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ADHD and Relationships

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You know that marvelous feeling you get, when you stop hitting yourself in the head with a mallet? That’s how I felt on September 31, when I turned in a manuscript to Routledge Press. The subject? A professional guide for couple therapists treating ADHD-challenged couples.

That was one tough assignment—there is no existing professional guide for couple therapists treating ADHD—and it took two years of solid, thoughtful, painstaking, and collaborative work. But my co-author (Arthur L. Robin, Ph.D.) and I, with the help of several esteemed contributors, produced one heckuva book, if I do say so myself. Our goal was to leverage our collective knowledge in helping couple therapists guide the thousands (millions?) of people who are desperate for ADHD-informed couple therapy. More about that book in a future post.

I tell you about the agonizing two years of writing because, six years after my first book, Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?, was published, it just received a very well-written review at an entertaining new website devoted to great reads: GimmeThatBook.com. Despite the book having 175 five-star reviews on Amazon, and having received thousands of letters from grateful readers, it’s always nice to know that someone “gets” my work and the effort that goes into it. In fact, to celebrate finishing the couple-therapy book, I’ve offered the website’s founder, Kyle Wendy Skultety, five copies for a book giveaway contest.

An excerpt:

This book is put together very well, and operates under the premise that ADD is not “so much of a disorder of attention as it is a disorder of self-regulation”, according to psychologist Russell Barkley, who wrote the foreword.  The theme of the book is the ‘roller coaster’ that both ADD’ers and non experience on a daily basis, and so the chapter headings are related to our favorite amusement park rides.  There are three parts; first, what is ADHD and how it affects you/your partner, second, what happens when you hit rock bottom and either decide to get treatment (or not), and three, how to succeed in building your relationship back with different strategies.

As you read, you get the sense that you are part of a support group, as you read others’ stories and get to know what lessons they have learned along the way. The difference between this book and the one I mentioned above, is that this goes into much more detail, with explanations as to WHY these things happen, and HOW to fix them. I found myself highlighting sections, seeing how there are common threads among ADD’ers and their significant others, and even learning more about brain function.  Each chapter contains a few ADHD Partner Snapshot graphs, which show the results of surveys taken from 162 responders.

There are chapters devoted to denial, medications, finances, therapy, co-existing disorders, sex, coping skills, and more. Understanding the spectrum of ADHD takes patience, time, and teamwork, and that is the author’s intent….

 Read the rest—and sign up for the contest—here!

Thanks for reading,


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Katy Rollins

This week’s guest post comes from my friend Katy Rollins, who writes one of my favorite blogs about living with Adult ADHD: 18Channels.

10 Ridiculous Things #ADHD Makes Me Do

By Katy Rollins

Just 10? I could probably list 100 but why blow them all on one post.

1) Follow my husband around the yard talking at him while he’s mowing the lawn, even though he can’t hear me, until he finally gives up, turns off the mower, and says “Yes?”

2) Decide to make dandelion wine. Then decide to make lilac wine. Then decide to make limoncello. Because three projects is BETTER than ONE!

3) Make a plan for the day – and then throw it out the window like the cheap imitation of a life that it is, if I get a better offer…or a distractingly good snack.

4) Sometimes avoid conversations because totally engaging in them can be totally a lot of work.

5) Keep throwing things in my big day bag because I need to “do” them, then experience confusion when the bag ends up weighing 35 lbs.

6) Headstands. Spontaneous headstands. On my couch.

7) Always lateness. Always working to thwart the always lateness.

8) Leave my purse sitting in random places. Like the middle of the sidewalk. Like around my body, but I forget it’s there. Like on tables in random public places.

9) Dream big. Regret it later.

10) Dream big again.


Check out 18Channels for essays and more from Katy, whose bio in part reads:
I’m a wife, stepmother of three, collector of animals (I AM NOT A HOARDER, we are at capacity at five!), an artstrepreneur, event planner, social media/marketing consultant and compulsive civic project instigator. I can often be seen around town with my ADHDog in tow.

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A quick note to let you know that my book, Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?, is available as a download from Amazon.com for Kindle devices and Kindle applications for iPads, iPhones, PCs, and so forth.  Just click on the book title above to go directly to the product page.

Please tell your friends in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom that the Kindle is available on Amazon.com in those countries. (This is the English version.)

Thank you for spreading the word.

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This morning, I had the pleasure of fielding some great questions from Totally.com community members in this webinar.  (Note; there are a couple of commercials during the hour-long session, but they are pretty short!)

Watch live streaming video from totallyadd at livestream.com
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“When the average ADHDer gets hit with the news that their life partner—and frequently, the point of stability in the marriage—is ill or terminally ill, more than the relationship has been threatened. Not only are we facing the loss of someone we love—and when an ADHDer loves, it goes deep—our whole stability is threatened.”

So began an e-mail from my friend Tricia, written in response to my request for advice for James, a reader of this blog. He had written to ask me how to best help care for his ill partner without letting his ADHD symptoms thwart his best intentions.  I quickly responded with my best off-the-cuff advice, but then I turned to a real expert: Tricia.

