The Importance of Diagnosis: Unmasking Executive Function Deficits in Women with ADHD

Tracy Winchell
2 min readJul 27, 2023

Women with ADHD are often — as I was — treated for symptoms of anxiety.
The root cause of much of my anxiety? ADHD makes it difficult to manage many “basic” life skills.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

My timeline of undiagnosed ADD:

Six months ago, my therapist diagnosed me with ADD and advised me to see a doctor immediately.

Since starting medication, I feel like I have a completely different brain. Well, not quite completely.

How I navigated life for nearly 60 years with undiagnosed ADD: A timeline

Childhood: Refused to do schoolwork because I read all my textbooks during the first month of first grade: My teacher made a deal with me. In exchange for keeping up with assignments, I’d get to pick a fourth-grade book from the school library.

College: Heavy workloads were so much fun! They were all in broadcasting. I was fully focused — on one thing. A TV career!

Early career: News cycles are deadline-driven. As a journalist, I didn’t need redirects. Every day was different. When the anchor reads the lead-in to your story, the engineer better be ready to roll the tape.

Financial services & local government: After television, I went to work in industries that require significant amounts of paper-pushing. And the documents must be done correctly — for regulatory purposes and the financial implications of screwing up something.

Colleagues watched my back — closely. Still, the work was stressful.

Self-employment: I couldn’t remember to follow up after I presented proposals. Closing rates are terrible without this skill.

The diagnosis

At age 59, my therapist busted me out. “You have ADD! Talk to your doctor. Immediately!”

I’ve been on medication for about 6 months.

I can pump gas without freaking out, and I can respond directly to questions asked of me.

My advice to women

Women are rarely diagnosed with ADHD.

Instead, we’re treated for anxiety and insomnia which — in my case — contributed to a worsening of my symptoms.

If you struggle with managing time, your household, or other routine activities that require executive function, talk to your doctor.

Don’t wait for the diagnosis to come to you.

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Tracy Winchell

Designing & becoming my Future Self through written self-reflection. 🖥️ Digital & PKM journaling. 👩🏼‍💻 Ghostwriter. 🚢 Ship 30. 🧠 ADHD over 50.