1082 words – Reading time -as long as you need
Those who suffer from any neurological or cognitive conditions are often put into boxes by the medical profession because it makes classification easier and administering drugs more efficient. We covet the ability of ‘out the box’ thinking yet often put so many people with this ability inside a box. Because of this, I believe the mental health system is flawed and fails to release the potential of those it aims to serve. Is it any wonder that the byproduct of many conditions are depression, anxiety and an often overwhelming existential crisis.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the clinician’s and doctors. They are wonderful people but they operate in a system that is flawed both logically and morally. Many people with conditions are systematically made to feel ‘less than’ their fellow citizens. The stigma that has evolved is based purely on cognitive function and neurochemistry, despite to wondrous gifts many of these amazing people possess.
The very idea of putting individuals in boxes seems absurd. It’s often the case that the experts such as psychiatrists misdiagnose conditions, such is the merging of symptoms with other conditions. ADHD, BPD, OCD, GAD, Bipolor etc. My truth remains that I am merely experiencing a human condition, just like the rest of you.
Those of us who live with such conditions on a daily basis do benefit from developing the awareness that comes from ‘knowing’ the cause of our thinking, behaviour and emotions, but I fail to see why the terms often have such negative connotations. Disorder, Deficit, Difficulty etc. This approach to negative labelling does nothing to help anyone cope let alone even transcend their conditions. The cognitive response to such labels is invariably the emergence of other side effects such as anxiety, depression, stress or even worse. Besides, being an expert on a problem seldom gives you any meaningful solution.
As a person who has lived with the symptoms of ADHD for most of my life, I’ve decided to steer clear of the medical system. Instead, I focus on learning about myself in collaboration with my clients, family and friends, especially understanding our thoughts and emotions and where they may be coming from. It is a painful yet equally liberating experience. I know I am one of the lucky ones who has managed to find a semblance of order in the disorder and even managed to use my condition as an advantage.- even if it did take over 40 years! HAHA
I do not have a learning difficulty. In fact I take deep offence to the label. I have a degree and am a professional coach and consultant, credentialed by the ICF. I do not find it difficult to learn, I just learn differently. It is apparent that as soon as a traditional education is over, the traits of these conditions can quickly become strengths in the workplace.
Many of these conditions have a vastly wide spectrum’s and virtually every instance is unique to that person. Yes, there’s commonality, but unless we start treating people as individuals and help them focus on their strengths, the cost and the price being paid will only increase.
We know more about the human mind that we ever thought possible, yet the system remains stuck in the dark ages, often resulting in making these varied conditions worse instead of better. At best, personality is suppressed to a level wider society can accept as ‘normal’ – whatever that means. In the process we rob the world of unique personalities, gifts and insights.
Defining people with such language such as ‘disorder’ or ‘deficit’ can never benefit a person or society. We are merely different and surely that makes the world a richer and more vibrant place. Just as people can be gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, male, female, black, white, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, vegetarian and vegan – Ultimately, we are all just human, living with infinite variations of one single condition – the human condition. That my friends, is a beautiful thing.
The human mind is perhaps the most valuable asset in the known universe. Its complexity is spellbinding yet we consistently fail to recognise the hidden gifts many conditions can offer the world. Especially in business.
Heightened creativity, hyper focus, idea generation, passion and empathy should surely be encouraged and positively channelled and put to good use. If our goal is to evolve as a species, we must stop putting each other in boxes. At the very least we should search for alternatives away from suppression through ignorance, drugs and imposed negativity. Who knows what wonderful innovations would emerge if the stigma around our differences was embraced instead of treated?
The term learning difficulty exists because our education system is structured to benefit a certain type of neurochemistry and brain function. This makes it illogical, blinkered and outdated – As a result, the gold often slips through the cracks.
Imaginations and Creativity are not promoted in our education system. As Ken Robinson says, we actively teach uncreative behaviour. This is a crime, not only against the children who are left behind for not fitting into the system’s narrow criteria but also against wider society. We rob the world of possibility by diminishing gifted personalities and abilities. Instead they are made to feel ‘less than’ or there’s ‘something wrong’ with them. They are pushed into ‘special measures’ or at worst expelled through outbursts of emotion that stem from the frustration of not being seen or heard. Spat out by a system that doesn’t care for them and certainly has no room for difference.
I hope we can agree that all children are special with individual and remarkable gifts to offer the world. Disorder? Deficit? Difficulty? Nothing could be further from the truth. Those labels belong to the system not the people. I choose words like, difference, enhancement and uniqueness.
For me, I choose to be free from boxes. I choose to embrace my version of the human condition. I choose to be curious and learn about myself and others. I choose to be open about my challenges but equally open about my gifts.
Who are we? We are quirky, emotional, at times random, compassionate, distracted, imaginative and artistic. We have unique minds that can make connections that many could never hope to conjure.
We need only open our minds and our senses. We can look at nature as a guide. Just as with stinging nettles and dock leaves, the remedy is often entwined with the pain.
If you are living with a condition and want to know more about the tools I use , feel free to drop me a line for a confidential chat.
In the meantime. Be free. Love life. Most importantly… love yourself.