I have had that similar situation in my own family. There is a lot of resistance from both suspected ADDers and non-ADDers. I have finally got them convinced that _I_ have ADHD… After 10 years. Over the years I’ve come to realize a few things. Hopefully this will help you:
1. People will look for help with ADHD if they think they could (a) improve their existence, (b) stop failing, or (c) improve their situation… this means that the ADDer has to want to look for the root cause of a problem and then work at solving that problem. If they don’t think there is a problem… there is no problem. So, according to them, everything is fine so why rock the boat? The unfortunate part of ADD is that it is so inocuous (sp?) that even the one who is afflicted can be oblivious to it. However the effects are still there. Example from my family: A particular adult family member (I’ve always considered her an adult) has 2 degrees and to a certain extent has never reached her potential. She rarely worked in field and always had a hard time keeping a job. Why? If you ask her the reasons are numerous including others being scared by her self-confidence, she’s a woman, she’s from a different culture… The fault always lies with others rather than there could possibly be an invisible hand that sabotages her every efforts. The thing is, she considers that if she has ADHD, it means that it’s all her. She can’t see that it’s not others, it’s NOT HER, it’s ADHD. She just can’t see that difference.
2. For non-ADDers, my experience has been that it is complete misunderstanding. Like you, my biggest critic is my non-ADD sister. She doesn’t understand what the big deal is. Even yesterday we were talking about how I suspect that my child might be ADHD… When I gave her the example of my daughter’s struggles in school, my sister couldn’t understand how my daughter could have an hour to write a test, take 30 minutes to complete it, spend 30 minutes reviewing and not see that she didn’t put the minus sign in her math answer although she carried it through the problem… According to my sister, you can make a simple mistake like that, but you’d catch it in the review… I told her THAT is ADHD. I told my sister that while this can be ok in school, to a certain extent – my daughter is really smart so she is still pulling in excellent marks – she will for ever be making those kinds of mistakes, and it’s not so ok in the work force or in life.
Part of the misunderstanding is everyone makes mistakes. Yes, we all make mistakes. I just happen to always make the same ones – even when I try not to make them. I’m not trying to be perfect. I’m just trying to stop doing the things I know I shouldn’t do… or even just do the things I know I should be doing.
Another part of the problem is that the diagnosis of ADHD challenges everything we’ve believed about everything… From what’s been to what is and what will be. While my diagnosis was cathartic for me, it explained a whole heck of a lot, to my family it was challenging their perception of what is normal. They always thought that I was normal. ADHD? No way… They never had to pull me out of the curtains due to hyperactivity… I was never a risk taker. I never looked for that adreneline rush. I never practiced risky behaviour. I was never disruptive in class. There’s no way that I could be ADHD. The diagnosis was a mistake. No way. I was the perfect child. (Except I always wandered off without telling anyone where I was going… there’s a story of how I took 4 children accross town to go to the “fun” park without telling anyone… Yeah, I was only 8. The other kids were younger… Mom was livid… lol but it is a typical story from my childhood… Yeah, that’s not ADHD…)
3. As much as it hurts to be dismissed by others, the diagnosis hurts them. It challenges the norm for them. They always thought that you were normal, you were you and you were normal. Now you’re not supposedly “not normal”. If you’re “not normal” what is normal? It may be a small concern, but it’s still a concern. What they don’t understand yet is that in treating your ADHD, you will still be you. You will be you with fewer frustrations and less frustrating… believe me, your ADHD made you frustrating to others… Well maybe not you, but it certainly did me…
So my best advice is, stay calm. Don’t worry. Work on yourself. Do what you need to do to be healthy and happy. Don’t try to save them (I know it’s counter intuitive), but do throw out the life ring. That means don’t preach, but be open to their questions… when they see the positive changes happening in your life, they’ll have some. It just takes a while for them to notice. Keep in mind that you know exactly how many times and how many ways “you used to screw up”. Others don’t know where you struggled. You’ll be the first to see the improvements because you’re not making the “stupid mistakes”. You won’t be asking yourself “How did I miss that?” because you will have caught it. You’ll be the first to see those changes. At one point, you’ll be successful at moving forward and others will notice that you’ve moved ahead. They’ll ask you your secret. They’ll be looking for their own answers and solutions to the problems that they are having.
Remember that your family does love you. Let anyone say anything bad about you and they’ll be there defending you. Let something bad happen and they’ll be the first at your side and stepping up to the plate to help you. Take care of yourself, and everything will fall into place. It’ll just take time, so don’t push it. Seriously… It took 10 years for me. I wish it hadn’t, but my family’s stubborn – so I come by it naturally, and I just wouldn’t let go of that bone…REPORT ABUSE