I probably, maybe have ADHD.

For most of my life, I would have never considered the possibility that I might have ADHD.

Then, in 2020, I downloaded TikTok.

And suddenly, my For You Page was video after video of adults, usually in their twenties or thirties, describing the struggles of ADHD. I have never related to anything more.

Maybe ADHD is why I spent hours struggling to focus on my coursework in college. I often felt like a failure because I wanted so badly to do well. I tried so hard but still struggled so much. It was overwhelming. Sometimes, I couldn't manage my emotions well enough to maintain composure in public. I remember sobbing quietly in the English office before an Advanced Grammar exam. When my professors noticed, they were kind. But it was so embarrassing.

Is ADHD why I could barely hold on in college? Is it why I stayed up all night before tests and papers? Is it why I would stare at the pages of my literature anthologies for hours, my brain simply not computing the words on the paper? I was reading but not taking in any information, which gave me a sense of hopelessness. I could try my best and still fail.

Could ADHD explain my social awkwardness, my difficulty staying on task (even when the task was important to me), and my tendency to overindulge in things that made me feel quickly and temporarily better, like chocolate and sitcoms? Have I been unknowingly practicing dopamine-seeking behavior my entire life? Is my dopamine shortage why, for years and years of my adult life, I have struggled to find joy in anything, anything at all? Why, more often than not, life has felt meaningless and frustrating?

Or maybe it isn't ADHD. Perhaps it is trauma presenting with ADHD-like symptoms. Maybe it is trauma-induced ADHD.

Just mentioning the word "trauma" about myself brings up doubt; I can hear them now, three conservative-minded men, talking over coffee at the local cafe, saying something like, "Everything is trauma these days. You look at a kid wrong; she is traumatized. Someone should tell her: 'You aren't a soldier who went to war. Soldiers are actually traumatized. You are not. Get over yourself.' Kids these days, I tell you what."

And, of course, the ever-helpful: "Relax, it could be way worse." Yes, it could be worse, but that doesn't mean things aren't already very difficult. It could be worse, but that doesn't mean I am not struggling to cope with my current circumstances.

I wish more people understood that life can be hard in different ways and that we don't have to compare everything to what we deem to be a worst-case scenario. Going to war is a terrible kind of trauma; I am certain of it. That doesn't mean people can't struggle in other ways that are also valid.

After years of minimizing the things I have been through, then realizing that, oh, I have actually been through some shit, I still struggle to acknowledge and accept my trauma as such. Was it really that bad? Even though, intellectually, I know I have reasons to be traumatized, I can't help but think: my trauma isn't the worst -- not even close -- so does it even count? Does it even count? I feel it in my body and mind, sometimes crushingly, unbearably so. But does it count?

So, anyway, I either have ADHD, am traumatized, or both. I am leaning towards both.

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