By Casey Williams
I have always known that I was different, but it took me a long time to realize why. When I was younger, I was weird, I had a hard time making friends, and I would get frustrated because I had a hard time following what the teachers were saying. It was not that I was unintelligent but it was because I was different. When the teachers would talk to me one on one, I was fine but in large groups it was harder to focus.
It was after kindergarten that I was sent to a school with people who were the same type of different as me. I still didn’t know what was wrong, but I had an easier time making friends and got along with my peers. I started taking medicine and that seemed to help. I actually started to like going to school.
However, it was rough once again when my family had to move. I had to go to a school to help me catch up with other kids academically at the private school my family wanted me to go to. I felt too different for them, and they didn’t want to hang out with me. I had a hard time making friends, and although people were not “allowed” to be mean to me, I still did not fit in. But in fourth grade, I finally realized why I was different. I learned that I had Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.
During class when I was supposed to be paying attention to math or whatever else, I was doodling or daydreaming. When I was talking to people, I would be easily distracted and not always able to follow conversations. I had weird ticks that everyone seemed to notice and be repulsed by. I was labeled as weird for being different and people did not really talk to me that much.
It was like that for most of my school life. I did well enough in school, especially in art, but I did not get close to my peers. The friends I made were usually adults. The other people in my peer groups would be nice to me but not let me hang out with them. If I ever protested, I was seen as being clingy and would be ignored even more. That social stigma left me with a low self-esteem for a very long time.
My life started improving in high school. Before I was just quiet and weird, but after I came out of my shell a bit more, they knew that I could be talkative and weird. Of course, this caused my high school peers to be further repulsed by me. However at that point, I had stopped caring that much about what they thought. It was then that I started making friends who I still talk to today and they helped me feel the courage to be myself.
College has been great because I have found many true friends who I know will always love me. They don’t care that I’m different and I don’t care that they have their problems, too. It is like entering heaven after years of a lonely hell. I wish that I could see them more often since I now live in Athens while most of them are back in Augusta, but I know they will always be there. I have friends from the past that I have realized are true friends like that also. I mostly talk to them on Facebook, but I know they will always be there, too.
Unfortunately, I know that my experience is not unique. Children with ADHD are often highly intelligent and very creative but because of their inability to pay attention or pick up on social cues as quickly as their peers they are often ostracized and seen as “weirdoes”. People often misjudge them as mentally ill and thus undesirable or think they are making up problems to get attention. It is not an easy road to walk and it is for that reason that children with ADHD often suffer from depression because of loneliness.
However, I am here to tell the lonely people with ADHD that it does get better. There are people who will truly be your friends for life and love you for who you are. They exist outside of your imagination. You just have to find them. Never give up hope. You will find them and find your own heaven after years of lonely hell.
As for everyone else, please try to be more understanding of us. ADHD is a scientifically proven disorder that exists in the brains of certain people. We are not acting out to get attention. We are genuinely struggling with attention spans that we can’t control. It is frustratingly difficult to concentrate sometimes. Enduring the rejection or ridicule of our peers does not make it any better. Please give us a chance. We are smart and creative people. Don’t write us off as mentally ill undesirables just because we struggle.