Unfortunately, due to the rampant abuse of ADHD medications and the other perceived benefits of an ADHD diagnosis, people who have spent their lives trying to navigate through the challenges of functioning with ADHD can be left feeling marginalized and conflicted among their peers.
If you try to learn about ADHD, you would think it would not be difficult to access consistent, straightforward information, but in reality, the research and theories are all over the place with no clear picture of the disorder, its symptoms or the most effective treatment.
My personal experience began when I was just four, and I was diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia and processing disorders. A decade of therapy, tutoring and tinkering with various medicines passed as I prepared for high school. My parents accessed anything that they thought would help me along the way, and the main point that they emphasized regularly was that my work ethic would be a lifelong strength as would my familiarity with overcoming the barriers I routinely encountered. I remember feeling such frustration when I couldn’t grasp concepts as quick as my classmates, or when I was placed in lower level classes, unlike all my friends.
Once I was determined to get off of the medicine that I felt robbed me of my appetite and personality, but I soon realized everything was just too hard without it. I quickly fell behind in school, and life’s tasks became overbearing. I then knew the medicine was something I needed to stay proactive, and achieve the things I wanted. I was ashamed of the fact I needed medication to function like others around me. That embarrassment came from the degrading things I heard others say about people who take ADHD medication.
By the time I was in high school, my compensation skills allowed me to graduate with honors. But as a college freshman, I almost feel like I am back to square one. I’ve never asked for accommodations, like more time, yet I am now struggling to just finish exams.
People think that ADHD medicine is like a red bull or a procrastinator’s crutch to survive, and even though you know from years of experience that your situation is different, it still confuses your senses. Who wants to defend their reliance on medication? Or lock a prescription bottle in a safe in your dorm room where all other valuables seem secure? Or make grades that don’t reflect your effort and commitment? It has been a frustrating experience, but hopefully my current struggle to find perspective and balance will soon be another challenge that I have successfully conquered.