Sorrow for the Unemployed ADHD Woman

Everyone pities you when you're jobless, even more so when you're diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).
ADHD & the City | posted by Jane D.
Jane D.

On the surface I am the same woman—fashionable, smiles, laughter. But since the layoff, I feel like inside I’ve been cut from the lifeboat, and am floating further away from civilization. What happens when a woman with attention deficit disorder doesn't have a man or a job? And what happens when that woman can no longer afford her ADHD medication?

Now with zero structure, I've been getting up closer to lunchtime than breakfast. I've been checking email and text messages as if technology were cocaine. I have been surfing through job boards, wondering what’s next, what's the best career for an adult with ADHD? There are several directions I could take, and I am as indecisive as a kid at a candy store.

The father pities me, as does the sister. I can see it in their eyes. Maybe they see something in me—panic, a weariness, and fear. I wonder if they can see through my soul, and I draw back, throwing up a defensive wall. Woe is me, at 33, I have no man and no job. Why don't I go into a convent?

The greater worry is how to make next month's rent and then how to finance health care. I will soon have to pay out of pocket for medications treating anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD / ADHD). I am dying for a low-cost generic alternative, for medications like the stimulant Adderall, not the fancy brand-name drugs that I've gotten under the current health plan.

Last night, I lay in bed sleepless because I had overdosed on sleep the nights before, and I stared at the ceiling, wondering when I would ever find peace—peace of heart, peace of mind.

During the family dinners this holiday season, the father said that I needed to focus. I needed to stop checking emails, and to stop all of these random ideas and thoughts.

"I can't," I told him. "It's not as if I want these thoughts, they just come to me." I did not choose to have thick hair, to have broad shoulders, to be Asian, I did not choose these things.

If I had a choice I would want to be self-disciplined, contained, and normal. I don't want to be sparky, colorful, or quirky. I wish I could stop jumping from thought to thought, from conversation to conversation. The attention deficit disorder self is who I am. Don't they understand this, that I didn’t choose to have ADHD and all the symptoms of inattentiveness and forgetfulness that come with it? Argh. In a quiet moment after a recent dinner with relatives, I asked the father if there was something wrong with me, something noticeably different since the layoff. "Am I more anxious or nervous, do I look OK?" I asked, my voice uncertain.

"You look OK, not bad under the circumstances, and you've always been anxious and nervous," he said.

Somehow it sounded like a white lie. Maybe I was worse off than I thought I was.

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