When I sat down to write my New Year’s resolutions, I was instantly bored. But then I accidentally typed: “New Year’s Revolutions 2016.” I saw the typo, started to correct it, then stopped. The clumsiness of my fingers had actually created a much better title; one that excited me. I really did want to write about my resolution to a few of the revolutions we need around ADHD in 2016.
Throughout the past year, in a time when information is only a click away, I continued to get calls from young and aged alike who had never heard of ADHD and had been suffering alone. I listened to “professionals” and non professionals argue about the validity of the diagnosis and if ADHD really exists, about the limited medical and therapeutic knowledge of our experts, and the craziness of how insurance companies are dictating our medical care. I heard stories about the ongoing misinformation, or at the very least out of context information, that continued to be published and shown in the media.
All of this is not OK with me. It keeps our ADHD community isolated, unempowered, uniformed, unsupported and ashamed for no reason. It puts doubt in the minds of those with and without ADHD and severely limits the innate gifts and contributions that are a result of ADHD. That’s why I want to write about five revolutions I am making this year and invite you to be part of this.
I looked it up. Revolutions are always for something rather than merely against something and involve taking action. It’s not enough to say “Yes!” to things like increased awareness, more ADHD education, and added ADHD support, without saying a loud, clear “No!” to ignorance, lack of resources, isolation. You have to be willing to back your convictions up with action.
I am not sure who first said this inspirational quote, “Today is not just another day; it is a new opportunity, another chance and a new beginning. Embrace it!” but it is a sentiment that resonates true for not only the first day of this year, but everyday that follows.
So here’s my list of five necessary New Year’s revolutions, explained in terms of what they reject, what they aspire to and actions I pledge to take. I don’t need to launch any of them—they are all underway in some form or another. I only need to invest my resources of self, time and talents more deeply than I have to date:
- The revolution against a fear of “otherness,” and against those who feed this fear even if by their own ignorance. I want to stand with those whose lives have been made more difficult by the ignorance, cruelty, and insensitivity of living with differences. When I hear someone say, “I don’t believe in ADHD” or “ADHD isn’t real” or “Doesn’t everyone have ADHD?” it is not OK with me that this misinformation is still perpetuated. I will now say, “I used to think that, too, but now I know different and your comments are personally hurtful to me and many of those I love struggling with the reality of ADHD.” I may not change anyone’s mind, in fact I may make some people angry, but I want to be a clear voice in my ADHD tribe whenever I get the chance.
- The revolution against the feelings of being “less than or broken” just because someone thinks differently, learns differently or behaves differently because of their ADHD. This revolution begins by embracing my own differences. To not allow myself to feel less than when I get distracted, forgetful or make mistakes. A willingness and determination to delight and enjoy my own uniqueness and those of others in my life and to acknowledge the many talents and strengths that far outweigh our “oopsies”.
- The revolution against criticisms of the medical system. Most of the problems we blame on poor medical care or accessibility for persons with ADHD start upstream. The inappropriate role that health insurance is now playing in deciding what is medically necessary in the treatment of ADHD. The medical schools, nursing schools and other professional therapeutic training programs that misrepresent the impact of ADHD on a person’s life by characteristically offering the bare minimum of ADHD information and its 24/7 impact on patients lives. I pledge to join with those who say, “Enough is enough! This craziness is devaluing the role of providers and persons living with ADHD, and we will all pay dearly in the end. Let’s not accept the current ‘norm.’ Let’s deal with the upstream problems so professionals take back their expert role and provide the best medical and therapeutic care available.”
- The revolution against media who misrepresent or mislead truthful scientific evidence about ADHD either intentionally or unintentionally. There’s a link between our understanding and compassion for persons with ADHD and how persons with ADHD are portrayed in the media. I cherish my first amendment right that gives me the privilege of free speech. It allows me to share my own views about ADHD on blogs such as this. However I am talking here about media people who have the ability to publish or promote accurate information about ADHD and seem to blatantly disregard the truth and scientific studies which mislead the public and keeps awareness and acceptance of persons with ADHD in the dark ages. I would never fathom not having the right to free speech, but perhaps as a community we need to rally together, use our freedom of speech to speak out when derogatory or misleading information is realized in the media. The first amendment allows us freedom of speech, but when media posts opinions without disclosure, I think we, as an ADHD community, need to rally together to clarify the truth behind it.
- The revolution against the lack of resources or funds necessary to keep ADHD awareness moving forward. This last year has seen several of our international resource and support organizations, such as CHADD and ADDA, struggling financially to remain viable and continue to provide continuity of resources to the ADHD community. It’s unbelievable that these organizations struggle to provide such necessary services when it would cost each of us so little to donate our resources in time or energy to provide the foundational support to keep these thriving. What would it be like I wonder if every one of the 15 million persons with or impacted by ADHD were to give one hour of their time or one dollar of their wages to support the awareness of ADHD? I pledge to do my part and encourage others to do theirs.
Maybe it would be easier to keep to ourselves, to give in to the realities of tragedy, disaster and anger in the world, but I think we all can do more than we are, especially when we are joined together. To not only notice, but invest our voices, talents, time, energy and money to help make these changes.
So Happy New Year, everyone! As the clock struck midnight on December 31, and every night thereafter, let’s refocus our determination on our New Year’s revolutions that will result in positive changes in 2016.