the winter blog

17 Positive Aspects Of Mental Illness and ADHD

The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.

Kobe Bryant

I’ve written a lot about the symptoms of my disorders, but it’s time for me to talk about the positive aspects of mental illness and ADHD. You heard me right…I said, “the positive aspects of mental illness and ADHD.” I meant it, too.

For all the pain it has brought me, I’ve come to believe that it’s brought good parts of me to the surface as well. There is no scientific proof, that I am aware of, that these positive attributes come directly from my disorders. As I’ve gotten older, and learned a few tough life lessons, I’ve come be believe that there are, indeed, some positive aspects to mental illness.

I don’t subscribe to the “ADHD is a superpower” line of thinking, but I am a believer of taking the good with the bad. I’m stuck with this brain, I better get cozy in it. I’m not going to note each of these because I wanted to include some in the list that don’t exactly apply to me. I will only speak on my own experience. Without further ado…

17 Positive Aspects of Mental Illness and ADHD

woman in black shirt holding white ceramic mug positive aspects of mental illness

1. High Energy

People with ADHD tend to be high energy. I want to interject here and say that not all people with ADHD are high energy and that is a huge misconception in our society. I have ADHD-Inattentive type and I am hypOactive, which means that I often lack energy, feeling sluggish and mush-brained (not a scientific term).

2. Spontaneity

We can be spontaneous. Specifically, people with ADHD can be very spontaneous and love to try new things.

3. Creativity

We tend to be creative. I don’t know if I’d lose my creativity if you took away my mental illnesses, but I suspect that my need to be creative wouldn’t be as intense. I have to be creating. When I’m not (sometimes my brain wants to create, then won’t let me) creating something, I’m miserable. Between hyperfocuses, I usually feel a deep boredom and restlessness. It can be almost physically uncomfortable. I believe creativity is one of the positive aspects of mental illness and ADHD.

4. Hyperfocus

We can hyperfocus! I talked about hyperfocus as a symptom, but it can also be a great thing. First of all, most of the time, we are happiest when we are hyperfocusing. Our broken dopamine machines are pumping and we are really enjoying life. As long as we’re not hurting anyone…LET US BE HAPPY! Second of all, if you are hyperfocused on the right things, you can be amazingly productive. I have been hyperfocused on this blog for almost 3 months and have made great progress in that time.

5. Resilience

We are resilient. People with mental illness and ADHD have to go through a lot in life. Often only hearing about the negative aspects of themselves, they still pick themselves up and keep fighting; many successfully finding recovery and finding a way to thrive and succeed.

6. Outgoing personalities

We have big, bright personalities. They are often kind and warm, as well as funny and charming.

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7. Invention.

We tend to be incredbly inventive. Because their brains work differently, people with ADHD and mental illness are often very inventive. They find innovative solutions to problems that others often can’t see.

8. Justice sensitivity

A lot of people who have ADHD also have Justice Sensitivity. This is when you feel strongly about fairness and have a strong emotional reaction when you perceive unfairness in the world. This is good. People with ADHD tend to think in black and white, right and wrong. Their moral compasses are firm and strong. They tend to feel outrage when they see injustices.

9. Sense of humor

We often have a robust sense of humor. Its one of the positive aspects of mental illness and ADHD. People with brain disorders pick up humor as a coping mechanism for a number of different reasons, but many of us have great senses of humor.

10. Good conversation

We tend to be good conversationalists. I love to talk. Honestly. I could sit and talk all night long sometimes. Having deep and mutual conversations is one of my favorite things on Earth and certainly something I don’t do enough of anymore. A definite positive aspect of mental illness and ADHD is that we can be very high energy and be wonderful and enthusiastic to talk with.

11. Empathy and compassion

We tend to have an immense amount of empathy and compassion. People with ADHD and mental illness tend to have an abundance of empathy and compassion for others. I can put myself in other people’s shoes in almost any situation. I imagine terror, anger, sadness, happiness, joy, etc. when I read the news. Trauma survivors tend to be especially empathic, as they have often honed the ability to gauge people’s moods and body language to keep themselves safe.

12. Persistence

We are persistent. Because people with ADHD and mental illness have a harder time than neurotypicals with some things, they often have to try harder and longer to accomplish the same tasks. This builds persistence over time and we tend to have a lot of it.

13. Good in a crisis

We tend to be good under pressure and good in a crisis. Give an ADHDer a 6-week deadline and they will not do one bit of work until there is 2 days left. In that time, they will go into full on panic mode and somehow crush 6-weeks of work in 48 hours. I don’t know why it works and I don’t know how it works. All I know is that it’s true because it happens to me all of the time.

14. Mental strength

We have built great mental strength. Many people see ADHD and mental illness as weaknesses. While they do come with plenty of drawbacks, mental weakness is not one of them. The strength that it takes through to fight your own brain for some type of normalcy is astounding and should be applauded every day.

15. Curiosity

We tend to be curious. Another of the positive apsects of mental illness and ADHD is a deep and consistent curiosity. We tend to be incredibly intelligent because we are always learning something new; always hyperfocused and on to the next thing.

16. Ambitious

We are often ambitious. Even is we can’t see all the small steps, we can see the big picture perfectly and so many of us to for it. We have big ideas and big dreams and we truly believe they are possible. When we set our minds to something, there is no stopping us.

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17. Artistic

We are incredibly artistic. The amount of amazingly talented and artistic people in the community over the last few months is astounding. Between our vivid imaginations and our creativity, we find all sorts of avenues to express our artisic sides.

In Conclusion

There are many ways in which people develop and hone the coping skills that they have and not all of them are bad or unhealthy. Many of them result in the positive attributes listed above. It’s important that we try to find some calm in storm; some goodness in all of the ugly. Next time your feeling down on yourself, get out a piece of paper and write down your strengths; all of your positive aspects of mental illness and ADHD.

Be sure to join our Facebook group The Winter Of My Discontent: ADHD and Mental Illness Community and follow me on Twitter! Also, make sure to subscribe by email so that you never miss an update!

If you’re interested in guest posting or appearing on the soon-to-come The Winter Of My Discontent Podcast, you can fill out the form here.

Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight. 💜💜

ADHD Beans

Still depressed, anxious, and traumatized. Still an ADHDer. Still kicking ass and taking names when it comes to busting stigma. Changing hearts and minds, one post at a time.

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  1. Oooh ooh ooh. This resonates. This post needs a pinterest optimized image. It needs to be shared!

    I do try to focus on the bright sides own mental illness. Sometimes that energy can be focused and harnessed. Other times… It’s just a bomb.

    Excellent post.

    1. Thank you so much. I’m still trying to figure out how Pinterest works for but I’ll work on getting it put up. I’m glad that it resonated.

      It is hard to find the positive sometimes, especially in the middle of struggle, but sometimes it’s good to try and find the silver lining. 💜💜

  2. Excellent article! I see a lot of these qualities in my students with ADHD, and while sometimes they wildly frustrating, they are also the kindest kids in my class and the most able to put themselves in the shoes of others.

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