What we once saw as mental or emotional flaws in people are now the source of a rich kind of neurodiversity.
The pandemic shone an appropriate new light on mental health and mental wellness, destigmatizing depression, anxiety and the numerous spectral disorders that affect mood and influence behaviour. There is a lot of suffering going on out there (and in here) and the idea that these issues are a sign of weakness is fading and I think patently false. I think it's a very healthy social step.
I never much liked the idea of labelling children with disorders like ADD or ADHD. While I'm most definitely not qualified to assert any professional opinion on the matter, it often seemed like psychologists and teachers were conveniently explaining away the sometimes unruly behaviour of highly creative and artistic children, instead of learning how to engage these unique creatures in ways that helped them be the best they could be.
People are not necessarily defective or deficient; they might just have something unique and different to offer.
I was one of those unruly, but sensitive and artistic children, though there was no diagnosis to lable me with when I was little. My mother gave me the report cards she saved from my first nine grades and they all said the same thing, "Keith is a bright boy and he'd do really well if he just learned to apply himself". I generally did not thrive in the industrialized linear school setting unless a teacher understood me. I got bored easily. I excelled at art I think because I had an excellent art teacher. I really took to electricity and electronics because that teacher loved teenagers and got the inventive part of my personality. I loved math and physics once I discovered how calculus worked in the class of a gifted calculus enthusiast. One of my well-meaning mentors told me once that I was very bright but not that intelligent. I eventually came to understand that I have a non-linear brain. I did well in design school as the curriculm was of the "choose your own adventure" type and we only had pass-fail grading.
If I was a child in elementary school today, I surely would be designated as ADHD. I've long suspected it but only recently went through the assessment to confirm it, after a friend suggested I look into it after I made a comment about my achievements as a mountain biker and bitter mental struggles with golf. (If I golfed the way I mountain bike, I could probably break 80 but if I mountain biked the way I golf, I'd probably be dead.) Dangerous sports and other high consequence activities gave me the relief and joy of profound concentration. I eventually learned to find flow as a coach and writer without having to risk my life.
After high school, I became very good friends with Norm, formerly Mr Sigalet, my electricity and electronics teacher. We both bought mountain bikes at the same time and he was my primary climbing partner throughout university and a frequent golf partner as we both got older. When I asked him if he thought I was on the ADHD spectrum, it seemed pretty obvious to him as an educator.
Different brains require different supports to thrive.
I was reluctant to medicate my way out of my spot on the ADHD spectrum. As a coach, it seemed like I had failed the challenge of developing discipline and focus on activities that were not dangerous enough to kill me if my attention slipped. I ultimately got a very low dose of Vyvanse as a trial and it's been a game changer. My depression has dissolved. Bouts of anxiety are short lived. I write better and coach better and don't lose my shit when I lose 6 balls in the first nine holes on the golf course. In the end my brain does not manufacture enough of certain molecules and so I now injest them. It seems like a waste to have waited this long for relief. I wonder how many older adults are out in the world suffering the contempt of their own distraction, unaware of how close a solution could be. If you are unsure or suspect something, it's a pretty easy chat to have with a therapist and doctor.