James’ was a timely e-mail, because even though Tricia’s beloved husband had just passed away, she was already turning her thoughts to this important topic:  How to help prepare the adult with ADHD who suddenly becomes the caregiver to an ill partner, a charge that can involve immense organizational skills, dealing with physicians’s sometimes prickly egos, hospital rules, conflicting advice from specialists and, oh, all the things that the partner used to do, such as bill-paying and other logistics?  Not to mention dealing with personal grief reactions and a frightfully shortening window of time together. Read the rest of this entry »

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A quick post to let you know—because it hasn’t been publicized—that Is It You, Me, or  Adult A.D.D.? is available for immediate download as a full PDF.  Why is this useful?  Lots of reasons.  I’m letting you know right now because the PDF might not be available soon.

Yes, you probably don’t want to read the entire PDF from your monitor.  After all, it’s a big book, one my friend and Huffington Post blogger Michael Laskoff calls “almost ridiculously comprehensive.” (Check out Michael’s archive on Huffington Post for many thought-provoking posts on Adult ADHD and other topics.) Read the rest of this entry »

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umbrellawedI knew something was up when a greater-than-usual  number of “help, please!” e-mails appeared in my in-box this morning.

Then my friend Doreen gave me the heads up on Facebook: MSN.com had featured a “When Your Lover Has ADHD” tag on its Valentine’s-themed homepage.  It linked to an interview I’d done last year with Health.com: “When Someone You Love Has ADHD: Frequently Asked Questions About Helping Your Partner and Yourself.”  It begins this way:

When journalist Gina Pera married a man with undiagnosed Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) she embarked on a wild ride that took her from frustration and confusion to understanding and advocacy. Today she runs support groups for people with ADHD and their partners, and her book Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? was published in 2008.

“Wild ride” indeed. But our marriage started out more on the rainy side. (That’s us at our outdoor wedding in 1998.  Despite the huge two-person umbrella, my husband still managed to position the dripline right over me. Fortunately, that kind of center-of-the-universe tendency is a relic of the past — or neither one of us, not to mention our marriage, would have survived!) Here’s a sample of the questions:

Q: How did you realize that your husband had ADHD?

Q: In the title of your book, you used the outdated term “ADD.” Why that instead of ADHD? Read the rest of this entry »

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Thanks to Philadelphia ABC affiliate WPVI-TV for airing this well-balanced segment during ADHD Awareness Week, and thanks to Dancing with the Stars star Karina Smirnoff and the amazing Kavanaugh family for sharing their stories. (Oh, I make a small cameo appearance, drawn from a 30-minute interview with Health producer Dawn Heefner. Astute, intelligent questions all!)

PHILADELPHIA, PA.; September 22, 2009 (WPVI) — Attention deficit disorders are common among children. But few people know that they affect anywhere from 4 to 16% of American adults too – though most don’t know it. But identifying the disorder can be a big step in learning how to live a good life with AD/HD.

Karina Smirnoff moves across the dance floor in “Dancing With the Stars” with a precision that shows hours & hours of practice.

That’s not easy for someone with attention deficit disorder – ADD….

Continue reading at KPVI’s website, and PLEASE leave a note of appreciation there for this story.

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Maybe we so often associate ADHD challenges with schoolwork, paperwork, and housework that we don’t often think of ADHD putting a kink in, um, bedroom fun. Or, that activity that we assume most people can do “in their sleep”: sleep.

Ah, but what you don’t know can hurt you. It can hurt your love life. And it can hurt your ability to get to bed on time, go to sleep, and stay asleep, not to mention leaving you prone to gasping for air (sleep apnea) or dancing the cucharacha with your restless legs all night.

I invite you to visit my blog on ADHD and Relationships to learn a bit more on those two subjects and, best of all, read the many insightful comments from readers that follow. (While you’re there, please sign up to follow this monthly blog so you’ll be notified of new posts.) I guarantee you’ll find some kindred spirits.

1. ADHD and Sex: No Shame, No Blame

“Gina, sex is difficult for people with ADHD; it’s tough to stay focused!” says a female Facebook friend, responding to my query on this topic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lunch rush was over, but distractions remained numerous inside the La Bou cafe just off Highway 49 in Auburn. Blenders whirred out smoothies every few minutes, laughter erupted from a nearby group, a young worker noisily cleared tables.

Yet, through it all, Cass Brown Capel stayed focused – eyes locked on her interviewer, the need to interject random thoughts stifled, attention not straying to her daughter, Ariana, who was sitting placidly next to her.

You would have no inkling that Capel, a 54-year-old psychologist from Auburn, has been diagnosed with the adult version of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder since 1991.

So begins the main story on Adult ADHD, by reporter Sam McManis, in last Sunday’s Sacramento Bee. Immediately, readers learn that ADHD probably isn’t what they thought it was — a childhood ondition that makes someone fidgety or flighty.

Read the full story here: http://www.sacbee.com/749/story/1234819.html

Thanks to the Bee, McManis, and especially Cass and John Capel, for sharing their story in order to educate the public on this vastly underdiagnosed condition.

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