ADD & Loving It! Now Showing

Check your local public television station to see if they are showing this terrific Canadian film about ADHD during December and January.  ADD & Loving It! is informative, fun, funny and you'll both learn something and enjoy it.  My favorite scene is the one in which the husband and wife agree he'll paint the dining room at some point in the future.  She goes out and comes back a couple hours later to find out he's already started...and the color is going to be purple!  Their sense of humor around this moment is priceless.  If you want to see the trailer, go to this link.

Comments

ADD & Loving It?!

I saw this show earlier this week and being recently diagnosed with ADHD it really suprised me how the behaviors exhibited by the host were the same ones I have.

ADD & Loving It?!

I stumbled across the totallyadd.com site and learned about the movie.  Just a few days later, there it was on PBS.  What timing! 

My not-diagnosed-but-very-ADD boyfriend and I watched it together.  He was mysteriously quiet during the whole thing.  I didn't push him to talk about it, but I feel like a seed has been planted. 

The movie was funny and informative.  Very fast-paced and lots of imagery to capture the ADD brain. 

ebb and flow's picture

ADD and loving it

I've been looking for this everywhere! Thanks so much for the heads up...

I think it airs on a Buffalo station this Sat. I really hope to catch it!

:))

ADD and Loving It

In a couple of hours my husband and I are going to sit down and watch this film, as part of on-going recovery. We are both in our early 60s and he was diagnosed 4 years ago with ADHD. We've been married for 23 years and his condition is on the severe end of the spectrum. He is highly educated, retired from a successful 32 year career as an elementary school teacher. I was a special education assistant for almost twenty years. The funny thing is that we both dealt with children with ADD/ADHD but were not aware, at the time, this condition lived in our house with us. Our marriage suffered tremendously from his distraction, super hyperactivity, impulsiveness, abrasiveness, memory issues and social embarrassments. There were many times when the relationship approached the brink of utter collapse. Confronted finally with separation (I still loved him but could no longer live with him)  he ultimately chose to seek help and it is absolutely amazing what has happened. Now that we both know what was the cause of all our friction, we have re-set the relationship button and are now actively pursuing different strategies and alternate responses. We have discarded the old marriage ideal and have formulated a new plan. He takes daily medication and sees a therapist once a week to deal with all the back issues that need to be examined. We read Melissa Orlov's new book The ADHD Effect on Marriage. Each of us read it separately and highlighted all parts that resonated with us. Now we are going through the book together and discussing everything, from each of our points of view. After so many years of feeling things were completely out of control, we have taken control of where this relationship is going. Each day seems to be easier and better. He feels relief knowing the reasons for his behavior and I see a person who is taking responsibility for not only the past but also the future.  The awareness, the meds, new techniques and devices and therapy has allowed all his sterling qualities to shine. He is not afraid to look at himself and question his actions because he feels he is unconditionally loved and accepted. I now have a partner who behaves in ways I can trust. He has even alerted all our friends and they are helping too. We went from the total bottom 4 years ago to a complete win-win situation now. So, for all those who are struggling with this, please know there is hope. The key is that both parties must want to do whatever it takes to save the relationship. There must still be love underneath all the anger and disappointment and shame and resentment. There must be patience and a willingness to persevere, in the face of set-backs. We are living proof it can be done. In four years we have remade our marriage into something that is even better than what we imagined for ourselves back in 1987.     

G. Holden

B.C. Canada

   

ebb and flow's picture

gm1148

Beautiful.

Always looking for hope... :))

How did he manage a

How did he manage a successful 32-year career? We've also been married 23 years but are in our late 40s (he was diagnosed almost two years ago). I am still hoping he will have a career period.

