Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of my hyperfixations of about 9 years. It started a little bit before my diagnosis, but not enough for me to have thought I am ADHD, but I was open to it.
Once I had a formal diagnosis that was it, I read everything by a few of the most popular websites search results at the time, almost every single article they had on ADHD so I could “finally get my life together”. Before this was a phase with self help books and philosophy. But after I think it also drived my interest in fine arts even more, I ended up studying phenomenology and based my final works on it. My quest to understand self began.
Studying cultural theory was interesting to when thinking about culture, represenation, appreciation, appropriation and my own identity. I didn’t fully comprehend some deeper meanings while I was there and struggled with some of the learnings because I was more stuck on some of my more internal struggles that I didn’t feel I had permission to express or did and went misunderstood because of my neurodiversity. Something touched on but not in such inclusive words. Outsider art, is an interesting term I learned, it didn’t fit me, but was another rabbit hole I went down none the less, hyperfixating on all I can to understand self.
I felt where I was at with formal fine arts training didn’t have a space for me yet, I didn’t know this till recently, what all the words for this was, my neurodiversity, a word only gifted to me this year was still just out of my grasp of understanding.
Diagnosis only gave me so much. Google only gave me so much. Self expression and learning about culture only gave me so much. It’s amazing how much one word can gift you an entire key to your perspective. It changed the way I thought I viewed all previous information I learned earlier, so many of my lived experiences. Another lens in which to self reflect.
I had searched for this word in so many spaces. It started in younger more niave places, cartoons, my hyperfixation for Sailor Moon began (see my article about how Sailor Moon is my favourite ADHD head canon for more on that) at age 9. It progressed into RPG and fanfiction on the internet. Then on to Wicca and Pagan, and spirituality. Personality tests. Horrorscopes. Theology. This budded into philosophy and fringe science. Then fully fleged science, skepticism and psychology. Then deep diving into many different disorders. True crime and horror were also side interests this entire time.
So many subjects and fields of study, all looking for my ADHD, looking for my Neurodiversity. A quest to find a way to articulate my lived experiences with all facets of human expression and understanding of it. It was exhausting. this quest to find the way to act neurotypically forever never knowing what I needed to do was the opposite.
Although I had ADHD as my guide to why I do certain things that are definitely problematic in my every day functioning and autonomy, But nothing was a bigger barrier than not having permission to still think in my own “ADHD way” I had always been told the best cure for me in almost any form has been to do “Neurotypical” things. Behave like a neurotypical. I never had the word of the opposite of this, me, the non neurotypical. The ADHDer.
So much information and therapy and help is all geared at doing things that we just simply aren’t great at doing. I mean the running joke amoungst some of us is that help often requires us to do the things that actually are the hardest for us to do, no matter what help we get. Like making a phone call. Filling out a form. Remembering dates. Turning up on time. It’s like trying to force two opposing magnets to stick some days, and that is the part that for us is never forgiven by others and is made out like we make excuses when this is actually the core of ADHD and the constant failure to do the neurotypical things is maybe more damaging than we all realize. Or is starting to certainly feel that way.
And there in lies the issues with being a neurodiverse person is I have been told not to trust my own judgement of self too, that my self judgement isn’t something I am good at. That judging scenarios and reading the room and body language are things I am not great at they say. Yet I am the one willing to talk about the elephant in the room and this is a problem some how when the elephant is made up of everyone elses bad behaviour?
Being told to be all the things I am not, is exhausting. It’s so ingrained I don’t know that I am doing it or how to stop, so I am always exhausted because I have never been shown how to be myself. Till now.
So this is where the ADHD rabbit hole eventually led me. To this blog, this following, this urge to advocate for representation. This burning desire to fight the stigma and fight the perpetuating terrible myths and percieved ideas about ADHD. It all stems from feeling that the world is some how gate keeping me from being unapologetically myself. Neurodiversity for the win!
I’m really proud of where this rabbit hole has led me, it has led me into a place of compassionate understanding for myself and everyone like me. As much as I was already passionate about social causes, I really feel now I have a way to actually fight, and creating a platform that also gives people space to fight for their autonomy too and feel validated and connected and wanted, but most importantly understood in their way of being. And that it is simply OK and normal and no one can tell you otherwise.
Today as I write this since I started my ADHD advocacy journey online I reached 10 thousand followers on Instagram, and a week and a bit ago I reached 50 thousand followers on Facebook! I never thought that my interest in ADHD and my mental health journey would lead me to a place where within 1 year I would have such amazing success with advocacy and genuinely helping people, even through memes of all things!
Next year I will be hopefully turning this into something a little more than volunteer with more of my artwork. But 2020 has been full on in so many ways so as it is pratically summer here in New Zealand I want to enjoy this, reflect some more – I’m on the side though processesing big ideas and plans for “Jenn has ADHD” as it has become so much bigger than me and my ADHD. It’s a voice, a safe space, a community, a grouping, a collective, a resource, a hive mind. There is a lot I want out of this for my peers and myself and really excited to see where this will lead. What will all this become? What it means to so many others than myself is all thanks for my hyperfixation in ADHD.