• belindaleon

2020 - the year that just wouldn't quit.

I don't think any of us could have quite anticipated this year. Nothing was as expected for anyone, anywhere in the world, and I was no different, of course. My much-anticipated visit from my sister and niece was cancelled, I've been working from home since March, and the size of my neighbourhood shrank to a 5km radius from home.

This year was also the year that my life changed completely. I was diagnosed with ADHD in April, began meds, and began the process of forgiving myself and loving myself as is. I discovered that I am the type of ADHD-er that tells *everyone* about their diagnosis. I've talked about it at work meetings, in every conversation imaginable, and even created this poorly kept blog to discuss it further, as well as a vlog.

The ADHD diagnosis has honestly changed my life, and in so many ways that make it really difficult to articulate. Being able to understand the structural differences in my brain that lead some things to be much harder for me than for neuro-typicals. I've discovered that my brain with stimulants is actually a lot more capable of doing the things that I have struggled with for years - and that maybe, just maybe - I'm not a failure because I'm stupid, lazy or crazy, but that I have an interest-based nervous system, and that I am capable of incredible things when I am given the tools and structures to flourish.

I've learnt that I can stand up for myself when I need to - that I don't have to accept other people's opinions of me when they don't feel fair. That I am harder on myself than I need to be, and even though my first instinct is to assume I'm in the wrong - it's not always true. And that standing up for myself is hard, but it leads to enormous growth in character when I do it appropriately.

I've learnt that culture is important to me - being surrounded by colleagues I trust and can build things with is vital to my psychological safety, and that I am unwilling to compromise on who I am, or mask my differences, any longer in order to make other people feel comfortable.

I have learnt that in adversity comes growth...which I had already learnt, to be honest, but it was really brought home, again and again, this year. I've learnt that I can face adversity head-on, and stand my ground, even when I wanted to run away and hide. I've learnt that showing up can be an act of bravery. Pushing back can take incredible courage, and that there is power in being true to who you are and refusing to accept other people's judgements of you is not only possible but it is necessary.

I'm not sorry to see the end of this year. And it definitely wasn't a comfortable year, but I'm not sorry that I went through it. I'm so much stronger and tougher for it... and best of all, I genuinely like myself a lot more for what I've endured and achieved during this time. Self-respect is a difficult and often painful journey, it turns out, but it was absolutely worth the ride.

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