ADHD Awareness and Black History Month (UK) are in the same month, which makes me want to curl up into a protective ball as I identify with both groups. During this month I have watched, and experienced black* and ADHD communities share stories that showcase our creativity, artistic talent, business acumen, innovative thinking, passion, generosity, humour, tenacity and humanity. It’s been joyful and life-affirming but these groups face challenges every month of the year. In return for this candour and contribution, our communities are widely abused, ridiculed, blamed, reviled, not believed, bullied and exposed to levels of toxic discrimination that can seriously damage our mental well-being.
The big social issues are hard to grasp, such as the large numbers of adults who are being diagnosed with ADHD after reporting decades of blame, misdiagnosis and gaslighting from professionals. Sitting at the intersection of these groups permits me to ponder out loud about some of the uncomfortable questions and hopefully tease out suggestions that can precipitate societal change. Recognising we all have some power is a good place to start.
Power to take a good look at ourselves as adults and review our past difficulties: getting and keeping a job, failed or dysfunctional close relationships, great ideas never materialised, debt and money problems, anger issues (including domestic violence), substance misuse, and for black individuals, frequent brushes with the criminal justice system, depression, anxiety and poor sleep…if this sounds like you, this NHS page might be helpful.
If you haven’t already, seeking a diagnosis can bring clarity and self-awareness and the chance to make deep and lasting changes to your life. Years of confusion and not knowing what’s ‘wrong’ with you can feel soul-crushing. Nothing is ‘wrong.’ But being an undiagnosed and untreated adult with ADHD can feel like everything you touch turns to ash. Although a diagnosis might not change your life instantly, some people report a sense of taking back control, which may eventually help you to advocate for yourself and maybe later champion the cause for others.
Believe this: there is a big space at the metaphorical table for lots of us with black or brown skin and perfect neurodivergent brains. Now is the time for us to switch up the narrative of deprivation and disadvantage to new stories of black excellence and neurodiverse brilliance. Diversity isn’t a lifestyle choice, accommodating differences is a human right. If you need to tick any box at all, tick the one that says kick ass human being, capable of anything, with some areas for improvement. Just like everyone else.
*Using black to denote indigenous people of African, Caribbean or mixed African, Caribbean descent.