Wondering About ADHD and Huntington’s

Carlos Briceño avatar

by Carlos Briceño |

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Earlier this year, I wrote that I was dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but didn’t realize it until my wife, Jill, pointed it out to me. Today, with her permission, I’m turning the spotlight on her.

My wife has always admitted that she suffers from ADHD, but maintained that our daughter, Alexus, and I are much worse than her.

ADHD seems to flow like a river in our family. Our daughter, Alexus, has been clinically diagnosed with it, and is OK with me sharing that information. Multiple people on both sides of our family have the condition as well.

Over the years, in our little family, we’ve learned that it’s easy to get annoyed. It’s easy to lose patience. It’s easy to snap at each other, which we sometimes do. So, Jill came up with “The Squirrel Award” — as in, “Look, a squirrel!”

When Alexus lived at home, and one of us got distracted or blurted out whatever popped into our heads, we would joke that whoever was the worst that day got the award. We did it so much that Alexus found a bronze squirrel and made a plaque for it that read “Squirrel Award.”

It was funny and helped to diffuse any issues that sprang up from our behaviors.

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Earlier in the summer, while I was on the East Coast and Jill was packing and preparing to move here from the Midwest, we both received a text from Alexus with a link to a TikTok video. It showed a young man named Connor DeWolfe verbalizing the inner thoughts of someone with ADHD. Jill looked like she had seen a ghost. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “Oh, my goodness, that’s what my brain sounds like every minute of every day.”

After years of telling Alexus and me that we were worse than she was, that video made Jill realize how badly she suffered from ADHD.

“It’s like a three-ring circus in my brain all the time,” she admitted.

(It’s important to note that anyone learning about disorders like ADHD on social media should be careful about self-diagnosing. Any concerns should be discussed with a medical professional.)

Several days after watching the video, Jill had trouble focusing on packing, the main task at hand.

That night, I heard my phone go off with a text from her. She had written, “Will Huntington’s make my ADHD worse or better?”

Then, another text popped up, saying, “Is this because of Huntington’s or ADHD?”

A third text then arrived, with a photo of her fake nail collection spread across the floor. They were all organized by color.

ADHD and Huntington's / Huntington's Disease News / Photo of several storage containers open on the floor next to countless fake nails laid out and organized by color.

Jill’s impressive fake nail collection. (Courtesy of Jill Briceño)

My response was, “Most definitely ADHD.”

When we later talked about it on the phone, she shared that the nail organization project was a result of her ADHD. She was hyperfocusing on it as a diversion from what should have been her main priority, which was packing.

I was really happy that we both agreed that her being gene-positive for Huntington’s disease didn’t make her organize her nails.

Later, I wondered about her question. Will Huntington’s eventually worsen her ADHD?

I hope we won’t find out for a very long time.

***

Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.

Comments

Lauren Holder avatar

Lauren Holder

OMG, Carlos. I need to talk to your wife. My husband has ADHD, so I know what it looks like. For the past few years now, I actually feel like I have it too, and I've been wondering if that's how it feels for those "pre-manifest" or "early stages" HD, or if it's just because I'm a mom to two toddlers and they stole my brain, HA! I've even gone on an ADHD medication, which has really helped me. Please let your wife know that she's not alone, and she may be able to get some help from a medication if she feels like it's starting to worsen. It's like depression and anxiety - it can be caused by many things, but in the end that doesn't matter so much if it's being treated the same either way. If it is the HD, THIS is the part of HD we can control. :) Lots of love to you guys!

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Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Thanks, Lauren, for sharing all that. Forgive the delay in responding. Life has been really hectic in my new job. She has thought about medication, but, for now, is going without it. What's kind of funny is that she likes to banter with me that my ADHD is worse than hers, which meant that in her mind hers wasn't so bad. But now, she realizes that hers is worse than mine -- and she hadn't realized it until watching those Tik Tok videos. I hope her having HD doesn't make it worse.

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