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My Story

by Dorsey McFadden

My name is Dorsey and I might be just like you.

Hi, my name is Dorsey and I was diagnosed around age 6 with ADHD and a few learning disabilities. According to testing, along with other grim forecasts based on my diagnosis, it was predicted that I was unlikely to graduate high school. Luckily, my parents were able to send me to a private school and give me access to a specialized tutor who I saw up until high school. At the time, very little was known about the disorder and I only ever thought of it as the reason I couldn’t pay attention – nothing else. Boy, was I wrong. In spite of my diagnosis, I achieved success, or at least it looked like I was successful to the outside world. In truth, I was constantly struggling trying to keep up with peers my age. 

 

It’s only been in the last five years, age 35 to 40, that I feel I’ve finally matured mentally into the person I want to be. This person thinks about the future, thinks before speaking, and seeks to think things through before taking action. This has been a long struggle, and frankly I don’t think I’d be here without medication — and also a lot of therapy and internal work. 

 

Like a lot of ADHDers I have known, I have a history of physical and mental trauma. My brother Stan, who was one year older, was the yang to my yin, in that we were two sides of the same coin. He, too, suffered childhood trauma and he started abusing drugs at a very young age. Stan passed away at the age of 40 in 2019. I now understand his drug-seeking behavior was always a form of self-medication for his own struggles with ADHD. 

 

He may have been the reason I‘ve been as successful in life as I can be. He was the prime example of what drugs could do. And it really wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized exactly how similar we were. We fought like cats and dogs from a young age until I got on medication at around age 35. Medication gave me the self-control to not engage in destructive arguments with him. Stan saw me grow while he sunk deeper into the depths of depression, anxiety, and addiction. 

I could say I wish I’d have reached this level of self awareness before he passed away, but I don’t truly believe I could have, without having traveled this path. If I had known what I know now, I hope that I would’ve been able to reach him and teach him that by understanding and exploring the effects of ADHD, I was able to start taking control of my life, emotions, and body.  Instead, I will let this unfulfilled wish fuel me to tell my story, his story, and advocate for mental health awareness. 

I certainly didn’t think I had any mental health issues when I was young. All ADHD meant to me was a difficult time paying attention. It wasn’t until my 30s that I realized ADHD was why I felt so different – not because something was wrong with me. 

I have ADHD and there is nothing wrong with me.  I don’t want anyone with ADHD to shame themselves anymore. Shame is what killed my brother, along with a lack of understanding about where his emotions, thoughts, problems, and mental state came from.  It is only in being completely honest with myself that I have found clarity and comfort within. I now know I want to help others in their search for identity with ADHD.  

In the long run, if successful, I’d like for this community project, FlexYourADHD, to become a non-profit or a b-corp led by a volunteer board of directors that would help direct the future of the community. 

Dorsey