You, Me and ADHD.
On January 25th, 2002 I married a man who truly believed that the glass was half full. Four years later, I was running for the door.
This post is a brief look into our lives and how we live with ADHD.
In 2006, Michael was diagnosed with ADHD. The diagnosis did nothing to relieve my stress. I was happy to find out that there was a reason for what was going on with him, but his case was severe. Add to that his chronic insomnia and dealing with an un-fit working condition, life at home was hard. But we did our best to find the humour in our situation. I would ask him a question, and before I would finish, he would look at me and ask “What was the first part?” Did I mention that Michael has no short-term memory? His retention skills were… how should I phrase this, less than desirable.
Once Michael found a doctor who not only listened to him, but also had an honest curiosity regarding adults with ADHD, he was prescribed Ritalin. Looking back, I feel we both hoped that the medication would be the sole answer to our problems. We were wrong.
Michael needed to take three pills a day. With the retention of a sieve and factoring shift work, you can probably figure out how well that played out. I became a nag. I took it upon myself to carry the burden of memory for the both of us. Asking him if he took his medication became a punch line, one that lacked the laughter at the end of the joke.
Then one day, two years later along came Emma.
People always say that a child has the power to change you. Emma made me stronger. I started to truly tune into who I was, not just as a mother, but also as a woman, person, and a wife. Something had to give. On the outside I smiled, was nice to everyone, remained sweet and funny, all the qualities that people associate with me. Was I faking it? No. But I am an expert at hiding pain, anger, and stress. Being the center of everyone’s world can be intoxicating if you crave attention, but I don’t.
I was Emma’s center, Michael’s center and my Mom’s center. I was running out of air. So I chose to focus on one of the three. Emma. I had spent the last five years focused on Michael, and before that on my mother. If you are wondering when I started to pay attention to me, well that did not happen until March 14th, 2009.
Fast forward to Wednesday April 8th, 2009. We visited the doctor who had diagnosed Michael in 2006. It was the first time I had met him. I loved him instantly, his candor, his humour and the crazy masks that he kept on his wall. The Doctor asked Michael to bring his medication with him. Michael handed it to him and the look on the Doctor’s face was priceless. He told us that Michael’s medication was archaic. It probably worked initially, for a brief period. We sat in silence. For three years Michael has taken the incorrect form of Ritalin. For three years, I wondered, why I did not see a change? For three years I wondered if Michael suffered from something else? Three years.
So what does a woman do when she is faced with the fact that her husband has been taking the wrong medication…she finds peace. I stopped being angry. I let it all go.
Michael was prescribed a new medication. So far so good. Michael has a new doctor in Peterborough. So far so good. Michael is starting to believe that he will gain a better understanding of his ADHD through reading, counseling and acceptance. So far so good.
If you have a loved one with adult ADHD, my heart goes out to you. I can honestly say, “Been there, done that” to most issues around living with someone who has this diagnosis. My only advice is to find laughter and joy in all that you do. Laughter and joy are my superpowers. At times I thought I lost them, but they always returned in some form or another. Hold on to them tightly, because when the dark times come, they will help you find your way out.