Ever felt exhausted, on the edge of breaking apart? Like your system is overloaded and cannot handle the pressure anymore. It’s a reality etched into the experiences of many neurodivergents, myself included, with a hidden identity.
In this chapter, we explore the impact of ADHD masking—a shared coping mechanism with ASD—through the lens of personal experiences.
Table of Contents
So what is ADHD masking? In simple words, it’s masking ADHD symptoms. Examples of ADHD masking could be when a Hyperactive individual is forcing himself to stay still.
To illustrate the weight of masking in ADHD, let me recount a challenging period in my life. In this instance, it wasn’t my ADHD that I aimed to mask but my identity as a gay man, a scenario familiar to many.
At 19, having embraced my identity, I became prey to a Lebanese militia after being tracked on a dating app.I couldn’t ignore the threat; they showed up at my house, exposing intimate details about my life and threatening incarceration.
To assert their control, they drove me around, flaunting their influence. Forced to delete Facebook, change my phone number, and embark on a new life, I became a ghost to everyone I knew.
For four years, I masked as if my life depended on it because it did. I concealed my identity to the extent that even my university English teacher questioned my friend about a nonexistent pregnancy. That’s how convincingly I played the toxic masculine role. But hiding who you are, hiding your identity comes at a cost.
Teetering on the edge
This feeling of undervaluation echoed even in a bustling crowd. My needs wrapped in silence, my emotions strangled, and my desires muted. An attempted expression was often met with correction, my voice blending into the background, drowned out by the voices of others. I believed this was how life worked. Everybody else seemed to make it work somehow. But I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried.
Pushed to the brink—I found myself teetering on the edge, seeing death not once but five times during that period, while the militia erased my emergency room visits from all records. The crushing pressure to conform, to hide my true self for fear of reprisal, was unbearable. I felt like a robot, devoid of significance, despising every second of those four years.
ADHD masking is forced on us
This world can be unforgiving, marked by discrimination and oppression. Society demands conformity expecting us to fit into the boxes that discriminate us. As a person with adhd, I was always taught to mask my sympotms and surive on coping mechanism.
Our concealable stigmatized identities, such as those associated with conditions like ADHD, are as integral to our essence as other aspects of our identity, such as sexuality. ADHD masking behavior is not only consuming and destructive, but also unsustainable. You can’t take a fish out of the water and expect it to survive like other animals. It might move for a bit, but eventually, it will suffocate and die.
Rainbows and Beyond:
In my earlier chronicle on code and ADHD, I hinted at the power of authenticity. Being myself, and embracing my neurodivergence, became the catalyst for overcoming challenges in the tech world. The intricacies of my ADHD mind, often seen as obstacles, transformed into unique strengths in the realm of coding.
Media often depicts neurodivergent characters and then transforms their narrative, subtly suggesting that masking their ADHD or ASD makes them more “human.” This portrayal is not only misleading but also harmful to many of us. ADHD masking at its core is a survival mechanism, and it’s unrealistic to expect us to stay in survival mode.
This chapter unfolds as a testament to resilience. Embracing our identities is the only path forward, akin to a fish finding its ideal environment. I needed spaces where people believed in me, where my hyperactivity, emotional irregularity, and different behavior were not flaws but strengths.
As we conclude this chapter, the journey continues. The next installment will delve into the complexities of love—a narrative that intertwines with the threads of authenticity, survival, and the relentless pursuit of a life unmasked. It will tackle the connection between ADHDers and Narcissim.