DURING my teenage years, I suffered from terrible anxiety. I would vibrate out of nowhere and be unable to control it. I didn’t know what anxiety and mental health was; It wasn’t the new black back then.
I only realized I had been suffering from bad anxiety when watching a YouTuber talk about their panic attacks and being able to relate too much to what they said. So I dealt with anxiety not knowing that it was just a symptom of something much bigger.
Anxiety and depression are strongly linked to ADHD, particularly anxiety. I didn’t know that until I got semi-diagnosed with ADHD and started to do more research on ADHD. Anxiety is particularly high amongst females who feel the pressure to conform to a societally acceptable version of the female. ADHD is not one of those acceptable versions.
The reason why anxiety is so high is because people with ADHD suffer from something called “imposter syndrome” where one feels like they are acting a part of something that they don’t fully belong in. In my case, I learned by my teens through observing others what was considered normal and not normal. I’m still quite behind though considering that I’m still considered weird. Those things that are considered “normal” for neurotypical people come naturally, but often need to be taught to neuroatypical people. I say neuroatypical because instead of ADHD because this is not only applicable to those with ADHD buy other mental conditions such as autism as well.
The pressure and disappointment from trying to be “normal” and habitually failing because, in reality, you’re a fish trying to compete in tree-climbing with monkeys can cause anxiety. The most common form being social anxiety because that’s where we feel our difference and “lack” the most acutely.
The repercussions of not being “normal” such as bullying, social ostracization, habitual punishments etc can take their toll on the ADHD psyche which researchers have now deduced is much more emotionally sensitive than neurotypical people.
Realizing that the anxiety I suffered from before was a result of ADHD helped me understand myself more and also stay in a healthy state of mind. But I started to wonder how many of us think that we have depression or anxiety when they are symptoms of something else?
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental illnesses but they’re also two of the most common symptoms of a plethora of various mental illnesses. Own way of knowing whether the anxiety and depression you suffer might be a symptom of something else is to figure out what triggers it.
As for me, when I look back (I haven’t had panic attacks in a few years) I realize that I would have panic attacks in social situations where subconsciously I was worried about whether I was acting “normal” or not. At face value, I’m a seemingly confident and fearless (some people say intimidating but I beg to differ haha) young woman but internally I would be hiding deep-seated insecurities about constantly being labelled “weird” and “crazy”. Looking deeper one would have been able to see that me being labelled “weird” was stemming from neuroatypical behaviour.
We need to push our medical professionals for more serious diagnoses because I went to therapy many times before talking about anxiety and having episodes of depression here and there but not one “professional” ever considered checking me for ADHD. To take it further, there was a time I thought I had autism because there were symptoms I could relate to. One of the biggest indicators that someone has ADHD is suspected autism because of a lot of similar symptoms (ironically those with autism often think they have ADHD).
The bottom line is that we should start looking more deeply into our mental illnesses so that they can be dealt with more efficiently. Dealing with symptoms will never help us deal with the roots.
Tanatswa Taruvinga is a quintessential Gen Zer. She doesn’t like to define herself, she just is, so if you really want to get to know her follow her on Twitter and Instagram @tanatswaforever. She tries to be as real and unfiltered as possible. Also, check out her creative blog wotsonyourmind.wordpress.com