Why we need to be talking about neurodiversity.
Personally, I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about ADHD.
Well, it is difficult to say “lately,” considering I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was an early elementary student (actually I was diagnosed with ADD and in the time since my first diagnosis the categorization of it has changed, and now ADHD is the primary classification with differentiations for those who have hyperactivity or inattentiveness).
My current diagnosis is ADHD with an emphasis on the inattentive side of the spectrum.
You may be surprised if you have ever spent time with me, but I am not hyperactive (haha)…I am energetic.
In an inclusive language society, I am what many people call neurodivergent (this is in contrast to what some call neurotypical). Now I will not get into a discussion on this, but I have found it interesting, as an adult, to learn more about my brain and how it has adapted and lived with being neurodivergent. This is why I have been thinking about it a lot lately.
ADHD makes a lot of things difficult.
However, I often wonder how much of that is how others perceive me. People often call those with an ADHD diagnosis lazy, or we are afraid we will be perceived as such. This is unfair because more often than not I know the work I need to do I want to do it, but often my problem is a manner of neuro-paralysis that prevents me from doing even the simplest of tasks.
This past week I watched this TEDx Talk on ADHD by a Doctoral Candidate at Utah State University, Salif Mahamane. He pushes back on the negativity that often comes with an ADHD diagnosis or even those who have undiagnosed ADHD. He explores how ADHD can be helpful and somewhat productive in sections of society. He talks about the benefits of being good at brainstorming, a tendency towards exploration, and even concepts of resilience and adaptation.
Honestly, sometimes in my life, ADHD does feel like a superpower, and other times it feels like a curse. I think this is primarily driven by how I perceive other people’s impressions of me.
If I forget my medicine it is almost as if I am throwing a whole day’s worth of productivity out the window because I know others think I need to get a certain amount of work done. This then leads to stress and anxiety, knowing I will not complete my work, and the never-ending cycle will continue.
However, on the other end, I can hyper-focus on tasks and be super productive for a spell having it end at a moment’s notice. I can brainstorm and have so many topics to write on, but then a blank page when I try to write. Honestly, it is often my own doing of the pressure I put on myself, but it is derived from very real experiences I had in my life growing up.
I do not say this as a complaint, but I think it is a lesson to be learned. I for one want to learn about my ADHD. I have been continuing to explore the different aspects of ADHD. I have watched Youtube videos, TikTok’s, and even read some articles. I have explored common themes of persons with ADHD and have learned language related to being neurodivergent.
It has given me a language to know that, yes, I may be different, but who cares. I am learning how to care for myself and, in a lot of ways, that means I can’t just fit into the box that society wants me to fit in.
Mahamane describes this push to “fit in” as “Pro Uniformity Disorder (PUD).” The desire to “fit in” is the very thing that gets us in trouble when we live as people who are neurodivergent. We must accept what makes us ourselves. In a lot of ways, what we think is a disorder, when properly managed and understood, can be beneficial as we learn and grow.
Mahamane’s thesis bases itself on a reimagining of how we approach and understand ADHD. It makes me wonder and reflect on what makes me a good pastor. I am terrible about remaining connected when I have little interest.
I also struggle with remaining attentive when lots of things are happening around me. I also get overstimulated often. Sometimes I just need to take 5 minutes to reset myself, away from everything (which is weird because of how extroverted I am).
It is not easy to manage how my brain works and functions, but I have found that the more I learn about it, the better I am at explaining why I do things a certain way.
An important part of self-care is not just self-understanding, but being able to form and convey language about who you are. Negative self-perception could lead to negative self-worth. Yes, it is possible to get lost in the anxiety of how others see us, but if we can find our self-worth in who we truly are and how we function best, we can help others understand.
You might think your brain sucks (sometimes I still do…but I am getting better about not), but consider yourself…Does it really, or is it something that just sets you apart and makes you that much more special?