YEAH, I’VE GOT ADHD. A DAMN HUGE DREAM.
Troublesome. Distracting. Away with the fairies. Loud. Unable to concentrate. Ditsy. Unruly. Chaotic.
That’s how my teachers used to describe me.
No matter how much I tried, or how hard I attempted to push back and strip myself of these labels, my reports always seemed to scream the same thing at me: “You’re not good enough”.
And the worst part about this? I began to believe it.
I had always felt a little different. Academically that is. I remember sitting in maths classes, science classes and French lessons and simply feeling lost. All my friends could follow the teachers’ instructions, engage in what we were being taught. They didn’t struggle in tests or cry tears of frustration over the homework. So why was I? Why me?
I came to the only conclusion I could think of. I was stupid. Plain and simple. I was stupid and I’d end up with shitty grades and a shitty job.
The only time I didn’t feel like a complete failure was when I was writing. Putting pen to paper became my way of seeking solace. English lessons were my safe space. Words were my secret weapon. And my English teacher, Mrs Adams (who I have a lot to thank for) was one of the only teachers who actually believed in me, who gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe I did have a gift. Maybe I could go on to do great things.
Not long after I turned 16, I sat my winter GCSE mocks. The results? Diabolical. Other than in English, Drama and History my results were more akin to a bunch of pornstars’ cup sizes than a set of results expected of a student at my pushy, A* obsessed school. It would be dishonest to say I wasn’t distraught. I tried to act like I didn’t care, like I was just the wild, quirky, “cool” girl who didn’t care much for academics. But inside I was freaking the fuck out. Why could my stupid, thick brain not absorb any of the things I was being taught?
Parents evening came around. Fucking parents evening. The night I’d have to sit there with the two people who’d given me everything, and get told by the majority of my teachers that I was a lost cause.
After trapsing around the school, my head hung and my parents in tow, we came to my French teacher. I prepared myself for the worst. I stared into space as she began speaking, but then she said something that soon snapped me back into the conversation: “I think you should get tested for ADHD.”
I was pissed off. “What even is that?” I thought. “Does she think I’m mental?” The thought that there actually could be something “wrong” with my brain sent pangs of utter dismay through my chest.
I said to my parents afterwards; “There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just shit at French. Who actually needs French anyway? They all speak English and I don’t need to know my past participles in order to order myself a croissant”.
How naïve I was. It turns out my French teacher’s suggestion would change my life completely. And for the better.
After some convincing, and a shed load of tests, a psychologist diagnosed me with ADHD in March 2016, just a few months before I was set to take my real GCSEs. I was prescribed some pills to help me with my attention deficit and, though I was sceptical at first, they worked like magic. I finally felt like I could apply myself to the subjects I wasn’t passionate about and absorb the information needed to pass my exams. I had hope again. I became happier. And I stormed my GCSEs.
Finally having an answer as to why I functioned differently to a lot of my friends was a relief, and it ignited a new passion and determination within me to prove to everyone that I could go on to do great things. I changed school for sixth form and worked my ass off, I got great a-levels and earnt a place at a Russell group University which awarded me with a first-class degree…something I never thought I’d achieve in a million years.
It was during university that I began to research ADHD and what it actually is, and I shook off the stereotype (which I was also guilty of perpetuating) that it’s a quirky “disorder” which simply makes me hyper and easy to distract. The more I read the more I came to realise that ADHD is misunderstood, and a lot of the traits that make me who I am I owe to my ADHD, and the fact that my brain is wired differently: My vast imagination, my tendency to talk quickly, to deeply absorb and throw myself into my passions, my ability to empathise with others on a deeper level, my creativity, my excitable personality, my wacky sense of humour.
My diagnosis has taught me so much about myself and the way I function. It has become a part of me, my ADHD makes me who I am. I now see it as a gift. As my superpower. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
There’s so much more I could say about ADHD, it’s scale as a neurodivergent condition, and the different ways it can manifest in people…but I’d be here all day, and this SCAB would turn into a dissertation. However, I do encourage you, If you’ve been diagnosed yourself, or you know someone with ADHD, to do some research (there are some great Instagram accounts which break down all it’s different assets and manifestations simply and clearly) because understanding ADHD and being able to reclaim it as a positive thing undoubtedly makes a world of difference.
Don’t get me wrong, coming to understand, accept and love my ADHD has been a challenge, but it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done. It fuels my creativity, it spurs me on, and it makes me dream big. I want to change the world, I want to create things that make people stop, stare, laugh, and wonder, and I intend on doing so. I’m determined to do so. And my ADHD will only empower this. It will not hold me back.
Love every single part of yourself. Nothing can stop you. There’s no reason to be ashamed of adoring the “strange” things that make you a little weird. Sometimes all you need to do is a bit of soul searching, and see the beauty in all the little colours that make you who you are.