adhd and a career

Brian and I married in our late thirties. In his twenties he managed to finish university and  acquired a Masters degree a couple of years before I met him. I now believe it was due to his extreme intensity and energy level, his rivalry with his sister (she has Asperger's and a doctorate in genetics!) and a workaholic personality. We have never suffered from financial woes and Brian is obsessive about finances. He was an elementary school teacher and the daily contact with the kids fed his self esteem and energy. He was loved by his students and their parents but he had trouble sometimes dealing with his adult colleagues. He could be impatient, abrasive and rude towards them. He played rugby successfully at the same time too so, as you might guess, there was little time for engagement in a marriage other than when he could fit it in. I'm a very independent person anyway so we co-existed in a life together where we would occasionally connect but as time went on I became more and more detached while he remained content with the status quo. After 23 years I'd had enough. I now fully believe that people with adhd should pursue particular careers or professions that capitalize on their strengths and avoid the ones that spell trouble, while also understanding the need for controls. Brian was a star teacher because of his creativity, energy, empathy with kids, hyper-focus, etc. He loved every moment of teaching. That's what enabled him to have a long and successful career. Does this help?

Glad the book is helping

Thanks for letting me know how you are using my book to facilitate thinking in new ways as well as working out the kinks in your relationship.  My hat is off to you for pressing the reset button on your relationship - my husband and I did this as well and it's a really effective approach to letting go of the baggage of the past.  Good luck to you both!

Great Show!

My husband is severe  ADHD.  He found out about the show, taped it, watched it, then had me watch it with him.  This is the BEST, most informative show.  Everyone should HAVE to watch it to get a better understanding of adult ADHD.  I ordered your book for him today.  Thank you for making the information so interesting that he WANTS to watch it/read it/follow it.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Painted bedroom

I laughed myself silly when they told about the painting.  One day I came home and my ADHD husband had painted our bedroom Billiard Green. 

It's all about perspective

It's interesting to me to read comments that imply or directly state some kind of distress over a potential adult ADD/ADHD diagnosis.  Certainly the prospect of taking daily medication indefinitely for any condition is a bummer, but aside from that aspect of the situation, a diagnosis seems like merely putting a name to something that was probably quite apparent all along. 

In my experience, most people who exhibit ADD/ADHD characteristics are already jokingly (or not so jokingly) referred to as having that diagnosis unofficially--is this not typical?  It's not as if colleagues, family members and friends aren't aware that a person has trouble with follow through, or sitting still/focusing in meetings, or remembering to bring what they were supposed to bring to a party, or any of those common ADD/ADHD behaviors.

I work in a high school for students with ADD/ADHD, learning differences and Asperger's syndrome, and perhaps being in that environment has helped me realize that learning to live with this diagnosis is not much different than learning compensatory strategies to live with the types of quirks and limitations that we ALL have (even if we don't have anything technically diagnosable). It's not any kind of life sentence.  There are lots of positive attributes that are commonly associated with this disorder, as well.  Just do a web search for "positive aspects of ADHD" and you will find a long list of articles on the subject! 

My husband is undiagnosed with ADD/ADHD but it is unmistakable, and all it means for us is that we separate our household responsibilities accordingly and I have to remind him frequently about things.  He keeps to-do lists on his phone.  He asks me to help him keep track of appointments and obligations.  He needs to always be doodling, typing or listening to music.  He brings an iPod and book of interest if we're going to be somewhere for a long time because he will eventually tune out the conversation or activity.  Maybe in some relationships that would be a point of contention because the non-ADD/ADHD person would expect the other to be able to tolerate situations the same way they do, but since I know this is what he needs I don't see the problem. 

So I guess what I'm saying is that we have figured out what helps him be most productive--and happy!--and in return I have a wonderfully creative, supportive, intelligent, witty, spiritual, empathetic, kind, adventurous, dog- and kid-loving husband.  It seems a small price to pay.  I hope other couples can find the same balance.

RE: Perspective

Are you for real ??? Maybe your perspective is different than those you read here because your undiagnosed husband is not ADHD. It a lot more than the issues you stated...ex: I came home a few min's ago to a mean moody man that turned into the man I left 3 hrs ago ten min's later. When i try and remind him as you do your husband...watch out ...temper will fly and anger has no limit. As far as ADHD having good traits etc. I don't think there is anyone here that would disagree. I also belive we all have un- labeled traits, but comparting that to ADHD is like comparing someone who drinks to an alcoholic.....Balance ??? I love my husband, it's BOTH Types of ADHD DIAGNOSED , but untreaded that I hate.

