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The Devil's Advocate

The Student News Site of Leominster High School

The Devil's Advocate

The Student News Site of Leominster High School

The Devil's Advocate

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Living With ADHD

“The Jelly Clock”
Courtesy of Aaliyah Lindgren

EDITOR’S NOTE: Aaliyah is a Freshman and this essay about living with ADHD speaks to her challenges and gifts. We thank her for allowing us to share this. 

Time is a slippery thing for me. While others seem to move through their days with the precision of a clock’s ticking, my experience of time is like trying to hold jelly. No matter how hard I try to grasp it, it wobbles and slips through my fingers, refusing to be contained. 

Living with ADHD means my perception of time is inherently different. Tasks that take minutes stretch into hours, and hours can disappear in what feels like moments. Every day, a battle against a sense of always being behind, always racing against a clock that doesn’t tick in a straight line but melts and reshapes itself in unpredictable ways. 

Mornings are the worst. While others may have a smooth routine, mine is a chaotic scramble. I set multiple alarms, but I still find myself rushing, my phone misplaced, shoes hidden under piles of clothes. The time tells me I’m late, but I can’t seem to catch up. Time drips through my morning like jelly through a sieve, slow and messy.

 At school, my struggle with time only worsens. Classes start without me, deadlines loom and pass, and my to-do list grows by the minute. Many adults don’t understand why I can’t do work like others. To them completing a task is a straightforward path. To me, it’s like overcoming a hill Sisyphus himself would need to build courage to overcome. Time is a maze made of jelly walls, constantly shifting and impossible to navigate. 

I try to compensate with reminders, alarms, and lists. But even these tools feel like a temporary patch on a permanent problem. I’ll set a timer to hyper-focus on a task and find myself completely involved in another once the alarm goes off. I’ll plan my day meticulously, only for it to dissolve into chaos as distractions pull me in every direction. 

Socially it’s no better. I feel like I’m constantly missing important moments simply because I feel out of sync with the world around me. Time stretches and compresses in ways that make me feel isolated as if I’m living in a different temporal dimension from everybody else. 

The worst part though is how invisible my setbacks are to others. I’m not jumping out of my chair, or constantly moving in a distracting manner, so for years my inattentive ADHD was labeled as depression and anxiety, and ultimately laziness. Of course, I’m stressed and anxious when I can’t seem to get one thing out of a heap of things done. Of course, I’m tired in the mornings, I can’t sleep when the wheels in my head won’t stop spinning. But most of all, it went unnoticed because it didn’t affect my academics. Teachers don’t notice unless your grades start slipping like time does. Parents don’t notice the signs either until they get a phone call about their child’s academic performance not being up to par. Because my behaviors didn’t affect the numbers on my papers it went unnoticed. 

I often wonder what it’s like to experience time as others do. To have a solid, predictable sense of minutes and hours, to move through tasks with a clear beginning and end. But for me, time is always a bit wobbly, a jelly clock that doesn’t adhere to the usual rules. 

Despite the frustration, there is a certain beauty in this experience of time. It allows for moments of unexpected creativity, for deep dives into interests that might have otherwise been overlooked. But it also means constantly grappling with a world that demands punctuality and structure. 

Living with a jelly clock means accepting a different rhythm. It means finding ways to navigate the wobble, to carve out moments of clarity amidst the blur. It means forgiving myself for finishing slower than others, or completing my work differently, and understanding that my time, though unconventional, is valid. 

So I move forward, one jelly-like moment at a time, trying to mold my days into something that makes sense for me. It’s not perfect, and it never will be. But it’s my time, and I’m learning to live with it, wobbles and all. 

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