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ADHD; period; ADHD medication

woman laying on bed

I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Inattentive Type about three years ago—I was a fully functioning adult, married with children before finding out that my brain worked a bit differently. Of course I've known that I functioned a bit differently than my friends since childhood. The signs were there early on, but in the '80s diagnosing a girl with ADHD just wasn’t a thing that happened.

Much of the early criteria for ADHD was written based on how it presented in males, more specifically, white male children, and I was neither. Women like me are being diagnosed more and more lately and it’s likely because social media has connected us in a way that was lacking pre- doom scrolling days.

With the help of social media, women can connect with others who share the same symptoms that were once a source of shame. They can learn what testing to ask for and how to advocate for themselves while having an army of supporters that you’ve never met to encourage you along the way. A lot of women that are diagnosed later in life don’t want medication, they just want an answer. Finally having an answer is what nearly brought me to tears. I wasn’t lazy and forgetful because I didn’t care. I had a neurological disorder that severely impacted my ability to pay attention to detail and organize tasks from most important to least. Just having the answer was a game changer, but hearing that untreated ADHD can cause unchecked anxiety, which I had in spades, I decided to listen to my doctor and give medication a try.


About 30 minutes after my first pill I was actually able to sit still. My brain slowed down and thought one thing at a time. I was suddenly able to finish the tasks that I started in a few minutes instead of hours, or not getting done at all. I remember calling my older brother and crying into the phone telling him that for the first time in my life I was able to not only sit and create a list, but mark stuff off said list. The excitement over my new found executive functioning skills wrapped in a peach colored diamond shaped pill was short lived. For a week out of the month, the pill did nothing. My brain went back to ping ponging from idea to idea, subject to subject. Things for work went unfinished or were messily completed in a last minute hurry. It was beyond frustrating, and no one had an answer as to why my period affected my medication.

My psychiatrist at the time suggested that I was building up a tolerance, but I took “medication vacations” and really only took it during the work week. It wasn’t until I reached out in a group specifically for moms with ADHD out of sheer exasperation that I got answers. Comment after comment were women saying, “my meds don’t work when I’m on my period either.” So many women didn’t have an answer as to why, it was just something that they’ve accepted that comes along with being a woman with ADHD. A week out of the month, your medication that literally helps you function is essentially reduced to being a Tic-Tac. It has no effect, and the symptoms of ADHD are cranked up to 100 that week. It was the most fascinating, bizarre and infuriating revelation. Why isn’t this talked about more?

ADHD; ADHD medication

orange and white pills

Photo by Christina Victoria Craft on Unsplash

It seems that women are left to either struggle with thinking they’ve lost their minds or that their medication needs to be increased, when a lot of the time neither is true. In fact, after doing a bit of research I found a few articles written about the effects of estrogen on ADHD symptoms, but had difficulty finding one that was peer reviewed. Most articles were written by therapists and ADHD coaches that have been doing their own research into the matter to help their clients that menstruate.

One of the few peer reviewed articles found was by Chris Iliades, MD and peer reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH. In the article, Iliades notes that “The hormone estrogen affects receptors in the brain that release the naturally occurring chemicals serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. When estrogen levels drop during the weeks before a menstrual period or during the years before menopause, so does the level of these brain chemicals.” He goes on to explain, “because symptoms of ADHD are affected by many of these same brain chemicals, it stands to reason that women with ADHD are more sensitive to estrogen.”

The breakdown of how these chemicals work in conjunction with estrogen, which fluctuates throughout your menstrual cycle, is indeed interesting. But why are articles highlighting this issue outliers? Why aren’t doctors who prescribe these medications more forthcoming with this information? It makes you wonder if doctors are aware at all or if the biological makeup of women and girls taking ADHD medication is an afterthought that medicine has to catch up with. If it is an afterthought, there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of menstruating people who would love more research done on this—taking a weeks long vacation from work and daily life isn’t feasible. Here’s hoping for more research and doctors like Chris Iliades to tell us what to expect when ADHD and periods meet.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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