5 Ways ADHD Makes Me the Best, Rudest, Most Caring, Totally Frustrating Friend You’ll Ever Have

I’m loyal. I’m funny. I’ve got ADHD. It makes me who I am. But it can also make me seem uncaring, self-centered, or downright ditzy to new friends. Here’s what I wish they knew.

Dear Prospective Parent Friend,

Congratulations! We’ve made tentative moves toward genuine friendship. You seem sane. Our kids are potential playmates. You hold no over-the-top offensive religious, political, or societal beliefs. If you do have them, you’ve hidden them very well.

We have some things in common, like persistent exhaustion. You seem like someone who could develop into a person who might help me clean my house, or who will not frown on my yoga-pants-heavy wardrobe.

We could share war stories about poop. We could celebrate wine o’clock.

Before we make the tentative steps into full-on friendship, there’s something you need to know. I have ADHD. So that it doesn’t ruin the thing we’ve got going on, here are some forewarnings about what friendship with me will entail.

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1. I Will Be Late, or Not

I am constitutionally unable to arrive anywhere on time. I make plans. Oh, I make plans. I set alarms. I leave extra time. But sometimes my alarm doesn’t go off, or I lock my keys in the car, or small children act excessively like small children. I get stuck in traffic. I need a Starbucks run. I just forget to look at the clock. But whatever the reason, the best-laid plans go bad, and I show up 20 minutes to an hour late. My average is about half an hour. This has happened for every play date that I’ve attended in the history of ever.

Or I get up three hours early and getting ready only takes two hours. I frog-march the kids through the morning routine, and they’re shockingly docile about it. I don’t need a shower. I make lunch too early. I misread my watch. Whatever the reasons, the stars have aligned. Except they haven’t, because now I’m not late: I’m half an hour early. This happens about a quarter of the time.

2. I Love My Phone

It’s not you. Smartphones zap all the good neuro-receptors in an ADHD brain. You can click-click-click rapidly. Something’s always happening: an e-mail, a Facebook notification, an Instagram like. If you think it’s hard to put down your phone, it’s triply hard for me, whose brain is hardwired to stare at it all day. This means it’s difficult for me to have a conversation without checking my phone.

I don’t think you’re boring. I’m not trying to tune you out. I often can’t stop myself. And when I do get a text, an e-mail, or notification, I have an obsessive need to respond. I can do all these things while carrying on a full conversation. I’m paying attention to you. I’m just paying attention to something else, too.

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3. I Forget Stuff

I try really hard to be prepared. I try to pack bags, to stock snacks, to remember mittens. But a lot of the time, the intention doesn’t match the reality. I always think my diaper bag is packed when it’s not, or that the kids’ jackets were left in the trunk when they’re hung up in my hallway. This can put a damper on outings. I might have to run home. I might have to visit Target. You might be kind enough to lend me something for the tenth time. For that, I will be eternally grateful. Especially if the thing you’re lending is a diaper.

4. I Will Interrupt You with a Completely Unrelated Thought

You’ll be talking on about your kid’s night waking. I’ll nod, and nod, and when you pause, I will say something like, “Oh, my gosh, did I tell you how my kid keeps eating dirt?” I will launch into a lengthy diatribe detailing said dirt consumption, a diatribe that keeps you from getting a word in edgewise.

This is incredibly rude. I should still be nodding and murmuring consolations about your kid’s sleep issues. But the dirt thing came on so suddenly, and so strongly, that the need to tell you superseded all social convention. I’m not ignoring you. I’m not obsessively self-centered. My conversational skills just misfire – sometimes badly.

5. I Forget Important Intangibles

I will not remember your mom’s name, even if I have met her three times, once over a long lunch. Vital events tend to fade in my memory; I can hardly tell you what I had for breakfast, let alone who was present at a six-month-old play date gone bad. It’s not that I see these things as trivial or unimportant. It’s just that I can’t freaking remember. My mind is a sieve for certain details. When important stuff comes up, and I can’t remember it, you’ll need to gently jog my memory, not take offense.

I’m a good friend. I’m fun; I meet new people easily (even if I don’t remember their names). I can chat with you until the sun goes down or the toddlers start beating each other up. I’m loyal. I’m funny. But I’ve got ADHD. It makes me who I am. But it can also make me seem uncaring, self-centered, or downright ditzy. Make sure you know that going into this. We can be great friends. But remember: ADHD’s always part of the equation.

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