Share Your Stories: Successes and Failures with ADHD

“Her grades were nothing to boast about. Near the top of her class when she entered middle school, by graduation time it would have been easier to count her place from the bottom, and she barely made it into high school. Which is not to say that she was stupid: she just couldn’t concentrate. She could never finish anything she started. Whenever she tried to concentrate, her head would ache deep inside. It hurt her to breathe, and the rhythm of her heart became irregular. Attending school was absolute torture.”
-Haruki Murakami After the Quake (pg. 33).
When I came across this passage in Haruki Murakami’s collection of short stories After the Quake, I was struck by how Murakami could have easily segued into his character’s adolescent struggles with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Murakami not only mentions Junko’s declining grades in middle school, but also her inability to concentrate. When you partner these struggles with feelings that school is “absolute torture,” you have a clear portrait of someone suffering with ADHD. While my own story with ADHD began with similar experiences and fears, by the end of high school—and with help from my parents and teachers—I was able to excel to the top of my classes.

When I met with my college adviser junior year, he instructed me to frame my interviews and essays in the context of my upward progression, from my inconsistent grades in my freshman year to my exceptional SAT scores in my junior year. Of course, this couldn’t remedy my earlier shortcomings, but it exemplified how I had grown as a student, while also learning to harness my ADHD.

Sharing our stories of success and failure helps us to better understand and recognize the symptoms of ADHD. It also reminds us that even in troubled times there is the potential for success at the end of what can feel like an eternity of shortcomings and disappointments.

Beyond the tunnel of struggle there is the potential for light.
What have been your triumphs and defeats?