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ADHD, college, and a mess (Help really needed)

darkangel3541darkangel3541 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
Hi everyone,

I'm a high school junior with ADHD. High school has been really difficult, in ways I can't really describe with words, and I've been pretty happy myself to be able to maintain decent As/Bs throughout. Ever since the middle of soph year, I feel like i've developed depression and anxiety from my family (long story short: parents fight everyday, I get blamed for a lot of things and feel totally useless and helpless) and just in general. I remember it got really bad once and I almost started self-harm (did not in the end, did not have the guts to do it).

My problem is, junior year has been the worst, with school drama, classes, family problems and just everything. My overall grades have dropped and I just feel horrible. My guidance counselor does not know about this or my ADHD and i'm sort of scared to tell her because i don't want to make it look like I'm making an excuse for myself and I'm just trying to gain pity. My junior year grades will definitely reflect badly because they've decreased a lot (from all As and 2 Bs in sophomore year to half and half As and Bs) from my mental health and just dealing with horrible teachers (experienced teachers doing favoritism with students when grading and a teacher who cannot teach the material and just nothing makes sense).

What would be wise decision here, being that I will start applying for college soon?

Replies to: ADHD, college, and a mess (Help really needed)

  • SnowdogSnowdog Registered User Posts: 2,243 Senior Member
    My guidance counselor does not know about this or my ADHD and i'm sort of scared to tell her because i don't want to make it look like I'm making an excuse for myself and I'm just trying to gain pity.

    That's not how guidance counselors think. Your schoolwork is affected by ADHD, anxiety, possibly depression, and a difficult situation at home. It is the *job* of a guidance counselor to assist students in this type of situation.
    What would be wise decision here?

    The wise decision would be to request a meeting with your guidance counselor, explain the reasons you are having a hard time at school, and ask for help.

    Your parents also should know that you are feeling anxious and depressed.
  • zannahzannah Registered User Posts: 589 Member
    Talk to the guidance counselor about ADHD and family discord. ADHD may result in accommodations through an IEP or 504 plan. If you do receive accommodations, make sure they work for you. Or you may find that medicine or whatever treatment you have works for you and ADHD is caught up in the other problems you are having. This may sound trivial, but many people find their chronic conditions seem worse with addition of other stress.

    Your guidance counselor likely has suggestions for counseling at school or elsewhere for family issues. The GC may be able to help you talk to your parents about their impact on your emotions and schooling.

    You also mention a third concern about horrible teachers including those who play favorites and others who are not good at conveying class content as well. The teacher issue may have less to do with their horribleness and be more about your turmoil with your life and/or the mix of teachers in any school. I don't think you will get any traction at school about poor teachers because: 1) some teachers are good and some are poor as we all found, 2) many teachers are well-regarded by some students and disliked by others-"you're kidding" in response to our friends reactions to particular teachers. 3) Favoritism is personnel problem and not your issue. Your teacher concerns are likely far less serious now than ADHD and family discord.

    You added difficulty understanding class content. If you are having new difficulty understanding lessons, your guidance counselor can help you sort out your specific concerns and help you devise strategies to manage specific concerns.

    No, you can't apply to college early. First, you need a particular number of credits in specific academic areas to apply. Second, even if you could apply this early, you would be sending a pattern of declining grades that would likely raise red flags.
  • shoot4moonshoot4moon Registered User Posts: 1,155 Senior Member
    Our DD had ADHD, and we had her schedule "frozen" every year. Basically, the guidance counselor met with her in the Spring to discuss her planned classes. They discussed when the GC would be returning to school in the Fall, and made a tentative appt for a brief meeting. At that point, the master school schedule is generally fairly set. The GC would discuss alternatives, and they would hand choose the schedule for our daughter picking teachers with an eye toward ADHD and anxiety as well as quality of teaching, and "freeze it". For the general school population, when a new section of a class is added, they hit the "mix" button and everyone shifts teachers. Freezing it meant that if a remix affected our daughter, the GC would get a flag and she could hand shift her back. I do not think they will be happy or perhaps even willing to do this unless there is a specific reason, which is USUALLY a 504 or IEP. That said, given that it is too late for this in most areas, my guess is that they would make an exception for you if you were honest. Go TODAY!!!
  • darkangel3541darkangel3541 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    Sorry for the late responses everybody

    @Snowdog- I feel like it's really late in the school year to talk to her about it. Like, I'm afraid of going to her because she'll be like "Why are you telling me this now?" or she won't believe me. Also, part of the reason why I'm feeling anxious and depressed is BECAUSE of my parents. I'm afraid of what will happen if I tell my GC because I've or my parents have never told my school or any of the schools of attended of my ADHD

