Reply To: Feeling overwhelmed by my spouse's ADHD

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Hello to all. I am the ADD spouse.
Most of the previous stories are my life, frighteningly similar actually.
I truly thought halfway through the one with 2 sons, that it was written by
my wife. A little about myself before I add what I hope will throw a big lightbulb on for most of the troubled spouses.
Engineering degree, certified canine obedience trainer, and very recently
a graduate of a 16 month auto repair trade school. I can design, build and/or repair anything yet I have had 3 failed businesses, and extreme difficulty being content with a career choice. One of the most enlightening and sad realizations I have had about ADD is that the “Attention ” piece encompasses our entire mindset. I’ll try to explain. Everyone knows the attention piece as being easily distracted. By our thoughts or external stimuli. The easiest way I found to explain the transition from thought/action to thought/action, is “been there, done that”. (I started my report, moving on to admiring cloud formations, new thought, new thought and on and on.) This applies not only minute to minute but year to year. (I received my College Degree. I’m kind of done with that field, let me get an unrelated job. Done that job long enough, I’ll start my own business in a completely new career path.) On and on the changes happen. If they don’t sadness and irritability can become prominent without even knowing why. My son was diagnosed with ADHD 9 years ago at 5. During that period I was horrified to learn that I had suffered from all the symptoms of ADD my entire life.
I was diagnosed not long after. From my late teens through my early 30’s
I suffered from hyper focus with my ADD.
Working 100 hour weeks was common and
I never considered it odd or excessive. I was a doer. I met my wife/best friend
In my late teens. We have two amazing boys. I love them all to an extent that I have not yet found words to describe the feeling. Here is where I will hopefully help those in this forum.
As life progressed, responsibilities grew as they will. For me those responsibilities became unbearable weights. My struggles of getting everyday things done became monumentally difficult. The concentration it took to remember to do laundry, wash the car, get an oil change, make a Dr. apptmnt was exhausting. Remembering things, being on time, (always a struggle), were now being added to a very large list of things a despised about myself. It was roughly a 15 year long spiral into deep depression. I am completely surprised that depression had not been mentioned at all in this forum. It is a common condition but having been severly depressed I continue to discover that it is very misunderstood. Those that mention their spouses not doing anything to help, or being emotionally detached seriously need to get help for their spouses and possibly their own depression. A simplified definition of depression is being sad or down constantly for more than a few weeks. It is common in ADD adults and needs to be addressed before the ADD. Taking meds and seeking help for ADD is of no interest if you are depressed, so it’s not going to happen. Depression frequently shows itself as anger or rage. I went for help for depression in my late 40’s. It took over a year to realize that I had actually been depressed for over 30 years. I have been on 4 differnt meds for it to find the best one for me. Once I got used to that medication, I started with ADD meds. People without ADD will never “get” what it’s like to have it. I still don’t quite get it. My wife is frustrated by her lack of understanding of it but we are learning how to work with it. Always be aware that ADD people perceive the world in a completely different way than atypical minded people. That pile of laundry, sink full of dishes, dirty carpet…
ADD person “that can get done later” Sensible person, “thats been a mess long enough, let me take care of it now”. When left on our own for scheduling things we are mostly aweful at it. (Reason why our businesses fail) There is always something more interesting or fun to do, which is that childish attitude I read about in the previous letters. I hate that my wife
does all the household chores so I have told her that she needs to tell me to do things. This is normally a negative in a relationship, but with an ADD significant other you both must establish, in a kind calm discussion, that they suck at getting things done and you are not doing everything from now on. Also realize you have to be the “employer”. You have to give them a job when it needs doing. They have to accept the role of employee and do what is requested of them, WHEN, it is requested. If for no other reason than to make your life easier. My wife has given me much opposition to telling me what to do and when to do it. Her steadfast argument was that she shouldnt have to point out the dirty dishes or laundry that I obviously see.
I spelled out quite a few scenarios of my perception of these things before she realized that I will either do the laundry when I do it, OR she could tell me when she perceived it necessary to do and I would take on the task. One might think that once I started the laundry it would get finished. Not so. Started the washing machine, now I’m reading a book, or cooking dinner, or helping with homework, or putting up curtain rods, or watching tv, or shopping on the web. All it takes is a kind “laundry done yet?” and I’m back on it. It may take more than one reminder. I’m not instantly jumping up in the middle of homework assistance to put laundry in the dryer so I may have forgotten by the time homework is done.
This is the way ADD brains work. We are NOT avoiding the task. We literally do not have the wiring in our brains that allow us to hold on to mental notes. If the willingness to help is there I feel there should be no frustration on your part with helping us remember to get back on task. I will leave you with one more little known nuance of ADD. We are rarely doing something for the reason perceived by an atypical minded person.
Washing dishes to get them clean? Not necessarily. To give a sense of accomplishment, to make my spouse smile, to see how fast I can do it? You dont need to always know why, but knowing the why is very different than yours may help you a little to accept the way things are.