Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Loving an Adult with A.D.D.
We're new at this. It's only been about the last year or so since we finally came to the conclusion that my husband has A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder). Now it seems obvious, but it has been a slowly unraveling "diagnosis". Realizing this has given us great insight into some of the conflicts, emotions, and frustrations we both have experienced with one another. Before it felt like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Now it feels like the pieces are starting to fit.
Fifteen years ago, schools were not diagnosing, let alone aware, that A.D.D. even existed. Today it seems prevalent and at times perhaps, over diagnosed. The lack of awareness back when my husband was in school left him feeling frustrated, alone, and well, like he was stupid. The latter is probably the most irritating thing of all because he is not stupid, but spent the better part of his life feeling like he was (and still struggles with it sometimes). Those feelings, coupled with personality and other issues, resulted in a rebellious, angry teenager struggling in school and feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with life. And of course, those issues get carried on and continued to wreak havoc as he went to college and even now, as he is a husband, father, and employee.
So how do you love someone with A.D.D.? And how can you help make their world a little easier to navigate?
We are both still learning what A.D.D. is and how it plays out in his life today (as an adult). When you don't understand how A.D.D. effects your spouse it can be downright frustrating sometimes. Walking into the kitchen to find a carton of milk left out on the counter, him not being able to prioritize or make decisions, or him feeling completely overwhelmed at work and at home...these are some of our realities. And yet, beginning to understand and make connections as to why things play out a certain way helps me to try to be a more sympathetic spouse, to hopefully be less demanding, and to work with him to figure out ways I can help him.
Sometimes it's hard to know whether a behavior is because of A.D.D. or whether it's a personality trait. And maybe it doesn't really matter, but joining the A.D.D. "family" (for lack of a better word) has given him peace in knowing he's not the only one that views the world this way and that there's not something "wrong" with him. It's not just a label or an excuse. We are not there yet and we have a long way to go in truly understanding the kind of support he needs. It can be hard to be married to someone with A.D.D. because, let's face it, you just don't think, learn, or process the same way.
If you are married to a spouse with A.D.D. or are a spouse with A.D.D. are there any systems or things you have put into place that have been especially helpful for you? I have a lot to learn about supporting my husband in this and I would love to be able to make things easier for him by understanding how he thinks and in what ways I can tangibly help, atleast on the home front.
I have since written an update. Click here to read more.