Response to blesseddelaine

Let me genuinely apologize for phrasing things in such a way that upset you.  Though it may have sounded like it, I didn't mean to disrespect the challenge that partners of those with severe anger issues deal with on a regular basis.  I have experience with that personally (different man) and professionally (trained as an MFT) and to me, the anger is a scary, unpredictable element that can tend to overshadow everything else (good and bad), so I'm sorry to have brought that up for you.

No, being 'forgetful' is just

No, being 'forgetful' is just a very mild part of being ADHD/ADD...so it being 'typical' that people who truly have it are always jokingly saying they have it is not quite correct, in my opinion. Lazy and stupid are words 'typically' used to describe undiagnosed ADD/ADHD people. The procrastination is very real and can be VERY destructive for the ADDer and for those who love them...it can cost them jobs and destroy marriages. The VERY REAL neurological inability to complete tasks IS a 'point of contention' in many marriages with an ADD spouse and it can be devastating to the self-esteem of those with ADD, especially when they don't understand why. It truly does go FAR beyond 'trouble with follow-through' for many. You're working with children/young adults who have a diagnosis and are being 'treated'. This is in stark contrast most of the time to a 40 year old untreated ADD/ADHD male who has spent his entire 15-20 year marriage abusing alcohol, porn, drugs, or various other 'self-medicating' substances and is left with a destroyed marriage and an even further destroyed self-esteem. (why can't I just stop hurting those I love? I am such a loser!)

I too wonder if you're truly dealing with ADD since you have no real diagnosis. Either way, you're lucky. No one here feels it is a death sentence, no matter how bad, I think it can be managed if the ADDer WANTS to manage it. In many cases they don't even feel it is an issue and their behavior is hurtful..and sometimes dangerous...and this is where 'untreated' is very dangerous.

Response to SherriW13

I read through your response twice to make sure I got all the points, because you bring up many good ones.  What occurred to me after reading it is that I live in a culture (Los Angeles) that openly (maybe even excessively) embraces a "self-help" approach to life, and consequently everyone is more aware of which behavior patterns are associated with different disorders and diagnoses than perhaps the average American is.  A joke is that L.A. job applications ask, "Are you in therapy?  If yes, why?  If no, why not?"  So when I made the comment that someone's family and friends (and they themselves) would typically, casually refer to them as ADD (or OCD or bi-polar or whatever) based on a certain constellation of behaviors, regardless of whether they have officially been diagnosed, this is absolutely true in my experience. 

However, I acknowledge that it was unfair and even insensitive of me to make the assumption that people everywhere have the same experience. 

(As a point of clarification I want to mention that I have been trained as an MFT and used the DSM to evaluate an ADD Inattentive Type diagnosis for my husband, and he comes close but you're right, he doesn't quite meet the full criteria.)

I also want to thank you for bringing up the subject of people with or without the diagnosis who resist treatment and/or have convinced themselves that their behavior is not problematic for their loved ones.  I feel strongly that this is not a symptom or result of the ADD itself because many people react that way with any diagnosis or bad habit. (Narcissism and feelings of entitlement are also things we are very familiar with here in L.A., which I'm sure is common knowledge.) Therefore, when working with my students/clients, I treat it as a separate issue.  And I also contend that maintaining a relationship with a partner who is consistently hurtful, perhaps even abusive, regardless of the underlying cause, is an issue that warrants its own exploration.  

Thank you for taking time to submit such a thoughtful response to my original comment.

 

It could very well be the

It could very well be the difference in geography that causes some of us to see things a bit differently...I wonder if the ADD/ADHD incidence rate in CA is as sky high as the Autism rate is? Maybe your expose and experience explains the difference, I don't know. Maybe your husband had a nurturing childhood that abated some of his ADD/ADHD behaviors as an adult? Who knows what the difference is.

