Join me in a teleconference April 28, sponsored by CHADD of Pennsylvania. The topic is You, Me, and ADD: Success Strategies for Couples. It’s free to CHADD members and $12 for non-members. (Limit: 75 attendees; priority given to Pennsylvania residents.)
Are you living a roller coaster life around ADHD? Do you have a partner who is undiagnosed or in denial about having ADHD — or thinks you should do all the accommodating? Especially in this economy, can you or your family afford to settle for less than you deserve in the way of workable strategies? I’ll share with you some of the best advice from top experts.
Bonus: All registrants will receive a free book excerpt — detailing little talked-about ways in which undetected, unaddressed ADHD traits can challenge relationships (read the chapter’s introduction below). To learn more and register, visit CHADD of Pennsylvania’s website.
Twists and Turns
For years, I didn’t truly realize how my wife’s
ADHD was destroying our relationship. I
could deal with absent-mindedness. Only
later, though, did I connect ADHD to her tendency
to blame and pick fights.
Support-group members diligently read books and articles about adult
ADHD. When baffling behaviors remain unexplained, they turn to
each other to compare notes, trying to determine if certain puzzling
behavior patterns are “an ADHD thing” or a personality quirk particular
to their individual partners. For example:
• “Does your partner complain about clothing textures or labels?”
• “Does stating what you want to your partner constitute starting
• “Is the TV volume always turned up extra loud?”
• “Do you ever get time to yourself, or does your partner follow you
around all the time?”
• “Do you find that even your most trivial comments are countered?”
Inevitably, they discover similarities in their ADHD partners that aren’t
mentioned in the official diagnostic criteria or popular press.
“It came as such a relief to hear that others have similar puzzling experiences
with their ADHD partners,” Jeanette remembers. “I thought I was
losing my mind or imagining things.” When you’re living in a whirlwind
of confusing phenomenon—where your partner insists that up is down
and green is orange—it’s easy to get confused.
The behavior patterns we explore in this chapter are not universal, but
they are common enough. Your jaw might drop with recognition, or you
might say, “But my partner doesn’t do any of these things.” That’s because
these patterns have a variety of causes; some are associated with brainbased
ADHD challenges and others with not-so-effective coping
mechanisms, as explained in Chapter 3.
Surprisingly, though, a few patterns spring from unwitting attempts to
stimulate an understimulated brain, according to psychiatrist Daniel
Amen, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of
California, Irvine, School of Medicine psychiatrist, and author of many
books and audio-video programs about the brain. He is also the founder
and medical director of Amen Clinics, Inc. In the second part of this chapter,
Amen details common self-medicating behaviors and offers advice for
avoiding conflict escalation with someone who seems intent on it.
Even your own ignorance about ADHD can contribute to the problem,
as you unknowingly react in ways that make matters worse. Yet, for some
of these behaviors, trying to figure out the “whys” behind them is almost
as befuddling as living with them! Support-group members just want
them to stop, and in large part, these behaviors do tend to disappear with
ADHD awareness and treatment.
The findings explored in this chapter are grouped into two parts:
• Field Notes from the Front Lines: Quirky patterns reported by
support-group members, from “Saturday Morning Fight Syndrome”
to the “It’s Your Fault Delusion”
• Conflict as Self-Medication: Real-life examples that illustrate conflictprovoking
Whatever their cause, it’s important to recognize, understand, and
stop reacting to these behaviors before they negatively affect your brain.