I first met Carmen in my original Facebook group. She was a regular poster and one of the first people to volunteer to talk with me about life with ADHD.
She gave me a whole new perspective on Living with ADHD!
Living With ADHD: Carmen
HealthyADHD: How did you end up getting diagnosed?
Carmen: I was a junior in high school and I played volleyball, and I was having trouble staying on the team because I was getting low grades. Despite all my teachers saying I was the most mature kid in class and that I participated. I was constantly forgetting homework.
My parents were finally fed up with it and it was affecting my social life a little bit. So they decided to take me to a psychiatrist finally.
My mom found out about a drug called Strattera, and she was afraid of the stimulants so she took me in. So I was diagnosed and put on Strattera.
HealthyADHD: Did it work?
Carmen: Umm in a way. But there were stairs at my school and it made me dizzy. When I was exerting myself going up or down stairs. Also I kept forgetting to take it. Go figure.
HealthyADHD: How did you manage school?
Carmen: I got through most of it. My mom made sure I participated in activities and went to church. So that helped. Other than the ADHD, my mental health was pretty good.
HealthyADHD: Yeah, it’s great that you got diagnosed when you did. So many people have to wait a long time.
You said you wanted to discuss relationships, so tell me about that.
Carmen: I’ve always been interested in relationships. I like psychology and I like to connect with other people by spending time with them.
Growing up I was often a minority because of my religion. Plus I had some ADHD symptoms like impulse control or I would just say whatever was on my mind and it would affect my relationships with my friends a lot.
But the relationship I talk about most is my relationship with my mother.
She’s the one who taught me how to clean the house and made me do my homework. She also taught me how to read when I was four.
But there was a lot of anger there because they tried all these methods to teach me how to clean my house.
HealthyADHD: So you could sense her frustration when you were younger?
Carmen: Oh yeah. Her eyes would get really big and they would bug out and she would get so mad. She was trying so hard and it wasn’t working, and I was the oldest of five.
She was trying to take care of the younger ones, and I wouldn’t do homework or help around the house with chores.
HealthyADHD: What’s your relationship with her like now?
Carmen: Right now it’s good. I ask her when I need help around the house. The one thing that always worked in our relationship was my religion – my mom liked that I tried to do the right thing and be the right kind of person. So that has kept us connected.
HealthyADHD: So does ADHD affect your interactions with people?
Carmen: It affects my interactions with everyone.
I feel guilty when I leave the house because it is such a mess, and my husband has (suspected) Aspbergers, and he needs order and structure for his emotional health. He also has depression.
HealthyADHD: Is that 100% your responsibility?
Carmen: He works and goes to school, so the house stuff definitely is. I mean he can do things, but I consider it my responsibility.
HealthyADHD: What do you want? I mean, an ultra-clean house or more acceptance of how the ADHD manifests itself?
Carmen: I need to find a place where I can accept it.
HealthyADHD: Is there such a thing as good enough?
Carmen: Good enough is when I can invite people over to my house and not feel embarrassed.
HealthyADHD: And how would that look in detail?
Carmen: The toilets don’t smell and people feel comfortable using the bathroom. I want to make sure my counters are clean so when they come they don’t think, “oh they prepared my food there?”
Or, I don’t want my mom to look at the chairs and wipe them down when she comes to my house.
HealthyADHD: Just to make sure I am hearing you correctly, you are concerned with the impression it leaves on other people?
Carmen: I guess maybe. I might have to take some time to accept that idea. I want people to come to my home so I can spend time with them.
HealthyADHD: What steps would you need to take for that to happen?
Carmen: A maid and a personal chef. Although, my mom did the same thing and I worry that by not doing it myself I am passing it down.
HealthyADHD: How do you feel when you do clean something?
Carmen: Well it has to be a whole room clean just the way I like it. Then I’ll feel good because I can have someone over. Or I won’t feel good because the kids completely destroyed another room while I did that.
HealthyADHD: So how do you get it done? How is that working for you?
Carmen: Sometimes I get caught up in a game on my phone. But my Adderall has been helping me to concentrate on cleaning and I can complete more tasks.
HealthyADHD: So you do take Adderall?
Carmen: I do now. Last year I went to the doctor because my husband and I were having so many fights over me losing my phone, or my keys, and it was costing us money. And we are trying to get out of debt.
That’s how it has affected my relationships.
I have to take medication to get along with the people I love the most.
HealthyADHD: What usually caused you to fight with your husband?
Carmen: Forgetting things. Like one time I left my phone on top of my car and then drove over it like three times while searching for it. I’ve also locked my keys in the car with it running and he’s had to come and rescue me while he was working.
HealthyADHD: Do you fight because of a communication issue? Or more because of a behavioral incident?
Carmen: Well I used to not tell him things, but now I tell him right away. But it hasn’t happened in a while because with the Adderall I haven’t forgotten anything important.
HealthyADHD: How can we do better in our relationships?
Carmen: Make friends with ADHD. Figure out what works for you, try new things.
Another thing is forgiveness of self and other people. Christ was the most forgiving person that ever existed. And I know that through him I can change things.
If I can repent and work towards doing something every day to make things better, then at least I’m trying.
HealthyADHD: Well you having ADHD, and the stuff that goes with it, is not a character flaw. Know what I mean?
Carmen: Yeah. I have to repent because some of the impulsive decisions I make…ADHD is involved in them.
HealthyADHD: Oh ok! Is there anything else we should finish with?
Carmen: There is only one way the ADHD has been a benefit for me. And that is that ADHD has put me where others are not, and I can help people.
For example, there was this lady wandering around looking at the ground one day in the parking lot at the college. And I was really late to class that day. But I decided to help her anyway because I recognized her from our choir. So we found her wedding ring together.
I found out later that she was going through some trouble with her husband, and they shortly thereafter divorced. But she really needed to have that ring.
And I was there at a time that would have been inconvenient for anyone else. Because I was late!
HealthyADHD: That is so cool! That ADHD lateness – it put you in the right place at the right time to have a positive impact on someone!
So that is your gift. You are in the right place at the right time.
Carmen: Yeah, as we improve our relationship with God and with ourselves, we can better serve others.
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