I do feel to some degree the refusal to get help IS directly related to ADD..just as any mental health issue is harder for the person suffering to 'see' that THEY are the problem or have a problem. When I had Post partum I literally spent many months blaming my husband for it.."if he would just spend more time with me, I wouldn't be so overwhelmed and depressed". It wasn't until 18 months later when I got help that I realized it WAS me and not him. (in fairness, it was during a 'inattentive' phase in our marriage...when my husband spent very little time with the family...and that didn't help matters). But, in my situation my husband always knew something was wrong...and always has suffered from low self-esteem. He carries a lot of guilt and shame for things he has done. He could not manage to improve himself (due to ADHD..undiagnosed until 6 months ago) no matter how hard he tried and this just added to the guilt and shame...so they just 'give up' and the cycle continues. Also, another way that I feel ADHD does impede the acknowledgement of the condition is that change comes SOOO very hard because many adults with it have struggled so hard to 'adapt' to a way of life that allows them, many times, to 'survive'..although many don't thrive because of it. It is hard to even consider giving up these adaptations and learn something different. The pattern seen many times is that most are forced into therapy..motivated only with the threat of losing their spouses and families.

Conversation continued

I see that there is a significant difference in perspective geographically, which will be important for me to keep in mind when talking about this issue outside of my local area.  You're right in your guess that incidence of ADD/ADHD is very high here in L.A.  In "ADD and Loving It?!" the one gentleman jokes that they should replace the Hollywood sign with "ADD Town" (or something to that effect).  As a community we are used to both benefiting from the positive aspects of the disorder (creativity, high energy and/or the innovation that comes from risk taking and lack of inhibition) and tolerating/overlooking the less desirable aspects (people generally accept the "artist's temperament" or the hair-trigger temper, inclination toward depression or anxiety, challenge with executive functioning and/or eccentricities of people involved in the creative fields).

Consider this pattern being passed down over several generations, plus the fact that the entertainment industry and the wide range of other opportunities available in this metropolis continue to draw more people with these same characteristics from other places, and you can begin to understand why we have developed a different perspective.  When any trait becomes so prevalent, it loses a lot of its stigma.  Once it is no longer stigmatized, it is easier for people to be honest and open about it. 

Sure, many people choose to not deal with their ADD/ADHD-related shortcomings, and certainly this can cause some strife within individual families and relationships.  But the partners and family members in these situations in L.A. have a lot more support, empathy and camaraderie from the community than it seems is available in some other places.  Though school districts prefer to fund as few extra services as possible, we actually have whole schools dedicated to the education and treatment of students with clinically significant ADD/ADHD and related disorders. (I could continue with my explanation but I'm sure I've beaten it to death already.)

Regarding the other subject--whether ADD/ADHD is the "cause" of people resisting help--I think we are only having a semantic disagreement.  I didn't mean that having ADD/ADHD wouldn't contribute to someone taking this position, only that it isn't UNIQUE to the disorder. I've worked with substance abusers, homeless people, schizophrenics, and both the perpetrators and victims of domestic violence who are stuck in this same way, based on shame and guilt, low self-esteem, lack of skills to make better choices, etc. 

Well said!

Thank you for responding to her post.....Well said.

Some perspective on perspective

"In my experience, most people who exhibit ADD/ADHD characteristics are already jokingly (or not so jokingly) referred to as having that diagnosis unofficially--is this not typical?" Actually no I disagree with this also, because true ADD/ADHD characteristics are rarely joked about in the peanut gallery. Instead what you'll find are tears of frustration and rage - not jokes and one-liners. 

Your description of your husband tuning out - wow - what I would give for moments like that! Hoo-boy that's nothing!

Case in point: imagine your husband coming up with a plan to keep his cell phone on his belt at all times to combat the problem of forever losing his cell phone. He has lost 4 blackberries in 2010. He has decided to keep the 5th blackberry on a belt holder and problem solved, right? Because when it rings - there it is right there on the belt, and at the conclusion of the conversation all he need to is put the phone right back where it was - on the belt. You nod and smile as he explains, and you heap gobs of praise and offer encouraging words like the books say to do.

