Secondary Drama teacher Jennifer Lawless’ lively personality in class hides a story that is fascinating. When Lawless was a child, she would struggle with undiagnosed Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The reasons for the struggles have just come to light, as she recently was diagnosed with ADHD.
What follows is Lawless’s story, in her own words:
“I first started wondering about if it could be ADHD or autism back in April, March or April of this year. Because I’m on TikTok and I follow a lot of creators who talk about those things and I have a lot of interest in it. I have been treated for anxiety and depression, [and so] I’m very concerned about how that impacts my students. I had never thought about it for myself. I had been treated for anxiety and depression, and even though I’ve had lots of treatment—I’ve had therapy and different medications and tried yoga and meditation and all these things—it still was there and it never seemed to change, it never seemed to get better. And so I started wondering if it might be something else.
[My mental health professional and I] had to talk about the way I was when I was a teenager in order to think about whether or not I might be an adult who is still struggling with that. ADHD is something that you’re born with, it’s in your brain; it’s not something that comes and goes. It’s not contagious, it’s just part of the way that your brain works.
I think that part of what makes me so good at my job, specifically, is the way that my brain works, right? Because I’m creative, it’s really easy for me to go from one topic to another. I like it when days are different and everything’s a little bit different. That helps my brain function better and then when I get really excited about a project then I can really focus on things. And because I teach drama I kind of get to pick my projects, right? And so I don’t think of it as a stigma at all for me. It’s been a relief because now that I have a better understanding of how my brain works, I’m better able to take care of myself and keep myself healthy. It completely changed the way that I think about my brain and the way that I think. Am I sad about it? No, I’m not sad. It’s not a bad thing, to me.”