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To The Friend Who Loves Me With My ADHD

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Dear Friend,

Thank you.

Over the years of our friendship, there are so many things I’m grateful to you for, and I couldn’t name them all if I tried. So for now, I’ll focus on one: thank you for loving me with my ADHD.

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Your grace and patience are so admirable; whether I forget your birthday or flake out on plans, you’ve never held it against me. When we decide to grab dinner and I can’t decide on a place, leaving you to find a spot, book a reservation, and take care of all the little details, you’re still there with a smile. Or the (countless) times you’ve indulged my impulsivity when I want to pick a zillion things off the menu and sat through my nonstop streams of consciousness on whatever my latest hyperfocus obsession is. I’m so appreciative of the way you don’t take it personally when I forget to respond to a text, and how you remind me of our plans.

And while those may seem like the smaller, more trivial things, I can’t forget the moments when you’ve really shown up for the “uglier” parts of ADHD. The night my rejection sensitive dysphoria, the hardest part of my ADHD, was truly unbearable comes to mind. A couple of months ago, out of the blue, at 11 p.m., I called you crying and distraught because I felt rejected by another friend, and I was worried my friendship was ending. You picked up and patiently listened as I went on about how sad I was, putting aside your own plans.

Besides those wonderful things you do, I am beyond thankful for the way you’ve patiently tried to give me back my love of reading. Our shared love of books has always been a source of closeness for us. While I could never read at the speed you do, there was a time I could read 30+ books a year. Yet, I haven’t read a single book over the last year. I miss it. But lately, ADHD has made it so hard to focus, or sit down and read, or get into a book and pay attention enough to know what’s happening. I’ve stared at my bookshelf countless times, telling myself to dive in, but not being able to do it because the motivation isn’t there. Whether you knew it or not, you’ve supported me in trying to get back into it.

There was the time you took me to a bookstore you had discovered, and helped me pick some books — even though you had been to the exact same store earlier that day. But those books inevitably got added to the pile of ADHD purchases I’ve made that never get used.

A few months later, you reached out about a book you thought I would enjoy, and asked if I wanted to do a “buddy read” with you. I immediately said yes, and you were off to get reading. But I forgot, and you reminded me, and by the time I got around to buying the book, there were none left. So you patiently waited for me to get the book when it was finally back in stock.

Within days of us deciding to start the book, you were 100 pages in, and I of course had not started. I assured you that I had a big reading day planned and would get to it in no time at all, but that of course did not happen. Another week went by without me starting it until I finally texted you, apologizing that I still had not started but had some time off coming up and would read it for sure. That’s the thing about ADHD — you make these promises to yourself and others that you have every intention of keeping, but then you just… don’t. By this point, I felt like a failure because I knew my words were empty promises and I was mad that I didn’t uphold my end of the deal.

But with that latest apology, you responded with the kindest, most understanding text I could have asked for:

“Hey hey!! No such thing as failing when it comes to reading, and there’s no rush. This book is so beautiful I’d rather you were in a mindset where you could truly enjoy the whole thing <3 🙂 I’m so happy we picked this book! Can’t wait to talk about it with you whenever :)”

I was overwhelmed with relief and emotion when I saw that message and read it again and again. In that moment, I knew I would get around to reading again, and that when I did, I’d have you to thank for giving me back my love of reading.

Well, Friend, it’s been another few weeks of not reading, but thanks to you, the usual angry, shaming voice in my head that beat me down for not keeping my word was replaced by a kinder, more patient one who sounded a lot like you.

I finally picked up the book today, and by page 7, I was hooked. I’m only on page 23 now (it’s hard to focus and is taking me much longer to read than usual), but it’s a beautiful book and I can’t wait to read more. With the time that had passed, I had forgotten what it was about. And now as I read, I realize that you picked this book specifically for me, and that means the world. I see parts of myself in these pages, which I’m sure you knew all along, and your thoughtfulness once again leaves me in awe.

So thank you, Friend — for your patience and your understanding, for your acceptance of my shortcomings, for finding a wonderful book for us to enjoy together, for giving me back the gift of reading that I missed more than I knew, and for loving me with my ADHD.

An Avid Reader with ADHD

Getty Images photo via PeopleImages

Originally published: April 4, 2022
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