Many women [with AD/HD] feel that no matter how competent others think they are, or no matter how much they achieve, they are really just fooling everyone. This stems partly from the large disparity between their inner and outer worlds. Other people often see the real competence of these adults but don’t see the conflict inside. They don’t see the “mess” in other areas of their lives or how hard it is to achieve that outer picture. These women often believe they are fooling anyone who thinks well of them because without any warning the switch inside their heads could turn off and their feelings of inadequacy would be exposed. They worry that they won’t have enough time, that their systems won’t work, or that people will drop in unexpectedly. Any minute things could fall apart.
This accounts for the sense of impending doom that often is reported. Even if the achievement for these women is real, it feels tenuous and scary to them; they still feel like impostors. One person describes this inner/outer disparity as “the counters are all clean, but the inside of the drawers are a mess.” This is a great metaphor for the exteriors that women often present while experiencing the interior feeling of messiness, disorder, and confusion. Instead of taking credit for their “clean counters,” they just feel that it’s a cover. Even when they do take a risk, and let down their mask by letting people know what’s going on inside, they are met with disbelief, invalidation, or ridicule. The irony is that the more they achieve and the better they do, the less people are inclined to believe them, and the more they feel forced to then stay in the closet.