Early last year, I visited a girlfriend that I have known for quite some time. For the purpose of anonymity, we will call her "L." At the time we met, I was a legal assistant studying for my master’s degree and she was attending law school. “L” and I both graduated from our respective schools around the same time. She started her career as an insurance defense lawyer and I was so happy for her. But “L'"s journey to becoming a lawyer wasn’t an easy one. Like most law school graduates, passing the bar exam is one of the biggest challenges.
One summer morning, “L” texted me and said, “Hey Cam, I just wanted to let you know I didn’t pass the bar.” I replied, “It’s OK. You’ll pass on the next try.” And she did pass on her third try. Coming from similar Caribbean backgrounds, I know the pressure of meeting expectations, being an overachiever, and being placed on a pedestal. I understood because at one point in my life I had wanted to be a lawyer too.
That afternoon we met for lunch. Our conversations are always filled with transparency, love, charisma, and laughter. This particular afternoon, there came a point in the conversation where “L” wholeheartedly revealed to me her daily struggles with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). And I wanted to know more. It was the first time I heard of a woman with ADHD. Let alone a Black woman.
“L” had hidden her struggle so well. I had no idea how it affected her life.
As a friend, I thought, what could I have done to help or be more supportive. The saying is true – you never know what someone is going through. And today, I am proud of how “L” prioritized herself, took control of her life, and not be defeated by her condition.
Oftentimes, the diagnosis of ADHD in Black women is misdiagnosed and overlooked. According to The Washington Post, “Black girls with ADHD often remain undiagnosed because their symptoms are mischaracterized. Signs of inattentiveness or impulsivity, the two main features of the disorder, could be mistaken for laziness or defiance. And the longer these girls aren’t diagnosed and treated, the more their problems are likely to worsen as they grow into adults.” The article also states that ADHD in girls leads to increased rates of anxiety, depression, drug use, and self-harm.
From a cultural perspective, it is even harder for Black parents to accept that their child has a learning disability with having to protect their child from gender and racial biases not only in the classroom but in life too. In a review of published U.S. studies that included 155,000 Black children, the CDC (Center For Disease Control) found 14.5% of African-Americans had ADHD. This statistic is much higher compared to the estimated 9.4% of all children in the U.S.
In an article byVerywell Mind, the most common symptoms of ADHD in women are paper clutter, overspending, disorganization, indecision, problems listening, and difficulty focusing. Treatment for ADHD includes prescribed medication and/or behavioral therapy. Drugs like Ritalin or Adderall are commonly used to help ADHD patients stay focused and control their behavior. But it doesn’t come without side effects. Some downfalls of ADHD medication are trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, weight loss, moodiness, and headaches.
There is hope to manage ADHD. Celebrities such as Solange Knowles or SZA have struggled and are successfully navigating life with ADHD. Even Simone Biles has publicly discussed her own battle with ADHD while balancing a demanding career as a professional athlete.
Here is what it is like for “L," a young Black woman, to live with ADHD, balance a demanding career as a lawyer, and succeed in everyday life.
How old were you when you were diagnosed with ADHD?
I was officially diagnosed at about 15 years old. It went undiagnosed due to prior trauma. However, my parents had me in therapy here and there when they could afford it. I was always a hyperactive child who would always get in trouble because I couldn't sit still or keep my mouth shut. I got a lot of "feedback" for being random in my actions and through my words.
What were some of the signs that you were struggling with ADHD and how did it make you feel?
The obvious sign for me was the fact that I was behind in my academics and kids used to always refer to me as "crazy" because of how random I was. I could not focus like my peers. I was always in and out of therapy for other reasons. It was always suggested I should be on medication. I didn't even know what ADHD was until I was about 16 years old as my parents did not believe in medication or this new-age diagnosis.
My parents had me in every tutoring program imaginable in order for me to keep up with my fellow classmates. I got my ears and eyes tested before I went to a psychiatrist to get a test for ADHD.
Ritalin or Adderall is usually prescribed for many ADHD patients. Is prescribed medication something you have used to treat your ADHD? If not, what are some natural remedies you have tried?
