October 14, 2018 at 5:58 pm #101469
My boyfriend and I live together and he was diagnosed with ADHD a few years back. Most days feel like a struggle. I have tried to let things slide with his behavior because I know he doesn’t mean to be nasty. It feels horrible telling someone you don’t like the way they’re treating you but because they can’t focus they carry on doing it anyway pretty much every day. When he takes his meds he is really nice to be around. But when he doesn’t I’m living in a nightmare. I feel like he’s two different guys and it confuses me.
I’ve tried my best. He says he has too. I’ve started to feel a new level of resentment towards him every time something bad happens because it’s the same old story. I feel like my ability to forgive has been used up. It feels bad saying all this because I know it’s not his fault. I feel unloving even writing this but I just feel like screaming and screaming and screaming to let out all this feeling inside of being ignored when I ask for space or for him to stop being disruptive towards me. I can ask so many times and he carries on being disruptive until I get angry, then he doesn’t admit to provoking me. Instead he starts asking why I’ve got angry and then I have to repeat that I needed space or for him to top being disruptive towards me. He usually comments on my anger like I shouldn’t get angry even though he ignores me when I calmly ask him to stop. Why does he expect everything to come from me? If I shouted at him straightaway, that would be unfair but I don’t. I ask him 5-6 times, look him straight in the face…sometimes the requests can carry on for an hour or more before I really get angry. And he always acts so surprised and hard done by.
He does have meds but half the time forgets to take them. He’s afraid of what other people think of him all the time so he shows no symptoms in front of others and I get the lot of it because we live together.
I love him but I don’t know if I can take it anymore. I see a lot of others on this forum feel the same with their other halves. I want to make it work, but there’s almost no hope left. I feel like he can’t love me if he isn’t bothering to ask for help on remembering to take his meds and all his disruptive behavior. But I know he does love me really, so why is this happening? How can we be in a happy relationship where I don’t feel like my brain is going to explode every few days?
October 14, 2018 at 8:34 pm #101477
This is how insidious of a disorder ADHD is, and it can be worse. Once it impacts the person with the disorder, it impacts their relationships with the people closest to them. The insidious part about it is, if BOTH of you don’t completely understand how ADHD affects the person (thus your relationship), you will end up fighting like cats & dogs (NO EXAGGERATION).
Speaking as a person with ADHD,
ADHD is essentially invisible to anyone who believes that human behavior is purely based on moral code (right & wrong). Moral code simply cannot regulate ADHD because, we can understand already that something is right or wrong, and b/c of ADHD we’ll still do it anyway. *****This is because we genuinely have issues focusing on anything outside of ourselves & the present moment.***** This means that our behavior can come across as either selfish, inconsiderate, oblivious, arrogant, narcissistic, immature, or self-entitled. I’ve heard all of these (and I’m only 19) from people who have very high integrity and strict moral codes. As a result of this, it leaves the people around us feeling resentful, frustrated, angry, and despondent (as you are right now).
Now, this is where individuality comes in,
You seem like a person with INCREDIBLE patience & understanding, both in general & with your boyfriend, which is really what people with ADHD would appreciate above most things in our SOs (surely I would). HOWEVER, that same patience & understanding has come back to bite you. How so? Your patience & understanding is exactly what HIS ADHD is taking advantage of because IT takes for granted that nothing’s going to happen, so IT keeps up ITS behavior. Then, it’s because HE knows you as a fairly calm & patient person that you find IT asking why you are angry, because IT was never aware of you or your warnings to begin with. (ADHD has us in our own worlds VERY OFTEN)
As time-consuming as it’s going to be, you have to establish a structure & boundaries so he knows what he can & can’t do in different situations. For example, try snapping your fingers in his face to get him to pay attention to you when you want to tell him something. Then, literally tell him “I NEED YOU TO FOCUS ON ME, THIS IS IMPORTANT”. Then go into what you have to say. Let him know when you need him to focus on you. ADHD has us in our own worlds VERY OFTEN, and sometimes we need a “slap in the face” to come back to reality. And make sure there’s no other distractions around so he has no choice but to pay attention to YOU. Especially since you have a lot to get off of your chest & explain to him. It seems simple, but trust me it will help A LOT.
All of this appears to boil down to communication, & this may alleviate some of you guys’ communication issues.
I really hope this helps,
– Kendall Boults Jr.
October 15, 2018 at 2:53 am #101480
Thanks kbj2017. I am so happy to hear from someone also suffering from ADHD because sometimes I find I lose perspective if it’s just my boyfriend telling me how it impacts him…I can forget that this is how ADHD is and make things too personal.
Thank you for your encouraging words. I feel like that is something I can try…I literally will try anything to make this work. I am also grateful for your reply because too many times I see people write ‘give up’. I feel like giving up sometimes, but mostly I just want to make this work. My boyfriend is a great person, just it’s so 50-50 between having a great time and it quickly switching to disruptive mode…so I’m continuously on edge.
October 15, 2018 at 5:35 pm #101603
Seriously? Now I take people telling me to give up personally. That’s why some of us feel ostracized & we develop chips on our shoulders because people still just write us off whenever things aren’t going well. People saying “give up” are just too short-sighted to see past the “deficit” of ADHD. I understand that we’re headaches to deal with & I apologize for that. Hell, my mom almost put me out the house because I kept lying so much (this is an indirect ADHD symptom). I would give anything to lose my ADHD because of how it has strained my relationships in the past, but I can’t & I’ve accepted that. I can only minimize the negatives & maximize the positives (yes ADHD has positives too, people). And I can only hope that I’ll find a woman someday who’ll be willing to put up with me & the roller-coaster that ADHD is.
I enjoy helping other people dealing with issues such as these because I can give my perspective & help people feel better about their situations. It’s a good feeling to see the positive energy coming back to me. LOL
But anyway no problem giving you advice. Let me know how it goes. Hopefully it goes well.
-Kendall Boults Jr.
October 15, 2018 at 7:00 pm #101617
I wish my SO put in a fraction of the effort you are. I told her about my ADHD. She watched a YouTube video about it, hung out with me for a few more weeks and then took off. I’ve put so much effort into ‘solving’ ADHD and feel like I’ve gotten nowhere. Just more pain. I’m so tired and sick of living with this.
If he’s a good guy give him a chance. I didn’t realize how many problems this thing causes until she left. I’d give anything for a second chance.
