Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Partners in Life, Partners in ADHD Awareness

You share a life together – maybe even a bed, a checking account, and human offspring, too. It might sound surprising (especially to some less-than-savvy physicians and therapists), but ADHD evaluation and treatment outcome also typically benefits from a shared "team" approach. Let's examine the reasons why.

Elaine finally decided to seek professional help for her long-ago diagnosed ADHD. But it still took her three months to actually book the appointment. Unfortunately, that therapist ended up knowing little about ADHD, and Elaine gave up on finding another one on her insurance plan.

     “She gives up easily with most obstacles," boyfriend Brian explains, "and then she also quickly forgets why her ADHD is a problem -- until she loses her next job." For a long time, Brian didn’t push her because he didn’t like the idea of "acting like Big Daddy." Intervening just didn’t seem healthy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The "Gifts of ADHD": Transforming Humiliation into Humility

A big obstacle faced by couples dealing with ADHD is denial -- that is, either partner refuses to concede that ADHD exists, that it is causing challenges, or that effective strategies truly exist.

The reasons for denial around ADHD are myriad and complex. For some who arrive at the diagnosis in adulthood, though, it's simple: ADHD feels like one more negative label, right down there with lazy, unmotivated, and careless. The temptation then might be to wholly reject the label and instead cling to a more "positive" spin: ADHD is a gift. In this month's guest post, San Diego-based psychotherapist and ADHD expert Lew Mills, Ph.D., MFT (pictured below), offers a nuanced way to reconcile "gift" and "disorder."

(To learn more about denial's psychological and even physiological foundations, check out the August and October 2008 issues of CHADD's Attention magazine, which excerpt my book's chapters on the topic. If you missed these issues, remember that CHADD members can access an online treasure trove of past Attention articles.)

I  look forward to your comments!  --   Gina Pera

You can always start a debate amongst a group of people with ADHD by asking whether ADHD is a "disorder" or a "difference." Is it a curse or a gift? It's everyone's favorite topic, and everyone has an opinion. Actually, I have two opinions. Like many big questions, the answer lies somewhere not just in the middle but at both ends.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Is It "Miscommunication"—or Could It Be Adult ADHD?

With a warm smile and a kiss, Diane welcomed fiancé George at her front door and then noticed fresh mud on his shoes. In a pleasant tone of voice, she asked him to please leave his boots on the stairs. 

Puzzled, he said, "Your suits stare? Huh? What on earth are you talking about?" Despite her clarification, George remained convinced that Diane had said exactly that. Moreover, she'd said it with that tone (presumably, the disapproving kind). 
  It wasn't this pair's first tangled communication. In fact, it happened so often, George had his hearing checked but it seemed fine. Their couples therapist suggested that George might bear deep-seated psychological resistance to listening to Diane.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Fortunately, George's ADHD diagnosis came just as these "miscommunications" reached fever pitch. He and Diane felt relief when the cognitive therapist explained how ADHD has a common traveling companion called Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). Briefly, it can cause a person to misinterpret content and even tone of voice (more details about CAPD in a minute). The therapist provided the couple strategies for enhancing communications, noting that stimulant medication can often help "strengthen the signal." 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

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.
     What, you say, ADHD affects sex? Who knew? Yes, it's one of those areas, like sleep, where we often fail to connect the dots to ADHD symptoms.  In fact, I open the chapter on sex in my book, Is It You, Me, or  Adult A.D.D.?. with this quote:

Who knew so many women were begging their male partners for sex? It must be the world's best-kept secret. -- Rory

Later in the chapter, I write:

When ADHD does create significant sexual problems, it usually falls into two categories: The ADHD partner initiates sex all the time or almost never. Again, it seems, we encounter these pesky ADHD-related challenges in self-regulation and summoning motivation.

The truth is, ignorance about this critically important connection between ADHD and intimacy creates so much unnecessary hurt. Left with no other rational explanation for sexual difficulties, partners sometimes blame themselves—or each other. In a blog post on Sex and ADHD at Jeff's ADD Mind, the author first considers it as the “problem with no name” and finally “the problem that carries a lot of shame.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

To Sleep, Perchance to Turn Off That *&$@# Computer

Being new to the area, my husband and I got lost on the way to our first adult ADHD discussion group in downtown San Francisco. Some heated bickering later ("You said to turn left!" and "I didn't mean that left!"), we finally arrived and caught our breath. That's when a worn-out looking man across the table said something that sticks with me, ten years later:

"I've blamed a lot of people in my life for my troubles, but when it comes down to it, I finally realize that I am my own worst enemy. For forty years, I've not only opposed what other people want me to do, I've opposed what I want to do."

      We've all heard that adult ADHD can create problems in relationships, but this man's epiphany struck some foundational truth: Having ADHD can create problems in your relationship with yourself, never mind someone else.