Do you ever get distracted by the smallest things? Do you feel like your mind is going a million miles an hour? This is something I experience on a day-to-day basis. I have Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, a disorder characterized by inattention, impulsiveness, and an inability to organize. I have had many experiences with ADD, not all of them positive. Learning I have ADD, being told that my diagnosis meant I would not be able to “make it” in life, and struggling in school, have all been very discouraging experiences for me.
My parents and I realized I had ADD when I was in the third grade. I would stare off into space instead of paying attention. This led me down a spiraling slope where I would doze off during a test and forget my answer. I received my first D. I felt defeated. After seeing my report card, my parents reached out to my therapist, who suggested to my parents that I be tested for ADD. When the test came back my parents sat me down and shared my diagnosis. Since I was so young, I was unable to fully grasp what “ADD” meant. As I grew older and learned more about my diagnosis, I became more aware of the challenges I would face. This was the start of an ongoing battle that I live with every day of my life.
The more I learned about and the longer I lived with ADD, the more my symptoms made sense. Whether I was in class, hanging out with my friends, or having a conversation with my family, it felt nearly impossible to stay focused on one thing. I am constantly struggling to stay focused, but with practice and help I have been able to keep up my grades and even balance extracurricular activities. In the past, I had a hard time taking notes in class due to the monotonous nature of the task, but with advice from my teachers I have learned to take more efficient notes and be more attentive. More importantly, I am no longer afraid to ask questions when I do not understand something.
ADD also impacts my social life. When I am with my friends who are not aware of how ADD affects me they often ask: Can you stop tapping your foot? Immediately, I feel ashamed because, unlike kids who do not have ADD, I need to move around. In time my friends understand that my fidgeting is a part of me.
As college approaches, I know I will have to work harder and that my classes are going to be more rigorous, but I am up to the challenge. Whether it is a difficult play on the volleyball court, an intense test, or a conflict with a friend, I never back down. My experience with ADD has given me the confidence to keep trying. I believe that ADD does not define me, and although it may be a disability, I never let it stop me. I turn it into an advantage. Even though I have to work harder, I can still find success.