Smart Girls with ADHD

ADHD isn't one-size-fits-all

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Guest Blog by Merel - Another Smart Girl with ADHD

ADHDBeth HarveyComment

It really was the name of the blog that drew my attention. Because honestly, if you surf the net, there are plenty of things out there on ADHD. PLENTY. Sometimes I feel like everyone has become an expert all of a sudden. There are endless lists of "what it feels like if you have ADHD" or "what to know when you love someone with ADHD" or "life hacks for people with ADHD" and so on. (Don't get me started on what happens when you get hyperfocused on reading those lists; half a day down the draaaain!) I've read lots of those lists (some of them are actually really good). When I am reading them I feel understood. But then I jump back into the real world only to find out that, in my own reality, nobody I know understands what it's like to be somebody with ADHD or to love somebody with ADHD (except for my boyfriend that is, poor chap :D). What use are lists if there are no other people to connect with, to check my reality with?! (and no, forums are NO good; ten for ten henhouses OMG)

But the title of Beth's blog stood out a little. No, actually a LOT!

Smart girls with ADHD.

"Whohooohoo SMART girls with ADHD, YEEEES, they ARE out there"


But from the moment I had clicked "like" and "follow" on every social medium possible (well, every one that I am familiar with that is), I had second thoughts (the classical split decision second doubts) :D What kind of girl would call herself SMART?! I gotta admit I first thought it was a bit cocky. Where I am from, we don't do that, calling yourself smart. Only other people are allowed to do that.

I'm not smart


We are a modest and humble; it is part of our upbringing. But apparently also where Beth's from, so she writes, on her blog.

"Aha I am going to like this one", I thought. *continues to read*

(I have to admit I have skipped through the blog like a squirrel, had to read every item on there at least three times to make sure I got it all).

And I must admit I do fit her description of a "smart girl with ADHD".

So, smart? But, at the same time, not allowed to call myself smart - how does that work, huh? Well, I have a medical degree and I am currently doing a residency. To most people a doctor equals smart. Which is of course a wrong assumption as I know a lot of stupid doctors (we cannot all be as smashing as Dr. Carter used to be, because girls, he truly IS the perfection of a doctor). At work however, I am not considered the brightest bulb in the tanning bed.

Supervisor: "Give me the answer to this question"

Me: "What was the question? What is this about? I wasn't even paying attention, I know nothing, heeeellppp".

So being and feeling smart depends a lot your own perspective. Like Beth says, we should start being proud of how far we've come and not depend on external factors for our self-worth. That is why I like her blog so much. It has as goal to empower and encourage others. We should start looking at some of the amazing things we can do because of our ADHD instead of looking at we can't. Yeah smart girls unite!

And yes, of course, I am a girl, a 29 year old I might add. I will turn 30 this year (or twenty-ten as the deniers like to say :D). To some, this is the age of a woman ("I am not a girl, not yet a womaaan''). At work I try to behave as a doctor-woman-person something. But whenever I am allowed to be myself I am definitely still a girl, even a child at times :)

growing old

And yes, I have ADHD. Writing it down gives me shivers. I've known this for about two years now and I still haven't come to terms with it. Why? Because doctors don't get ill. We keep working when we are physically or mentally sick. Doctors don't go see doctors and certainly not psychiatrists. It is the irony itself. Amongst the people that treat all kinds of illnesses in the rest of the population illness itself is not accepted. Especially when it comes down to psychiatric conditions. You are weak when you admit you have a burn-out or suffer from depression. You are crazy when you tell you have autism or ADHD. It is just not accepted.

your crazy is showing

Unless you are the lucky to come across a colleague whom has a family member suffering from the condition you are bound to be misunderstood. It will work as a stigma and haunt you for the rest of your career. And it is probably like that in a LOT of jobs.


So there you have it - why I cannot (at least not immediately) reveal my identity (whoo mystery ghost writer kind of thing, right?) I am in a vulnerable position as a resident. The fact that it has to be like this is really one of the main reasons I truly do want to be a part of this project. There is so much misconception it hurts. We must get out there and break stigmas. And Beth started something great with this blog (thank you so much, Beth!!!!)

So, I made the decision (yep, the second in ten minutes that day) to contribute from time to time (and then it took me another month to produce something decent, hahaha, sorry Beth). I want to find more people like us and the only way is to get out there and reach out. I know because I've been alone in the dark for too long.

So I know what some people might be thinking (maybe I'd be thinking the same if I wasn't on this side of the story); look at this, two women, being hysterical, inventing problems they don't have, in order to avoid jobs they don't want to do.


We have jobs. We contribute to society. We live pretty normal lives. We are not crazy (well, not in a bad way). ADHD and having a job are not mutually exclusive. ADHD and doing something with your life are not mutually exclusive. ADHD and success are not mutually exclusive. ADHD and being a girl or being smart are not mutually exclusive.

