If You’re An Overwhelmed Mom- Welcome Here!
I always knew there was something a little, er,
crazy creative about me. I changed schools 3 times and only graduated because there was a shortened GED program at the last school I attended.
I moved out when I was 16 and things got a little wild. They stayed wild until I met my husband at age 21. We got pregnant less than a year later and I had my daughter.
Having a baby really changed things because never was I supposed to take care of anyone but myself.
Now, suddenly I was responsible for 2 people.
I really, truly didn’t understand how other moms were doing what they were doing.
The never ending list of things to remember (doctors appointments, dentist appointments, family get togethers, baby and me classes) were an absolute fucking nightmare.
If I made plans or appointments there was a good chance I would bail simply because I said yes to everything but in reality I just couldn’t do it (or I genuinely forgot…).
Losing my keys and being so frantic trying to find them to leave the house was stressful BEFORE a baby- now I had to try to track down my keys, stuff a screaming baby into a car seat AND make sure a diaper bag was packed.
Keeping my house clean, my kids alive and my sanity felt like an impossible dream. (Want to get control of your disgusting house? Click here.)
By the time my third baby was born, things were getting bad. I felt like I was in a never ending downward spiral of shame.
What’s wrong with me? I would ask this every day, every night.
Why can’t I stay on top of things? Why am I SO unhappy? I have it all- loving husband, 3 beautiful kids, but I feel like I’m drowning.
I would google things like:
I can’t get through the day with my kids.
I’m frustrated all the time.
Having kids is overwhelming.
I’m tired of being a mom.
And then I would cry in shame that I felt this way about my beautiful life.
A Conversation About ADHD
When my third child was just over a year old, I went for lunch with a friend. I asked how she was and she said she had never felt better and then sheepishly admitted she was on medication,
I was so intrigued- what medication? What does it do?
She said it’s for ADHD and it completely changed her life:
- She was able to complete a task without stopping 20 times and never actually finishing it.
- She can remember appointments.
- Having a conversation is actually possible because she can FOCUS on what is being said- even if there are other people around and it’s loud.
- Work doesn’t feel overwhelming anymore.
After hearing this I’m almost in tears and full of wonder- THAT’S what ADHD is?
But of course, I don’t have it- right? Like, ADHD isn’t actually a thing, right?
What Is ADHD? And What Does It Look Like In Women?
See, when I thought of ADHD in the past, what came to mind was this:
A super energetic little boy in grade school, bouncing around like a maniac, causing a ruckus and talking incessantly.
That’s ONE form of ADHD. There’s actually 3. And it turns out that one of them doesn’t even have hyperactivity as part of the symptoms.
There is Hyperactive, Inattentive and a combination of the two.
Because the symptoms are so different from men, women and girls often get overlooked.
Some symptoms like feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, psychological distress, feelings of inadequacy and chronic stress are common to both males and females.
But there are some symptoms that play out in women differently.
- Do you feel overwhelmed in stores, at the office, or at parties? Is it impossible for you to shut out sounds and distractions that don’t bother others?
- Is time, money, paper, or “stuff” dominating your life and hampering your ability to achieve your goals?
- Do you often shut down in the middle of the day, feeling assaulted? Do requests for “one more thing” put you over the top emotionally?
- Are you spending most of your time coping, looking for things, catching up, or covering up? Do you avoid people because of this?
- Have you stopped having people over to your house because you’re ashamed of the mess?
- Do you have trouble balancing your checkbook?
- Do you often feel as if life is out of control, and that it’s impossible to meet demands?
- Do you feel like you’re always at one end of a deregulated activity spectrum — either a couch potato or a tornado?
- Do you feel that you have better ideas than other people but are unable to organize them or act on them?
- Do you start each day determined to get organized, and end each day feeling defeated?
- Have you watched others of equal intelligence and education pass you by?
- Do you despair of ever fulfilling your potential and meeting your goals?
- Have you ever been thought of as selfish because you don’t write thank-you notes or send birthday cards?
- Are you clueless as to how others manage to lead consistent, regular lives?
- Are you called “a slob” or “spacey?” Are you “passing for normal?” Do you feel as if you are an impostor?
- Is all your time and energy taken up with coping, staying organized, and holding it together, with no time for fun or relaxation?
Being An ADHD Mom
When I came home from this lunch with my friend, I obsessively googled everything I could about ADHD, ADD and eventually ADHD in women specifically.
Having kids and being ADHD is not for the faint of heart.
I found myself struggling every. single. day. with simple routines and tasks. Remembering and actually doing all these things that kids need (feeding, bathing, brushing teeth, making sure they get enough water and just straight up keeping them alive) was already too much for me.
Factor in the appointments, the play dates, the get togethers with family- I was angry.
So angry all the time but I couldn’t tell you why.
Scrambling around looking for my keys, trying to make sure everyone had socks, shoes, coats, hats and usually being asked a million questions or having a baby crying on top of it meant that I would have a meltdown almost every single time we left the house.
My poor children- they did not deserve such an angry mom.
Even after I took countless online ADHD tests, read article after article and, finally, actually got a diagnoses with my doctor– I STILL couldn’t accept that I might have this disorder.
I didn’t start medication right away- I wanted to try to ‘fix’ it myself. So I grabbed two books and binged them as fast as I could.
One was called “Women With ADHD” by Sari Solden.
The other one was “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Crazy Or Stupid?” by Kate Kelly.
If you’re wondering if you have ADHD- I highly recommend those books.
I decided to try medication after reading these books and learning that ADHD is an actual neurological imbalance in your brain. The books and my doctor all assured me that when you have ADHD and you start meds- you will KNOW.
A person who doesn’t have ADD that takes a stimulant will have a very different reaction than a person who does.
Taking a stimulant when you have ADHD calms you down.
To be clear, I really didn’t want to take medication. There is such a stigma around it and especially around stimulants. And there is the whole idea that these ADHD medications are being over prescribed and abused- they’re called ‘smart drugs’ and college students are taking them to study longer, harder and get better grades.
I really did feel weird deciding to try it but my doctor did reassure me that:
- I would KNOW within 2 days of taking the meds if I did indeed have ADHD.
- The meds wouldn’t change who I WAS as a person.
The second point was really important to me.
I felt like I was turning my back on something that made me who I was – what if taking medication took away some vital part of me? One that got me to where I am today?
What Does ADHD Medication Do?
The morning I took my medication for the first time (it was Concerta- a slow release cousin to Ritalin), I cried.
I cried because everything got… quiet. Calm.
There was no background steady stream of thought babbling through my head that I literally couldn’t turn off.
I could decide to do something and DO it.
It felt like my emotions were dialed down- in a GOOD way. Like I still felt the same things but so much less intensely.
I thought to myself, “Is this how normal people think? Is this what normal is?”
My kids fighting and being loud still annoyed me but it felt manageable.
Getting my kids dressed and out the door suddenly became something I could do without breaking down in tears of frustration.
The way I describe what medication has done for me is like this:
Medication is the missing ingredient to who I am as a person. It’s like trying to make a recipe but missing one key ingredient- it might work okay without it but it’s not great.
Medication has given me the chance to be the person I always KNEW I was already. Kind, patient and able to slow down.
It’s not the answer to all my problems– not by a long shot. But it’s shown me a different way of being is POSSIBLE.
My kids deserve me getting this extra help. I deserve it too.
This isn’t an advertisement preaching about medication. It’s a realistic look at what it can do for people (but moms especially) with ADHD. If you’re struggling right now- please contact me via the comment section or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d love to connect with you❤