October 16, 2018 at 2:03 am #101638
@Kendall and @tomhurting
It makes me really sad to hear your experiences. I can’t say that I’m a saint and don’t also scream and shout. I want to say a massive thanks to both of you. My DH doesn’t talk much about what he is going through. He opens up sometimes, but I think I get so self-centred and sometimes can’t see past his ADHD. I need to remind myself every day to keep working on my own patience, and understanding, not just his ADHD make things work. As long as he works on understanding ADHD better and how to work with it too, I think we’d be in a good place. Reading your comments helps me to understand so much better what ADHD really does to a person and how awful it must be to have people shouting at you all the time. You’re not making excuses like people might think, and so long as you’re working with your ADHD rather than ignoring it is the key thing everyone should be focusing on.
Kendall – you’re 19 and already so aware of how your ADHD affects you. I truly believe that if you continue to work with your ADHD like it sounds like you have been, you will make positive relationships. In my case, had we known that my DH had ADHD before I met him and he was as aware as you are, it may have prevented some issues. I think non-ADHD spouses need to live it to really get close to understanding, but a heads up can be useful. Like saying ‘I might behave in x way sometimes, but please know that I don’t mean to upset you’ upfront and reminding the non-ADHD spouse of this frequently can help. I know in my case it at least gives me something to think about when things go pear-shaped. I have a chance to think ‘did he mean that? Maybe it was his ADHD in action, not him’. I can’t always think this in time, but I try to practice doing that.
For non-ADHD spouses, we need to be so patient. In honesty I have always been pretty patient but this has tested me beyond what I could ever imagine. That’s why I think you are absolutely right that it takes both to work on it. It helps that my DH is always saying how he loves me and does take actions to prove it like helping around the house, making me dinner etc. It means that during those really explosive moments I have something to hold on to. I don’t know if all this might provide some insight and help back, but I hope so.
October 16, 2018 at 6:55 am #101644
As a (most likely) adhd person with a non-adhd soon-to-be spouse, I get exactly where you’re coming from. It sounds to me like you’re very much doing everything right, which is really, truly impressive.
If your spouse is much better on his meds, and he agrees, then I’d recommend the first thing you guys working on is him taking them regularly. I’m talking phone alarms, pill caddies, and pills in multiple locations (bathroom, jacket, car) in case he forgets them in the morning and doesn’t remember until he gets to work, or something along those lines.
You’re doing everything right regarding being patient, patiently requesting things multiple times, and so on. Something I’d maybe recommend is, with his agreement, sitting down together and writing down a list of things he does that tick you off, or that need to be done that only he can do, or whatever it is that gets on your case (sorry if that sounds rude, I really, really don’t mean it in that way), and agree measures that HE has to take any time these become an issue. Any time he starts to get pissy about you asking for him to give you space, or doing THE THING, show him the list. It doesn’t even have to be a list. You could agree on a codeword whereby you both agree that when one person uses it, the other one puts up, shuts up, and does whatever needs to be done. This, of course, requires mutual agreement that you actually WILL abide by those terms, and it must not be overused (this is part of why a list can be better, so you’re not using the ‘safeword’ five times a day). While this may sound odd, what it’s doing is sitting down in a calm, detached fashion and talking about the nature of your relationship, making sure that he’s engaged and paying attention, so that the knowledge is ‘implanted’. Then, when he’s in the full swing of his ADHD, you can hopefully ‘trigger’ the calm state of mind. It’s something that works for me (kind of), but it may not be for everyone, and it IS very reliant on mutual co-operation.
For getting his attention, something they recommend on here a lot is touching him, making him look at you and focus on you before you start speaking, to ensure you have his full attention at the time. I don’t know if you’ve tried this, but that’s their usual advice.
And as for his ‘aggrieved’ attitude, oh my god do I know what that’s like. And it sucks for you. It sucks for my other half, too. At least in my case, what it normally feels like is kind of like… Things that bug me tend to pile up in my mind. There are certain things my other half does that irritate me a little. In a detached fashion, I know they shouldn’t. And when I’m away from ‘the issue’, they cease to be one. Because I know they shouldn’t bug me, I tend to keep quiet about them. When things I do bug HER, I forget them almost immediately. Because they don’t bug me. I do TRY to not do them, when I actively remember that she doesn’t like them, but that happens so infrequently, because a conversation from yesterday is not a powerful enough trigger to ‘not do the thing’ today. But then, what winds up happening is my little things pile up, but she’s actually telling me about them, and getting more and more frustrated, yet I feel like she ISN’T, because I don’t remember them. So everything just seems so SUDDEN. To my mind, she’s only mentioned the thing once or twice, even if it’s more like 20. Then I kind of wind up somewhat resentful that she’s mad at me about her things (which to my mind are inconsequential, because they don’t bug me), yet I keep quiet about the things she does that bug me. Then, sometimes, I wind up snapping at next to nothing. This situation is, to be honest, one of the things I hate most about myself, because my other half is a wonderful individual, and she doesn’t deserve this bull…dust.
I’ve waffled. What I want to say is that, if things are going to work out, HE needs to be willing to sit down with you and agree that he will try to moderate these things. He needs to accept that you will have the unilateral power to ask him to stop THE THING, and he will need to abide by that when it comes up. I call it a ‘safeword’ because it VERY MUCH fills the same function as when people normally use safewords. It’s an immediate instruction to cease, desist, and back away, because boundaries have been crossed.
Unfortunately, none of this is stuff you can do alone, and it does still require the fabulous patience you’ve been showing while he gets used to the new system, but it may help. Same thing with the pill-remembering. Unfortunately it needs his agreement, but if you can get him to agree when emotions are removed from the picture, it makes him more likely to be able to do it when they ARE in the picture. It’ll still be HARD (by Christ, the emotions take over everything IN THE MOMENT) for him, and will still require that wonderful patience, but hopefully, over time, you can both ingrain the habit.
I hope this helps. And I hope you both can get to a point where your brains don’t explode.
October 16, 2018 at 10:37 am #101684
Thanks for your detailed reply @Spaceboy 99. Quite honestly, I feel like crying reading all these comments. It’s made me realize how much I thought I was considering everything, but often will get wrapped up in my own feelings instead of respecting how truly difficult it is for my DH.
