reported among girls and adult women — moms, to be exact. About 45% of women diagnosed with ADHD also meet the criteria for another disorder. Women are also more likely to have multiple psychiatric disorders during their lifetime than men. For example, women with ADHD are at higher risk — by 2.5 times — for major depression compared to women without ADHD. Women with ADHD that were not diagnosed until adulthood are also more likely to have a history of anxiety than are those without ADHD.
The COVID-19 pandemic has mothers struggling to juggle their responsibilities as house managers, employees, global citizen, and now child educator. It’s become an unexpected and (in some instances) debilitating life event that triggers their anxiety. 22-year-old Cameryn Vonbargen is a Kansas blogger, full-time nursing student and mother. Before her nursing program switched to 100% virtual learning, Vonbargen was positively focused on school. Now, she describes her experience coping with ADHD during the pandemic and is unsure if she’ll be able to remain interested:
“People with ADHD typically hyperfocus on something that interests them or challenges them. That is why many people hear that individuals with ADHD don’t thrive in school. I do find that being locked up inside of the house has impacted my mental health a bit. I get a little stir crazy, which progresses into me not being able to focus on anything! Or rather, having the motivation to do so!”
Vonbargen is trying to make sure her obligations are arranged in such a way that she will be motivated to complete them. “For example, I always took an outrageous amount of credit hours in school to keep myself busy,” she adds.
Best-selling author and founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO) Peter Shankman has been diagnosed with ADHD. He is the current host of Faster than Normal, a podcast focused on the gifts of having a “faster than normal brain.” Shankman believes there is a correlation between those diagnosed with ADHD and those who have experienced imposter syndrome:
“Having lived a good portion of our lives being told that our different ways of thinking, of doing things, of simply living, was wrong, even though those differences helped us achieve, is a hard thing just to let go. So as time passes and we navigate our way through our professional lives, we tend to be unable to accept our wins and successes.”
Interestingly enough, as minorities in the workplace, working mothers are more likely to experience imposter syndrome. If mothers can avoid internalizing the effects of the pandemic, and reframe the current challenge in front of them (from “the pandemic is going to make my work and home life suffer” to “the pandemic is going to make everyone’s work and home life suffer”), it will help them remain calm.
41-year-old Jess Harris is a Florida marketing consultant and podcaster diagnosed with ADHD. Harris reassures herself that the things she finds frustrating about her behavior and tendencies are simply due to the differences in how her brain works.
“I’m ‘out’ – everyone I know will eventually find out I’m ADHD, including and especially my boss and coworkers. This helps them to understand me better and helps me feel less anxious. Understand that your ADHD is a gift in many ways – be out and proud.”
A sentiment Shankman shares, as he believes it could be advantageous to explain to managers and colleagues how you’re most productive. One can argue that the pandemic has put us all “out” as working parents- now is not the time to be timid about our home and family obligations. In the office, that would look like working with headphones on to limit distractions and logging in earlier or later, so coworkers don’t remove you from a “zone of focus.” At home, it will require a customized work environment to keep your “fast brain” at full speed.
Lastly, Shankman recommends if an important project comes up in the next few weeks, women with ADHD should ask for a deadline if they haven’t been given one. Harris agrees, recognizing that she needs to be held externally accountable to project deliverables and timelines. “I tell my bosses and those I work with that I need the anchor of dates and deadlines because my brain cannot deal with abstract,” she adds.
Harris stresses: “As women, we have to remember, and honor, the fact that ADHD shows up differently for us. We tend to show more anxiety, and get into states of being overwhelmed. Fighting it won’t change it; in fact, it makes it worse.”
This is an unprecedented time in the fight towards work-life balance for working mothers. Similar to the recommendations made for women battling depression and anxiety, mothers with ADHD would do well to establish boundaries and set expectations with their children, their spouses, and their employers.