If you’re reading this, it means you have not silenced “ADHD” from your feeds. For that, I’m grateful. At the same time, I kinda get why you may have.
Over the past year or so, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity condition) seems to have blown up on social media, especially on TikTok and Twitter. Even for folks with ADHD like myself– who actively contribute to this continuous cacophony of interminable posts about having, having a hard time with, planning around, joking about, vocally debating over, or simply revealing inconvenience at the oversaturation of ADHD material– it’s all reached something of a boiling point.
” It can be restorative, knowing you’re not the only one existing in this hot mess of a space as an adult,” stated Arielle Crawley ( Sweetcyanide _ on TikTok), a signed up nurse from Philadelphia who got her ADHD medical diagnosis three years ago at 27- years-old.
ADHD’s unexpected popularity online begets misinformation, in some cases trivializing this deeply misinterpreted neurological condition
” I’m delighted we’re all relating. However also, like, please leave me alone.”
While hesitating on a huge paper for nursing school recently, Crawley shot off a satirical How To ADHD Like a Pro video noting all her hyper-specific day-to-day struggles. It exploded overnight, and now has more than 180,000 views and countless comments connecting to even her most odd ADHD confessions. Her fan count has considering that ballooned to 11,000 in about six weeks.
” It was nice at first since I do not really have any person within close proximity to me that are adults with ADHD.
However then Crawley’s For You Page became overrun with ADHD TikTok. While lots of posts were eye-opening and verifying, even she grew weary.
” There’s a lot of unfavorable emotion attached to having ADHD, finding out you have it, particularly for those people diagnosed late in life. When it’s being shoved down your throat like that, with all of the ‘relatable content’– I’m simply discovering more and more ways that my ADHD has gotten into every location of my life. It’s dismal sometimes,” she said. “I’m pleased we’re all relating. But also, like, please leave me alone.”
A parallel pandemic
The numbers back up this frustrating feeling, too.
On TikTok alone, the #ADHD hashtag presently generates 3.4 billion views. Meanwhile, Google patterns shows searches for ADHD progressively climbing since January 2020, and dipping a little given that a February 2021 peak.
This digital spotlight (and even its subsequent reaction) exposes a lot about ADHD. For years, even before its online appeal grew, the realities of dealing with this neurological condition were misrepresented in the medical neighborhood and pop culture. An increasing variety of people sharing their ADHD experiences on social media is having a significant impact on public understanding.
” There’s always been a need for individuals who didn’t fit those ‘conventional’ ADHD stereotypes to be seen, find their voices, their community,” said Catie Osborn, an ADHD psychological health supporter with a theater background referred to as Catieosaurus to her almost half a million TikTok followers.
Marginalized people are often chronically under-diagnosed with ADHD since they do not fit the clichés of white school children bouncing off the walls.
” ADHD is not rare in [women, girls, and communities of color].
Aside from sharing under-discussed struggles, individuals on social media are also exchanging services and ideas for managing their ADHD, from unique planners particularly developed for the neurodivergent to brain hacks For ADHD brains that crave dopamine and battle with attention policy, the bite-sized, entertaining dopamine hits of social media material can also make all that details more absorbable compared to when it’s, say, in books or posts ().
In addition to a growing awareness over time, the pandemic assisted drive ADHD material into our feeds.
Whatever from greater levels of anxiety, anxiety, tension, unpredictability, interruption, time warping, boredom, to absence of structure and novelty made the pandemic an unique kind of hell for individuals with ADHD. Several medical organizations and advocacy groups reported spikes in 2020 of folks seeking treatment for signs typical in ADHD
In specific, undiagnosed ladies ended up being a driving force behind ADHD’s prevalence on TikTok, Osborn said. Her highest performing material frequently covers problems typical for individuals assigned woman at birth, like Rejection Sensitivite Dysphoria or the impacts of estrogen and menstrual cycles on ADHD.
The leading Google trend searches related to ADHD because January 2020 focused on women and ladies, increasing by up to 550 percent this month. #ADHDmom has 21.2 million (a mix of mamas with ADHD, those whose kids have ADHD, or both) views, #ADHDwomen sits at 11.1 million views, and #ADHDgirl clocks in at 5.2 million views.
Osborn hypothesized this may be since ladies and other frequently under-diagnosed groups frequently have to become masters at masking their ADHD through a house of cards of coping methods. Frequently, they just get identified later on in life after an extreme modification to lifestyle or environment (like having kids, going to college, getting a promo, working and schooling from house during the pandemic) breaks down those structures.
