Did ADHD Kill J.R.?

We seldom used our full names in recent years. I was TM and he was JR. We first met when we were eleven. He died suddenly a year ago at 72.

JR needed heart valve surgery. He’d get around to scheduling it when it was time. Scheduling and planning were not his strengths. He also planned to lose weight, start exercising, be more active. Doctors said he died from a heart attack. But there’s a bigger picture, an undiagnosed attention disorder.

He never planned to be evaluated for ADHD, though we knew. He planned to read about it and intended to buy a book. I gave him a book that he intended to read, one he’d been asking about. He had good intentions. 

Long-term studies have shown that individuals with ADHD are far more likely to die prematurely than those who don’t have the disorder. Accidental injuries and unhealthy lifestyles contribute to a shortened expectancy. Untreated ADHD is a serious health risk. 

JR seldom ate at home. There was too much clutter there, and he didn’t cook. He preferred meeting friends at Brown’s Diner or Chile Burrito and taking home undated leftovers. He liked cheeseburgers, fries, tacos, nachos, and shakes. He didn’t think of himself as obese until he nearly drowned in 2021 when his house flooded. He had become sedentary. He could sit for hours watching televised baseball games. 

He seemed amused by the notion of having ADHD. Sometimes I chuckled politely, as if equally amused. Sometimes I confronted some of his self-defeating habits. Perhaps not enough. He was okay with the notion of having ADHD, but friends were affected. He had no pause button, no comma or period when he spoke. It’s hard to exit unpunctuated speech. Consequently, calls to friends sometimes went unanswered. He experienced waves of loneliness and mild depression. 

Although he could be a difficult friend at times, JR was a lovable mess. He was playful, witty, friendly, and spirited. 

If you have ADHD, learn all you can about it. Knowledge can be liberating; denying it can be lethal. Be mindful of your body, the vehicle that carries you through life. Don’t think of your health as something separate from you. There are no independent parts; they are all interdependent.

We are all interdependent. We need each other. You can find others like you in support groups in every region of the country. There’s nothing quite like having support from people who understand and accept you. All you have to do is show up for meetings and experience acceptance and mutual support. ADDNashville meetings are online and available to any adult with an ADHD diagnosis.

I understood my old friend, and I regret not insisting on an ADHD evaluation. I regret not dragging him to a support group meeting where he would have been warmly welcomed and encouraged, perhaps even directed–with compassionate assertiveness–to schedule his surgery. 

I welcome your comments. 

10 Responses to Did ADHD Kill J.R.?

  • Terry-
    Wow what a heartfelt and compassionate story. I know with 100% confidence that you were a supporter, encourager and mentor to JR. May you continue to impact lives as you do everyday. Our family knows this first -hand.

  • I’m sorry Terry…
    Thank you for sharing and caring and doing your best to promote health to us who suffer in silence.

    • Thank you Tammy. We need one another, and collaborative effort helps us move forward. It opens up possibilities. Believing we don’t need or deserve support is a self-defeating thought, nothing more.

  • Thank You so much for telling Us about JR! What a wonderful guy!
    I’m so sorry that he died so young.
    Thanks for the advice to not lose those 13 years!
    I loved thinking about this guy with his extensive memory of trivia, his humor, his faithfulness to his friends.
    It’s great hearing about him. Thank you.

  • Thanks Terry for the post. Your reflections, stories and the ‘voice’ you incorporate are a lighthouse in the fog we sometimes/often experience in and around ADHD.

    • Thanks AR for your kind comment. The idea of being a “lighthouse” is flattering. Fog is a perfect metaphor. One of the early adult ADHD books I read was Out of the Fog. I believe the author was Kevin Murphy.

  • My friend Andy and I used to dream of buying and running Brown’s Diner. I think of my friend Howard who used to be in our support group and Paul who doesn’t like Zoom meetings. Any excuse is better than none, or is it….. I’m so thankful that you started and kept leading our group. Keep coming back……I say to Howard and Paul…. Ed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Support Group Email Reminders

To receive email reminders of our meetings, click here to contact Sara Skillen.
You only need an ADHD diagnosis to attend.

Sign Up for Blog Posts
* indicates required

Choose info you'd like to receive