I am ready to share my discovery, at last. The root of all those personal quirks that I despised – talking over the teacher as a child, searching for the glasses perched on my head, and even paying to tow my car when it had simply just ran out of fuel – suddenly became so vivid one day. Preceding that day was a lifetime of unanswered questions.
It all started in kindergarten at age 4. I didn’t fully grasp that my behavior stood out, but I vaguely remember struggling to do what everyone else was doing. What I do remember, vividly, was wanting to sit under the desk to get away from the people I thought were shouting at me. Making friends was difficult, to say the least.
Then there was secondary school, when I hung upside down on the climbing frame with the naughty kids. I got in trouble, but it gave me a taste of who I really was. I made my best friend that day – a girl with an imagination, and a sense of adventure. From that day on, I stopped chasing gold stars that just peeled off. I stopped trying to be perfect.
It’s not easy being different. It means that you stand out even when you’re so desperate to blend in. It means feeling excluded, isolated, and alone a lot of the time. In my quest to belong, I often tried walking in the footsteps of others, forcing myself into the expected mold just to avoid painfully sticking out.
But once I accepted that ADHD was a part of me, I gave myself permission to become who I was meant to be. I allowed myself to shine.
[“I Don’t Need to Be Fixed!” Epiphanies of Self-Acceptance from Adults with ADHD]
Accepting Yourself with ADHD
I can think of a million things all at once. It’s exciting to watch my own brain spiderweb ideas out into a glorious map that can’t be seen or read by anyone else. Though I can’t focus on some things as well as others do, given the right environment, my ability to create and invest in what I love is infinite.
I will act impulsively because my broken control center demands it. Later, when the memory of my behavior unfurls, I will feel nothing but shame. I’ll think about dying, though I don’t want to die. Not even close. In fact, my problem is the complete opposite. I want to live. I want to escape. I feel trapped and bored and claustrophobic. There’s so much to see and so much to do, but with ADHD I sometimes find myself doing nothing at all. I’m still here in this metaphorical bubble of existence, and I can’t quite figure out what the hell I’m doing or how to get out of it.
But ADHD won’t go away. So I’ve resolved to become more educated and aware of it — learning how to turn my symptoms into strengths.
Accepting Yourself Means Fighting for You
Some people would rather be ignorant and try to make me feel that ADHD is a problem I need to “work through,” “stop,” or even “get rid of” because I won’t “survive in the real world” as I am.
[Read This: “I Could Have Been Myself for So Much Longer.”]
But the more I hone my ability to advocate for myself, and the more I understand that someone else’s judgement lies solely with them, the freer I am to love the person I am.
It’s true that I simply can’t sit still — and that the pure inner explosion of anxiety I feel when I realize I’ve zoned out of a conversation (and then profusely apologize) can sometimes feel debilitating. But I’ve found great ways to cope. When I write and create, I realize again that my brain isn’t broken; it just works in a slightly different way. And a good, sweaty gym session always clears the fog and the negative energy in my head.
What I’m trying to say is that there is still hope for a neurodiverse brain in a world full of strict social rules. Take me – my career as a circus artist has become the vehicle through which my ADHD became a strength. It keeps me occupied and challenged. Even though I have a fair mixture of good and bad days, I love the challenge so much that I keep coming back for more.
I’m not sure I’ve truly figured out my purpose in life or my reason for existence, but this may well be a step in the right direction.
I’m Chanice. I have ADHD. I am imaginative, unapologetically complex, creative… and I am free.
Accepting Yourself with ADHD: Next Steps
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Updated on November 24, 2020