I cannot believe I have not updated this blog since November! It’s no wonder traffic is thin on the ground. My last update was a mixed bag of overdue and pending deadlines, disorganisation and financial woes. Well, I carried on in that vain for several weeks until it all came to a head, and on the strong advice of my Director of Studies, I intercalated (university-speak for taking authorised time out from studies). The deal is that I repeat the second year after using this down-time to stabilise my medication and do whatever I can, in conjunction with help of the adult ADHD clinic that I am under the care of, to manage my symptoms. I am currently concentrating on attempting to deal with my finances and get on an even keel. The frustrating part is more to do with the medication since the service is grossly underfunded and appointments are somewhat hard to come by. I was due a revision in January but they forgot to send me an appointment. They offered me one in April which I forgot about and missed. I am now waiting for them to send me another.
I am also enjoying that I can pick up my academic books and read them at leisure without the pressure of having finite time. One of my problems was the uncanny ability to ‘read’ several chapters without noticing that I had been seeing the words but not actually taking them in as I would concurrently be thinking about other unrelated topics. Now I am aware of that, I can put the book down if I notice my mind is wandering and I can’t rein it back in, even if I have only read half a page. It’s almost like I am learning how to read a book.
I suppose the biggest boon is that I am learning to be more aware of how my condition affects my day-to-day life. I am hoping this will help me identify what needs to be done in order to overcome these idiosyncrasies that threaten my ability to function as a ‘normal’ person. Having realised that day-to-day life is affected quite markedly, I decided to apply for help in the form of a Personal Independence Payment, but this is by no means a simple process and has taken a lot of my energy, and proved to be somewhat challenging in that it involves a lot of paperwork, being scrutinised by someone you only get to spend an hour with and then reading the judgements they pass on you, which can be quite painful as in my case (and many others, I’m led to believe) they have challenged everything I stated about how my ADHD impacts my life, which is tantamount to calling me a liar – something quite difficult to swallow since a big part of my life was believing I was a failure, inept and being told I was lazy and lacking in application. I am now waiting for a tribunal to hear my case and hopefully overturn their decision that states I can do all the things I told them I can’t. Absolutely ridiculous and a little bit soul destroying. I just want a level playing field. I don’t want to have to choose between a First or a Third and a part-time job (or worse still, a fail and a part-time job) just because it takes me twice as long to finish a piece of coursework or read a chapter as everyone else. Then there is the private study time that is eaten into through meetings with a study support worker and appointments at the clinic itself.
If anyone has any advice on dealing with the tribunal hearing, I’d love to hear from you. So far, I’ve had no help with the forms and no-one to accompany me (the fact that I went alone to the assessment has also been used against me). Not for want of trying, but agencies such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau weren’t able to offer me assistance due to their service being overstretched.
One last thing, I shall try to update more often since I know that there are others in the same or similar situations who read this blog, and I’m determined to overcome all obstacles and succeed. I started this blog not only to document my own personal journey, but also in the hope that it might inspire confidence in those who choose to enter academia in later life and to show that having a learning difficulty and/or cognitive impairment shouldn’t be a barrier to following one’s ambitions. My university has been massively supportive and their belief in my abilities has fostered a sense of loyalty in me that serves only to reinforce my determination to be successful and to do them proud.