By Patti Schwab
The rate of women being diagnosed with ADHD has risen dramatically in recent years, which can bring a sense of relief and freedom, however the diagnoses itself does not erase a lifetime of low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and any other negative impact it’s had on the lives of countless women. The consensus of experts is that having a support system in place; whether it be in the in the form of family, friends, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication or peer support groups, is a necessary component of building a better life with ADHD. However, mostly due to lack of awareness support can be difficult to find.
Dedicating the month of October to raising awareness of ADHD and events such as the ADDA conference in Atlanta Nov. 9-12, are crucial in identifying these needs and creating resources to offer this much needed support. Lead by renowned experts in medical research, treatments, social and behavioral issues, these presentations and workshops are uniquely designed to tackle the challenges ADHD’rs struggle through every day.
Dr. Michelle Frank is a licensed clinical therapist specializing diagnosing and treating ADHD. She has proven to be a dynamic leader in empowering women with ADHD. Through her extensive knowledge of current research and development of new strategies and practices designed to bring women together to support each other, Michelle provides a safe environment for women to discover ways to connect and empower themselves.
“Women with ADHD spend so much time taking care of the needs of others in their lives that it is not uncommon for them to neglect themselves, this often leads to a sense of hopelessness and loneliness.” Michelle stated, “The purpose of the events in Atlanta is to offer women presentations and activities that will provided the connections we all need and also a safe place to just be themselves.”
She understands that making the decision to go to the conference can be difficult. “It is common for most women to put the needs of everyone else before themselves, but for women with ADHD it often results in creating a crippling state of anxiety and greater isolation”. She also related she had the similar fears and rationales for not going to her first ADDA conference: family obligations, work, financial affordability and she would be there alone.
“I felt an enormous sense of belonging as soon as I walked into the room. I was instantly transported to a place where I felt that I could be myself, relax, connect and have fun. It was truly a transformative and life-changing experience. I know how difficult it is to make that first step alone, but it was also one of the last steps I ever took alone.
Michelle describes the events for women in Atlanta as providing structure and guidance to move through a track of activities and gatherings that will help women feel free to be open and find a brighter path to their future.
The Women’s Unity Lunch will be the perfect opportunity to casually connect and network with women just like you. Michelle promises social awkwardness is not part of the equation at this gathering so you can just bring your lunch, be yourself and enjoy.
There will be Touch Point Activities that will focus on promoting self-care. These are your casual moments to drop in to find some peace and have fun in “playing” with arts and crafts. Learning from the facilitators prompts how to best put your reflections down on paper by journaling. The Women’s Circle will bring together women in small group discussion to share their stories prompted by topics and lead by a chosen facilitator from each group. The Unity Wine” will be the final women’s activity to meet one last time to share conversation and laughs with your new friends and exchange information to help you stay connected long after Atlanta.
Although there will be many events and activities to attend you are always free to take time for yourself to relax and recharge.
The main message I took from my conversation with Michelle is how important it is for women with ADHD be empowered; to support each other; to take the time to find our strengths and to move forward with confidence in our ADHD lives. I think this weekend in Atlanta will be a big step in helping us all get there.