A large part of TBI, for me, is highlighting the importance of acceptance and knowledge surrounding difficult issues. When I asked a good friend about her experience with ADHD, she replied with a vast amount of insight. I couldn’t not provide her with a space to talk about it. Louisa is a UCA Fashion Design graduate, who is now taking every opportunity with open hands. She works for Burberry, is a part time make-up/nail artist and a freelance print designer. Here is the first article where she speaks briefly about her experience and what you can do to help those who are struggling.
When did you notice your ADHD tendencies?
At the age of nine, I was diagnosed with having ADHD. For my family and a few of my teachers, this explained a lot. When you have ADHD you are prone to highs and lows and can go from one extreme to the other; from being happy, hyper and abundant with ideas to the complete opposite of feeling depressed, anxious, nervous and irritated. For me, having ADHD causes a combination of things. It feels like having a million ideas and thoughts constantly racing in your head at 100mph, and with that comes the hyperactivity. I want to get as many of my ideas put into action, before I forget them and move onto my next big idea. Often I will over think things, sometimes to the point of confusion, and become distracted by these ideas.
I was always very hyper from day one. According to my mum, as soon as I could walk I was constantly wondering off to have my own adventures, talking non-stop and asking questions. The only time I was quiet or focused was when I had burned out all of my energy and needed a quick nap, or being creative. When I was a child I would feel trapped and claustrophobic by being stuck in one place for too long. I was always ready to run outside to explore the great outdoors, being free and independent to explore and to try understand things around me is where I found peace. If I felt I couldn’t move forward, I would feel trapped.
How did teachers react to your ADHD?
During my education many teachers treated me as a disruptive, naughty child that wasn’t able to focus or concentrate. I would day dream a lot and think about everything except what the teacher was telling the the class to do. It wasn’t intentional, it was just the way was as a child with ADHD. I would try to pay attention, but once I was bored my mind would wonder off and I’d be distracted.
I felt that some teachers didn’t want to give me the time of day which made me feel the need to act out more. Children are very perceptive and are often underestimated in what they can sense. I was one of those children who could tell if someone was being negative with me and I didn’t understand what I had done wrong to make them feel this way. This is another typical ADHD trait, of what many call the ‘naughty ADHD child’. However the teachers who listened to me and gave me positive encouragement made me more determined to do well and react positively in that class.
What would you say to teachers and parents?
Having freedom is a very important part of how the ADHD mind works to problem solve. Many teachers didn’t understand how important calm and positive encouragement was to a child with ADHD. Nor did they understand that by making them feel trapped, made them react more.
If your ADHD child feels the need to go outside or do something they enjoy doing, let them. It helps them to focus in a more positive way. By combining subjects they hate with ones they love, it will make things more interesting for them. Thus making them focus more on what they are supposed to be learning. Finding activities to occupy both body and mind in a fun yet educational way, will help to use their energy to their advantage. It will prevent boredom, day dreaming or feeling frustrated, and will help to get the best out of them.
Who did understand what you needed and how did they help?
My parents always supported and encouraged me to do whatever I wanted. They gave me a lot of freedom to explore and experiment, thus learning new skills. They were always there to help me with my homework and explain how to correctly problem solve confusing maths questions. By encouraging me to be even more determined to be successful in whatever I did, with their ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude, I overcame those negatives. I was able to prove others wrong in underestimating me. It took a lot of hard work but I did it.
What would you say to children or adults who are struggling?
Some of the greatest minds of our time had a form of Autism and ADHD; Albert Einstein was thought to have had Dyslexia, ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome. Salvador Dali and John Lennon were said to also have ADHD. This goes to show that just because we see life from a different perspective, doesn’t mean that we aren’t able to achieve greatness through our so called ‘weakness’. Throughout my education and university there were many obstacles I had to overcome to get to where I am today. Being underestimated throughout my life, allowed me to never underestimate myself or what I could achieve. I am always on the go whether it’s in the busy city, business world or getting lost in my art work. I live for challenge and adventure, you should too.
Words by Louisa Kyriacou