OK stay with me here - imagine further that your husband's cell phone belt holder is an older model. He can't get organized enough to purchase a more modern cell phone belt holder - you know, the kind that would eliminate the need to unbuckle or adjust his belt to answer the cell phone. When the phone rings, (which is on the hour) there is a 2 minute struggle with his belt in order to answer. Also, he has put the ring volume at the HIGHEST capacity in order to jostle his brain into enough attentiveness to answer, and the phone rings obnoxiously like this whether he's in the grocery store or a ballet recital or whatever.  Keep in mind that for ADHD/ADD-ers, tuning out into La La Land happens at ANY time, and for this example, it happens in the morning when your husband is getting dressed. He forgets the need to put on underwear. Yep that's right. He slips into his jeans commando-style and puts on his belt and cell phone. So in the end, what do you have in place of a guy who was constantly losing expensive cell phones? You have a two minute obnoxious ring tone rave party and a guy standing in the produce isle struggling with his belt and occasionally flashing his pubes in an effort to answer his phone. It's a nightmare.

Because he is inattentive, he has no idea why people have begun to gawk at him. He will say things to you like, "I get all kinds of looks since I started keeping my phone on my belt. I'm just waiting for somebody to get over their shyness and just ask me about it. Because really isn't this a great place to keep the phone? I should write to Dear Abby about it." Don't bother trying to amend his egocentric reality. You will be blamed for everything under the sun if you do. 

With all due respect, this is what it's really like to deal with an ADD/ADHD person who tunes out.

WOW

What a GREAT EXAMPLE !!!! Well written, but SAD !

It sounds like your husband's

It sounds like your husband's disorder puts you in a lot of embarrassing situations.   It's unfortunate he didn't receive more help and support in his younger years because things could be a lot better for him (and you) now.  Best wishes to you in maintaining your sanity and sense of humor.

Actually you've brought up a

Actually you've brought up a good question. Does early ADD/ADHD intervention work? I wonder what kind of outcome data is out there. In any case, I believe my story is a typical one. My sanity went out the door years ago.

Data

Sorry to say that I can't provide any hard data sources on that, I can only point to my own experience with early intervention. I work in a high school for students with ADD/ADHD and related disorders--by which I mean learning disabilities, mild emotional disorders like anxiety and depression, and Asperger's syndrome.  (These are "related" in our treatment model because many of the same approaches work in getting these young people back on track.)   We provide on-site weekly therapy along with a highly structured behavioral program, plus high school graduation and college prep curricula. 

If we can get them by ninth or tenth grade, we have a very good record of taking kids who others thought might not even graduate from high school and turning them into viable college students. Sometimes we have luck with eleventh or even twelfth graders, if they come in with a reasonable amount of motivation to improve their lives. 

Most of the time, students with these disorders are of average or above-average intelligence, so that's not the real issue.  We work as a team to help students improve their self-awareness, self-advocacy, self-esteem and personal responsibility, and to develop improved executive functioning.  Occasionally we see a student who is too severe for our day-school setting and those teens are then referred to what is called "residential placement"--essentially a therapeutic boarding school.  Some kids really do need a 24/7 program of professional oversight during those critical years.

Of course not every child is lucky enough to receive such extensive services, but anything is better than nothing. 

I think the reason that early intervention works so well (in comparison to starting as an adult) is that children are already in the mindset of being told "how it is" by authority figures and role models, and their brains are still more plastic.  Adults have already developed strong defenses.  I mean, most of us have developed defenses about something or other, right?

Early Intervention

YES, undoubtedly, early intervention works!  Children who grow up in a supportive environment learning strategies that help them cope with ADHD symptoms as a rule end up in a much better place than those who went undiagnosed.  In addition, as adults they don't have to spend so much time UNLEARNING poor coping strategies they put into place to try to just survive with the symptoms they don't know how to explain.

If you are asking this question because you have a child you think might have ADHD, please get that child an evaluation and the support services he/she needs to succeed in school, learn how to stay organized, and support his/her growing self-esteem.  ADHD does not need to be a crisis - and the earlier you start dealing with it, the better (after about 2nd or 3rd grade, that is).

Poor coping strategies...

