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Staffer learns to accept disability, herself

Graphic by Jackie Lou

Written by Katie Zhang.

When I told people about my diagnosis with Attention De cit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), my interactions with them changed drastically. Having ADHD means that I struggle with aggression and occasionally, I cannot control myself when making decisions. I do not think about all the effects that my decisions have on other situations. When people found out I had this disability, they perceived me as a disadvantaged person, making me feel more insecure and self-conscious than I already was. I have been laughed at for the way I talk and for the way I move around. Seeing students or any person with a mental disability reminds me of how important it is for people to raise awareness about mental disabilities. It is not easy for someone to live with a dis- ability, and being judged makes it harder to overcome.

In fourth grade, I learned about the disability I had, and that struck me hard. Ever since then, I was afraid of being judged or teased by other students at school for my disability. But I learned from friends that I should accept who I am and keep moving on with other activities. I cannot just snap my fingers and have my mental disability disappear. When I went through therapy, my peers laughed at me because it was really easy for me to get angry or sad. Now, as I look back, I feel like I should’ve stood up for myself and accepted myself, along with my condition.

When I entered seventh grade, my parents enrolled me in an class called Academic Communications, which was a class that included students who had all sorts of different disabilities. I was glad that I found people who shared similar feelings with me. However, I was also a bit ashamed to tell my peers in other classes that I was enrolled in that class because they knew that Academic Communications was a class for special education students. When they found out, they looked down on me. They all refused to work with me on projects and talk to me. All I wanted in middle school was to t in.

Now, although I am still looked at strangely for having my disability, it a ects me less than before. I used to see myself as an awkward person with nothing good inside of me, but I soon realized from volunteering at homeless shelters that I have the ability to put a smile one’s face. Still, helping people did not make me fully accept who I am and what I have; I learned to accept myself from the friends who were with me every step of the way. I gured out how to acknowledge my identity by help- ing other people and seeing the great things that I had within me.

I still have ADHD and I will always admit having it. Having a disability taught me to care for others because I know what suffering feels like. I want people with disabilities to know that they are not alone in anything. Now, telling people that I have mental disabilities is not such an issue for me. I am more comfortable about telling others now than before because I finally learned to appreciate myself.

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