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By Nora Nord
’ve had an underlying feeling most of my life that something was wrong. I wondered why I couldn’t focus, finish things, why everything I did was so last minute. When I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult I felt like I had found the answer to so many questions. I wanted to know more and dive deeper into it.
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“I’m trying to create a catalogue of how ADHD shows up differently in all of us - hoping that a person will be able to relate to little pieces of experience here and there to understand their own mind better”
There are many systematic blindspots for spotting neurodivergence
It feels like this with both ADHD and Autism, and I’m sure this extends to other forms of neurodiversity as well. Most ADHD researchers didn’t start believing women could have ADHD until the 90s. We have catching up to do.
One theory as to why a diagnosis gap exists, is that most people don’t know the various ways ADHD behaviour manifests. The markers for neurodiversity are very focused on externalising behaviours, such as disruption and picking fights. Girls are socialised in a way that places more emphasis on emotional intelligence and assimilating.
On the one hand, as a woman I was less likely to be diagnosed early, if at all, and that had a significant impact on my self worth and general mental health. On the other hand, because I am white and privileged, I was equipped with the tools and support to do well and get by - even though I didn’t have a diagnosis or language around ADHD early on.
And at the end of the day, even though it was late, I did get diagnosed. Someone with less privilege not only has a smaller chance of getting that diagnosis, but their ADHD behaviours can become larger barriers in life. We need to acknowledge how race and class intersect with neurodiversity and the adverse effects not having access to mental health information can have on a person’s life.
“Someone with less privilege not only has a smaller chance of getting that diagnosis, but their ADHD behaviours can become larger barriers in life”
An increased sensitivity is often required of girls and women in social situations...
...which can make it easier and more urgent to mask ADHD. As a result, girls often show more internalising behaviours to deal with their struggles. Generally, regardless of your gender, if you show more internal manifestations of ADHD, it is more difficult to recognise those behaviours as linked to ADHD and not see them as personal flaws.
This is an oversimplification, obviously, and is the reason why I started my new podcast - You & Me: Let’s Talk About ADHD. During the pandemic I was struggling without any structure or mental health support, feeling stuck inside and more distracted than usual.
I was deep in an ADHD spiral when my partner encouraged me to explore those feelings and make art out of it. This project started as a way for me to learn how other people experienced ADHD and how they might cope with it, but quickly evolved to celebrate our neurodivergent brains.
The art I decided to create came in the form of a photography series, and from there, developed into the podcast. At one point it just made sense that these conversations I was having when taking the portraits had to be accessible to a wider audience.
“When I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult I felt like I had found the answer to so many questions.”
When I started researching ADHD I found the information incredibly unrelatable...
It’s always aimed towards white, middle-aged men in Florida. That said, there are some amazing groups like ADHD Babes who have created a community around Black women and Black non binary people with ADHD. I created this podcast to make the space I need, and to find the answers I wanted - and still want.
The podcast is almost entirely interview based
Although in what I call episode 0, I explore some of my own journey with ADHD. I want to make space for others and explore their narratives while also giving space to my own story. I’m trying to create a catalogue of how ADHD shows up differently in all of us - hoping that a person will be able to relate to little pieces of experience here and there to understand their own mind better.
Some of the experiences covered are the intersections between ADHD and queerness, chronic illness, class, race, transness, relationships, and food. But I also talk to an ADHD expert with 25 years of experience in diagnosing and helping people with ADHD. I guess in short, I wanted to create a house where someone can find pieces of themselves in every small corner and drawer. It’s messy, big and beautiful.
The prologue is out now and we will release an episode every week, for the next 8 weeks. You can find the podcast on our website and on Spotify.
Nora Nord speaks to The Stack about her journey with ADHD
By Nora Nord
The ‘Pure O’ or ‘purely obsessional’ type of OCD is characterised by distressing, intrusive thoughts and mental rituals to cope with them. Rae Elliman shares her experience of living with – and learning to manage – these hidden compulsions