Monday, October 02, 2017

Is disclosing ADHD a good idea? Let's find out

It's time. In recognition of World Mental Health Day and ADHD Awareness Month, I've decided to start telling everybody about my ADHD brain.

For people who know me, the revelation that I go off on mental tangents might be the least surprising news of the day. Yet I struggled with the decision to say "I have ADHD" out loud in a public forum, and I won't claim that disclosure is for everybody.

According to a 2015 survey of ADHD disclosure, respondents were evenly split on whether outcomes in the workplace were positive or negative. "The severity of negative outcomes varied. Some were fired, passed over for promotion, ridiculed, or the ADHD disclosure was ignored by the employer and no attempts were made to implement or offer accommodations."

On the other hand, it's easier and safer for me to talk about my ADHD than it is for a lot of other people. As a white male in the United States, I started at a spot near the front of the line which I never earned. Maybe because of a strong moral compass that I got from my parents, my impulsivity has always made me look like a goody-goody, instead of taking me in less productive directions. I'm blessed with strong literacy and analytical skills, for which I'm particularly grateful since others with ADHD are not so fortunate. Today I work in a growing specialty field called digital accessibility (auto-play video) where my colleagues celebrate our diversity every day. With a lot of luck, and some hard work especially in recent years, my life looks like a success story according to today's mainstream norms.

The stigmas around ADHD are unacceptable, and hiding just reinforces them. So if I don't take this risk, who will?

Ask me questions. Don't worry about how to phrase the questions. It'll be fine. I used to be less-than-completely comfortable talking about this, but only because I was managing who knows and who doesn't. Now that I've blogged about it, I've shed that layer of hesitation.


Brenda and Ray said...

We admire your courageous decision to speak out!

Unknown said...

Huh. I've also been diagnosed with ADD. It's become a serious problem for me--hurting relationships and my effectiveness at work. Do you have any advice for dealing with it?