Nothing to feel embarassed about

I appreciate Melissa’s introduction of me, the co-author of her latest book, The Couple’s Guide to Thriving with ADHD.  I will be guest-blogging here for a bit, and it is my honor to do so.  I look forward to sharing some thoughts with you, and I hope you will share your thoughts with me as well.

In reviewing a number of entries on the Forum, I am always a bit surprised by some of the comments of some of the ADHDers such as, “You can count on me to make another stupid mistake,” or “They’re just waiting for me to mess up again…” or something similar.  These kinds of words and phrases certainly make me pause and reflect.

I found out I was ADHD just a few years ago.  As a Psychotherapist, and Marriage Consultant,, I actually diagnosed myself a few months after I had come to the realization that my husband had ADHD.  (Both diagnoses were later confirmed by a doctor).  I remember how distraught I was when I read Dr. Ned Hallowell’s Driven to Distraction, and realized how much of what was in the book fit my husband.  I had known there was something going on that I just couldn’t categorize, but giving it a name and attaching symptoms to it was more than I could stand at the time.  I knew it was true, but I wanted so much to deny it was happening in my marriage.

A few months later, at the University where I worked as faculty, I was being asked to retrieve information that I’d been given an hour before, and I just couldn’t recall it.  Then when someone whispered the info into my ear, (we were in front of a number of students at the time),, I was so distracted, I lost my place in what I was delivering.  This scenario happened more than once.  I realized I had been experiencing the symptoms of Inattentive ADHD.  It was not an easy recognition to come to. However, it explained so many things about issues I’d had throughout my schooling, and in work situations, that had given me so much angst.  I finally understood.

What all of this does for me is that it enables me to see things from both the ADHD and non-ADHD perspective. I’d actually be considered the “non” partner in my marriage.  I can, therefore, relate to so many of the frustrations I’ve read about in the Forum.  I’ve had many of them myself.  As a matter of fact, my first interactions with Melissa were through her couple’s course.  My husband and I had our own journey before we could become coach and counselor respectively. We now work with ndividuals and couples where ADHD is an issue.

I’d like to be one of those voices that stand up for the notion that ADHD is never something to be embarrassed about.  I know there are many on the Forum that are going through very intense times in marriages as a result of the impact of ADHD.  Yet it is never anyone’s fault that they are born with a brain that has Executive function challenges.  Therefore, there is no reason to feel “less than.”  People with ADHD brains have done great things in our Nation’s history.  There is so much potential for creativity.

We will certainly not all reach that peak level of success, but in many cases, we should be very proud of getting the dishes done, and the kids off to school in the morning, or getting ourselves off to work.  There can be so many challenges that go along with being an ADHDer.  It’s so important to be able to pat ourselves on the back for whatever we do achieve.

And I give tremendous credit as well to the non-ADHD partners who do their best to stand by their partners under some very difficult circumstances, and to those who know when it is time to move on.  None of those decisions are easy ones.  You are all courageous in your own ways.  I look forward to getting to know you better.

Nancie Kohlenberger