ADHD Differences: A Call for Peace, Kindness, and Understanding

Photo: ©Jonathan Coote, 2011

Last week, I clarified some of my viewpoints around ADHD based on a comment received from a blog visitor whom I’ll refer to as Kim (not her real name). (I don’t think. She wrote anonymously).

I talked about how ADHD is experienced differently by each of us, and how my blog reflects my own personal experiences.

That said, many of you have written over the years to say that my wacky journey has at times mirrored your own. Those of us who share similar traits or travails have found a validating sense of camaraderie, and for that, I’m grateful.

To those of you who experience a different flavor of ADHD:  we’ve learned from your stories and sharing too.

Together, we share this ADHD thing. And for all of us, that can cause a heap of trouble when it comes to relationships. As the wedding season approaches, and in response to Kim’s comment, I’ll share a cautionary word about the dangers of ignoring your ADHD when you’re looking for a happily- ever-after. Read on…

The old us vs them debate

Let’s look at another of Kim’s points. Then, I’ll clarify my position.

“I am also incredibly critical of the whole marrying a “normal” person vs another person with ADHD. This blog clings onto this us vs. them mentally [sic] that is incredibly immature and regressive.”

Yikes! The perpetually ubiquitous argument about labeling and discussion of differences. I admit battle fatigue from having arduously stated my position on this previously.

You can’t fight what you can’t see

Contrary to Kim’s comment, I continue to believe that it’s only by examining our ADHD differences that we’ll ever get a handle on how to address them. Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, research shows that marriages under the influence of ADHD are statistically twice as likely to lead to divorce.

It’s particularly relevant that women with ADHD are far less likely to be diagnosed and therefore treated, resulting in their being at higher risk for marital strife. Until their diagnosis, they won’t have the knowledge and appropriate tools to avoid or address it.

Coincidentally, just as I was receiving Kim’s criticism, I’d finished reading Melissa Orlov‘s excellent book, The ADHD Effect on Marriage. Ms. Orlov, with Dr. Ned Hallowell, co-hosts a website devoted to ADHD and marriage. Together, they work arduously to ensure successful, happy relationships are within the reach of individuals with ADHD.

If untreated, or sub-optimally treated, our ADHD symptoms can jeopardize our relationship with our partner/spouse. Avoiding dealing with that is in my opinion both an abdication of personal responsibility and a recipe for disaster.

The reason for looking at the differences between ADHD and non-ADHD partners is to make life better, not just for the couple, but for those around them. Avoidance will not make the challenges go away! In fact, it is highly likely that avoidance will only lead to an escalation of the problems and a deepening of emotional distance and resentment, and who would choose that?

In case you missed it, here’s ADHD: We’re Not All the Same – Part I


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