AC­CEPT­ING MY NEW RE­AL­ITY

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“As a pub­lic fig­ure there’s a lot of ex­pec­ta­tions from fans, es­pe­cially when you por­tray sweet char­ac­ters like the one I cur­rently play on Rhythm City. I’ve grown so much since play­ing Mam­pho. Even my char­ac­ter is now get­ting into her own and moving away from the shad­ows. How­ever, peo­ple don’t ex­pect you to have neg­a­tive mo­ments, so I feel I have to be nice all the time. I don’t no­tice the stares or peo­ple look­ing at me when I’m out, un­til some­one ac­tu­ally grabs me. I think it af­fects my fam­ily and friends more be­cause they see it more than I do.

Be­ing on tele­vi­sion so young from the YO-TV days, I was jeal­ous of how my friends were so care­free and didn’t have to worry about be­ing judged. I al­ways had to check my­self and I never gave my­self per­mis­sion to be a kid. I had an amaz­ing child­hood with my brother and my cousin who moved in with us when her mom passed away, so she’s my sis­ter. I was al­ways an en­er­getic child and hy­per.

Grow­ing up was lovely be­cause I had lot of kids around me and was the leader of the pack. Even adults adored and coo-ed over me. Life was easy then. The chal­lenges of con­cen­trat­ing and then be­ing di­ag­nosed with At­ten­tion Deficit Hyper­ac­tiv­ity Dis­or­der (ADHD) only came as I got older. I’m more aware of my ill­ness now as an adult. I don’t deny who I am be­cause I deal with it. But sadly you can’t win ei­ther way, whether on med­i­ca­tion or not, be­cause there’s the stug­gle with things like ad­min and hav­ing a daily rou­tine. I miss the times when my mom used to en­force struc­ture in my life and made sure I had a sched­ule. That made sure I was a pro­duc­tive per­son.

But now I know my abil­i­ties and in­abil­i­ties and have come to terms with them. I know I’m a great cre­ative and good with putting to­gether con­cepts. I’m a vis­ual per­son – pa­per­work bores me. I didn’t want to seem not nor­mal be­fore, but now I’m com­fort­able with that. I don’t want to be on med­i­ca­tion all the time and there are some ar­eas I func­tion bet­ter with­out it, and there are those that I don’t. I need it to bal­ance sides. The funny thing though, when I was on YO-TV I couldn’t fit in with other kids. They thought I was weird be­cause I got along bet­ter with adults, which was the ex­act op­po­site of life at home and in my com­mu­nity. I think with the per­son­al­ity I have, I was meant to be this pop­u­lar per­son. The truth is I’m ac­tu­ally a shy in­tro­vert but hav­ing ADHD made it easy and fun to be on screen. The only prob­lem with the dis­or­der is that you can’t seem to weigh how much en­ergy is ac­tu­ally needed for a cer­tain task so you give more than needed most of the time, which is why ev­ery­one thinks I’m a for­ever-happy per­son. I of­fi­cially got di­ag­nosed when I was 16, and as I got older it was the hyper­ac­tiv­ity that got to peo­ple. It’s fine as a kid to love to talk but not be talk­a­tive all the time. Not con­cen­trat­ing in class, teach­ers got frus­trated with me. In pri­mary school, my prin­ci­pal had told my par­ents that she thought I might have ADHD since she had dealt with a lot of kids, but you know how black par­ents are with men­tal is­sues, they weren’t buy­ing it. They thought I was naughty and needed to grow up. That af­fected me a lot be­cause I knew I was not well, but I didn’t know who to turn to.

Things got re­ally bad in high school, I was never an ‘A’ stu­dent but had the po­ten­tial to be. I did quite well for a child who had ADHD. My marks dropped dras­ti­cally from what I used to get in pri­mary. In high school you need to be self-mo­ti­vated to a cer­tain ex­tent, and my par­ents weren’t go­ing to do the work for me. They ex­pected me to be like other kids and be able to han­dle my own home­work and as­sign­ments. I pro­cras­ti­nated and needed a sched­ule in or­der to com­plete tasks.

I be­came very im­pul­sive and had a lot of anger and re­sent­ment to­wards the world. I started act­ing out and when it got to a point where I was fight­ing with a lot of my friends, that’s when my par­ents fig­ured some­thing was up. Fi­nally, they re­alised that I needed help. I was put on Ri­talin and peo­ple al­ways asked me if I was okay as I be­came quiet and mel­low. That was one of the side-ef­fects of be­ing on med­i­ca­tion – it changes your feel­ings. But strange enough a lot of peo­ple seemed to like me bet­ter when I was on med­i­ca­tion.

I felt a bit off on Ri­talin, like I wasn’t me. And this had me wondering who I was with­out this pill. I knew I needed it in or­der to func­tion prop­erly, but surely there was another way to do it? I was al­ways blam­ing my­self for things and thought if I worked harder or if I wasn’t so talk­a­tive, maybe things would be dif­fer­ent. But ADHD is an ill­ness and you can’t con­trol how you be­have. It took a long time for me to un­der­stand that it wasn’t my fault. I’ve al­ways known that I’d work in film and tele­vi­sion. I knew I was go­ing to be good at it so af­ter high school I pur­sued my dream. I signed up at AFDA and also au­di­tioned for Rhythm City. When they hired me, my work sched­ule started clash­ing with school so I left AFDA.

This was in 2012. I told my­self that I’d go back to school some­day. Now I want to study sound en­gi­neer­ing be­cause of my love for mu­sic. My mom used to play her golden oldies CDs a lot when I was in pre-school and so I grew up en­joy­ing singing and I was good at it too!

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