Most people think that ADD is something kids outgrow or it’s just a term applied to those who are “spazzes” that can’t focus. For many people this just isn’t true. ADD is hard. It’s hard to have and sometimes it’s hard to live with. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 6 years and he has ADD.
Let me start by saying that I love him just how he is but it’s not always easy. He’s imaginative, curious, encouraging, easily enthralled, he sports a childlike wonder I often envy and he can be the most loving person I’ve ever known. However he’s also at times impatient, easily frustrated, and he often wants to fix anything and everything that goes wrong in his life. Even the things he literally can’t fix like other people’s emotions. He can quickly get sucked down into anger and sadness but just as easily be pulled into a high level of joy and excitement. This can make for an interesting lifestyle for us.
Early on in our relationship I felt like I was always walking this precarious tightrope and the slightest slip of my foot in any one direction could mean a fast and deep fall into the emotion tied to that action. It took a while but eventually I found a rhythm. I mean yeah in the beginning I’ll admit I thought I could “fix” him. That thought I’m ashamed to say lasted for longer than it should have. You should never try to fix your partner. Mostly because you’re suggesting there’s something wrong with who they are. Instead you can focus on helping your partner grow and flourish, become a better version of themselves everyday.
When I stopped trying to fix my boyfriend and instead accepted who he was and became his partner in the minefield that is living with ADD, we both became so much better for it. Yes there are still bad days. Days where he struggles to pull himself up out of depression. Days where he fixates on one activity and it’s hard to pull his attention away. Days where he finds himself angry at everything and everyone around him and subsequently becomes angry that he’s angry and can’t stop the thoughts. Days when he longs to be somewhere new, to see new things and travel far outside his comfort zone.
But those days don’t define him. They don’t last forever and our mantra has become, “Today was bad, tomorrow will be better”. I talk him through what I can. I encourage him to let himself feel whatever he’s feeling and not fight it too hard. I remind him of all his positive aspects. I’m patient and when his anger lashes out I become Teflon. At times it can hurt when his anger finds a target in me. Yet I remind myself I’m not the real reason he’s upset (most of the time). I take a moment to mentally check my need to lash back because I know that doesn’t help.
When he comes back from his bad space, when he’s allowed to take the time to find a calm state once more he always apologizes for how he acted. His aim is never to hurt me. He never strives to make me as miserable as he may be. In fact his preferred state is one who’s happy, fun, teasing, loving, playful, and always adventurous. I revel in the moments when he wins over his ADD. When he stands firm over his daily fight, he truly shines the brightest.
Life with someone who has ADD is not always easy or fun. Yet the rewards are substantial. People with ADD are such amazingly talented individuals. Their unique way of seeing the world opens windows where you thought there were only closed doors. They persevere. They thrive in chaos because they know the environment so well from constantly combating it in their own minds. They love intensely and are endlessly loyal to those who stick with them through all the good and bad.
My boyfriend drives me mad. He pushes me to my limits and reveals to me new borders of my patience. Yet no one has ever loved me like he does. He knows my favorite colors, what I prefer to eat at literally any given location, he knows my dreams, my fears, my favorite songs, the way I like to relax, my preferred types of movies, he can spot the smallest emotion in my face and he can always make me smile. He knows me inside and out. Sometimes I fear he knows me better than I know myself or even more than I know him. He picks up on the tiniest details in my personality and in my life that make up who I am. He loves to see me smile and he feeds off my emotions so easily it’s often a surprise to me to this day.
It’s like having a walking emotional alarm. He notices my anger or sadness building before I do. There will be times I’ll be sitting at my computer, tired and frustrated with my work. Like a well timed phone alert there he is, holding out my favorite Starbucks drink, my favorite candy, a coke and cherry slushie, a new book, or just a hug. He lives and moves his life within my emotions as much as I do his. He’s my brother on the battlefield. He’s my dance partner. He’s the cream to my oreo. He’s the beast to my beauty. Most of all, he’s my best friend.
So here’s to all of you struggling and yet thriving with ADD. Here’s to all your quirks. You add zigzag lines to this world that make life so interesting. Don’t ever change who you are though. Learn to integrate your ADD into the best parts of yourself. You’re not broken, you’re perfect just the way you are and you’re always worth it. Don’t you forget it, not even for a second.