I had tried using safewords before, but on a day without his meds I did wind up finding it so overwhelming and then the safeword got used ao much that it lost impact. The touch on the arm thing I tried too but it didn’t work 🙁
I haven’t tried the list. He had asked me to make one in the past but I feel so cruel doing it. I feel like it’s showing someone their flaws that maybe they’re working hard not to do or almost like a trick if I write it that it’d only point me out as cruel. But I guess he sensibly asked for it and in this case I should stop worrying and do that. I think it’s a good idea what you said about using this instead of a safeword because it’s explicit things rather than being applied to too many things.
Meds. We both agree he’s better on them. We’ve tried alarms, leaving them in places he goes to in the morning etc. The worst are weekends. He can’t sleep when he is on them, so sometimes he skips a day or two to get rest and it’s hell for me. Luckily he has started to tell me what days he’ll skip so that I can be prepared. But yes, weekends he sleeps in to make up for the sleep he lost in the week and then winds up not taking his meds. If any of you are on meds, have you faced this type of issue of not being able to sleep or skipping on meds? Also any further advice on how to help remind him. I don’t like to be a nagging person telling him to take them (plus he says really hurtful things when I do that). For phone alarms, from the point of turning the alarm off he winds up distracted by messages or the news etc. We then put meds by his bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in the car…I think the car tends to work, but if we’re not going out then he more than likely won’t be taking his meds on a weekend (either one or both days). That’s the bulk of time I get to spend with him and yet the time he’s most disruptive.
A real win from my view would be just one weekend where I don’t end up in tears, whether only a few or more. This has been going on for years now and I guess I woke up one day and realized it was exhausting and not really right for me to be crying every week.
I’m not ready to pack it all in. I feel like we can make this work, just some fundamental changes no matter how small need to be made.
- This reply was modified 9 months ago by ADHDSpouse123.
October 24, 2018 at 4:26 am #102274
Sorry I left this so long- it’s been a while since I signed in, sorry ><
First off, honestly, don’t feel guilty about any of this. Yes, he has struggles, yes, things are hard for him, but just because he has a challenge you don’t doesn’t mean that you have to put up with the outcomes of that. You have to be able to live your life as well, and it’s completely ok to take exception to the way you’re being treated.
If he’s asked you to write a list before, then that’s all to the good. It means he’s aware of it as something that might help with the issues both of you face. And as he suggested it himself, he’s more likely to put in the elbow grease to actually make it work. These are all good things.
Finally (sorry this is so short, but I’m in the office), if he’s having trouble sleeping on his meds, that suggests to me that he may be on the wrong kinds of meds. I’m assuming that he’s on stimulant medications. Has he tried any of the others, or told his doctor that he has sleeping issues on his current meds? Maybe they can work out a plan to try different medications, or change his dosage, or somesuch, that would make his adhd symptoms manageable without causing sleeping issues.
I’m glad my earlier comment was able to help you, I hope this one does too 🙂
@Kendall Glad you can relate 🙂
October 16, 2018 at 8:34 pm #101771
Dude, I can’t tell you how much I relate to what you said. That’s the disconnect for me with my family when they’re wondering why I keep making the same mistakes over again. To put it simply, to my family it’s as if I’m walking to the door & consistently pulling on it when it says to push, so I can open it (THIS IS HILARIOUS TO ME).
Thanks for the reassurance, I appreciate it. I often forget how young I still am, especially since I’m legally an adult now. I’ve been “behind the 8-ball” my whole life, it wouldn’t have seemed that way in elementary/middle school, b/c I did well. However, from high school up to this point, my ADHD has been exposed & placed under a microscope to where I had no choice but to become aware of it.
I’m so obsessed with how to go about my career right now since I’m in college that it paralyzes me thinking about it so much. I honestly want to make a career out of things like this (my choice is Psychiatry) because I can help people based on what I experienced & what I have to deal with (plus I like science). I just don’t know how to go about making it happen yet.
Anyway, about the medicine, yeah I’m on medication for my ADHD. However, sleep isn’t usually an issue for me, because I don’t need much sleep to get re-energized (and this is WITHOUT the medication). But what I will say is, taking the medication & TRYING TO SLEEP is pretty much impossible since it sends your brain into such a level of hyperactivity that is the equivalent of an 8 year old on a sugar rush LOL.
And yeah I’ve skipped days also, but it was on purpose to gauge how I am ON the meds VS how I am OFF the meds. My main point is, meds DO wear off eventually during the day (unless there effective for 24 hours), so maybe take note of the EXACT time when he takes his meds in the morning and the time they start to wear off & he returns to “normal”. Because going back & forth, taking them & not taking them only makes lives more difficult than they need to be (from my experience). That’ll split your days into certain blocks of time where (once it becomes a habit) you can anticipate when his temperament is going to be a certain way (also when your temperament will be a certain way). That’ll make your lives exponentially easier.
October 22, 2018 at 5:07 am #102127
@Kendall Thanks again for the detail. A week after these posts began and I can safely say things have been better this week. I took your advice about clapping and it has seemed to work some of the time 🙂 I also tried not to shout even when I felt frustrated and things got resolved a lot faster as it meant that ADHD had nowhere to hide (when I get angry from having to repeat myself, that usually ends up being seen as the issue), so it looks like things are on the up.
You definitely could go into psychiatry! If you don’t know where to start, I usually start from the end and work backwards from there. I imagine what it’s like to have achieved everything that I want to achieve and then start brainstorming what I’d need from all areas of life to achieve the goal – it could be support, funding, information, etc. Then I find themes from my notes, put a timeframe on key areas of it and it turns into a plan. Or if you need help creating a plan in the first place, get some friends to help out 🙂 Whatever you do, definitely go for psychiatry if it interests you and don’t be afraid to ask different people for help along the way. You can do it!
October 22, 2018 at 1:05 pm #102166
Thanks so much for your encouragement! I really appreciate it! ADHD is an uphill battle for me every single day (I just started a new anxiety medication today (anxiety is a side effect of my Vyvanse)…and I just feel completely detached from EVERYTHING. Almost apathetic. AND I MISSED CLASS AGAIN). This isn’t good! I have to stop getting in my own way so much but I can’t help it. It seems like no matter how much better I’m doing, I find a way to mess it up!!
WOW THIS IS A LOT OF MOOD SWINGS!
