To the person who doesn’t know what it is like inside the brain of a person with ADHD/ADD,

ADHD/ADD is a common behavioral disorder within children and adults. It can last for many years or it can last a lifetime. ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. People who have this disorder don’t develop it — they are born with it. ADD is basically the same disorder as ADHD, but without the hyperactivity symptom. Otherwise, the symptoms are about the same. The hyperactivity part of ADHD tends to make you a little more fidgety. I was someone who was born with this disorder.

If you believe that this is just an excuse for my poor actions and poor academic performance, it’s not.

ADHD/ADD is a blessing and a curse. The worst part is not being able to focus for a long period of time. Have you ever sat in a class and just got so bored you completely spaced out? I am sure you have because it happens to everyone.

Well, that feeling is what I have to fight constantly.

I have to fight my own brain every single day just to focus for the entirety of class time. It isn't easy and, once I get to that spacing out place, it is very difficult to come back. I start to think "stop spacing out" and then I start thinking "why am I spacing out? I shouldn’t be, I should be paying attention." It is just a whole downward spiral from there. Yes, I do take medication but they are not a miracle pill.

There is no cure for my ADHD/ADD, there is only treatment — treatment that isn’t permanent. I have to take pills every single day of my life, which, as much as some of you might see as “cool,” it isn’t.

I wish I could wake up every morning and get dressed for school and go to school and not have to worry, "did I take my meds?"

But, I can’t.

When I tell stories, I can't do it without moving my hands or acting out some of the things that happened. People stare because they have no idea why I can't tell a story to someone and just sit still. I can't just sit there and tell the story or my mind will go somewhere else, I’ll lose my place in the story and the story just won’t be the same.

Listening to someone’s story is hard, too, because I have to focus really hard to keep my attention on what they are saying or I'll drift halfway through the story and won’t be able to focus back until the very end of the story. Besides the whole moving around while telling a story or having a conversation with someone, I most of the time am asked to slow down while talking because they cannot understand when I am speaking so quickly. But I speak so quickly because that's the pace my mind is going at.

My mind is racing with my thoughts and if I don’t speak as fast, having a conversation would last much longer than it really has to be because, chances are, I will remember something I forgot to say earlier because I was speaking slower than my brain.

Ever have a sugar rush as a kid? That is pretty much how I feel inside my body every day.

I feel like I have so much energy.

Ever feel like you met someone with “no filter”?

Well, if you haven’t spoken with someone with ADHD/ADD, you really do not know the true meaning of that. I for one really do regret some of the things I say because I just don’t think before I speak sometimes because my mind doesn’t slow down in enough time. I have to remind myself when I go out or hang with friends that I have to be careful with what I say and think twice before I speak. I think that is why I really enjoy texting so much because I can really try and think about what I am going to say before I hit send because I can type something and then realize after it wasn’t the best. However, sometimes I send things before I think about it but it happens.

Have you ever tried to watch someone with ADHD/ADD read a book? Or ever see one try to write an essay? Ever seen an ADHD/ADD kid take the SATS/ACTS?

If you haven’t, let me tell you, they will probably move positions every two minutes or less. They will be holding the right or left page top corner of the page feeling it over and over as they read. They will look up constantly. They will start following the words with their fingers. They just cannot sit still. They physically cannot sit still.

So if you ever wondered why that kid in your class can’t just sit down in their seat and stay still, it’s probably because they really cannot physically do it. With or without medication, we physically cannot sit still.

This disorder affects men more than women. Children with ADHD/ADD can struggle with a wide variety of symptoms. Children struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. Sometimes the symptoms can lessen over time but some people never completely outgrow their ADHD/ADD symptoms.

Although you will struggle with it, there are ways that we can be successful. There is no cure for ADHD/ADD. There is only treatment. I am one who suffers day-in and day-out with ADHD/ADD. I can tell you for sure that it is not an excuse that we use for when we act or do poorly in school. The way your brain works is not the way mine works. Have you ever sat in a class and maybe taken a page of notes but still remember the things you didn’t write down because they just stuck in your brain? Well, there is nothing like that for a ADHD/ADD kid. When I take notes, I write way more than I probably have to but I don’t know what I will remember and what I won’t remember so, to be safe, I have to write it all down. Like, for example, if you professor/teacher said you have a quiz next week on Monday, chances are you will probably remember it and, if I haven’t written it down, I won’t remember it until the day of and probably until I get to class.

With all these struggles that I feel every day that people just cannot understand, I refuse for them to believe that any of that is an excuse for the things I do. It is an explanation.

There is a difference between an excuse and an explanation. An excuse is an attempt to lessen the blame or defend or justify. An explanation is a statement or an account that makes something clear.

Just because I suffer from ADHD/ADD does not excuse me from anything, I am still held responsible for my actions.

If I know myself that I will not be able to complete an assignment on time, I will not just hand it in late. I would do what everyone should do if they know they’re going to be late on something and speak to the teacher/professor. If I personally know I did not understand something, I am not going to just sweep it under the rug and hope I do okay on the exam. I would go to the professor/teacher and ask for clarification or ask for them to explain it to me again.

I refuse to let my teachers/professors just hand me my extension because of a piece of paper that says I have ADHD.

It would be the easier way out but I don't want to be treated differently by anyone.

Besides ADHD/ADD, you should never look at a special needs child with any type of any disability where they are excused from assignments or from certain things differently because they aren’t, they just have accommodations. Their accommodations might seem as "the easier assignment to you," but to the child or adult with the disability, it’s not easier, it’s how you feel about the original assignment. All throughout schooling for myself, I know I have had accommodations. I am not ashamed I did, but I believe that my peers and others who didn’t understand or know my situation saw it as "because I had this disability, I did not have to do the assignment that a majority of the class was doing." I was just given a different assignment that was equivalent to the one everyone else was doing. The assignment that I was given was what I am able to understand.

I am not saying that having ADHD/ADD makes you have to have a “dumbed down” assignment. It is not “dumbed down,” it is just put into terms that I would understand. It is like translating Spanish to English for someone who only understands English. So, when I or anyone else says that they have ADHD, they are not telling you so you can excuse them for their actions. They are telling you to allow people to know so that they have a better understanding why you might act or do things differently.


Sincerely,

The girl who struggles with ADHD every single day