ADHD Goblin Women

by | Dec 30, 2022

Woman in bed eating chocolate and doing nothing

ADHD Goblin Women are a THING.

Not only are we not meeting expectations publicly, now there’s a catchy nickname for how we present at home.

I picture myself as a goblin with unwashed hair tied back in a rubber band, visible coffee stains on my shirt, while eating cheezits in bed. I conjured this image of myself as a monstrous hag before I actually found the image below, created by Esmerelduh in early 2022. 


Woman in Goblin Mode in bed


Most days I shuffle around my house in pajama pants. Sometimes I wear workout pants and tanks and cover them with a sweatshirt. I rarely wear a real bra, just the sports type.

When I’m talking to clients I’m sitting ten feet away from a massive clothing explosion pouring like multicolored lava from my closet onto the floor, and I have no plans to organize the space.


ADHD Goblin Women


I am the definition of an ADHD Goblin woman.

Straight from the Oxford English Dictionary:

Goblin mode — a slang term referring to “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations”

Obviously I am not full-goblin.

But like most neurodivergent women, I’m held to certain standards that I often don’t meet, and so I am ….inconvenient.

On being inconvenient

A cis white heterosexual woman who does things her own way is annoying to people. Nobody likes a woman who is different. And people like a woman who questions the status quo even less.

To my detractors I have always been:

  • too much
  • too little
  • messy
  • illogical
  • and often, inconvenient.

I’ve been belittled, shamed, or otherwise punished just for being me.

You could argue that giving up on the good girl thing is my way of rejecting social norms. I certainly don’t go out of my way or contort myself for others the way I used to. But I also don’t ask for understanding or support much, either.

Even now, to INCONVENIENCE others goes against my conditioning big time.

I still want to be likeable. Nice. Presentable if you will.

I know I’m not alone in this.

How you present matters.***

public v private presentation of ADHD

I wrote in an email recently that there is a difference between performing ADHD in public, and actual self-acceptance around the label. It takes a long time to tease out who you are separate from the ADHD identity you’ve formed.

ADHD in public tends to be different from ADHD in private.

When you can curate what you share, and how you look when you share it, it’s a little easier to make light of your challenges. It’s also easier to monetize your own diagnosis when you can curate an ADHD aesthetic that you feel good about.

Goblin Mode, which is mostly applied to women, describes behaviors that happen in the privacy of your home.

My tendency is to miss my mouth when I drink coffee but then wear my coffee stained sweatshirt for the rest of the day because I simply don’t care enough to change. It’s not something I share with people, but it is part of me when I’m in the privacy of my home.

We’ve assigned a catchy nickname to the personal habits of stigmatized individuals, namely women, and made it part of the cultural zeitgeist.

So why was Goblin Mode chosen as the word of the year?

Misunderstandings about ADHD

Actually not just misunderstandings of ADHD, but humans as a species.

I’ve long thought that behaviors like procrastination aren’t the result of laziness or choice, but are instead adaptive behaviors meant to avoid discomfort. Humans, ADHD or not, will always choose the path of least resistance and lowest energy expenditure.

According to Oxford the choice of words was meant to reflect the “ethos, mood, or preoccupations” of the prior year. 

So the mood for 2022 was self-centered, idle, and untidy.

hmmm….sounds a lot like burnout to me.

Perhaps people aren’t living in goblin mode so much as responding to the fact that the world is a dumpster fire.

It has nothing to do with the unrealistic expectations placed on women at all <cough cough>.

external expectations

In general, we are all spellbound by the external expectations for women.

“This is what motherhood looks like.”

“Women are supposed to be like this.”

My favorite subtle/not subtle indoctrination message is, “always put others before yourself.”

This is not an ADHD thing, these beliefs are in the air we breathe.

Women and girls with brain-based challenges not only deal with the triple bind, as Dr. Stephen Hinshaw describes it, but also the added burden of knowing we are somehow different.

We still don’t know what to do with girls and women who are different. 

To top it off, there’s a false sense of safety in constantly working on self-improvement and managing the symptoms of something like ADHD.

You’re much less irksome when you are constantly working on yourself. You must always be striving to be MORE than what you are, better than you were yesterday.

Everyone loves a woman who is the “full package.” Attractive, calm, pleasant, and attuned to everyone else and the image she presents.

Grown a$$ women can’t go all goblin mode, and just…take care of themselves. That is not socially acceptable.

So most of us spend our entire lives on a hamster wheel trying to meet everyone else’s expectations while simultaneously feeling unsure of what we actually want and need.

Last thoughts on ADHD Goblin Women

Listen, I’m not saying you should let your home collapse around you and start picking food out of the couch cushions and ignoring everything in your life but your favorite streaming content. Nor am I saying you should ignore your personal hygiene completely.

I’m planning a separate article on hygiene. Stay Tuned.

But I do think we should all consider why and how we got to this place where yours truly spends two weeks listening to podcasts and reading about the deeper meaning of Goblin Mode when it is applied to women or people who are clearly struggling.


Things to toss around your noggin:

  • 300,000+. people voted to make Goblin Mode the word of the year
  • Wanting to feel good, or comfortable at home, does not make you lazy or slovenly. Everyone deserves to exist offline without image management.
  • There’s nothing wrong with you. Being overwhelmed by the world is not a character flaw.
  • If you need to cocoon a little you are not self-centered. You are self-aware.


Women with ADHD often don’t follow conventions, but nobody is going to give us a “pass.”

No matter how much dancing around there is on TikTok, the expectations for women have not evolved much.

One can only hope that change is coming. It feels like it is.

In the meantime, I am going to wear whatever I want, eat on the couch, and continue to pile my clothing (and that of my family) in designated clean and dirty spots throughout my house.

What are your thoughts on Goblin Mode as word of the year?

How do you feel about labeling your behavior at home? (in private)