Keys to Breaking the Patterns of ADHD

Getting unstuck from habits may help adults with attention deficit disorder move past disappointment, paving the way to healthier beginnings.
ADHD & the City | posted by Jane D.

A pattern is so hard to kill. For the adult who has been diagnosed with ADHD, it is like the cockroach that refuses to die. For nearly three years, I have gone for bad boys, the people who are ambivalent and indifferent. Like Mr. Ph.D., the “friends and nothing more” swim buddy. (I still kick myself for what feels like a lost opportunity.)

Now I look to the Chef, a fellow in his mid 40s, who dated a girl for seven years and was engaged to her for a whopping two weeks.

Things were fine until a week ago, when I basically refused to have sex with him. I said I was flattered but only wanted to go the next step if there was more commitment. "I respect you Jane," said the Chef. Since then he's been lukewarm and a bit insulting. Men need to be trained, but I don't have the time for it.

With the stress and uncertainty of love, life, career, my cold and cough is back again. I find it odd that this always happens before a big swim. Although I've tried to correct this rather self-defeating behavior, it seems impossible. It is as if low self-esteem and anxieties intersect and create a physical illness.

On a positive note, I met up with Lisa, a fellow adult ADHDer, on a recent trip to D.C. Lisa and I first met a year ago when I chatted with her about an article I was writing about ADHD. She is about 20 years older than me, and she looks like Sarah Palin. I seem to get along with 50-something-year-old women. They are open minded and make solid friends for ADDers: a hybrid of friend, mother, and mentor. I was impressed with her Cathedral-expansive home. I wondered if she’d acquired it from one or both of her divorces. The first husband sounded like a pothead, and the second husband sounded like a type A person who couldn’t deal with her being late.

Lisa is kind and quite fair. She let me stay over, gave me breakfast. We took a dip in the Jacuzzi and went to the Corcoran Gallery, where they featured Maya Lin’s latest exhibits. Lin is a genius and lucky that she found fame so early in her life.

Staying with Lisa was refreshing. Her ever-expanding ADHD library and tools are equally impressive, and all over are these timers, and signs—colorful laminated signs—identifying the various zones of the McHome (pantry, playroom, restroom, and so on).

She spent a lot of time talking about the struggle to find men, and I couldn’t help wondering: Have the ADHD symptoms made her prone to divorce? Will I also struggle to hold on to a single healthy relationship? I think a lot about what went wrong, why I always fail to catch the wave or the cues of a relationship when there is the most potential.

Despite the recent string of failed friendships and relationships, there is something promising about the Chef. The ADHD adult loves the new kid on the block.

But I'm also worried. He has so many female friends, is close to 50 and never been married, and needs to have a packed social calendar. I mean, what is so bad about being alone?

The mind is a lonely place to be, and, yet, I don't fear it as much as I once did.

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