Unlocking ADHD writer Ishani Saran interviews her peer Jessica Bastin, a fellow international school student who was recently diagnosed with ADHD.
Q: Good afternoon Jessica! Please introduce yourself and share some interesting things about yourself!
A: Hi! My name is Jess, I’m 16 years old, and my pronouns are they/them. I enjoy singing and dancing, but I am hoping to study biochemistry in university.
Q: When were you diagnosed with ADHD?
A: I found out that I had ADHD early last year (2020); when I was 15 years old.
Q: What are the difficulties when it comes to dealing with ADHD?
A: I think one of the toughest things about having ADHD is the difficulty I have concentrating. Most of the time I can only focus on a task for about 10 minutes without getting agitated, and usually end up getting distracted by a piece of information or something in my room. When I get distracted, I usually start a completely different task and forget to finish the first.
Another really difficult part of ADHD is forgetfulness. I will misplace items multiple times a day, leave objects in strange places (e.g. placing my phone in a drawer I was looking in), and leave a trail of things around the house. I also need to set alarms that remind me to do simple things like brush my teeth and take my medication.
Q: How has having ADHD been in an international school setting?
A: One good thing about going to a large international school is that many people I know also have ADHD, so we can talk about our experiences and share advice based on them.
One of the cons of going to an international school, though, is that trends from many different countries become trends in the school. For example, there was a fidget toy trend where many people would buy fidget toys and bring them to school. As so many people had them, lessons were disrupted, and so the toys were no longer allowed. In my opinion, this was quite harmful to the school’s neurodivergent community as fidget toys are a very important tool that help us stay focused and comfortable.
Q: Anything you wish your peers, friends, and teachers had known?
- Just because I am forgetful does not mean I don’t care about our conversation, relationship, or lesson.
- I might take a bit longer to process/remember information.
- If I interrupt your story to tell you about a similar experience I had, please do not take it as me being rude or trying to make the conversation about me, it is a way for me to show that I am listening to you and taking in what you are saying.
- Just because I am regarded as “smart” does not mean I do not struggle with ADHD.
Q: What are some things you’d like to tell the world about ADHD?
- People with ADHD aren’t unintelligent, we just need a little extra help/time to support the way our brains work.
- There is no “look” for people with ADHD
- ADHD is not just a lack of focus, but a difficulty regulating the attention span. We (people with ADHD) may “hyper focus” on certain activities that really interest us, causing us to forget to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom while we are immersed, but then will not be able to focus at all on activities that don’t interest us as much.
Q: Any tips for fellow ADHDers?
A: Your difficulties and feelings are valid. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are making your experiences up or that your struggles aren’t “bad” enough. Impostor syndrome is very common in people with ADHD and may make us feel like our struggles aren’t bad enough for us to talk about or get help.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us Jess!
N.B. The perspectives provided in this article are personal opinions, and every ADHDer has their own unique experience with the disorder.
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