How would you feel if a partner refused to help you cope with mental illness? Many of us would be upset if they refused.
What about if the person was refusing to take their medication or help themselves find coping mechanisms?
One boyfriend worried his helping was turning into enabling, so he turned to Reddit for judgement on how he chose to deal with the situation.
The Original Poster (OP) ThrowAITA_ADHD asked the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit:
“AITA for not helping my girlfriend when she doesn’t take her medication?”
The OP explained:
“My (25M[ale]) girlfriend (24F[emale]) has pretty bad ADHD. She is supposed to take medication daily to help manage it. However, sometimes she skips a day because either she forgets or chooses not to.”
”The problem is that when she’s off her meds, the ADHD is pretty bad. She’ll forget she put something on the stove, or if she sets a timer to remind herself to do something, she’ll just dismiss it without doing it.”
“I used to help her by reminding her of food cooking, her meetings, other obligations, etc, but I’ve decided to stop. We read a book on ADHD relationships, and I realized that we were falling into a parent-child dynamic that I didn’t want.”
“I’ve decided that I’m not going to play the role of the parent anymore, and she’s going to have to deal with the consequences of her actions.”
“I’ve stopped reminding her of things, and over the past few weeks she’s burnt food, missed meetings, and now she’s mad at me for not helping her when she forgets things.”
”I told her that I’m willing to help, but only if she’s willing to help herself by taking her medication daily.”
Redditors were asked to determine one of four judgements:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
OP was found to be NTA. Although some Redditors mentioned the importance of discussing this decision with the girlfriend.
“As someone with ADHD, I’m gonna say NTA. It’s okay to need help with some things, absolutely, but it’s not okay to rely on that while depriving yourself of the things (medication, coping skills) that typically make you independent.”
”If she needs help remembering to take her medication, that might be one thing, but it’s too much to ask you to organize and be in charge of her life because she just doesn’t feel like taking it one day.”
“The only thing I would say is you probably should still remind her of food left on the stove. That’s a safety issue and you don’t really want to risk setting the house on fire to prove a point.”
“Or turn the stove off when she walks away from it so her food just never finishes cooking.”~RedoubtableSouth
”NTA. You’re her boyfriend, not her secretary. She needs to take her meds every day or accept the consequences of her choices.”
“This is probably the best thing for your relationship. Even if it ends, let it end fairly instead of turning into a toxic mess of codependency.”~Varnishedtruths
“When she chooses not to NTA. When she genuinely forgets, which seems like it could be a symptom of her ADHD in the first place, YTA.”~sroxod
“NTA. You have tried one system (managing her meds) and it failed, so you’re taking a different approach. Your feeling about the unhealthy relationship dynamic that managing her health has is very reasonable.”
“As long as all this has been openly discussed and communicated and you haven’t abruptly withdrawn what you used to do for her, and she’s aware that she needs to find some new systems (maybe some systems that you two could talk through together?) then this all sounds rational.”
“Edit: changed my verdict from NAH to NTA because I realized the gf is angry at OP.”~winterismeowing
Many reminded the OP of the many tools available to his girlfriend.
“NTA. The great thing about technology today is that there are a ton of tools available to your gf to support her in remembering important things. She can make the choice to set alarms, set reminders, use an agenda/calendar.”
“It is perfectly reasonable to set boundaries around how much of that work you are willing to take on. Especially if she is sometimes making the choice to skip her medication.”~photosbeerandteach
“NTA so long as you communicate this to her and so long as you don’t fail to intervene with any actual safety things. Though I personally have a rule of never leaving the kitchen when cooking as a coping strategy.”
“That said, it’s usually encouraged to take routine medication breaks as your body becomes tolerant to the medication.”
“Perhaps the two of you can work together or you can encourage her to work with a therapist on tools to help manage her ADHD on days she doesn’t take her medications for whatever reason.”~zebra-stampede
“NTA. It isn’t that you’re refusing to help her at all, you’re simply refusing to help her when she doesn’t also help herself.”
“Being her “crutch” when she doesn’t take her meds turns you into an enabler which is bad.”~the_last_basselope
“I’m the ADHD wife. My husband helps me with small reminders because he knows that even with meds I can have an off day where I’m just struggling.”
“But there have been days where he asks if I took my meds and if I say no then he just says ‘well baby you need to take them, I can’t help you if you don’t take care of yourself’.”
“He’s come a long way at being a good neurotypical partner and understanding my ADHD and how he can help but, he draws the line at being a parent to me.”
“Which is good because I hate that sh*t and I don’t want him to parent me and I’ll only blame him for not reminding me if I specifically asked him to remind me of something.”
“(Like he’ll tell me to pick something up while I’m at work as I’m walking out the door, and I’ll say text that to me so I don’t forget. If he didn’t text me and I forgot, he can’t get mad at me for forgetting). NTA.“~IHeartTurians
Although some further communication may have helped initially, OP was trying to keep the relationship from turning toxic.
Neurodiversity means everyone’s experience—even within the same diagnosis— is diverse and different. We hope OP’s girlfriend finds what works for best for her.