May 17, 2011

Living with Adult ADHD - Part I

I've been thinking about writing this post for awhile, and every time I sat down to do it I hesitated. I talk about a lot of things on this blog, but this story put in a position I'm not used to. I'll share any and everything about myself, but I'm protective about the ones I love. You see, this story involves me, but is not about me.

This story is about my husband. And I want to tell it right.*

I guess I should start at the beginning. For those of you who don't know, ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder, and ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I won't go into a lot of medical talk about it, mostly because I'm still learning and also because it would be a whole post in itself. (There are great websites out there - definitely check them out).

Ben was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, and it has followed him through adulthood. The old thought process for symptoms was they'd become less as the child got older and he/she could grow out of it. However, depending on the severity of the symptoms this isn't always the case, and while Adult ADD/ADHD is talked about more now, there still isn't a lot of information available.

A lot of people associate ADHD with kids running around and being hyper, and that the solution is to just medicate them so they're "normal." I'm a big advocate for treating a disorder in a way that works for you - medicine, diet, exercise, etc - but ADHD is not just someone being hyper. It involves brain processes, and affects how dopamine receptors in the brain function.

Ben and I didn't really talk about ADHD and how it affected him (and us) when we first got married. We'd get into fights over things I thought were stupid (but frustrating) like him saying he'd do the dishes and then not doing them - or him forgetting to mail something when I asked him to. To me it was him being inconsiderate and not taking what I needed into account - to him, it was getting so stressed and flustered about one thing that he couldn't get anything else accomplished.

We've come a long way since those arguments - and we occasionally still have them, but we're better at communicating, and realizing what works for Ben and what doesn't. It's not a cut and dry process - we have good days and bad days (as does any couple), and in order for us to be at our best we have to constantly be talking with each other - figuring it out as we go. I want to be clear - Adult ADHD is not an impediment to our marriage - just something we have to factor in.

I once described to someone what a trip to the grocery store was like with Ben late at night when he was tired and his medicine had worn off, and they told me it sounded like he was just being a guy and didn't want to be there. It took all my self-control not to punch that person in the face. But I realized they were probably under the impression that a lot of people are - ADHD is something that goes away and while that's sometimes the case, most of the time it's not.

So that's what I'm hoping to do with this series - educate, bring awareness to, and share our experiences in living with Adult ADHD. I want to take away the stigma that ADHD is a big, bad, scary, diagnosis that is unmanageable. I'll share what works and doesn't work for us - it may not be the same for others - but that's what makes it our story.

Do you or someone in your life have ADD or ADHD? What works (or doesn't work) for you?

*I asked Ben if I could blog about this - his response was "of course, I don't care!" but I wanted to make sure I did this justice - because it's not just part of his story now, it's part of mine too. Anything I express in this post is my opinion, and should not be taken for medical fact. (If you think you might have ADD or ADHD consult a physician - i.e. not me!)


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

My brother has ADD/ADHD. Not really sure which one it is, but he was diagnosed when he was younger. He has adapted, but it will always be a part of who he is. Luckily, he works in an industry where he tends to be surrounded by other ADHD people.... He works in the technology industry. I mean, his office has a pink ball machine and a foosball table so there is somewhere for them to all work off their energy, I guess you could say?

I think it's great to share these kind of things and how you deal with them. I have to say, as a non-married, I understand that there are challenges you work through as a couple, but i will say, couples do not share them as much when they get married, which is what makes marriage seem 'effortless' to an outsider, you know? I mean, pre-marriage, you probably talked alot more about the challenges of your relationshp with parents/friends/etc. But once you marry, it seems like those conversations stop. Which I totally get. It's just nice ot see the 'real' side of the relationships from time to time.

I know you two are a very special couple so I am not at all suprised that you've found a way to work through this!!

Gracie said...

ADHD and ADD are often misdiagnosed, but luckily there are many more treatment options for adults now. The study of neurotransmitters is fascinating.

