My Swiss Cheese Brain

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is more than meets the eye

Erin Albers

I’ve always known that there was something wrong, but I didn’t expect this.

My doctor held up a plastic replica of a brain and told me that mine was sort of like this… with an exception. 

“Your brain’s kinda like Swiss cheese,” she said.

The medicine she would prescribe would plug up the holes and make it easier for me to focus.

Although I was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) less than a month ago, I’ve known something was wrong for a while. I always wonder why school is so easy for others.

“Oh, they are probably just smart,” I thought.

It turns out that I am smart too, but my wires are a little out of place. My brain has holes that make me forget the simplest things, make the smallest sounds distract me, make my feet wiggle and make the easiest tasks difficult. I always feel like I’m playing catch up. 

And I didn’t feel like anyone was paying attention anyway.

My older sister had mental health issues so she was the focus of my parents when we were growing up. My ADHD and I slipped through the cracks. A part of me just wanted to ignore it, because it wasn’t ever “that bad,” but it does leave me wondering: if I had been diagnosed earlier, what would high school have been like? Would I be a straight-A student? I guess I’ll never know.

ADHD isn’t just forgetting things and having weird bursts of energy. Of course, it’s all of that but It also comes with more challenges. It’s caused me to have extreme highs and extreme lows, sometimes at random. I’m really sensitive to sound. I can’t watch TV in one room if the TV in the room next door is playing something loud. My mind doesn’t let me focus on one sound at a time. I hear everything at the same time and it’s basically information overload. I get really stressed out and sometimes it pushes me over the edge. 

I also forget things a lot. I’ll be sitting downstairs on the couch thinking ‘oh, I need to go up and grab my computer.’ So I walk up the stairs with one goal in mind: grab my computer. But when I walk into my room and see a pile of laundry, I think to myself, “Oh, that needs to be taken downstairs.” so I walk down the stairs and put my laundry away. I go sit back on the couch and a couple minutes pass. Crap, I forgot to get my computer. I walk back up and then feel thirsty. I grab my water and go back downstairs… “Did I really just do it again?”

It takes me three tries to do one simple task. It’s exhausting. 

I’ve heard it all before: 

“Just try harder.” “Just do your work.” “The assignment isn’t even that hard.” “Why can’t you just remember?”

People with ADHD aren’t lazy. More than likely they want to complete the assignment. The holes in their brains don’t let them. They just simply forget. 

Of course, it takes effort to do things and everyone should be able to “work harder.” But people with ADHD sometimes just can’t. You wouldn’t tell a person with glasses to just see better, would you?

 In a lot of aspects, ADHD is the same way. I’ll have an essay to write. An easy, straightforward essay, but every time I sit down to write it, my brain goes in another direction. A thousand thoughts will race through my head. Did I switch the laundry? What’s my grade in math? Did I ever text my boyfriend back? Then I’ll get up and start the next thing and completely forget about the essay.

It sucks at times but I really do love my ADHD. It’s a part of who I am. I don’t think I would be the crazy kid who can always make people laugh without it. 

You can never tell who is struggling with ADHD, so here’s my advice. Teachers, if you have that talkative energetic kid in class, don’t just assume they are a screw up. If you notice a student not turning in assignments, don’t assume they don’t care and, most importantly, educate yourselves on neurodiversity. 

Students, if you have a friend with ADHD, telling them to calm down won’t help. We can’t just calm down. If you notice that your friend has a lot of missing assignments, offer to do them together. If you want to be a really terrific friend, learn about ADHD, what causes it, what it may look like and how you can help people like me cope with it. 

Then remember no two people with ADHD are the same. 

When I or any of the people that suffer from ADHD get distracted, help us stay focused cause we are easily distra… SQUIRREL!