“Forgetfulness” is part of Tom’s ADHD. His brain is wired in such a way that 10 things would appear at the same time, including the need to pay the bill. All these seem important and need his attention now. While trying to decide which to attend to, a random thought of “I wonder if I had looked at that figure in the report” passes Tom’s mind and all 10 things will disappear from his mind and the figure became the sole concern.
Case 2. Sarah* feels embarrassed being with John* in social situation. He continues to talk about a subject he’s interested in with no understanding that he is boring others.
John is struggling with Asperger, which means he has difficulties reading facial expressions and body language. He cannot tell when someone is bored or wants to finish or leave the conversation, cues others pick up easily. He tends to also see things from his perspective, i.e., if I’m interested, the other person would be too.
Case 3. Ben* feels frustrated with Carol* who seems to prefer to indulge in her own misery and deliberately choose to be pessimistic.
Carol is battling depression which predisposes her brain to pay attention to negative information. This negative information is further amplified when her brain continues to repeatedly fire the same negative messages over and over again.
*Not their real names
What can couples do if they have a partner with some mental health issues/conditions?
1. Accurate diagnosis to be must be made and accepted by the affected partner.
The couple needs to seek help from a therapist who not only understands the unique differences between affected individuals and “normal” individuals, but also has skills in marital therapy. Proper assessment needs to be made and time needs to be given for the diagnosis to be processed.
2. Having an in-depth understanding of condition and how relationships are affected.
Do some research. There are plenty of books and articles that would help both partners understand how the condition impacts your relationship. Both partners need to be involved as this is not something just the affected partner needs to go fix himself/herself.
3. Commitment to making the relationship work.
The challenges you will face as couple is different, you need to learn specific skills and strategies that would help you overcome them. It will take time and effort but it can be done.