Thursday, September 13, 2012

NICIAW - ADHD, Depression, Anxiety

Chantel writes:

My name is Chantel and I was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in 2000 when I was 9 years old. I showed signs of having it at a much earlier age but it is sometimes hard to differentiate between normal childhood inattentiveness and hyperactivity versus true ADHD. I also struggle with depression and anxiety as these play hand-in-hand at times with the ADHD.

It had always been hard for me to follow even the simplest of instructions; not because I wasn’t smart or didn’t know how but because my brain couldn’t slow down enough to even hear the whole set of instructions. I would only get bits and pieces of information at a time because my attention would wander off and on, thus getting me into trouble. I could NOT pay attention if my life depended on it. While all the other kids were outside at recess I was inside doing homework or sitting in time out because I also was always getting into trouble. I would blurt out answers or talk when I wasn’t supposed to. It made the other kids not like me. I was different. I got made fun of a lot. I didn’t like being the weird and annoying kid. I tried so hard to pay attention but my mind just wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t help it. Simple basic math homework of 15 question multiplication problems proved to take me hours and I would stay up bawling all night long because I thought I had to be the stupidest kid in the world. I had no self-worth or friends to speak of and the teachers were terrible to me. That all changed!

I got on medicine when I was 9 and it made such a difference! My C’s and D’s turned into almost all A’s and occasional B’s. Of course it took a lot of different medication changes to find my niche but I am so thankful! I also used behavioral therapy to help train my impulsiveness due to the ADHD.

I still have problems with ADHD in adult life though as it will be a life long struggle I am afraid. My grades did improve and I found out how smart I really was and that I was NOT stupid, but still I struggle with the social aspect of it now. I still am perceived as the “weird” one and frankly I don’t have too many friends and I think that is one of the worst parts of this: loneliness and rejection.

It really bothers me when people tell me to just “stop acting like that” and that I use it as a crutch because I do NOT. I don’t like having this. If I had to choose between a visible or invisible illness I would choose visible because at least I would be believed and get the support and validation that I need to keep going through the day when I become discouraged. Support makes such a difference. I read my Bible when I become discouraged. Philippians 4:13 is one of my favorite verses (among many) that helps me in life.

I chose to be involved in Invisible Illness Week because I wish to bring awareness to these types of illnesses. Just because a person has no physical indication that they are ill does not mean that they aren’t. I hope that the stigma associated with mental health illnesses and other illnesses that cannot be seen with the eyes one day lifts and is recognized and validated. I want it to be that we will no longer be seen as the “weird” or “crazy” ones because our illnesses cannot be seen; we will be seen for what we are: human beings deserving of support and understanding. Blessings to all of you

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