What is it like to have ADHD?
A conversation I had last term with an extremely bright biomolecular engineering major who also happens to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) resulted in his writing the following thoughts—complete with footnotes—to help me to have a better understanding of his experience as a college freshman. When I told him that what he wrote would be insightful for not only other students, but also parents and teachers, he immediately agreed to share it as a guest post here.
He was unaware of the term “twice-exceptional” (2e) until after he wrote the piece, but his experience is definitely that of a 2e student. According to the 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, twice-exceptionalism refers to life at the “the intersection of giftedness and learning difficulties.” The many 2e students I have had in my classes, regardless of whether they are aware that such a term exists, continue to teach me valuable lessons about resilience, courage, engagement, and self-worth. (A good follow-up article from the perspective of a parent of a 2e child is "Stress, Learning, and the Gifted Child," by Suki Wessling.)
Take it away, Bryson!
Son of Pluto
What is it like living with ADHD?
It is never a boring life. Horribly depressing at times. And, of course, lonely. But never boring.
Picture your mind as a Ferrari on a crowded highway, with you driving. The car’s brakes, though, are broken, and the accelerator is welded to the floor, permanently at full speed. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the car is powered by nuclear fusion (which has not been engineered yet), providing limitless power to the Ferrari. You are trapped in a warp speed machine, never being able to focus on one car around you for too long, for there are always more.
Personally, I view it as a superpower. But it was not always this way.
I was always…different. My name as I was growing up was “Dammit, Bryson!” I was always breaking things, getting into trouble.
When I started school, I was an outcast. Alone. Without friends.
Parents: If your children have disabilities, do not leave them in a school that is not good for them.
At some schools, people do not understand. The students, the teachers, even I did not understand. I did not see myself as different, but they did. The other kids mocked me, beat me up. The teachers were no help. They even joined in.
The staff had never heard of ADHD (among other things). To them, I was just naughty. “Different.” “That kid. The Weirdo.”
I was smart, in the sense that I could get good grades. I was not good with people. I had no common sense, no sense of social cues, no sense of personal space, no sense of social folkways.
How did I get over it? you ask. Simple. I left.
I went to a different school, which happened to be a public school, where things became awesome. I started receiving proper treatment for my ADHD. People understood me. I even made friends, a foreign word to me.
I made a support base that followed me into high school, where I thrived.
I do not look at ADHD from the American viewpoint: a disability.
I view it in the European way: successful.
Countless famous, successful entrepreneurs, actors, writers, and musicians have had ADHD.
I meant it earlier, about ADHD being a superpower. In Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson book series, Half-Bloods (Half Human, Half Greek/Roman god) were all ADHD, hyperactive, outcasts like myself, with godly powers.
Personally, I would view myself as a son of Pluto, an outcast, misunderstood, even by himself, like a son of Hades in the book series.
Children of Hades/ Pluto never fully integrate into society, nor among other Half-Bloods. We tend to be loners, though often not by choice. However, my life turned around about the same time as in the book when the children of Hades became more accepted by the other half-bloods.
However, one thing that children of Hades/Pluto often lack is acceptance of themselves.
We half-bloods need the ideals of Rome: Order. Structure. Integrity. Discipline.
Veni Vidi Vici
 Paraphrases from Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
 There is a difference between the Greek and Roman versions of the gods, and their children, in the book series.
 Nico DiAngelo, son of Hades.
 Rick Riordan’s The Last Olympian.
[Photo credit note from Lisa: Statue of Pluto by Henri Chapu, situated in the park of château de Chantilly. Photo by Mel22 used via Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.]