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ADHD or me?

So … I intended to talk about what it was like growing up with ADHD from a female perspective – as a child, teenager but also an undiagnosed young adult. At the risk of being a massive ADHD cliché, I never made it on to that topic.

I found approaching an article which focuses on my personal experience extremely difficult to attack because as always there was a lot I wanted to cover; however, I didn’t know what could be put down to ADHD and what was just down to me being me. Cue classic overthinking and self-doubt.

To add to my spiral, the last piece went down pretty well, and people actually read it, so I was left feeling a disproportionate amount of pressure for the task at hand. Yes, I do know we’re talking the Equal Lives blog here not the British Medical Journal! I also say disproportionate because, if you were to look at some of my professional achievements over the years you might struggle to buy the turmoil I was experiencing over a blog post for the company website, but I promise you, dear reader, it was real – this blog was stressing me out.

In the spirit of turning something negative into a positive, I realised the current cause for my restless state of mind provided enough content for an entire article in itself, so here we are.

I wasn’t surprised by the struggle I found myself in as I find myself there all the time. I often find it really, REALLY hard to keep my approach to tasks simple. I don't need anyone else to point out I’m over complicating something … I already know that, but I can’t stop / focus on one thing / pick a lane and stay in it. But is this all ADHD related or part me? Worth writing about, or not?

Whilst writing this article and wrestling with my thoughts, I have had a bit of a light bulb moment. There is no “ADHD or me”. I don’t have ADHD traits and none-ADHD traits. I cannot extrapolate ADHD from who I am because there is no me without it. Of course, I can’t speak for everyone but for me, my ADHD doesn’t exist as a separate little entity in its own box that jumps out on a regular basis to cause havoc. Instead, it feels like it permeates everything I do and think. It’s the very essence of me but I don’t love it like a lot of Gen Z Instagram influencers tell me they do. Just to say, I love this for them, it’s a clear sign of how neurodiversity in society is changing shape for the better, but it’s not my story. That said, I’m a firm believer in “whatever shines light casts a shadow” so whilst my ADHD manifestations can be truly awful (yes, I did say that, sorry influencers) they’re often great and of course there is everything in between.

Bottom line, ADHD is complex, highly variable and can present itself in ways and behaviours I don’t expect, yet society still harbours a lot of misconceptions. I was talking to a friend the other week who was recently diagnosed with OCD. She said she finds it interesting that people’s go to response is, “so what do you do?” - their assumption being that she must check her hair straighteners are switched off 15 times before leaving the house or something to that effect. Hard relate! Except, with me, people wonder why I’m not an 8-year-old boy bouncing off the walls. But, like I said, things are changing for the better.

Jenny Kane

Development Officer

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