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Trying to understand

I knew that when I said yes to marrying Matt, that I was agreeing to what some might consider an "unconventional" marriage. Being that he has both ADHD and dyslexia, there are certainly more challenges that will be present in our lives together. I know that with his dyslexia, Matt deals with a lot more difficulties at work and judgments that he is stupid or lazy. I think because of this, he often gets passed up for promotions or opportunities to advance. Two weeks ago he finally got his first raise in pay and position and this was after working in his field for seven years. There are also many issues I find myself having to work through with him. Yes, I am his personal spell-checker (good thing that was actually one of the few subjects I excelled in during school!) but I also find myself in the role of counselor and/or physchologist. Much of what I do during our discussions is address his anger over things he feels he cannot control, such as when he sees people he cares about making potential mistakes in thier lives, and helping him to understand that while it's good to care about them, that he should not feel he is responsible for their actions and that everyone is entitled to make their own decisions, good or bad. Another topic is that life is full of grey areas, whereas his beliefs tend to be very black or white. He's come a very long way in reaching many of these realizations over the past eight years, but sometimes I wonder about his mode of thinking. Is this behavior that he's learned from his parents? Possibly. I see much of both of his parents in him sometimes. But more often I wonder if it has anything to do with either his dyslexia or ADHD. I've read that many marriages to someone with ADHD often end in divorce because the other partner just can't seem to understand or cope. I don't believe I've ever found myself in that kind of situation. I think one of the things that helps us is communication. The other I know, is a great deal of patience and recognition of when you're dealing with symptoms of ADHD (such as Matt's ability to take on six or seven projects at once and jump from one to the other without completely finishing one first). Support, love and understanding go a long way here. And I tend to find that many times I have to put my own personal feelings aside in order to help him cope with his. Not always easy and sometimes I have to go off by myself afterwards and have a cry session in order to cope with my own feelings and stress that come from doing this in order to keep him from feeling as though he's burdening me with his problems.

Now this is not to say that I don't have my own problems. Just like everyone else on my mother's side of the family, I suffer greatly from depression (this pregnancy has been quite the emotional mood-swing rollercoaster) and from that, also anxiety attacks. When I was about 23, I realised that I had been suffering from anxiety attacks since I was about seven and that they were initially brought on by swimming lessons. Growing up, I had no idea what they were- all I knew is that I would get violently and physically ill for both things I was dreading (starting Jr High at a new school or the aforementioned swimming lessons) and things I looked forward to (a trip to Knotts Berry Farm or a Metallica concert) but as soon as I avoided the event/issue, I would feel better. It was frustrating and stressful and I would cry because I had no idea what was wrong with me and it frightened me. My parents reacted by insisting it was "all in my head" or telling me to deal with it, many times with exasperation or annoyance. When I finally realized what I had, I was determined to deal with it without resorting to medication, so I developed breathing exercises as a form of self-calming (Uncle Russ would later tell me that I basically used meditation to re-center myself and applauded me for figuring it out on my own). When I started dating Matt, I found that these attacks started to gradually diminish and eventually stopped. It is now a rare occassion in which I experience one. But during our first few months of dating, I told him what they were, and he would sit with me and help me calm myself until I could resume normal activities. He was incredibly understanding and I credit him a great deal with their disappearance.
However, the depression is something I still try to cope with on a regular basis. I know it baffles him, but he is very patient and attentive when he knows I'm dealing with it.

I know all of our little "quirks" that we bring to our marriage can make things that much more difficult and challenging at times. But I also believe that it makes us stronger as a couple for overcoming them together. We know that there is no "cure" for any of our ailments- we just have to ride them out together and utilize that much more patience and understanding. I do worry about Ben, though. Poor kid- he's getting hit with a double whammy from both of our genes! But that just means we'll have to be that much more vigilant and having been there ourselves, we should be that much more able to recognize any signs that he may be experiencing the same things we've gone through. And hopefully, to keep him from experiencing those feelings we felt: that we were different, dumb, faulty, broken, or not normal.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2012 10:37 pm (UTC)
I think there isn't anyone "normal" out there. We all have our differences and that's what makes us who we are.

I think regarding ADHD there are a lot of ways to cope with it better. Making lists for everything, put everything in my calendar, being aware of how much time I'm spending on stuff, not saying every little thing that runs through my head, stuff like that has helped me. But I know it's still hard to concentrate and I have an urge to go run around and leap headlong into projects that I have no energy to finish. There are plenty of articles and books that talk about ADHD and how to cope. If you're very opposed to medicine, then there are lots of other techniques that can help to organize your brain a bit better. However, I will say that I have ritalin from the doctor and I've taken it a couple of times since I didn't want to take any while pregnant but when I did take it, I did feel a lot more focused and lot less squirrely. Some people said they worry it would alter their personality but I haven't had anyone say like, "shirley, you're a zombie, did you take drugs today?" It does help me pay attention more at some really dreadfully dull meetings at the library or work on the more repetitive projects at the library. My medicine, I only take as needed, it's not every day certainly but it depends on severity. I truly feel that if had been diagnosed earlier, I would have done better in school and Alex definitely would have done a lot better too. I don't see taking medicine as a "I'm a broken person" thing. It's just another way to make your life a little easier. Like driving--you don't to drive, but it does make getting around easier. Anyhow my two cents on ADHD.

