Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Hi honey, I’m ADHD

posted by Rod Dreher

Attention-deficit disorders can take a big toll on marriage. Excerpt:

In a marriage, the common symptoms of the disorder — distraction, disorganization, forgetfulness — can easily be misinterpreted as laziness, selfishness, and a lack of love and concern.

More:

Adults with attention disorders often learn coping skills to help them stay organized and focused at work, but experts say many of them struggle at home, where their tendency to become distracted is a constant source of conflict. Some research suggests that these adults are twice as likely to be divorced; another study found high levels of distress in 60 percent of marriages where one spouse had the disorder.

And:

Of course, complaints that a husband or wife is inconsiderate and inattentive, or doesn’t help enough around the house, are hardly limited to marriages in which one or both partners have attention problems. But A.D.H.D. can make matters much worse.
It can leave one spouse with 100 percent of the family responsibility, because the other spouse forgets to pick children up from school or pay bills on time. Partners without attention problems may feel ignored or unloved when their husband or wife becomes distracted — or, in another symptom of the disorder, hyperfocused on a work project or a computer game. They may feel they have no choice but to constantly nag to make sure things get done.
Spouses with attention deficit, meanwhile, are often unaware of their latest mistake, confused by their partner’s simmering anger. A lengthy to-do list or a messy house feels overwhelming to the A.D.H.D. brain, causing the person to retreat to a computer or a video game — further infuriating their spouse.
“It’s not because they’re lazy or they don’t love their spouse, but because they are distracted,” Ms. Orlov said. “But if you don’t know that distraction is the issue, you start to think the person doesn’t care about you, and anger and resentment build up.”

Ask Mrs. Dreher about what it’s like to live with such a person. Or better yet, don’t.



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Comments read comments(19)
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Grumpy Old Man

posted July 20, 2010 at 2:44 pm


Rod, did you say something?
Oh, look! A hummingbird!



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R Hampton

posted July 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm


Rod, I’m right with you (was diagnosed about eight years ago). Even with medication it’s a daily struggle.



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MWorrell

posted July 20, 2010 at 3:14 pm


A serious question: Why can’t an ADHD person just schedule routine tasks on a calendar in one of his/her better moments, and then just do what the calendar says. You mean to tell me that if a person sees a note that says, “Clean the Guest Bathroom”, they cannot do it?



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jhodi

posted July 20, 2010 at 3:19 pm


I’m off to clean the guest bathroom–oh, look, a hummingbird!



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MWorrell

posted July 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm


“A lengthy to-do list or a messy house feels overwhelming to the A.D.H.D. brain, causing the person to retreat to a computer or a video game — further infuriating their spouse.”
I guess I just have an issue with the word “causing” in that sentence. It seems that, as with obsessive compulsive behavior, the will could be asserted in the moment (with enough awareness of what is happening, of course).



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Pat

posted July 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm


This article reads asif it’s all about what the non-ADHD spouse should learn to accept. What strategies does the ADHD spouse need to adopt in order to function effectively in spite of their disorder?



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CAP

posted July 20, 2010 at 4:26 pm


so what became of the tai chi?



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kevin s.

posted July 20, 2010 at 4:31 pm


“What strategies does the ADHD spouse need to adopt in order to function effectively in spite of their disorder?”
For me (I’ve more or less self-diagnosed), I find chores that inherently capture my attention, like cooking and outdoor stuff. We also establish a date night once a week, where my wife has my attention.
ADHD people thrive on habits, so anything that becomes a habit will usually get done. Remembering to make this or that phone call is almost certainly best left to the spouse.



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Karl G

posted July 20, 2010 at 4:53 pm


“A serious question: Why can’t an ADHD person just schedule routine tasks on a calendar in one of his/her better moments, and then just do what the calendar says. You mean to tell me that if a person sees a note that says, “Clean the Guest Bathroom”, they cannot do it?”
For a few weeks, sure. Then something comes up and breaks the routine or adds some external stress, and the groove is gone, especially if it now requires an extra commitment of attention to catch back up with the task at hand, so the perceived extra difficulty becomes a snowball of active aversion to the task.
While some folks are casting the distractions as simply losing ones train of thought, as often as not they’re actively asserting some kind of distraction to try to get out from under the shadow of the undesirable obligation. There’s a fundamental anxiety that crops up with trying to force attention onto anything by the current object of a hyperfocus episode (and similarly with attempting to divert away from hyperfocus)



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celticdragonchick

posted July 20, 2010 at 4:55 pm


Why can’t an ADHD person just schedule routine tasks on a calendar in one of his/her better moments,
Because they will not remember to do it, or lose the calender etc.
You may as well ask why a bi polar person can’t just be more agreeable when they are in a manic phase.
Whatever coping mechanism the person has to get by at work, he or she will have pretty much exhausted it by the time he/she gets home where they expect to rest and let down their guards.



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celticdragonchick

posted July 20, 2010 at 4:57 pm


ADHD people thrive on habits, so anything that becomes a habit will usually get done. Remembering to make this or that phone call is almost certainly best left to the spouse.
Exactly.



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H.S.

posted July 20, 2010 at 5:26 pm


1) Yup. I’m married to an ADHD spouse. I handle anything that requires tracking, follow-up, organization. Luckily his many excellent qualities that compensate.
2) So if it’s not “laziness, selfishness and a lack of love and concern” (even though it sure feels like it sometimes when you live with an ADHD person), I wonder if all moral failings are ultimately due to brain disorders?
In which case, what does it mean to have ‘personal responsibility’ for anything?



