Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

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Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Hyperactive reality

Senior speaks on life with ADHD, relation between mental health and social media

It started sophomore year after a friend had seen posts on social media from people with ADHD talking about signs or doctors going over how it affects different demographics. Sloane Burpo and her friend, senior Peyton Scheffler, discussed how these posts pointed out traits Scheffler had noticed in herself. It had been this discussion that led Burpo to realize that this story described parts of her own life she didn’t notice weren’t normal. Months of research stemming from one simple conversation had led Burpo to this very moment: An appointment with her life-long pediatrician about possibly having ADHD had given her hope. An answer to her questions, a solution to her concerns. These hopes were swiftly brought down when this woman accused her of lying about the possibility of her having ADHD. 

 

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There’s sort of this stigma around [ADHD] to where I felt like I was being overdramatic, and maybe I don’t really have this, maybe I’m faking it.”

— Sloane Burpo

Burpo didn’t know that at the time that talk would lead to a two-year journey of ups and downs regarding her own mental well-being. 

“[Scheffler] now is diagnosed but she wasn’t at the time and… the more she told me about it and the more we talked, the more I felt like, that kind of sounds similar to things that I do or things that I feel,” Burpo said.

Questioning if this really applied to her, Burpo began to do her own research. After many months of devoting time and effort to looking into the condition, she readied herself to bring up the topic with her mom.

“I thought that I might have ADHD for months before I told my mom that I wanted to get tested for it,” Burpo said.

Their conversation ended with an appointment made and while she knew that this wasn’t out of a need for attention or unnecessary medication, there was still inner doubt.

“There’s sort of this stigma around [ADHD] to where I felt like I was being overdramatic,” Burpo said. “And maybe I don’t really have this, maybe I’m faking it.”

Both Burpo and her mother were hopeful for the appointment, believing it would provide some kind of answer, but this would not be the outcome.

“When I told [the pediatrician] that I wanted to get diagnosed and that I think I might have it…the conversation ended with her accusing me of just trying to get medicated and not actually thinking I had [ADHD],” Burpo said.

The contention was shocking. The feelings affecting Burpo in the past months had been turned on its heels and pitted against her all due to reaching out for help.

“This woman who has known me my entire life, just to tell me that I was being overdramatic, or that it was something else,” Burpo said. “It was very invalidating and it just made me feel awful honestly. It made me feel like maybe I was making it all up in my head and it wasn’t real.”

While there was hurt and confusion for Burpo, her mother didn’t back down trying to find support for her child. Burpo’s older brother, Jude, had been diagnosed with ADHD when he was young, leading her mother to believe that Burpo’s concerns weren’t to be taken lightly.

“A lot of trauma and mental health that happened to her family, and to her and to people in her family. That just made her more aware of that sort of thing,” Burpo said.

It was very invalidating and it just made me feel awful honestly. It made me feel like maybe I was making it all up in my head and it wasn’t real.”

— Sloane Burpo

Her mother found another doctor that was willing to do an ADHD assessment and while the process for her brother happened years ago, the age difference when the possibility of ADHD came up caused a divide.

“Usually it’s a different process because a lot of people who do get diagnosed when they’re kids, it’s because they were referred to that diagnosis. And so a teacher or a parent or a doctor is like, I think this kid needs help,” Burpo said. “But if you’re getting diagnosed when you’re older, most of the time, it’s because you’ve noticed something”.

Burpo and her mother went to the doctor’s home to take the varied tests and assessments involved with a diagnosis. Hours later, Burpo proved to be right.

“I felt relieved honestly, because it sort of made me feel like I could trust myself more,” Burpo said. “It just made me feel honestly more competent myself. After that diagnosis, I could tell there was a shift in my personality too, and how I was as a person because I just learned to trust myself more and learn to trust my instincts.”

Accommodations, 504 plans, and medication were all in the process of helping to make everyday a little easier, but one had a glaring problem for Burpo. A brand new medication that actively affects one’s personality was going to change her, but would those changes be worth it? Past instances of her brother experiencing major alterations in his personality greatly affected her decision about taking medication.

