I was talking to some school mums in the playground today, and one of them said “I think I’ve got that ADD you know, I keep forgetting things.”
She talked a bit more about it, and said she shouldn’t say things like that because it’s offensive to people who really have the condition, to which I replied “I have ADHD.”
Another mum said, without even a pause:
“No you don’t.”
I know what you’re thinking. I should have launched into saying what I was thinking which was:
- You don’t know me that well
- You don’t know anything about ADHD (I mentioned later I have type 2 and she, like most people, had never even heard of it)
- You have just accused me of lying
- You have dismissed everything I struggle with, every day, and have struggled with my whole life
But my mental health issues – my depression and anxiety – make me so tired sometimes that I just couldn’t be arsed to have an argument.
It was also partly habit. My usual MO (modus operandii, or way of doing things), is to just shut up and walk off. I really don’t like confrontation, I’d rather just go home.
So I left. I was angry, I was annoyed, and I was disappointed that someone who is supposed to be my friend could have behaved like that.
But at the same time, I remembered why I don’t tell many people I have ADHD. It’s not worth the stuff I have to deal with if they have the “wrong” response – which is something that makes me angry or upset, or both! It’s the same reason I never used to tell anyone about my depression, although people have been more understanding lately.
So, if someone tells you they have a mental health issue, a learning difficulty, or something else that affects them, just believe them. It’s OK to be surprised (especially if your friend is high-functioning, like me, and looks like they have their life together), but it’s not OK to say you don’t believe them.
And if you have something like that to tell other people? Go ahead. It’s really not your problem if they don’t believe you or they dismiss it, even though it is annoying.
I will be choosing whom to tell more carefully in future. And that includes you, the person who has come to my site to read my words. I trust you to believe me. Thank you.