I grew up with Anne Shirley, reading the books and watching the movie starring Megan Follows. Anne was a kindred spirit, so much about her felt like I was looking at a freckled, red-headed reflection of myself. The over-active imagination, always getting into trouble for not paying attention, lost in fantasy. The scene where Anne gets caught up in a daydream while forgetting to put the cheese cloth cover on the plum pudding sauce and a mouse drowns in it is totally something that would happen to me.
When I heard Anne of Green Gables was getting a remake I was a little disappointed, is nothing sacred, I thought. But I gave Anne With An E a shot because, well, it’s Anne. I knew going in that the Netflix remake was a darker version than the sweet and cheery version that I grew up on and loved so dearly. I was worried about what they were going to do to my beloved Anne. What I found was another mirror.
Maybe it's because I hadn't watched Anne of Green Gables in a while, not since my ADHD diagnosis for sure. Growing up, ADHD was not something I knew much about except that it seemed only boys had it. Another thing Anne and I have in common, had I been born a boy I probably would have been taken more seriously.
This time watching Anne Shirley and her hijinx I realized that Anne and I had even more in common than I initially thought. My husband watched Anne With An E along side me and kept saying, "She is so you." Knowing the signs and symptoms of ADHD now I could see them play out in Anne.
A simple Google search of 'Anne of Green Gables and ADHD' results in many others who came to the same conclusion I did that Anne Shirley without a doubt had ADHD. For those wondering what it’s like to have ADHD, Anne Shirley is a pretty good example - forgetful, accident prone, daydreamer, energetic. I think it was eye-opening for my husband to see how mischief always seems to find us.
The more I thought about my dear Anne Shirley with ADHD, the more I fell in love with her, which seemed impossible because I am already so infatuated with her. She made me take another look at my ADHD. Even though I have close friends with ADHD that I can connect with, and I know I'm far from alone, it's different seeing the heroine of her own story with all too familiar ups and down being triumphant, both because of and despite herself.
Growing up I felt a lot like Anne Shirley, not just personality wise but feeling like an outcast. I always seemed to say and do the wrong thing and no matter how I tried could never really fit in. Growing up with Anne Shirley made me feel less alone. She allowed me to feel like it was alright that I was different, that I walked to the beat of my drum.
Consider how it feels when you identify so intimately with a fictional character that goes on to do great things and accepted for who they are. It's a powerful thing. That's why stories matter. That’s why representation matters. We need to share our stories with our real-life struggles, struggles that aren’t commonly discussed or still surrounded with stigmas. How wonderful would it be to write that authentically about a condition that it has the power to reach across the pages, beyond time and space to touch someone else and make them feel less alone and not just that, but to feel good about themselves just as they are?
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