It’s 8 am and my husband has left for work for the second time, knowing what I know about this man he will come back in one more time before he leaves “for real”. In our wedding vows 7 years ago I promised him I would always help him find his keys and as the door swings open for the third time, I put the keys in his hand. I smile to myself and sigh. This is our normal; countless lost debit cards, projects started and stopped abruptly, and what feels like a constant game of catch up. It’s also endless creativity, the energy it takes to entertain our three small children, and problem-solving skills like no other. Just like everything in life, ADHD comes with goodness even if it is sometimes hidden in the struggle.
1 in 11 people have ADHD, so chances are someone you know and love is living with it. You may have noticed some decision-making paralysis, a bit of forgetfulness or maybe the trail of creative projects they leave in their wake. How can you support this person? What is the right thing to do or say to help them feel comfortable? How can you be a safe place? Everyone deserves to feel loved and accepted, and people with ADHD can often feel bothersome and ashamed of their symptoms. A few things to remember as a neurotypical person interacting with someone with ADHD: they don’t want to be forgetful, their decision-making process is different than yours, space to create and express themselves is necessary. When we keep these three truths in the forefront of our minds, our interactions can be less frantic and more rewarding.
The worst thing you can say to someone lamenting their forgetfulness is “Why don’t you just put it in the same place every time?” As if they haven’t thought of this very thing! Oftentimes the ADHD brain is 5 steps ahead of its physical self. When they’re walking into a room they’ve already skipped ahead to where their favorite comfy shirt is and what project they want to finish today, and while they’re thinking these things through, their hand is seemingly acting of its own accord. The place they keys on top of is a rarely used, dust-covered shelf - And just like that it's t-minus 8 hours until panic ensues as they search for their keys. So help them retrace their steps, have patience and try to remember that shelf for next time.
When deciding between going to the movies or spending the night in, we all weigh the pros and cons before making our choice. But if the neurotypical brain is dipping its toes in their options, the ADHD brain is deep-diving into the Mariana Trench of theirs. ‘When was the last time we went to the movies?’ ‘What will the parking situation be like?’ ‘Which theater has the seats I like?’ ‘If we stay in I’ll have to do the dishes before I can relax.’ ‘What snacks do we have?’ ‘We could finish that puzzle. But where is the box?’ These thoughts swirl in their minds often leaving us on the outside wondering how it could possibly take so long to make such a simple choice. This is where you throw in some comforting details, ‘If we stay in, you can go get some chips and snacks while I tidy up the kitchen, give them a grounding touch, and most importantly be patient. They’re worth the wait.
The natural state of a person with ADHD is creating. That doesn’t always mean painting or composing a song. This can be exploring a place they’ve never been before, making lists of the ideas they’ve been rolling around in their mind, or even trying a new recipe. Stretching those creative muscles in a way that isn’t restrictive is vital. I have found that taking the time to show interest in these creative endeavors is one of the best and most affirming ways I can hold space for my husband with ADHD. It’s who he is at his very core. The ability to hyperfocus - hours on end - on their interests, their naturally observant nature, and their divergent way of thinking make for some originally creative, brilliant work.
All things considered, knowing and loving someone with ADHD can be difficult, without a doubt – but that same relationship can be an endless adventure (albeit, with many side-quests) filled with creativity, spontaneity, endless laughter, and persistent passion. The positives and strengths that come with an ADHD mind are endless and worth all the reordered debit cards and misplaced keys. Personally, when I think of my husband and all the joy we experience together, I know that I would never change him. Truth be told, the trials and delays make the good times even better.
To quote Thomas S. Monson, ”never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.”
This article was written by: Alexandra Lopez Jimenez
This article is based on true events.
About the Author:
Alexandra is a storyteller, roller skater, and full-time mother. She runs a Wedding Vow and Speechwriting business. Fllow her on Instagram: @LoverrLetters. She is also known to make hundreds of tamales every Christmas and force-feeds them to her family and friends.
You can connect with Alexandra here.