We can be smart ADHD girls and we can be good at pretty much anything, if we can just put our minds to it.

And Beth and I are here to prove just that.



By Merel (not my real name)

How One Criticism (in a Sea of Compliments) almost made me Quit

ADHD, Impulsiveness, QuittingBeth Harvey4 Comments
Saving the


Why I wanted to Quit Blogging

The problem with writing about ADHD from a first-hand perspective is that, I actually have to try to write with ADHD. I also have anxiety — something that is slowly improving, but not completely. Yesterday was an “Anxiety Day”.

Someone (online) said something that annoyed me. It wasn’t particularly mean and, to many of you, it will seem so insignificant that you will even question why I bothered writing about it. Strangely, the criticism was about my posts on Google+.

First of all, let me tell you, I am totally new to Google+. When I say I’m new, I don’t mean I’ve been there for a few weeks or even days. We’re talking hours here, people. After signing up, Google+ began to take me on a little tour of how to use it. Of course, having ADHD, I ignored all the instructions. “Get to the point already! I don’t have time for this!”

Okay, I probably should have read those instructions because I don’t get it. Not a single bit.

What are circles? Who am I following? Are we friends? Where is my wall? Do I have a wall? Can anyone see my posts?

Yes, I studied some software development. And no, I don’t feel Google+ is particularly user-friendly to the brand new user (or anyone?) I mean, who actually reads those instructions anyway?


So, anyway. I clicked through the setup screens that awaited me. They suggested ‘Fun and Interesting’ people — how do they know who I find fun and interesting? But John Green was categorized as a ‘Fun and Interesting’ person, and I agree, so I clicked 'yes to all' and continued.

There I was, drinking coffee and posting a few links to my blog on my brand new Google+ page (what harm could it do, right?) when, out of nowhere, I received the following comments on two blog posts from a man that I do not know but was apparently 'Fun and Interesting'. Let’s call him Jafar. (I watched Aladdin last week)


Snip20150426_47 Jafar: ‘Ok? So why am I being push notified of this post? Why should I not report it as spam?


Me: ‘Sorry! Haha today is my first day using Google+ I don’t know what I’m doing!'


Jafar: ‘And a second push notification? Why am I being notified of your posts?’ 


Me: ‘Oops! Today is my first day using Google+ I REALLY don’t have a clue! I’ll remove those posts! Apologies again!'

So, I told Jafar that I would take the posts down — and I did. That was it. But that was all it took to trigger my anxiety yesterday. I’m not entirely sure what I did wrong, but I’m guessing it was something to do with those pesky “circles”. (Seriously though, I still don’t get them).

After removing the posts, I spent a few seconds staring at my screen.

‘Who is this Jafar?’ ‘Why did Jafar receive push notifications from me?’

The directness of Jafar’s messages worried me. I didn’t mean to cause anyone any offence or inconvenience (although, really? If I get unwanted push notifications, I just swipe my phone and ignore them, but then confrontation is so not my forte). Yet, he seemed angry with me and that filled me with the sick, panicky feeling I get with social anxiety.

A few seconds later, a wave of emotion rushed over me. I felt angry, closed my laptop and then... (it's embarrassing to write) but Jafar made me cry.

This was stupid. I knew it was stupid but I couldn’t help my reaction (a common symptom of ADHD). At this point, my dog stared up at me: “But that douche, Jafar, isn’t even here”, said my dog (with his eyes). I looked back at him. "What would you know? You’re a dog." Okay, so I digress, but you get my point. My dog was right.  (He’s always right.)


It was nothing. I didn’t even know Jafar. But, for those few minutes, I got so anxious that I couldn’t even think straight. The familiar wave of anxiety rushed through me. I hate that feeling. It’s been a while since I’ve felt it, maybe a month or two, but it was there and I couldn’t stop it.

Within a few minutes, I had made three decisions:

1. I’ll close down my blog.

It’s not worth it’: I started this blog as a way to talk about my experiences — I find writing about things always helps. (Try it!) I also decided to do this to find other hardworking, intelligent women with ADHD. But, what if it actually makes me (or even them) worse? Perhaps the best thing is not to put anything out there into the terrifying abyss of the worldwide web. I could just write this all in a private diary and it wouldn’t hurt anybody.

‘I can’t take criticism’: I mean, if I can’t even deal with a single guy telling me I’m unintentionally spamming him, what if I get trolled? What if next time someone doesn’t just target my inability to work Google+ but instead targets me — telling me I’m crazy or making it all up or that ‘only boys get ADHD’.

2. I’ll change my profile picture on Google+ from a picture of me to the Smart Girls with ADHD logo. I can hide behind it. At times, I feel that it is a physical shield that will protect me from the real-world. That way, if I flake out and give up on the site, people may ask ‘why has Smart Girls with ADHD not been updated since 2015?’ and they won’t even know it had anything to do with Beth. 

