Do you ever look back on your youth and wonder why nobody picked up on certain signs that you were already living with depression, anxiety, or another aspect of your mental health? That’s what made the diagnosis for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) so interesting for me — it was like the final key puzzle piece slotting into place, making everything that’s come before it all the clearer. It’s all I’ve wanted from diagnosis: validation that my struggles are quantifiable and explainable. It makes me feel more human and less like the outsider I’ve always felt I am.
But there are two sides to this puzzle piece; the other feels an acute sense of betrayal. How could everyone have missed the signs when they were right there, black and white?
I recently chanced upon a scattering of my school reports from ages 4 to 5, ages 5 to 6, and ages 10 to 11. I wish I had more — those are, sadly, with my abusive mother and there they shall remain — but what I found was enlightening. It’s all right there.
I grew up in Northern Ireland in the 90s, when ADHD diagnosis was only just becoming commonplace and hadn’t yet been broken down into its three subtypes (inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type, and combined type). So, perhaps it’s unjust of me to feel betrayed when I was unlucky enough to have been born right at the beginning of our understanding of ADHD. However, as I’ve written before, much of my difficulty with bullying and abuse were missed by those in a position to actually help me.
His main problem at present is one of lack of concentration.
At ages 4 and 5, I was just becoming accustomed to school. My reports showed interest, but my behavior and punctuality were only “satisfactory,” later dipping to
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