Being a Teen with ADHD...

Wellness

This past spring, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD. The image that comes to everyone's head is an elementary school kid, bouncing off the walls during class, and never shutting up. I was that. All through my elementary and middle school education, and at least half of high school, I was really really struggling. Not with the actual coursework, but with paying attention in class, doing the homework, and not to mention all of the stupid little mistakes I was making, because I just wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. Finally, after doing online school due to the pandemic, my parents saw what a real issue I was having. It's not that they didn't believe me before, but my grades always turned out fine and my teachers just thought it was my personality. My diagnosis has really changed my life and has opened up a million sources of information to learn about ADHD. One issue though, is that most of it isn't targeted at teens. It's primarily targeted towards people diagnosed in their adult life and parents/ guardians of young children. The odd one about how it affects teens is still targeted at the parents/ guardians of said teen. Teens are old enough to do research and find out how their diagnosis affects them. While I recognize that my experience may not be applicable to all, I hope that there is one teen out there who reads this and finds comfort in that they are not alone in their diagnosis.

Medicine

The stigma around ADHD meds is that it makes you a zombie. That is absolutely not true. While, I'm still working with my doctors to help me find the right dosage, I can say that it has been a gamechanger for the better. A common misconception about ADHD is that it's a lack of attention. It's actually an inability to regulate attention. I, for the life of me, could not focus in certain classes in school, but I could read, write, and watch movies for hours on end at home. Sometimes that was taken as I just wouldn't focus in some situations because I could obviously focus at different times. The thing is, I couldn't not focus on reading, writing, and watching movies. I literally had no control over it. This goes all the way down to the biology of the brain. I won't get into it, but the majority of medicines recommended for ADHD are stimulants. When an ADHD brain is on these medicines, the neurons are fired and complete their paths the way they would in a non-ADHD brain. You obviously don't have to take medicine if you don't want to, but I would talk seriously with your parents/guardian and doctor about it. Of course, there are some side effects of the medicine. They come up most often when moving to a higher dose. In my personal experience, for about a week after my dose is upped, my stomach hurts after taking the medicine.

Accommodations

Both in school and out of school. Your parents/ guardians will probably meet with your school counselor and discuss what the school needs to do to help you learn. You may feel a little embarrassed. That's fine. Just remember that you have been holding yourself to the standards set for people who are neurotypical. You also might feel a little angry. Where were all of these accommodations before? I have received bad grades because of a biological thing I was born with. Why did I only find out about this now? I thought all of those things too. I still do. It's okay to be angry, but you have to take it in stride. I recommend talking to a therapist or counselor about it. For accommodations outside of school, I recommend watching YouTube videos and reading articles about items others with ADHD use to help with their inattentiveness. I personally have started putting all of my cereals that I buy into see through containers, so I can see more often and make note of when I'm running out. You will probably find that most measures are preventative ones. Things like see through containers and an app to find your keys are much more failsafes than anything else. I also suggest looking into purchasing ear protectors. When I have to do something like homework in a public space, I hear every little noise. My ear protectors really block that out, allowing me to focus.

There is always more to learn

I know that this article may not be the biggest help, but I'm learning too. Navigating this school year with my new diagnosis has been challenging. In some ways, like being allowed to work and do tests in the library, my schooling is going much better. However, knowing I have ADHD has given me some extra stress. I know myself a little better and I have to get all of my homework done right away, because I know I won't do it otherwise. I hope I can write more as I learn more about ADHD and how it affects me. I also really hope that I helped you in any way, shape or form.

Mary Flynn

Mary Flynn is a junior at Red River High School in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She loves writing and writing for the Teen Magazine. She also loves to dance, play soccer, bake, read, play trivia, and watch movies.