A common struggle that can be felt by many who are dealing with a disorder – the stigma that comes attached to it. ADHD sufferers from all walks of life have probably experienced some judgement or stereotyping when it comes to telling others about their condition. These unwanted opinions given by others could potentially deter you from being open about your struggle. It is important to recognize that you are trying your best in dealing with the condition. The symptoms are not happening to you by choice, but by genetics. The best way to combat this type of judgement is to educate others. Do not allow yourself to become a subject of speculation. Instead, inform people about what it is like to live life in your shoes. Those who give judgement usually do not know what it feels like to experience the hardship.
The Harm in Hearing
When you experience stigma, a few things occur. Without either party realizing, you may begin to internalize these judgements. The mind subconsciously stores information that could be impacting you daily without your knowledge. If you are hearing negativity from others, this could affect your self esteem in the long run. It is important to have a thick skin, but at the same time, you are only human and words can be harsh. There is no one group that is exclusively targeted by stigma; everybody has an equal opportunity to feel impacted by being judged. When you feel that someone is being insensitive to your condition, speak up. Tell them how it makes you feel, even if your voice quivers. Standing up for yourself is important, and you should never feel ashamed to do so.
Seek Support From Others
There are times when your friends or loved ones may not be able to fully understand what you are going through because they cannot relate. If you want to spend time with like minded people, try joining an ADHD support group. Being around those who know exactly what you are going through and can share similar struggles is going to help you feel less isolated with your disorder. This form of group therapy is a great (and often free) alternative to seeking out a private counselor. You can form relationships with members of your support group and even spend time together outside of the group setting. This is beneficial because it helps you to meet new people and also voice your ADHD struggles.
End the Stigma
Using your voice in an impactful way is exhilarating and super important to ending the stigma attached to ADHD. In time, if you feel ready, you can use your personal experience to educate others who might have misconceptions about what it is like living with ADHD. Negativity is often stemmed from ignorance, so do your best to teach people and correct them when you hear any kind of hate speech. Behind every disorder is a human being. People often forget that we are not our labels. Show others the power of their words and judgements, how they can be detrimental to the human spirit if used in a negative or malicious way. Take action on a larger scale by making your voice heard by your local politicians. Healthcare reform is only possible when we advocate for it. Call or write to your local reps and tell them why you believe mental health is important.
Becoming an empowered and educated individual is admirable and will get you onto a much needed path of positivity. Remember that struggling through ADHD is normal and you do not have to deal with it alone. Lean on your support system, and make sure that your voice is heard.