‘Isabella has potential…but is easily distracted.’ I am not stupid. I am neurodivergent.’: Woman diagnosed with ADHD urges ‘representation matters’

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“This little girl has ADHD and no one knows it…not even she does.

A young girl with undiagnosed ADHD sits at a purple plastic table
Courtesy of Izzy

She knows she’s different, she knows her brain works a little harder than it appears her friends’ brains do, and she knows she scares off other small children because she’s too loud and excited.

That dress she’s wearing is a product of hyperfixation. It never belonged to her. It was donated by somebody else to the childcare center she attends, and you could say she fell in love at first sight. She wanted nothing more than to wear it all day, she didn’t share it with other children, and when her parents picked her up from childcare daily, it was an emotional ordeal to let go of the dress. Until one day, the childcare teachers just allowed her to take it home because she loved it endlessly.

The bruises on her legs are an indication of how clumsy she is. She falls over her own feet and trips over ‘invisible objects.’ It’s what she tells herself to feel better about how silly it might make her look. But that’s just her imagination…did you know research has established individuals with ADHD are exceptionally good at creative thinking?

She often experiences rejection, she forgets where her toys are, she can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, which would affect her school reports in the future.

‘Isabella has potential…but is easily distracted.’

‘Isabella would benefit from focusing more and applying her skills.’

‘Isabella is very skilled and creative, but often finds herself talking to other students too often in the classroom.’

How about, ‘Isabella has a medical condition that affects the way her brain develops and retains information, and she lacks attention’?!

My parents weren’t to blame: there was only one of me and two of them. When my traits begin to grow, two adults can manage one child together. Having an only child meant there was also nothing to compare off of. I was also born in 1997, which is only 7 years after psychiatric medical scientists declared ADHD a life-long condition (and not something that children grow out of) and 2 years after it was first sub-categorized into inattentive, hyperactive, and combination.

A woman with ADHD sits between her parents holding a birthday cake
Courtesy of Izzy
A woman with ADHD and her father both wearing glasses
Courtesy of Izzy

But when I look at this photo, all I see is a small angel of a being who needed someone to nurture her mind and the way it works in a unique way, something no one around her knew how to do.

Representation matters. Growing up I had no one to look at and feel validated by…so I looked in the mirror.

I looked so hard I began to dissect who I am so deeply it began to make me feel broken.

I am too loud.

I am too bossy.

I am too childlike.

I am too confident.

I am too excited.

I am too much.

I am not enough.

A woman with ADHD sits in a tall chair wearing glasses and a white shirt
Courtesy of Izzy

Until recently, I hadn’t met anyone else like me before. While I, obviously, knew I wasn’t the only person in the world with ADHD, I never really, truly felt seen by another person who lives their life the exact same way I do. And this is the sort of image this little girl needed…all the way up until she was 23 a few weeks ago when she received her official diagnosis.

I’m learning to deconstruct the idea that ADHD makes me less of a human being, makes me annoying, makes me hard to manage, makes me difficult, makes me stupid. I am not stupid, I am not stupid, I am not stupid!!!

I am neurodivergent. This is neurodiversity.”

A woman with ADHD with long dark hair, glasses, and a beige overcoat
Courtesy of Izzy

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Izzy. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story hereand be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories like this:

‘She’s just shy,’ they said. ‘She’ll grow out of it.’ All my life I felt like a misfit.’: Mom diagnosed with autism after son’s diagnosis

‘She flatly told us his ‘problem.’ One phone call changed my understanding as to what was happening in the school walls.’: Son diagnosed with ADHD, mom talks about how proud she is he made it through school

‘I’m fine! I have it figured out!’ I struggled in secret as I hid behind my smile. I woke up in a suicide room.’: Woman shares her ADHD journey to make mental health ‘less secretive and stigmatized’

‘He’s a HORRIBLE little boy.’ My heart broke into pieces.’: Mom details parenting two children with ADHD, ‘The tears and tantrums were worth it’

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