Interesting article from a Guardian writer on being recently diagnosed with ADHD.
This is a difficult column to write, but I have to try, since this is, after all, a family column and the shape of my family has been transformed. Just after Christmas, I separated from my partner of 15 years. I have left the family home and divorce proceedings are under way. No other party is involved.
I wish my wife nothing but goodwill. We have both struggled for years to make our frequently combative, but often rewarding, marriage work. I am not prepared to go into the reasons for the separation here. However, one factor has emerged that has come as a complete surprise, and appears finally to have helped to cut our marriage from its moorings.
In December, I was diagnosed with inattentive-type adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). After I wrote a column about having a poor memory, a reader suggested I might have un-diagnosed adult ADHD. I did a brief internet search, which revealed that I ticked a remarkable number of boxes, and my diagnosis has since been confirmed. My wife and I have been trying to explain the condition to our children. This is not easy, as we can barely explain it to ourselves.
The presence of ADHD is likely to have been a significant factor in the breakdown of our relationship. I did not know adult ADHD existed, and it turns out to be nothing like how I had imagined it. I do not “climb walls” or find myself perpetually restless, but I can be very disengaged, disorganised and abstracted – tendencies I had previously put down to a creative temperament. (Incidentally, adults who have ADHD do not tend to enjoy enduring relationships. Multiple marriages are typical, and this will be my second divorce.)
I still entertain doubts about the substance of the condition. There is no Cat scan that can show ADHD in the brain. My wife, however, has become convinced that it is at the heart of my personality and behaviour. It cannot be cured, although its symptoms can be alleviated by medication and changes in lifestyle.
I am not sure where “I” begin and ADHD ends – if it is real in the first place. The coming months and years will help to clarify this. My children, at least, don’t seem to mind too much – they are just anxious that I don’t use it as an excuse for thoughtless or inappropriate behaviour. Our relationship remains the same as it has always been – close, healthy and entirely “normal”. The separation has been a trauma for them, but they seem to be coping remarkably well so far.
There is a possibility that this column won’t survive this development, as much for reasons of necessary discretion as anything else. One of the symptoms of ADHD is the compulsion to overshare, which would explain a lot about my highly confessional writing career hitherto.
This compulsion, if compulsion it is, has not always helped marital relations. It has left my wife feeling she is without a voice, which is a frustration I well understand, but can do little to alleviate – other than quit writing this. If I continue, I will – as I always have – submit it before publication to my wife (and, on occasion, my children) for approval, if it touches on a sensitive or overly personal topic.
Whatever the outcome, I would like to thank those readers whose intelligent and constructive comments and feedback have given my writing support and encouragement over the years.
The most thanks must go to my wife, who has suffered this burden just as much as I have. In the meantime, for both my family, and myself a new and unexpected journey has begun, which is at least as intriguing as it is unsettling.