24-year-old Salford University student George Crossthwaite-Mugglestone certainly stands out in a crowd.
With their brightly coloured hair and attire, this Media and Performance third year takes artistic individuality to new heights.
But beyond their confident air and paradoxically modern-vintage look, there’s one other thing that makes George stand out.
George has ADHD.
ADHD – or Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder – is a neurological condition that causes difficulties with concentration and restlessness.
Based on national statistics, approximately 6-7,000 people in Salford could have the disorder.
Due to its impacts on a person’s focus, it’s usually diagnosed during childhood, often being picked up by teachers. Recent studies have suggested that between 2-5% of school-aged children have the condition.
During their own school years, the signs were definitely there, but George and their family assumed it wasn’t anything
“Growing up, I always had issues with my concentration and focus; my mental health and how I would process things in my head. I’d get wound up over little things and have inner meltdowns over things that didn’t matter,” they began.
“All throughout school, I was made to feel like I purposely didn’t focus, because I’d be chatting too much- that was all part of it.”
The idea of getting medical help for this behaviour came when they were in college, particularly when it was time to learn how to drive.
Reflecting on their driving lessons, George detailed how they got “concerned” about their lack of focus at the wheel.
They explained: “I’d get really distracted and obviously when you’re driving [concentration] is really important.
“You could not just end up killing yourself, but someone else- you’re literally driving a lethal weapon.”
The real turning point came at the end of their first year at the University of Salford. Their behaviour began to make their studies “unmanageable”.
“You know how some people can bash out essays in like, a weekend?” they asked. “I’m literally doing an essay three weeks before the deadline, because I know I’ll stress myself out worrying that I’ve not got enough time, because things can’t just fall out onto the page for me. I have to really think about what I want to say.
“If I’m wanting to do something, I’m wanting to do it perfectly.”
After two years of on-and-off medical help, George was eventually diagnosed by Salford’s own Doctor Aung Tint. Doctor Tint has worked in the NHS for over 13 years, as well as within the private sector, specialising in the assessment and treatment of adults with ADHD.
“I got diagnosed last January.
“I went to a specialist doctor in Salford- Doctor Tint- and he basically asked me a series of questions, I explained how I do certain things, what happens when I do those certain things and he deducted that I’ve got ADD.”
ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is a form of ADHD that replaces hyperactivity with increased inattentiveness. According to the NHS, this variant of the condition often goes unnoticed due to the symptoms being less obvious.
With George’s diagnosis being “two years in the making”, they mentioned how tricky it was to adapt to their ways of thinking; taking their condition into account.
“It’s kind of become a personal thing that I’ve learnt to deal with.
“How I do things and not doing things for too long and not getting inside my head if I can’t do things and have to come back to them. You need to listen to your own body.”
Not everything about their condition is negative though. George also detailed how their ADD is actually “helpful” in their endeavours as a “queer creative”, even if it’s “up and down”.
They said: “[Because of my ADHD] I think about things so intensely and I think about my art so intensely and that can only be a good thing because you can make incredible things and have incredible ideas.”
They also went on to add how being in Salford not only aided their artistic passions but also helped them develop an understanding support system. Outside of their family, of course.
“In the city, because it’s such a hybrid of different people, so many people can come together and talk about what they’ve got and support each other.
“I now have friends that have ADHD and ADD. It’s really helpful when I meet creative people with it as well because they have the same thought processes that you do and go about things in a similar way, so it’s easy to understand each other.”
Despite their own positive experiences, however, George notes that there still isn’t much discussion about the two disorders.
“Before I got diagnosed with it myself, I guess I wasn’t as aware of the condition even personally” they admitted. “It’s not until I’ve become an adult, that I’ve been able to learn more about it, understand how the brain works and how I’m to overcome this condition.”
They also discussed how a lack of knowledge about ADHD or ADD can lead to children being neglected in academic settings, much like they often were.
“It wasn’t as understood when we were at school, so they wouldn’t be as accommodating.
“[Adults would] be like ‘oh, that person’s being boisterous or disruptive’ and that was the narrative that was thrust upon you growing up. So, as a general community, we weren’t too educated on ADHD, because these kids weren’t doing it because they wanted to, it was because they can’t help the fact that they don’t have focus. It’s something that still needs to be spoken about.”
Although mental health is getting talked about more and more, many conditions still get forgotten about. ADHD- and by extension, ADD- included. With October being ADHD Awareness Month here in the UK, it’s a good time to learn about this disorder and the people who have it.
If you want more information about ADHD or ADD, please go to the following websites:
ADHDHealthcare with Doctor Tint: https://adhdhealthcare.co.uk/
ADHD Foundation: https://www.adhdfoundation.org.uk/