My Disability Isn't Your Scapegoat
The Other Sides of ADD/ADHD
There are few things that are more frustrating than when I hear someone toss, “Oh my god I am so ADD right now” around like it's the next big thing, when really it’s just your excuse for why you weren’t paying attention. And quite frankly, as someone who has struggled with the ups and downs of ADD/ADHD, it’s pretty insulting. And don't even get me started on the whole "your friend’s, sister’s, cousin’s, dog’s owner has ADD/ADHD which gives you a free pass to use it" mentality.
Because simply put—ADD/ADHD is so much more than getting distracted mid-sentence, or not being able to sit still.
It’s frustration. It’s the days, weeks, years, leading up to being diagnosed where you don’t know what feels different about you but something does and you can’t express what it is because you just DON’T KNOW. It’s sitting in class learning alongside your classmates, fully understanding (or at least semi understanding) what you’re being taught, and then opening your homework at home and feeling like someone wiped your memory clean. It’s wanting to explain everything that’s going through your mind, but you can’t because it’s not humanly possible to organize those thoughts in a manner that could even make sense.
It’s emotion. It’s belly laughs, and gut-wrenching sobs—sometimes even one right after the other! It’s falling in love so quickly and so hard, trusting in the next kindest stranger, and completely losing faith when things don’t work out. It’s flying off the handle over the smallest thing, picking up pieces, and trying to hold it all in. It’s the best, and it’s the worst. It’s love and it’s hate. It’s elation and depression. It’s rarely something comfortably in between.
It’s isolation. It’s not wanting to socialize today, or tomorrow, but maybe the next day? It’s that feeling of being totally okay with being by yourself—but at the same time just really wanting someone to reach out. You know, just in case you might want company.
It’s excitement. It’s talking non-stop about the things you love the most—no matter how small they might be. It’s counting down the days, weeks, hours until the thing you are most looking forward to, and then reminding yourself to keep it together and not legitimately jump out of your skin (think dog zoomies for people) when it finally gets here. It’s fun, it’s thrilling, it’s real.
It’s complicated. It’s conflicting feelings, emotions, thoughts. It’s a day-to-day, touch and go, things can change on a dime kind of vibe. It’s feeling so smart, but also so dumb. It’s wanting to embrace emotions, but also wanting to run for the hills. It’s wanting to be the life of the party, and not wanting to talk to a single person. It’s thinking so much—and saying so little. It’s reminding yourself to be empathetic and not self-centered. It’s putting yourself first while keeping those you care deeply about at the top of your mind.
It’s commitment. It’s planning, and medication, and re-training your brain. It’s a process, a routine, a schedule. It’s reminding yourself that things will be okay when those plans fall through, when your schedule veers off course, when planets misalign and you’re being sucked into a vortex (or so it feels)—you know you’ll get back out. It’s knowing that once you put the time into your schedules, planning, routines, things will be okay.
For some, ADD/ADHD is nothing—it’s just a couple letters thrown together. For others, it’s a game(and lifestyle) changer, for others yet—a lifestyle, but for today—let’s not make it a punchline.