” There was no way to fake, no method to require it anymore.
Kizit likewise described the pandemic as an outlet for all the ADHD aspects of ourselves we discovered to mask for worry of being stigmatized as lazy, negligent, angry, or too talkative. When individuals saw others sharing ADHD material, they “got extremely excited like, ‘Oh my god, that’s me, there’s a name to what I do, have, believe!'”
Social network is supplying individuals with ADHD what they’ve been robbed of for too long. Others may just be interested in getting educated about a complicated condition that affects a liked one.
” People who are struggling to understand their partner, pals, or kids, or whatever are finding their way into these social networks discussions in a way that is really practical for the people in their lives who need that support system,” she said. “Whether or not you’re neurodivergent, simply watching a couple videos about the experience of people who live with ADHD makes you a better teacher, parent, company, partner.”
So it’s tough to get too mad about this newfound, extraordinary wealth of online neighborhoods, peace of minds, and resources. At the very same time, too much of a great thing– especially online, especially with ADHD, particularly during a year when online was people’s sole source of human interaction– can get, well … annoying.
” Individuals with ADHD frequently have a lot to state, and they saw the success of other ADHD TikTok creators, and they’re like, well, I want to contribute my voice to the conversation, I desire to be part of that, which is incredible,” Osborn stated.
Our cumulative (yet private) ADHD hellbrains
On the whole, ADHD is a condition with an unique relationship to the digital age.
Counter to a popular mistaken belief, innovation does not “cause” ADHD(though social media can intensify signs in some) nor is everybody with ADHD incredibly online. But research study from studies that tracked the language and behavior of Twitter users with self-reported ADHD could help unpack why the disorder might’ve been so primed for TikTok success– and reaction.
A 2017 study released in the Journal of Attention Disorders discovered that, in comparison with others, ADHD users tend to be, “less acceptable, more open, to publish more often [especially late at night between 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.], and to utilize more negations, hedging, and swear words.” Likewise, there were, “substantial distinctions in descriptions of self-efficacy, psychological dysregulation, negation, self-criticism, substance usage, and expressions of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion.”
I deleted a tweet from yesterday about adhd being “stylish,” and I ‘d like to apologize if I harm anyone’s sensations. I comprehend if you do not have the financial resources to be formally diagnosed, that’s not what I was saying. As somebody with adhd I hate the “I’m so ADD rn,” “squirrel!,” 1)
— sarah schauer (@sarahschauer) April 30, 2021
Not surprising that we’re experiencing digital cacophony around ADHD. The evidence recommends individuals with ADHD tweet more, and post more emotional, contrarian, and nervous content, and more people are getting a diagnosis or presuming they have it– on top of the pandemic increasing symptoms in general.
It might sound exhausting to be bombarded by all that on your timeline. It’s even more stressful for folks living inside those ADHD brains 24/ 7 desperately turning to social media as an outlet.
A 2020 research study on ADHD Twitter users from the University of Wolverhampton in the UK even put “ADHD hellbrain,” a common social media refrain, in its title. That’s because a great deal of the tweeters sampled would use that expression to distance themselves from the adversely viewed habits brought on by their ADHD (like, I didn’t forget your birthday– it was my ADHD hellbrain). Other common styles included intricate explanations of their disorders, recommendations and coping strategies, and the requirement for understanding and assistance. Positivity about their ADHD was the least typical sentiment.
The scientists said this all aligned with previous research studies on how individuals with ADHD frequently feel compelled to discuss their condition. Amongst the lots of prospective reasons for why is an ingrained need to not only make sense of their own (frequently self-loathed) disordered habits, however to be more comprehended by the household, good friends, and society at large still blaming them for those ADHD symptoms.
I myself could not stop posting about my total inability to do work, answer e-mails, or function at all in early 2021, just as others with ADHD in my timeline crashed into yet another pandemic wall. My tweets were as much a plea for comprehending as they were a desperate attempt to minimize my guilt and self-hatred.
y’ all are like “ADHD distressed depressed individuals CONSTANTLY get hungry around lunch break”
— bobby wasabi (@bIondiewasabi) April 14, 2021
At the very same time, an increasing variety of people have been blaming just about everything on ADHD, whether or not there’s any empirical proof. Osborn can’t even post about liking pets anymore without commenters asking if it’s an ADHD thing.
