KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, August 04, 2008

Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?

Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?Holy distraction antidote, am I ever pumped! I just received an advance copy of what looks to be a great new book, Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder, by Gina Pera (publisher: 1201 Alarm Press).

Gina and I corresponded by e-mail a few months ago, and she told me about her soon-to-be-published book (it's coming out August 31). Like me, she is the partner of a wonderful, brilliant, good man who has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD). I've been living the roller coaster for 15 happy but crazy and sometimes extremely frustrating years, especially because like my husband (Ed), our two sons, ages 6 and 13, also have AD/HD, and so do my in-laws, who live in the downstairs apartment within our home. Ed and the boys all take medication for the disorder and we all work on behavioral modification for all of them. My father-in-law takes an antidepressant that helps a bit with his AD/HD, but he refuses to take any of the first-line AD/HD meds, some of which he can't take because of his high blood pressure (treated by other medication). My mother-in-law's AD/HD is undiagnosed, but it's obvious that she has it. Also, I take an antidepressant, partly because I'm apparently genetically prone to depression but also because of situational depression caused by being the sole occupant of the House of AD/HD who doesn't have the disorder.

I'm so excited about Gina's book because there is very little out there for non-AD/HD partners of people with AD/HD about coping with these intimate relationships. After all, it has been only a decade or so that the medical literature has admitted that if children have AD/HD, they usually don't outgrow it. That means that there are loads of adults who feel like square pegs forced into round holes—who have undiagnosed AD/HD that affects every aspect of their lives, including long-term intimate relationships. For years, even therapists didn't know how to deal with couples in which one or both partners had AD/HD, because they didn't know that adults could have AD/HD ... and so they often gave counterproductive relationship advice to these couples, including Ed and me.

My wonderful Ed and I have, over the years, cobbled together our own way of dealing with the effects of the neurobehavioral disorder, but now, it will be great to see what Gina's "support group in a book," as it is billed, has to say. Finally, someone else who has lived my life and knows that I'm not insane or evil for both loving my husband yet simultaneously feeling sometimes as if he's intentionally trying to drive me bats! That's a comfort, because I'm totally open about AD/HD and its effects on my marriage and family life—with Ed's full permission—in an effort to inform people about AD/HD and make it real to them, yet some real-life listeners and some readers here have felt uncomfortable. They don't understand because they haven't been where I've been. They don't know how to separate the disorder from the person who has it, so they've sometimes mistaken my complaints about AD/HD behaviors for complaints about Ed. Nyah, nyah! I haven't been making up the stories I've been telling for years! Told ya so! Told ya so!

You can bet that I'll be diving into Gina's book immediately so that I can review it here. Meanwhile, in just skimming, I see enough good things about it to tell all of you non-AD/HD partners of people with AD/HD to run—yes, run—to the bookstore or your computer to order a copy of the book. Here's an excerpt from the table of contents:

  • Financial Loop-the-Loops: "It's Only Money, Honey!"

  • Peaks and Valleys: ADHD in the Bedroom

  • Strategies for Right Now

  • Psychological Denial: The FEAR Factor

  • New Ways to Broach "The Conversation"

  • Why the Wrong Therapy Is Worse Than No Therapy [a hot spot for Ed and me]

  • Therapy That Works for ADHD

  • Making Connections Between Brain and Behavior

  • Rx: Treatment Results That Last

  • In Their Own Words: Three Views from Decades on the ADHD Roller Coaster


Betsy Davenport said...

I got my copy on Friday and I have been devouring it, Katharine. I am so glad you've given it space here. I've been friends with Gina for some time now, and have only the highest respect for her and her project. And her heart. Oh, and her very clear mind.

The book is SO needed and it does not disappoint, not one bit.


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Well, then I'd best stay up late tonight after work to start reading! ;-)

libhom said...

I remember from Anthropology way, way back that mental illness has a large cultural aspect to it. People with same genetic makeup will be disordered or not depending on which society they are in.

AD/HD is something that children can learn to cope with, without using medication. But, I don't know if they can be taught or if it is something somebody has to figure out for her/himself.

Our society needs some self examination to see how much of its structure and culture contributes to the disordered aspect of AD/HD.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Well, no, Libhom, not all children or adults can cope with all aspects of AD/HD without using medication. My 13-year-old has severe AD/HD that is now bearable for both him and everyone else around him. If I could invite you back in time with me to his early years—age 18 months or so through about age 9—you would likely feel quite differently.

There are actual measurable deficits in executive function with AD/HD. Learning specific behavioral techniqes can help, and when AD/HD is extremely mild, it can appear that the child or adult has "cured" or overcome the disorder. These techniques can be taught—Ed and I teach them to our sons—and some people with AD/HD figure some of them out for themselves.

The best of all possible treatment combinations for many is medication, behavioral modification training, therapy, school and workplace modifications, and a life coach (aka an AD/HD coach). But not everyone with AD/HD can afford or is willing to take advantage of all of these, and not everyone needs all of them over the long term. Usually, medication is the one component that is continued throughout life.

How society reacts to the deficits of AD/HD is indeed dependent on culture. And more and more studies today are being reported that show that AD/HD appears in pretty much all societies, whether primitive or highly industrialized.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

I will add, Libhom, that American society does need to develop a much greater tolerance of people whose behavior doesn't fit their idea of "normal." We have become far too picky and ready to label those who are different as abnormal or unhealthy.

libhom said...

Katharine: My mini rant was about what should be done at the level of society, not what individuals with AD/HD should do. An individual or family cannot inoculate someone from society and culture without doing more damage than the AD/HD does.

My main point was that society should study itself and people with AD/HD from the perspective of trying to change the situation to one where the biological differences behind AD/HD are not so detrimental to people. This would take a long time.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Aha! We're on the same team, then, Libhom (as we often are).

Template created by Makeworthy Media