I’m sorry if this is similar to the ’50-50 switch’ that you refer to with your SO from positive to negative. Emotional maturity isn’t exactly my strongest attribute (I’m having a hard time maintaining my emotions as I’m typing this). And I’m INCREDIBLY hard on myself for any flaws or mistakes I make (including my ADHD). I can tell myself I’ll be fine (which I probably will due to my ADHD) but I can’t help but feel the EXTREME disappointment coming from myself & my family; It’s overwhelming.
My mom even said she’d kick me out if I missed class again. I’m actually scared because I don’t know what’s going to happen here. But I’ll have to accept it whatever it is. The pressure & challenge of the responsibility of being an adult LET ALONE an adult with ADHD every day just feels so heavy on me!
But, it’s GREAT & I’m happy that those strategies are working for you! Keep it up!
(Trust me I’m being sincere here)
I can live with ADHD, but how come whenever I feel like I’m starting to get a handle on it (I haven’t missed a single class in the last month), I slip up or make a stupid mistake? I thought these bad habits were past me but I guess they’ll never go away. These habits, along with my emotions & self-esteem are going to keep being my undoing in my life.
-Kendall Boults Jr.
October 22, 2018 at 1:16 pm #102171
I feel sorry for you because I can relate. I had to drop out of university in second year, not because I wasn’t smart enough, but because I couldn’t keep up with the pace.
I’m 43, divorced 10 years, and messed up the couple relationships I’ve had in the meantime. Sadly you’re right, it never goes away. Only recently have I realized how many screw ups in my life have been the result of ADHD. The only good news I can offer you is that at least you’re young and know what you’re dealing with. I only figured out what this is 5 years ago.
Best of luck to you.
October 25, 2018 at 3:29 am #102353
@tomhurting – It must be hard to find out so recently in the grand scheme of things, but I hope now knowing you are dealing with ADHD is helping in some way (whether emotionally or practically).
@Kendall – I can’t talk from an ADHD POV, but I used to suffer from chronic anxiety. What I can say from my own view is when looking after our own mental health, it helps to remember there will be ups and downs. All we can do is try to treat ourselves kindly even if others don’t. I used to seek support from others and to varying degrees they were either helpful or damaging. In the end I realized I needed to support myself. It can feel lonely and despairing at times, but also the benefit is we know exactly what we need from ourselves to feel better and we can supply it so long as we take the time to be kind and patient to ourselves.
Also I hear you on being hard on yourself and also perhaps that you might be worried that if you’re not hard on yourself and tell yourself you’ll be fine that you’re letting yourself off in some way (I might have interpreted incorrectly). But perhaps sometimes you need to tell yourself you’ll be fine otherwise it’s too emotionally overwhelming. I guess it’s about balancing self discipline but also recognizing when it might be a bit much to be so hard on yourself, especially if it’s at a time that people around you are angry. That would break any person if they were really hard on themselves at the same time as other people being difficult too.
Anxiety, depression and ADHD aren’t static. Neither are regular emotions like happiness and sadness. They’re always in constant flow. Maybe rather than thinking you’ve got a handle on ADHD and then slipped up and blaming yourself, remember that it is always changing and so you will have perhaps a string of days that are highs and other days that are trickier and that it’s normal to have ups and downs. I hope I don’t come across as simplifying the problem because I am aware I don’t have ADHD and it may be easy for me to make all these comments. I guess what I’m trying to say is everything changes and passes continuously, so don’t blame yourself for things that you can’t help. So long as you are working with them, managing symptoms as best as you can, you are doing enough even if others (unfortunately) may still be angry.
I spoke about my SO being openly grateful etc., but I guess it could apply to all types of relationships. I don’t know how you feel towards your family, but if you are grateful for them, maybe find ways to say that however and whenever you can (if you aren’t already). Maybe then when ADHD starts taking over they won’t be so angry. I know in my case the reality of anger is often more to do with me than the other person. It is like feeling my values have been rejected or not knowing what to do and then this unfortunately comes out as anger. But it’s easier to stop it in its tracks when I know very well that the other person doesn’t intend to upset me. I don’t know if it could help and you know your situation best, but it’s a thought. I appreciate it might be a difficult thing to do though if tensions have reached a high.
Also, here comes a big statement for me, seeing as I’m the frustrated one that started this post, but maybe all of us could also look at the benefits of ADHD. I focus so much on the bad bits of it, but admittedly it can be a good thing too. Things that are more obvious in my SO when he’s not on his meds that can be a good thing are that he’s more spontaneous, funny and really quick witted.
October 27, 2018 at 2:38 pm #102512
This is my one-hundred millionth afternoon alone.
I have reached out( in my head only )to friends to come watch a movie or go for a walk. I can’t seem to make the phone call or send the text because my esteem has bottomed out.
This is torture…but it helps to just write and then re-read my thoughts. Seeing the words in black and white brings tears to my eyes…and even that helps because usually I’m so numb I can’t even cry.
My husband’s ADHD history and current behavior has obliterated my soul. I’ve worked very hard to educate myself about what ADHD has done to him; how and why he processes info in certain ways.
I take care of myself…eat well..go to the gym ( have lost weight and feel very good
I value loyalty but I’m horribly lonely in this relationship.
Very grateful to all who might read this and feel sympathetic/empathetic.
October 29, 2018 at 2:43 pm #102639
@c1957 I hear you. And I am so sorry you are feeling the pain of loneliness. I know how that feels and how truly difficult it is.
Does your husband acknowledge how he is behaving? You mentioned that you have educated yourself, but has he educated himself too? In my situation, this is the issue. We can do all we try in terms of educating ourselves but something must come from the other side too otherwise it is so energy depleting. You put everything in and as you say, you can feel like your soul is broken.
I am so sorry you are going through this. I find I am bouncing back and forth from feeling broken or on top of the world. As much as my SO is on a rollercoaster with his ADHD, I’m on that rollercoaster too and sometimes it feels like I’m stuck in a manic nightmare.
You are doing so much right, educating yourself and looking after yourself too. I know that self esteem can come and go (in my case sometimes my SO says such awful things as a ‘joke’ it makes me feel utterly worthless). Just remember that your friends love you and whether your self esteem is low or not, they are surely there for you. I took the route of making my relationship part of my life and not all of it (I’m the type that gets really into relationships and it seems like my entire world). I’ve had to learn that it isn’t. That sounds horrid, but it isn’t. It’s probably the kindest path for me and my SO.
Feel what you need to feel, but remember your friends are there. And if you’re not ready to contact them and spend some time out, we are all here for you.
