We're getting better, as a society, about talking about what it's like to be non-neurotypical, especially in recognizing how widespread and normal it actually is. That doesn't mean we're not also carrying around outdated ideas of what our brains can and should be able to do. Attention deficit hyperactive disorder is one of the more recognized conditions out there, and it's often misunderstood even by the people who live with it.
That's why Noelle Faulkner was moved to write about her experience with ADHD for The Guardian. "The lost girls: 'Chaotic and curious, women with ADHD all have missed red flags that haunt us'" describes an adult who's poured immense amounts of energy into "masking," or compensating for the way her brain naturally works in order to maintain appearances, both at work and in life. ADHD is so closely associated with young boys that girls and women often aren't diagnosed until much later, if at all.
"Despite the name, ADHD doesn't exactly result in a 'deficit' of attention, but more an issue regulating it, making it harder to plan, prioritize, avoid impulses, remember things, and focus," she writes. "It's not always a lack of interest that makes it hard for us to process information, but our brain's desire to absorb so much of it."
If, as Faulkner relates, you're a woman who finds herself burning out with no recourse in sight, it might be worth examining your past for patterns in how you navigate the world. Discuss the matter with a mental health professional, who will be able to talk to you about next steps, whether you're a fit for an ADHD diagnosis or you simply need to adjust course. Read Faulkner's full essay for more perspective on the matter.