    @zannah- Thanks for your advice. I'm currently a junior and will be applying for colleges in the fall

    @eandesmom- ohmygod you've literally hit everything. I used to take medication when I was in elementary school but I stopped because it stunted my height and after a while I couldn't swallow the pills because I developed a gag reflex to it and honestly just got scared of it. Every morning before school I'd have to take the pill and I literally hated the idea so much sometimes I would pretend to swallow it and throw it out. After the 5th grade, I stopped taking medication. I also usually don't eat breakfast or I have something small, like a slice of bread. But other than that, I do eat a good amount, although I am still a teensy bit underweight. I'll be honest, I do not sleep a lot. I used to go to sleep at around 11PM, but now I go to sleep at around 12:30-1AM. I usually stay up to study or do schoolwork though. I don't know if I want to tell my doctor (neurologist) about my depression. It's been getting a lot better, but I haven't seen my neurologist in a couple years, and if my neurologist knows, so will my parents, which is something I'm afraid of. I completely understand that I won't get accommodation at this point, but I feel scared to just go to my GC and tell her. Like I don't know how to describe it, but it's something that is really daunting for me. I completely understand the whole teacher thing, my GC said the same thing when I went to her with my struggles. I go to my GC pretty frequently. I don't really want to talk to my parents about it, if it makes sense. They are a source of my stress and usually I avoid talking to them anyway. We don't have a very good relationship.
  • darkangel3541darkangel3541 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    @shoot4moon- Oh i see. Yeah I don't think my GC or school would be willing to do that for me at this point. Thanks for letting me know about it.
  • pinklinkspinklinks Registered User Posts: 226 Junior Member
    Late response, but I think that it would be good for me to add my two cents. I have a situation very similar to yours - family problems, anxiety, and ADHD. My biggest advice to you would be to talk to your guidance counselor. Your GC can't say anything about your sessions with her because of confidentiality, though I know that states do have exceptions (Florida requires teachers and counselors to report abuse, self-harm, or harm to someone else if it is suspected or told to them, regardless of confidentiality). Your parents probably won't even know that you're taking to your GC. I opened up to my GC about most of my problems and she helped me get on track and bring up my grades. Right now, block out everything and focus on where you want to be - have your future in mind and shoot for it and don't let anything stop you. Just set standards for yourself and keep pushing.

    Work with your teachers to see if you can do anything to bring up grades (Or just talk to them to be nice. It would help with them liking you and maybe for recommendation letters ;). A simple compliment goes a long way and talking to them about your grades makes you seem like a good student).

    If possible, and if time permitted, fill up your days with activities to get away from the fighting. You can go over to a friend's house or the library to do homework or study together or join your local youth orchestra or join clubs on campus after school. There are a lot of options :)

    Stay strong. There are two more years left until you graduate, and then you can do whatever you want.
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,095 Senior Member

    First of all HUGS to you. Big huge hugs. I understand the medication issues and concerns, however I will repeat what our pediatrician told us. My S was actually not diagnosed until sophomore year and we took him in, at his request as he was really struggling with things that had been easier for him in the past. As you have been on, and now off, medication for quite some time I think this may apply to your situation. Bright kids with ADHD can compensate in school for quite some time. They "look" like a B student and do not give teachers much concern as the teachers focus on the truly truly struggling to pass kids. However at a certain point in HS the workload gets more and more intense and all of a sudden the coping strategies can't quite keep up because the brain is just wired differently. This is what happened with my son. He flat out hit a wall academically that he couldn't get over without medication. He hates taking it, would prefer not to, but does during the school year and school week. You had medication, were able to move on without it for a bit but now have hit your own wall as both you and your workload have grown. Add that to normal teenage hormones where everything is amplified (and I'm not downplaying real issues with your family drama but it is all more intense when you layer in teenage hormones) and that's a tough tough load for anyone. You need help and that is ok. It is a strength to recognize it and do something about it as you are starting to do here.

