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  • AfroDaddy

ADHD and Me

Image: Jessica van Rensburg (

"Yeah, no duh"

This is what my older brother said when I told him that, at 36 years old, I was diagnosed with ADHD.

So this was obvious to everyone but me. I told him in no uncertain terms that it would've been great for me to have that information like...20 years earlier.

Despite that, getting that diagnosis was actually a supreme relief. It explained so many things from my past and present, from getting the classic "Terence does not achieve what he is capable of" on report cards to issues of impulse control and even my struggles with anxiety.

Over the past 2 years since then, I've learned a few things about this form neurodivergence.

(Neurodivergent is a nonmedical term that describes people whose brains develop or work differently for some reason)

First: it is REALLY hard to describe what it is like having ADHD to non-ADHD person. There's a lot of technical jargon (eg. executive function defiency), but talking about the actual experience is pretty much impossible. There are anologies that come close. "Crossing a bridge", "getting over a wall" or "having extra hurdles" to get tasks complete work for some situations, but this is much more complex than just having a bad case of procrastination.

This makes it tough to figure out what your actual symptoms are, since it affects everyone differently and to different extents. It can include not being able to focus, procrastination, not being able to exercise or diet consistently and not being to sustain healthy long-term relationships.

This can lead to depression and anxiety, which makes the ADHD worse, and so the cycle continues. A big question I had to ask is "Is this symptom indirectly caused by ADHD, or is it a separate mental health issue?"


There are good treatments for ADHD, but there is a catch. Many therapists will suggest a good system, eating healthy, regular exercise and sleep. But having ADHD makes it hard, almost impossible, in fact, do all that consistently! So you end up failing at doing the thing that is supposed to help you, which makes you kind of hate yourself more.

Enter more depression and anxiety!

Thanks a lot, brain.

This is why some of the top ADHD experts say that the best treatment involves drugs - it gets your brain into a space to do all of the other healthy things you need it to do.

Something else I've noticed is that that are a few people my age who were also diagnosed with ADHD as adults. All of them (us, actually), seem to have managed to get by and have varying levels of success.

I think this is because we all went to school at a time when you only received extra support if you were REALLY struggling, and many of us with ADHD were able to mask our symptoms well enough not to be a "problem child".

That being said, it seems we all got that "{insert child name} is clearly very smart, but has not applied themselves enough. We hope to see them work harder in the new term!" on our report cards.

(I've often wondered why, if I was constantly getting that remark on my reports, not a single teacher in TWELVE YEARS thought to ask "Why isn't Terence achieving what he is clearly able to achieve?")

Finally, I've learned that this isn't a brain disability, it's a brain difference. So we think and work differently, and that brings some challenges, but there are benefits too. ADHD brains pick up new systems and information faster, we adapt to new surroundings faster and we tend to be more aware of social and emotional energy in a room.

I have a long way to go on my journey with getting the most out of my neurodivergent brain, and that includes figuring out how to cope in a world that's not designed for my way of thinking, but there is so much support and information available now that I have real hope for the future.

I going to try to hate my brain a bit less, I guess.

1 Comment

Jan 12, 2023

Thank you for creating awareness and educating about ADHD. At school, our boy was ostracized and bullied because he was different. With no plan in place, we did not send him back after one of the June school holidays; we ended up turning to homeschooling. It was then that we picked up what teachers could not. He was diagnosed with severe ADHD and was put on the highest dosage of meds. Like you, we heard from teachers that he was the smartest kid in the class, but for some reason his name was never called at an awards evening. One teacher realized that there might be a problem and said that life at school was a daily battle for our…

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