Wishing you a better day tomorrow.
October 27, 2018 at 7:07 pm #102514
Hey @c1957, I’m Kendall. Nice to meet you.
I am VERY sorry that you’re not feeling well in your relationship. It hurt me to read your post because I HAVE ADHD myself, and I understand that we’re difficult to deal with on a daily basis. I’m not in a relationship, but I do understand my effect on other people at times. My family had a tough time getting through to me because I space out or shut down so much. It got to the point where my family was pretty much yelling at me and pulling their hair out to get their point across. It was VERY VERY frustrating and disappointing for myself and for them.
I’m 19 & in college now and I just wanted all of us to be at peace while I’m away from home. That requires me to work on the many issues that my ADHD causes me. Whether it’s not communicating/socializing with people, blurting something out inappropriately, or just not listening to anyone, etc. These things can DESTROY relationships, and almost damaged mine with my family. I have to work on the challenges that ADHD brings me so I won’t have to rely on other people to do it for me. Then, I’ll hopefully find a fulfilling relationship someday where my ADHD is as small of an issue as it can be for both of us. It’s a challenge that I take on every single day, because I understand that the lives of the people who I’ll meet in the future will be MUCH more challenging for them, with me & my ADHD to deal with. So I have to make sure that I’m improving myself every single day so that A) I can flourish & live on my own and B) Other people aren’t as burdened with me as they would be.
It sounds to me like your husband needs to really hear your grievances & take on the responsibility of his ADHD himself, so that the burden doesn’t fall squarely on your shoulders.
Hopefully this helps,
Kendall Boults Jr.
October 27, 2018 at 7:26 pm #102515
Thank you for your kind reply to my post.
Today was a particularly lonely day for me. I’m glad I wrote…I’m grateful that you responded with such encouragement.
We’ll get through these hard times with support from each other on this forum.
You are wise and courageous for someone so young. Thank you again. C1957
October 27, 2018 at 8:39 pm #102516
Thank you for the compliment. And no problem giving you encouragement.
Life is too short for any of us to feel negative over a long period of time. We all should be able to go forth with as much of a positive attitude as we can, because we can become the best versions of ourselves & truly enjoy life only when we give ourselves the freedom & permission to do so. Once we have that perspective, it’s a lot easier to move forward & we not only feel better about ourselves, but we can also extend that energy towards others. All in an effort to make sure we enjoy life’s experiences & everything that it has to offer us.
That being said however, I have nowhere near the experience to fully understand how this applies to me personally. Being in college at 19 with ADHD, it hasn’t been easy. I feel lost & uncertain most times because I don’t know if I’m doing the right things to get the most out of being in college. Such as making connections & setting myself up to live on my own, have my career, etc. I know what I want to do for my future, but I just don’t know if I’m doing the right things to make it happen (outside of my grades being good of course).
IDK maybe I’m thinking too much on it. I just want to be able to graduate from college & have something going for myself for my career & future, or have no regrets.
October 30, 2018 at 10:12 am #102710
To ADHDSpouse123…I am deeply impressed by the kindness expressed in your reply and for the supportive energy that I feel immediately after reading many of the posts.
I waited way too long to seek reassurance; evidence of where my esteem had sunk. But now I feel a mountain of relief.
My husband acknowledges his limitations. He was brought up in a macho environment so receiving his diagnosis was like being labeled inferior. I’ve made modifications in how I approach all subjects with him. That helps immensely.
But the roller coaster, the manic nightmare you wrote about is still so beyond unhealthy at times. Add to that, after the many years we’ve tied ourselves together, the idea of unwinding these ties is daunting.
I believe there is wisdom in what you wrote about in not immersing yourself 100% into your relationship. I will work a bit more on that.
Among the other things I have in place, sharing on this forum is a step in the right direction. Giving your time and energy in thoughts and in writing fulfills a timeless principle, “more happiness in giving than receiving”.
It also defies the notion that we’re taking this situation lying down. I feel so much stronger because of having received support. So it’s a divine kind of crazy cycle. The kind of merry-go-round I don’t totally mind being on right now!
I hope others will read and reach out when they feel as broken as I did two days ago.
October 30, 2018 at 3:10 pm #102749
@c1957 – I am so glad you are feeling a little better today.
I can feel so much of what you say about the rollercoaster being beyond unhealthy at times. There are days on my end where I feel like ripping my hair out and screaming. Then I feel guilty because I know it’s not my DH’s fault. I’m still on a learning curve, but am trying to accept my feelings as valid but also accept his way of being as also valid (to him). The question becomes if I can learn to accept the situation or is it so harmful that I must let go. At the moment he is working on himself and I am working on myself. It’s all I ever ask for. If he gives up and expects me to change, then it’ll be over. If I give up amd expect him to do all the changing, it would be impossible. We both need to put the work in. We also both need to be truthful and tell each other how we are making each other feel and not be afraid to do so, to give both sides a fair chance at making things work. I guess the hard thing sometimes can be finding a time to have that talk at all (particularly if he has not taken his meds).
We need to remember too that we will have perhaps more ups and downs than the average couple. If we can accept that, we can both be happier, I feel.
Don’t be afraid to follow what you want and don’t feel guilty for it. I realize I am a hypocrite as I say this because I can’t always follow that advice myself. If the relationship seriously costs you your mental health, ask if it is worth that. But if it’s super tough but you love him so much and just can’t let go, then don’t. But at all times make sure there’s enough goodness in your life to keep you going. You’re a human too and you’ve been incredibly supportive from the sounds of things, taking the time to read, adapt yourself and write here when things got tough.
I just want to say, please don’t forget yourself and your needs in pursuit of a happy life with your SO. He can have your love, but he doesn’t need to be your world. We build more resilience by making sure all areas of our life are as balanced as they can be. Then when one area drops, we have enough at a good level so that we can keep going. I know previously I put all of myself into my relationship. He was my heart, soul and world. I realized that I needed to be my own heart, soul and world and in working on that, I could better offer him my love and better share my life with him. Do all the fun things you ever wanted to do, follow your passions and you will get so much fulfilment and be even happier during the highs and more able to deal with the lows.
Have a good day x
November 19, 2018 at 3:42 am #104013
Starting to struggle again this week. I recognize things are getting better, but maybe I’m impatient. I’m shouting less, which is good. But the disruptive behavior is still happening and I feel like more effort is coming from me than my SO.
