Living with unrecognized ADHD, in a loved one or in oneself, can feel like being lost in the fog—often on a roller coaster.
“I hope others can be spared from stumbling through the fog like my husband and I did,” Edith says. “For our first 25 years together, I thought Joe was lazy or selfish or both.”
Edith also wondered if she was failing as a wife because she had so little success in motivating Joe to be more cooperative and thoughtful toward her and the children. At times she chalked it up to she and Joe marching to the beat of different drummers. “For years, I went back and forth in confusion, with no idea that adult ADHD existed,” she says. “Then he was diagnosed at age 55.”
Adults with ADHD also use the fog metaphor, including this woman, who was diagnosed at age 52:
I don’t quite know how to describe my life to people who haven’t experienced ADHD the way I have. Imagine driving a car in heavy fog. You get tense, because you can’t see the edges of the road or what’s in front of you. In other words, you often can’t see how your actions will result in predictable consequences, which instead seem to come out of nowhere.
So you inch along, gripping the wheel, anxious that you’re going to crash into something.That’s how my life was for a half century, until I figured out ADHD. Few people other than my family members would have guessed I had ADHD just by looking at me or talking to me. I worked hard to “pass for normal,” had earned some impressive college degrees, and had tons of plausible excuses for my goof-ups.
When I started taking the stimulant medication, though, the fog suddenly lifted and the road ahead was clear. I could relax my hold on the wheel and enjoy the drive. I could even appreciate the scenery without worrying that I’d get distracted and run off the road. The things most people take for granted, most people with ADHD struggle over for years until they figure out they have it.
Until now, perhaps you have been slogging through serious mental fog, not understanding how your life got so confusing. Even if you have learned about ADHD, maybe you harbor concerns or misconceptions about the validity of the diagnosis or the safety of the medication that help treat it. You are not alone. Everything about ADHD seems to cause confusion, including its name, until you get the facts.
Below are five statements or questions I sometimes hear from skeptical partners of adults with newly diagnosed ADHD (and, phrased slightly differently, from some adults with ADHD themselves). So, let's take some time to debunk each one.