I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia and Dyspraxia in my final year of university. I was born three months premature, which increased the chances of having learning disorders (LD). I will break down what the disorders are to give you a better understanding of me and my behaviour. Different people are affected in varying degrees.
ADHD is a behavioural disorder which causes a person to be inattentive and have a short concentration span, that aspect of it makes me hyperactive. I can be impulsive and will just do things on a whim without thinking about it too much.
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that can cause problems with certain abilities used for learning academic subjects but it does not affect your intelligence. I often jumble up words and patterns in the brain and say things in the wrong order. I also have a poor sense of direction, I have walked in the wrong direction on countless occasions.
Dyspraxia is a brain disorder that causes difficulty in activities that require coordination and movement. It means you have bad hand-eye coordination, so I am generally very clumsy and have had a lot of small accidents. My clumsiness used to embarrass me but I have accepted that it is all part of the LD package.
When I was at university I was entitled to having extra time to complete assignments, extra learning support like an ADHD mentor, a laptop with loads of software, printer, speaker phone and everything I needed to help with my studies. Education was always a struggle as I could barely focus and was getting kicked out of class on a regular basis for being too noisy and making my classmates laugh. I remember teachers saying that I was very intelligent but there was just a missing link. I will never forget the look my mum gave me when I was in primary school and a teacher told her that I was not naughty, but just silly. She did not seem impressed, to say the least. I was moved to a school with fewer kids, quick time! When I was diagnosed a lot of things started to make sense. I am glad I finished university, have a job that pays well and in general, I have a bloody good life.
I won’t lie, living with these conditions can be challenging and I have developed coping mechanisms to manage my conditions, they are lifelong with no cure. Another aspect of ADHD is that it makes you very blunt, so people can misinterpret my straight forward comments as being rude. But I am generally a person that gets straight to the point. My family and friends are used to it. There are some perks though, people know if they try me, I will just blast them! As the saying goes, “once bitten twice shy”.
I appreciate people’s different emotional states and their sensitivities but just keep me away from people that are too deep in their feelings. Unless you are my friend or I’m in a romantic relationship with you, I do not have time for it. I care about people but do not care for the bullshit they bring. In general, I am not an emotional person and am used to bottling up my emotions, to the point where it would physically hurt and I would get chest pains, because, I did not know how to express myself.
I am usually the more dominant person in the relationship, which is in my nature as well as the fact that I am quite masculine in my personality and presentation. A relationship is all about compromise and respecting one another and your partner’s’ boundaries. Just because one person is more dominant does not put them on a higher level above the other person. My learning difficulties have caused arguments and a contributing factor to a previous breakup (pre-diagnosis) was that I had issues communicating.
When I had my first long term relationship and my girlfriend at the time would become emotional or cry I felt so awkward and did not know what to do. I would think “what am I meant to do?” I would say something generic but that will look like I didn’t care. I was worried people would think I do not care about them, which was not true. I genuinely am just someone who believes in tough love.
I chose to go to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help with my communication skills. CBT is a therapy that can help you change the way your brain processes information and situations and I would highly recommend it. My counsellor was actually very good, they made valid points and actually listened to me. They were not like other therapists who had no opinion. My therapist helped me with her positive approach and my attitude dramatically improved changed over a few short months. In particular, the way I deal with not getting my own way has drastically improved. I would urge people to open up and get help if you feel like you may have any sort of learning or behavioural disorder, there is nothing to be ashamed of. It is all very normal and all you need is some help. The sooner you address it, the easier your life can become.