Why a diagnosis isn’t a “label”

I got super far ahead and writing blog posts. I think I’ve got several queued up to post the next couple weeks. But I just have to write about something when it comes up in my practice or my personal life and I get excited to talk about it. Today I want to talk about the idea of a diagnosis being a label, in other words, a bad thing.

I have heard so many people, mostly parents refer to an add diagnosis as a label. They are deathly afraid of their child being labeled, categorized, maybe even stigmatized. I’ve had clients who were diagnosed as kids and their parents never told them. And they end up in my office trying to manage their ADHD wishing they’d had a chance to start that process 20 years earlier. I think it’s really important to talk about this

A lot of this comes for the underlying societal bias against ADHD. Can you imagine a parent refusing to take their child to get an eye test because they were worried about them being found to be nearsighted and then stigmatized because they have to wear glasses? Can you imagine a parent not wanting to get their kid diagnosed with cancer as soon as possible so they can start treatment and live? Would you resist saying you were diabetic, if you were diabetic? I realized there is a certain amount of denial present in human nature. But the level to which I’ve seen parents deny ADHD and sometimes other psychiatric issues, blows my mind.

I just can’t think of an instance where it’s not better to know what you’re dealing with and be able to fix it, treat it, face it head on. I think it’s time we fought even harder against the stigma of psychiatric diagnoses. And on an anecdotal level, I’m seeing the younger generation of teens and 20 somethings being much more open about there “neurodivergence.” To a certain extent, I think that lumping all of our issues into a fun word like neurodivergence is a bit of a way to hide from the stigma of an individual diagnosis. But on the other hand, I love how these kids are embracing who they are.

Let’s be honest. As neurodivergent people, we are somewhat of an invisible but oppressed minority. We need to take control of our own narrative. Just like black power, women’s empowerment, gay rights, trans rights. All of these populations at least give the impression that they’re proud of who they are. And I think they should be. Owning who you are and being proud of it is a cornerstone in building happiness, if you ask me. As a white man, you wouldn’t look at me and think I identify with these populations. But I do. My severe ADHD is adversity. You might not see it on the surface. But it has defined who I am and how I move about in the world.

I can only imagine the pain that I would have suffered, and how much worse everything that was already tough would have been if I hadn’t been diagnosed, hadn’t been included in my own diagnosis and path afterwards, or if I hadn’t been treated for my adhd. Thankfully I have parents who always included me and were always honest with me. I will always be grateful to them for that.

now that I’m writing this, I’m remembering, around the time of my diagnosis that I really embraced the idea that I was “weird.” As I look back, that was my 10 or 11 year old way of saying that, I’m different. And I’m sure there was some amount of psychological protectionism going on by owning the thing that I couldn’t control and it set me apart. But I do honestly believe that there we’re seeds of the self-confidence, self-possession, and intensity that I embody today. I am truly proud of who I am. I have some weaknesses. We all do. But I also have a lot of strengths. The fact that most of my weaknesses stem from my ADHD doesn’t bother me. Because I don’t let it. A lot of my strengths, one could argue, come from my ADHD personality or from the adversity I faced growing up with severe ADHD. I’m wired differently. I could have spent my whole life fighting that. But because I embrace it, I’m leaving my best life. I suggest you do the same for yourself and that you especially give that gift to your children.

Also, for those who may be interested in checking out my new YouTube channel, I’ve been going under the assumption that I was going to be writing about different topics that I was going to be talking about on youtube. But I felt really inspired to do both on the same topic today. Also I tend to think the YouTube people and the blog people are probably going to be different people. But then I can talk about the same issue from two different perspectives. My point is I’m still ironing this out. Roll with me. And feel free to check out both.

Standard disclaimer: I promised myself when I started this blog that I would post regularly, hopefully weekly. In order to achieve this goal, I have to fight against my own perfectionists. That means I edit very little if at all. I’m focusing on content not on detail. So please forgive any mypellings grammatical / punctuation mishaps, and anything Strange like weird capitalizations due to my using voice recognition.