Journalist Gina Pera had a relatively conventional journalistic career, growing up in the South and marrying a lovable scientist from the South Bay a number of years ago.
To her surprise, though, she found something was very wrong in her marriage. As the years went on, she began to brainstorm about why her brilliant husband was having so many issues with inattentiveness, mental fogginess, inability to see her needs in the relationship, and so forth.
Pera found that not only did her husband have adult ADD (attention-deficit disorder), but that it was a major battle to get him diagnosed and properly treated.
Since then, she’s become something of a local ADD celebrity expert herself, speaking at conferences, and serving as a sort of voluntary “goodwill ambassador” to the people who cross her path. Her book Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder was published in 2008 by 1201 Alarm Press. It is a best-seller on Amazon.com, currently ranked around 5,000 after a year and a half in print:
The book serves as a wake-up call to couples who feel something’s wrong with their spouse or partner (Pera is refreshingly non-homophobic, and ADD couples come in all orientations). The typical couple, though, is a mid-life married pair: the woman is being “driven to distraction” by her husband’s “craziness” and they have formed an unhappy codependent bond, with the wife being forced to serve as nagging mother to the husband/hapless child in the relationship.
Pera still runs a support group in Palo Alto for adult ADD sufferers and their significant others, under the CHADD umbrella. (CHADD, a national organization, stands for Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder.) She also hosts an excellent online Yahoo support group that can show partners of people with A.D.D., sometimes in gory detail, just how universal their problematic relationship issues are.
Although she is careful not to recommend any particular medication for ADD, Pera does firmly urge treatment. To sometimes ugly backlash from people who feel they can “go it alone,” she persists.
She has been important to me in my personal life. Listening to Pera on Michael Krasny’s radio show Forum and reading her rational, highly readable book convinced me that diagnosis and treatment was a good idea for my partner. Since treatment, our relationship is far more balanced, and my partner has forged ahead on her career path in a way that wasn’t possible before.
Pera certainly deserves applause for all her hard work. Read her lively, ADHD-related blog here (http://adhdpartner.org/).
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I’ll be discussing as many resources as I can in this column: books, groups, how to find a competent psychiatrist for diagnosis, and any other ADD/ADHD questions that come up!