The other week I curled up into a ball and cried for 2 hours. Every day I wonder if I can take it anymore and wonder why I stay. I tell myself all of the good things and I hate that as humans we are hardwired to focus on the bad even though there are more good things than bad. I keep trying to focus on the good, but it’s like the bad just sticks and I can’t seem to quite push through it.
I don’t feel like I can ever relax in my own home. I feel trapped. And worst is this deep sense of guilt. This deep upset that I can’t fully understand and therefore can’t fully be supportive. And how my SO is so disruptive and will later admit it, but nothing changes. It’s like every day it just happens again and again.
I know things are improving, but it feels so much to bear at times and I think ‘what if this is the best we can do?’ And id that really enough? Do I need to live a lifetime of sitting on the edge of my seat because most likely something is about to happen to cause a panic inside me that then makes me angry. I don’t want to have to live like that and it’s not fair that I wait for bad things to happen…it’s just I’m so used to the disruptive behavior and out it comes again and again.
How many days do I need to tell myself to ‘hang in there’ until I’m old and realized I spent my life telling myself to ‘hang in there’?
I’m still not ready to give up and I’m sorry if this hurts anyone, but sometimes I wish I would give up. I wish I cared about myself more than my SO, but clearly I don’t otherwise I would have left already. I feel so utterly trapped today, but I’ve felt more trapped before, so I know that this feeling will pass and it also gives me hope that things can be a bit better than they are seeing as they have improved since I first started this post.
Wishing you all are having a good day x
- This reply was modified 8 months ago by ADHDSpouse123.
November 19, 2018 at 10:34 am #104018
The last few days have been wonderful for me. I was feeling burnt out last week since this semester has been BRUTAL. I was able to take the weekend to relax and recharge my batteries. I binged watched one of my favorite shows as a kid, and my mom made banana pudding!
I’m saying this for 2 reasons:
1) To give you a jolt of positivity that you need right now.
2) To remind you that it’s important to appreciate the small things in the midst of negativity.
I don’t see you losing resolve which is good, but I do see you becoming more resentful by the day, which is fine. However, it’s critical that you not treat this process as a means to an end. If that is the case (IDK), then you’ll never feel satisfied deep inside, because you’re looking for a “eureka moment” where he realizes how he needs to change and actually begins working to change it.
That’s not how it works.
It’s CRITICAL for him to recognize where he’s falling short, don’t get me wrong, because this is a two-way street. Remember that slap in the face that we talked about? It applies here. You may have to change it up a bit. Or maybe voice these feelings to him.
Hopefully this helps, we’re all here for you.
-Kendall Boults Jr.
November 20, 2018 at 11:02 am #104087
“He was my heart, soul and world. I realized that I needed to be my own heart, soul and world and in working on that, I could better offer him my love and better share my life with him. Do all the fun things you ever wanted to do, follow your passions and you will get so much fulfilment and be even happier during the highs and more able to deal with the lows”
So……..I don’t curl up in a ball and cry anymore. A LOT of times want to, but I feel a trillion times worse afterwards.
I’m working hard to be the type who takes a step back, looks at the entire issue and makes a strategy to overcome before it can beat me.
I copied and pasted the words you wrote in your post on Oct 30th. What you wrote made me realize, at one of my extremely low points, that we have coping mechanisms. Your words got me through an awful, awful time.
We just have to keep posting and keep reminding each other how to apply those skills to cope.
That being said; do we want to be hashing out these soul-obliterating issues 20 years from now?
That would be insane.
My husband ( diagnosed with ADD in 1994 ) and I recently had our 26th anniversary.
When I look ahead, my feeling is to continue to live with the outlook you expressed on Oct 30th.
Very deep introspection is in order though.
You mentioned that your spouse takes medication. That’s his step in the right direction. Hopefully he makes other meaningful steps.
Weigh out whether there’s sincerity in even his smallest efforts. After 26 years I understand that is all I can hope for. That he is sincere in the smallest efforts. Meanwhile we do that wretched dance around the bigger issues.
There’s a verse from a very old book of writings that says: “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely even if anyone has a cause for complaint against another…But besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union”
For me, because there is principled love in our marriage I do my best to apply that info.
I’m ok with looking for a reward for my patience from a higher source.
In the meantime I want to continue to also apply what you wrote in your post from Oct 30th.
You’re stronger than you think.
November 20, 2018 at 12:52 pm #104100
Thanks Kendall – glad you had a nice few days and banana pudding sounds amazing!
And thank you too C1957. It does help to read back on things and also remember my stronger days when I am feeling low.
I really love the support from our group, it really does get me through the difficult days.
I do feel hopeful my SO means what he says when he says he does recognize his habits and how it affects me and wants to change. Maybe he doesn’t know how to and because I don’t understand how difficult it must be from the inside to make a change when it is difficult already even without ADHD, I can’t make useful suggestions.
I don’t think he’s insincere in his wish to change and we love each other very much. I don’t think the rollercoaster is as bad as it was a year ago for example. I guess I need to be patient. It is all moving in the right direction.
I just worry, getting to a certain age now and thinking about kids and wondering if I can cope if I add them into the mix. It can get overwhelming.
Thank you for being there for me x
November 21, 2018 at 4:56 am #104132
Hey again ADHDSpouse,
To start off with, I’m going to focus on the positives that you mentioned in your posts- that your husband is starting to improve, and he’s recognising (albeit after the fact) that he’s being disruptive. These are EXCELLENT things. The process of getting to a ‘manageable’ state IS a long one. To dredge yet another example from my own experiences, I get compelled to repeat amusing or interesting phrases from movies, literature, or music, and I will begin to spew utter tosh forth in an unrelenting torrent long before I begin to think about what I’m doing. The thing is, this drives my other half crazy, particularly as she’s heard them dozens of times before, and some of these things include making sounds that she finds particularly unpleasant. She first started telling me about this a year and a half ago, and I’m only just getting to the point where I can stop halfway through, as opposed to in the beginning where she’d ask me to stop, and I’d just keep going until I hit the end. Occasionally, I even have bouts of realising that I’m ABOUT to do something irritating, and can stop myself beforehand. I then ruin the effect by proclaiming proudly that I stopped myself, even if she’s trying to sleep.
