Sixteen year old Emily viewed ADHD as her curse, an albatross around her neck causing her to struggle in school and question her ability to succeed in life. In her initial sessions with me, she described in painful detail how out of control her ADHD made her feel. In class, she knew she should have been listening to her teacher but found herself instead going off on flights of fancy in her mind with one random thought leading to another. Feeling helpless when she returned from her reverie, she found she had missed 20 minutes of her teacher’s lesson, fallen behind in her understanding, and unable to ask her teacher for clarification for fear of reprisal. This dreaded sequence repeated itself over and over again throughout her school day and was especially problematic in her most challenging classes where she needed to focus most.
It has taken Emily some time in therapy to view her experience with ADHD as anything but negative. After all, she spends the majority of her daily hours in school where she feels like an utter failure. As a rising junior, the pressures of SAT testing and preparing for college weigh heavily on her mind. Emily has needed help widening her lens to allow for a more expansive view of herself; one that includes her hopes and dreams, abilities and strengths, and passions and pleasures. As her confidence grows, it’s a joy for me to watch her befriend herself. From this place of strength, Emily can see that although having ADHD is an ongoing challenge, especially at school, ADHD is not who she is. She is so much more.