Yes, I've tried Ritalin (when I was a teenager) and as I got older, I graduated to Adderall, as well as Concerta. I've also tried hypnotherapy and talk therapy. The thing about prescription medicine they won't tell you is that it works, but you have to gradually increase the dosage as your body becomes used to it. I would sometimes come off the medication because I hate being dependent on a drug to function. I would feel really depressed and tired.
How did you get through law school and what were some of the challenges?
By the grace of God and really great friends. I had to learn early on in life to make friends with people smarter than me in order to stay motivated and just to keep up. I would also cycle on and off medication in law school in order to cope. I went a semester without any prescription drugs, just to see if I could do it on my own. Yes, I could do it on my own, but it was very difficult. I had constant anxiety, could not sleep, mild depression, and spiraled.
Now that you are a career lawyer, what are some challenges you face at work?
Every day is a new challenge. My biggest challenge is working. Literally sitting my ass down to work, especially after the pandemic. I had to learn quickly to create a new routine. Having a high caseload as a civil litigation attorney helps as I am always busy so I have no time to procrastinate as much. The organized chaos of heading to court in the morning, working on drafting motions and pleadings for cases in the afternoon, responding to emails, and settling cases throughout the day were no longer serving me. Organization and structure are my biggest challenges. I get distracted easily and fall into these "wormholes" and never finish my assignments. So, I'm always having to work late to play catch up. I had to create realistic structures that worked for me.
For example, time blocking or working on alternating weekends and/or late nights to stay ahead of my tasks to not overwhelm me. Working for a solid law firm that has systems and teams in place to complement my own systems is imperative. I've cycled through many firms (big and small). So, I know what works and what doesn't. Working with the right people matters and is often overlooked. Having a good case management system along with excellent support staff (paralegals or assistants) is how I am able to succeed.
"Organization and structure are my biggest challenges. I get distracted easily and fall into these 'wormholes' and never finish my assignments. So, I'm always having to work late to play catch up. I had to create realistic structures that worked for me."
How have you adjusted your routine because of your ADHD? What does your morning and nighttime routine look like?
Yes, having a routine is imperative. I've had to shift my mindset through many therapy sessions. Having been a burnt-out lawyer, my mornings look a bit different now. I'm no longer competing to be the best and striving for perfection. I'm not trying to prove myself anymore because I know what I bring to the table. I show up, do my best on that particular day, and don't dwell on my mistakes.
8:00 a.m.: I start my mornings with a prayer, then I check my phone for any work emergencies or changes to my schedule. I will communicate with my assistant on what's important and what needs to be done.
8:10 a.m.: I lay in bed, contemplate life, and make my intentions for the day.
8:20 a.m.: I literally jump out of bed, (work is supposed to start at 8:30 am.) and make my bed. I love making my bed because it feels like such an accomplishment to me. I always say that if I don't accomplish anything for the day, at least I made my bed.
8:25 a.m.: I log on to my computer for work to test the waters. Thereafter, I brush my teeth, wash my face, shower, brush my hair, and put clothes on. I do all this while arguing with Alexa about music selection. Pro Tip: I set timers while I'm in the bathroom with Alexa (5 min. - snooze; 10 min. - snooze; 15 min. - snooze) to stay on track.
8:45-9:00 a.m.: I'm logged in to work for real-for real with my first cup of coffee of the day.
I immediately check the deadlines on my calendar, prioritize tasks and/or cases then attack them in segments with multiple breaks in between. I like to do the same tasks during blocks of time (reviewing case files and drafting a case plan, emails, client conference calls, etc.). Through trial and error, I have learned that I work more efficiently when I'm doing the same tasks over and over again.
On days where I have court hearings, depositions, mediations, client calls, or any event, my days look very different. I wake up earlier to hand-write a script of what I plan on saying. I do this to calm my nerves and to stay focused on the task at hand as to not go off on tangents. No matter how many times I've made the same speech or argument - this is what works for me.
6:30 - 7:00 p.m.: I'm logged out and head to the gym for a Zoom training session with my trainer. I try to work out at least 3-4 times a week with a trainer. Even if I do 10 haphazard jumping jacks, any sort of physical activity helps to maintain my routine and makes me feel good. I have coworkers who work out during lunchtime.
Personally, I can't do that because it's hard for my brain to switch gears after a workout and get back into work mode. I highly recommend doing physical activity early in the morning prior to work. It really sets the tone for the workday.
