DisreGuardian: Seeing ADHD in HD


Eunice Kim, Features Co-Editor

Editor’s Note: The following is a satirical article for The DisreGuardian, a series of articles published annually for The Guardian’s April Fool’s issue. The Features section will resume publishing normal content next week.

Yucy Esdee, a student from UC San Diego, pledges that she’s following the path to making the struggles of her ADHD symptoms obsolete through the help of the Office of Students with Disabilities and willpower.


The initial sight of Yucy Esdee, a junior from Eleanor Roosevelt College, was intriguing. I observed her from afar, pensively pacing around the vibrant figure of Sun God at UC San Diego to indecipherable audio on her phone during the last remnants of Winter Quarter. I approached her and asked if she was superstitious. Going under the arch of the colorful bird is said to bestow good fortune upon a student for midterms or finals, the latter I deemed she was concerned about.


She paused the phone, which I quickly made out to be a sunrise meditation video on 1.5x speed. Esdee stated that she had just, in fact, left the Office of Students with Disabilities following the recent diagnosis of her Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Esdee didn’t wish to take medication to help with her symptoms. So they offered her the Holy Trinity of advice: a nutritious diet, substantial exercise, and meditation. She wasn’t pacing then; she was exercising. 


“I took their tips to heart!” she said. “I followed their advice and was suddenly able to cook healthy meals more often, do incremental HIIT exercises every other day, and do the guided meditation that’s here on my phone. Then, I watched ‘Law and Order’ until dawn. I think I’ll be cured of this ADHD thing soon enough.”


We struck up more rapport throughout the following weeks. While she was in the office, they had her fill out paperwork. The process took her a couple of hours because it proved difficult to concentrate, but they gave her a sticker at the end that said “Yay to Self-Efficacy!” She explained that the printer only printed out the “Yay Self” part of the sticker, but they told her that maintaining positivity was integral to feeling better.


Thus, when she went to tie her shoes and a woman behind the desk smiled and told her that it was great to see her lift herself up by the bootstraps and advocate for herself, she knew she was off to an excellent start.


With proper documentation and justification that ADHD was negatively affecting her ability to concentrate in classes, she was thereafter able to reap certain benefits: extended time on tests, different classrooms for exams, etc. Another benefit allowed her to obtain notes for her classes; the OSD stepped in to help by sending out an email to ask if anyone from her class would volunteer as a notetaker. She finally received one — during Week 10. Her final exam for the class was over, but she was able to make digital poetry out of the notes she received.


She confided in me that there were two things that especially helped her with the academic rigor of classes: the mantling of more paywalls on major news publications and changing the perception of podcasted online lectures to fun podcasts one listens to while chopping veggies for a meal and feeling like a whimsical homemaker.


For reading assignments she had to do that concerned online news, she simply didn’t read them. She attributed this to the paywall, but she did relish ticking them off her to-do list. Afterward, she went on Libgen to browse interesting sources to save for later. As for podcasts, she now puts in her AirPods and does household chores such as loading the dishwasher while nodding along to what her professor says. She honored the power of idealizing routines. 


“I asked this one professor last quarter if he could maybe podcast this class I needed for my major,” Esdee told The UCSD Guardian. “I found that it helped assure me when I knew I could look back at lecture videos if I’m absent or just need extra review. He looked me in the eyes and told me never to come to his class again. He takes his craft seriously!” 


During that quarter, she attended every class of his — albeit in the back of the lecture hall — and when she was having serious issues with focus, she carved out time to watch more “Law and Order” with subtitles. Sometimes, however, she expressed that the “mind over matter” concept she’s been advised to follow exacerbated her levels of self-esteem. 


In terms of positivity, her biggest issue was not being able to discern when self-care stopped and self-sabotage began and if she could fully unravel the habits that came with her struggles with ADHD. For instance, with some podcasted lectures she listened to while in the kitchen, she expressed her pride in simultaneously making a crockpot of soup that would last her the week. Only after she realized her lecture wasn’t playing because it had already ended (it was on 3.5x speed).


She has confronted symptoms such as forgetfulness, impulsivity, and an inability to concentrate on important tasks at hand — symptoms that often manifest more quietly in women than men — to the best of her abilities. Due to this insidious nature of ADHD, women may be diagnosed later and less frequently than men. 


The process of obtaining accommodations and aid took some getting used to.


She told The Guardian that one time, she received an email from the OSD. Excited to see what accommodations she could get for her new classes, she opened it to find a reminder that she had to request accommodations again. This was the 17th time she had to apply.


In instances where she couldn’t manage to turn in her documents on time and was unable to receive accommodations, she simply told herself to “stop being a lazy bag of bones.” It was one of her favorite mantras that family members have helped ingrain in her mind. 


Esdee hopes that her ADHD will go away soon. Throughout, she’s taken her diagnosis in stride and enjoys the side distractions. But sometimes she misses seeing what her professors look like.


Photo Courtesy of  Kris K from Pexels