ADHD and Creative Thinking: A Blessing and a Curse
This can be both a blessing and a curse, especially when combined with an ADHDer’s tendency to worry and the fact that we can be notoriously poor self-observers. I’ve noticed that if I’m overly tired, overwhelmed, or under excessive stress my creativity can work against me.
Jurassic Park revisited by Zoë
The other day I was in a dark mood. I sat on my deck on a beautiful June day, a situation that would normally bring joy to a sun-deprived Canadian who has long awaited the return of summer. Instead of feeling uplifted I found myself fixated on the thick ferns growing along the fence in my backyard.
These lush green ferns have sprouted up almost as high as my shoulder. I love ferns. Normally this would delight me but I caught myself thinking of them as a remnant from primordial days.
Days of dinosaurs. My imagination conjured up a ruthless, violent time in pre-history. That scene led into the present day then raced headlong into a post-apocalyptic vision of the future, my imagination fuelled by every end-of-times book, film, or newspaper article I’d ever read. I wondered if the ferns were a sign that the end was near and soon humanity would be wiped out, leaving only bedbugs and cockroaches wandering the earth. In my backyard. Amongst the ferns.
Before I knew it, in my overly-stressed and exhausted state, my creative mind had led me into Armageddon. Was this helping my already gloomy state? Nope.
Then and there, I decided to redouble my efforts to be vigilant about where my non-linear, free-range mind roamed. After all, we do have a choice if we can only catch ourselves in the act.
Instead of catastrophizing, we can use our creative thinking to build ourselves up and support our dreams and goals.
Catching myself in the act
This summer, I’ve been excessively worrying about some of the potted plants I’ve put out on my deck. The basil leaves have been turning pale and some of the tomatoes, yellowish-pink. After all the work of starting them from seed, I’ve been worried they’ll die.
Using the creativity super-power for the good
In contrast to the Jurassic Park scenario, today I sat on my deck and my mind jumped to a good place.
After a gentle overnight rain a mist hung in the air. Most of the plants had a healthy glow, and as I gazed at them their green was extra vibrant against the dull early-morning light.
A thought popped into my head as I gazed at the green:
My plants are growing and so am I.
Instead of obsessively focusing on the sick ones, it felt so much better to imagine, within the current climate of stress, anxiety and overwhelm, that I’m actually growing, moving forward to make my dreams come true.
My mind continued to use creative thinking as a blessing as I realized, just as it’s natural for everything in my garden to blossom and grow, by extension being part of nature (even though I can’t always see it) I must be too.
I reflected on that idea and saw that, yes, even though I’d been too busy to notice I am moving forward in some important life goals.
Creative meandering: a blessing or a curse?
I’ve seen when my creative mind leads me to visions and thoughts that aren’t helpful. I’ve seen how creative connections can lead to hope and optimism. It’s a matter of catching those thoughts and choosing which ones to water and which ones to root out.
I’m going to try to be more vigilant about where my active imagination takes me. Is it a blessing or a curse?
Kessler, Z. (2013). ADHD and Creative Thinking: A Blessing and a Curse. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 25, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-zoe/2013/06/adhd-and-creative-thinking-a-blessing-and-a-curse/