PERSPECTIVE: Keeping focus on the sunsets

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McKenna Corson

I have seen a lot of sunrises.

Most people are still fast asleep in their beds, missing the beauty of nature. They are ignorant of the brilliant mix of soft pinks, yellows and oranges blanketing the once deep blue night sky.

It’s quiet. Peaceful. Picturesque.

And also a bittersweet reminder that I stayed up all night. Again.

One of the downsides of taking Adderall at 5 p.m. to help soothe my ridiculously active mind so I can study for an exam I foolishly procrastinated.

I was “diagnosed” with attention deficit disorder when I was in the sixth grade. I was labeled a “distracted” child by the adults in my life, shouting whatever was on my mind.

I would be told to stand outside the classroom as punishment for interrupting class. I was sent to the “monkey table,” or the isolated desk with a poster of a monkey in prison so often that the class joke was that it was my assigned seat. I would do anything to get a laugh, embarrassing myself wildly. I wanted to be the class clown so bad.

My biggest secret was that the humor hid the fact that I couldn’t concentrate for more than a few seconds. I didn’t want my peers to know I was stupid. If I just kept up this aloof, joking persona, nobody would take me seriously when I was randomly called on to answer a math question and would start to sweat and turn red.

Asking my dad for homework help would turn into me screaming and crying, demanding why I couldn’t understand the “easy” warm-up questions. My parents didn’t know what to do until a teacher of mine suggested the possibility of ADD during one of my many parent-teacher conferences to discuss my behavior.

I’ll never forget when my parents broke the news to me. I was laying down on my bed listening to music and “doing homework” when they asked me if I actually needed the music to do my homework. They then handed me a stack of papers filled out by my teachers that analyzed me for ADD. I had tested very poorly, and the only thing needed for my ADD diagnosis was a doctor’s approval. She approved very quickly.

I now had a reason as to why I thought I was dumb, and it was something I wouldn’t grow out of. There was something that separated me from my peers, and it wasn’t something I could control. I had never been more embarrassed.

I started to take ADD pills that year, and I refused to tell anyone my secret. I stopped acting like a boisterous child-devil, but I also in a way lost my extroverted personality. But at least I could focus. I left elementary school a class clown and entered junior high as a shy, reserved preteen.

In a reverse “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” I was Dr. Jekyll, wild and hungry, without my ADD pills, and Mr. Hyde, reserved and demure, with them.

I continued throughout high school without telling anyone about it. My friends would tell jokes about having ADD, and I would panic thinking they somehow knew. I had built a superficial cover for myself as an honors, 4.0 GPA, AP student, desperately hiding the fact that my brain didn’t work as well as everyone else’s.

Then I started really thinking about why I was hiding it.

I had nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s a problem experienced by millions of Americans. So while I need a pill to help my brain get to the same level of concentration people usually have normally, I can finally do homework and daily activities without feeling like I need to drop everything and run around a track.

And despite how often my ADD pills have made me see the beautiful sunrise, I think I like sunsets more.

McKenna Corson is an assigning editor. Contact her at [email protected]