Being Neurodivergent is Okay

You've heard it time and time again: inclusive excellence. You've heard that DU practices inclusive excellence. Whether or not that's true is highly contested, jury's still out, but at the core, it's a concept that every member of the DU community continually needs to strive for. When you think of inclusivity, you might think of things like gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality to name a few. But what about the way our brains are different?

What Does Being "Neurodivergent" Even Mean?

Being Neurodivergent (ND) means that the chemical make up of your brain is wired differently than the typical (called "neurotypical") brain is. Typically, ND is used when talking about Autism or Asperger's Syndrome, although it is also associated with Epilepsy, ADHD/ADD, Dyslexia, and a range of other neurological conditions.

I try to be as open about my own mental health as possible because I believe transparency is the most direct way that I, as an individual, can fight off stigma. Yet, even as a person who strives to be as progressive as possible, I tend to fall into the stigmatization trap internally. For as long as I can remember, I've been trying to figure out what's "wrong" with me and what's "wrong" with my brain. Currently, I'm undergoing the (long) process of getting tested for ADHD. For four years now, I've been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Whatever is happening in my brain, it's not my fault and it's not my identity, yet it's still a part of me. While I'm still waiting for the test results from my ADHD Assessment, to be completely candid, I've been really anxious. I'm hoping to get to some point of relief, of clarity, as to why certain things seem extremely difficult to me, but don't affect other people as much. Why was I the "weird kid" in grade school? Why can't I seem to stay motivated and on-task? Why have I always had crippling procrastination problems? Why was I always spacing out as a kid?

All of these things make me ask myself, "what's wrong with me?" My therapist and my ADHD assessment proctor told me the same thing: it's not about what's "wrong" with me, it's what's different about me.

Again, I didn't choose to be this way. And my proctor pointed out that no matter what the results come back as, I've made it this far with whatever I'm dealing with. It's okay if you're living with a mental disorder or mental disability. That doesn't make you less than your neurotypical friends. It doesn't make one "right" and the other "wrong." We all need to support and care for one another regardless to break down that dichotomy, because, at the end of the day, we're all human, and we all have things that make us individuals.