Reply To: Struggling to cope

Hope @ ADDitude

This reply was originally posted by user Philippe in ADDitude’s now-retired community.

My partner has been diagnosed pretty late in her life, in much the same way as yours. Being diagnosed is very important, I think, to get the measure of the problem. I recommend reading the works of Russell Barkley about ADHD.

We have got into very bad habits too, with me taking the bulk of the family charges and her trying to get on with life. Her professional life as an artist is a wreck and, although she got quite a lot of diplomas of all sorts, she has never had a proper job over a reasonable period of time in her life. She’s now thinking of taking the first cheap job she can grab.

The problem was made even more complex by my own story: I have been sexually exploited since I was very young. She tried to help me with all her ADHD enthusiasm and commitment and this did me good, but she became so much involved in my problems that, when I tried to do something for her, things became entangled.

You have to be strong to help an ADHDer: I couldn’t really trust her when she said she was doing things or dealing with it in the right way, but there are moments where she’s just genial and very intuitive. So, at times she is right, at times no. And I am left with the task of deciding which is which and try to go against her when she is demotivated, procrastinating, depressed… and so on. But this has the effect of throwing me into dissociative states: I have serious problems asserting myself, being in control of another adult person and, when she starts yelling things and so, I plunged into situations that obviously remind me of my childhood’s situation.

This said, we love each other and have three children that know that. I still want to help her and I think the thing is getting to work with her, not for her. This is the very point: ADDers feel depossessed from their own lives because they feel they don’t control it the way they want and what the partner has to do is to help him/her regain some sort of control over what’s going on. For this, though, you should know it in the first place, which puts you in a very uneasy position, because you are human too and you may be wrong…

I don’t know if you can relate to what I’m saying, but this is my everyday experience for the 26 years we’ve been living together, my partner and I.