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You Can Succeed with ADHD — I Did!

Your ADHD diagnosis doesn’t define you. You define yourself.

ADHD Student: ADHD in High School

It was winter 2011. I had just returned home from college after finishing the fall semester of my senior year at Le Moyne College. It was a difficult semester: My grades had dropped because I couldn’t concentrate in class and I wasn’t able to complete homework assignments on time. I was discouraged and didn’t know what to do. I would be graduating the next semester and heading out into the world looking for a job. What’s more, I would soon find out that I suffered from attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD).

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I had returned home from the pharmacy to pick up the medication prescribed by my psychiatrist. I had just received an ADHD diagnosis. I felt ashamed. How could this happen to me? Why do I have to be different than everyone else? I felt as if I were hiding a deep, dark secret from the world. Would others notice that I was on medication? Would they think I was acting strange?

I returned to college for my final semester of undergraduate school, as I battled my just-diagnosed ADHD. At the beginning, I felt sorry for myself. My grades weren’t so hot, despite being on medication and being able to concentrate and finish homework assignments on time.

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What I learned that semester was that my grades and my struggles with attention deficit do not define me as a person. What defines me is my personality. Graduation day came, and I felt very proud as I received my diploma. I graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in business administration.

When I returned home after graduation, I applied for a few jobs. I did not hear back from any of the employers. I started to question my abilities. Why didn’t they hire me? Why am I not good enough for this position? I told myself to stop feeling sorry for myself. Everything happens for a reason. I had to keep trying.

I applied to graduate school to get a degree in mental health counseling later that same summer. I realized that working in the field of psychology and mental health is where my heart is, and I was determined to get in. I was accepted. After struggling with ADHD in undergraduate school, everything was working out for me.

I am now more than halfway through graduate school and interning at a prestigious New York hospital. If you ask me if I regret suffering from attention deficit, I’d say no. My ADHD enables me to connect with patients at the hospital, to understand their struggles and hopes. Every day that I walk on the unit, I know I have a purpose to serve. It is my duty to help patients succeed, by applying what I learned from my own experience with ADHD.

If you are suffering from attention deficit, don’t give up. Remember that your disorder does not define you. You define yourself.

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