Tuesday, April 6, 2010

When a "Good News" Diagnosis Means "Bad News" for the Relationship, Pt. I

 We call ADHD a "good news" diagnosis. That's because it offers not only a long-elusive rational explanation for vexing behavior but also effective treatment strategies.  So, why does diagnosis (and sometimes even treatment) mean "bad news" for some relationships? 

     The reasons run the gamut, as complex as the individuals involved and their history together. To explore this topic a bit here, let's begin with a letter (below) sent to me by a reader.  This is only one example of how the ADHD diagnosis and treatment might create new challenges even as it resolves old ones. 

Jack Celebrates His Success: Why Can't His Wife? 

Consider Jack, 42, married 12 years and diagnosed nine months ago:

"It took about six months for me to get on board with medication, and the doc and I haven't worked out all the kinks yet in that regard. But let's put it this way: Before I started taking medication, I was often criticized for being hyper, loud, disorganized and easily distracted. Since the medication, I hear myself as I sound to others and so have much more sensitivity to my own volume. I am also now more aware of my tendency to rant. A good argument used to be like food to me.  Now, I don't have to be in the ring with every discussion, and I can focus normally on a discussion that I am engaged in.   
     "So, between medication and therapy, I feel my approach to life has changed dramatically.  I'm also better organized, more focused, and doing better at work.  But has all this helped my marriage?  That's the big surprise. The situation at home has actually gotten worse in many respects.