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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Not Wrong, Just Different - coming soon to a computer, then a bookstore near you!

So Random Thinkers, the new website and book are well underway!

The Title: Not Wrong, Just Different
subtitle: (still under construction)

The Topic:  ADHD Relationships

Who's the book for? Anyone that will read it and hopefully buy it!
I'm writing to anyone with ADHD and those that love them; parents, spouses, grandparents, teachers, scout  leaders, cul de sac queens, & car pool divas.  It's simply about the relationships between those with ADHD and the people that love them.

Why this topic?

With an ADHD husband and an ADHD son, this subject is near and dear to my heart.

It also scares the living crap out of me.

I'd say I'm writing the book mostly out of fear. Fear that I'll screw it up, (more than I already have), fear that so many others are screwing it up, and fear that if we don't see it differently, we'll have a real snowball of a problem on our hands for the millions of children and adults walking around this planet with ADHD. (yes millions, but I'm not in the mood for stats tonight, we'll cover that in the book and a future post.) 

By writing the book, I'm ridiculously aware of my behavior now. I'm aware when I'm getting it right and I'm keenly aware of when I'm screwing it up.  I'm working to tip the scales a little more to the right, getting it right that is.

Not Wrong, Just Different is about starting with the right perspective, viewpoint, paradigm about the relationship and about ADHD.   You have to see things differently to do them differently.   With an accurate perspective, the actions get much easier and more aligned to the results that everyone wants out of the relationship.

So many people try to action plan their way into better results without actually backing it up a step and studying how they "see" the situation.  Our viewpoint or paradigm drives our behaviors or actions, our actions drive our results and our results reinforce our point of view.

Let's review two of the most common perspectives I've seen so far in my interviews with those in ADHD relationships and then we'll look at the better option: Not Wrong, Just Different.
ADHD isn't real.  The drug companies made it up to make more money.

If you enter into an ADHD relationship not believing that this is a real disorder, your actions will likely be:
  • denial
  • shaming them about their behavior
  • working to validate your belief
  • seeing the ADHD as poor performance, lazy, or lack of effort
Of course this is the scariest paradigm of all for the person with ADHD.  These relationships are always at risk.
  • Most will end in divorce
  • Children become defiant
  • Child has no interest in maintaining a close connection with their parents. Many won't stay in the house past the legally required age or in some cases they leave earlier 
  • Lack of confidence, terribly low self esteem that plagues them with issues into adulthood
You can easily see what kind of long term impact there is for a child that is raised with parents that believe this, or for the spouse that lives with a partner that believes this.  In one word: doomed.

The Fixer  - Let's look for a cure, this has to end, surely you'll grow out of it.

Actions from this belief could be:

  • constantly trying new diets, new doctors, new medications, new books to fix the problem
  • studying the ADHD person like an entomologist studies bugs, microscope in hand, always ready to assess the situation and then fix it
This is the toughest. Most have this view out of love to help the person with ADHD. Unfortunately, the results can be frustrating for both parts of the relationship.

The fixer:
  • Becomes tired and resentful
  • Confused that help isn't appreciated
  • When and if the relationship ends, they have no idea how they contributed because they were only trying to help
The ADHD person:
  • Feels like a science fair experiment
  • Low self esteem from perpetually being fixed, believes they must be broken
  • Begin to resist and resent all strategies to cope with ADHD
  • Begin to look for other relationships that will be more accepting,  friends at school, or the co-worker that is more sympathetic - you can see where these may go.
And finally, the paradigm I'm trying to hold, reinforce, and write about in the book:

This is the belief that ADHD is very real but it doesn't make the person wrong, it just makes them different. This is the healthiest paradigm available to all involved in the relationship.  It's not an "easy button" or the answer to a blissful existence, but it is the healthiest for all involved.

ADHD is real and needs to be acknowledged.  There are many strategies that are helpful for ADHD, there isn't, however, a once size fits all solution.

Not Wrong, Just Different is about acceptance, love, patience and understanding.  It's about learning about ADHD in a healthy collaborative environment.  It's about meeting people where they are, and finding a way to nurture the best of each other.

Being in love with an ADHD person or raising a child with ADHD has it's fair share of struggles and frustrations.  Find me a relationship that doesn't have it's fair share of struggles and frustrations!

Key themes that we'll cover on the website and in the book for a Not Wrong, Just Different view:

  • Education. ------ Learn about ADHD from a practitioner point of view, not a fixer/scientist point of view. Learn and try new things, but don't be a pest. Recognize there is no cure, but there are some cool resources out there that can be really helpful.
  • Affirmation.  ------- ADHD people are typically brilliant and creative. Let their light shine. Ride the wave of their passions. They need people that can help them be a little more organized. Affirm each other. Be a team; thankful and appreciative of each others strengths and how much stronger you are together. 
  • Advocacy. ---- There will be many situations and systems that are not ADHD friendly, school is the primary example, but there are others.  Don't let ADHD be an excuse. Don't allow yourself to be a doormat. Don't get pushed around by those that don't understand it. Also, don't become the freak that the teachers run from because you've confused advocacy with your own type of bullying. Somewhere between being a doormat and being a bully is the sweet spot where everyone can win. There is both art and science to advocacy. 
  • Renewal. ---- ADHD is challenging, for all involved. Chillax a bit. Pick your battles carefully. Get enough rest and remember that organization and love are two different things and they don't need to be connected. Everyone needs time and space to themselves to recharge. Honor what that looks like for each other. For the ADHD person it may be a cluttered room with classic rock blaring. For the person that loves them, you may need to get away to that quiet, organized room to find some zen and peace. Honor the differences in what renewal looks like for each other. Remember, not wrong, just different.
This is just a high level look at the topic.  So what's next?

A website designed by the brilliant, Eric Hall from ehdesign & consulting will launch this summer.  The website will be a collaborative petri dish for testing ideas and theories.  The goal is to bring in a tribe of dedicated followers that can share their stories and challenges and brag about their successes. We can write much of this book together.  This site will be like an ADHD party, with a healthy dose of Ritalin and I'll be Julie the cruise director of this Love Boat. 

When it's time for this ship to sail, we'll blast it out to RandomThinkers, Twitter, Facebook, email blasts, you won't be able to NOT hear about this launch. Bring the champagne and I'll arrange the shuffleboard. This is going to be a blast! And we might learn a thing or two if we're lucky.

Your response: Wow, Rebecca, that's awesome, how can we help?

Me: Glad you asked. You can forward this post to everyone you know with ADHD or to those that love them. Ask them to do just two things here on the RandomThoughts site. Hit Follow and Subscribe so they won't miss the launch. And if you haven't done that, shame on you, catch up now.

You: Sure, happy to help.

Me: Thanks, you're one of my favorite Random Thinkers.