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Hi SuRi, I am sorry you are going through this. As a parent, I can imagine how painful it must be. I see a lot of myself in your daughter. When I was diagnosed at 27, I had a lot of mixed feelings. As much as my diagnosis was a relief and a validation, it stirred up a lot of sadness for “little me,” who had always felt inferior and ashamed. And it made me wonder what else I might have been able to accomplish if I had had the support and self-confidence that I needed. .
I think a lot of women with ADHD bear some scars that men might not necessarily have. Until recently, ADHD was considered to be a condition that affected white, middle-class, elementary-age boys. There was little recognition of how ADHD manifested differently in girls, especially girls who earned good grades and didn’t pose many discipline problems. Even in the most liberal of families, there is still a societal expectation that girls are to be neat, organized and conscientious. As women, especially if we are married and/or have kids, we are usually responsible for organizing not only our own lives, but the lives of everyone else in the household too – the “superwoman” who can juggle everything. For me, and for many of us I think, the person who was most active in teaching me about being neat, organized, etc. was my mom, and she was the one who was exasperated and disappointed when I couldn’t seem to learn these skills the way my sister could. In a way, I felt like I was flawed and deficient not only as a person, but as a female as well, because I couldn’t live up to my mom’s example of what (I felt) I was supposed to be and do. I also had the (not very reasonable) feeling that as long as I was doing well in school, going to university, etc., etc., and doing all the things that would seem to reflect well on my mother as a parent, that was all she cared about, and not whether I was struggling inside. When I got diagnosed, I suddenly remembered so many times that my mom had been angry with me or made me feel bad about things that we now know were ADHD-related, and I felt as angry as if it had all just happened yesterday.
A year isn’t a long time for your daughter to re-evaluate and re-process a lifetime of experiences based on what she now knows. She is thinking back over her whole life and experiencing all those feelings again, and unfortunately you’re suffering the brunt of it. A lot of it probably isn’t even about you.
My best advice: Don’t take it personally, and don’t blame yourself. You did the best you could with the information you had at the time, the same as my mom did. We all have things we would have done differently if we’d only had a crystal ball. With time comes perspective, and your daughter will come to realize this. In the meantime, I think you are doing something important by reading up on ADHD and learning as much as you can. Don’t grovel for forgiveness or tolerate abusive language – you aren’t to blame – but try to talk to her about her past experiences, if she is open to it; maybe she feels like you don’t really understand what it was like for her and thus you can’t make a real apology? After many years of feeling misunderstood, maybe she just needs to give voice to some of her feelings and to know that she’s being heard. I’m sorry you are experiencing this and that I don’t have any real solutions, but I really believe that having patience will pay off dividends. Big hugs to you!