Does ADHD affect your mental health? If so, how?
Yes, in many ways and often. There are many internal battles of self-doubt, not doing enough work, being slower at a task than others, or lingering feelings of unworthiness. I have days where my head is so cloudy that it takes me hours to do a task which usually takes me about 15 minutes. On days like that, I have to mindfully give myself grace for my own sanity because beating myself up won't make a difference.
I remember times where my ADHD got so bad that I was feeling defeated, depressed, and became physically sick from the stress which also caused crippling anxiety. As a child, I remember I used to breathe at a rapid rate which they thought was asthma-related. Come to find out later to find out it was anxiety. I was given an inhaler to help. I still have days where I'm literally spinning in circles from task A to B then to A again, only to start a new task, D, then remember task C, only to realize A, B, C, and D are all incomplete and unnecessary tasks.
"I have days where my head is so cloudy that it takes me hours to do a task which usually takes me about 15 minutes. On days like that, I have to mindfully give myself grace for my own sanity because beating myself up won't make a difference."
What would you tell other women who are struggling with ADHD, mental health issues, and a demanding career?
Give yourself grace, lots and lots of grace, and seek professional help. Find what works for you. I'm still trying to figure it out, but therapy has transformed my way of thinking and my life. It has helped me to re-evaluate my life, career, and plan a more sustainable life/work balance. Life first, work second.
If you’re a Black woman struggling with ADHD, you are not alone and it doesn’t have to be just your secret anymore. It’s nothing to be ashamed of either. There are many women of color with ADHD and other learning difficulties and/or disabilities. And it doesn’t mean you are less of a person because of it. It means your journey looks different than most women of color. There is just an extra layer you’ll have to manage. And that is OK.
You have to give yourself grace and permission to accept your diagnosis and find ways to cope. Unfortunately, we live in a society with so many stigmas that we constantly neglect root causes. If you are looking for support, check outBlack Girl, Lost Keys, or Unicorn Squad, For Black people of Marginalized Gender with ADHD, a blog, and a private Facebook group by Rene Brooks. Having ADHD herself, Rene Brooks helps educate and empower other Black women who have ADHD.
You can start your healing now.
Featured image by Getty Images
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Camille is a lover of all things skin, curls, music, justice, and wanderlust; oceans and islands are her thing. Her words inspire and her power is her voice. A California native with Trinidadian roots, she has penned personal essays, interviews, and lifestyle pieces for POPSUGAR, FEMI magazine, and SelfishBabe. Camille is currently creating a life she loves through words, self-love, fitness, travel, and empowerment. You can follow her on Instagram @cam_just_living or @written_by_cam.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
It (almost) never fails. Whenever I do an interview, someone will ask me: 1) is it hard to be a marriage life coach and not be married (chile, these clients are a part of the reason why I’m more cautious than ever about mate selection) and 2) am I lonely when it comes to being single? From the angle of loving Black men and understanding, daily, what a marital covenant can do for a person, I am totally open to jumping somebody’s broom one day. Lonely though? No. Not really. And a part of the reason is because I have such an awesome group of male friends.
No, I’m not one of those women who don’t see the value in female friends too. It’s just that one demographic “scratches one itch” while the other scratches another. And when it comes to men, specifically, there are certain things that they bring to my life that are simply incomparable.
That’s why, whenever single women will tell me that they are getting restless as they wait on their husband to make his presence known, I am quick to ask, “Girl, where are your male friends at?” Because while they can’t meet every need that a husband can (and should), believe me when I say that they do offer some bona fide benefits that will definitely make them a great alternative on a few different levels.
I’ve got a solid six for you today.
1. Men Are Not Women. Let’s Start There.Giphy
Listen, I’m sure that there is a lot of good stuff out in TikTok world; however, as a life coach myself, on the coaching front, truly sensible advice can really be like a needle in a haystack on that platform — especially when it comes to trustworthy (and sound) insight on men. So much stuff is rooted in bitterness, stereotypes, and gross generalizations (generalizations are typically rooted in bitterness, by the way) that there’s no way that it can be seen as being even close to being reliable.
