I have quite the mixture of mental issues. From Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.), to Asperger’s, to Depression, to BEING A GIRL, it’s kinda surprising I’m still sane enough to write. Then again, no one ever said us writers were sane, right? The strange thing is, most people would moan and groan and be miserable about their lives, what with this mixture of mental issues I have. But not me..Why not? Because my mental issues are what have made me such an excellent writer.
The first thing, of course, is BEING A GIRL. Yes, my dear, I’m going to throw some feminism at you. Society has structured me, as a woman, to be sensitive to other people and their feelings at all times. Now, because of my Asperger’s and A.D.D. mixed together, that’s a little harder for me than it is for other women. But that doesn’t mean I don’t do it. In fact, it has made me that much more sensitive, myself. I’m familiar with complicated feelings. I know how I would react to a situation if I were someone else. If the situation were different. If my feelings, my disposition, my whatever were different.
Along with BEING A GIRL and being sensitive to other people’s feelings, I was raised to constantly be walking on eggshells. Expecting people to take my words the wrong way. So I learned to think really hard about my words, first. At least, most of the time. This has allowed me to think really hard about my word choices for writing projects. To stop and think about how this sentence would actually be better than that. This helps greatly because when I write, I’m used to trying to get everything perfect the first time around. There’s a reason or two for that, but that’s for another time.
The next mental issue that has actually helped my writing is my A.D.D. No, no, no, I do NOT mean A.D.H.D. When I was diagnosed, the kind that I have had no “H” in it. I’m not hyperactive. I don’t bounce off the walls or anything. I’m quiet about it. My mind wanders. A lot. Even when I’m trying to pay attention to something, I may be very easily distracted, off thinking about something else. It’s terribly dangerous if I don’t take my medication and then go for a long drive. So how is this dangerous disorder helpful? Well, what could I possibly be thinking about when I’m trying-but-failing to pay attention? My stories, of course! I’m daydreaming! I could be distracted by an idea for a story, or by a super strong desire to just work something out in another. All my stories are written-down versions of my daydreams. That’s all.
There’s another thing about A.D.D. that’s a huge help, too. People with the disorder will often succomb to something called hyperfocus. Yup, we do have the ability to focus sometimes. But it’s to the extreme. Let me give you an example of hyperfocus. In college, I would be working on my homework for maybe 20-30 minutes or so. Suddenly, I would notice something strange going on and look up. My roommate would be laughing at me with her friend. Apparently, she had been calling me names (in a good-natured way, don’t worry) while I was just typing away on my computer. And it was funny, of course, because I had absolutely no response to them because I didn’t notice. Yes, you may laugh. It’s funny.
Then I have Asperger’s. Well, how does Asperger’s help? There’s this thing about Asperger’s Syndrome that makes the person intensely interested in one specific thing/area/whatever. To the point where the person may become an expert on the subject. For me, that’s grammar and spelling. It works great, because Aspies love rules and regulations and order. And grammar and spelling are supposed to be all about that. Grammar and spelling give me structure in the very unstructured world I have chosen. (Yes, according to an Aspie, the writing world is quite unstructured) So, with my grammar-security-blanket in hand, I have the freedom, the desire, the need to explore this world of writing.
Aspies have a tendency to get obsessed with things. With my A.D.D. mixed in, my obsessions only last so long. But trust me, they are obsessions. My obsessions are fandoms. Which is great because with my A.D.D., I’m usually sitting there daydreaming fanfictions about whatever fandom I’m obsessed with that week. Then I can go and write them down later with the knowledge and skills I have acquired about writing. Plus, luckily for me, these fandoms include my own works sometimes, so I don’t have to only write fanfiction all the time. The downside? I have many, many abandoned stories and fanfictions because, again, my obsessions only last so long.
Finally, I have Depression. I’ve gotta be pulling your leg, now, right? How had Depression helped my writing? Well, it’s a very small help, but it’s a help nonetheless. Depression has taught me a ton about humans, their emotions, and their struggles. It has opened me up to more than one whole world of emotions and emotional issues that I just hadn’t understood before. Let me give you an example. Before Depression, I could never, ever understand a self-harmer. Ever. I had friends that did it, and I simply couldn’t get it. Why would hurting yourself physically help anything? How can it be more than an cry for attention? Then I had one of my breakdowns. I finally felt it. Felt like if I hurt myself physically, maybe, just maybe, the emotional pain would go away and I would have at least a little relief. I finally understood.
See, I was raised to believe that people who acted out from these mental issues like Depression and Bi-Polar, etc., were just looking for attention. I was taught to silently and privately scorn them. That I was better than they were. Thanks to my Depression, I now have a much better respect and slight understanding for mental disorders and what they do to people. How does this help in my writing? Well, isn’t, like, 85% of writing EMOTIONS?
Yes, I have a strange and frustrating mix of mental issues. But instead of cursing them, I’m grateful for them. They are the reason I am the great writer I am today, and the greater writer I will be tomorrow. Thanks for reading this post and visiting Maria’s blog. If you’d be interested in reading more about me and/or my writing, please follow my blog at chocolatemakesitbetter.wordpress.com. You can also follow me on Twitter (Laitie315), or find me on Facebook (Laitie Montai). Thanks, again!