Fighting to Focus: A Different tHinking attituDe [ADHD]


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Senior Harper Collier navigates personal challenges living with ADHD.

Dayna Ung and Seiya Mutreja

She squeezed her eyes shut as she tried to focus on remembering the formulas. The sound of students writing, people whispering, and scattered sneezes seemed to shift her focus from the problem at hand. She tapped her pencil in frustration.

ADHD is an Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder which means people with ADHD tend to have difficulty understanding certain things and are more easily distracted. With senior Harper Collier, she said she has learned to deal with ADHD and more importantly, accept it and herself.

“I’ve learned that I should accept myself because I’m me and nobody can change that and I’m an awesome human being,” Collier said. “Just because I have a title over my brain, doesn’t mean I’m not like everybody else.”

Collier said she has known she had ADHD from a young age, so she has had most of her life to learn to deal with having this disorder. Thankfully, she said she has never really faced any sort of judgment because of ADHD.

“I’ve never faced criticism for having ADHD, but I did have friends in the past that I thought were my friends but they talked about me behind their backs,” Collier said. “So it’s definitely hard when someone does that. It definitely hurts but I usually just ignore those types of people even if it hurts.”

Despite a few people who Collier has come across, she said she has also found many supportive people in her life. Of those that support her, Collier’s family has been her greatest advocates.

“My family has definitely helped me a lot when it felt like too much,” Collier said. “Sometimes I get very overwhelmed and stressed out. I don’t know if it happens with all ADHD kids, but for me, sometimes I feel like there’s something wrong with me. Like ‘why wasn’t I just born normal?’ or ‘why am I not just normal like everybody else?’. But my family always tells me that I’m a unique person and they’re glad that they have me. They tell me that I’m very strong and that helps.” 

Collier is grateful for the support she has. However, she still faces many challenges because of ADHD.

“Something I struggle with having ADHD is that I have a hard time understanding basic math,” Collier said. “I can’t remember formulas, which makes it really difficult. I also have trouble with persuasive writing. I don’t know why, but there is just something in my brain that doesn’t click like how it does for everyone else.”

Some of the challenges that ADHD poses impact academic performance. Yet, Collier said that there are simple things she does to help make her struggles less challenging.

“One of the ways I’ve overcome some of the challenges is I’ve practiced writing a lot,” Collier said. “It still is difficult. No matter how much I practice, it’s probably always going to be difficult. Because that’s just who I am. I haven’t fully overcome these challenges, but I’m working very hard to catch up.”

Students often struggle with ADHD. This is partly because it is hard to overcome the challenges it poses. But, it is also because there is insufficient representation.

“I’ve never found any TV shows that show a character with ADHD,” Collier said. “I would honestly love to see that because it would help the ADHD community feel like they have someone to look up to. And that – having someone to look up to; I think it would help us feel like we’re not alone.”

Due to the lack of representation, Collier said that many with ADHD start doubting their self worth. She said that it is important to recognize that having ADHD doesn’t make someone less valuable.

“You are perfect,” Collier said. “You are not ADHD, it’s just a label. All it means is that you may need a little extra help and that’s okay; it’s completely normal for us. You’ve got this.”