And as much as some of y’all might not want to hear what I’m about to say, I think a part of the reason is because a lot of women don’t want to accept that men are just…different. Not in a “Yeah, I know. They should be more like us” kind of way. I mean, a “God made it that way by design, and science is there to back it up.”
For instance, some professionals believe that women having more blood flood to the brain is why they are more emotional in their communication style, while men are typically more direct (more on that in a bit). Other studies reveal that women are more comfortable with their emotions while men tend to be more centered (and sometimes quicker) at problem-solving. And while a woman’s right hemisphere of her brain is more developed to the point where she is more sensitive and empathetic, a man’s is more developed to where he is more “mathematic” (2+2=4, that’s it) and explorative.
This kind of stuff always fascinates me, so while I could go on and on, the bottom line here is men's and women’s wiring are not identical.
And while society keeps trying to make them be the same via all of these damn gender wars, the beauty in the differences is men and women can actually provide each other with balance. Because, after all, as a man by the name of Larry Dixon once said, “If two people were exactly alike, one of them would be unnecessary.” And both men and women are…necessary.
2. Guys Tend to Have a “Straight No Chaser” ApproachGiphy
Whenever I read an article about how social media is creating more narcissists than ever, I can’t help but nod my head up and down in total agreement. I don’t even hesitate because one example of this that I see on a regular basis is how people are becoming more and more wired for praise, and yet they can’t handle any kind of criticism or call out to hold themselves accountable to save their lives.
You know who will bring you back down to earth, though? A good friend. And guy friends? I guess due to some of the science that I just mentioned, I don’t have one in my life who pulls any punches. Although some are more, let’s go with tactful in their approach (LOL), there’s not one who sugarcoats issues or tells me what I want to hear. And you know what? I need that. I don’t need flatterers (even the Bible frowns on that…did you know that? — Job 17:5); I need folks who will be as direct, candid, and “Well Shellie, you asked” as I tend to be with other people. It keeps me responsible. It grows me up. And it helps me to better discern when my ego is getting all up in the way.
Yeah, if you want to hear the REAL real, a guy will deliver it to you. Which brings me to the next way that they are a true “win.”
3. They’re Good At Catching Blind SpotsGiphy
Back when I was on my “Get Your Heart Pieces Back Tour” (you can read more about it here), there was a guy from my past who I was talking heavy with for a few weeks. He’s always been fine. The sex was always incredible. And, back in the day, he was there for me during a time that was very dark in my life, which is why I will always hold a special affection for him. That’s why, I ain’t got no lies to tell y’all — after our first eight-hour-straight conversation, I was ready to get on a plane and (eh hem) relive some memories. So, what stopped me? One was a particular conviction that I have (perhaps we’ll discuss that at another time). Another was a conversation that I had with two of my male friends.
One asked me, “So, who contacted who?” Oh, the loaded question that will make you reflect on talking to these exes, chile. The other said, “He said he did what when he found out his ex cheated?” Listen, I don’t know who reads my content or not as far as people who know or who knew me, so I won’t get all into the details. I’ll just say that it wasn’t anything violent, but it was intense. And those two questions, put together, caused me to ponder some things that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Because while my girlfriends thought that it was some rom-com come to life, my guy friends were like, “Uh-uh. Think it ALL the way through.” They simply had eyes where I didn’t because…they are guys who know guys. Simple as that.
4. They’re Like the Big Brothers (or More Big Brothers) You Never HadGiphy
I didn’t really notice how much I needed my blood brother until he moved to South Africa. Even though he’s younger than I, there’s a presence that he provided that made me feel protected; like if some ish really hit the fan, I had someone to call who could help me to feel safe. Thankfully, over the course of the first couple of years that he was gone, some “love brothers” came into the world. And when I tell you that they don’t play about me — I mean, at all.
A good example of this is when my house burned down back in December of 2021. Two immediately sent me a laptop (because for a writer, that’s like not having a car). One sent me the deposit for a new place to stay. Another came to check on me for a week straight. I can’t tell you how many mini-sermons I got on how to legally proceed with my landlords. Bottom line, they held me down and didn’t even give it a second thought. And although my girlfriends had my back as well, they were coming more from a nurturing stance, while my male friends were more protective.
