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Mental health, neurodiversity, and stigma
That's a way more serious title than normal isn't it?  I feel like I should add an "Oh my" but it needs to be serious I think. I have ADHD.  I have depression.  I am open about these things as I feel that we should be open about them, and that by being open about them, I can hopefully help others too. Anyway, this is about the ADHD. I do not see it as a disability.  I do not have a neurologically typical (NT) brain.  I have a different brain.  An ADHD brain.  By letting people know this about me, I am not making excuses or asking for handouts (physically or emotionally), I am letting you know that I think in a different way than other people may, and this is why.  I am helping you to understand me.  In the same way if you know that someone is Autistic and is telling you Every Detail Ever about an actor from the 50s, this is because it is their current hyperfixation, and they want to share that information with you. My brain can be amazing.  I see things from different angles to many NT people.  It is my brain that allows me to be Steve Rogers (pre-serum).  My brain may not see the flag challenge as climbing the pole, it is much more likely to go with the taking the pole down instead.  Or if you want to go all high brow, we can go with cutting the Gordian Knot instead of trying to undo it. U8rN.gif My brain gives me the power to hyperfocus, and shut out the world for just one thing (ok, it is selective about whether or not I can choose The Thing - "Uh, less hyperfocus on the boy child's birthday presents, more on the assignment" was yelled across the room last week). But it also does the other thing.  The disorganised, forgetting, no time management, no planning thing. This is where medication (for me) comes in - it isn't for everyone, I know. Have I shared the marble analogy on here before?  I don't know, if not, here it is: The NT brain is a good container filled with marbles.  Those marbles are all the thoughts and things to do and remember.  You carry them around easily every day. The ADHD brain has no container.  You're carrying the marbles in your hands, and they fall about all over the place, you constantly drop some no matter how hard you try. Medication is like a bag with a small hole.  You get to put your marbles in it, and they are so much easier to carry around, like an NT person can, but sometimes they still slip through the hole.  But you are aware that the bag has a hole, so you keep an eye on it, make sure you keep a finger there to stop any slipping through.  Make sure you have something to help catch any that do slip through etc. Medication doesn't stop my ADHD, but it means that I am aware of it.  It means that I know that I have to check that the gas is turned off.  I know that I must take notes in THE SAME notebook for each class.  That I must write down everything as I will totally not remember that, regardless of my brain telling me that I totally will. Since September, my medication hasn't been working.  We have realised it was hormone based (yep, more unresearched issues with female ADHD), and have now made med changes to fix it, but it means that for the last term at university, I have had no bag for my marbles. My notes are all over the place and seldom make sense.  I have missed dates that I totally didn't need to write down.  I have missed meetings because I forgot to check my calendar. As a result, I have fallen behind. I have had to apply for an assignment extension. The point of all this though is, I feel shame.  So much shame. I had intended to get through university without any special treatment because of ADHD (except smaller exam rooms), and I feel like I have failed myself.  I feel like I have just not bothered and used it as an "excuse". I haven't though.  My rational brain says that I couldn't reach the high shelf, so I asked for a step.  I didn't ask for the shelves to be lowered or for someone to get my stuff for me, just for a step so I could do it myself. But my brain that knows years of stigma from society, tv, media says that I am just lazy, making excuses and wanting an easy ride. How do we rewire that?  How do we learn to cut out the negative misinformation that we have had pumped into us for years to see things clearly? It is the same with depression - it is a chemical imbalance.  It is no difference to not producing enough insulin.  Healthy women with no hormonal problems take birth control pills with no stigma, so why can't people who NEED different chemicals be open about it and accept that it is just normal.  Why do we lie to work about stomach bugs when really it is that our brains have noped out for the day? I don't have a solution.  I don't have answers.  I do have an ongoing battle with myself.  But I'll keep fighting, and maybe one day I will win.

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