New Year, Same ADHD
“That’s the weirdest part of ADHD: being acutely aware of the gap between your capacity, and what you can actually do.” – Medina Eve
My mother always told me that she had to keep a close eye on me. I was always doing too much, but I always just believed that it was just who I was. As I got older I was more aware of what I was doing, but I couldn’t give a reason as to why I couldn’t do something. It was always a conversation with my parents, teachers and guidance counselors about how I am wasting my potential or I am too intelligent to be this lazy. I blamed it on a multitude of things: an obsession with perfectionism, or a lack of understanding and a fear of asking questions, or I would settle for what everyone wanted to hear and just admit to laziness.
There is an estimated 4 million undiagnosed women in the United States alone struggling with attention deficits and I was one of them. I remember spending countless hours in high school researching every website and online forum. I self-diagnosed myself at 15 and I was too scared to tell anyone. There was a lot of abnormal ignorance and shame that came along with it. As we do with most things of that nature, I suppressed it. I continued to barely pass classes and miss deadlines for projects and had more parent-teacher conferences than I care to remember until I graduated high school.
I struggled relentlessly, which brought me to the military. I believed that my grades wouldn’t even allow me into a community college and I read somewhere online in high school that it helps a lot of people who can’t concentrate because of the rigorous structure. I made it through boot camp with a few slip ups, but it was when I made it to training school that it caught up to me again. I ran into the same problems that I had faced in high school. I couldn’t concentrate in class and it was difficult to study for my tests. It took me while to get transferred for another training school, but I gave into my typical excuse of not understanding the material. After a few months in limbo I was finally able to find another training school to go to.
In one of the articles I read about undiagnosed women is due to the negative stigma about ADHD in women, most suppress their symptoms, running on a dangerous autopilot until they eventually hit a wall. I could only fail and be re-taught the information so many times until my instructors looked at me as another failed student. I was training on a medical facility that had access to seek treatment. The amount of times I was talked out of it wasn’t surprising. I had a lot on the line, but at that point I didn’t have much to lose. When I was finally told by my psychiatrist what it is I was struggling with, there was a sense of relief.
One year later, I have flunked out of two training schools and I am currently awaiting to choose another job in the military. I would be lying if I said that it’s been easier, because it hasn’t. Thankfully I have learned to embrace it, even on the bad days.