B ased on the comments and emails I’ve received in response to the post on ADHD and loneliness (see: ADHD and Loneliness), I feel it’s necessary to clarify and amplify a few points.
- My observations were based on discussions I’ve had with other ADHDers, which means it’s a very small sample size and not at all scientific.
- As I noted in the comments, the “loneliness” did not necessarily apply to me. (More on this later in the post.)
- Many of us have different types of friendships based on different factors: work friends; common interest friends (e.g., hobby; sports; college); common geography friends (how’s that for a fancy way of saying “your neighbors”); life-mate friend (which may or may not be legally recognized through marriage), etc. I have all of these types of friends.
However, the type of friendship that I had in mind when I wrote the first post was the type where you felt comfortable enough to share some of your deepest thoughts. I have two friendships that fit that bill. One (male) has been my friend from the age of 17. We see each other twice a year and have lengthy phone conversations about twice a year. But it was only in recent years that I realized that I could share with him some of my deepest thoughts. Another friend (female) with whom I share my deepest thoughts happens to be a cousin. Like the male friendship described earlier, I realized only in the last handful of years that I could confide in her.
* * * * *
A good friend asked me if, in light of the previous post, were we still friends. I assured her via email and assure her now that we are, indeed, still friends. That friendship started with a single mutual interest (we get together once a month through a local business lunch group) which has grown into a deeper friendship (talk about personal issues, usually of the “kids and education” variety but we also have some wonderful discussions about politics and society in general). A subgroup of the lunch group is forming around another common interest: writing.
So I’m not necessarily one of the ADHDers who is lonely yet, there are times, when I am, indeed lonely. It is probably caused by several factors.
- The inordinate amount of time that I “live in my head.” One could argue we ALL live in our heads but it is worse for some ADHDers who have an excessive amount of thoughts, what Dr. Parker refers to as cognitive abundance (there’s more to this concept of cognitive abundance so you’ll need to read his post).
- It is worse for some ADHDers who have been blessed with both cognitive abundance and intelligence. I’ve been astounded by how many intelligent ADHDers I’ve met (again, this is anecdotal data) who have done extraordinarily well in school (though some do quite poorly) and yet, somehow, despite their success, they had not been able to cultivate meaningful relationships until decades later and, in some cases, not at all. Further, they often felt like (and still feel like) misfits. This brings me to item 3 below.
- If an ADHDer were to adapt P.D. Eastman’s famous book, Are You My Mother?, it would have to be retitled to something like, “Are You An ADHDer?” The deadly combination of ADHD and intelligence creates the type of person who constantly searches for validation of who they are. (I’m reminded of this comment made by Ariane Benefit: “Our culture does not tolerate misfits of any kind very well, much less support our rights to be different.”)
On A Related Note: I’ve been spending an extraordinary amount of time on fictional and biographical writing. A bit of it can be seen here. To polish my skills I purchased the Write Great Fiction collection of books. Even after reading these books I may still never write great fiction. But I learned something more valuable. Many of the struggles I’ve had, and still have, with my writing are the struggles that MANY writers face. Many of the struggles that, prior to my ADHD diagnosis, I had assumed were signs of my inability to write and which, post-ADHD diagnosis, I had assumed were signs of ADHD, are in actuality the SAME STRUGGLES faced by many writers. What I now realize is that the struggles are exacerbated by the ADHD and not necessarily caused by the ADHD.
- There is one more factor that needs to be acknowledged: ADHDers are not easy to be with. They can often be their own worst enemy. They often create the very conditions that make friendships, at any level, to be difficult and, in some cases, impossible.
I must acknowledge how this blog and the sometimes detestable Facebook has made it possible for me to talk with fellow ADHDers and also to the non-ADHDers who live with them. Even the lowly telephone has played a role in collapsing geography. Together, these technologies have made it possible for us to digitally “bare our souls,” creating friendships that I would not have had otherwise. Some day I may have the opportunity to see them in person and give them a hug. In the interim, I hope they can accept this virtual hug in lieu of a real one. They have enriched my life in more ways than they can imagine. And for those I see in person, since ADHDers have memory problems, remind me that I owe you a hug too.
___ ____ ___ ____( \ .-' `-. / )____ (____ \_____ / (O O) \ _____/ ____) (____ `-----( ) )-----' ____) (____ _____________\ .____. /_____________ ____) (______/ `-.____.-' \______)
(Virtual hug courtesy of ASCII Art)
[CLICK HERE for Part III of ADHD and Loneliness]