It's ADHD Awareness Week, but how do you make people aware, if you're keeping your ADHD a secret? In Friday’s post we met Jessica, a woman with ADHD who has, after some deliberation, decided to keep her diagnosis from her employer. I questioned whether or not that was the right approach, but I only questioned it in order to explore the subject. I believe that each person needs to decide on their own, whether or not to reveal any aspect of their health. And I respect and support the decision that each individual makes, we can’t decide for others unless we are in their situation. On Monday I listed a few accepted, if not proven, negative aspects of our common situation. The purpose of this was to forewarn you of some potential opinions that may, in the future, drive a new wave of stigmatization.
If you worry about telling people you have ADHD, this post isn’t going to put your mind at ease. I’m not talking about telling people at work, like we discussed in last Friday’s post, I’m referring to telling the people you interact with throughout your day-to-day life. Is it a good idea for everyone to know? Currently we deal with the stigma of mental illness when we ‘out’ ourselves. Some of the icons of our ADHD society suggest that we are of higher than average intelligence ... and of course I have to agree – duh! But my believing that won’t make others realize that my mental health limitations are in the areas of time management, emotion, and behaviour, not in the area of intellect.
Hey, this sneaks up on me every year since my diagnosis, that's twice now. Thank goodness people email me about these things. And yes, it is ADHD Awareness Week and I do have some resources to share with you. If you're going to testify on behalf of the tribe, you might as well be prepared. You might want to read tomorrow's post before you go out canvassing the neighborhood, spreading the word, as it were.
Do you out yourself? Do you tell people that you have ADHD? Do you tell at work? Do you tell the boss or just your co-workers? Do you tell people in lineups at the bank or grocery store when you’re bored? Does your dentist know? Your clergy? Your papergirl? Your friends? Jessica (not her real name) works in a profession where she deals with co-workers,her employer, and the public at different times throughout her day.
ADHD is a Symptom Spectrum Disorder. You’ve heard it before. If you don’t know what that means, I’ll explain it in broad strokes. The subject in question manifests a requisite number of symptoms from a set list that collectively have a known negative effect. ADHD is not being easily distracted and it’s not being forgetful. It’s not being hyper-active. It’s not being impulsive. Nor is it being able to hyperfocus exclusively on something to the exclusion of other, possibly more important things. ADHD is not any of these things, but it is many of these things and in extreme cases it is all of these things and more.
It’s Monday, October 10th. It’s World Mental Health Day, and it’s Thanksgiving here in Canada. I’m not going to list off all the things I’m thankful for here. While I’ve had my share of difficulties this year, the things I’m thankful for are far to many for a single blog post. But there is something else I want to say, one other thing I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for the advances made by the mental health advocacy community, advances that have reduced the social stigma surrounding mental illness. The stigma has been reduced? Wait, the stigma has been reduced? Why wasn't I called?"
Yesterday was election day here in Ontario, Canada. And I haven’t missed voting since I was old enough to vote. Yesterday was no exception. In Ontario, each eligible voter receives a card in the mail that they bring with them to their polling station. If you do not receive your card, or have misplaced it, no worries, You simply need to prove your address and your identity. A property tax bill and a drivers license is what I used yesterday when I discovered that I couldn’t find my voters registration card. That’s right, I received my card in the mail several weeks ago and with complete ADHD inspired confidence, I put it someplace safe.
Okay, I confess. I was a little lost. This isn’t new for me, being lost, but admitting it is. I’m a guy, right, I don’t want to ask for directions, don’t want to admit that I’ve lost my way. But I can tell you now that I had. I wasn’t wandering around the streets of my town, looking in vain for a familiar street sign or landmark. I was wandering through life, looking for the familiar. I was wanting some place to be that felt comfortable. "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore ..." And so much has changed in the last little while that it often feels like nothing will be familiar again. For example, I’m no longer that quirky guy I used to be, I’m now a guy with ADHD. And I’m not a husband of 27 years anymore, I’m a widower.
Or should that be “I’m an ADHD Success at Being a Failure?” You know, I can be successful. I’ve succeeded at many things, really I have. But there is something I’m not good at. Succeeding. Whenever I accomplish something well, I don’t do well. I’m not sure why this is, but I have a couple of theories. Theory one When I was a younger person, I suspect that success, and the subsequent celebration there of, made me less than attentive to my responsibilities. This allowed me the opportunity to follow up a success with an immediate failure or string of failures. I’d be basking in the glory of a job well done and just simply forget that other jobs awaited my attention.
On Wednesday I told you of my wife’s recent passing, my personal loss. I received condolences here and by email, thank you. And while dwelling on it isn’t very pleasant for me, I need to share it with you in order to blog about my ADHD without having to censor myself. Modifying my personal anecdotes that illustrate ADHD-related information by leaving out my current and past marital status is possible, but it isn’t my style. The following is an example of an anecdote that I could not have told adequately without having told you about my wife’s passing: Executive function gone awol I’ve been aware for some time that my wife was the greater half of our “couple dynamic executive function.” But I’m just now finding out the staggering extent to which I relied on her to play that role.