The Cost of Freedom
What does freedom mean to you?
Recently, I was reminded that great gains often come with great sacrifice. The reminder came in an Army Times article announcing that Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, a 1983 U.S. Military Academy graduate, had recently became the first African American officer to command West Point in its 216-year history.
The article put Williams’ accomplishment into perspective by sharing some of the challenges faced by Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., the first African American to attend West Point in the 20th century. Davis reportedly ate alone, roomed alone and was shunned by other cadets. After graduating in 1936, Davis went on to command the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and retired as an Air Force general in 1970.
It took courage for Davis to stand up for himself, just as it takes courage for people with ADHD to tackle the obstacles they face.
Over the years, I have met many parents who have made sacrifices so that their children with ADHD may have a better life. You might be among them. You may spend countless hours of time doing homework with your child, monitoring screen time, managing melt downs, or trying to drag your child out of bed in the morning. Many parents are bringing their kids to therapy or doctor appointments instead of play dates or sporting events. The physical, emotional, and financial costs of managing ADHD are significant.
In the alternative, you may be the adult who has struggled with ADHD symptoms all your life, never feeling quite “normal.” Now that you are on medication, you are starting to look at your life with new eyes. Maybe the people around you aren’t kind or supportive. If you told anyone that you were diagnosed with ADHD, you may have been surprised by their feedback. They might think that you couldn’t have ADHD because you are smart, state that it isn’t real, or say, “doesn’t everybody have ADHD?”
Even though ADHD is one of the most researched areas in mental health, we have an enormous gap in public education. The truth is that we will have to educate others about ADHD and specifically our ADHD. We only have had an official adult diagnosis since 2013. Adults have been called the “forgotten children” of the “ADHD world.”
Every journey starts somewhere and begins with a single step. What brave step can you take today? As they saying goes, if nothing changes, then nothing changes. How can you educate yourself about ADHD so that you can speak up for yourself or your child? How can you step out of isolation and into community, especially a community where people “get” ADHD? There is risk involved as well as sacrifice. There is a cost to freedom. How can you honor the legacy of those who have gone before? What legacy will you leave behind? What journey will you begin today?