Tuesday, April 6, 2010

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

We often call ADHD a "good news" diagnosis. Why? Because it offers not only a long-elusive rational explanation for vexing behavior but also effective treatment strategies.  

So, why does a "good news" diagnosis sometimes mean "bad news" for the relationship. That's the topic of this two-part post.

     The reasons run the gamut—and are as complex as the individuals involved and their history together. Let's begin with an e-mail sent to me by a reader.  His situation illustrates a very common example of the ADHD diagnosis and treatment creating 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.