In my continued efforts to change the way folks view ADHD, I have had some interesting conversations.There was this discussion I had with a friend about her husband that I feel is important enough to revisit. She suspects that her husband’s issues and their overall marital problems could be a result of undiagnosed ADD. It can be rough coming to someone with an assumption about the state of their mental health. It’s even more difficult to confront a friend or loved one about something as stigmatizing as ADHD. I’m not sure how it turned out for her, I believe it’s a work in progress. However, there’s no need to delve too deeply into their marital affairs, because I’m sure their story is similar to many of us when addressing mental health in a social context. Here are a few thoughts that I shared with her:
Is it ADHD? Are you sure? The common use of phrases like “I’m so ADD today!” And all of the buzz about whether ADHD/ADD is now OVERdiagnosed, make it clear that society tends to view the condition as a collection of minor social slip-ups. We tend to use ADHD and ADD as umbrella terms for symptoms, habits and actions that could have little to no baring on an individual’s potential diagnosis!
❗️Before you even bring your thoughts to your friend or loved one, do your homework! There is easy access to accurate Information from sources like additudemag.com or adultadhdblog.com, that give first hand experience and expert advice about the signs and symptoms and appropriate next steps when someone suspects a diagnosis may be necessary. Try taking a quiz or two or skimming a checklist yourself. This may help you further your understanding of ADHD and its broad spectrum of symptoms. Make sure you do your homework. You will be more of a use to your friend or loved one if you aren’t confronting them with stereotypes and blanket assumptions.
Be a Friend Not a Clinician
Just because you believe the signs are there, and you’ve done your homework, doesn’t mean you can diagnose and become your friend’s ADD coach. The symptoms differ for each individual, and sometimes they differ for that same person over time. The best thing to do is offer your information along with any next steps that would benefit someone who suspects that they may have ADHD, and keep it moving. There are way too many variables to diagnosing ADHD. Too much speculation from you may cause unnecessary apprehension and defeat your purpose.
Affirm Appreciate Accept
Attention deficit/hyperactivity Disorder can be a gift and a curse. It can seem like more of a curse if you are undiagnosed, and/unaware of what is going on. It’s difficult to accept a difference that others may not be able to see or relate to. Those who are undiagnosed often tend to identify themselves based on the symptoms that present themselves, because they don’t know or understand the essence of the problem. Being a knowledgable source and helping a friend understand that the traits or actions that you are basing your assumption on, is only a small part of who they are, can make a huge difference.
❗️Before bringing your thoughts to your friend you should ask yourself a few questions about your feelings and beliefs when it comes to ADHD. If you are like many others who continue to hold negative views and ideas about this condition, maybe it’s best to keep a lid on it.
Give It Time
For me, the acceptance of my diagnosis was a huge weight off my shoulders, however, it took years and a lot of figurative head-banging before getting to that place. It is easy to walk in the dark in your own home. You may bump around a bit, but eventually you find your way. The same goes for the undiagnosis of ADHD. You find your way in life, despite the bumps and the extra work; you figure out a way to survive and get by. BUT OH, how much easier and what a difference it makes to flip that switch! You definitely are more efficient and more productive. Figuring out why you keep forgetting those appointments/deadlines/birthdays; understanding why you are more/less overwhelmed after that “time of the month”; understanding the origin of those quirky things that you must work around to get things done; can feel like turning on a figurative light switch on your existence.
I believe it’s beneficial and super important to share your knowledge with your friend or loved one, because I know first hand, the difference it makes. However, once you share it, set it free.
❗️Be there when your friend needs an open-mind and heart; but remember, it’s his or her decision to act on it or not.
Don’t Be An Enabler
My friend was very convinced that her husband could be the poster child for ADHD. During our conversation, I was concerned by the stories about some of his actions and behaviors. Throughout the conversation I kept thinking to myself, why has this gone on so long without even a trip to a family physician? sometimes it doesn’t matter what the dysfunction is dressed up as, Whether it be ADHD or some other mental health issue, if you find that you aren’t able to function the way you’d like no matter how hard you try, reaching outward for a fresh perspective may be necessary for change.
Some folks are so deep in their dysfunction that it seems ok to them; all the while, we watch the whirlwind of trouble building as it threatens to whisk us up too. In these instances you have a right and a responsibility to yourself and your own mental health well-being to step up and say something.
You can’t control what a person does, only your interactions with them.
Walking on eggshells in what you consider to be your own element is a no-no. I am not saying that you need to read your loved one the riot act, or sneak quietly out the back door, when you notice something isn’t quite right. However, if you have taken on a parent role in the relationship, or you find yourself defending unacceptable behaviors or actions while that person continues to walk around in a fog or worse- has you believing that you are the problem, is enabling! It hurts you both in the long run.
❗️Before you confront your friend, remember: Offering support in a time of trouble doesn’t mean Sacrificing your safety and sanity. Relationships of any sort require work on both ends.
How do you feel about confronting a friend when you suspect they have mental health issue they aren’t addressing? Should people mind their own business? What would make you change your opinion? Leave a comment! I would love to chat about it. 🙂