Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just Another Kid To Take Care Of

Often in marriages where one person has ADHD and the other has a "normal" brain a dynamic gets created that looks a whole lot like a critical parent with a rebellious teenager.  The husband or wife with ADHD gets lumped in with any other kids as a liability, a nuisance, or at the very least incapable of responsibility which might be fine but the expectation is usually that they grow up and start thinking differently at some point when they really never will - http://pilferedwisdom.blogspot.com/2011/08/being-married-to-rainman.html.  The other problem I will discuss today is when we, with ADHD, demand to be respected and assert we are normal and really just aren't. I believe the key to success with ADHD is to really look hard and honest at ourselves and see what really is there, rather than what we wish was there, or what we have been lectured by parents, teachers, and spouses to believe should be there.  When we realize we are great at some things and inept at others we spend less time making grandiose promises to ourselves and our spouses about how we will never make that mistake again and just learn to compensate so we don't have to.

Two things people with ADHD have in common; we are all convinced we are awesome at multitasking, and we really suck at multitasking.  We confuse constantly being distracted and flitting from one task to another out of boredom as effective multitasking when our brains are wired to obsessively focus in on one thing of passion at a time with a hyperfocus.  Being fully present wherever we are is very difficult for us, even if we aren't the hyperactive kind that is physically on the move our brain always is.  So can we really watch TV while chatting with our wife - nope we will do one or the other effectively but not both so choose one.  Can we really check out Facebook real quick while we play with the kids, nope we can do one or the other with no concept of time elapsed either way.  This helps if we can accept it because we can stop getting defensive when our spouse asks us to put away the smartphone at the dinner table because we will become engrossed with it and ignore everyone else not because we are crappy parents, but that is just how our brains work.  We can stop getting defensive when our spouse reminds us to take the next exit; even if we remembered it this time our spouse remembers the forty times we drove right past it because we were caught up in a conversation.  You have to drop your shame and stop interpreting your spouse's suggestions as critical attacks reminiscent of a bad third grade teacher - but rather reminders that your brain don't work like that.  Just shut up and do it and you'll be glad later that you were actually able to connect with your spouse, be there for your child, or not have to figure out how to make a U-turn on 485, all for the cost of a little bit of defensive pride.

The second way we can improve ourselves to better accommodate marriage is to be a little less non-compliant and non-conformist.  Part of it is just part and parcel with the deficit as we have higher impulsivity which results in creativity, so we dress like Lady Gaga and expect everyone else to think outside of the box like us.  Creative is fine, but sometimes our impulsivity can make us embarrassing to our spouses by saying or doing inappropriate things at inappropriate times as we kind of ignore social graces.  The part we can work on is the "I'm not going to be told what to do" rugged independence that usually comes from insecurity for having never lived up to your potential as a kid.  Whether authority figures busted on you for being spacey, forgetful, or inattentive, other kids picked on you for being different, or you were just always haunted by a feeling that hard as you try you just can't quite accomplish what you feel you are capable of, we don't like being told we are wrong.  So accepting that our brains are wired to help us do amazing, wonderful things, but are also pretty inept at other things means we can just be unique individuals getting help with our weak spots rather than the stupid kid who will never do right or the sour grapes kid that says, "That's fine, I'm better than them anyways..."  Get an organized secretary, hire someone to do your taxes or housekeeping, and let your "normal" brained spouse help you in your other weak areas - like being fully present, eliminating distractions, establishing work boundaries to get a certain amount done and come home, remembering events and tasks, and following through on promises.  Once again, just shut up and do it - you'll find when you comply without resentment you end up accomplishing more, enjoying more, and disappointing yourself and others less.  I'd say the same for teens or kids with ADHD but they probably aren't reading my blog.

Previous post on ADHD here - http://pilferedwisdom.blogspot.com/2011/08/driving-ferrari-with-bicycle-brakes.html

1 comment:

  1. What do you do if you suspect BOTH spouses are ADD or ADHD but only has taken the initiative to be properly diagnosed? I KNOW we aren't supposed to diagnose our spouses but after 8 or 9 years with someone, you pick up on a few things. For instance, I am identified as ADHD. I take medication for it that greatly increases my ability to be productive. However, even BEFORE I was diagnosed and began medication, I was always VERY organized and made and kept doctors appointments, meetings, project deadlines, etc.
    My spouse has not been diagnosed, however, he is extremely disorganized and constantly running late. I am a successful multi-tasker in that I work a full-time job, maintain a schedule of appointments, rides and activities for 3 children and take care of the laundry and housework. My husband tends to focus on one thing at a time, work or home. Though he is helpful in spending time with the children, and keeping the yard up and the trash taken out, I find that planning and organizing are definitely not his forte.
    How do you handle a situation like this? I am constantly being reminded that I am ADHD and I admit freely that I DO battle hyper-focus as well as impulsivity daily. I TRY to use restraint and set boundaries as to when to check my e-mail, play on my smart phone or be distracted by other tasks that catch my attention. It is a daily struggle but I am working on it by scheduling breaks at certain times of the day to do these "fun" things so that I can focus in on the task at hand. I realize that my ADHD is a gift as well as a curse. How or would you even encourage your spouse to seek proper diagnosis if you suspected that they too were ADD? I don't like being told that I am incompetent when I know that I am, nor do I accept a cookie-cutter definition of the adult ADHD individual. My diagnosis was very thorough and including information about which areas of my functioning were most affected in my individual case. Not all ADHD individuals are the same nor do they all use the same coping skills to manage their condition, in my opinion.
    Again, I admit my natural tendencies but reject the notion that - with the proper medication and daily effort - these behaviors cannot be controlled or transformed. Respectfully and with thanks for all you do,