Saturday, October 3, 2009


I can't remember why, but yesterday I mentioned to a woman that I'm ADHD. She replied either "You shouldn't let people label you like that" or "Don't think of yourself with labels like that." Either way, I know she used the word "label." But you know, I think I'm better off knowing that I'm ADHD and acknowledging it, than trying to hide it.

I am ADHD. I just am. It means that I often encounter certain challenges, and by the way, it's easier to handle these challenges if I get to the root of the problem. It doesn't help so much if I just know that I often have trouble focusing, even on things that I'm enthusiastic about. It doesn't help much to just know that I often have trouble staying still. It does help a lot if I know that ADHD is at the root of these challenges I face, and learn to work with it rather than simply the symptoms being ADHD.

If my attitude was different, and rather than saying "I am ADHD" I said "I am not ADHD," things would be different, and not for the better. For one thing, I would not have gone to the doctor for help -- and even though most of what helps me overcome the obstacles of ADHD I found by myself, without a doctor's help, I have still benefited immensely from going to my doctor a few years back and saying "I was diagnosed ADHD when I was young, and now I need your help again because I can't handle this by myself anymore." This would not have happened if I had said "I am not ADHD."

If I said "I am not ADHD" I would not understand why I encounter the challenges I do. Rather than recognizing that having trouble focusing on things -- even on things that I am enthusiastic about! -- is due to ADHD, I might think that I was simply too stupid. I might give up, and not go after certain goals or pursue some of my dreams. I would have less confidence in myself.

But I do know that I am ADHD, and I am not ashamed of it. It means that I face certain challenges, but that's ok. Everyone faces challenges. ADHD just happens to be one of mine. I have found ways of working with the challenge of ADHD, and will continue to find more ways of working with it. Doctors have helped me with it, and I know I can go to them for help again if I need to.

There's nothing wrong with being ADHD. What would be wrong is if I tried to deny this part of me.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

You're absolutely right, Sarita. I've always found that people who say they're against "labels" really just don't want to accept the reality that underlies the "label." It's a form of denial or distancing and shows a lack of self-acceptance.

Sarita said...

Actually, I could probably write a whole post about why it isn't good to "label" people, but I didn't want to get into that in this post. For example, it's bad to label someone "trouble maker." I was a "trouble maker" when I was young due to my ADHD, before people knew what was going on. (Sometimes kids really are out to cause trouble for the heck of it, but not always.) Labeling someone ADHD when they actually aren't ADHD also leads to problems.

That being said, I think there is a difference between labeling people and diagnosing people. Doctors diagnose people (usually correctly) and I'm fine with that. Others casually label people with this problem or that, and might mis-label someone because they don't know what they're doing. That's something that I'm not so fine with.

Anyways, just a little subtlety in language that I didn't get into in my post. Then again, I think you're in Canada (right?), so maybe the words have different subtleties there than they do here.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

No, you're right -- there are subtleties in meaning. I was referring to "labels" that are true, not false. Part of the problem is that "label" is just an inherently negative term -- it always sounds nasty!