| January 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

The feeling of motivation, to actually want to do my work, is foreign to me now. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to do my homework without immediately slacking off or barely putting in any effort. I just accepted that for years the only way I could do work was when a rare moment of inspiration struck and I would have a productive hour or two before it faded, disappearing for days or even weeks on end.

I have ADHD. Could you tell?

photo credit: NIAID Bottle of Doxycycline via photopin (license)

photo credit: NIAID Bottle of Doxycycline via photopin (license)

I couldn’t. Not for twenty years. The one inkling I might have had was brushed away, with my parents telling my fourth grade teacher that I didn’t have ADHD, I was just bored in her class because her teaching style wasn’t engaging. (Partially true.) As it got worse and worse I convinced myself it was just a side effect of the depression I already knew I had, the concentration problems and insomnia just an unavoidable consequence.

It’s not like I should have been surprised. Three of my mom’s five sisters struggled with ADHD all their lives, so I was already predisposed by virtue of my genetics. My sister is autistic and has many of the same issues I do, but I could brush away my problems with overstimulation and fidgeting because I was told all my life I was the normal, albeit weird, kid in my family.

It’s hard to accept that something you know to be true about yourself was wrong for so many years. Over the summer I started thinking about it more and more. Was it normal that I couldn’t focus in class or finish an assignment on time? I like to think of myself as relatively self-aware, but I came to the realization that I was in denial about a core part of myself.

But the symptoms became too much to ignore, and pieces started falling into place. I’m a compulsive multitasker, to the point where doing just one thing at a time isn’t enough; I fidget and play with stim toys because I have too much energy; being bored is tantamount to torture; my situational awareness is fantastic, but I have to sacrifice being aware of what’s immediately in front of me.

As I thought back to my childhood, I realized that it didn’t just start in high school. The work was just easy enough that I didn’t have to work too hard at it; once I got to college, the level of difficulty finally started giving me problems, and I finally got my diagnosis of Inattentive ADHD at age 20.

I was lucky. I flew under the radar until my college years because I got good grades and didn’t act out in class (for the most part). Certainly a gifted student couldn’t be struggling with a developmental disorder, right? My parents never bothered to get me diagnosed because I was successful in school, and if my space cadet mentality wasn’t affecting my grades, it wasn’t worth pursuing.

Adderall is not a magic pill, but it sure feels like it. For the first time in a long time I can sit down and do my homework right away without feeling like I’m forcing myself to do it. I lose my situational awareness, but it’s a small price to pay for concentration that used to only come once every few days. For the first time in years, I feel comfortable with myself and my diagnosis, and I’m relearning what it’s like to be a functional human that accepts themselves, flaws and all.


featured photo credit: PracticalCures ADHD via photopin (license)

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Category: featured, Poetry, Prose and Comedy, Reflections, Social Activism

Charlie Scanlan

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Charlie is a journalism major in the College of Communication.

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