It’s a bloody long and irritating process, and I can’t speak for your husband, but I know that my every failure drives me up the wall, because I feel like I’m letting my other half down. Every time I don’t manage to NOT do the thing, every time I forget TO do the thing, or make a mistake in the PROCESS of doing the thing, I beat myself up about it massively, but I don’t ever blame her. She gets frustrated, and that hurts, but it only hurts because I know that I’m the one who’s done that to her, not the other way round. Admittedly, quite often, in the heat of the moment, I will feel like I’m being unfairly blamed for things that are out of my control, but when I actually have the time to take a step back and detach, I realise that it’s all me. Every time she gets upset, it’s a reflection of my own behaviour and failings.
What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t feel guilty about your own frustrated emotions, and how they relate to your Husband’s ADHD. It’s natural to get frustrated when others struggle to seemingly comprehend basic requests and instructions, particularly when they cause deep-seated irritation each time they occur. If you keep giving your husband the nudges he needs, and if he keeps on his medication, and he keeps trying in his own way, you’ll both, hopefully, come to a situation you can both manage.
Please don’t take any offence at this, but I would also maybe recommend having a word with a counsellor or psychiatrist. Not because of your frustration, but because of the negative emotions you direct at yourself as a result of your frustrations. I’ve been through counselling before for social anxiety issues, and it did me a world of good. Perhaps talking through your emotions, and the root causes of your emotions can help you gain mastery over them, or at least ameliorate them.
I won’t tell you to stay with your spouse no matter what. Perhaps there are a lot of people here who will consider that bad advice, but I’ve been through my share of bad relationships, and I know that sometimes people demand more of you than you’re actually capable of giving, and during those situations, you NEED to escape in order to preserve your own sanity. His ADHD is not his fault, but that doesn’t make you honour-bound to capitulate for the rest of your life. But what I will say is that, before all of his symptoms and the manifestations of his symptoms wore you down, you fell very firmly in love with the man, enough to marry him. That man hasn’t gone away. Underneath everything, he’s as warm, romantic, quirky, and funny as he was when you first started dating. it’s just buried under his ADHD symptoms right now.
So, to the final summary of my advice- His improvements WILL take quite some time, and unfortunately that’s just a fact of his situation. The fact that he IS improving is proof that he wants to, because if he didn’t want to, threat of a nuclear apocalypse wouldn’t make him change. As long as these improvements keep coming, try to remain optimistic. Don’t feel guilty about your frustrations. It’s natural to get annoyed at the customer service representative that the delivery guy is running late with your order, even though it’s nobody’s fault that the traffic is bad. Same issue here. Just try, when you can, to remember that he’s trying, and that he sure as hell doesn’t WANT to make you unhappy. Consider talking to someone about how strongly your guilt affects you in response to your frustrations, to see if you can make that more manageable. If you do all this, and then, after some time, still decide you just can’t handle it, and something has got to give, you can make whatever your final decision is, knowing that you did everything in your power to make it work. There’s nothing worse than wondering ‘what if I’d done better?’. If you do everything you possibly can, then you don’t need to ask that question.
I apologise that my advice got darker towards the end, but I believe that a person should never feel that they are entirely trapped in their situation. I’ve been there before. Not to go into too much detail, but I had an ex-girlfriend who was extremely abusive. I forgot that I could leave her, internalised everything she said and did as my fault, and it almost cost me my sanity. There was one incident where I could actually feel myself losing my grip on reality. Feeling trapped is not good for anyone, and as such, I refuse to entrap you with my advice. Despite this, try very much to focus on the positives. Your husband is still there, and he wants to do right by you. He’s improving, however slowly, and as long as he continues, try to maintain your hope. I hope that this can be of some help to you 🙂
November 29, 2018 at 3:43 am #104623
Thanks @Spaceboy 99. Your message has helped. I can see a lot of what you mentioned in my situation and think I need to be patient. I’m trying to deal with blaming myself for things too, but I guess that takes time. I guess all behavioral changes take time which is why the situation can often be so frustrating.
Yesterday I really needed the emotional support of my DH but he was in his own world again. We are slowly working through things though and I know 100% in my heart that this year has been a lot better than last year. His med management is still really poor, but he is starting to recognize the things he does that can be hurtful or even energy depleting on my end. He mainly only notices it on his meds, but it gives him time to recognize that he does have these habits.
Out of interest, when you stop yourself from doing the things thag annoy your SO, do you feel like you have too mich energy bottled up though or is it not like that? I don’t want him to feel frustrated if he needs to let energy out…obviously I’d prefer it isn’t in such a depleting manner but maybe then would look into other ways he can direct his energy. He doesn’t have any hobbies though and doesn’t know where to start on that score.
November 29, 2018 at 4:57 am #104625
Hey again ADHDSpouse,
I’m glad I could be of some help. You’re right- it’s because behavioural changes take so long (particularly with adhd) that make the whole thing so frustrating. Same goes for yourself and the guilt thing- even though you see things getting better, because you’re so used to things being worse, it’s kind of like you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop, which in turn makes you feel guilty, BECAUSE you can see the improvement. Hopefully, with enough time, things will keep improving so you can let go that fear.
I’m sorry that he’s still not always seeing when you need the emotional support. On the whole, though, would you say he’s seeing when you need him more, or is it about the same? It’s good that he’s noticing his problematic behaviours, but it’s obviously not good that his med management is still bad. Is it a forgetfulness issue, or is he intentionally not taking them? Because I have an additional memory idea for you. Get a pill caddy, preferably a large one, and have him keep it in his shoes. Every time he needs to put on his shoes in the morning, he’ll see the pill caddy. It’s a trigger that he CANNOT accidentally ignore, unless he wears different pairs of shoes every day. I used to do a similar thing when I was younger- I’d keep a shoe on my radiator to remind me of anything I needed to do that was outside of my usual routine. It only works for things that you need to do before you leave the house, and as soon as you see the trigger, you need to act, but if you can do it, it helps loads.
When I stop myself doing things that annoy my SO, I guess you could kind of call it a bottling up of energy. Say, for example, I want to say a thing from a movie or TV show that I know she finds annoying, or is too loud for the time of day, or I’ve already said 20 times that day, I kind of feel… The best metaphor I have for it is that it’s like the need to vomit. Once I’ve thought of doing it, or started it, I feel a compulsive NEED to do it, and it’s hard to choke back down. Or say I’m fidgeting with something and she asks me to stop, that’s a lot more like the energy thing. The fact that I had something in my hands and I was playing with it means that I already, compulsively, needed to do something with my hands, else I’d have left whatever it was alone. I often, without meaning to, put down the thing I was fidgeting with, and fidget in some other way. The thing about it, though, is that I only feel the need to get rid of this energy until something MORE stimulating crops up, such as a video game, an interesting TV show, or even a debate about some particular social issue. The problem, though, is that while ADHD shares some similarities across sufferers, one person with ADHD is not the same as another. I don’t know if this same thing will DEFINITELY work for your husband, but it MAY.
