When I think about independence, I think about freedom. If I am being independent, I have the freedom to make my own decisions, and to act on them.
One of those decisions has been to come “out” about having ADHD. One of my hopes and dreams is that things will change for the better in BOTH our countries for those of us with the condition (and elsewhere; ADHD is represented in the same numbers in adults worldwide as it is in North America).
Independence and freedom to be who we are
The only way for that to happen is for us to raise the education and comfort levels of our communities around mental health issues in general, and ADHD in particular. I’d like to help create a comfort zone around talking about adult ADHD and an acceptance, even appreciation, of those who have it.
This week, I’ve been seeing tiny shifts in my community that we’re moving in this direction. (At least, I hope so).
One example happened this Saturday, on our own national holiday (aptly called, Canada Day). I had ventured downtown to see some friends perform at an outdoor street sale. My friends are a talented husband / wife team who’ve recently paired up and formed a band. Both terribly talented individuals, as it happens, the husband also has ADD. I’d learned this some time ago when I was yapping about my own ADHD with him.
It was thrilling for me to be sitting in public, surrounded by strangers, and hear his wife say through a microphone – loud and clear – for all the world to hear, that her husband’s ADHD was getting in the way (I’m not sure what was happening, maybe poor Trev was having trouble setting up, had forgotten some of his gear, or whatever other typical ADHD mess-up he might be experiencing).
Public comfort zone
Point was, at the moment she said it I felt a teeny triumph in that she was able to share it so casually and publicly. (Ironically, it also suddenly reminded me that I’d forgotten to take my meds that morning).
There was no animosity or anger in her voice; Trev himself grinned at the remark; and the entire community of friends and musicians who know these two, know that theirs is a relationship to be envied – loving and close.
Maybe, slowly, things are moving in the right direction.
Work comfort zone
Just the other day at work (I’ve written previously about coming out to my employer), my boss wanted to train me on something new. He began to describe something, and I said with a smile, “Just remember, Dan, I don’t think like other people; which I think we’ve already covered.” I felt casual and playful when I said it, with no hesitation whatsoever.
My disclosure at work freed me up to now casually refer to it if I felt like it, even to joke about it. In acting independently (and there were far more nay-sayers on the side of NOT telling your employer about your mental health issue than there were supporters), I have earned my freedom of speech. I have given myself the independence and freedom at work that allows me a greater measure of calm, authenticity and playfulness.
I can be myself. And that’s something that, in my own way, I have fought for.
So, in the spirit of camaraderie in freedom and independence, I’d like to wish all my American friends a very happy Independence Day.
Photo by ankakay, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
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Last reviewed: 6 Jul 2011