Julie’s Story

I’m smart. I will say that first because it often seems like something I must remind myself of every day. I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until high school – I had it FOREVER.

Even as a small kid I was clever, I had ways of looking at things that would totally baffle adults…sometimes just baffle them because I would babble on about why something is one way or another because of this other thing which is like this or that. I think you get the idea. People thought I was spacey for jumping subjects but there was always an intricate train of thought…sometimes I would repeat it for people to get off my back about being random and inattentive and they would just look at me in fascination and blink…I love that look.

My aural and test-taking abilities were fine all through school. Unfortunately, ever teacher/parent conference was the same. “Julie is a bright child, but she doesn’t apply herself. I should hold her back this year but I know she’s capable, but keep in mind she won’t pass fourth grade next year if she doesn’t do her work.” Everyone thought I was lazy. Everyone thought I was disorganized. I let them think that. I let myself think that. I would rather be lazy than stupid – and when you’re young, you just know it as stupid. I purposely left assignments in my locker so I could pretend I did it but left it at home or lost it completely. I was the queen of excuses. It was easier to invent new ways of misplacing or forgetting – or reasons to forget – than it was to sit down in front of any assignment.

I tried. Sometimes I tried so hard I would get all worked up (which acted negatively on my progress) and start sobbing and then I’d never calm down and give up. I would sit for hours not doing an assignment that would take a normal human 20 minutes.

If someone lectures I can listen and take notes and learn. My freshman year of high school is when I was diagnosed with ADHD. My biology teacher had that system of teaching where he would assign the reading and the homework, we’d do it and turn it in, and then he would lecture on it to make sure we really understood it. For this reason I failed Biology with a 89% test grade and a 13% homework grade. This obviously sent up a flag.

I hate my doctor and my school for what came next. They put me on adderall against my wishes. I have an independance complex (as I call it) and I get very depressed if I feel as if I can’t do something on my own – so they put me on depression medication…and then sleeping pills…and then steroids to work on my asthma and more steroids to work on my allergies. I shook. I was not myself. They had me on such a high dose of adderall that to take one more gram per day I would have had to have been legally narcoleptic. Keep in mind that I was 5’3″ and in those three years had dropped from 140 to 112 lbs because of all the adderall…112 lbs at the time of the highest dosage.

By my junior year of high school I let the medicine work and it did but only as a temporary tool. I just couldn’t take it forever. After one solid good year of turning in most of my homework and being somewhat happier than depressed, I dropped my meds and though it was difficult I dug down deep and got through my senior year all by myself with tons of music classes (now my college major – I’m 20 by the way) and a 3.6 gpa…through an appeals battle and a great music audition I made it into my college of choice. (150 lbs at this point from dropping the adderall.)

All was fine until recently everything has been slipping away from me. Harder classes have made me feel like I’m back in high school biology again.

I hated medicine – mostly the constant changing. It kicks in and you’re one person and it kicks out and you’re another. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I am faced with many decisions like going on ADD meds which inevitably means depression meds for me or wearing myself thin just to get by.

None of this has been easy for me but I am proud to say I wouldn’t give up who I am for the world. I can do so many things – understand so many complex and interrelated things! I wouldn’t give any of it up to be “normal.” Yes, I love who I am…I just hate grading systems.