The same goes for using we and us when talking about the site on social media. Using the plural (even if it's really just me) gives me the sense of 'safety in numbers'. Once there are more of us, and I'm hoping there will be one day, writing may not feel as scary.

3. I need to watch Amy Schumer. Right now.

Amy Schumer is amazing and makes everything good again. Oh, and Broad City. Or Key and Peele. And maybe some 30 Rock? And Gilmore Girls. And New Girl. Speaking of which, if you don’t like GIFs, this site probably isn’t for you. #sorrynotsorry

What Made me Stay

I stayed because my readers are the BEST.

I began this whole project on Tuesday. That is less than a week ago.  It may have been a typical ADHD-fueled impulsive decision but it’s one of the best I’ve ever made. Already I have received such an amazingly positive response that it almost doesn’t feel real.

110 likes on my Facebook page (many of whom, I have never met)

130 followers on Twitter

1 on Google+ (and it’s so not Jafar, by the way)

However, it’s not even the numbers that made me stay — it’s the engagement. People I know, and even more that I don’t know, have been messaging me to tell me how much this site means to them.  That is awesome and is the encouragement I needed yesterday to keep going.

Out of the woodwork, we are slowly finding that we’re not alone. There are other great girls of all ages with ADHD around the world! We’re enthusiastic! Smart! Distracted! Messy! Hardworking! Creative! Impulsive! And we exist!

We may be a minority within the ADHD world, but this is only the beginning of a community. Up until now, many of us have felt as though we are exceptions to the rule. Only young, hyperactive boys get ADHD / You have a master’s degree? Uh, come on, you can’t have ADHD / Oh, sometimes I don’t want to study - I think I must have it too

There is far too much work to be done. We need to start improving the perceptions of ADHD and help others like us realise that having ADHD doesn’t have to be a solitary experience.

For these reasons, I’m going to keep going.

Besides, I doubt that Jafar knew the impact his words had on me. For all I know, he was having a bad day too.


ADHD and Me

ADHDBeth Harvey3 Comments
ADHD AND ME Being diagnosed aged 28

Hello to you, dear reader. It seems as though you have found a blog post. Not just any blog post. My first blog post.

How you found this, I do not know.

Why you are reading this, I also do not know.

I do know, however, that reading my blog is (most likely) a brand new experience, for you and for me. It is definitely that for me. Whether it is new for you really depends on your ability to time-travel or re-read what I write. If it’s the prior, please meet me yesterday at 5.30pm and warn me not to make that grilled cheese sandwich I had been thinking about all day. It does not end well.

If it’s the latter, then thank you. That’s very lovely of you.

Now make a cup of tea, sit down and relax while I talk about myself.

In March 2015, I was (finally) diagnosed with having ADHD. The diagnosis took a while because, well, I’m smart. I have two linguistics degrees and a postgraduate diploma in software development. I work as a consultant. I travel a lot. I’ve lived in four countries. I read a lot of books – mostly non-fiction, and I listen to a lot of podcasts – mostly This American Life,Radiolab, and Meet The Composer. As a kid, I would invent my own languages and use these to write my diary in code. I’m a geek.

The problem was, I never thought I was smart. In fact, I saw myself as being quite stupid. My dad repeatedly told me “everyone is good at different things” and that “there will always be someone better than you at a particular thing” (my dad is pretty wise, by the way). He would always focus on my positives, telling me how proud he was – I was great at writing and spelling, could play the piano by ear, and could make friends easily.


On the inside though, (and, in all honesty, the outside too) I was a mess: anxiety-ridden, forgetful, disorganised. I didn’t hand in homework on time for almost four years at school, but felt so bad about it that I used the puppy-dog-eyes/crying-in-front-of-my-entire-class technique to make the teacher give me extra time (how the heck did I get into university again?) I needed extra in-school tutoring in maths and was in the bottom class for almost all of my subjects. In hindsight, my quiet “good girl” persona and my (eventual) hard-work by my last year in school somehow got me through.

Later, I was terrible at almost every job I had – with absolutely no attention to detail, terrible listening skills, and the inability to concentrate on what I was doing for more than three minutes at a time (awesome qualities for a data analyst, I know!)

Now that I’ve been diagnosed and on the right medication (Concerta XL), my anxiety is slowly disappearing, my constant boredom and need for change is fading. I’m feeling more confident in what I do and I’ve gained a whole new quality: perseverance.

I’ve created this site for misunderstood ADHD-sufferers like me. The ones who get told they couldn’t possibly have ADHD because they have managed to get by. Smart girls who didn’t know they were smart (maybe they still don’t). The anxious. The messy. The overachievers. Girls who have had ADHD since they were young, the recently diagnosed, and those who think they may have ADHD but are struggling to find the right diagnosis.

Together, we shall be more awesome. Fact.