Archive for June 2012

No, that’s not the utterance of someone with ADHD lamenting that she misplaced her car keys or forgot that she had a doctor’s appointment. It’s a song by Britney Spears.
My most recent post on this blog was about celebrities with ADHD, and had I waited until this week to post it, I could have included Spears. Earlier this week, the singer-turned-X-Factor-judge publicly disclosed that she has ADHD. After an episode of the X-Factor where Spears repeatedly walked out of the room while the show was being filmed live; she reassured the audience that she was not ill, but that she needed to take frequent breaks due to her ADHD. Spears also revealed that she had previously been on Ritalin, but is currently unable to take it because she is on another medication.
As I have stated elsewhere in this blog and in my other writing, I am a firm proponent of self-disclosure and self-advocacy, as it gives you a stronger voice and helps others understand you and your symptoms better. So, while I believe that Spears’ disclosure was a good choice for her own sake, I also worry that it may have a toxic impact on the ADHD community as a whole. I find myself anticipating people sarcastically saying, “You have ADHD? Oh, great. So now this means I should expect you to shave your head or to run off to Vegas and get married and divorced within a few hours.” While Spears’ impulsive, erratic behavior may very well have been caused by ADHD, the disorder affects everyone differently. For this reason, it can be unwise to expect all people with ADHD to exhibit the same behaviors, particularly if one’s knowledge of ADHD behavior is limited to outrageous paparazzi-produced news stories about celebrities.
I thought about it some more, and I realized that sometimes Britney Spears also seems to possess the more positive aspects of ADHD. Studies have shown that people with ADHD can be especially resilient, perhaps because of our tendency to hyperfocus on the things that are particularly important to us. Although Spears is hardly a positive role model when it comes to making mature choices, she has also proven to be extremely resilient.
When Britney Spears first rose to popularity as a teenager in the late 1990’s, many people predicted that she would have a short-lived career. She managed to prove everybody wrong by extending her projected fifteen minutes of fame into nearly fifteen years of fame. She has won a Grammy and numerous other awards, and several of her songs have made it to the Top Ten. Equally impressive is her ability to stage many a comeback after low points in her career. Spears has perhaps been under more media scrutiny than any other celebrity of the twenty-first century. She has struggled with substance abuse, mental health issues, and problems in her personal life, all of which have been heavily documented in the tabloids. A far less resilient person would have given up and quit performing as a result of such stress. Spears, however , persevered time after time, and continued to make albums that always shot to the top of the pop charts.
Through it all, she continues to have fans, particularly young girls, who look up to her. My own little nieces and their friends love to sing and dance to her songs. Perhaps somewhere, there are adolescent girls who feel ashamed about having ADHD and believes that they will never be successful; and they can be inspired by knowing that ADHD didn’t stop their idol Britney Spears from being a star.
I say that’s a reason to keep on dancing- until the world ends!

Trivia challenge: There are several titles of Britney Spears songs hidden in this blog post. Can you find them all?



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