My blackness stopped my diagnosis
Way I see it, were it not for the stereotypes that people unconsciously associated me with, I would’ve been really easy to see what had. Looking at the symptoms of ADHD Inattentive type, I fit into every single one.
- Not paying attention to detail
- Making careless mistakes
- Failing to pay attention and keep on task
- Not listening
- Being unable to follow or understand instructions
- Avoiding tasks that involve effort
- Being distracted or forgetful
- Losing things that are needed to complete tasks
With all of these, it should have been pretty clear what the issue was, yet not a single one of my teachers even suggested it. Teacher’s have called me lazy, aloof, uninterested in education. I’ve been told, by a teacher, that I should feel ashamed of how little I try, how I don’t pay attention in class, yet somehow not a single one suggested I have ADHD.
I have every single symptom, but my symptoms match my stereotypes.
Statistically, black kids are much less likely to be diagnosed, and latino children have it even worse. Under half of us who have the symptoms clear get the diagnosis.
Race matters in mental health. Children of Color aren’t allowed to be vulnerable, and we aren’t allowed to be kids. We have to be the worst we can, so I wasn’t allowed to have a problem. And that’s the issue. Children of color can never make any gains, do well, until we are recognized as just as vulnerable. Until it’s understood that mental illness applies to people of color, specifically in children, there will never be any change.
I’m so sick of people not understanding what ADD and ADHD are.
Attention Deficit Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
It is a physical impairment of the brain. It is characterized primarily by inattention, easy distractibility, disorganization, procrastination, and forgetfulness. People who are ‘hyper’ do not have it. They might, but that is not what makes you have it. It does not mean I am dumb, nor that I can’t do things other people can.It just takes me longer - or sometimes shorter - amounts of time.
People with ADD or ADHD:
- Often do not give close attention to details or make careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
- Often have trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities
- Often do not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Often do not follow instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
- Often have trouble organizing activities.
- Often avoid, dislike, or don’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period (such as schoolwork or homework).
- Often lose things.
- Often easily distracted.
- Often forgetful in daily activities.
- Often mix up peoples’ names or forget them for short periods of time.
Some people have all these symptons - some have none. Some are never diagnosed, and therefore are just naughty, horrible kids all their lives. Some peoplearediagnosed, and peoplestillthink they’re horrible, naughty children all their lives.
I have a teacher who always thinks I’m being a shit because I’m late, and forget things, and get distracted in class. No - I have ADHD. She’s aware of this, but doesn’t really understand what it means.
The problem is I can’t tell when I’m just being lazy and silly, or when I’m actually just being a classic ADHD kid.
I often miss parts of tests, and answer wrong, which is the most frustrating thing in the world. Was it because I just rushed through, or because I read it just like everyone else and my brain skipped parts? I often burst out laughing before people stop talking, because I’ve already finished their sentence for them, and it makes 0 sense so I laugh.
Basically, my brain works faster than yours. This means I think faster, and therefore race through things. This might sound like a good thing, but its really not.
Since I am literally working harder to function, above happens. Its not fun. But I am so sick of people treating me either a) like I’m just a naughty child or b) like I’m mentally impaired.
I AM A NORMAL HUMAN BEING. But I’m not. See the problem?
I don’t really want it know around my school, because people will treat me differently. But being known as the lazy, dumb kid isn’t fun either.
I just wanted to let this be aware - ADHD kids have difficulties learning. We’re not dumb, not at all - its just harder.
There are various medications to slow down the neurons firing in your brain. I take Concerta, and it really helps - I can feel the difference in concentration between when I take it and when I don’t. It really reveals to me the difference between me and those around me. I wish I was like them sometimes, because everything would be easier. But I’m not, so I have to love myself the way I am. And now I do, although I was very bitter at myself for it for a while.
Pass on the word - who knows, maybe you have ADD or ADHD, and just don’t know it. Understand, and accept that maybe people are trying - it’s just harder.
ADD Tip 10
Don’t let yourself fall victim to “ADD brain melt”!
For example: the other day I had to unload clean dishes from the sink and put them away. It looked like there was a lot of dishes. I briefly felt overwhelmed and almost walked away from them.
If you ever get that feeling about a task or activity, take a breath and think for a moment. Just because it looks like a lot of work, doesn’t mean it IS a lot of work! Don’t let your brain psych you out. If you find yourself having a “brain melt” moment, taking a moment to recognize it and then work past it can really help you get things done.
“Building and maintaining friendships requires a whole host of extra responsibilities and consistent connections. Relationships simply bring too many things to do and to consider, adding to stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Women (with ADD) feel, at some level, that developing more relationships or even a few relationships to a deeper point will put them over the top. When this happens, they often begin to avoid others, withdraw and then feel lonely and isolated. In addition to beginning and maintaining relationships, many women have let established relationships slip away. Small occasions and important events with other people are missed: there are an increasing number of missed thank-you notes, missed birthdays, or invitations that are not reciprocated. The connections just aren't kept up, and eventually they're gone. They then anticipate scolding, rejection, or negative reactions when they think about trying to reconnect or rectify a situation, so they tend to avoid them altogether. While this may be true for everyone to some extent, women with AD/HD with particular histories or wounds are especially sensitive to and avoidant of this kind of potentially critical feedback further increasing the negative cycle. This is because being good at relationships goes to the core of their identity as women. Men are more often easily forgiven for these relational lapses since it's not so much a part of out culturally established gender role expectations. Because they don't expect it of themselves, they don't attach shame, guilt, and feelings of failure to it when they let relationships lapse. The challenge and the goal is to find a way to stay connected without being overwhelmed. ”—Women with Attention Deficit Disorder by Sari Solden MS, LMFT
An accurate description of what it's like living with ADHD/ADD.