Another example. Earlier this year, I had to drive to another state to sue the person I bought my car from (heads up: a meditator told me that Kentucky has some of the strictest as-is laws in the country). Long story short, the dealer assured me of a feature that wasn’t there. Anyway, I asked one of my male friends to drive me, and even though we took my car, he was like, “Let me drive” — and I had no problem with that. He does it for a living; we had to leave while it was still dark outside, and he knew that I was kind of tired. There was a natural “let me cover you” energy about him that we didn’t need to be dating for it to show up — he’s a good man who knows how to take care of ALL of the women in his life. I love that for me.
One more example. One time my car didn’t start, and I didn’t know what to do. I had to leave it in a random parking lot and, so I called a male friend for some advice. All he said was, “I got it. I’ll call you later.” By that evening, he drove it to me. He had a mechanic friend of his put a new alternator in, and he didn’t even charge me for it. He was like, “Girl, you need to get a man, but until you do, I got you.”
When all you have in your life are guys who you date, sometimes it’s hard to discern what their motives may be. Plus, if things don’t work out, you’re back to figuring everything out on your own. When you have male friends, though? There’s no slick ish. Plus, they’re not going anywhere. You’ve got brothers from another mother who acts just like that. And it’s awesome.
5. They Are Awesome Friend (or Stand-In) DatesGiphy
One of my male friends, folks have been thinking that we’re screwing on the low for years now. He’s a cutie. He can sing his butt off. I tell him often that if I could turn his speaking voice into a person, that part of him (and that part alone) would be my sneaky link, for sure (that voice!). Yet nah — nothing even remotely sexual/physical has happened to us beyond a hug “hello” and a hug “good-bye.” And while I wouldn’t say that we’re exactly “platonic” because he sometimes jokes that “Shellie, you are like a sister, but you still ain’t my sister” and that holds a bit of subtext (check out “Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'”), we’ve got almost two decades under our belts — at this point, ain’t nothin’ finna go down. It just doesn’t “click” that way. And we are both so good with that.
That doesn’t mean that we’re not each other’s kick-it buddies, though. Aside from the fact that we try to have a lunch or dinner date once a month, if there’s something we want to do or a place we want to go to, we don’t hesitate to take each other as an unofficial date. That’s because we know that it will make the event more fun and less stress-filled because there is no extra stress, pressure, or expectations. We also know how to dress up or down, be casual or corporate — y’all get it.
Yeah, if you’ve got something coming up, you don’t want to go alone, and the idea of a traditional date seems like it would be “too much,” a guy friend is the perfect solution. It has worked out for me (with the guy whom I’m referring to and others) for years now.
6. Platonic Love Is Really SpecialGiphy
Clearly, I believe that men and women can be “just friends” (check out “Unpopular Opinion: Men And Women CAN Really Be 'Just Friends'”). And although the genuine definition of platonic means that there is NO sexual interest on ANY level (which is why I think that word is used too loosely), those types of relationships can exist — and they are truly one of a kind.
Final example. I’ve got four male friends who I absolutely adore. We hang out. We can talk on the phone for hours. We send each other stupid clips throughout the day. And HELL NAW, we ain’t gonna date each other. Like…ever. We talk enough about relationships that we get how and why other people are attracted to us — and still, that doesn’t mean we want to fit into those categories. We like each other. We love each other. We trust and respect each other. We enjoy each other. As friends, and that’s all it’s ever gonna be.
However, because I am a woman and they are men, we bring something into each other’s worlds as far as opinions, perspectives, and insights that no one of the same sex can. As their friend (for instance), I tell them when a woman has some ulterior motives that they haven’t even thought about, and as men, they tell me when a guy is just wanting to hit, no matter how cryptic their approach may be.
OH, HOW I LOVE MY MALE FRIENDS. They make my world so much richer. Plus, they’re great reminders that you don’t have to be sexual with a man in order for you to be intimate with him. Men are far more layered than that (contrary to whatever you may hear in the media).
So, if you don’t have any strictly male friends, I’m hoping that this will encourage you to at least consider getting some (or hell, at least one). And if you do, do what I do and treat your male friends to a meal sometimes, just to say “thank you”. Men who’ve got your back, just because, without wanting you to get on your back? Sis, they deserve a seasonal meat-‘n-three or somethin’. Wouldn’t you say? I WOULD.
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