Look! A Squirrel!
My wife, Jill, has diagnosed me with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (Look! A squirrel!) For the record, she is not a doctor, though she wishes she could play one on television. All joking aside, Jill has this uncanny ability to identify people’s issues.
I remember the first time she talked about my possible ADHD. (Look! Another squirrel!) She explained which of my behaviors led her to believe that I have it. Jill said that not only do I easily get distracted — holy smokes, check out that cloud! — but I have a tendency to hyperfocus as well.
I am guilty on both charges.
Since we got married, Jill has accepted my ADHD with love and patience. She regularly looks at me and laughs at what I just did. Then she looks at me again and says, “I love you.” She knows that I don’t do ADHD-related behaviors on purpose or to annoy her, but she is usually the person who suffers because of it.
Jill has always had trouble sleeping, but since her Huntington’s diagnosis, she’s had an even harder time falling and staying asleep. I didn’t think that was possible. However, there is an exception: She is fond of falling asleep in the car, a condition we have lovingly labeled “carcolepsy.” During road trips, I do all the driving so she can sleep.
The last time we traveled, we arrived home at around 3 a.m. After I woke her up, we decided to unpack the car and then go to bed. The first thing I brought in was our wonderfully stubborn dog, Baby Girl — a cute but high-maintenance cocker spaniel.
I knew Jill was outside unloading the car, but at that second I thought the dog needed water and food. So, I stopped helping Jill unpack and fed the dog and poured fresh water into her bowl. In hyperfocusing on the dog, I forgot Jill was waiting for me to come outside to help her finish getting everything out of the car, some of which was too heavy for her to carry. (Oops!) She waited there for about five minutes, wondering what had happened to me.
Most people aren’t very happy at 3 a.m., and Jill is one of them. I don’t blame her. I’d be upset, too.
When I explained my actions, she just tilted her head and said, “I love you.”
I realized I had done another ADHD thing and she had suffered because of it. She didn’t yell at me or complain. She just continued emptying the car — now with my help.
The next morning, she calmly explained that I needed to stop and think each time a thought popped into my head. She reminds me of this every time I do something that affects her.
I thought about how calm, patient, and loving Jill is with me. Then I realized that one day she might not be so calm with me because Huntington’s may rob her of that quality. She may experience a drastic shift in her personality. She may get mad and yell at me.
I hope that shift doesn’t occur, but rest assured that I work on controlling my ADHD every day. Hopefully, when I do hyperfocus, my concern will be doing right by Jill and showing her the love and patience she deserves rather than being distracted by another squirrel outside.
(Who knew there were so many squirrels in the world?)
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