“I Branded Myself a Misunderstood Freak. But It Was ADHD All Along.”
“The funny thing is that, while the label explained practically everything, I hesitated to embrace it. After years of self-loathing, I had only just found an identity: the misunderstood freak. But as I went down the rabbit hole of ADHD online, I discovered I wasn’t so weird, unique, or freakish at all. All roads just lead back to this condition.”
Jordan has ability, but must learn to settle down and give her full attention to achieve her full potential.
My whole life, people have told me that I could do incredible things. They said the sky was the limit, but (there is always a but!) only I did x, y, and z. Never did anyone tell me I’m perfect the way I am. There were always conditions.
To an extent, I tried to do what I was told all my life. I smashed out excellent grades, and went above and beyond expectations. At the same time, I endured multiple overdoses, self-harm, school suspensions, university drop-outs, abusive relations, and deep-seated self-hatred.
I sat through what felt like millions of mental health assessments as experts tried to understand what was wrong with me. One screening, in particular, stands out because I attended it during a “happy period” (I never see the point of going while happy because I can’t explain my sadness then). The psychologist listened as I spoke about my life, eyeing my blue hair and my graffiti-covered headphones. He then gave me that look people often give when I talk at 200 mph. Smiling, he asked, “What do you do when you’re calm?’
I froze; it was like a buffering symbol took over my mind. I don’t think I’ve ever not had an answer to a question before. Then it hit me.
‘I’m never calm!’ I told him, genuinely dumbfounded by this revelation.
[Take This Self-Test: Do I Have ADHD? Symptom Test for Adults]
The psychologist droned on about giving me a pill and having a normal life. But I stopped listening. I could feel my legs bouncing off the chair as my fingers tapped against the cold metal framework. Suddenly, I snapped back into the room. What did he say? Quick, just agree, “Yeah.”
“I was testing you,” he said. “You might think you want an everyday life, but your body tics, tapping, clicking, zoning out — they say something different.’
“I feel sorry for you,” he continued. “You’ve been asked the wrong questions, and so given the wrong answers your whole life. You are not broken; you not two people. You have ADHD, possible Asperger’s. I can’t give you any further information. Unfortunately, you need a diagnosis first. Get yourself an assessment.”
That appointment changed my life.
What Is Wrong With Me? The Signs That Were Always There
Jordan communicates freely but, on occasion, talks too much and too freely. She is lively yet keen to please.
[Read: “What Is Wrong With Me?” ADHD Truths I Wish I Knew As a Kid]
My earliest memories are of standing out for all the wrong reasons. They are painful memories in which I seemed hard-wired to break unwritten societal rules I did not know existed. I only saw my missteps after it was too late — my infractions written on everyone’s faces. The sick feeling would come up over and over.
Lots of kids know what it’s like when adults don’t listen to what they have to say. Adulthood seems to come to most (especially neurotypical people) with this self-assuredness that they know better, or that kids are just being kids. Baffles me! I still struggle to feel self-assured next to some confident children.
I tried telling teachers, my parents, and other adults that I felt weird, but no one listened. I’d say, “I don’t feel normal,” and they’d say, “What is normal? Everyone’s different.” These responses made me want to explode.
It didn’t help my case that no one really got to see my dark side. It only comes out when I’m alone. Everyone only noticed a normal, happy kid – but it was an act I had to put on.
In fact, I often felt I had to wear a mask around others. As if by dark magic, a different mask would appear depending on my surroundings, never letting me show who I was. “I am not myself around you!” I’d try to explain to my peers, but all I got were perplexed responses.
The Answer Was Not “Just Try Harder”
Jordan works well, though she is very erratic in class. A more organized approach is needed if she is to fulfill her potential.
My differences became more evident by the time I hit secondary school. My mental health plummeted, and I began to seriously act out. Teachers don’t like to be challenged? Well, I don’t like pointless rules. (It’s also easier to be the class clown than the weirdo.)
In these years, I experienced my first overdose. I was also suspended three times. But by the time I graduated, I had earned two A-levels and several academic distinctions. I had also gotten my poetry published.
Unbelievable exam result, given your poor focus in class.
Forging My Identity and Embracing My Weird
I followed a pattern in university where I’d drop out, hate myself, restart, and drop out again. In my social life, I partied and bounced between friend groups. Eventually, I realized that I didn’t even like the people I was trying to befriend. I was just drawn to them because they were loud and confident. On closer inspection, I realized I got along best with other outcasts.
I flourished once I accepted and emphasized my unique traits. I relished in my weird thoughts. Even in the bizarre group of goths with whom I had connected– all with sad faces, jet black hair, and individualism – I was still strange. My friends even took to creating notebooks dedicated to the weird stuff I’d say – and I loved it! It meant I had an identity. I was the funny one. And it was all in good faith.
So I stopped trying to fit into the norm that I had before. I wholly rejected it, aiming instead for the opposite.
After the Appointment That Changed Everything
After six years of fighting for an assessment, I can officially say that I have ADHD. The funny thing is that, while the label explained practically everything, I hesitated to embrace it. After years of self-loathing, I had only just found an identity: the misunderstood freak. But as I went down the rabbit hole of ADHD online, I discovered I wasn’t so weird, unique, or freakish at all. All roads just lead back to this condition.
To be certain, my diagnosis came with mixed feelings. It shattered me (temporarily) — to have my core identity stripped from me was a little scary.
But my diagnosis is what ultimately set me free. With it, I began to forgive myself and stop the self-hatred. Understanding the why behind my differences granted me peace and relief. And I’m still here — learning, unmedicated, messing up, but still trying. Forever.
Why am I So Weird?: Next Steps
- Free Download: Choosing the Right Professional to Treat ADHD
- Read: “My ADHD Diagnosis Connected the Dots in My Life.”
- Read: “Has ADHD Warped Your Sense of Self? It’s Time to Reclaim Your Story — and Power.”
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