Creative People – Mood Disorders and Misdiagnosis
“I’ve been accused of being ‘too much’ all my life. Too loud, too fast, too smart, too multi-talented, too audacious.
Writer, writing coach, teacher, and speaker Cynthia Morris continued,
“I’ve never been able to live according to that external standard of ‘just right’. Artists are often ‘too much’. It’s the job of the artist and writer to reflect what they see and feel.
“This expression of their art and talents must be larger than life. The trouble is, our expression doesn’t always jibe with what’s going on in the ‘normal’ world.”
Read more in article Intensity and Being Creative.
Do you ever “stifle yourself” to more easily get along with that ‘normal’ world?
Creative and high ability people are complex in many ways, as researchers have pointed out over the years. Part of that complexity can lead many creative children and adults to feel “crazy” at times, and be misunderstood by health professionals.
The photo above is Gogo Lidz, now a writer for Newsweek and other publications. In her personal story about psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, she notes:
“Between the ages of 16 and 21, I was prescribed more than fifteen different stimulants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. The cure was worse than the disease.”
She continues, “But the Ritalin made me feel spacey. Classes were easier to sit through, but if a teacher asked me a question, I’d answer with a disoriented ‘Whaaat?’
“When I explained this to Dr. Titrate [her psychiatrist] at our next session, he turned pharmacist. Over the next few months, he plied me with a small galaxy of ADD drugs: Metadate, Dextrostat, Dexedrine Spansules, Adderall, Adderall XR, and Strattera, alone and in various combinations.
“The stimulants turned me into a tweaked-out whiz kid. It was as if I had been nearsighted and now had X-ray vision. Adderall XR was my drug of choice.
“It turbocharged my brain during the school day, but when I got home, I crashed hard. Sometimes I’d lie in bed for hours and sob.”
As a supplement to the Adderall XR, she was prescribed the short-term amphetamine Dextrostat, but so many stimulants “made it hard to sleep more than six hours a night. It also made me rapidly lose weight.
“At first, I liked this side effect. But when my classmates started calling me Anna Rexic, the thrill faded. I always felt queasy, and food tasted like sand.
“Hopped up on stimulants, I gained confidence… A C student in tenth grade, I was pulling A’s by the eleventh… I got a near-perfect score on my SAT. I turned from a basket case into an overachieving young adult.
“But I was dimly aware that the ADD medication was also doing something else, something I didn’t like. I felt impatient, irritable, explosively angry. I’d scream at my father for buying me the wrong toothpaste. I’d scream at my sister for borrowing my hairbrush. I’d scream at my car for running out of gas.”
From drugs to DBT
She returned to college and reported being “free of manic feelings and suicidal thoughts. I’ve got a new therapist, who specializes in dialectical behavior therapy… The therapy is different from any I’ve ever had. I feel like I’m taking a college course on myself.”
From article My Adventures in Psychopharmacology, by Gogo Lidz, New York Mag., Oct 24, 2007.
Psychologist James T. Webb affirms that “Many of our brightest, most creative, most independent thinking children and adults are being incorrectly diagnosed as having behavioral, emotional, or mental disorders.
“They are then given medication and/or counseling to change their way of being so that they will be more acceptable within the school, the family, or the neighborhood, or so that they will be more content with themselves and their situation.
“The tragedy for these mistakenly diagnosed children and adults is that they receive needless stigmatizing labels that harm their sense of self and result in treatment that is both unnecessary and even harmful to them, their families, and society.”
James T. Webb, Ph.D., is president and publisher of Great Potential Press, Inc., a licensed psychologist and the lead author of five books and several DVDs about gifted people.
Of course, a number of people have very real mental and emotional challenges, even disorders, and can benefit from appropriate treatment.
But having a racing mind and intense feelings and unusual personality may simply be part of being a gifted or creative person, and not a disorder to be medicated.
Sharon M. Barnes, MSSW, LCSW is “a Psychotherapist, Speaker, Trainer, serving children, teens and adults with social & emotional needs of GT, HSP, 2E & SPD.”
She notes, “Many highly sensitive, creative, gifted or twice exceptional people struggle to find their balance emotionally.
“It’s not that they don’t have emotions or aren’t in touch with their feelings, but they tell me that they are often challenged in finding ways to cope with them and manage them.”
Read more and see video in my article Emotional Health, Waves and Creativity — or visit her site to learn about her course:
Eby, D. (2017). Creative People – Mood Disorders and Misdiagnosis. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 28, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/creative-mind/2017/01/creative-people-mood-disorders-and-misdiagnosis/