ADHD produces quite widely relatable material, especially in2020 The signs typically overlap with many other mental health conditions and are also periodically experienced by people who do not have the chronic, long-lasting neurological condition. That’s excellent if your goal is to get great deals of views, however a double-edged sword in the battle to legitimatize and destigmatize ADHD.
” Individuals can have a kind of one-track mind when they consider ADHD,” said Crawley, the nurse. It can be truly difficult to understand the line sometimes, when its effects are so far-reaching and still clinically ill-defined. “I’ve had moments where I question– is my entire personality my ADHD or another mental disorder? Like I don’t know who I am anymore. I have no hint.”
Do I have a personality or am I just a walking bag of adhd symptoms
— STREAM SOME KIND OF HEAVEN ON HULU (@TaylorLorenz) March 22, 2021
That might contribute to the part of the reaction that stems from myths about ADHD not being real, or just an excuse for laziness or “bad” habits. Osborn regrettably understands that too well, dealing with a consistent barrage of rape and death dangers packaged alongside those specific beliefs.
There’s also genuine concern from people with ADHD. Social media can spread psychological health false information, promote over-generalizing stereotypes, like glamorized versions of a debilitating condition, and contribute to an unsafe quantity of self-diagnosis that can all trivialize real struggles.
” I hate that it can oversimplify the condition, since those of us who have it know that it’s not that easy at all,” stated Crawley.
The overgeneralizing, even by people with ADHD, can eliminate subtleties, like how people, specifically the marginalized, might face their own unique stigmas.
There are included obstacles that come along with ADHD for us.
ADHD TikTokers are overwhelmingly white, with videos on how the condition converges with race getting significantly fewer views. The overwhelming whiteness of the TikTok community is likewise dramatically various than the Facebook group Crawley belonged to for women of color with ADHD.
” I don’t understand how the algorithm works, or why women of color aren’t reaching me or I’m not reaching them.
That lack of representation on social media perpetuates real-world concerns, too.
ADHD qualities have a lot of overlap with other mental/neurological conditions.
— Ashley Reese (@offbeatorbit) February 5, 2021
In her work, Kizit stumbles upon a great deal of moms and dads who do not want to accept the ADHD label because it’s stigmatized in communities of color. ADHD TikTok’s failure to normalize and bring more exposure to people of color’s point of views or racialized experiences of ableism can contribute to those worries.
” The uncomfortable part about Black and brown kids and women who aren’t in the ADHD spotlight is that there are missed chances for early treatment and treatments that can really assist as they age,” stated Kizit.
The endless ADHD K-Hole
It’s most likely you’re seeing more ADHD content on TikTok due to the fact that (at least at some point) it captivated you too– the For You Page is driven by engagement.
Possibly, like me, you hyperfixated on taking in every piece of goddamn ADHD content you might for months while coping the pandemic, your algorithms bringing your timelines further down that bunny hole, feeding a vicious circle from absence of impulse control, as you just kept publishing more and more typo-riddled ADHD tweets that constantly went beyond the character limitation however ensured you more likes compared to any non-ADHD content, sustaining your dopamine-deprived brain suffering in quarantine.
” I believe it will discover a balance.”
ADHD material stopped being interesting or new, your eagerness souring into inconvenience, your bad self-esteem about your symptoms turning into anger at being challenged with them every time you opened the damn apps.
Then you get served TikTok after TikTok about people with ADHD and autism, and begin finding those symptoms truly relatable too. Regardless of yourself, you’re drawn right back in all over again.
” I believe it will discover an equilibrium,” said Osborn. “The pendulum has gone from mental health being a lie and everyone burying their feelings deep down inside to this sort of Gen Z polar opposite where all of us talk about our sensations all the time.”
I believe individuals need to get much better at identifying in between growing visibility of ADHD in their online circles and it becoming “trendy”. No one irl I know even comprehends ADHD.
— adhd-angsty (@AdhdAngsty) April 30, 2021
Yet, when the hashtags inevitably shift their fleeting focus, as they constantly do, those of us with ADHD will still remain in the spacious depths of this inexplicably complicated condition.
To admit it’s all gotten to be a bit much is not to reduce, cheapen, or neglect its significance.
” I believe people probably get ill of me, and that is OK,” stated Osborn. “Due to the fact that this community is such a profound present. Therefore I would rather irritate a couple of people and have a few 100,000 individuals understand more about themselves, feel much better about themselves, not feel so alone. I ‘d rather that than let, you know, some mad individuals on Twitter dictate the conversation.”