Why I Wouldn’t Keep My ADHD a Secret Even If I Could

Why am I so willing to admit to having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder?

Let me try to explain.

One of the most common misconceptions about ADHD is that it reflects and/or defines your personality. This couldn’t be further from the truth for me; in fact, your inner self often is entirely distinct from your public persona. I know mine is. Obviously, you only get one body, so the world defines you by your behavior. Unfortunately, ADHD can make you “misbehave” in all sorts of ways, from unintentionally flouting social mores to saying things that in hindsight you don’t really believe. Trust me, I know.

So what are you supposed to do, anyway? Just let people go on thinking the version of yourself presented to the world is the real you — even when it’s most definitely not?  It took me a long time to have this epiphany. However, I’ve gradually stopped feeling like I deserve the disapproval of the rest of the (neurotypical) world. I realized I was suffering both socially and professionally due to actions I actually had no control over, which weren’t at all my fault. And frankly, that sucks.

True, as I’ve mentioned in the past, my ADHD is so severe that even if I weren’t candid about its existence, there’s a pretty good chance you’d be able to put two and two together and eventually pinpoint it on your own. But instead of waiting till I blurt out something inappropriate or miss a deadline to “come clean” about my ADHD, I now make a point of mentioning it before the inevitable “screw-up.” Basically, I give my inner self the chance to shine through, unobscured.

And yet that’s not the only reason I’m so forthright about this particular neurological disability. I don’t tell everyone who will listen that I have ADHD solely out of a wish to save face in the long run. Rather than hide in plain sight, I also readily disclose my ADHD status because even in 2018, ADHD is still ensconced in a potent combination of stigma and lack of awareness. Many neurotypical people lack adequate knowledge about it, so they don’t fully grasp the disconnect between my inner self and my ADHD self. Many believe all ADHDers are “bad” people as a rule.

I want to do what I can to correct this mistake. I want to help create a world in which an ADHD diagnosis doesn’t automatically place someone on the proverbial naughty list for life, a world where it’s understood that ADHD can — and usually does — negatively impact a person’s behavior, but it doesn’t have any bearing on that person’s character.

Image Credits: Drew Dakessian

This story originally appeared on ADHDrew.com.

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