I didn’t get a say in my birth. My mother and father took the executive decision to procreate without my input, and I landed on the scene in the April of 1985 before I could register any objections. Upon my arrival, the doctors deduced a few things: I was a boy. I was healthy. And, given the amount of wailing and thrashing, I appeared mildly inconvenienced by this whole birth scenario. For nearly 32 years after that, the doctors didn’t miss much – except to diagnose me with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
I don’t blame anyone for missing my ADHD. I grew up in Ireland in the 90s; ADHD–if it even existed on parents’ radar whatsoever at that time–was a US affliction that turned American children into untamable ferrets, implacable but for Ritalin. ADHD certainly didn’t apply to mild-mannered, introspective children on the other side of the Atlantic.
The missed ADHD diagnosis is just one of those things, though. It’s nobody’s fault, and it doesn’t really matter. In the end, I got the diagnosis – and the help.
I Don’t Want to Celebrate ADHD, I Want to Live
What might my life have looked like had the doctors, teachers, or my parents caught ADHD early? It’s a moot point. But, I suspect, my life would look much the same as it does now, only at an earlier point with an earlier version of me.
But now I have confirmation and medication, I don’t want to look back; I want to live a normal and fulfilling life. I don’t want to wave an ADHD placard. I don’t want to celebrate neurodivergency. I don’t want to change the name of the disorder, because ‘disorder’ distills in a word the sum total of life with ADHD – unaddressed, unmedicated and frightfully messy.
I don’t want to celebrate impulsivity, either. Nor do I want to celebrate procrastination, forgetfulness, substance abuse, future-blindness and a slew of other debilitating symptoms that caused me to exist solely in a fight against my own brain, instead of thriving as a human being. These symptoms stopped me from living a rewarding life, and aren’t exactly cause for celebration.
ADHD Isn’t That Bad
While I don’t want to celebrate something that prevents me from living a fuller life, I do like some aspects of having an ADHD-addled brain. For example, I like how quickly my brain–without conscious effort–creates analogies to better understand things. I like how ADHD aids creativity. I like the odd connections and off-map thought processes.
Most of all, however, I like that I can even sit and write a blog like this. I like that a combination of medicine and exercise allows me to marshall my thoughts and attention for the time it takes to write these words and look favorably on certain aspects of a disorder that badly affected my life. It wasn’t always this good.
In my opinion, medication and exercise are the things genuinely worth celebrating.