This morning I found out that ADHD has an awareness ribbon. I can't really explain why I don't agree with that, but I'm going to try.
I have never known myself to be anything other than exactly as I am. Easily excited to the point of it being annoying, easily distracted, unorganized, and easily stressed out by negativity or perceived negativity. Sometimes listening to someone is incredibly hard- not because I don't care or because I'm narcissistic to the point that I think that you aren't worth my time, but because at any point you say something that I feel passionate about, I'm immediately dwelling on that one point, not what you're saying as a whole. I used to be told constantly when I was younger that I was smart I just needed to "apply" myself. I have found that its easier for someone to say that than for me to actually put that into action. I lose things easily and the second I realize that its not where it should be, I become one track minded and will stop whatever I'm doing and obsessively look for said item until I find it. If I don't it nags at me and I can't stop thinking about it. But amid growing up being like that, I also grew up with a little brother. Joshua. He has Asperger's Syndrome as well as Chromosone 9PMinus.
I love my brother. He is handsome, amazing, smart, and passionate. On the flip side, he is also shy, quiet, and if put into a corner that makes him feel threatened, afraid, or any realm of negative emotion, can come close to resembling the Hulk. I don't remember ever wondering "what's wrong with him?!" I know I got frustrated. I know that I would get irritated when I couldn't understand what he was saying, sometimes it felt like we spoke literal different languages- and all I wanted to do was understand and I couldn't. I had long left home by the time that Josh started realizing that he wasn't like his school mates. Our younger sister Hannah started having to step up more and more, becoming the big sister to Josh and Mary, even though she was the middle sibling. Words can't even
articulate the guilt that I have that I wasn't there to help, to be the big sister, but likewise, words cannot express the pride I have in my Hannah.
As Josh got older, he got bigger, and so too did his aggression. I remember mom putting him on the phone with me and him sobbing because he didn't even fully comprehend why or how or what. He just knew something was "off" and all he wanted was to be just like everyone else. Something that had rang true in my own head in high school. I knew that pain. I related to that pain. But what Josh will probably never understand is that God made him EXACTLY as he was supposed to be- and that in itself is a whole other bitter pill to swallow. I look at my brother and I see perfection. He struggled- still struggles- but even as he gets older, that innocence that everyone loses at some point in their teenage years still exists. He doesn't have an ulterior motive. I have never known him to willfully do something against another human to purposely hurt them. He still knows what it means to TRULY be remorseful, because he knows what he says when he's mad holds no bearing to what he feels when he isn't. Joshua is not Aspergers. Joshua is not 9PMinus. Joshua is Joshua. And I love him eternally for it.
I guess when it comes down to it, I don't want a ribbon to raise awareness for having something that makes me... Me. That's part of the reason I stopped taking medication when I was 17. I'm not myself on it. And as much as I wished -and sometimes still do, thinking that my husband would be better off with a wife that didn't have ADHD and my son would have a better upbringing with a mom that was "normal"-that I could be "like everyone else" I couldn't ignore the freedom that I felt without medication. I'm a ball of awkward quirkiness. I stress the crap out of those close to me when I'm wound up about something that to them is nonsensical. But having someone message me today asking me to post an ADHD collage as my profile pic on Facebook pisses me off.
I have a hard time being the one labeled and others needing to know that there's some brain deficiency that I have that makes me like I am. "Oh- she has ADHD so that's why she's like that. Be nice to her." NO! Why can't people be nice because its the NICE and right thing to do? A lot (not all) of these awareness things stem from people being bullied. People like me, people like my brother, people who have medical labels on them stating some sort of mental or psychological disability that have been treated meanly, maliciously, because of an apparent lack of understanding from those around them. Wouldn't the logical thing to be to focus on the bullying problem than the person who already feel ostracized from the rest of the world? What if I bullied you because I didn't understand why you were the way you were? Would you need a label then too? Do Narcissists get pretty ribbons? What about people with Borderline Personality Disorder? Oh wait, those are the hush hush psychological disorders that we can't have anyone know about. I just got completely off track but it still seems related and makes sense in my own little head. I am Sarah. I am NOT ADHD.
I do feel that in some cases, the awareness does need to be there. For teachers, in a school environment, for doctors, in the immediate family. I will support my brother. Always. And yes, I understand the need and the want for autism awareness. My sister Hannah has done so much with her Art for Autism Awareness annual Art Show at Blue Valley North High School. But Attention Deficit Hyper-active Disorder needs awareness to the point of it becoming a "viral" thing? The thought of my sister doing an art show for ADHD awareness kind of makes me giggle and get upset at the same time. That's not right. That takes away from my brother, the kids that my mom and friends work with and countless others. And this is coming from someone who was diagnosed when she was 5 or 6 years old and got the diagnosis confirmed at age 26. I'm sure that this will thoroughly upset many people that I've taken this stance, and I will more than likely spend much of today and tomorrow worrying and maybe even coming back and re-editing this blog so that my point gets across without anyone being able to take anything I said negatively. Negative stuff seriously freaks me out. Bad.
I know that it's been tough on my family, especially my parents, but they have taken everything in stride, showing the strength of parental love as well as their unwavering faith in God. Never once have I heard either of them ask Him why, or be mad at Him for making Joshua the way Joshua is. They taught all of us more by what they didn't say than by what they did say, and my memories are more often than not, fond, happy and warm. The best memory I have of my baby brother is him meeting my son Gabriel and letting him hold his nephew for the first time. I could see the apprehension on my mom's face-Josh took my Clutz Crown away from me and never gave it back- but Joshy did awesome. I found out yesterday that Joshy still holds that memory pretty tightly like I do...