ADD Relationships: Ode to My ADD Friends and Family

It's too easy to think that ADD relationships are most often negative or hard.  They can be, but don't have to be - which is what this blog is all about.  Here's a reflection on the many really wonderful things that my husband’s and my daughter’s ADD bring to our family.  I’ve outlined just a few of them below.  Perhaps, after reading this, you’ll share some of the joy that ADD brings to your life with readers of this blog.

Living in the moment, and living life with joy.  My reflections started the other day because we had a snow day.  It was really beautiful, but undrivable, so the town cancelled school.  I found myself missing my daughter, who is 17 and now away at boarding school.  If she had been here, she would have been the first one out in the yard building a family of snow men and making snow angels.  She would have laughed out loud as she tugged on the branches to help pull off the heavy snow and been covered head to toe.  My daughter’s ability to find joy in the moment – in fact her trait of mostly living in the now – is often a source of joy and spontaneity for all of us.  All we have to do in order to catch her enthusiasm is step into the moment and forget our “to do” list for a while.

Creativity!  After the snow men would have come an entire “free day” of off-the-wall projects.  She would have left a trail of things in her wake, but her creative spirit is an inspiration for all of us to take a look at the world in new ways.

Inventiveness.  You never know how someone with ADD will solve the next problem.  In our family, I can usually count on the fact that my husband and daughter won’t address problems as I or my son might.  But I’ve learned not to try to control what direction they move in, and simply enjoy the ride.

Ability to get into “flow” mode.  “Flow” is the ability to be completely absorbed by something – totally into it.  Everyone enjoys doing this once in a while, but the ADD folks in my acquaintance seem to be able to do it more frequently.  I experience flow when I’m singing – time seems to disappear, and all of my being is focused on creating a beautiful sound with whomever I’m with.  Ned Hallowell experiences flow with….well, just about everything he does!  My husband loses himself in bikes and computers.  It’s a wonderful thing, to be able to be completely and totally absorbed in something you love!

Compassion.  My husband is a cat lover.  He gets this from his mother, who is both wildly ADD and also a real cat fan.  But it isn’t just cats.  I am also the beneficiary of my husband’s compassion.  I can’t think of a single person I know with ADD who is even moderately happy who doesn’t show a good deal of compassion.  (I will admit, though, that all bets are off for anyone, including people with ADD, who feels angry and sullen.)

Ability to move on.  Maybe it’s living in the present, but none of my ADD friends and family seems to be able to hold a grudge for long.  This is a wonderful thing for those of us who sometimes get ourselves into trouble with them.  It's also a Godsend for those working to repair difficult relationships.

I find these characteristics inspiring, but I didn’t always.  And it is no coincidence that now that I’m at ease with them – have found acceptance and humor, if you will – that things go much more smoothly around our house.  Is it that I just notice the ADD symptoms less, or is my acceptance creating a safe haven that helps my husband minimize his ADD symptoms?  Actually, I think it is both.

Much of what I write in this blog is about changing your approach to your life so that you can create an environment where you can get out of survival mode and back into enjoying life mode.  And the reason that I write it is that I’ve been through some seemingly hopeless times dealing with ADD – only to find out that there can be light at the end of the tunnel if you know what you are dealing with.

There is much to be thankful for when you are surrounded by happy people who are managing their ADD in a way that works for them and for those around them.  So, are there computer parts and stacks of mail all over our house?  Sometimes.  Are there days when I think I’m doing one thing, then my family changes my day unexpectedly?  Often!  Does my husband buy too much on EBay?  You bet!  But that’s all okay.  I prefer to focus on the positive now…and I am thankful for the reminders that my family gives me to live life fully in the moment, and be creative and open to new things.

What are you thankful for?


clancy's picture

Thank You

Melissa, I'm reading your post as I listen to the same song in repeat mode( thanks to whoever invented that one) and tears are streaming down my face. I identified with your daughter and how you felt she would use her time in the snow. Even though I've never seen snow ( except once on a runway), I felt her joy and yours. Thank you for validating all that is positive in ADDers.

Validating Joy

And one of the really great things about ADD joy is that you can find it at any age.  You just have to be willing to be silly a bit and let go and live in the moment. 

Melissa Orlov

clancy's picture

Being silly!

