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  • Writer's pictureAmy Mills

There you are.

Maybe I should have known since as a child, I’d get so upset when the worms I was lining up on my parents boat wouldn’t stay straight. Maybe I should have caught on when for my entire life, I’ve had a very deep, physical reaction to eyes looking at me. Maybe I should have suspected something when I always studied how people behaved, and why I’ve always been so insistent that rules be followed.

It was always there, the ADHD and the (High-Functioning) Autism.

I wish I would have known, that anyone would have known. I wish I wouldn’t have had to go 46 years to finally learn that I wasn’t weird or broken after all, but that I had lived my entire life with very real challenges.

The moment I read the assessment identifying that I had lived my life undiagnosed with ADHD and (High Functioning) Autism was the gut punch of my life. It was a moment flooded with shock, sadness, anger, and most profound validation. In that moment I stared out of my window and quietly whispered to myself “there you are”.

What has followed since being identified in 2021 has been a constant reprocessing of memories that are now finally seen through a clear lens. Flashbacks of moments in my life where my ADHD and Autism were there, when the challenges were painstakingly apparent, and where damage was caused. They were always there. I’ve learned just how good I was at camouflaging what I didn’t even know was there and just how carefully curated my mask had been, unknowingly, my entire life.

Although difficult, it was a pivotable gift of finally learning who I am. A definitive point in my life where all of my questions about myself had now been answered and I could never go back. An amazing gift of knowledge and self compassion. The moment I began learning to identify the challenges that had silently haunted me and the start of being able to give myself patience and grace around them. I began learning to claim the gifts my ADHD and Autism have provided me, and just how precious those gifts are:

My hyperactive brain moves a mile a minute and gives me the ability to work and problem solve at lightning fast speed.

My intense attention span provides laser beam focus until it needs a shift of input.

My profoundly empathetic instincts can catch the liar in the room, every, single, time.

My sensitivity for justice impassions me to stand up regardless of personal risk.

My direct communication style is a reflection of how I value honestly above everything else.

My impulsivity provides me moments of fearlessness and bravery.

Gone are the days I pulverize myself for who I am. And neither should you. My wish for you is that you too find the courage to seek the answers you may have always asked about yourself. And if you find those answers, that you have the courage and confidence to live and speak your truth. I share this about myself, as vulnerable as it is, with a sincere hope that it opens conversations for others, and softens the stigmas around ADHD and Autism somehow. I’m still the same me, just finally, a much more real me.

Thank you for reading this. :)

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