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ADHD & Memory

Before my ADHD diagnosis, if there was one thing I had confidence in, it was my memory. I could remember things most couldn’t—like the theme song for Fuji Television’s coverage of the FIFA World Cup in 2010, or what I dressed up for at my preschool’s Halloween party (Ariel from The Little Mermaid.) I’d even become fluent in Japanese by the time I was 17 (thank you, hyper-focus), was generally good with names and memory-based games were a piece of cake. You know, the kinds of things that would be considered the hallmarks of a Good Memory™.

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ADHD as a woman

Having ADHD is hard. However, I’d like to bet that being a woman with ADHD is harder.

First and foremost, research on ADHD is inherently biased towards boys, and as a result, we’re often misdiagnosed for years until we figure out the right answer. We develop co-morbid conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, and eating disorders when left undiagnosed and untreated. But research shows that more and more women are getting diagnosed and treated for ADHD: in recent years, the use of ADHD medication by women between the ages of 24 to 36 increased by 85%. Clearly, that means we’re now being diagnosed at a higher rate, too.

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Telling my family about my ADHD diagnosis

When I was first officially diagnosed with ADHD, I felt like a massive weight had been lifted. My suspicions had been confirmed, after all.

Then came the realisation that I would have to start telling people, including my family… who live about 7,000 km away in Australia.

The thing is, the world was a very different place when I was first diagnosed with ADHD last year—sure, COVID-19 was very much a thing in China, but it had barely made its way to Japan at that point. Both my mum and brother had plans to visit Japan that March, so I figured it’d be easier to tell them in person rather than over a Skype call. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. Australia’s ban on international travel for citizens meant that my mother and brother’s plans to visit were put on hold—and so were my plans to tell them.

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Getting diagnosed with ADHD as an adult woman

For the longest time, I thought I was one of the laziest people on the face of this earth. If I had to describe myself honestly, I would call myself the Queen of Procrastination. Anything that could be put off until the last possible minute—finishing work, cleaning my room, paying bills, responding to messages—was. However, it was never because I didn’t want to do those things—I could just never bring myself to do them any earlier. If I’m being completely honest, for the most part, this is still the case. The difference? I now know what the root cause of my ‘laziness’ is—Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

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