I was having a conversation with a friend not long ago, and we got onto the topic of how we (people with ADHD) are perceived by the public. She told me she didn’t like people knowing that she had ADHD because, to her, it’s a weakness and she didn’t want to appear weak (I may have been wearing a revealing shirt at the time …).
I told my friend that I refuse to accept people perceiving me as weak, I deal with more than they do and I survive. I’m tougher than any one of them. “I’m the toughest guy you know!” I said.
I thought that would be the end of that, but it was not. I guess I don’t look as tough as I think I do.
She said “But even if you think you’re tough, and I’m not saying you’re not, people may still think you’re weak. And I’m bothered by what people think.”
“Ahhh, well I just say ‘$#*¥Φ* ‘em!’” I replied.
Then she confessed that the reality of her situation was that she does feel deficient in many areas of her life. People seeing her as weak just validated those feelings.
I thought about this for three seconds. And then I told her that if anyone could perceive her as weak, they were clearly the weak ones. I told her I had a pretty good idea of what she had to deal with. I told her I knew the strength it took to get through a day.
I went on to tell her that we should let them have their narrow-minded impressions and their blinders and their perfect little worlds. I said I’d take the gravel roads and the mud and the hills and valleys. That means I’ll get to see the views and the vistas that they deny themselves, and one of those vistas that they cannot see is what a wonderfully strong person she is.
“Well, that’s very nice of you Kelly but I am weak and I mess up a lot and I hate that. Yes, I’ve overcome stuff but I think I break easily and I can’t handle a lot. Does that make me a bad person? No, but it makes me weak.” she said.
I shook my head and said “Let me explain you to you one more time and this time you’d better pay attention!
“Someone who is struggling with a six quart basket of lead may look weaker than someone waltzing along with a six quart basket of feathers if both baskets have closed lids. But if you look, if you really look, you’ll see that the first person is not only strong, he or she is getting stronger every day.
“You’re the person with the basket of lead! Sure, you can stand tall and try to restrict what others see, but they’ll never know how strong you are if they don’t know the load you carry.”
We do carry a heavy load, and we carry it well. We carry it so well that I’m not just proud of myself for the load I carry, I’m proud to be a member of one of the strongest groups of people on the planet.
I’m not happy that I have ADHD, but I’m proud to say I’m a member of this tribe. My friend makes me proud. All my ADHD friends make me proud. You all make me proud. Thank you.
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Possibly Impossible « Another Fine Mess (December 1, 2011)
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