Growing up with ADHD

In todays society, it is clear to see that we are making progress when it comes to accepting and celebrating our differences, mental or physical; don’t get me wrong, we still have a long way to go but there seems to be more support from others, whether that be from family, friends or even strangers and I believe social media and various platforms are a one of the reasons for this. Unfortunately, if you were to rewind as little as 15-20 years, this wasn’t always the case.  One of the biggest differences between then and now is many of us reach a time in our life where we start to learn who we truly are, you begin to feel comfortable with that and even start to learn how to use what others may see as flaws to your advantage, whereas when you were 5, 10 or even 15 years old you had no idea who you were, at times you felt completely lost and it became very easy to blame the ways in which you were different for that, also children tend to have no filter so if you were different, they would let you know (just in case you hadn’t noticed.)

Primary school…

I knew from a very young age that I wasn’t like all the other children in my class, for a start I had darker skin and frizzy hair (genuinely the only mixed race child in the class) for this I was bullied but there was more to it than that, I’ found it very hard to focus, listen or sit still. One of the first memories of this was in reception we’d have story time and the whole class had to sit with their legs crossed and hands on their lap but I found it so hard, I’d completely block out what the teacher was reading and instead tap my hands on the floor, rock backwards and forwards and giggle loudly. The teachers just saw me as a disruptive kid and constantly called my mum in to ‘have a word’, of course my mum was concerned and would try to speak to me about the seriousness of disrupting the class but truthfully, it would go in one ear and out of the other.

After a year or so, numerous parent meetings and my mum being called in due to me biting a child on the nose for not letting me in the sandpit, she was advised to take me to the doctors and be assessed for ADHD, for those that haven’t heard of this, it stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder which in basic terms means those who have it find it hard to concentrate, at times become very hyperactive and tend to be impulsive. So my mum reluctantly took me to the doctors (I say reluctantly because no mum wants to hear their child may have a behavioural disorder) and they referred me to a children’s hospital.I’ll be honest, I absolutely loved visiting the hospital, playing in their playroom filled with toys and when I say filled I mean mountains of colourful toys (they probably did this purposely to see how many toys you would get through in a short space of time.) People would watch me play and how I interacted with other children and then my mum would get taken into the doctors office, I’m guessing to discuss and analyse my behaviour, then I would be called in (this I hated because there were no toys, just chairs and a serious looking guy asking me questions.) Once we left that doctors office with medication, Ritalin I believe it’s called which is a drug thats suppose to keep you calm and focused; The truth is I didn’t take them for long, I remember feeling like a robot, completely numb of all emotions… I was no longer me. My mum picked up on this and decided to go back to basics.

In the grand scheme of things, my grades weren’t bad, if anything I was exceeding in certain subjects so at this point my mum wasn’t overly concerend. In the end my music teacher suggested I learn the violin, so I did and you know what I was pretty damn good at it; it was a natural outlet, something my busy mind could focus on.

Secondary school…

So this was probably the hardest stage of my life and one that I often look back on. Not only did I have ADHD, mix that with hormones and anxiety and you’ve got yourself a little destructive cocktail. I was always the one chucked out of class, even when others were talking because they expected it of me; I even recall walking into my german lesson once and the teacher turned to me and said ‘leave, you’re only going to get kicked out at some point anyways’ I felt like nobody was even willing to give me a chance and with this came resentment, resentment towards the whole world. I stopped caring, making the effort; they expected a disruptive teen, that was exactly what I gave them. it affected all my friendships and relationships, I started to get involved with the wrong sort of people and would always hear a voice in my head saying ‘this is not you, this is not who you want to be’ Again my grades didn’t suffer but I could have done better. This is when I found writing, it was my sweet release and a way to get out all my creative energy; with every word typed I felt my anxiety and ADHD symptoms wither away. Then when I entered year 10 our year head changed and I began to get the support I had craved for so many years, I was listened to and had a place to escape to when things got a bit too much. In the end I graduated, went onto six form and went to university to study Journalism but if I didn’t receive that support towards the end of my school years, I don’t know where I would be today.

Now…

So how does ADHD affect me now? well it’s not something I have ever really spoken about, in fact the majority of my friends who read this will not be aware that this is something I live with. I’d say there are still moment where it’s very apparent whether it be a sudden rush of excitement about buying something, I’ll have to have it there which you could imagine leaves me with very little money (this is something I’m starting to work on but it’s so hard, it’s like if I see something I want but I can’t have it, I physically begin to ache) or not being able to sit still, one part of my body needs to be moving constantly. This is something I’ve hidden and ignored all my life but I’m beginning to recognise the signs and manage them.

 

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