Tag Archives: mental disorders

In response to some questions.

We’ve gotten a few questions recently about the “differently-abled” and “mentally challenged”, so I’m posting this to say that we’re not going to answer those questions or anything like them. Assume that everything on this blog is written from the perspective of someone with a mental disability and take that into account because, after all, it is.

Below the cut is the rest, but that’s the long and short of it.

 When I talk about fighting and combat, I don’t think about how it pertains to my mental disability. I don’t think about it like that because my ADHD isn’t a separate trait that’s distinct from my personality, it’s a part of who I am and who I have always been. We, each of us, are the lens through which we view the world. Through our experiences, we what define what is normal for ourselves. Outside of us, society may tell us differently, may apply us with labels, whether that label is based in our physical attributes or the results of a test that tells us we’re “not like everyone else”.

Ever since I was a child, I knew that I wasn’t like many of my friends, that I was different and while that hurt, there was nothing I could do to change it. Diagnosis, knowing how I was different, didn’t really help. Medication did, but there was always a gap between me and the “normal” people.  Normal, for me, is me. I connect better with other people who share my disability. I connect better with other people who share my abnormal brain chemistry even if our disabilities are not the same.

How does this relate to fighting?

The short answer is that it doesn’t. I don’t relate my experiences in the martial arts through the lens of my disorder because my disorder never mattered there. In school, I was in the Special Ed department and the fact that I had ADHD was a known quality both to my teachers and to my classmates. Where I was the weird kid in elementary, middle, and high school, I was just another kid on martial arts floor with their own set of challenges. It wasn’t that my instructors didn’t know. It was that it didn’t matter. There were good days and bad days, but those days weren’t defined by: would it have been different if you weren’t X.

I don’t know if it would have and the truth is that I don’t care. I don’t define my martial arts experience by my mental disorder and if you want to write a character with one then you shouldn’t either. The problem with choosing a mental disorder and layering it onto a character is that you are in essence making them “other”. Don’t think about those of us with a mental disorder as a different species. Our brains do work differently, but the name of the disorder isn’t what matters, it’s the pieces of the disorder and how they affect a person that do. A disorder isn’t a flat metric, it’s a spectrum and each individual on the spectrum reacts to and experiences their disorder differently. The reason for that is because no one human being is the same, we are all shaped by our experiences growing up and the challenges we face are what define us.

Just as the fact that you should never define someone by the color of their skin, you should never define a person by their mental disorder.

It’s part of who I am and not the whole of who I am. Through learning and practice, we adapt. That’s the end of it.

-Michi

(Somehow, differently-abled manages to sound more condescending than mental disorder. How does it do that?)

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Source: An inside look at ADHD.

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Me 100% of the time. Luckily Ito help for my ADD when I was a child

fun facts!

  • ADD and ADHD are the same disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder was officially renamed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in 1994. Many people use ADD to refer to Type One presented here, and ADHD to refer to Type Two, but they are the same core disorder.
  • In many cases where ADHD carries into adulthood, it’s a genetic issue [My grandfather, mother, siblings, and I have all been diagnosed with ADHD], though this does not always occur.

hello yes this is me

more fun facts!

  • there are a lot of talks about how ADHD is overdiagnosed, and that may be true for boys, but for girls ADHD is severely underdiagnosed.
  • older studies mostly looked at hyperactive boys and that’s the perception we have of ADHD. because of this many girls will go undiagnosed until adulthood.
  • most girls/women who have ADHD are inattentive type. they tend to be introverted, disorganized and daydreamers. 
  • girls will internalize these as personal failings and teenage girls have a much higher rate of suicide and self harm because of it
  • ADHD is often comorbid with anxiety and depression, both of which are caused by the failings from having ADHD
  • depression can present itself differently in people with ADHD. it’s more of a discouragement from constantly failing, but it can be just as debilitating.
  • read this article from the atlantic: It’s Different for Girls with ADHD

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Very useful for writing a character with ADHD and getting over the ‘lol so hyper!!!!!!’ stereotype.

As someone diagnosed with Type 1 ADHD as a child, I can attest to the above being true. I can also say that the ingrained feeling of failure, “never measuring up”, and never feeling good enough run incredibly deep. I had earned three black belts by the time I graduated from high school, was an employed martial arts instructor, had gotten accepted into every college I’d applied to (including my first choice) except one, and I still felt like an utter failure at life.

