Georgia Harrison reveals undiagnosed ADHD led to her being expelled from private school as a teen
Georgia Harrison has struggled with ADHD her whole life but was only formally diagnosed last year. Now she says the diagnosis has transformed her outlook on life.
The 26 year old former Love Island contestant spoke exclusively to OK! about her condition, and how a lack of understanding around ADHD whilst in education led to her expulsion from private school, despite being highly intelligent.
Georgia, who hails from Essex but now lives in London, explained that whilst she now takes medication for her condition "which really helps," things haven't always been smooth-sailing.
"I went to private school and I got thrown out of it", the star tells us, explaining that she "was always getting in lots of trouble".
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She added: "I was really clever, in all of the tops, got mostly straight As and always intended to do well, but I had ADHD and didn't know it."
ADHD is short of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a neurological condition which can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age or any external factors.
It's one which is incredibly misunderstood and incorrectly associated with young boys, seen as a behavioural issue which only affects children.
There are three types of ADHD; inattentive, hyperactive, and combined. However, the hyperactive traits tend to be more commonly attributed to people with ADHD, with attentive symptoms often being dismissed by those without much knowledge.
It is also very common for ADHD to go entirely undetected throughout the school years, especially in women, due to their masking skills meaning they hide symptoms of the condition a lot better.
This was the case for Georgia, who was labelled a 'troublemaker', and wasn't given the help she needed due to an lack of understanding around the condition. She recalled those at her school who were diagnosed being treated as though they were less intelligent, being placed in lower sets, and not receiving the right help.
She explains: "I found it hard to concentrate, I was getting in trouble for being too loud, speaking when I shouldn't, interrupting people, I had all of the symptoms," despite this, she had no idea this was down to ADHD.
"When I was younger, ADHD wasn't really spoken about in schools.
"Back then, the people who had ADHD were always treated like they were different, and put in different sets and stuff rather than being helped", Georgia said.
She continued: "So I guess my parents didn’t want to say 'oh she’s got ADHD' or whatever, they were like 'oh well she’s not that bad, she’s not out of control' – because I was actually doing alright in terms of my grades and stuff."
The star admitted that her undiagnosed condition "definitely made my younger and school life hard", adding that "if I'd been diagnosed back then it would've really helped and given me so much more understanding".
Speaking of the stigma around the condition, Georgia admitted that whilst she does tend to fit the stereotype herself, due to her being "energetic, outgoing, chatty, a bit naughty and have terrible concentration", there's so much more to the condition that people don't understand.
Symptoms such as hyperfocus, time management issues, poor emotional regulation, sleeping problems, impulsivity and difficulty managing finances aren't typically seen as ADHD-related, but they are.
Georgia explains that whilst office work wasn't too hard for her due to its structure (something which helps those with the condition), "colleagues would always joke" about her having ADHD due to her energetic personality and she would laugh along, unsure whether or not she actually did have it.
One symptom of ADHD is executive dysfunction; one which makes life extremely difficult at times for those who experience it.
It can very from person to person, but typically consists of an inability to start tasks, regardless of how simple or insignificant they might be.
This could vary from picking up dirty laundry and cleaning up a room, to getting yourself up out of bed to use the toilet or even something as important as doing a simple task as part of your job.
It creates a mental block which prevents those who suffer it from functioning as a neurotypical person would, meaning they get incredibly frustrated and have difficulty regulating emotions.
It can also affect memory recall, the ability to follow directions, and also makes it hard staying on-track or on-schedule.
Georgia has found herself massively struggling as a result of executive dysfunction, something which really started affecting her once she'd found fame on Love Island.
She said: "When I came off Love Island I had a huge workload and there wasn’t a strict schedule like I was used to and my house was so messy all the time.
"I would be going from shoot to shoot, have no time for anything and I’d come in and look at all my stuff and couldn’t comprehend sorting it out, I was like 'nah'."
Thanks to the help of her medication, Georgia now has it "a bit under control, but back then it was worse."
She details her own experience of executive dysfunction as: "You know you’ve got to do so much stuff, but you end up staring at a wall.
"Your brain just can’t figure out how to get it started, even though if you just did it, it’d be so easy but you physically can’t."
She continued: "Now I take these tablets called Elvanse, and they really do help me.
"I only got diagnosed officially in October 2020, and ever since then it’s helped me so much, I see things I didn’t see before."
The star cited ADHD-specific music tracks on YouTube as a huge help when she needs to get her head down and concentrate, saying: "Other than my meds, things that help me are like when you’re cleaning, you can put in YouTube ADHD music.
"There’s music specifically for people who have ADHD and I listen to that. I find listening to anything helps me really but I need to be aware of which situations require background noise and when I actually need complete and utter silence."
When asked about her experience talking about her condition in the showbiz industry, Georgia said that whilst she does regularly come across ignorance and a disregard for the complexity of ADHD; "I have found that a lot of people within this industry have ADHD too, a lot of reality TV stars."
She put this down to "people with ADHD tend to be outgoing, have big personalities, and aren’t afraid to be outspoken and be entertaining all the time, which kinda makes sense".
Ultimately, she hopes that her transparency around the condition will drive people to educate themselves on ADHD and told us that for her, "the most important thing is to ensure parents have an understanding, as a lot misunderstand it [ADHD] and don’t understand they [their children] have it, and will punish them for things they can’t help."
The star concluded: "When you punish kids instead of understanding they can’t handle things the same as everyone else, it can cause a rift between parents and children.
"It can make them think there’s something wrong with them or that they’re bad people, when it reality they’re trying their best but can't help how their brains are wired."
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