Advocating for Those Walking in my Footsteps

Wendy Communications Coordinator

I am 30 years old, and currently reside in Timmins, Ontario. I have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD-combined type (severe).

I had the testing completed when I was 17 years old, and I know the struggle of these illnesses and the impact it has all around your life, in every single possible area, and also the impact on those around us.

I am interested, to say the least, in advocating for anyone else who walks in my foot steps.

I’m extremely loving, compassionate and empathetic, and am a very very very strong public speaker and am passionate about topics such as these.

I have spent years and years researching my “disabilities” and know a great deal about them, and am confident that I could make a movement. My mother is a special needs advisor/learning strategist/assistive devices technician at the a college in northern Ontario.  She is the person who deals every single day, year after year, with students such as myself with all kinds of disabilities, granting me even more education.

My mother tells me everyday that she KNOWS I will be a speaker on causes dear to me such as this, and that I am absolutely perfect for it. I look as if I am 20, I fit in with younger as well as older people, and I tend to make a personal connection with each person I meet, even an entire group.

I know how to reach out and grab the attention of people that I believe need to really understand the severity or impact (whichever the topic calls for) and bring them in, and almost have them go through the experience with me, as I recall the memories in great detail, using comparisons to other common things, just to give an idea of what we are talking about. I hope I’m making sense to whomever is reading this.

Basically, I use every opportunity I get to speak up and speak out for others with any illness I have.

We all know that ADD/ADHD is linked to so many other illnesses, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got them all (haha).

But I’m proud to say, that I’ve taken every one of these, head on, and they are now a battle that I’m winning.

I have taught myself over many years how to work with and work around my Disabilities, learned to embrace them, and how to actually use them to my advantage. You cannot spell “disability “ without “ability”.

I was lucky in high school as I was not bullied, I was actually very popular, and was voted class clown in the year book, so there’s an idea of what type of person I am. I have been told a million times I should be a comedian, and I have been told a million times I am a born entertainer, so it’s never been out of my character to throw in some comedic relief to break up the sometimes sadness when I do speak.

I have personally had to struggle through a time when there was very little information available or easily accessible about ADD/ADHD. It goes without saying that I had absolutely no accommodations in school, and was basically thrown out to the wolves.

What I mean, is, I was just as smart, just as capable as every other student, but it was almost impossible to even argue that when the report cards came in. I learned a completely different way then other students, and when my needs were met and I was actually taught in a way that I could understand, it showed.

But that came so infrequently, and my confidence completely crashed, and I actually began to purposely not try, in attempts to make it look like I didn’t want to, and that way I felt safe from failure. If I didn’t really try, then it’s not me that is stupid because I failed, right?

I developed a drug addiction at a very young age, which is one of the “related illnesses “ that I was referring to in the beginning. I struggled so badly with drugs that I nearly lost my life. I progressed from pill popping to injecting. After many years of IV drug abuse, I developed an infection in my blood causing a sort of growth on my heart valve that was “spitting” (so to speak) poison into my blood. It spread into my lungs and filled them up to the point where a deep exhale would produce a Kleenex full of blood. Against my will, and only on the orders of my probation officer, did I seek medical attention. I walked into the hospital calmly and as I began to try and say what was wrong, I literally blinked and was in the trauma room, I didn’t even sit down after walking into the hospital, literally.

I was flown out by emergency helicopter and was in a coma within the hour.

I shouldn’t be alive. But I am. And I believe it is for a reason. I was given this gift, a second chance, and I plan on using all of my lessons, for the greater good of all, to help prevent another human being from going through the pain, suffering and trauma that I have endured, because if you think about it- it’s absolutely preventable.

We need to speak about it, because if people can get out and tell their struggles, and even better: speak with confidence, and in a position that can speak for itself that any “disability” cannot limit you, then others will not be afraid to say if they think they need help, because they will relate to us, and understand when they may need some help and understand what it may be so that it isn’t so scary.

As humans, we are always much more comfortable accepting things if we aren’t the first one or the only one. It’s the fear of being alone or being singled out. We are social creatures and the fear of being alone is too much for most to bear. And in this day, the fear of being bullied is enough to have your own subconscious trick us out of even thinking there was anything to need help or ask for help about.

People need to hear about what is available to help navigate through life with this condition, and most importantly, know that it can be done and all is not lost.

Just because they have this condition does not mean they cannot pursue whatever they desire! It just needs to be delivered differently.

If we knew the signs to look for in our children, then a lifetime of heartache and low self esteem can be avoided.

My mother would also be interested to speak on behalf of a parent, to explain from that point of view, just how badly we need to know more about this disability, and all others, and to accommodate those who suffer from it.

Not only do I want to help and encourage others who also have this condition, but I so badly want to educate those who do not. From the outside, you would never know I have ever struggled from anything, or still do, and that’s all that matters. What you see and hear in a person, you should love them for who they are, not for the “labels” we are unfortunately given. Because like I said, you cannot spell disability without ability. And those who bullly others because of a different way of learning, is actually showing their own insecurity. That’s the truth. They are pointing out someone else’s flaws (in their mind) to create a distraction from their own.

Because for every one thing I struggle with, I excel in 5 others. and that’s the beautiful thing about humans! WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT!

Can you imagine if we were all the exact same ? Boring Well we’ve known that every human is 100% unique since the beginning of time, so why are we treated as though we are all the exact same and learn the exact same ? That’s ludicrous, and in my mind, setting a great deal of our population up for failure. The government wouldn’t be in crisis mode for drug control if those struggling with drugs, and therefor their self esteem and self worth, were actually given a chance to begin with. Those struggling with drugs, were struggling long before they met their drug of choice. We don’t wake up and decide that we are so happy with our lives that we are going to be even happier and get high. No.

Everyone should EQUALLY have a chance at whatever they want to do, and be treated like others and not be made out to look and feel stupid. If I could get my voice to more people, I would let them know that it IS possible to have a normal life, and that they aren’t alone.

Most people either can not afford the resources to help with the extra help for controlling, and coping with the condition, or they simply just do not understand it or the symptoms and effects of it, and pass it off as a behavioural issue. So many kids do not understand why their actions lead them into punishment, because they don’t understand or have any control over why they do certain things in the first place. So obviously it’s the beginning of problems in childhood, because a fear is instilled into us that whatever we do is wrong and so they give up.

I just want to take everything I’ve learned and help, teach and speak for those who cannot. That way, all my heartache and struggles were not all for nothing. Everything I did was not all in vain. If I can help change even just one life, I will be complete.

Thank you for reading!

I love each and everyone of you for what you do, and it really really warms my heart that someone cares and is willing to fight for equality. Thank you.

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