“It’s like a core memory for me… of my brother saying to my mom, ‘I don’t want to take these pills anymore because I feel like they affect my personality and I feel like they don’t know who I am as a person’,” Burpo said.

Weighing the possibilities, she decided to move forward. Finding a balance between the needs to manage her ADHD and her physical well being began as a challenge, with important needs such as food becoming complex.

“There was a time in sophomore year where I was on medication, and I would just not eat lunch because I wasn’t hungry for it,” Burpo said. “And then I would go home and my mom was like you’re losing a lot of weight. This is a bit odd and then I realized at a certain point…this is probably not good for me.”

Ever persistent, Burpo found solutions to making sure both her mental and physical state were being properly cared for so she could continue to learn and grow with her newly started journey.

“I would make sure I ate something at lunch every day. Even if it was just like a bag of chips or something,” Burpo said. “I would eat something just so I could make sure that I was getting all my needs met.”

I’ve never really understood why… there’s this glorification of mental illness when there really shouldn’t be; it’s not always fun,”

— Sloane Burpo

While Burpo’s relationship with herself and her condition continues to grow, she is still aware that there will be people who both reject ADHD and those who romanticize it.

“I’ve never really understood why… there’s this glorification of mental illness when there really shouldn’t be; it’s not always fun,” Burpo said. “I think a lot of it is just attention seeking and people genuinely not knowing any better and genuinely thinking, ‘Oh, this is what this thing is,’ even though they don’t really that’s only one part of it. That’s only the tip of the iceberg.”

While online resources allowed Burpo to get to her current point, there are those who want to reject the idea of something being “wrong” with them. Even with much progress surrounding the topic of mental health, there are still many who deny or even vilify these conditions. Content about signs or symptoms of a mental health condition may be enlightening for some, but frightening to another.

“There is still this societal stigma about mental health,” Burpo said. “And for every one person who benefitted from that, there was another person who was internally freaking out.”

Those online who openly self-diagnose are sometimes reduced to being attention seeking or romanticizing a mental illness by those more skeptical. Many individuals do not have supportive systems accessible to them for basic mental health care and others do not have the means to take professional assessments. According to the National Institutes of Health, costs associated with ADHD are estimated at $6,799 per child and $8,349 per adolescent. This can lead to those with limited access to use self-diagnosing when professional medical help isn’t readily available.

“I do think in order to come out and claim that you believe you have something, research is very, very important,” Burpo said. “Because at the end of the day, it is a psychological thing. And you’re not going to get all the information you need from just from people on the internet.”

Just to have those people who you can find, and you can communicate, you can relate to. It’s been really good for me, and I’ve felt good about that.”

— Sloane Burpo

Burpo has found that within the murky areas both online and in person, the community of people uplifting each other is one of the best parts of receiving her diagnosis.

“Sometimes it’s 3 a.m., you can’t sleep, you’re like, is this a thing that’s normal for me?” Burpo said. “Just to have those people who you can find, and you can communicate, you can relate to. It’s been really good for me, and I’ve felt good about that.”

These people have allowed her to grow into who she is now and realize that past setbacks weren’t true definitions of her. The problems that ADHD had created didn’t take away from the person beneath the label, and the support of others allowed for a new narrative to take away from the negativity she’d faced for so many years.

“It felt later to me like maybe people should have realized this sooner,” Burpo said. “Just telling people it’s okay to feel this way. You might have a reason to feel this way. You’re not lazy, you’re not stupid. You’re not any of that.”



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About the Contributor
Kaelen Reed, Designer
Kaelen Reed (any pronouns) is a junior and this is her first year on staff. She spends free time binging commentary YouTube, reading books written for middle schoolers, and watching movies and tv shows only for the particular favorites to become her entire personality trait for the next month and a half. (Don’t worry, you’re probably just as confused as God is) 

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