The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: creativity

On ADHD, Medication and Creativity

On Sunday night, Audra McDonald won her record-breaking sixth Tony award. In her acceptance speech, she thanked her parents for “disobeying the doctor’s orders and not medicating their hyperactive daughter” and directing her energies into theater instead. This has sparked some debate on the Internet (really, is there anything that doesn’t spark some debate on the Internet? Ever?) about the role of medication in treating ADHD. It also prompted a post on Psychology Today that made the following claim:

In America today, we are medicating creative kids who prefer to daydream in class instead of completing  boring worksheets. We are teaching them that focusing on the blackboard is more important than dreaming big dreams that might inspire new inventions. As a society we need to find different ways to help creative though disorganized children besides dampening their creative minds with Aderall, Ritalin, Strattera and worse.

This is a topic that hits very close to home. I have ADD — my official diagnosis is “ADHD without hyperactivity, inattentive type,” which basically means I was one of those kids who preferred to daydream in class instead of “completing boring worksheets.” Today, I’m a grown-up creative professional — and I still prefer to daydream at my desk instead of completing boring freelance writing assignments. But I also gotta eat and pay bills, so I do what I have to do to help make that happen, because daydreaming all day is not a luxury I can afford. My preference for letting my mind wander does not negate the work that has to get done.

Productive Daydreaming

(Cross-posted from Daydream Believer)

You might have guessed from the title of this blog that I do a lot of daydreaming. Or not–I guess you might have just thought I was a Monkees fan. Or a Neil Diamond fan. Or just a fan of that one song. I do quite like the song, actually. Not only is it probably the most widely-known of the very small handful of songs with my name in them, but I identify even more with it because I do tend to be sleepy quite often, and to need cheering up on occasion. The part about the homecoming queen, however, couldn’t be LESS about me. I mean, I was once crowned the 8th grade Autumn Carnival Queen for selling the most prize drawing chances, but that was more about nerd achievement than popularity. Digression, you are an unwieldy muse.

Bully Bait: An Explanation

(Originally posted at Daydream Believer)

I’ve been wanting to write here about my childhood. I had a rough time of it growing up. Not as rough as some, but definitely rougher than a lot of people I know. My home life was dysfunctional, I was picked on relentlessly at school, and I had undiagnosed, barely even heard of at the time, learning and social adjustment disorders that guaranteed I would fit in wherever I went about as well as a tattoo and piercing enthusiast at a Church Ladies’ Sunday Social. So yeah, I have some pent up sob stories.

The thing is, I don’t want to tell sob stories. I want to be frank and honest, in a “names changed to protect the hopefully grown-up enough by now to know better” kind of way, but I want to approach it all with a sense of humor. Because I do have a sense of humor about the whole thing, most of the time. Some of it was too horrible to laugh at, but those parts are probably too private to share here anyway. But most of it, I can joke about. I’ve put off writing about it because I’m not sure how to joke about it in writing without turning it into one big joke, and I don’t want to do that. I’m also wondering how much embellishment for humor’s sake I’m willing to do. I want to do it in an entertaining way that’s funny and relatable and also real.

I’ve also put it off because I’ve been examining why I want to write about it. I’m not interested in getting back at anybody, hence the plan to change names and certain details. Part of it is therapy. I’ve made some pretty great strides in being able to forgive a lot of people, but I’m having trouble with the forgetting part, and on certain days, when I’m in a certain mood, I have a tendency to brood on this stuff, and it can get me really down. I think–hope–that maybe putting it all out here will help me let it go and stop thinking about it.

Another reason–a big reason–is that I want these essays to say, “Hey, look! I’m okay! I lived through some awful stuff, but it’s okay, and I’m relatively happy, and if you’ve gone through it, or you’re going through it, you can be okay, too. If your kids are going through this stuff, they can be okay, too.” I want parents of disordered kids to know that those kids can go through life without being drugged into conformity and those kids can still grow up to be healthy, productive adults. I want parents of kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders to know that their kids can eventually learn to do a passable-enough impression of normal to get by in the workplace and even get them invited to parties and out on dates. I want any teens or tweens reading this to know that not only is there life beyond high school, but that, for the most part, it gets so much better. I want twenty-somethings struggling to keep up with their peers to know that it’s okay to cut themselves some slack and stop trying to plan their lives according to other peoples’ schedules.

I want to give all of these people a big hug. Barring that, I want to be able to share a laugh with them, and help them learn to laugh at themselves.

Also, I just really want to practice memoir and comedic writing.

So that’s going to be an occasional column here, starting this week (schedule permitting). I had kicked around the idea of doing a separate, anonymous blog on the topic, but seeing as how maintaining one blog with any regularity is proving a major challenge right now, that didn’t seem like one of my brighter ideas. Plus, for me, the anonymity felt like a cop-out, and I wondered if anybody would believe I wasn’t making it all up. An occasional column here seemed like a good compromise. So for now, that’s the plan.

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Writing and Creativity Links for 7.27.2009

Some of these tabs have been open in my browser for more than a week. Time to put them to rest.

Footsteps To a Novel – A great breakdown from author Margaret McGaffey Fisk on how to get started turning your basic idea into a full-blown novel. Even after I’ve written a few, I still found this helpful as I start thinking about what I want to do for NaNoWriMo this year.

From there I found Fisk’s list of writing tools, which includes useful things like a scene plotting spreadsheet and several different word count trackers.

The list also included a link to Holly Lisle’s Index Card Plotting Method, which I have a feeling is going to change my writing life once I get around to trying it out for myself.

Not strictly related to writing, but to creativity in general, Tyler Durden’s 8 Rules for Innovation is the article that inspired me to stop putting off the “Bully Bait” column I wrote about in the previous post (I’ve been kicking that idea around for almost a year now), make like a Nike spokesperson, and Just Do It. It’s inspiring me to Just Do a lot of things, actually. Here’s hoping that inspiration doesn’t wane.

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