i’m 21 years old & i’m now a senior in college.

This week I received a stack of papers with a line reading “a learning- and attention-impacted individual who qualifies as a special needs student” & I broke down into tears. Eventually I was able to laugh it off but it’s both hard and rewarding to know that I’ve been able to get through my life despite the issues that have presented themselves.

I’ve always gotten fairly good grades throughout my years in school. I’ve enjoyed math and later on found out I loved writing, but reading. Oh boy, that’s where I struggle. I’ve always loved the idea of sitting in a comfy chair in my room cuddled up with a favorite book, but that’s never been my reality.

Throughout this year, I’ve worked with an educational psychologist who has helped me try to understand the way my brain works. I was diagnosed with ADHD as well as other learning disabilities that I’ve subconsciously learned to cope with throughout school.

I’ve always been embarrassed of not being able to read aloud or be able to recall what I’ve just read, but I tend to laugh it off because it’s too frustrating to sit and think about. My brain aches when I study or work too long and I have to take breaks or I start working really slowly and try to regain my focus which can feel impossible most of the time.

This week, I was comforted and embarrassed and relieved and frustrated when I found out my comprehension level is at an 8th grade level and my reading recollection level is that of a 5th grader. I know that I’ve been working my brain harder than most people my age would have to and that most people surrounding me don’t have these similar issues. It feels defeating a lot of the time that my abilities don’t even compete with those of my peers.

I have pretty severe ADHD and that mixed with learning disabilities can make it challenging to succeed through school or any work environment, but I know if I’ve made it successfully through 21 years of my life, I can make it through some more.