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  • Writer's pictureEliza

Inattentive ADHD

A wonderful friend recently spoke to me about an experience they thought may be linked to ADHD. I happened to say that my husbands ADHD was primarily inattentive. It is such a simple word but it reminded me of how transformative finding the right word can be.

We often hear ‘its just a label.’ In one respect that is true. It is just a word, which means a thing and having a word doesn’t change the thing really. 

But in my experience having the word ‘inattentive’ has been life transforming. 

For years I struggled to understand my husbands brain. Perhaps a common phenomenon for many partners! This felt different though. I could feel the different processing in our conversations, the jumping, the hyper focus and the off the wall, in my mind unusual ways of behaving. Little but significant things stuck out. Asking for some milk from the supermarket and calling three hours later to see where he was… they didn’t have the 4 pint in the first shop so he had been to 4 other shops. It was by then 11:30pm and I was worried. Just come home I said, but the hyper focus had set in and it was an itch which needed to be scratched and a problem which needed to be solved. 

Living with curiosity saved us. It was interesting to explore how his beautiful brain was wired and how my beautiful brain was wired differently. Comparing them and our triggers and responses did not make daily living any easier but it took the emphasis off ‘you did this, I feel angry’ cycle. 

I researched in my spare time about autism, ADHD with physical representations and many more. 

Life became busier and the juggling became more intense. Job expectations rose and all of a sudden the ADHD mask my husband had very carefully crafted began to slip and he couldn’t fit into the neuro-typical world in the way he once had. Life felt unstable and it was horrible to see him struggling and at the same time, feel my own compassion fatigue and exhaustion carrying the majority of our admin, planning, timetables and some of his work planning and admin too. 

I stumbled by chance on the article about ADD, now known as inattentive ADHD. I read the article carefully, and then another just to make sure it wasn’t fake news.

I broke down and sobbed. The utter accuracy in which the writer had listed and explained the symptoms and effects inattentive ADHD can have and create was so breathtakingly similar to our own story. 

I sobbed for a long long time. The tears were a mixture of relief that finally I may have an answer, grief of the time we had missed and the life we could have had if only we had understood sooner, fear that this was a mountain ahead and a terrifying sliver of hope which felt dangerous to believe in. 

It was the start of a long journey which still continues. 

It was a moment which will always remain pivotal in our story. 

My thoughts on the word ‘inattentive’ as a descriptor are to be kept for another post but what I can say is that having that label has made our lives infinitely better. 

Yes, it is just a word. Yes, just a label. To us it has changed everything. 

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