He is always restless, never sits at a place for long. He plays too much, forgets directions and what he is sent to do. Sometimes, he daydreams and talks to himself. His performance in school is very poor, teachers say he never pays attention enough to learn. He’s all about colours today, tomorrow he’s hooked on shapes and objects. He’s always missing a pair of shoe, or the new textbook he brought to school last week. He acts without thinking, and breaks down to cry over what he has done.

His mother believes it’s her co-wives and their Yoruba juju, the teacher agrees that it’s a consequence of coming from an extended family. So they take him to native doctors, to different pastors, and imams. But there is no result, so they count him out, another ogbanje who has come to waste resources and his mother’s love. But he did not die like other ogbanjes, so he lives to tell his story.

That was me twenty years ago, a child with ADHD.

Still with the hyperactivity, penchant to suddenly leave relationships, and spend all my money on something flimsy. My girlfriend made me realise I have a mental illness that followed me from childhood to adulthood. She has refused to let go, even when I’ve broken up with her for like 9 times. We met in my second year in the university, when my life was a complete mess.

I was the class weirdo, blurting out answers when not asked, walking in and out when classes are in session, fidgeting a lot, never completing my assignments or reports, losing my gadgets when I go for night classes ‘cause I always forget to leave with them . Then Nkem, my girlfriend entered my life, she was drawn by my spontaneity. She was my first girlfriend, my life was always too disorganized to bother about having a girlfriend, and besides, I never liked a girl for long. She brought order to my life, straightened out everything, and made me graduate with my mates.

She has been supportive ever since, still coming back even when I don’t return her affections.  She encouraged me to seek help, and with medication and therapy I think I’m becoming better.

So, next time you see someone act different

Don’t shame them with hate

Don’t make them feel bad

Make them feel great

The same goes for me

Don’t try to berate

me and others like me

Just make us feel great.

By Justin L. on ADDitude