However, like everything dealing with mental disorders, if you truly intend to write a character with it then proceed with caution. You need to get a good understanding of the exhibited behaviors, especially with how the brain can function and how it thinks. Children and adults with ADHD, much like all mental disorders, do process information differently than the general population. It’s also worth noting that ADHD is a spectrum and not everyone behaves the same way. People are individuals and everyone’s brain chemistry affects them differently. We are not uniformly the same. However, we do recognize our own kind.

Now, before you jump to writing and character traits remember: real people have this disorder and real people with this disorder may read your stories one day. 11% of the population have ADHD, so it’s a good bet that someone will or has already.

So, if it’s something you’re serious about consult a psychology book, talk to a psychiatrist who specializes in the field, and, if you can, find someone in your life who might be willing to answer your questions and let you observe. Just… try not to make them feel like a lab rat, okay?

(And please, I don’t normally feel comfortable talking about my disorder, so try not to flood the inbox with questions about how martial arts and ADHD play together. If you have to ask if or how it’s possible, you need to do more research.)

-Michi

Do you know if people with bipolarity could have an irrational hatred towards someone? And get too attached to someone?

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I’ve looked around a bit and some people say they get too attached to people too quickly or have irrational hatreds and can’t explain it, but I really don’t know anything about it or why it occurs in people with bipolar disorder.

Do any of my followers have an input?

I really suggest starting with the DSM IV Entry For Bipolar before trying to get into the minutiae of behavior. Can they develop an irrational hatred for someone else? Yes, but don’t most people? There are plenty of examples out there of perfectly “normal”, “sane”, and “rational” individuals who develop an irrational hatred for someone else and act on it. They kill people over it and they have done so for centuries without the help of a chemical imbalance in the brain. The same is true for attachment, someone who is lonely may subsequently become too attached to someone else who takes an interest in them during a short period of time. What matters are the circumstances surrounding the character.

Or are you wanting a disorder that will allow your character to hate someone else just because they are there and they exist? In which case, that’s not really bipolar. Are you looking for a character who suffers from having high emotional states that they swing between so fast it makes your head spin? Again, that’s not really bipolar. Bipolar isn’t someone having an excess of emotion and it doesn’t necessarily lead to paranoia. Most people who suffer from or were born with bipolar behave like mostly “normal” people for most of the year, they cycle in and out of their manic states. It’s more seasonal than anything else, though what that season is depends on the person. If an event or action happens within their manic period it may set them off, it could be something small or stupid like accidentally taping over an important event, getting into a fight with their kids, getting a parking ticket, anything really could be a triggering event that will lead to a blow up. But it will only be while in their manic state and a few seconds later, everything may be fine and they’re back to normal. Do they hold onto those feelings for long periods of time? That’s going to depend on the individual and it’s not necessarily a hallmark of the disorder itself.

It’s also worth remembering that bipolar is one of the easier disorders to treat with medication. If you’re working with a character in a modern setting, you’re going to need a reason in the text for why they are not seeing a psychiatrist and why they aren’t taking steps to “deal with” their disorder. A character who knows that they are bipolar will behave differently from a character does have it but refuses to admit it. Bipolar is also one of disorders where you can track its genetic history through a family, if they have it then it’s likely that someone else in their family does also such as their mother or father, grandparents, uncles and aunts, etc.

Like all disorders, how much it affects their behavior will depend on how strong their bipolar is. Not all people with bipolar are created equal, people are individuals, they have different personalities and they handle situations differently.

Much like ADD, Autism, and Schizophrenia, Bipolar is poorly represented in the media and much of the information you’ll find on most television shows, in most movies, and in most books is painfully inaccurate.

Here’s what I think you should do if you’re serious: get a psychology textbook, contact a psychiatrist in your local area who handles disorders and see if they’d be willing to talk to you about it, take a psych class at your local community college or at the college you may be currently attending if you’re a college student, find out if there’s anyone in your own life who lives with the disorder who might be willing to talk to you about it. It’s going to be very difficult for you to write about someone with a mental disorder, any mental disorder, unless you yourself posses it or know someone else in your life who does. The mental thought process and the behavior will be too difficult to manufacture on the page otherwise.

My two cents.

-Michi