One of my Superpowers is my ADHD.
It gives me divergent focus when embraced and harnessed. It means that I can move between a variety of subjects or activities. It also means that I can connect dots that others might not see.
Today's activities had me finalizing a presentation and workbook on reframing mental health diagnoses as Superpowers in my assets-based and lived experience 'Embrace Your Superpowers' program. I revisited psychology and cognitive behavioural therapy texts and then followed up with clients on previous presentations.
A cup of jasmine tea later, I moved onto research for a paper that I am co-authoring with a new colleague. That had me returning to academic reading, but in a subject area that doesn't seem immediately connected to my material culture and indigenous studies that were central to my grad work. It does reconnect me to my gender and women's studies work and it has me learning Korean. So, out comes the grammar workbook! This still connects to my mental health work: I've gone from beadwork to BTS (Google them), material culture to musical culture and peer support. It's about becoming 'Bulletproof To Stigma' and the healing power of music and lived experience on a global scale between artists and their fans.
In the background, along with music, I enjoyed a podcast on Martin Luther King Jr. (@usnewsbeat) and celebrated the life, teachings, and passion of a great leader who, like me lived with mental health challenges. I believe they contributed to his empathetic and revolutionary leadership. His ability to see the big picture is one of his Superpowers, along with his sense of social justice. These powers can come from the grounded realism of experiencing depression, and according to psychiatrist Nassir Ghaemi, it's what makes MLK and I better crisis leaders than the neurologically normal. My experiences in politics during a time of internal and external crisis bears this out, and while I wouldn't wish the darker moments on my worst enemy, I am grateful for the perspective and skills the darkness brought me in recovery. Depression, like ADHD, is a Superpower I embrace and harness to look after myself and others, I believe MLK did the same.
There are days where my ADHD (or depression) can throw me for a loop, no one needs to explain to me the downsides of a Superpower running roughshod. But the more I learn, the more I meditate, and the more that I work with others to develop assets-based reframing and empowering tools, the farther I move in my own recovery. Reframing to find the assets not only helps me manage my Superpowers, more importantly, but it also helps others find their strengths where too often others only see weakness.
So let me ask you: What can you reframe to find an empowering asset - or Superpower - in your life? Can you see the Superpowers of neurodiversity or mental health diagnoses for yourself and others? Take a closer look, these Superpowers may be hiding in plain sight and waiting for you to embrace them for your own benefit, and in service to others. Remember, not all heroes wear capes! Don't be afraid to put yours on, or help others with theirs!
Originally published on LinkedIn January 20, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/whats-your-mental-health-neurodiversity-superpower-sharon-blady