ADHD diagnoses have spiked among adult women. In a thoughtful personal essay, Carla Ciccone describes what it’s been like to be diagnosed at nearly 40, and how it’s helped her reframe the way she sees herself — and her past.

But women aren’t suddenly waking up with a neurological disorder. It’s likely been there all along, masquerading as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, “she’s difficult,” “she’s an airhead,” “she’s unlucky,” “she’s lazy,” and other labels that tend to mark a girl as she moves through her life.

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.