By Panagiota Katsaveli,
Art manifests itself in different forms, such as theatre, painting, writing, etc. Each and every one of these requires an immense amount of dedication, time, practice, as well as talent. However, what happens when your very own mind functions as an obstacle in your journey experimenting with art? Or when your mind does not allow you to perform to the best of your abilities? This is a question that frequently pops up in the case of artists, and in particular, authors diagnosed with ADHD. These talented people manage to be successful and achieve their dreams, despite the difficulties their condition imposes on them. They prove that everything is possible, as long as you are determined and willing enough to try.
Even though most people have probably come across the term ADHD, only the overwhelming minority is aware of the meaning behind the acronym and most importantly the substance of the specific disorder. ADHD —Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder—, is one of the most common mental disorders among children and adults, which is mainly detected in school-aged kids, and it is more common among boys. ADHD manifests itself in three different types: namely inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type, or combined type. The diagnosis for each patient is based on the symptoms that have occurred over a six-month period. The causes behind the development of the disorder have yet to be determined, but evidence points to the existence of links with genetics, premature birth, or alcohol use/smoking during the pregnancy. AHDH symptoms include hyperactivity, difficulty remaining still for extended time periods, as well as limited attention spans, which appear to a greater degree than expected for the age of the child and interfere with their life at home, at school, and their social interactions. In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of behavior therapy and medication. It is generally advised that behavior therapy precedes prescribing medicine, and this procedure needs to involve the active participation of the child’s parents.
Writing a book seems like a milestone and a difficult process for everyone, so we can only imagine how much more difficult it must be being sabotaged by your own mind in the process. ADHD is, in fact, a disorder that makes writing more challenging. The affected party has difficulty focusing on such a daunting and binding task, which requires immense focus and discipline. They have difficulty focusing on the writing process, they often procrastinate, they have ideas that they cannot imprint on paper. Authors dealing with ADHD have to implement certain habits in their work routine to be able to finish their piece. Making to-do lists, dividing a big project into smaller units to work on them separately, are simply some basic ideas to help ADHD authors. However, we should not treat ADHD solely as an obstacle against the completion of a goal, specifically writing. This disorder is considered a vantage for some since it offers certain benefits for potential writers; people with ADHD are creative types, with a huge imagination, and coming up with unique, captivating ideas seems like a piece of cake for them!
Many writers have been diagnosed, or there are speculations about the existence of the disorder in talented authors of the past, but still, many readers remain unaware of this reality. David Murray Pilkey Jr. is merely an example of a well-known writer who has been diagnosed with ADHD. He is an American cartoonist, author, and illustrator in the genre of children’s literature. The works that made him known to the greater public are the children’s book series Captain Underpants, and the children’s graphic novel series Dog Man, both being really successful projects. Pilkey was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia at a young age, and his behavior often caused him trouble in the school environment; it is characteristic he created the Captain Underpants character while he was sitting on a desk in the hallway of his elementary school due to his behavior. His first complete graphic novel, “The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby”, was published in 2002, and many works have followed suit, while he has earned several awards for his incredible work. In 2015, he announced on his YouTube channel that the publication of “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk” would cease because of stereotypes in the book. As he stated, even unintentional and passive stereotypes are harmful to everyone.
Unlike Pilkey, the author Katherine Ellison was diagnosed with the disorder in her adult life. Katherine Ellison, born on August 19, 1957, is an American author and journalist, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1985 alongside two colleagues of hers. She has written and co-authored seven books, concerning topics like motherhood and ADHD among others. As a journalist, she has also received other awards recognizing the incredible nature of her work as well as her writing skills.
In conclusion, after taking everything previously mentioned into account, it becomes apparent that authors with ADHD deserve the same —if not more— respect as other authors for all the hard work and effort they bear down. Learning more and educating ourselves on ADHD will not only help us come closer to them, but it will also provide us with the opportunity to understand their writing better and unravel hidden meanings we had not previously been aware of. Moreover, it is not simply individuals in the artistic community that deals with ADHD, hence it is our duty as members of the community to educate ourselves more on the subject and properly treats people for their condition.
American Psychiatric Association, What is ADHD? Available here.
Dav Pilkey. Available here.