In the fall of my senior year of high school, one of my closest friends (at the time) told me, “You did a really good job in class yesterday.” I thought she meant she was impressed with the comments I had made during our AP World History class, but then she added, “You barely said anything STUPID.” That backhanded compliment has stuck with me every day since; I use it as a yardstick against which I measure the friends I have today.
ADHD is enough of a nuisance on its own without it getting in the way of my personal relationships. Luckily for me, I know that with my true friends, I never have to worry about my ADHD jeopardizing our friendship. You see, true friends don’t care about your ADHD; they care about YOU.
Here are five signs that you have such a friend in your life.
1. She respects and listens to you (even if you’re unmedicated).
Ladies, let’s be honest: We do have a tendency to put our foot in our mouth after our ADHD pills wear off — and even when they’re still in effect. It’s called ADHD, people. But that doesn’t mean the people in our lives should take us less seriously. Friends worth having do not hold it against you if you say something of shall we say questionable value. They understand that ADHD is a conversational Get Out of Jail Free card.
2. She doesn’t lose respect for you when you don’t listen to her.
This is the other side of the coin. By definition, women with ADHD have trouble paying attention. So even if you care about your friend and want to listen to whatever she may be saying, there’s about a 50 percent chance that at some point in a conversation, you’ll have to ask your friend to repeat what she just said — whether it be a few words or the whole shebang. And that friend has to understand that just comes with the territory of ADHD, plain and simple.
3. She doesn’t assume you always need help, but is there for you when you need her.
No matter how well intentioned, a friend underestimating you can feel like the worst thing in the world. No one wants to be looked down upon, especially not by the person who’s supposed to be your soul sister. So it’s crucial that, for example, your friend at least gives you the chance to remember to take your medication on your own before reminding you, or to realize that mid-morning on a workday may not be the best time to have a long and involved chat on Facebook, but makes the effort to save you from yourself when you’ve made it clear that you need it.
4. She understands there is so much more to you than your ADHD.
This is a subtle, nuanced reality for non-ADHDers to grasp, but it’s absolutely essential our neurotypical buddies be able to see past the ADHD, no matter how significant an impact it has on our — and, by extension, their — lives. ADHD isn’t a personality disorder. Neither is it even a mental disorder, technically speaking. It’s nothing more or less than a neurological impairment that can interfere with your day-to-day life but doesn’t dictate who you are.
5. She takes the time to learn about it anyway.
…Why, then, is it so important for friends of ADHD women to familiarize themselves with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder? Because it’s the only way for them to comprehend what their friend (read: you) is going through. And friendship hinges on the ability to relate to one another, even if two friends don’t share precisely the same experiences. That being the case, whether your friend takes it upon herself to watch videos about ADHD on YouTube or simply to listen with real interest to you when you talk about your disorder, you’ll know that she genuinely cares about being a good friend to you.
And that may be the most important friend qualification of all.