ADHD and Me
Denials, dismissals and downright scorn.
The responses I've received when discussing ADHD have been historically negative.
I am pleased to report things are getting better - with awareness comes understanding.
ADHD is 'on the rise'.
No, we talk about it more and therefore recognise it more. As the demands and pressures on our lives increase, the traits become exacerbated, more obvious. Plenty from my generation and above went undiagnosed, it was - and is - still present.
ADHD is 'a myth' or another name for 'bad behaviour'. As with all things it is a term taken advantage of, misused and wrongly applied. That doesn't mean it's fictional.
I am ADHD (that is the official term for it anyway) although it's only recently I've got a reason to speak out about it.
On a personal level, I can't afford to care what people think of ADHD. I have no need to justify, prove or excuse the existence of it.
I live with it. I know.
On a professional level, as an educator, mentor and writer I decided to try and raise awareness.
I am telling my story with the hope I can inspire, empower and invite healthy discussions about how ADHD affects lives and fits into society today.
Years ago I realised there was a name for IT. A list of things that 'matched me'.
I was in my early-twenties, just starting a career in specialist education, and found the link interesting.
I related to the teens I worked with and was naturally good at what I did, supporting them with learning and personal development.
If anything I thought I'd 'avoided' ADHD since I hadn't been expelled from school. I'd accepted ADHD was part of me, but I didn't see it as having a direct impact on my adult life.
The more I found out about ADHD the more I realised it went way beyond that initial checklist.
In my career I excelled. Under the guidance of two solid mentors I honed organisational skills which had previously been beyond my wildest dreams, plus I had an instinct for what would work. I achieved results with students above and beyond the expectations. Traditional employment lasted five years. In that time my mental health suffered and I was diagnosed with work-based anxiety.
I decided to set up my own business and made a profession out of my specialist skills and experiences.
My personal life was risky and dramatic, my love-life destructive - I was wild, free and I loved it all. Adulthood was nothing how I expected, but I had the sense I had made it into exactly what I wanted it to be.
Reaching my thirties, I really put it all together.
My whole life has been shaped by ADHD.
For the first time ever, it all made sense. I suddenly felt like a massive weight lifted.
Thing is, I'd always been happy with being weird, crazy, 'different', I champion individuality; now I questioned everything about myself, my actions, my brain - was it all down to ADHD?
It was a shock reading through some of the newer research, reading and listening to accounts such as Jessica McCabe's TEDx talk - the realisation that my decisions had in fact been massively influenced by the way my brain is wired was painful.
My career, my love-life, my social life, all aspects have been massively affected.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that I am grateful. I am still happy.
For whatever divine intervention, I found myself working in an industry which taught me everything I needed to support myself. I became a success, despite things being set up against my nature - I made it work for me.
I understand ADHD is how my brain functions, it accounts for my strengths and weaknesses, my moods, the way I function. Being aware of this has enabled me to be a version of myself I want to be.
My ADHD Chi workshops are for people living with ADHD traits, diagnosed, suspected or otherwise. Alongside this, I hope my articles and perspective on the subject help those who are trying to understand, or want to make a change to help others.
Society isn't set up for ADHD brains. When people won't even accept the idea of an 'ADHD brain,' the move to accommodate such will remain a ridiculous battle.
Firstly we need to overcome the massive resistance that is whether 'ADHD' exists or whether in fact 'categories' of brains exist. We have early-birds and night-owls, pessimists and optimists, patient and impatient, caring and tough, airy and deep - ADHD fits under the neurodiversity umbrella.
I say we have neuro-diverse and neurotypical. These are two extremely complex areas - we are talking about brains after all - but put simply neuro-diverse people experience the ordinary in extraordinary ways. And what is accepted or understood or followed by the majority is not or does not feel the 'norm' for us.
Secondly ADHD has a misleading and misunderstood reputation. This works extremely well in suppressing creative, broad thinking minds that naturally generate ideas and seek solutions...
These aren't abnormal brains or a problem to be fixed. They are different in structure and function, with different outlooks and needs. And that can be just fine, given the right advice, information and tools.
I will champion any person looking to improve the functioning, understanding and productivity of their own brain. As with my stance on feminism: I am not saying females are better than men.
I am not saying ADHD brains are better than any other type of brain - neurotypical or otherwise.
But they can be better than they currently are.
I see ADHD brains can be nurtured better, understood and basically enjoyed for all the many positives.
If anything, I've come to see my ADHD as a superpower. Also intuition and empathy but that's another article altogether.
Against many odds, I've done it my way and I'm going to continue doing it my way.
I'm hopeful I can inspire others to find their way too.
Have you got an ADHD story? Get in touch :)
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