    His doctor would argue it is better for him to take consistently, daily, and I can't disagree. But I also respect the fact that my son really doesn't want to take it on weekends if his homework is done, or during the summer. You have changed a lot since 5th grade as have the medications out there and it is perfectly ok to tell a doctor what you did in the past (be honest) and why you didn't like it. Can you see your regular doctor (primary care) for just a standard check up and talk about all of this there? Your parents do not need to be in the room with you and so would not "know" any details until it became time to fill a prescription and at that point you should be able to keep it very high level. A good doctor understands this. Please please do not skip treatment simply so your parents do not know. Unfortunately they hold the insurance cards and you are still a minor and so at some level they do have to be involved but you need to take care of yourself. Regardless of how poor the relationship is, I have to believe they would want you to be healthy and support treatment. That doesn't mean they need to be terribly involved.

    Was it a neurologist that prescribed for you back in elementary? ADHD and anxiety/depression can be treated by a variety of different doctors, we use our primary care as he is looking at the "whole" kid but I know folks that have gone the other route. You do not have to go back to the same doctor and it may be easier to start anew and while I am not advocating hiding things from your folks, a new doctor/different field may just make it all easier. Just know that anxiety and depression are common co conditions and the "whole" kid (aka you) can and should be treated. Not treating is it at all, is part of what is making you afraid to tell your GC and to blame teachers for some of the issues. Your GC may well be able to refer you to a counselor on the depression/self harm thought side of things...they deal with this a lot and often have local, free, and confidential resources to share with students. They want to keep students safe, healthy and happy and are very aware than many kids will not want to talk to their parents about this stuff or share some of these thoughts. Are you afraid of disappointing your GC? I am sure they only want to help and the more they know, the more they can help.

    You have one more year. If you can, try to channel that anxiety into plans to get healthy and find college options that are good fits and consider how to approach your senior year in the healthiest way possible. I don't know if you are getting pressured on that end or not but folks here are able to help with input if you want it. In the interim, though it is by no means a solution, some find journaling to be very helpful. Just getting stuff out on paper if you don't have someone to talk to can help.

    And...go to bed earlier and eat breakfast!!!!!!!!!!!!! Make yourself eat breakfast if you can. A smoothie full of all kinds of protein, whatever it is you like but get the protein and fats in you early in the day versus later and it really will help. I know it may sound silly but it makes a huge difference. A slice of bread cannot carry you through morning classes, that's running on empty. Put peanut butter on that bread. Have a yogurt, or 3 reheatable breakfast sausages....you need protein and not just carbs early in the day. Something quick and easy and small but that has some energy base to it. Lots of water too. You are in a cycle that needs to be snapped into adjustment a bit but it is totally doable. What are your plans for the summer? I agree with the above poster, keeping busy will really help you and I think you are in a great spot actually, school is out or almost out, you can focus on you over the summer and really start senior year fresh and ready to go.

  • bopperbopper Registered User Posts: 8,158 Senior Member
    Definitely talk to your GC!!!!! that is what they are there for...to help you.

    When my daughter got mono, her GC helped her figure out how to finish out the year (arranged for her not to have to take the quarterly final).

    Definitely get your mental health under control in HS and get medication if your doctor recommends (and they can find non pill forms if necessary)...it will be much harder in college.
  • darkangel3541darkangel3541 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    @eandesmom - Is it okay if I PM you?
    @bopper - I see! I'll do my best

    Thank you everyone for the comments and words of advice :)
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,095 Senior Member
    @darkangel3541 sure, PM away :)
  • dizzlebraindizzlebrain Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    I would add this information into your essay. Everything but the bad teachers.
  • GABaseballMomGABaseballMom Registered User Posts: 52 Junior Member
    Would others agree that a student with ADHD discuss their condition in their college essay? I'm interested in this as my son, a senior in high school, has ADHD. Like eandesmom's son, mine does not like to take his medication. We can prevail on him to do so only on days when he has a big test in school. He's very bright, but suffers from all the executive function deficits that are typical with ADHD -- disorganized, hears about half of what the teacher says in class, forgets deadlines, forgets to put his name on homework, etc. As a result, while he got a 1390 (out of 1600) on his SAT test, he has only a 3.6 weighted GPA. We're having a hard time finding "match schools" because of the disparity between his grades and test score. We can't decide whether to shoot for the schools that match his test score and try to explain the ADHD hit to his GPA using the essay or the application. On some level, I worry that the admissions counselors may view it as "making excuses" for what looks like underachievement.

    darkangel3541, I hope you found some help and are doing better this school year!
  • twicearoundtwicearound Registered User Posts: 207 Junior Member
    Common App has an additional information prompt if you want to address but not include as part of essay.
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,095 Senior Member
    My S will not include in his essay. He may reference it briefly in the additional info section to explain the upward trend in GPA and low test scores but have not yet decided on that. Most likely he will not mention it at all.
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