To mark Neurodiversity Celebration Week, staff at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, (CNTW) are sharing their experiences of neurodiversity.
Katie Watson, a family ambassador in our Children and Young People’s Service, is using poetry to share her autism and ADHD story:
From a very young age you can see,
Eye contact was never the easiest for me,
I would avert my gaze or pull a face,
Squinting my eyes, was a perfect disguise!
It hid the unease felt within,
But nobody worried,
And nobody wondered,
I excelled in school,
So, through my life I wandered.
I struggled with peer interactions,
And my teachers gave unhelpful comments,
“Smart Alec!” was their reaction, whenever I asked a question,
Peers snickering at the weird girl was how my days were spent,
By secondary school I pieced together my mask,
To fit in and to survive was my only task,
I stopped caring about my grades,
As the person I was began to fade,
Conversations were completed within my head,
Which made it easier to verbalise without the dread,
It became easier and easier living life with my mask,
My biggest protector, or so I thought,
I became very dysregulated and would drink and take drugs,
My family blamed my peers and called them ‘thugs!’
“You’re better than this Katie, you’re not a sheep, you’re not a follower!”
I felt empty inside, every day feeling hollower,
What is wrong with me I don’t know, but life shouldn’t be this hard,
I was an Alien on this earth forever on my guard,
The years went by and brought with them children,
Both recognised and diagnosed as neurodivergent,
“What is this?” I thought, I need to know,
What support will they need they can’t receive ZERO!
So, I did my research and everything I read,
Resonated with me and swam through my head,
Are these the answers, could this be?
Am I autistic and possibly ADHD?
That kid that was too chatty and never shut up,
With a strong sense of justice who didn’t give up,
It was all or nothing, but she didn’t fit in,
She struggled with social cues and had daily battles within,
Is this the answer, I need to know more,
So, enrol at college and a place at Uni I secure!
I began to unmask the more that I learnt,
I found my tribe and my authentic self, returned,
I completed college with a full house of distinctions,
To become a clinical psychologist was no longer my fiction,
My all or nothing brain applied to university,
Securing a place where I could learn more about neurodiversity!
I graduated with a first because of how my brain works,
And for once my brain was a blessing and didn’t feel like a curse,
It wasn’t easy, it never is, but I stopped fighting against it,
We worked hand in hand no longer split,
It’s amazing how much we can achieve with the right accommodations,
It’s not easy it’s still a struggle and requires motivation,
But here I am doing what I love and authentically me,
Self-realised Autistic and ADHD!
Find out more about neurodiversity on the Neurodiversity Celebration Week website.
If you think you might have ADHD, your GP or another health professional can refer you for an assessment by the Adult ADHD Service.