Reply To: Feeling overwhelmed by my spouse's ADHD

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I’m so sorry about what you’re going through. I’m the ADD spouse here – diagnosed 17 yrs ago, now married (gratefully/luckily) 26 years. Sadly, I’ve done just about everything your partner has done here. My wife knows I’m a good man and that I love her and our kids (now 21 & 18); but doing what needs to be done (both organizationally and emotionally) is a huge chore. I’ve put our marriage on the brink twice in those years.

My question: is your husband taking meds and in treatment himself? I originally thought that meds alone would be enough to ‘fix’ or ‘manage’ this “ADD thing”. However, those of us with ADD deal with a lifetime of shame/guilt caused by the real struggles now associated with ADD. Each day becomes another reminder of how we constantly let down those we love most – its consequences are debilitating. As well, the energy alone to just attend to all we need to is enormous. I say to friends who don’t have ADD to imagine waking up every day being told your going to forget/overlook something vitally important today – you’re just not told what that thing is each day. The pressure gets overwhelming – especially when it impacts those we love most.

So if he’s not in treatment on his own, I would strongly recommend that and a course of medication. It took me years to realize that I had to have both in order to get a handle on the resultant emotional struggles that accompany ADD – I call them the ‘evil cousins’ of anxiety & shame. But he needs to do this for himself first – then for your family. I came to that realization after a lot of struggle in our family. I have a great therapist now (going on 3 years), and things are getting better as we go forward.

One of the beacons for me was my amazing wife; throughout all of this she never said she didn’t love me – it sounds like your husband luckily has that here as well. Knowing that gave me the strength I didn’t think I had to struggle through this and get the help I need. So if your husband hasn’t done this yet, I hope he can begin this process; but we (ADD’ers) have to want to do this ourselves. In addition, you also have to do what you need to take care of yourself. While I think we’re worth it, I’m now very aware of how much energy it takes from the partners loving/being in relationship with those of us with ADD. We do need the help of our amazing partners, but you need to care for yourself in whatever ways you deem best.

Sorry this went on so long; but your situation resonated so closely that I wanted/needed to put some context here. It’s hard, but it sounds like your husband is a good man and loves you and your daughter very much, and knows that you love him. I cannot fully express how much knowing that means to us – so don’t lose sight of that. I wish you well going forward, and send all good wishes your way. I check back here quite regularly, so I hope will too…


  • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by hayes.