February is here, and with it Valentines Day! Naturally, our topic for this month is Relationships.
Relationships are often a touchy subject for people with ADHD and for those who love them. Romantic relationships can be a tough terrain to navigate for anyone, and ADHD symptoms add landmines to that terrain. ADHD is often misinterpreted within wider society as laziness or lack of effort and within a relationship this can lead to resentfulness, guilt, inequality, and erosion of trust. This probably sounds bad and unfortunately familiar. What I want to try and do is lay out a framework for people to discuss the symptoms of ADHD and how it impacts their relationships.
Within a romantic partnership, ADHD often creates an imbalance. The ADHD (or more symptomatic) partner may forget household tasks, make impulsive financial decisions, display an explosive temper, or seem emotionally disconnected or unaware. As a result the non-ADHD (or less symptomatic) partner may inadvertently find themselves cast in a parental role. Of course most people are looking for a partner, not a child or a parent (sorry, Freud!). In this scenario the non-ADHD partner begins to feel unappreciated and burdened with details and responsibilities of the relationship, and the partner with ADHD may feel shame, guilt, and pressure.
Luckily, when both partners are willing, these problems can be solved. The crucial thing is for the person with ADHD to be mindful not to let it all fall on the other person, and for the other person to avoid parenting behaviours and remember that the symptoms of ADHD are not intentional slights. The same symptom management tricks that we use in non-emotional situations can be applied to improve our performance within our relationships. For instance, perhaps the individual with ADHD can set reminders to do the dishes, or maybe they mow the lawn because it is more stimulating than folding laundry. Mindfulness practices can help us to be more aware of our partner’s emotional states and needs. Relationship counselling can also be extremely helpful, and should be considered as a form of relationship maintenance and not just as a last resort. There are many steps you can take to improve your relationship, but no matter what steps you choose, it is important to remember that relationships take work. When both people are actively participating in the relationship as equals, and the ADHD is being properly treated, many people enjoy long and happy relationships.
Above all, the most important foundations of any relationship are trust, safety, and respect. Whether it is you or your partner who has ADHD, it does not excuse or make you worthy of receiving abusive behaviour. If your loved one is making you feel scared or unsafe, either emotionally or physically, please seek help. We are all responsible for our own behaviour and it is not your responsibility to fix someone else. Loved is based on respect and mutual trust.
President, ADHD PEI
ADHD PEI got off to a great start in January... after the storm that forced us to cancel the first support group meeting of the year, that is! The remainder of our weekly meetings were well attended and we shared many great ideas about forming lasting habits and making 'restart' plans as outlined in the last newsletter.
NOTE: Check the Facebook page for last-minute cancellations due to weather! If you aren't on Facebook let us know how best we can let you know!
Our executive board is currently developing a proposed budget for 2020 to be voted on at the next executive meeting.
WEDNESDAY ADULT ADHD SUPPORT GROUP MEETINGS:
Scheduled meetings for February:
- Wed. February 5th
- Wed. February 12th
- Wed. February 19th
- Wed. February 26th
All weekly meetings take place at 178 Fitzroy Street, Charlottetown from 7:30pm to 9:00pm. Cancellations due to weather will be posted on our Facebook page.
February's theme is "Relationships" which includes friends, family, coworkers, romantic and other.
Also check out our ADHD PEI discussion group on Facebook!.
ADHD PARENTS' GROUP:
We are working to develop a separate support group specifically aimed toward parents of children with ADHD. If this is something you might be interested in and you haven't already contacted us, please send an email to contact@ADHDPEI.ca.
ADDing to your Toolbox
Relationships are about more than romantic partners. It can include our friends, family, and other social relationships. Here is a table I made that has helped me keep in contact with people that are my MVP’s, or Most Valuable People. Who are your Most Valuable People? These are your bedrock relationships. It is important that you reach out to them to maintain connections. There are many people who are important to us whom we love, but who are not nearby. We forget to reach out and before we know it we are wondering how did 5 years pass and their baby is now in 3rd grade!?!
I try to sit down with this spreadsheet once a month. I have a reminder in my calendar to sit down and look it over. If it has been over 2 months since seeing one of my MVPs, I schedule something with them. The one big tip I have found helpful is to schedule the next meeting before you end the last one and put it in your calendar.
ADHD PEI maintains a list of helpful resources that includes websites, podcasts, videos, as well as information about local services. You can download the PDF here.