Last spring I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD. The image that comes to everyone’s mind is of an elementary school kid, bouncing off the walls during class and never shutting up. I was that. Throughout elementary and high school, and at least half of high school, I really struggled. Not with the actual course, but with the attention in class, doing the homework, and not to mention all the stupid little mistakes I made, because I just wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. Finally, after going to school online due to the pandemic, my parents saw what a real problem I had. It’s not that they didn’t believe me before, but my grades were always good and my teachers thought that was my personality. My diagnosis truly changed my life and opened up a million sources of information to learn more about ADHD. One problem though, is that most aren’t aimed at teenagers. It is primarily aimed at people diagnosed in adulthood and parents/guardians of young children. The weird about how it affects teenagers is always targeted at the parents/guardians of said teenager. Teens are old enough to research and find out how their diagnosis affects them. While I recognize that my experience may not apply to everyone, I hope there is one teenager reading this who finds comfort in the fact that they are not alone in their diagnosis. .
The stigma around ADHD medications is that they make you a zombie. This is absolutely not true. Although I am still working with my doctors to help me find the right dosage, I can say this has been a game changer for the better. A common misconception about ADHD is that it is a lack of attention. It is actually an inability to regulate attention. For my life, I couldn’t concentrate in certain classes at school, but I could read, write, and watch movies for hours at home. Sometimes it was taken as I just wasn’t concentrating in certain situations because obviously I could concentrate at different times. The thing is, I couldn’t focus on reading, writing, and watching movies. I literally had no control over it. It goes as far as the biology of the brain. I won’t go into detail, but the majority of medications recommended for ADHD are stimulants. When an ADHD brain takes these drugs, the neurons are activated and complete their path as they would in a non-ADHD brain. You obviously don’t have to take medication if you don’t want to, but I would seriously discuss this with your parents/guardians and your doctor. Of course, there are side effects of the drug. They most often occur when switching to a higher dose. From my personal experience, for about a week after increasing my dose, I have stomach pain after taking the drug.
At school and outside of school. Your parents/guardians will likely meet with your school counselor and discuss what the school needs to do to help you learn. You may feel a little embarrassed. It is very good. Remember that you held yourself to the standards set for neurotypical people. You might also feel a little angry. Where were all these homes before? I got bad grades because of some biological thing I was born with. Why did I only learn this now? I thought about all those things too. I still do. It’s normal to be angry, but take it in moderation. I recommend talking to a therapist or counselor. For accommodations outside of school, I recommend watching YouTube videos and reading about items other people with ADHD use to help them deal with their inattentiveness. Personally, I’ve started putting all my cereal that I buy in clear containers, so I can see more often and note when I’m running out. You will probably find that most of the measures are preventive. Things like see through containers and an app to find your keys are much safer than anything else. I also suggest considering buying earmuffs. When I have to do something like homework in a public space, I hear every little noise. My earmuffs really block that out, allowing me to concentrate.
There is always more to learn
I know this article might not be the biggest help, but I’m learning too. Navigating this school year with my new diagnosis has been difficult. In some ways, like being allowed to work and take tests in the library, my schooling is going much better. However, knowing that I have ADHD gave me a little extra stress. I know myself a little better and I have to do all my homework right away, because I know I won’t do it any other way. I hope I can write more as I learn more about ADHD and how it affects me. I also really hope that I have helped you in any way.