By Brianna C.
Trigger Warnings: Mental health disorder; death; suicide
Healthline Media defines attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as “a mental health disorder that can cause above-normal levels of hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. People with ADHD may also have trouble focusing their attention on a single task or sitting still for long periods. Both adults and children can have ADHD. ADHD often begins in childhood and can persist into adulthood. It may contribute to low self-esteem, troubled relationships, and difficulty at school or work. Symptoms include limited attention and hyperactivity. Treatments include medication and talk therapy.”
Hello, my name is Brianna Clinkenbeard and I have ADHD. This is my story on how I handled it during a pandemic.
Let me start by giving you an insight into when it all started. I was in the second grade when I was diagnosed with ADHD. At first, I thought that I was sick and that there was something wrong with me. My mom explained what the diagnosis meant and took me to a place to talk to someone where I learned more about what ADHD means. Although I felt reassured after that, I was still a little scared. I started going to therapy which is common for people who have ADHD, but it was still intimidating for a second-grader.
As I got older my ADHD worsened until some doctor visits helped me to begin to get better. However, when I was a freshman in high school I told my mom that my ADHD was worse and that I might need more help. So, we went to the doctor and he gave me a prescription for ADHD medication. At first, I got sick from the medication, but I switched to a different medication, which was better after a while. As months went by my medication dose went up more and I hadn’t seen the change I was hoping for. After a while, I would forget to take my meds and get off track. When I was off track for a few days, I would stop taking them completely. When I wasn’t taking my medication I would have very dark days that no one should have to experience, especially at age fourteen.
When I would have one of these dark days I wouldn’t know how to fix it. I would think of bad thoughts that should not be thought of: death, suicide, my brother being the favorite kid, my past family, and many other things. I would cry all night when I got those thoughts and could not stop crying. I tried to hide it from my family but I had a feeling that they would find out one day. When I told my mom about it I felt bad for telling her about these thoughts and feelings.
I told my friends about my ADHD. They seemed cool about my ADHD and I learned that some of my friends also have ADHD.
When I was fifteen years old I became a leader in the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls and I had the opportunity to write a speech. I cried when I said my speech because it meant a lot to me. As I wrote and delivered my speech I learned that you can do many things in life, such as living through a pandemic, going to school, and many other things. I would like to share my speech with you.
“‘If you can’t fly, then run.’ When learning new things you are unable to fly through it like a speeding car, so you must run before you can fly. ‘If you can’t run, then walk.’ Learning that I have a learning disability and ADHD I have learned that I can’t run through things like my homework or memorized speeches, but I have to walk through it to slow down. ‘If you can’t walk, then crawl.’ Walking to doctor appointments and learning that I am not pigeon-toed, as my legs turn inward because of my hips, I must crawl to help my legs grow strong to fix them. With all of these things that could hold me back, I have learned that I must keep moving forward in life so I don’t fall behind. When life is tough, remember ‘if you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl, but by all means, keep moving forward’ Martin Luther King Jr.”
During the pandemic, I had a rough time and I didn’t know how to manage my ADHD. The lockdown first occurred at the end of my freshman year and after a few days
dealing with everything, I realized that this was going to be worse than I thought. When school was finally over, we packed up and went camping. I knew that it was going to be a long, hard week for me so I had to find a coping method for my ADHD. I knew music helped me a lot. I also discovered that going on walks or just talking to a friend helped cheer me up. But after thinking about it long and hard, I knew that I could not get music or have my friends there while I was camping. I thought about my previous years of camp . I figured out that going on walks and talking with my cousin helped me, as well as fishing, playing games, painting, reading, and many other things.
Over the years I had a lot of ups and downs, inside and out. I would have those bad days where you just locked yourself in your room and laid on your bed listening to sad music, crying because you don’t know how to tell someone what is going on in your life. I would also have those days where you have to put your tears away and just pretend as if nothing happened. When I returned from my vacation. I realized that I had been going to school with a fake face on, pretending to be someone else. That I was living behind this mask and that once I stepped into a building or a place outside of my house I was someone else who had pushed all of their hurt down that may come out in tears later that night. I knew that everything —fake act, fake smile, fake laugh, fake joy, fake me— had to go away. That the real me had to come out, and she did that night.
My family was my biggest support for my ADHD but I hated when they would make me cry or make me angry. When they’d ask if I’m fine I’d say I was but I have a feeling they knew I was not.
The pandemic was hard. I had two birthdays and many Zoom calls. During the pandemic, I found out many things about myself, both good and bad. During my installation for my Rainbow Assembly, I discovered that I am a girl who has ADHD and I am not afraid to say that I do. During this pandemic, I have said I have ADHD six times and am proud of that. Sometimes I don’t feel like telling people because it feels funny or bad to say, but I feel like they should know. The pandemic has given me time to sit down and find out new things that help me with my ADHD. I have found that music, art, coloring, walking with/without my dog, talking, watching movies, watching TV shows, looking at nature, going on drives, playing with my dog, memorizing speeches, and writing things down have helped me with my ADHD.
There are so many things out there that can help you or anyone who has any problems. I have used all of these suggestions to help me and though I still have bad days I know that I have my family, friends, Rainbow family, people with ADHD, and many others there to help and support me. I know that people with ADHD can’t change what is happening to them (trust me I have tried) but I also know we have the power to make ourselves better people and to change the world. We can make our lives better if we don’t hide behind the person we want to be and instead be the person we are meant to be. When life is tough, remember this quote and think about how it fits in your life. “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl, but by all means, keep moving forward” Martin Luther King Jr.
Then I want you to do one more thing. I want you to go up to someone, introduce yourself, and say, “I have ADHD” or whatever else you may be experiencing. It can be anyone: a friend, a Rainbow member, a family member, anyone. See how you feel afterward. The first time I did it I was scared but after a while, I got used to it. It is nice to know that people know the real you.
If you are scared, I’ll start:
Hi, my name is Brianna Clinkenbeard and I have ADHD.