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Matthew

posted July 20, 2010 at 8:38 pm


The problem with Adult ADD/ADHD is that often times it misdiagnosed based on the symptoms rather than the cause. For example, one of the common “side effects” of Adult ADD is depression. Yet one who is clinically depressed can also manifest ADD symptoms. I’m afraid its just too easy to slap a label of ADD on things when in truth much further testing and analysis ought to be done on each patient.
I was married to a woman like this. It destroyed our marriage, in good part because of psychiatrists and psychologists being unable to decide on a proper diagnosis and continuing to throw medications at the problem which quite frankly only made the problem worse.



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Lord Karth

posted July 21, 2010 at 12:14 am


Matthew @ 8:38 PM writes:
“The problem with Adult ADD/ADHD is that often times it misdiagnosed based on the symptoms rather than the cause.”
The problem with ADD/ADHD of ANY sort is that it is so wildly overdiagnosed as to be useless. From what I am given to understand, some 75 %-plus of all such cases are found in the US (and possibly England). That tells me one thing:
A diagnosis of ADD is, in the overwhelming majority of cases, what we used to call “toad squat”.
Color me a proud “ADHD” doubter.
Your servant,
Lord Karth



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sigaliris

posted July 21, 2010 at 9:46 am


I think H.S. has made a very perceptive comment:
I wonder if all moral failings are ultimately due to brain disorders?
I think the answer is probably yes. The more we find out about how the brain works, the more it becomes obvious that all of our behaviors and choices are physically mediated through the brain. It’s not that hard to affect brain chemistry and structure in ways that are not going to be helpful in the long run. Not to mention the fact that our brains did not evolve for the kinds of lives many of us are living now. This is why I think an ounce or two of good therapy, to understand and hopefully change those patterns, is worth several tons of sitting in church being lectured about your bad behavior, and “repenting” diligently of things you know in your heart you’re going to do again anyway.
In which case, what does it mean to have ‘personal responsibility’ for anything?
This is a very good question. One that is more likely to be answered by science than by religion.
Btw, my good friend, who is a lawyer working in family court, says she didn’t believe in ADD/ADHD either until she realized that most of the lawyers she works with have it. I thought this might be of passing interest to Karth.



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Your Name

posted July 21, 2010 at 12:41 pm


sigaliris @ 9:46 PM writes:
“[M]y good friend, who is a lawyer working in family court, says she didn’t believe in ADD/ADHD either until she realized that most of the lawyers she works with have it. I thought this might be of passing interest to Karth.”
Show me a few peer-reviewed studies, involving multiple-country comparisons, to back that up, and we might talk. Not before.
Your servant,
Lord Karth



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sigaliris

posted July 21, 2010 at 1:44 pm


Hmm, I’ll work on that, Karth, right after I assemble the multi-country studies on Humorous Comment Non-Recognition Syndrome. ; )
(My friend captcha says, “Loki safe.” So I think the trickster god is with me this day.)



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Mom

posted July 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm


When my 14 year old son was diagnosed with ADD, I did all sorts of research on it. Knowing that this fog is part of the way his brain functions helps us help him, and he is very aware that this is how he has to deal with his surroundings. Just knowing has helped us as a family.
I was very wary of this diagnosis for my son, and I’ve heard many adults say that rambunctious children have ADHD. I believe that there was a time that as a society, we were over-diagnosing ADHD.
I also found out in my research that ADD and ADHD are hereditary. Back when I was a kid (I’m 40), we called them “space cadets.” We all knew who these kids were. They were usually very smart, but didn’t apply themselves evenly to all tasks. They just had to deal with it, without help.
I’ve been able to trace this through our family. I can see the genetic path through 4 generations of our family.
Because of this, I’ve been able better my relationship with my mother-in-law. She has it (I’m not a professional, but she has the same signs that my son has). This has helped me better my relationship with her. I understand how to deal with my son with the fog. I can deal with her and her fog.
On a society note: We have to be careful when comparing societies across the globe. Americans like their statistics–the tests passed, the grades accomplished, tons of extracurricular activities. We as a culture think that these accomplishments are very important. I’m sure that other societies, and even our own many decades ago, don’t consider ADD/ADHD a condition that must be diagnosed. Just a surmise.



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AnotherBeliever

posted July 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm


I had ADD as a kid. I’ve outgrown most of it, but not all of it. I am able to track where I need to be and when, to pay my bills on time, to make and even sometimes accomplish everything on my to-do list (I know that not even non-ADD people do everything on their weekly list so I don’t let that get to me.) I can focus on work or lectures in an academic setting without much trouble. I have not taken meds for it since I was 14 or 15.
But there’s still some tendencies. I have trouble settling in to work if my desk and immediate surroundings are not ordered. I am easily distracted by extraneous noise – to the point where I have been known to wear noise isolating ear buds or straight up ear plugs at work when working on longer projects. I have some trouble STARTING a task, though once I do it’s not hard to keep on track. I can go into hyperfocus at times (the internet is NOT conducive to getting things done.)
All of these tendencies are worse when I am short on sleep or severely stressed. I need my down time. I have to have a planner and I’m pretty careful to write things down. But I compensate effectively for the most part. I know what “the fog” feels like though, and I understand how it can really impact a person. Some people are badly enough effected that compensation takes a lot of energy. It’s easy enough to say, “Why don’t they just write something down and then do it?” But to a person with ADD, switching tasks is a real challenge. We have a quieter overall “award center” operating in our minds. Things which might give a normal person satisfaction enough to motivate them to complete a task the second time will not offer any such motivation to us. We have to rely on habit, planners, lists, hard deadlines, and the support of co-workers and family members and friends.



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