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7/31/19: Different Does not Mean Broken (The Neurodivergent or ADHD Mantra)

Friends are like potatoes: if you eat them, they die.

Hi! This is Coach MK, and THIS is The Morning Mantra.

*cue intro music*

Hi, my name is MK Fleming. I'm a run coach based in Denver, Colorado. But this isn't a podcast about running, exactly. Don't tell my clients, but *whispers* we're never really talking about the running. When you know a crap-tastic event is coming it helps to have a mantra to keep you centered and focused as you move through it. You don't have to be an athlete to be hashtag #coachedandloved by coach MK. And if you are here, then you are hashtag #winningatlife.

*music ends*

Last week, Phyllis Caunt tagged me in one of those Facebook Challenges people love to hate on. “Take, and post, one photo per day for 7 days that tells us something about your life, no people involved!” Before you roll your eyes and tell me how lame it is and how you have better things to do- make sure you aren’t saying it where Sarah Axelrod can hear it. I bet she’d love to have even one of those ‘getting to know you’ challenges from her mother. Her mother who died before the world went digital. I make a point each day to leave a piece of me in a place that can be found, because I have nothing better to do than make sure my kids know who their Mom was.

So now that I’ve given you perspective on why these silly things can be less than terrible, let me tell you what I chose to do with this: I went public with my ADHD diagnosis. I dedicated the next 7 days to showing one strategy or coping mechanism the outside world thinks is weird, that is actually me doing what I need to do. There’s the right way, the wrong way and The MK Way….and the MK way ain’t lesser.

My hands were trembling as I filmed the first video; I’m visibly nervous. Here’s why: I am working with my therapist to get back on Adderall, a powerful stimulant that is on the banned list for athletes. The why is between me and my therapist. I’m ready, it’s the right decision. But my totally appropriate use in the past has been used to discredit me at work, humiliate me in public as well as private, held against me when I’m dressed up and feel pretty- because ADHD is widely believed to be made up by rich people so their kids can take academic superdrugs like Adderall and cheat their way into college. First, I have to do all this work to be okay with myself for being neurodivergent, then I have to do the work to overcome the stigma and get into therapy, THEN again in graduate school I had to get over MORE stigma and get medicated….only to be called a cheater. I’m cheating at grades, I’m cheating at being skinny. How dare I address a problem I’ve been managing since I was 12. I didn’t wait to get on meds until I was 30 because I forgot- It was one of the hardest, most humbling moments of my life. It saved me then, and I'm getting to the point where I need it again. This is happening concurrent to healing from surgery and feeling like my old self once more, ready to RUN.

The tradeoff? Adderall is a banned drug in athletics. If I qualify for Boston, there’ll be some butt-head saying I cheated. If I show up somewhere and sound smart or speak well, some butt-head will joke that I must've taken extra Adderall that morning. The drug that changed my life can, and likely will, be used to nullify anything I have ever achieved or will ever achieve, I will never truly be allowed to win. That’s how many of us with ADHD feel- winning isn’t good enough, you have to win THE RIGHT way, which means neurodivergent people like us are disqualified before we begin. Most of us spent our childhoods and early adulthoods asking ourselves what was wrong with us, and would we always feel like this?

No. If you are hearing my voice now, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO FEEL LIKE THIS. Different isn’t broken. We are a long-odds bet. We are dark horses. We are Seabiscuit, we are The X-Men, we are the kids who populate Hogwarts- the oddballs, the weirdos, the folks who weren’t supposed to pull ahead, who are doing so BECAUSE of our differences, which are actually superpowers. Poor Muggles. I’d be mad at me, too.

SO. The Mantra: in those moments when some butt-head is trying to nullify your excellence, hear MY VOICE in the back of your head, saying, “DIFFERENT DOES NOT MEAN BROKEN.” Then spread those wings and break the damn roof. Those poor Muggles think they are brave for speaking up; truth is they don’t know what brave looks like, how much you’ve needed to get through every single day. I do. Tell The Handicapper General to go f*uck himself- your neurodivergence is your superpower, and the world needs more of it.

*cue outro music*

You are Coached. You are Loooved, and you ARE winning at life. And you're definitely winning at life if you subscribe to my Nuzzel Newsletter, follow me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram. feel free to do all three!

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