Attention,
before I LOSE YOUR ATTENTION

Article by Alia Soraya
Directed by Isabella Walton
Cinematography by Oscar Aitchison
Sound by Arij Mir
Produced by Hayat Brannelly
and edited by Otto Mama

Girls do tend to internalize things more, said Psychiatrist/ ADHD Specialist Morris Zwi. 

When I approached Isabella, I didn’t even finish watching the video before asking her. I asked her first, before watching the video if I could please have her video on Mula. I too, have ADHD. I can’t manage too many tasks at once but I can finish them, just give me time. A lot. Of. Time. Its something I’ve learned to fix and manage with time by the help of my doctor and medication. As I was chatting with Isabella, I asked her, “What made you do the film?” Its not an easy topic to talk about personally, but it has to be done. 

Isabella said that she was diagnosed pretty late and had no idea what ADHD was before that. All she knew was hyper behaved boys tended to have it more than girls do. For anyone that’s wondering, what is ADHD actually? ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and it is a medical condition. Isabella continued, “My life wouldve been a lot easier if I’d have known what it was earlier and made more inquiries. So I thought, why not educate people so more people know what it is and more girls will get diagnosed.” 

The thing about getting diagnosed is the fact that sometimes you already know what you have, you just don’t want to acknowledge it or say it out loud. Sometimes, getting diagnosed could even mean getting to know more things about your body that you think you know. But, dont be afraid of mental health. You dont have an issue. 

Isabella was diagnosed at 17. Still, she mentioned, she didnt know what ADHD was except for images of a little boy running around a classroom causing havoc. When I started researching I realised how complex the condition was and how a lot of girls seem to go unnoticed for several reasons: we know how to act normal, our hyper behaviour comes out in less obvious ways. So I wanted to show people a video that they could watch and recognise the symptoms in someone they know or even themselves.” said Isabella. 

All photos courtesy of Isabella. 

“A lot of girls discover ADHD through having a mental breakdown.” 

As I continued watching the documentary, I realised that most of the clips were of the girls during their younger days. I wondered who they were because I was only talking to Isabella, but not the other two girls. Isabella mentioned, “The girls in the video, Ive known one since I was 5. We grew apart in secondary school and I heard through my mom that she too, had been diagnosed with ADHD. Later, I was diagnosed too.” They never discussed the fact that they both have the same condition until one was being interviewed. “Anouk, who I met at 11 and has been my friend ever since. She was having a tough time with depression and I suggested that she might have ADHD and sent her to the psychiatrist who diagnosed me.” 

Up to this day, I never really understood why some things were taken very lightly. How school teachers blame the child entirely if they’re naughty and hyper, but never really took the time to understand the child further. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not in their job scope. Isabella continued with “Speaking about teachers, when I’ve said to my teachers that I can’t finish something or I haven’t finished a piece of work and I never understood why I couldn’t achieve what they expected of me, and they never took the time to get to know me.” 

As any creative person would know, it is easier to associate your work with mental health issues as visuals dictate how we perceive reality. I asked Isabella what her advice is for young people with mental health, still seeking for answers and light, as I am one of the young people seeking for the latter. “My advice for young people with mental health issues would be self acceptance. Tell your story, enlighten others as you will find communities that understand you and make you feel like less of an outcast. There’s nothing wrong with being different.” The best part about this conversation was when she said, “Neuro-diversity is a beautiful thing.” It truly, is. 

Before we got to the later part of her video, I wanted to pick on her brain a little more. The downhills to having ADHD for me, personally is being anxious over the littlest things and being super hyper at one hour and super emotional in the other. As someone creative, I have managed to push through with work with the help of hospital appointments, medication and support from friends and family but not everybody gets the same benefit. I asked Isabella, what was her pitfall as to having the condition and being a creative. She said, “The disorganisation makes everything really difficult. My ability to hyper focus on something Im passionate about means I can zoom through my creative projects with motivation and dedication even if I lose a couple consent forms and the lighting goes funny, ADHD keeps the message, the passion and the feeling of my work always consistent.” 

Even personally as an editor, I would have some amazing moments when I’m at peace with what I have. I make the condition I have as strong as its content. Through Isabella, we are noticing every tiny detail of everything, every second of the day but we don’t know where to put it. The benefits one has, especially Isabella is that she can acknowledge things other people don’t see and add it to films. She continues, “It’s like a secret people with ADHD share. Its like our secret, you think we’re dumb  when we’re staring out the window but we’re seeing a whole different world that normal people don’t see. Thats special to me.” 

Isabella always feels an urge to lead. This made more sense to me, listening from another fellow ADHD. Isabella said, feeling misunderstood can feel so bad and film can bring people together. I thought that the end of this article would be about the film, but are we even surprised by now when an ADHD person is writing this? I had a really good chat with Isabella about such a bold topic yet a topic everyone should dive into. Such decisions to find out things, mentally, is personal but there are many things that we can self prescribe and self administer like filming, singing, and whatever that really keeps your brain moving. 

Isabella fears for the future. She fears there wouldn’t be a space for her to be herself in this industry. As someone who needs a little more time, a little more repetition and too much passion for some but she’s determined to make it work because this is what she wants to do and she knows she’s good at it. 

“Were you ever bullied for your having ADHD, Isabella?” I asked. “Not bullied but as a high achieving A grade student, teachers put a lot of pressure on me to do well when I was already trying my 100% best which was very disheartening. My friends make fun of me for my symptoms but its a light hearted fun.” I smiled behind the black screen as she was still typing. Then she ended our conversation with, “I probably bullied myself more than anyone else.”