- Mental Health
Living With Someone With ADHD (While Maintaining Your Own Sanity)
Living with ADHD is hard. Living with someone else who has ADHD and managing to maintain your own sanity can be just as hard. Proper medication definitely helps the situation for most of the day, but when that medication starts to work it's way out of someone's system near the end of the day, keeping up with them can be taxing, to say the least.
When you're ready to settle down for the night, they can seem like they're just waking up and no matter how mature they may be under normal circumstances, they can flip back to being a juvenile teenager in a matter of minutes. After working all day, it's really, really hard to say that you honestly want to deal with this person bouncing off the walls and pulling juvenile stunts to entertain themselves, but when it's your spouse, child, or other important person in your life, there usually isn't much of a choice. You have to deal with it, keep them out of trouble, and do your best to get them to settle down for the night.
And in the midst of all of that, you do your best to stay sane, because you know that as soon as you lose it, things will get at least ten times worse.
How do you do it? That's a question I've spent years figuring out as I learned to deal with my husband, even before I knew he would be my husband. I met him back when we were eight, and have been slowly learning to live with him for the fourteen years since.
The easiest thing to do is make sure they take their meds as prescribed regularly. They may not always want to- especially when there are other mental health issues acting up- but they need to. If they've taken their meds regularly before, a part of them probably knows that it needs to be done, and they'll only need a little push to get them to do it. It makes a world of difference, even from day one, and that difference is a huge part of being able to maintain your own sanity while living with someone with ADHD.
Patience can be learned, believe it or not, and it is another thing you need to have in order to live with someone with ADHD. You know their behavior really isn't entirely their fault, no matter how tempting it might be to blame them for it. There are always things they can do to help control themselves, but it is likely that they will need someone to help them learn what those things are, and while they're learning, there will be times when their behavior seems almost unbearable.
When someone is important enough to you, you can get through it, I promise.
I also promise you can do it without strangling them.
It just takes some patience (sometimes a lot of patience).
You have to be willing to run after them, explain five times why something is a bad idea, and do what you can to keep them out of trouble. If it doesn't hurt anyone, some times you just have to let it go and laugh with them as they entertain themselves, especially since getting mad usually won't help anyone.
Another thing to do help you keep your sanity is set clear, easy to remember boundaries. "Stop that!" won't always be something they can process. No matter how seriously you say it, they may think the reaction is funny and keep going without realizing they've crossed a line. It's entertaining to them, so if the boundary is not a long established one, they may not even see that it's there until they've pushed you far past what your patience and sanity can handle. To help avoid these frustrating situations, make sure to set some clear, simple, and absolutely boundaries with them while they're calm and relatively focused. If the pillow your grandma made for you thirty years ago is absolutely not to be played with and thrown around, make that as clear as you can. The easier it is to understand and remember, the more likely they are to remember and abide by it during their hyper time of day and the more they can respect boundaries, the less you'll want to pull your hair out.
One thing that tends to come with ADHD seems to contradict it. A lot of people with ADHD can also hyper-focus on things that interest them from time to time. Don't be afraid to get them hyper-focus on something just so you have a few minutes of peace and quiet. Handing them a video game so that you can have some time to yourself regain your sanity is fully acceptable. Just make sure that if there is anything they needed to get done during the day, it gets done beforehand as you will likely have a hard time getting them to stop the activity once they've started.
While alcohol does seem to be an effective way of dealing with someone's ADHD activity, it is far from the only option you have when it comes to maintaining your sanity. Keep them on their meds, set boundaries, have patience, and don't be afraid to take a little time for yourself.
I've said it once, and I'll say it again. You can do this- without strangling your loved one.