“ADHD is about having broken filters on your perception.
Normal people have a sort of mental secretary that takes the 99% of irrelevant crap that crosses their mind, and simply deletes it before they become consciously aware of it. As such, their mental workspace is like a huge clean whiteboard, ready to hold and organize useful information.
ADHD people… have no such luxury. Every single thing that comes in the front door gets written directly on the whiteboard in bold, underlined red letters, no matter what it is, and no matter what has to be erased in order for it to fit.
As such, if we’re in the middle of some particularly important mental task, and our eye should happen to light upon… a doorknob, for instance, it’s like someone burst into the room, clad in pink feathers and heralded by trumpets, screaming HEY LOOK EVERYONE, IT’S A DOORKNOB! LOOK AT IT! LOOK! IT OPENS THE DOOR IF YOU TURN IT! ISN’T THAT NEAT? I WONDER HOW THAT ACTUALLY WORKS DO YOU SUPPOSE THERE’S A CAM OR WHAT? MAYBE ITS SOME KIND OF SPRING WINCH AFFAIR ALTHOUGH THAT SEEMS KIND OF UNWORKABLE.
It’s like living in a soft rain of post-it notes.
This happens every single waking moment, and we have to *manually* examine each thought, check for relevance, and try desperately to remember what the thing was we were thinking before it came along, if not. Most often we forget, and if we aren’t caught up in the intricacies of doorknob engineering, we cast wildly about for context, trying to guess what the fuck we were up to from the clues available.
Perhaps you’re getting an idea of why we have the task-management skills of a five-year-old - and why we tend to have an “oh fuck” expression on our face whenever you interrupt us in the middle of something.
On the other hand, we’re extremely good at working out the context of random remarks, as we’re effectively doing that all the time anyway. I’ve lost count of the times my wife has said “Hang on… how the hell did you know what I was talking about?”
We rely *heavily* on routine, and 90% of the time get by on autopilot. You can’t get distracted from a sufficiently ingrained habit, no matter what useless crap is going on inside your head… unless someone goes and actually disrupts your routine. I’ve actually been distracted out of taking my lunch to work, on several occasions, by my wife reminding me to take my lunch to work. What the? Who? Oh, yeah, will do. Where was I? um… briefcase! Got it. Now keys.. okay, see you honey!
Quite often, if there’s too much input, we can get kind of overwhelmed, like a new puppy surrounded by excited children. It’s a flustery, unpleasant state to be in, halfway between excitement and anxiety, with no emotional component either way, but all the pacing and twitchiness of both.
Also, there’s a diminishing-returns thing going on when trying to concentrate on what you might call a non-interactive task. Entering a big block of numbers into a spreadsheet, for instance. Keeping focused on the task takes exponentially more effort each minute, for less and less result. If you’ve ever held a brick out at arm’s length for an extended period, you’ll know the feeling. That’s why reddit, for instance, is like crack to us - it’s a non-stop influx of constantly-new things, so we can flick from one to the next after only seconds. It’s better/worse than pistachios.
The exception to this is a thing we get called hyperfocus. Occasionally, when something just clicks with us, we can get ridiculously deeply drawn into it, and NOTHING can distract us. We’ve locked our metaphorical office door, and we’re not coming out for anything short of a tornado. I’ve sat reading a book on a deathly-quiet country train platform, and not noticed a honking great train pull in about a foot from my nose, until someone tapped me on the shoulder. The same can happen with certain video games - what the fuck, it was light, now it’s 4am. “
I hate how some people see it as a cop out or excuse but it’s an honest problem.
Okay guys here's the lowdown on ADHD
Let’s start with this: it goddamn sucks.
It also sucks that it’s diagnosed to pretty much anyone who says they have trouble concentrating and considered a joke nowadays. So whenever I have to tell someone why I sometimes can’t finish homework or essays or things like that I’m embarrassed to hell.
People also are skeptical of people who have ADD or ADHD because they say they can’t concentrate, then proceed to play one video game for hours on end. Here’s the kicker with ADHD: people with it cannot concentrate on something that does not interest them. They require stimulation. Video games and the internet provide that stimulation, they provide moving pictures, something to do with their hands, makes them think in some instances.
It is very hard for me to concentrate on schoolwork. I almost always get distracted or discouraged by my lack of interest in the work. I do take medicine to help me, but sometimes it doesn’t help, or I don’t have time to get to my schoolwork before it wears off. And by then I can’t do anything but give up hope. It both pisses me off and disheartens me, sometimes depresses me. I do my best, I really do try.
What I take is Concerta, which is a methylphenidate. “Methylphenidate is used as part of a treatment program to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; more difficulty focusing, controlling actions, and remaining still or quiet than other people who are the same age) in adults and children. Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Methylin, Methylin ER) is also used to treat narcolepsy (a sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden attacks of sleep). Methylphenidate is in a class of medications called central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. It works by changing the amounts of certain natural substances in the brain” (source). Basically, it slows my brain activity down to a manageable level, so I can concentrate on a single task, no matter how boring. A normal person taking it would become hyperactive, the opposite.
And then I see people making fun of people with ADHD or calling it a fake disability, and it really makes me angry. I wouldn’t call it a learning disability, because my test grades are my crowning achievements. What I can do while my medicine is in full swing in class is what keeps me going through school. But at home, when there’s literally a million things I could be doing besides? Fuck it. There is no hope for me. The medicine’s worn off, my hobbies are more within reach, and my ADHD is in full swing, craving stimulation. My grades usually tell this story.
ADHD is a big problem for those that have it. Please don’t pass it off as a joke, it really isn’t one.