Dyslexia, and ADHD are very common to occur in the same person. I still think I have dyscalculia which is the math version of it b/c I can do math but I can't read numbers outloud without effing it up and if people read numbers to me, it also ends up pretty bad. But yeah, dyslexia is often with ADHD. My mom says she often sees letters upside down and even has a lot of "spelling" errors in Chinese. But since these were things that were not well understood while we were going up, I think a lot of kids grew up thinking they were dumb. We are not dumb. Our brain works differently and in some circumstances better than non-ADHD people. http://adultaddstrengths.com/2006/02/09/top-10-advantages-of-add-in-a-high-tech-career/
I think that article really does pin down some of the strengths of ADHD.
I'm not sure what the benefit of dyslexia is though. Give me some time, I'll think of something. :)

ADHD also tends to occur with other things like depression or oppositional defiance disorder etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppositional_defiant_disorder
My mom, Alex and I may have a touch of that. Alex moreso b/c he would literally get into arguments with his teachers.

I think ultimately for Ben, you just need to be aware of how he behaves and stuff. When Wesley gets older we have to watch out for ADHD and depression too, b/c those run in my family. Diabetes and high blood pressure in both. Yay. But here's a quote regarding heredity and ADHD. "In other words up to a quarter of kids diagnosed with ADHD have at least one close relative with the same disorder. More and more parents are discovering their own life long, and unmanaged, ADHD after their kids are diagnosed."

I did read that there is a higher rate of divorce among people with ADHD. I think we have a novelty problem, where we get bored easy...even with people. Also there is a tendency to not think about the results of our actions...so there can be hurt feelings, poor planning etc etc. Richard is very patient most of the time but he does get mad sometimes when I do stuff like leave the stove on or commit to stuff without telling him. I know I tend to say "the wrong thing" a lot and this ends up hurting a lot of feelings. But generally among nerds, it's fine b/c they have a sense of humor about stuff...but among sensitive folks, it can be rough going.

Anyhow, just to let you know, I have your back and if you have anything you want to ask me or whatever, I'll do it. :)

I can't wait to see your little boy!
Oct. 22nd, 2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks! Next time we see eachother and our babies are together, I may explode in some sort of happy euphoria because I'm silly like that.

I tend to forget how similar out situations can be at times. I know Matt suffers some from depression as well and we talk about it every so often. There's a special running on HBO regarding dyslexia in the near future and I would like to watch it. Matt thinks it's amusing, the sudden interest I've taken in this. He joked around and called it his "disease", but I told him that's not what it is at all- I just want to know what makes him tick so I can better understand our misunderstandings.

I don't believe that taking medicine makes you a broken person, or anything; I just tend to be very hesitant about turning to it as a quick solution. So many diagnoses result in pills and then you end up with someone like my grandma, who takes like 20 or 30 pills each day. The thought of that, along with how all that medication interacts with eachother and the toll they take on your body scares me. So I try to find other solutions first to try and cope before finally turning to the medication. If Matt felt he wanted to take Ritalin, then I would support him in that decision. But he feels very much the same way I do about it.

Using his phone for lists and learning that not all comments need to be made has actually helped him quite a bit. The projects don't bother me so much because he generally does finish them, but I do have to tend to put the brakes on and try to refocus him a bit when he starts getting carried away. It seems to help a bit. He came home a couple of weeks ago and mentioned the idea of buying a Jeep (in addition to keeping my car and his TC)- this is normal for him- he, like his father, loves his cars. He was proposing an idea of starting a savings fund for the Jeep. I told him that while I'm not against the idea, I don't think it would be a good idea right now. I had to remind him that he has been complaining about the fact that we haven't been able to put as much in Savings lately b/c we've been working on improvements to the house and also that we had agreed that we want to start saving for our "permanent" house b/c while we like our little condo, once we have two kids, it's going to get real cramped and we are both wanting something more permanent. I told him that it would take us that much longer to save for this home, which we feel is very important, if we were also trying to save up for this Jeep- that we would be funneling our money into too many different directions. He thought about it for a bit and agreed that I was right. I told him once we had the "forever" house, that we would talk about the Jeep again.

It was also interesting b/c we found out that after Matt's dad passed away, that he also had dyslexia. A very light case- I don't think as severe as Matt's, but it was there, just the same.

I do find it funny that when you talk about divorce rates amongst the ADHD, it sounds like you find the fault with the ADHD afflicted, whereas I put it on the non ADHD spouses for not being able to understand and adapt.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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