October is ADHD Awareness Month

October is ADHD Awareness Month. Good thing it’s an entire month; a day would just slip right by us. One of the best things you can do about your ADHD is wake up each morning and say, “Today I have ADHD.” I’m serious. We all tend to deny having what we’d rather not have. But denying having ADHD symptoms is a prescription for wasting time and creating unnecessary relationship problems. 

I’ll bet your spouse or partner is aware of your ADHD. That could be a good thing if you share observations of its effects on both of you. Shared awareness is a useful antidote for criticism and defensiveness. 

My wife accompanied me to the first ADDA conference in the mid-nineties. Afterward, she let go of her involuntary burden of assuming too much responsibility. She was less critical and more helpful immediately after that weekend. She was more aware of reactions that were unhelpful to either of us. Her increased awareness facilitated my own, as there was less reason for me to be defensive. She quit saying things like, if you cared, you would have remembered, try not to forget next time, where did you last see your reading glasses? 

More mindful suggestions saved her from taking responsibility for me and saved me from feeling judged. Here are two examples: What to you think you need to do right now to be sure you’ll arrive on time at the accountant’s office today? (She didn’t tell me what to do), and how long have you been looking for your glasses? (the answer was usually less than five minutes). She once suggested: Look  five more minutes and then let me know if you still haven’t found them. Then I’d look as if I expected to find my glasses rather than resign prematurely like a twelve-year-old…a good prescription for being treated like a twelve-year-old.  

ADHD Awareness seems like an oxymoron, but being mindful of mindlessness is possible. It requires practicing pausing. Pausing helps us momentarily inhibit selective attention, being brain-locked, often in some activity that is not a priority. If you don’t pause, you will remain unaware that you’ve lost open awareness. You don’t know what time it is, you’ve forgotten your priorities, and you are temporarily unaware of others, most importantly your partner. 

If you lose awareness of a partner, it is not fair to criticize that person for being unhelpful. Partners of adults with ADHD often say their biggest complaint is the loss of their mate’s attention. It not only hurts them, it hurts you and your partnership. 

Happy ADHD Awareness Month! Awareness is a path to happiness. As always, I encourage your comments and thoughts from your own experiences. 

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