Why I'm choosing to be openly ADHD
There is a certain stigma to ADHD. I'm not actually going to go through all of things people think about it and why those things are wrong. I don't think this is the blog for that.
What I'm going to talk about, is why I have made the personal choice not to hide my ADHD, why I've told my boss I'm ADHD and
why I tweet constantly about it - on main.
The first thing that struck me, when I was finally encourage to look into ADHD (at the age of 34), was just how little I knew about it. I thought, genuinely, that it was something that only children had.
I thought it was something that made you bounce off the walls, run around screaming and do badly in school.
It... is not.
That form of ADHD, the hyperactive young boy, is only present in 25% of young boys with ADHD. It's not even the most common presentation of it!
It's just the most visible presentation. Which is super problematic because as it turns out, the collective idea we have as a society of ADHD, something present in around 5% of humans, is of the behaviours we find most annoying.
Finding out about being ADHD was revelatory to me. It explained, really, a great deal about my life, from childhood.
All of a sudden, I had a reason for why certain things played out. That opens the door for a level of self-compassion I had never had for myself. Because ADHD, isn't a disease, it's a disability. Through which some things are just plain harder to do.
Try and imagine for a moment that you are short-sighted, and that you live an entire life into adulthood without anyone noticing or telling you that was a thing people could be. What might you think about yourself?
The lifetime experience, of most undiagnosed ADHD people, is one of feeling worse than other people. Just as that short-sighted person might feel like they are worse at reading than others.
I'm not worse. I'm disabled. Some things are harder for me. I need support, I need to be able to do things differently some times. I just plain think and communicate differently to a lot of people.
It wasn't hard for me to decide to talk about ADHD openly if I'm honest. In many ways I am incredibly lucky. Many ADHD accounts you'll see across social media are anonymous. Alt accounts created for the express purpose of talking about ADHD without their friends/family/employers finding out.
I'm in the privileged position of not having to care about that. It will affect me, I'm sure of that. I'll be denied opportunities and be talked about unkindly. That will happen and I'm not going to pretend it wont. Bias is Bias.
But I don't fear it. Because I've made a career, I'm a professional, I've got contacts and I have a portfolio of work.
Even if that all completely falls apart, I have a wife who is really quite aggressively competent in all things and one of those big ol' working class families who'll look after me if even she bins me off.
So now, honestly, I feel a sense of obligation. As silly as that may sound.
I see my position, privilege, and security - alongside my revelatory diagnosis - powered by the common ADHD traits I experience of Hyper Empathy, Justice Sensitivity and a tendency to Overshare, and I feel like it is kind of important that I speak about it.
For me, I need to do that openly. With my name and my face and my profession all plain to see. I'll tell you why.
ADHD twitter is one of the most valuable resources I found in learning to understand how I operate. I need to be a part of that for others. But, there are so many anonymous accounts, and the majority of non-anonymous accounts tended to be either selling something or professionally invested in ADHD.
Especially folks who, err, look like me.
That's not a bad thing, we're talking about disabled people who have turned their passion for advocacy & support into a career. That's great, and many have been incredibly useful to me personally. But an ADHD coach, a neuroscientist, a therapist or psychiatrist with ADHD is not... quite the same as, someone who has a normal job.
That's important because... actually, let me tell you a story.
I have a friend, one of the kindest and most caring and lovely people in my life. They have, for a long time been asked if they have ADHD. They've always hated it. Because... well, a little bit of internalised ableism alongside a general poor understanding of what it is.
I love this person. They are embarrassingly supportive of me, and have often talked about how they wish they could move through life as I do (I mask just really super well).
They're in the process of getting a diagnosis now. Because seeing that I, someone they've coded as competent, can be ADHD was meaningful to them.
I believe that it's important to see that it is possible to be open about it and have a standard job. For both neurodivergent and neurotypical folks.
I hope that talking about my experience might encourage those who know nothing about it, to look for themselves. To maybe get that same revelation that I have had, and to be kinder to themselves as a result.