It wasn’t five months ago. It wasn’t even five years ago.
I was seven… I was being sent to a very private exclusive elementary school. It was 1983.
I had been wandering around the compound out of class, jumping the school wall and running away, I wasn’t fitting in with the other kids, I was stealing things.
I remember going to Dr Selby’s office and feeling rather special, because it was just me not the whole class.
Dr Selby was warm and friendly, and he told me tell him everything that was bothering me. So I did.
Then I had to do these games. I don’t remember much else, I think there was something I had to listen to, but I don’t remember if it was that visit or the next. I remember sitting with my mother and hearing him say I was ‘hyperactive’.
What I do remember is waiting for my mother in the car afterwards, and when she got into the car and drove out of the school yard, she punched me in the head and cursed me all the way home.
I haven’t even thought about it until recently, because it was part of coming to terms with my ADHD. My mother’s physical, emotional and mental abuse was so constant that it didn’t even stick out in my memory much. I just remembered the day cause Dr Selby made me feel special and different.
Lelia never mentioned my diagnosis again, only to mention it in conversations with others where I was in earshot, “ADHD was invented by white men to make money.”
So no meds. And the school insisted on therapy and behaviour and stuff, and I had to attend to stay in school. So despite her best efforts, I still learnt some basic tools to manage my ADHD.
My mother then used my ADHD and emotional disregulation and weaponised it against me at every opportunity to ensure her narcissistic supply.
She taunted and tormented me regularly, gaslighting is a given, but she regularly stoked a young me into an emotional frenzy and then ate every teardrop, cry of physical pain, anguished cry and plea. She gorged herself on my emotional distress for years.
I’ve been her scapegoat and an easy, convenient place on which to lay blame, to whip in private and public. And she has.
She told every adult around me to never believe what I said. That I was a liar, mentally ill and prone to flights of fancy. This began apparently almost immediately after my diagnosis. Making sure she future proofed and triangulated me forever in Barbados. Combined with my untreated ADHD, it has made it very easy for the whole Barbados to gaslight me.
I’ve had to live with the weight of this lie my mother told my whole life. People in Barbados believe this to be the truth about me to this day, because Lelia Lord told them a lie they wanted to believe.
Had my grandmother (who never mentioned my ADHD) not loved me, accommodated me, understood and gave to me so lovingly, I may never have known understanding at home.
I also credit the women of Girl Guiding in Barbados forever for embracing me and always including me in their ranks. I have always maintained that a large part of who I am as a woman came from what I learnt in Guiding and I remain an unwarranted Guider of Pax Hill Barbados.
Many adults in Barbados watched on. Indifferent. I’ve been judged, weighed and found wanting too young to have been truly guilty of anything. Yet, I have borne that judgement my whole life. I think what annoys people is that my sense of shame has nothing to do with the dumb shit they’re trying to shame me about. I realize how ADHD protected me emotionally from that too.
Me: I don’t give a fuck what you say: THIS IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
But the emotional toll of what my mother did to me is why I have avoided life in Barbados for the last decade and any support I may have had there. Because I could never know who to trust. My mother poisoned the well so completely.
She told people not to give me work, because that would make me financially independent of her. Barbados has always been a place in which I have been repressed, oppressed, abused, deeply misunderstood and marginalized. With my mother’s approval and active encouragement.
Yes I am looking at those of you who I asked for help and who treated me this way. I am looking at you squarely in the face.
Because now I know: I am right. I have always been right. I have always been the good one. They were all wrong about me and now we see who has the morals and who doesn’t.
It was a miracle that little me got a diagnosis in 1983 Barbados. A MIRACLE. And had I gotten family support and such, my life could have been different. But it wasn’t. I am pretty much a text book case of what happens to untreated Black women.
It took me 42 more years, and perimenopause changing everything, to connect those dots. But here I am. Diagnosed as a child, but I have lived a wholly untreated life.
Yeah, been no contact with the mother of me for 12 years. But she is still telling people that Iam crazy, I am a liar, I am a drug addict, that I killed my brother using witchcraft, and a variety of other wild and fanciful shit that makes her look like she is the victim and not the villain in this tale.
I have many, many horror stories to tell about Lelia Lord. I told myself I would wait until she died to tell them, but I’ve never gotten an ounce of consideration from her. Ever. Not even as a baby.
And for me writing is a form of therapy. I have always used my public space to navigate my internal spaces.
I think coming to terms with my ADHD is making me realize it is far more important to tell these stories, so that I can help other girls growing up in Barbados and the Caribbean, and indeed the whole world.
What us ADHD BIPOC/BAME Women & Girls need and want is support, and justice.
I’m too big an age now not to know we have to make it.