Adult ADHD – when you know but they don’t
I have always known that my husband has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) but he hasn’t. Over the 20 plus years that I have known him, I heard stories about his childhood “antics” which were much more than cute, some of them were downright dangerous.
I heard stories about him taking the neighbor’s swing set apart, about how he and his cousin tried to stop a car with ropes tied around their waists, how they would ride their bikes all day – even into Mexico, and how they could be leaving the house in the morning finding things to do all day, and not returning until nightfall. When he grew up, this type of behavior was “kind of” normal – the kid goes crazy, we throw him outside. Today, parenting is different.
When I met him, he was near 30 and had all ready had jobs in at least seven different industries, some of which required education, some of which didn’t. He had been a taxi driver, carpenter, a pipe-fitter, a purchasing agent, a chef, a plastics technician, a shipping agent, a firefighter and was in school to become a Paramedic. He was broke but had impeccable taste.
He was brilliant but couldn’t sit down and read a book; in fact, he couldn’t sit down at all. He was often late to work and even late, very late to dates. His car was a trash pit.
We got married anyway, and he settled into a fast paced career as a paramedic – which suited his personality because there was always an emergency. When we started discussing children, I approached the concept of “treatment for ADHD” – believing that my children would likely have it.
He was adamantly opposed. His idea was – kids will be kids, and I did just fine. They won’t need medication because there is nothing wrong, there won’t be anything wrong. Stop talking about treating ADHD.
He quit working as a paramedic and went to work in automotive parts – after he went back to cooking, and then into construction, worked at a biotech company, made some jewelry, setup traffic surveys… He had a lot of jobs and didn’t keep any of them. His car was still a pit.
He could do laundry – but would forget to put the clothes in the dryer and could never find any underwear. He could start the dishes, stack them all up, organize and sort everything – but would wander off before he actually washed them. He “meant” to clean out his shop, repair the dryer vent, put gutters on the house… He went to the hardware store for one thing and came back with three bags full of stuff – but not what he went to the store for.
One afternoon we were watching public television, and a documentary came on. He didn’t know that it was about adult ADHD until he was already interested. I heard him saying out loud “I do that”…. “That is me.”
Despite the psychology classes he took, despite his internship in mental health treatment, despite raising five kids, despite knowing that several of his relatives had been treated – he really didn’t think he had ADHD (ADD) and didn’t identify with it at all until he heard it on TV.
He had new insight – but still couldn’t take the step to go to the doctor. I had to make an appointment; I had to make sure he got there – and guess what? The doctor agreed.
He is now on medication, and though he will never be the most organized guy, he will probably always get distracted by shiny stuff – and will probably always have a hundred projects going but when he takes his medication he can actually get some things accomplished. His shed is clean – cluttered but clean, he can usually find his underwear.
He even agreed to have our kids evaluated for the alphabet soup of mental disorder that is our family – some have ADHD, some have other disorders, but at least they have access to treatment and his car is no longer a pit.