beauty

"I was diagnosed with ADHD at 31. This is how it impacts my approach to beauty."

Did you know that being a woman was an automatic exclusion from ADHD diagnosis until as recently as the '90s? Yep - really.

I weep for all the women out there that sought help and were denied the medical care they asked for. Because they’re absolutely out there. I was one of them.

Watch: Have you ever wondered what anxiety feels like? Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia

The school reports saying, "Intelligent but needs to apply herself?"

Yeah. That was me.

Hi, I’m Hannah, I’m a beauty influencer with a pharmaceutical research background, and I was diagnosed with ADHD at 31 years old.

I sought help because I felt like I was constantly drowning in tasks and emails. Many, many behaviours I’d previously explained away (or hidden) were revealed to be coping mechanisms or symptoms. 

So many. 

What is the “Uncool mental illness”? Mamamia Out Loud discusses. Post continues below.

Like sleeping in my makeup or skipping a day of showering (cognitive fatigue and impaired executive function), winging it with my skincare routine, micromanaging my time and losing my composure if one detail of my plan didn’t work out (emotional dysregulation, difficulty planning), applying skincare/makeup during a lecture at university or while replying to emails at the office (multitasking due to distractibility).

When it comes to the self-care side of things, it’s hardly polished, professional behaviour - but there’s a telling lack of inhibition.

How ADHD impacts my approach to self-care.

It’s like this – you know you’re meant to shower daily, but actually initiating the task is the hardest thing in the world. It’s like something heavy is crushing you, when things get this way. 

You’re just not going to do it tonight, and that’s that. 

This cognitive impairment is a symptom of depression, too - so if you’ve experienced depression it’s kind of like that. You know you need to do something, lots of things in fact, but you just can’t. So you sit there, or lie there, paralysed by your to-do list. 

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For those of us with ADHD, our brains have a hard time coordinating and managing tasks because of our unique (and largely genetic) neurobiology.

You know the feeling of going into a room, forgetting what you went in for, getting distracted and completing 10 different tasks in that room? Dusting, putting things away, jumping on the computer, coming back, realising you forgot the item you went in for, but now two hours has passed?

Imagine that happens anytime you go anywhere, ever. It’s very tiring.

In my early to mid-20s, I slept in my makeup probably three to four nights per week. Predictably, I was breaking out all the time, and got into a cycle of doing too much on days I had energy for it, thus making things even worse.

I’ve not gone more than a couple of months without sleeping in makeup for my entire adult life. 

I don’t want to hear the judgement, either. I just want you to know that things that *seem* easy or simple to someone without neurological challenges can be much, much harder for me and those like me.

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What I can tell you though is, there’s a lot of liberation in knowing yourself and accepting your behaviours. 

These are just symptoms for me - they don’t make me a bad, lazy, or dirty person - and I can plan for them. 

How I handle my ADHD symptoms.

If all the above sounds really familiar, know there are some things you can do to help you get back on track and practice self-care.

Here are some of my tips for handling your beauty routine when you have ADHD:

1. Use a cleansing balm.

Do you find you sleep in your makeup too, or go to bed without washing your face? 

Have a think about what you *are* doing in the evenings. For me, it’s relaxing on the couch with some Netflix. So, I always have a cleansing balm on the side table next to the couch. This way, I see it, put it on my face, then HAVE to get up to remove it. 

2. Keep micellar water handy.

I also make sure I have some micellar water (Bioderma, and only Bioderma) and cotton pads on my bedside table, along with a multitasking moisturiser, in case I’ve gotten into bed already without washing my face. 

I can’t make myself *do* the cleanse and moisturise, but I can make it as easy for myself as humanely possible. 

3. Do most of your skincare in the morning.

I tend to try to do the bulk of my skincare routine in the morning instead of the evening, as that’s the time I have more energy for lots of different products and steps. I’ve tried to work with my energy levels, not against them. 

4. Always double-cleanse when you sleep in your makeup.

I also have an action plan for the days I slept in makeup. I usually do a double cleanse and clay mask to take care of any clogged pores, then apply loads of hydration. 

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5. Do your evening skincare routine ASAP.

If I want to do a full, long, evening routine, I make sure I do it as early as possible - which is usually right when I get home, not after I’ve already sat down. I can lie to myself that I’ll get up and do it later, but I won’t. 

6. Make cleansing and showering a thing you enjoy.

Another tip is to sell yourself on the feeling of showering or cleansing. How great does it feel when your skin and body are clean and moisturised? Exactly.

7. Sort your skincare products.

There’s a lot to be said for making things as easy as possible for your future self. That’s why Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every single day, right? To conserve brainpower for all the important knowledge work. 

So, the key for me to getting things done is to make everything as easy as possible. For example, only products I’m currently using are allowed to be placed on the bench. They’re lined up in order of application. 

I spend an hour or so every week doing a bit of organisational admin, and just making sure I have things on-hand for when I’m not doing so well. 

So, this is what it's really like to live with cognitive impairment from ADHD, and just how much it affects my ability to care for myself and my appearance.

Not easy, huh?

Just to put it into perspective, I'm talking about a condition that affects more than 800,000 people in Australia.

Yet, for something so common there is still stigma around ADHD. People are still quick to criticise and judge - which just doubles down on the difficulties associated with this condition. 

Because we all know we have to shower daily, ok? While it may seem like such a simple, routine thing for you, the fact is that you’ll truly never really know what challenges other people face.

If you think you may be experiencing ADHD, depression or any other mental illness, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636. 

Kid's Helpline is also available on 1800 551 800.

For more from Hannah, check out her stories here and follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: @ms_hannah_e

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