Alcohol, Dyslexia, ADHD and me: Lauren’s experiences as a neurodivergent person

Lauren White | May 2024 | 7 minutes

Lauren White, a motivational speaker, life coach, counsellor and Alcohol Change UK Ambassador, talks about her experiences as a neurodivergent person and how this has impacted her relationship with alcohol.

“I always felt different growing up…”

My experience with being a neurodivergent person has been very hard. I always felt different growing up and even in primary school I had such a difficult time understanding work, sitting still and not being all over the place. I definitely put myself down growing up because I didn't get the grades and really struggled. At the age of 12, when I had just started secondary school, the teachers took my parents to the side and said that I needed to get tested as they thought there was something wrong with me. Fast forward to getting assessed, and I got diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. I was quickly put on medication and was given extra help with a special teacher in my school.

“Being neurodivergent obviously affects you in many ways.”

Being neurodivergent affects you in many ways. One thing being how it affects your self-esteem and self-worth, because deep down you know that you are different. It also affects how you think and feel and your brain works in so many different ways than others and so you can find it feels as though people don’t understand you at all. Ultimately, they think you are weird (or this is what I used to think anyway!).

“For many years drugs and alcohol would help me not feel these intense feelings and thoughts that ADHD and dyslexia gave me.”

For many years drugs and alcohol would help me not feel these intense feelings and thoughts that ADHD and dyslexia gave me. I do think having dyslexia and ADHD was a huge part of why I drank (as well as other things like trauma and low self-esteem).

“At the end of the day I was running away from the problem rather than facing it and accepting myself for who I am.”

Like I said, I thought drinking and drug taking would help, but really deep down it was just making it worse which led me to lots of other feelings, and eventually self-sabotage.

“Being dyslexic and having ADHD is a complete superpower if you think about it and its just about understanding how your brain works and accepting it.”

Really, at the end of the day I was running away from the problem rather than facing it and accepting myself for who I am. Being dyslexic and having ADHD is a complete superpower if you think about it and its just about understanding how your brain works and accepting it.

For me, exploring long-term sobriety has had its challenges for sure, because you actually need to start feeling the feelings you felt before you started drinking - but once you do that then you are golden.

Since becoming sober I've experienced the following things:

  • My mind has become clearer.
  • I am not so all over the place and I’m able to reflect on my flaws/actions.
  • I have begun to grow my self-esteem and self-worth because I am completely myself and focusing on myself only.
  • I am more focused and able to get tasks done.
  • I have better relationships with myself and others.

“…take time to accept yourself for who you are, deal with the feelings head on and just trust the process”

When it comes to anything in life - being away from substances to change the way you feel definitely makes you feel better, not worse. You just need to take time to accept yourself for who you are, deal with the feelings head on and just trust the process.

There is nothing wrong with being different. Use it as your superpower!

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