Lucy The Valiant said...

LOVE that you posted this! I work with lots of kids who have ADD, and Joey has it, too! His biggest issue as an adult with ADD is time management... it's like he has a hard time figuring out what he can realistically do in a given amount of time.

Brittany said...

I have ADD, i was diagnosed when i was 10-- so i've had it for 15 years! Some days it's great, some days it's suck and i wish i could have brain surgery to fix it! I've read that it makes having relationships difficult like you said, i'll be interested to see how it works out for me when i'm in those situations!

Nora said...

This is a great series/post, Becky. I loved reading it, learning how you and Ben are talking, working through it. I believe one of my co-workers has ADD/ADHD though he's not on any medication or anything so I'm not totally sure. (I'm saying that based on things he has said, not merely my observations.)

I think it's super important to acknowledge that every relationship has it's ups and downs. It's not always a walk on the beach and there are *always* factors at work from the outside world and etc. in a relationship. I wouldn't consider them impedients either, just things to factor in and work around.


Amber said...

Great post - so well-written and interesting. I think it's great that you guys have figured out a way to work with it instead of letting it work against you. I don't really know anything about Adult ADD or ADHD but I know that a lot of teachers thought my cousin had it when he was a kid. I think he was just a hyper little boy so who knows. I definitely think it can be over-diagnosed in KIDS now-a-days.

Can't wait to hear more about this topic! Great series idea :)

Jess said...

Bahaha! I shouldn't laugh, but you know we live with the same man. My hubs has been on meds for ADHD since the day I met him, and he will stay on them until he's old and decrepit.

I so get it. I've been married to it for 11 years, and have some stories. Lol. If you want any guest posts on this, lemme know.

Stephany said...

This was so interesting to read, Becky! Working in the child care industry, I've seen a lot of children with ADD/ADHD (although a lot of times, there's not much we can do about it since docs don't like putting young children on medicine) but I have seen the WONDERS medicine does for those who struggle with this. My cousin has one of the two (not sure which) and it is like night & day. He has so much more focus when he is one his meds, and it's helped him so much in school.

I'm very interesting in reading more!

Mandy said...

Kudos to you for having the courage to write about adult ADHD and sharing what you know with the rest of us. I think its great that you and Ben have found what works for you. You two are amazing together so its no surprise that you all communicate so effectively.

I adore Ben. A lot. Knowing his struggles just makes me adore him more.

Stevie said...

Andy's mom is in her 60s and was just diagnosed with adult ADD last year. She began medication and it has worked WONDERS for her. She had no idea why she couldn't focus on a task, or why she could never finish a project, and plenty of other issues. She finally spoke to her doctor about it, and has been doing great ever since.

I have often wondered if I have some form of ADD or ADHD because I have the same problems focusing, following through, and finishing even the simplest tasks. Being back in school has made it even worse.

I appreciate you and Ben being willing to share this with all of us! I think there are many misconceptions about ADD/ADHD and there is a stigma attached to it. It's important to talk about it and educate others about it.

HC said...

I am so excited for this series! As a teacher, I am well educated on ADHD/ADD in children, but don't know much about it after they leave the education system. I look forward to reading and learning more! Thank you both for opening yourselfs up like this :)

Anonymous said...

It's so cool that you're writing about this! One of my friends has ADD and I didn't realize that the forgetfulness thing was part of it- that's so cool! I'm going to look into this more- thanks for sharing miss <3

Goge said...

Hi Becky, I just read your guest post on Lucy's blog and followed you over here. This post struck a cord with me. I am 48 and was diagnosed with ADHD about 8 years ago. It was great finding out some things about why I am like I am. I don't take medication but being aware of the why's really helps me understand and accept myself better.

On the phone with one of my bosses last week he told me that he has ADD and the work he is doing now is getting too boring. He needs a new challenge. I commiserated with him mentioned that I thought it ADD/ADHD is a gift. He had to laugh and agree. Is Ben creative?


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