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?