Right now I feel like I'm on a downward spiral. Maybe its because I'm trying to catch up on the last two months of work . I am trying very hard to incorporate morning exercise and read a little of Crazy Busy also to keep me on track. its a slow journey and feeling unfocused and overwhelmed doesn't give me too much inclination to be playful when I'm home. But the need to laugh and feel playful again is so motivating. I teach first grade and have been wondering how I'm physically going to do this for five more years. But I realized this year that I'm really six years old at heart even though I'm going to be 60 soon(oh god). Today we got to look at some caterpillar poop. I knew they'd like that. Talk about being in the moment and being silly. It was great!

Silly Question

Where does someone get caterpillar poop? I had to ask. Eric
clancy's picture

caterpillar poop

From the caterpillar. A staff member brought 4 caterpillars from a shrub in her yard.( Living in the sub-tropics , you have a chance to see all kinds of droppings . Lizards run rampant in the classroom.) She carried them in a 2 litter bottle. We put the caterpillars in a butterfly house(?) ( too early to remember what its called). She told me all the droppings left in the plastic container belonged to the soon-to -be monarchs. I didn't even know that one. I

i feel the same...

I feel the same way. I believe that I'm better, actually, because I have ADD. I think that people with ADD are closer to God. While all the other people are out there busying themselves with all the "important" things of the we are...the people with ADD...becoming lost in the things in this world that do not seem worthwhile to some...but are the things that are really worthwhile! Like the sound of the fall of each the touch of the sun on our faces! Because I have ADD, I get to live in a world that's wonderful. In a world where something wonderful that happened ten years ago, happens again in my head everyday! In a world where all the "important" things that are important to other people, are distractions to us! Because what really matters when the world is all over? What really matters? Is it how well you kept schedules? Is it how well you keep track of time and peoples' names? Or is it really about all the wonderful things you get to feel at any given time? Because I have ADD, I feel more. I see more. I don't waste my time with things that are temporary. I go in HOT PURSUIT of things that are out of the temporal realm. Of things that will last forever. Like the feel of the sun on my face! I think that ADD isn't a disorder in the world that we all should try to get rid of! I think that ADD is a blessing in the world. ADD is the occasional window into heaven, from earth.

I'm dating a man with ADD

Hi Melissa, Thanks for your post, I learned a bit. Here's my story I have been in contact with someone who has ADD, and I have to say I really like him alot. We have so much in common, our morals and values are the same, everything, except for one thing we haven't met. I met him on a Christian site, online and we've been emailing/talking on the phone semi-regularly. My concerns are, he will tell me that he will call me, but then calls me the next day. He forgets that he is supposed to call me on the day that he is, and apologizes when he didn't tell me he would call. In other words, he gets the days mixed up, etc. I'm confused because I think is he just saying he likes me, does he really like me? I don't know. I really feel that he does like me a lot, but I'm confused because he doesn't call me often, or forgets. Is this part of ADD? What should I do? Are there any other symptoms I should know about? Thanks havefaith

Online relationship

His not calling could be ADD symptoms, or could be something else.  Before you get too invested in this man, it might be a good idea to try to meet him so you can better observe what is going on.

I always find that it is harder to interpret information that is coming my way when I can see someone's movements and face.  And, usually, when I can't see their expression, I assume the worst.

Melissa Orlov

Online relationship

Hi Melissa, thanks for your response. Actually this guy is a very strong Christian, I can tell by how he talks he's sincere. He says he's very upfront and honest, and he wants to meet me. He lives far away, but he's made a plan to come here in a couple of months. He has relatives here as well. He's already talking as if we're a couple, and I feel that way, but still I want to meet him. We spend hours on the phone together and really connect, have an easy flow of conversation, matched in all areas. So I don't know. Till I meet him, I guess. So maybe it is ADD related? thanks, havefaith


Can someone tell me the difference between ADD and ADHD. This man I know has ADHD. Thanks, Havefaith


They are the same.  The medically correct term now is ADHD, with two sub-types - inattentive ADHD and ADHD with hyperactivity.  It used to be that ADD stood for the inattentive type, but the medical diagnostic books updated the definition.

We use ADD as a short-hand, only, to mean both types.

Melissa Orlov

teenager making friends - he is very creative and has a.d.d.

Hello my son is 15 and has a.d.d. He is very creative. makes video games, is in advanced art, just always creating. He does video production at church, he has difficulty making friends. probably because he tends to have more in common with guys older than him. he says that friends he meet are just too 'normal'. wow. i think he is lonely sometimes. what can i do? mom