Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

ADHD and the Gift of Creativity – what price are you willing to pay?

I believe creativity is inherent in everyone. No one is born without the gift of creativity. We all have this wonderful ability to be creative in our own special ways.

In a recent blog post called Turning ADHD Disadvantages into Advantages, I wrote:

Many will tell you that creativity in of itself is not a ‘trait’ of ADHD and I do tend to agree with that, because all people are creative in their own ways. But even so, if you combine our symptoms and traits of distraction, out of the box thinking and hyper focus, among many others – we come up with some amazingly creative things that even the most creative people without ADHD would never dream of.

I do believe that creativity can be an advantage for many of us with ADHD. However, at the same time I think for far too many, creativity is unintentionally discarded. Unfortunately, the very coping skills used to improve the symptoms of ADHD may prevent one’s creativity from truly shining.

Most of us with ADHD spend a lot of time improving our symptoms, trying to get them under control and to manage our lives within certain rules and boundaries. In one way or another we are all trying to conform, to be as normal as possible. We want to fit in and we do not want our ADHD to be detectable, or at the very least, we do not want it to be a distraction to ourselves, or to others. That’s all well and good, but for everything there is a price and in our efforts to find ‘control’ I believe we sometimes lose our connection to our true, inherent creativity. It’s gotten to the point that many do not believe they are creative at all.

Consider that creativity is meant to be natural; it is not meant to be constrained by rules, standards or boundaries.  Creativity is about newness, freshness, but more importantly it is about: difference. When one truly allows their creativity to flow they come up with something different, something that breaks the rules and jumps by leaps and bounds over limitations. Creativity has no margins, as it has no lines to color inside of. Creativity is about pain and suffering, it is about happiness and joy, it is about being free to just be. It is not about restraining, managing or controlling.

Consider that many of the most creativity minds were, and are, people that are as memorable for their eccentricities as they are for their creativity. Normal, coloring in the lines people are rarely innovative. No, when we color in the lines, follow all the rules, connect all the dots and make it from point A to point B as efficiently as possible, we are then not doing anything that requires creativity.  But, unfortunately, doing those things is a good way to help get our ADHD symptoms under control. In effect, what I am saying is that much of our strategies and coping skills to deal with the symptoms of ADHD may be counter intuitive to our imagination, our originality and ultimately, to our creativity. It’s a natural and normal consequence.

For those that would say that the strategies and coping mechanisms we use to control our ADHD do not have an effect on our creativity, I humbly and respectfully, differ. Quite normally, most people who spend an abundant amount of time to conform typically cannot turn it off and on at will.

Creativity is art and art is intuition and compulsion. Compulsion to a degree is impulsiveness, which means to just go with what comes to mind and letting it be what it is. When we are trying all day to control our impulses, not blurt out inappropriate phrases and conform, we normally cannot simply go home and say ‘Okay, I am going to be creative now’.

ADHD is not black and white, not even in the same universe, we think in spectrums and when we try to make ourselves think in terms of black and white or linearly, getting our spectrums back at the right time, and in the right place, becomes very difficult. Compulsion, intuition and desire are not controllable.

Think about it a moment, seriously, take a moment to consider the most creative people of our generation or, any generation for that matter. So many of them are considered to have ADHD, it’s because they are different and they typically stand out as unconventional thinkers, they seemingly refuse to conform and they lead with their impulses. They are frowned upon and yet admired at the very same time.

There is no perfect world and yet the more we try to create a perfect world the more we lose originality, the core to creativity. We set standards, regulations and rules. Those things are necessary for law and order, but when it comes to basic human nature the price is much higher because we lose something, something that beckons and it can only be revealed by the freedom to just be as one naturally is.

But, of course, we must make it in this world and therefore gain control of our symptoms. This is true, but the question is:

What price are you willing to pay?

With all this said, I do not mean to imply one must not learn coping skills for their ADHD. Treatment is paramount to leading a better life. Trust me, it is. What I am saying is that we must recognize that we cannot eradicate a part of ourselves and not expect there to be a price. Each of us must find balance and allow ourselves at times to ‘just be’. For example: All of my writing on my blog and in my books is from compulsion. I do not write from outlines. When I write it is because I desire to, and I allow my thoughts to come forth as they are. I do not set limits and I most certainly do not consider the word count or page count. I have created rules for myself as to what I will publish, but I have no rules as to what I will write or how I will write it. It’s a fine balance and only with treatment for one’s ADHD can one gain the ability to find true balance.

It’s perplexing, I know. However, one cannot fear to ‘just be’, but unfortunately, many strategies to overcome ADHD symptoms tend to imply one should never simply ‘just be’. In order to truly be creative and to fully enjoy the gift of creativity inherent in all of us, one must also learn to truly ‘just be’ and not feel about bad it.

Again, I ask: What price are you willing to pay?

Consider that having ADHD can be problematic in the modern world, to put it mildly, but at the same time should we really be so eager and willing to completely conform and totally sacrifice what makes us individually and uniquely who we are? Because, really, isn’t that what it seems to come down to? With this in mind, it is no wonder that many treatment strategies don’t work. Just maybe we reject them subconsciously, because we fear losing a part of ourselves in the process? I think many of us, like me, seek those strategies which are flexible and do not require complete and total fundamental change, because, really, does anyone truly want to change who they inherently are?

Here’s a balance that I have found for my writing, which is a major part of my creativity: On my blog and in my books I write what I feel compelled to write, but in a working envorinment I write what is necessary for the job, following standards of conduct and business standards whereby I adjust my sytle accordingly. Also, when a magazine or other publication asks me to write something for them I choose to write accordingly, or I chose not to accept the offer – I make that choice.

The bottom line is I do not conform all the time and in all ways, I only do it when it is necessary. The proper treatment for my ADHD, individually tailored therapy, has been essential to my ability to do what I want, when I want, and not when inappropriate, and I manage to just be when I want to be. Any treatment that requires total and complete change to conform wouldn’t be considered proper treatment in my book. Do I still make mistakes and goof up at the wrong time and in the wrong place? Sure I do, no treatment in the world will make any of us mistake free, or ADHD free for that matter.

In our effort to find treatment, it’s important to realize what we want from ourselves first and, if there is a price, are we willing to pay it?

Just something to consider.

Bryan

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