Did you know that today is the American Psychological Association’s annual Mental Health Blog Day?
You know, there are many mental health issues that carry a stigma with them; ADHD is one of them.
We’ve all seen the stereotypical kid with ADHD portrayed as an out of control child (usually male) who is bouncing off the walls and behaving badly.
But that is not who we are.
Sure, some of us have issues with hyperactivity, but we don’t always bounce off the walls.
Sometimes our hyperactivity takes the form of talking too much, being jittery or restless, or as my mom was – always operating on hyperdrive. Someone once asked her if she ever walked, because all they ever noticed was her running from one task to the next.
And by the way, although males usually get the ADHD stigma more than females, we have it too. I got mine from my mom, and in my family there 2 girls with ADHD but only 1 boy. Not counting my husband and myself.
Girls tend to be quieter and more apt to daydream. They often cause less trouble in school and just don’t get noticed as much.
And what about that whole behaving badly thing?
On the whole, I don’t think it’s intentional.
We miss social cues that others pick up on without effort, and so sometimes we act inappropriately with others.
We tend to interrupt others because if we don’t, we won’t remember what we wanted to say. And even those who are painfully aware of this habit end of doing it anyway due to our poor lack of self control.
Our minds move much faster than other peoples do and in many different directions. But you already knew that.
The result of this is that when we do make a contribution to a conversation, it may be met with confusion rather than acceptance. We have started at point A in the conversation, jumped to point G, and then made a connection with something completely out in left field on which we comment.
Sometimes people think we’re weird.
And sometimes we are. I’d rather be weird than not. It’s much more interesting.
So in general, we are different than people without ADHD. I call those people ADHDD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Deficit.
Are you OK with being different?
Do you feel stigmatized by your ADHD?
Have you ever felt that saying you had ADHD as an explanation for something you had done was lame and a poor excuse? Do you hide your ADHD?
Many mental health issues are being brought to the forefront, out in the open to be talked about and increase awareness.
Autism Speaks has done a wonderful job with this; Aspergers and Down’s Syndrome have also done much to bring their disabilities to light.
There have been TV characters who enlighten us.
The Facts of Life, a TV sitcom in the 80’s, had a character named Geri who had cerebral palsy played by Geri Jewell, a comedian who actually has it.
More recently, the show Parenthood featured a regular character, Max Braverman, with Aspergers. He was played by Max Burkholder, who regularly met with a behavioral psychologist in order to keep his role as authentic as possible.
Where are the characters with ADHD?
The only one that comes to mind is a character Mike Myers created on Saturday Night Live called Phillip the Hyper Hypo. It’s a funny bit, but then again, not really. Especially if you have ADHD. (To be fair, the character is described as hypoglycemic and hyperactive, but I think the ADHD connection comes to most people’s minds).
How can we change the way people see those of us with ADHD?
Of course, one way to to talk about our ADHD to others in an honest manner.
But there must be more, bigger, better ways to get our story out there.