For a long time since being diagnosed with depression and anxiety a few years ago (as part of a deluxe package deal with ADHD Inattentive Type), I had made sure to keep all of the above under my hat when engaging in any sort of public communication, or whenever I was in any workplace conversation.
Especially in this day and age, when people are expected to scrub their social media profiles of anything indicating a life outside the cubicle— which is to say any hint of a pulse — there can be a tendency for people with any of the above conditions to keep their mouths shut. Stigma is real, and I have discovered firsthand how quickly and thoroughly it can make a person self-censor. This was reinforced shortly after my ADHD diagnosis — which came before I discovered depression and anxiety riding comorbid shotgun —when I consulted with someone who counsels people who are similarly attention-challenged, and asked her how someone with that condition should go about keeping their employer in the loop. “You don’t,” she answered, quickly and unequivocally. (Instead, she recommended requesting reasonable accommodations that would not necessarily tip off the employer, such as asking to have one’s desk moved to a quieter area.)
Further complicating matters is the fact that a lot of people either misunderstand these conditions, or simply doubt the validity of them altogether, as if they believe that people who have ADHD, depression or anxiety must be trying to “medicalize” their shortcomings.
But even though I now primarily work and create from home, I had been resisting “going public” with my conditions for fear of being pigeon-holed by them. I simply had no desire to suddenly become “That ADHD Guy”, or “That Depression Guy”. Even now, as I am writing this piece, I still feel that same fear, and do not wish to use my conditions as an all-consuming “shtick”. After all, while I had unknowingly lived most of my life in the imprint of (and had been repeatedly robbed blind by) what had been these undiagnosed conditions until my mid-40s, they are nevertheless not the sum total of who I am as a person. While I’m starting to appreciate the ways in which these conditions have affected my life (and believe me, the list gets longer the more I think about it), ultimately, I am who I am despite these conditions.
So why write about them?
Because I’m exhausted at the prospect of continuing to keep certain realities about myself…