On Friday I talked a bit about support for ADHD and discussed the nuances of formal support.
I define formal support as medication, counselling from mental health care professionals, and coaching by accredited ADHD coaches.
These supports are real, and have proven themselves to be beneficial. Nothing that anyone says can take validity away from these structures.
Pet peeve alert
And they got to the point of being beneficial by accepting the known facts about ADHD and moving on from there, not looking for some magic bullet or little known curable cause that can be fixed with one book or some herbal potion.
Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system. All better now.
And informal supports?
Yep. That’s what we’re going to discuss today. Informal supports are actually far reaching and limitless. To put it in a nutshell, an informal support is anything that helps you get over, around, or through some negative aspect of ADHD, that is not a part of medication, counselling, or formal coaching.
That means that anyone who encourages you in a positive way is an informal support.
Yes, they can be supportive. It’s a choice that you and they make together. Someone who understands, or is at least willing to accept what ADHD is and how it affects you, is being supportive. Someone who makes suggestions that accommodate your quirks is being supportive.
Someone who just laughs and says, “Hey, no problem. I’m just glad you were able to make it.” is being supportive.
What isn’t supportive?
Someone who says, “Just focus more.” is not being supportive. I know that sounds stupidly obvious, but they’re not being supportive because they are denying the existence of ADHD and its effects of you.
What isn’t supportive, then, is someone who is trying to “help” you be “normal.”
Oddly enough …
There is a special friend that must be addressed in this conversation, and their relationship with the person with ADHD is very important.
The spouse of someone with ADHD, whether they have ADHD or not themself, needs to be on guard against becoming too supportive.
Is that even a thing?
Yep. It truly is. If your spouse recognizes your ADHD, and understands it, you’re one of the lucky ones. But they also need to understand that you need your autonomy.
If they take on the responsibility of making sure that you are doing everything on time and in order, they are becoming the worst type of support you can have.
Yes. If that happens, then your wife is becoming your mother, your husband is becoming your dad.
And you? You are becoming a child, their child. And that isn’t functioning with an ADHD brain, that’s functioning with their brain. And that isn’t life.
It’s also not healthy …
It isn’t healthy for you, you don’t grow, you don’t improve. It isn’t healthy for them, they take on way too much and in the end your relationship becomes a burden to them.
And it isn’t a healthy relationship. I won’t even mention how harmful it is to be in a marriage with someone who is basically your parent or child.
Okay, fair warning
So in the end, look for those informal supports, find them, nurture them, develop them.
And make sure they are healthy ones. Because if they are, they are more consistent than the formal supports. and they benefit more than just you, they benefit the people who provide the support as well.
And that makes things a fair and even exchange, good support for good living and strong family and community.