ADHDers Rep-re-sent!

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So one of the things I’m always interested to hear about and see, is how ADHD is represented in politics and also in the media, because I think these are the biggest influences in spreading awareness, but sometimes misconceptions.

In terms of politics, did you know that there is an ADHD group in parliament? It’s called the All Party Parliamentary Group for ADHD? The only reason I know is because I’ve been scouring the web doing lots of research. The purpose of an All-Parliamentary group is to enable MP to focus on issues that think are extremely relevant in society. Yet very rarely is ADHD mentioned in parliament, I believe the last time was in 2018 by an ex-Labour MP by the name of Jo Platt. She talked about something which a lot of us were aware and that is that ADHD is a postcode lottery for diagnosis and support.

“I don’t want to see perfect people in the media and politics who don’t make mistakes, I want to see people like me!”

ADHD Girl

Of course, in my last blog article I pointed out that the green paper on the SEND Review aims to end that, though exactly how and when remains to be seen.  The green paper doesn’t mention ADHD specifically though, which got me thinking so I checked and there has never been a green paper on ADHD. Though to be honest you can’t expect them to put a green paper out there for every single health condition. What I want to see is more politicians in parliament who either have ADHD or know someone with ADHD. Only then can they really see how it affects us in our day-to-day life, without that how can they possibly even begin to make decision that have a massive effect on our access to health care or the way we are supported.

In terms of the media, I couldn’t believe what I read this morning in a certain national newspaper (I won’t name any names for fear of getting sued). In it a woman said that there were far too many people claiming to have ADHD, just because it’s considered ‘cool,’ and they were blocking up the NHS waiting list. I honestly don’t know which part of her statement bothered me more, the fact that she thinks there are people who think ADHD are cool, the fact that she thinks that unless you need medication for ADHD you shouldn’t access support or the fact that she thinks there is anybody out there that think ADHD is a pretty cool condition to have.

“It’s so important that we have honest representation of ADHD because that’s utlimately how we’re going to breakdown these sterotypes.”

ADHD Girl

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe there can be a few positives to having the condition, but nobody can honestly believe that somebody would spend 2 or 3 years of their life trying to chase a diagnosis for a condition just because they want a label? Why not just lie and claim to have it when you don’t? You wouldn’t go to all that effort, there are easier ways to claim disability benefits I’m sure. As someone who is unmedicated I also took issue with the idea that your ADHD can’t be that bad if you don’t need to take tablets. Some days my ADHD is so bad that I want to scream, it gets me into major problems, and it affects every aspect of my day. Being medicated is a personal choice that has nothing to do with severity.

Ok so mixing politics and media, a few years ago an Australian Liberal MP by the name of Andrew Laming blamed a recent ADHD diagnosis as an excuse for inappropriate and offensive behaviour. This is an extremely interesting one, because we all know that ADHD can affect behaviour, but how do we balance that with the moral and collective obligation to take accountability for ourselves. Perhaps it would help to give some context; the behaviour itself was harassing women online and sending inappropriate photographs.

So should he be fired from his job, or should he be able to use his platform to spread awareness? I’m not a big fan of this so called cancel culture though, the idea that we get rid of people who make a mistake or say something that is not in line with a certain ideology is barbaric. The cancel culture philosophy stems from three very deadly premises; that nothing is forgivable, I disagree means I hate you and inclusion must come at the expense of equality. The more we allow this to continue the less chance we have of having anybody with ADHD in the spotlight or in politics, because let’s face it how many people with ADHD do you know that don’t make any mistakes or say something they regret.

“It’s important to allow people to make mistakes because even as babies we learn through trial and error; exploring what works for us.”

ADHD Girl

What’s important is not our mistakes (unless they are serious ones which cause other people significant harm or criminal activity), but the intentions we have when we make them and our intentions when dealing with them. For example, if I crashed my car into somebody else’s by accident it’s very different to just driving recklessly and not caring. Another example; if I state a fact or opinion (backed up by rationale) that I believe is 100% right, but then somebody offers me proof that changes that, then I can either learn from it or refuse to accept it.

The point I’m making is we should always approach most situations with kindness and understanding, particularly when somebody is willing to use their mistake to learn or grow. We are not robots, but this cancel culture is creating a society where people are afraid to do or say things for fear of being isolated, hated, smeared or worse. My concern is that this will become an increasingly dangerous situation for people with ADHD, who rely a whole lot of people’s kindness, understanding and patience.

I want to see people with or without ADHD in the media, that make mistakes, but have also learnt from them. Am I going to care more about a person who talks about something or somebody who has lived it? We need positive ADHD representation in politics and media! By positive I don’t mean I want to see someone who is dancing on sunshine and rainbows. I merely want somebody who is honest, authentic and more importantly, somebody who’s not afraid to make, own and learn from their mistakes, because they know that life requires them to enrich the human experience.

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