If You Knew Me Before My ADHD Diagnosis, No, You Didn’t

I’m Coming Out Again..?

Dylan M. Austin

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On a bright yellow background, a squiggly mess of black scribbles straightens out into a line leading into that same squiggly mess, this time rounded out into overlapping and neatly-arranged circles.

Have we met before? Even if the answer is yes, these days, I’d say, “No, not quite.”

You knew the version of me that overcompensated and overcommitted, would get nothing measurable done at work or in class and made up for it in the middle of the night, had imposter syndrome trying to learn and work the way everyone else does, dropped interests just as fast as he picked them up, had wild mood swings after hours or days or weeks of trying not to have wild mood swings, that turned to alcohol to subdue the feelings of overstimulation in social situations, and that consistently fit a lot of words into long, rambling sentences that meant a lot to me and almost nothing to anyone else. I am still very much the personification of a run-on sentence.

I am still very much the personification of a run-on sentence.

A neverending stream of TikToks and social media ads first inspired me to talk about ADHD with friends. As many tend to do, I downplayed these suspicions. All I could imagine was this vignette of a little boy misbehaving in class, whose frustrated parents said, take this Ritalin and shut the hell up. Also, Adderall (something I heard about more than I actually knew about) is a drug college students got prescribed so they could sell it to other college kids, right?

At the time, I thought ADHD was an overly-diagnosed condition, an excuse, and probably a sales vehicle for big pharma (okay, there is perhaps some truth to that last one). It stands to reason that a minority of individuals may create that perception, especially with increased ADHD conversation in the mental health self-diagnosis zeitgeist. Validating, peer-to-peer social communities are popping up all over now. As such, ADHD visibility has inspired two outcomes — more people are aware of (and encouraged to act on) the inclination that they may actually have ADHD. Meanwhile, critics are popping up in comment sections to tell us how neurodivergence is just a trendy excuse for poor work ethic in millennials.

At the speed that ADHD has taken over blogs, inspired startups, and propagated in online communities, it makes sense how neurotypical naysayers would feel like ADHD…

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Dylan M. Austin

Copy and content writer in Seattle. Sometimes satirical, sometimes sincere. Run-on mixed metaphor. Gay, autistic dog dad with ADHD (and too many plants).