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ADHD and a Family Torn Apart

by Thomas Etienne

We are a family of five; I am the eldest of three brothers. My youngest brother and I have been diagnosed with ADHD. As I mentioned in another post, my mother hasn’t received an official diagnosis yet. However, she is showing all the signs and symptoms of ADHD. If she doesn’t have ADHD, she probably has something similar such as ADD; I cannot confirm. So, three out of five people in my family have this condition; I don’t know if that makes us an average family? Maybe, we are halfway there! Our presence is always visible or audible when we go out on holidays. The same happens if we go to the cinema or the beach. The agitation and chaos we bring are often met with resigned sighs from our parents. Thoughts like: “we’re tired of it,” “they are so agitated, we have to do something” cross their minds all the time.

Raising and living with the members of our family who have ADHD is a daily ordeal for my father and my younger brother. They both struggle to live harmoniously with the rest of the family. Too often, we do not think of those within the family who do not have the symptoms. They often feel caught up in an overwhelming situation. I observe that our family life is quite affected. Even the relationship between my parents is affected. There are Disagreements and accusations; they wonder who is to blame for this situation. In our family’s case, the cause is genetic. According to the data, 75 to 80% of people with ADHD get it mostly from one of the two parents. Often people like my mother are affected but never realize they are not neurotypical. They can often be stubborn and refuse to admit that there is something wrong with them. Even today, ADHD is still a misunderstood condition. But as my father told me, in the past, we thought that kids with ADHD were just turbulent children who needed a good spanking. People thought this way they would adjust their bad behaviour. This mindset, which is still somewhat present, means that many people still believe we act out of ill will or bad intentions. As ADHD patients, we can also sometimes come to the same conclusion about ourselves because we realize that our attention span is often variable. There are times when we are focused, and there are periods when we are not. However, when we understand our condition, we see that it is part of our symptoms. We voluntarily do our tasks under threat or when we enjoy the task. Therefore, even for my parents, it’s hard to distinguish what is true and false about our condition. ADHD divides my family; it triggers raw emotions, and it can be challenging at times. Feelings of rejection, exclusion and disappointment are a common occurrence in our household.

So, what does help us to settle our differences?

First, we have weekly meetings, and we discuss our disagreements.

It can lead to many outbursts, especially on the ADHD side of the family. Often, the criticism is difficult to accept. Another way to ease tension is to do outdoor activities with everyone together, no exception. Finally getting together and just eating together during lunch or dinner, that too soothes our differences.

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