Every time you turn around, someone is making a big deal about not taking medication for ADHD. Here’s why I take it, encourage others to consider it, and am not ashamed to say it.
I’ve always been thankful for my husband. I knew from the moment that I met him that he was a great guy and over the last 10 years of marriage, he’s proved me right over again. But the other day, as I sat in front of the ADHD doctor discussing whether we should try a different medication, I was more thankful for my husband than I’ve ever been.
That day, my doctor said something that sucker punched me. Like, a -stop me in my tracks, double take, I must have heard him wrong- kind of feeling….
“80% of marriages in which one spouse has ADHD end in divorce.”
Despite being a fairly reserved quiet type, I couldn’t help the surprised, overly loud “WHAT?!” No, I heard him right. 80%.
I’ve never felt shame for having ADHD. I know many people do. But as I reflected on the meaning of 80%, I realized that living with someone with ADHD must be challenging. While that didn’t bring me shame, it did bring a sharp reality that I hadn’t noticed before.
I’m messy. I’m disorganized. I frequently lose important things. I struggle to pay attention even when my husband (or anyone else for that matter) is talking directly to me. Sometimes, he’s been talking to me for a while and I don’t realize it until he asks for my opinion about what he’s saying. It’s a bit of a face palm moment there…
I forget a lot of things and I get distracted by everything. I can’t listen to music and have a conversation at the same time. I can’t even really have a conversation when someone else nearby is having a different conversation. My attention just won’t stay put. That’s only the tip of the iceberg, honestly.
Related: When You Think it’s Anxiety, but it’s Really ADHD
Living with ADHD Can be a Struggle…For Everyone
I’ve always thought some of these things were relatively humorous quirks that I have. I was fully aware of the challenges these symptoms have created for me, but getting lost on a familiar drive and ending up in another state is still pretty funny.
When reflecting on the impact it has on those around me, I realized that they might not be so funny to my husband. We ADHDers can’t help these eccentricies. I’ve tried…and tried. And I’m sure you have too.
It’s hard to change something that you don’t even realize you are doing until you’ve already done it. We don’t choose to get distracted by the squirrel hoping around the trees when someone is pouring their heart out to us.
It just happens. And we don’t even realize it until after our attention has already been diverted.
Related: Not Living up to your potential? It might be ADHD…
But that Struggle Doesn’t Make Us Shameful
I’ve always believed that there is no shame in living with challenges that aren’t of your choosing. The struggle will be there no matter how I feel about it. It only makes it worse if I also shame myself for the fact that it’s there.
So how do we balance taking responsibility, experiencing regret for some of the outcomes we face in our struggle, and not falling into the trap of shame?
For me, it’s been allowing my loved ones to have the frustration and emotion when my struggles create pain for them. It’s validating that it’s legit to feel hurt when they are telling me something important and I’m not listening.
And then allowing myself the gentle self compassion to say that, while the struggle sucks, it doesn’t mean anything about me. Everyone has challenges and this one is mine.
And it’s continuing to problem solve and try to find ways that can improve the struggle instead of giving in and giving up.
Related: How to be a Better Problem Solver
That day after I left my doctor, I started trying to walk this balance by appreciating my husband. I called and thanked him for being there for me and for being flexible and understanding with me.
I thanked him for being with me as part of that 20% that are still married. And thankfully, happily so.
Taking Medication for ADHD Is Something That Helps
That day at the doctor’s office, I lost any remaining concern about taking medication for ADHD or encouraging others to consider it. Apparently, of those who are medicated, the risk of divorce drops significantly.
I Take Medication Because…
Not only does medication drastically improve my work life and my ability to survive in the world, it also greatly improves my chances of staying happily married.
I take medication because it improves my life. I take it because it improves my marriage. And I take it because it improves my husband’s life. He told me so 😉
I’ve decided that society can think what they want about ADHD and they can criticize the use of stimulants, but it isn’t their relationship on the line. It isn’t their life, it’s mine and I’ll take medication since it improves my chances of a fulfilled life, Thank you very much.
Related: What You Need to Know about ADHD Medication
So, while I still don’t feel shame for having ADHD, nor concern over taking medication for it, I now have a much deeper appreciation for my spouse and am making it a point to recognize him for it. I hope that, in time, I’ll learn more keys to the delicate balance I’m trying to walk.
Connect with Me
How do you walk this balance? Have to slipped into ADHD shame or kept your head above those nasty waters? Drop a comment and let’s support each other!
Love this married 11 years and stoped taking meds for pregnancy and breastfeeding, my hubby supports no matter what, but he is thankful when I go back on them too!
Tia Michelle says
It’s so helpful to have an understanding spouse! I’m glad you have one too 🙂
Melissa Bettcher says
Thanks for great articles!!!
I honestly feel that my undiagnosed (at the time) ADHD played a huge part in my contribution to the breakdown of my first marriage. To be quite honest even though I am medicated now and learning all sorts of great management skills, entering into a new relationship is quite scary as I don;t want to put a romantic partner through that again. I know it will be better as I am aware now but yet it gives me a bit of anxiety. I think it must take a special kind or partner to deal with and support someone who has ADHD. It does warm my hearty though to see success stories. it gives me a bit of hope!
Tia Michelle says
Relationships are hard and having an undiagnosed executive function challenge often makes it even harder. The truth is, as long as we are always willing to inventory our self and keep growing and we pick a partner that’s willing to do the same–we can often make it. Make your own growth a priority and make sure your partner is willing to do the same. Be compassionate with yourself and with your partner. And make sure your partner is willing to do the same.
It will never be perfect but when both people are willing to do what it takes to make it work, it doesn’t have to be.
Congratulations on the new relationship!
I love this article! It really puts things in a different perspective, and really makes me want to go get a diagnosis! As of now, im undiagnosed-But feel in my heart I have ADHD. I’m not married, and I am only 23. But, I have someone in my life that treats me better and has more patience with me than any other guy I’ve been with. I can see how my ADHD affects him. He is constantly double checking places we leave, for things I leave behind. We often miss things that he plans for us, because I am always late to everything. I’m sure it gets annoying to watch me constantly spilling something or running into something, hurting myself. I have a new bruise somewhere, everyday. I’m sure that’s not the most attractive thing in the world, to see. And I know for a fact he hates my insomnia. Nights, like tonight,
when he has to fall asleep without me, because I’m on the couch trying to find sleep. I guess I always knew those things must affect him, (and every other relationship in my life-romantic or not). This article, though, really shined the light on things. My boyfriend just told me tonight, “for once, I wish you’d make something about you.” I am very co-dependent, so going to get a diagnosis “for me”, isn’t enough to make me go try. Improving the quality of life, of this amazing person in mine? Oh, that I wouldn’t and won’t even question! The stigma and shame around ADHD and especially around the medication, makes it very nerve wracking. Any tips on how to get over the anxiety of making the first step, and how to go about it?
Tia Michelle says
Hi Ceejay! I’m glad the article was helpful to you and also that it sounds like you’re able to acknowledge the difficulties this presents for your boyfriend without getting into the “shame weeds.” As far as going for the eval, if I’m feeling really anxious, I’ll sometimes ask someone that makes me feel safe to come with me. That’s usually my husband. As far as an ADHD eval goes, having someone that really knows you come to the appointment can be helpful anyway as therapists and doctors sometimes like to hear from their perspective. I do have a guide to finding a doctor or therapist with ADHD knowledge. It takes you through a self assessment that you can bring with you to the appointment, ways to find someone who really knows about ADHD, etc… if you’re interested, here it is: https://mailchi.mp/434d7d282797/adultadhddiagnosis