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I Have a Confession

Hi, my name is Tanatswa and I probably have ADHD. Wow, okay, you probably stepped back thinking that you didn’t sign up for ADHD Anonymous meeting. This is supposed to be a blog about being a creative and creative intellectualism. But hear me out. Our intellect is heavily tied to our brains and if there’s anything… interesting about that particular brain than it inevitably affects our creative.

I shouldn’t say that I probably have ADHD, but definitely have it but am currently undiagnosed. Well semi-diagnosed if I’m to be completely honest. Because one of the most important things when you have any mental…illness (God, I hate that word) is that one has a supportive system around them. When I was living in Cape Town I had a random girl’s night out with my sister (yes I’m an only child but my bestie and I call each other sisters), we went to Coco’s and she introduced me to two of her schoolmates. One of her schoolmates was analysing me a bit and before we went out she told me I should get checked for ADHD because I act alot like her sister who has ADHD. Then my sister confirmed that.

A few days after our night out my sister told me that she had been at an event where there were health specialists and she had taken an assessment test but answering ok my behalf. When she handed it in the mental health experts asked her to come with them because she probably had ADHD. She informed them that she had answered for her friend (me). They told her I should come and be assessed. I never went (although I will in the future), but soon moved from Cape Town and took a lot of online tests. Yeah I know online tests aren’t reliable but I took them from actual clinics and a site called ADDITUDE that is a leading publication on ADHD. All the tests have said that it is a strong possibility that I have ADHD and should see an ADHD specialist to get formally diagnosed. Which is all a nice way of saying “You’ve got ADHD woman and just need to confirm it,”

Since then I’ve watched YouTube videos and researched about ADHD. It began to put together the pieces of a puzzle that I had had trouble with for a very long time. It explained why people thought I was weird and that’s because neurotypical people often don’t understand neuro-atypical people. That’s what ADHD is basically, a brain functioning in a different way. But I won’t bore you with the details of basic ADHD but I’ll tell you what you’re here for “What does ADHD have to do with being a creative?” Well quite a lot actually because those with ADHD are very right-brained making us very creative and innovative. So it has everything to do with being a creative…well at least for me.

In high school I was one of a few students chosen to write a test aimed at high IQ students. Another student marveled how easily I came up with a story for the composition section. And this isn’t bragging because the math section was such a bitch I had a headache over it. But when it came to writing and story-telling my biggest problem has always been which one of the numerous stories constantly running through my head should I write? My version of writer’s block is having too much running through my head to actually sit down and write it. It’s only now that other people tell me that when they have writer’s block, literally nothing is going on in their head. But then again studies show that quite a high percentage of creatives have ADHD so maybe I just haven’t met them yet.

Which is why this is such a relevant topic because so much of the information out there is by “professionals” who have never dealt with the “condition” themselves so much of the information out there is for parents who want to learn how to “handle” people with ADHD and because everything is from a neurotypical perspective it ends up coming off as if people with it are beings that need to be handled…like animals in a zoo. One may thing I’m overreacting but when you have been called weird and crazy all your life because people didn’t understand you and the way you think then it’s natural that you’re hypersensitive to such potential slights.

Another person with ADHD also noticed this and started their own YouTube channel called “How to ADHD”. And this has also inspired other people with ADHD to talk about their experiences because we wanted people to know that we’re…human. That we can and will narrate our own stories. But then there’s a huge gap in this as well. All the people narrating their stories so far are white and British or American. I’m sure that the ADHD niche isn’t whitewashed on purpose but is also largely a result of the fact that mental health is still not something taken seriously in many communities of colour. So many people of colour go undiagnosed or do get diagnosed but never talk about it because many of our communities shame you for having anything “wrong” mentally.

So that’s what has led me here. To my little confessional because I am a woman of color with ADHD and I suppose somewhere out there there might be people who need to hear stories like mine so that they know that these things are not just white people things, but they affect us all as the human race.

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