Shattering Labels to Unleash My Creativity: Harnessing the Power Within

Are you someone who daydreamed in class, lost in a world of creative ideas?

Do you find yourself easily distracted but wonder if there's a hidden gift within your scattered focus?

As a child, I often found myself lost in a world of vivid imagination and uncontainable curiosity. My mind buzzed with ideas, connecting dots in unique ways others couldn't comprehend. But, instead of celebrating this gift, I struggled to understand why others didn't see things as I did. Little did I know that these creative ways of thinking would become my most significant advantage.

Growing up, I often felt like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I couldn't grasp the "normal" thinking concept because my mind didn't operate that way. But as I matured, I began to embrace my divergent thinking and see it as a superpower rather than a limitation.

It brought an unfiltered perspective that allowed me to see the world through a kaleidoscope of colours. I could connect seemingly unrelated ideas, unveil hidden patterns and discover unconventional solutions. My brain worked like a master puzzle solver, piecing together ideas with a precision that set my creativity on fire.

Childhood symptoms

As a child, I recall being easily distracted in class, having difficulty focusing on assigned tasks, and having a tendency to daydream. I was incredibly talkative, often bubbling with creative ideas that seemed to flow endlessly.  I was often told to "focus" or "pay attention," as if I had a switch to control my wandering mind. But they didn't understand that my attention was never lost; it was just diverted to something else that fascinated me. My fascination became the fuel for my creative endeavours.

The realisation came many years later when I delivered a talk to a class of budding writers in primary school and explained how my brain worked and my process of becoming a children's author and illustrator. Some children lit up and were excited my brain worked like theirs. At the end of the presentation, the librarian thanked me and said it was so lovely for the children to hear a success story from an adult who used their ADHD to their advantage.

Wait what? ADHD? Who me?

Suddenly, the puzzle pieces fell into place, and I connected with my childhood struggles. It was enlightening and empowering to comprehend that my unique way of thinking was not a hindrance but a gift I could harness. I learnt as much as I could about ADHD. 

Artwork by Maggie O'Hara

Labelling people with ADHD

Labelling individuals with ADHD can affect their self-esteem, emotional well-being, and overall development. When someone is labelled as having ADHD, it may lead to misconceptions and stereotypes, causing them to be stigmatised and misunderstood by peers, educators, and even themselves. 

Labelling can also create a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the individual may start to believe their diagnosis may overshadow their unique strengths and talents, focusing solely on perceived weaknesses related to ADHD, reinforcing stereotypes and inhibiting their capacity to thrive in various areas of life.

Harnessing the Power of ADHD:

Rather than feeling consumed by the label, I viewed it as a powerful tool to use to my advantage. I recognised that my hyperactivity fuelled my boundless creativity, allowing me to explore endless possibilities in my artwork and writing. I don’t wear it as a badge to be accepted or use it as an excuse for why sometimes my mind is scattered. I acknowledge that my brain thinks differently to others and develop ways to use this to my advantage.

Embracing my high-energy and creative mind, I realised I could hyper-focus on my artistic pursuits for hours, fully immersed in my creative flow. This ability proved a powerful asset, enabling me to create and install a successful exhibition, ‘Transcendence’ in 2022.

Successful Creative Career:

As I embraced my ADHD symptoms and channelled my energy towards creativity, I began to flourish in my career as an author, illustrator, and artist. I discovered that my unique thought patterns enabled me to approach projects from unconventional angles, breaking free from the confines of conventional thinking. 

The freedom that came with embracing my new understanding of how my brain worked allowed me to explore different artistic mediums and genres fearlessly. I blended my love for storytelling with my artistic skills, creating illustrated books that appealed to a broad audience and artworks that resonated with others on a deeper level.

My journey reminds us that our uniqueness is not defined by labels but by the creative power we hold within. My career in writing and the arts showcases the potential of embracing one's authentic self and using it to create meaningful and captivating works of art.

By understanding and embracing my ADHD symptoms, I turned what might have been perceived as a challenge into an advantage. 

I encourage everyone to celebrate their individuality and harness their unique gifts to carve their paths to success, defying societal norms and embracing their creative brilliance. 

Final thoughts

By recognising that individuals with ADHD possess diverse strengths, such as creativity, hyper focus, and out-of-the-box thinking, we can help them cultivate their talents and reach their full potential.

It has helped me immensely to understand the way my brain thinks, and I now focus on acknowledging and celebrating the unique way my brain processes information. 

Education and awareness play a vital role in combating negative labelling. By promoting understanding and dispelling misconceptions about ADHD, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate environment.

Furthermore, shifting the focus from deficits to strengths can empower individuals with ADHD to discover and pursue their passions and interests. By recognising and nurturing their unique abilities, we can inspire confidence and motivation, enabling them to flourish in their creative and academic endeavours.

Ultimately, embracing neurodiversity and celebrating the diverse ways our brains think can pave the way for a more inclusive and supportive society. By promoting understanding, acceptance, and a growth mindset, we can create a world where individuals with ADHD feel valued, empowered, and capable of making meaningful contributions.

Develop coping strategies for ADHD symptoms

Over the years, I developed the following coping strategies as I realised it was hard to focus on the task, especially if I found it boring or dull. Experiment with various strategies and use what works for you.

  • Create to-do lists
  • Use alarms and reminders 
  • Break tasks into smaller pieces and tick off as I go
  • Embrace structure and routine to provide routine
  • Physical activity, for me it’s walking in nature
  • Create an environment that limits distractions. My office has no TV or distractions
  • Dedicate quiet areas for writing, reading and creating
  • Mindfulness and meditation. This has taken a lot of practice to quieten my mind.
  • Acknowledge my efforts
  • Celebrate my achievements
  • Educate myself on many things and keep learning new things

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