My Battle with ADHD

I was always the poster child of someone who had ADHD, only, I never got tested for it because I am the offspring of two people who were born and raised in Japan. The Japanese culture finds mental illness “shameful” to the family name. Japan is very behind on mental health care. They do not have many psychologists or psychiatrists or medications for mental health disorders.

I always excelled academically. I am book smart (but NOT street smart). However, when I was a sophomore in college, I started struggling in my classes. I could not focus, keep up with the classwork/homework, got bored easily, and stopped studying. About a month later, I decided to go to the counseling center on campus and seek therapy and psychiatry. I started with therapy first. Then, I asked my therapist to refer me to a psychiatrist. He IMMEDIATELY picked up that I had ADHD, so just to be sure, he tested me, and sure enough, I had ADHD. He prescribed me medication for it. Once I started taking my medication, I became the studious, hardworking, overachieving, and intelligent student I once was.

I kept the fact that I was seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist from my family for two years. I was not ready for the judgement, scrunity, confrontation, anger, disappointment, denial, or the war that would start between my family and I. I KNEW my parents would not only be all of the above, but they would also worry and that was the LAST thing I wanted. I could deal with all the other stuff, but worrying my parents was a different story. I did not want my parents to feel like they had to walk on eggshells around me because they did not want to exasperate my mental health nor have them freak out over the smallest things.

When I FINALLY told my family, I was also diagnosed with depression and anxiety, which I was also on medication for. My parents, sure enough, did not take the news well at all. My mother was convinced I needed a hobby and to be more “social”. My father thought it was just all in my head and I was behaving like an “American” and not “Japanese”. It took them THREE years to FINALLY accept that I was mentally ill. What made them do so was because I had a mental breakdown, which lead them to call 911 and once the police officers got there, they handcuffed me, put me in the backseat of the police car, and drove me to the psych ward ER.

A psychiatrist and social worker came to evaluate me while I was in the ER. By that time, I had calmed down and back to my normal self, so they reported to my parents that I was good to go home. However, my parents were so freaked out that they BEGGED me to be hospitalized in the psych ward, which happened. The psych ward was awful, but that’s another story.

I am thankful my family accepted me and my mental illnesses, but it was a long road for me. It still is. I am on a journey of self-discovery and believe I will be on it for the rest of my life.

Having ADHD does NOT mean you are less than. It does not mean you are stupid, incapable, irresponsible, uneducated, too much to handle, undeserving of love, or less than. It is nothing to be ashamed of.

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