Unlocking ADHD writer Indhu Jayabaskaran shares how social media played a role in her ADHD diagnosis.
I was scrolling through YouTube one day and came across a TED talk by Jessica McCabe, the YouTuber behind the channel How to ADHD. Everything she said about her personal experience eerily resonated with me and I started researching. Until then, all I had known about ADHD was what it stood for – Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.
I was never hyperactive – in fact, I was mostly the opposite. Attention deficit, maybe. I was known to be a serial procrastinator and frequently got in trouble for daydreaming and not paying attention. It was never an obvious problem. However, the more research I did, the more I realised ADHD was not just about hyperactivity or attention problems. There was a huge spectrum of other issues that didn’t really get discussed, and oddly enough, I found myself relating to many of them.
Time management, day dreaming, punctuality
I never had problems in school when I was younger. Sure, I was irresponsible, I never did my homework, and I was always in trouble with my teachers for being late and not paying attention, but all this was overlooked as I usually did well in exams. I was never overly disruptive – just enough to get on teachers’ nerves and get called out in class.
When my grades started dropping in secondary school, my teachers said I had potential. If only I’d be more consistent and responsible, I might do well. In junior college, I was performing well under average. I failed almost every class and barely got promoted to the second year. I struggled with time management and managing all the responsibilities I had. This time, I was known as the student who didn’t care.
I ended up with bad grades for ‘A’ Levels, got rejected by all the local universities, and sat for the exams again as a private candidate. When I finally got accepted by a local university, it was into a course that was not my first choice. By the time I finished year 1, I was exhausted and lacked self-confidence. Tests and even studying caused considerable anxiety. It felt like I was being punished for not putting in more effort all those years.
Towards the end of my second year in university I came across that YouTube video. When I finally received my diagnosis, I felt more loss than relief – I was in a course I did not enjoy, was a year behind my peers, had a souring relationship with my family and a terrible one with myself. The diagnosis merely reminded me of all the what-ifs and the opportunities I had missed out on. The medication I was put on made a huge difference in my life, but also made me resent the fact that I had not gotten the help earlier.
The changes did not come in big, obvious ways. I found myself being able to prioritize better. Any deadlines I had in the future held more meaning and urgency to me. Distractions did not disappear – instead I was able to ignore them and focus on what I had to do first. Most of all, I was surprised at how quiet my mind can get. Usually, I would be thinking of multiple other things on top of focusing on the work I had to do.
When I was on medication, I could focus on a single thought at a time. Even my friends saw changes, I was replying to their messages regularly and paying attention during conversations. These small things added up to make significant changes in my day-to-day life, helping me keep up with the responsibilities I had.
It took me a while to accept my diagnosis and the changes that came with it. While I was bitter about the past, all the struggles I had faced made me more independent and self-sufficient. I had grown as a person with every setback and learned to accept failure and move on. Right now, I am focusing on learning.
The more I learn about ADHD, the more I can help myself and accept everything that comes with it. I am glad to have found out when I did, and am choosing to look forward to the better days ahead.
[If you liked this story and found it helpful, please SHARE it. For more personal stories about ADHDers, please click here.]