Melissa,

I have been thinking about this a lot lately...and feel this is an area my husband really needs to work on..but to be completely honest, I cannot decide what I feel his poor coping strategies are..and fear that he won't be able to either. He was not diagnosed until June of this year, he was 37. He is a textbook example of an ADHD child left undiagnosed who had to learn to cope with his behaviors he couldn't explain. This is compounded by a low self-esteem and a lot of guilt for past behaviors..that, until we started counseling, would just lead to more destructive behaviors and the 'why bother' attitude. (grateful that this seems to be improving). I just am not sure how/where to begin 'undoing' these strategies...and I'm not sure how to even make the counselor aware of them. How do you tap into these things? Is there a list of 'common' ones that we/he might identify with?

One of my key concerns is that it seems to me (trying not to get inside of his head too much) that he does not handle 'big' life stresses well and these are what I'm beginning to feel are 'triggers' for him going into 'the dark side of ADHD' ?? Reading Dr. Hallowell's book Driven from Distraction about this...and it was like a ton of bricks hit me. I finally get what his 'episodes' are...finally. They are always (3 of them in 13 years of marriage) preceeded by a big, life changing event...and each time he makes decisions and does things that have nearly destroyed our marriage. I think this is the crucial part of counseling..figuring out why this happens, how to possibly avoid it, and how to cope better with big life changes (let's face it, we cannot avoid many of them). My worst fear is that 5-10 years from now something will happen, he'll 'go there' again, and it would be the end of our marriage. I believe him when he says he has control over himself now...but when he is catapulted into that dark place he becomes someone I don't even know. I believe he becomes someone HE doesn't even know. There didn't seem like there was much of a chance of avoiding this according to the book...so I guess it now becomes a vital part of our counseling.

I think the more I read and learn the scarier it becomes to me. Even though he's 100% aware of the damage his untreated ADHD has done and is 100% on board with counseling, I still worry.

Your book is next....I'm going to buy it (checked the others out from the library) because I want to really focus on it and hopefully get our counselor to read it too. My husband had enjoyed reading everything so far, says he relates so much, and I hope this continues. From everything I've read, your book is very helpful to both partners.

Happy New Year!

Sherri

Early Intervention

My daughter has severe ADHD. She could not tolerate school at all (I watched her go in the front door but she went out the back to hang with other "loser" friends and smoke.) She got pregnant at 15. She lost custody of her son when he was 6 because her friends were drug dealers so she lost her Section 8 house. Could not get it together to work, so no home and therefore, no son.

He was adopted by my non-ADD daughter, a happily married and successful lawyer. They love him like crazy but can't understand his behavior. They tried military school but he let his friends steal his stuff and use his cell and the school had no on-site discipline. My daughter told me when she found out he'd spent $100 from his "car fund" (he's 14 and has been saving for his first car for years) on pizza for his classmates she broke down crying. It echoes the problems I had with my ADHD daughter when she was this age.

How do they find services like you describe? They are taking him back to enroll in public school tomorrow.  He's highly intelligent but failing in school (does the work but won't turn it in). They do not believe ADHD is a disability and that he (and my ADD husband, for that matter) should be accountable for his behavior and its consequences like everyone else.

I can't believe I married someone with the same disastrous disorder my daughter has. Neither my ex-husband or I have ADD or ADHD so I have no idea where my daughter gets it. My heart breaks for my daughter who lost her son and my older daughter and her husband who love this child so much they will do anything for him but can't unlock the riddle of giving him a "normal" life.

diagnosed early, but only medicated

I wish I'd had the opportunity for real, relevant treatment when I was a kid.  The most I got was my third-grade teacher (a year before I was diagnosed) sending me home with a little notebook for my mom every day in which she'd write how well I did with "fiddling and fidgeting" - which she updated every day as the class filed out of the room in a single-file line, watching my behavior get judged daily.  Not healthy.

I know my ADD's pretty mild, and I had a great and successful HS and college life, but now in the real world... some of the nastier behaviors are taking their toll in my relationship.  And I wish I'd had support for more than just the concentration aspect of it.  If any kid I have turns out with ADD, you can bet I will be getting them as much support as possible in all ways.  I just don't think my parents (or I) realized the other implications of having ADD that didn't have to do with being able to focus! 

When does this program air in California??

I'd really love to see this PBS program but I have no idea when it might be showing in California.  Anyone have any idea so I can record it?  Would love to watch it with my husband since I've been diagnosed recently and any information we could watch together would be great!