Kevin D’Souza, an architect working under constant anxiety of missing deadlines without any fault of his own, says, “My lack of focus is perceived as laziness or boredom."

”A neurodivergent (ND) person is someone whose neurological development and state are atypical, usually viewed as abnormal or extreme'', states Dr Itisha Nagar, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Delhi.“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the result of a dopamine dysregulated brain, which translates to high rejection sensitivity."

Anna Stenning & Hanna Bertilsdotter Rosqvis in their study ‘Disability & Society’ for London School of Social Sciences noted that “Neurodiversity has several meanings. Commonly, it refers to the fact that every human has a unique nervous system with a unique combination of abilities and needs, akin to biological diversity.”

Opening up about his Neurodivergence, Kevin asserts that he has been diagnosed with ADHD with a touch of Dyslexia. Meeting deadlines is a challenge when working in a dashing world operating at a different pace. “During a work meeting, I was once told that I was lagging. There was an implicit insinuation that I would be fired if I am unable to keep up with the pace." He shares, “I work with a persistent fear of being laid off and I often find myself contemplating about the workload without being able to do anything about it."

Unemployment rate is relatively higher among neurodivergent people as the social cues and work-life are designed per a Neurotypical (NT) brain,” Dr Nagar adds. She elaborates that the discussion around neurodiversity will lead to a paradigm shift in the field of psychology, as there are still many unanswered questions and queries.

According to Kevin, movies like ‘Taare Zameen Par’ starring Aamir Khan and Darsheel Safari helps in initiating a dialogue about neurodivergence but ends up presenting a skewed, diluted version of it.

Hyper-focus is an important term associated with ADHD, which refers to the experience of intense concentration in an individual. People with ADHD instead of lacking focus, find it difficult to regulate their attention to the task at hand. While speaking on the lack of awareness about neurodiversity, Kevin adds, “A clinical or self-diagnosis helps in self-awareness, but my manager would never consider the lack of serotonin production in my brain as an excuse to let me go home for the day,” he states.

“Autism and ADHD in adults are highly undiagnosed as the medical community is still on the fence about Neurodivergence being a disorder or just a diverse experience of human existence”, Dr Nagar adds. It is important to note that neurodiversity ranging from ADHD, Dyslexia to Autism is still a taboo concept within the Indian subcontinent. The high fees charged by clinics for a simple diagnosis add to the woes.

Living with ADHD is difficult in a world built for neurotypical individuals who can't stick to schedules, deadlines and have comparatively more stable routines.

“I don’t have a concept of time, I believe. I can spend an entire day in bed even when I have a pile of tasks that need to be done,” reveals Kevin when referring to ‘choice paralysis’. He adds that he constantly struggles with simple tasks like getting out of bed to brushing his teeth. “I am exhausted if I think too much without getting to a task and it hinders my process of materializing whatever it was that I was working on.”

Dr Nagar states that the issue of choice paralysis stems from executive function impairment that leads to indecisiveness, ultimately leading to a lack of time assessment and management.

She also elaborates that people with ADHD and autism are likely to have comorbidities. “A phenomenon called masking is used as a coping mechanism, where NDs behave like NTs to escape the feeling of alienation that leads to severe mental illnesses like Depression, Hyper-Anxiety and even Polycystic Ovary Disorder (PCOD) in some cases.”

“I feel incomplete on most days because I do not behave or act like my neurotypical peers. It makes me feel unproductive and lazy, which I think is also a way to gaslight myself every day,” adds Kevin.

The invisible nature of this disability makes it difficult to navigate life. The research around neurodiversity is reasonably new. Imposter syndrome, depression, anxiety and other issues are collateral and confiding in someone at the workplace regarding ADHD and mental health is challenging. Unsolicited opinions and ignorant conversations add to the frustration of those who find it difficult to cope with everyday life.

Cover Picture Credit: NYFA