By Ava Green (Yes, I’m Rick’s wife)
I didn’t always believe that adult ADHD is real. That might surprise you. Especially since I’ve had a hand in almost everything to do with TotallyADD.
But I do not have ADHD. I certainly had no master plan or burning ambition to create this resource. Have you ever heard someone say, ‘Life had other plans for me’ ? Funny how that happens… I’d like to share my unplanned life story with you.
Flash back to 2001, and I’m dating the person I’m now married to, my partner, Rick Green. We are both recently divorced and, to add to the turmoil, Rick has just been diagnosed with ADHD. While the diagnosis made total sense to him, it garnered disbelief and some snide remarks from friends and family.
I’d like to tell you that I was enlightened and supportive… but that wouldn’t exactly be the truth. No, instead, I questioned the validity of the diagnosis, and gently encouraged Rick to stop taking the pills he’d been prescribed. I told him, ‘I’m worried about them.’
Fear & Misunderstanding
In fact, I was afraid of all of it—the diagnosis, being labeled with a ‘disorder, medication. Why? What exactly was I worried about? Everything, actually. Everything I’d heard. The things I’d heard from others, unaware that what was said was based on fear and misunderstanding. Ignorance. Not a speck of science-based evidence.
I hadn’t done any reading or research. I was listening to people who knew as little as I did. I bought into the mainstream myths, instead of doing the work to understand both the person and the science. I had my opinion, based on, well, other people’s opinions.
Wasn’t I interested in facts? Actually, I thought I had the facts. Ugh! Luckily, Rick didn’t give up on me.
It Tore Me Apart
In 2008, Rick pitched a television network on the idea of a documentary about ADHD in adults. The result, ADD & Loving It?!, was a hit, won awards and continues to be seen and loved by millions of people. Rick and I co-produced it. As well, he wrote and directed. I edited it, and it tore me apart. Try reducing 26 hours of amazing insights, and information into one 57 minute story!
But ADD & Loving It?! forever changed our lives. This is the “Life has other plans for you” part…Consider that before this program, we had worked on mostly comedy shows. What did we know about creating a medical documentary? About as much as I knew about ADHD at the time–very little.
Producing ADD & Loving It?! was so illuminating for me, like taking private classes from some of the best ADHD experts in North America. I kept thinking, “I wish everyone could sit and listen to the wisdom of these specialists.’ Wait! That’s why we were there, recording the interviews, so everyone could hear what they had to say.
It was during these interviews that I finally realized everyone’s brains work differently. Not that I didn’t understand that concept before. But something Patrick McKenna said suddenly made it very real.
During an interview with Patrick and his wife Janis, he talked about looking forward to trying medication so the he could finally experience the calm other people have, but that he has never known.
It hit me like a ton of bricks… ‘He has never known calm?!’
Wow. There are people who have never experienced calm. Is Rick one of them? It was like a lighting bolt to my heart, and I realized, ‘I have no idea what it must be like for Rick.’ I felt humbled. I’m eternally grateful to Patrick for sharing something about himself that reached right through to me: Adult ADHD IS real!
Understanding this aspect of how a brain works differently, a seemingly simple, but critical realization, had been hidden from me. Not understanding what it was like for Rick, was having a huge impact on my romantic relationship. It was in fact the core of my initial negative response to his ADHD diagnosis. A lack of understanding of what it was like for him, day in and day out, minute by minute.
Instead, I was growing more, and more aggravated…“If I can get through a day and be somewhat organized, why can’t you?”
“If I don’t need medication to focus, why would you?” Ugh!
And, of course, “I’m getting tired of searching for your keys, aren’t you?!”
I was transposing my experience of life on to Rick. Double ugh!
Ironically, I suddenly understood that I didn’t understand, and might never fully know, what it’s like to have this disorder.
As we travelled from city to city, interviewing amazing ADHD experts, we began to appreciate the dire need for good information and help for people with ADHD, their families and their friends.
The confusion, misinformation, and shortage of qualified doctors was and is shocking. We began to suspect that releasing ADD & Loving It?! without an online resource would be irresponsible. Viewers would recognize themselves and be desperate to know! Did I mention we had 26 hours of interviews? The opportunity was there.
So we built this website we’re all hanging out in now, TotallyADD. Our mission is to create a safe place for everyone to learn more about ADHD in a hopefully, fun way, and to be part of a community that supports and empowers.
Ending stigma. Encouraging understanding. Fueling people’s progress.
My Greatest Joy
The thing I love most about TotallyADD is hearing from people like you, sharing your stories. And I love creating videos about what matters to you.
I’m especially proud of, Living With ADHD, which reveals how and why ADHD can destroy relationships, and what to do about it. It’s based on our own experience as a couple, as well as Patrick & Janis McKenna’s story. I love this video! Why? Because, people who have ADHD, and their partners who don’t, watch the video, and finally ‘get’ what it’s like for each other. The way I got it when Patrick said he was hoping to ‘finally experience the calm that everyone else knows.’
It can take time for loved ones who don’t have this disorder to understand and be truly supportive. Trust me, I know! For those of us who don’t have this mindset, understanding your ADHD can be just as unimaginably foreign as experiencing a sense of calm was for Patrick.
Looking back, I can see that while ADD & Loving It?! has transformed millions of lives, the first life it transformed was mine. It tore me apart, and then put me back together again, with a new compassion and deep admiration for people with ADHD.
My life will never be the same because of TotallyADD, and of course the guy with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (Predominantly Combined Subtype) that I love! Thankfully.
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