Hobbies are an EXCELLENT way to deplete excess energy and harness focus, as long as it’s something that he can GENUINELY get interested in, and you can handle him wittering on about it for hours on end. Something he can do with his hands, or that he can do without having to focus completely on it (i.e. do while watching TV) works really well. Fidget toys that don’t make too much noise can help, too. You could look into the Fidget Cube, the Infinity Cube, some Fidget Spinners, and all manner of things, as long as this wasn’t too distracting for you. I learned to solve a Rubik’s Cube a few years ago, which was, for a few months, an excellent focus tool. Whenever I felt I couldn’t focus on what I was doing, I’d scramble and solve it a few times, then get back to it. Hobbies that he can do without the need to set things up are best. I started axe throwing recently, and I have a target in the back garden, and I keep my axe by the door. Literally all I had to do (before it started getting too dark to do it after work) was grab my axe, put on my shoes, and walk out the door. From deciding to doing, I’d only need a minute, max, to get ready. And it’s not concentration-intensive, so I could do it for hours if I wasn’t really concentrating on the passage of time. Since winter hit, and I can’t keep my target in place, and have to put it away afterwards, I’ve thrown once in a month and a half, as opposed to five times a week when it was lighter out and there was no snow. The downside for other people is that for months, axes, axe throwing technique, and which axes I want to get were the only things I talked about. That, and video games.
For single-person hobbies, your husband could look into: Circus skills (Juggling, plate spinning, Diabolo, Poi, Staff spinning, Devil/flower sticks, Unicycle, contact juggling, bar flair), Axe/knife throwing, handicrafts, knitting, Jigsaw puzzles, Rubik’s Cube, and cooking, for starters. These are all things that require relatively little dedication, set-up, initial cost (apart from Unicycle), and can be done at, near, or in the home, and offer lots of potential for progression while not being overly concentration-intensive in the initial phases.
For hobbies that are a bit more active and require more dedication (as well as clubs nearby), he could look into: Martial arts (this is an excellent one if he finds a style and school that he enjoys), Badminton, Tennis, Table Tennis, Swimming, Weight Training, Hackeysack, basically any activity or sport that doesn’t require MANY other people, if any, because this adds a layer of complexity that can suck all of the fun out of trying to do the thing. The advantages to Weights, Swimming, Hackeysack and Martial Arts are that you can train/practise alone, or as part of a group when the meetings (if any) are on. It gives a loose schedule, but doesn’t tie you in to it. The good thing about ALL of these hobbies is that you’re getting exercise and working off energy while ostensibly trying to complete an unrelated task. The one-on-one sports are good because you only need to find one other person who can/will do the thing, and you can measure your improvement against the people you play with. As a massive bonus, exercise is something found to help with management of some ADHD symptoms, due to the dopamine, unless I’m mistaken. It thus serves three purposes- gets him fit, stops him from having excess energy, and ideally helps some of his other symptoms, too. As I say, I recommend a decent martial arts school, because it combines the best elements of these. You have a teacher who can guide your training, organised classes, you can practise solo, and you can measure your progress against your classmates. Gradings (where you get your next belt) give you something specific to work towards, instead of just chasing after the ethereal ‘better’. Additionally, decent martial arts train you to have an awareness of your own body and surroundings, which, though it requires focus and concentration, is acquired almost passively. He won’t necessarily have to work for this awareness, and may not feel like he’s spending two hours focusing really hard. It bleeds into other elements of your life, too, and may help with some of his issues of concentrating on not causing difficulties.
Hope this stuff helps- Let me know if he decides to take up any of these hobbies- I may have some insights into which products are good to buy for these hobbies, or which Martial Arts are decent, though he may prefer to do that research himself 😛 Any time you need to talk, don’t hesitate to message back. I can’t promise I’ll respond immediately, and I definitely can’t promise I’ll be able to help, but I’ll always do what I can when I can 🙂
Best of luck!
November 20, 2018 at 5:26 pm #104122
It’s no problem at all.
That being said, I need some help. I’m very discombobulated right now to where I am mentally paralyzed. I had a conversation with my English instructor yesterday, and it went well. However, I can only slightly remember certain pieces of it that were like gems, because they got me asking questions as if I am a small and curious child. I can’t remember them now, because they shook my core perspective on a few things: failure, relationships, and perfectionism. These are 3 concepts that I’ve been struggling with and seeking clarity on for years now. I’ve known that these were internal issues I have, but I couldn’t understand them until yesterday, and now due to my ADHD memory, I’ve lost that understanding.
I’ve always told myself that I must not fail at whatever I’m doing, because if I do fail then that means I’ve lost an opportunity and I’ve disappointed myself and my closest loved ones. I have a very deep-seated fear of failure (and abandonment, but that is another story) that cripples and paralyzes me at the worst times. Along with my ADHD, It keeps me from going after what I want b/c I’m always looking for issues that I might run into so it might not work. The reason why is because ever since 1st grade up until 9th grade, I was able to excel in school on my intelligence alone with no problem, It all came so easy to me. I had no clue how to handle failure or adversity whatsoever, because I started out being “successful” and achievement-oriented. Success on an academic level is all I’ve ever known since I was 6 years old.
I’ve never thought too much about relationships, because I’m too focused on myself most of the time (I know this is selfish, but I’m being completely transparent). Plus the relationships I do have with my family are deep enough to where I don’t have to worry about losing them, which is why I take them for granted. Although, I also care too much about their opinions and worry excessively about disappointing them. In doing so, I never was able to form my own identity, since I was too concerned with making the people around me happy. I grew up being rather quiet and shy (I still am) so I didn’t have to do much for my parents’ attention (well my mom’s at least), then I also had them to go to with any issues that I had.
This is the worst of the 3, because I’ve learned it and it’s been ingrained in me since I was a toddler. I understand that no one/nothing can ever be perfect, but we all strive to be as close to it as we can. However, there is a difference between this, and LITERALLY SEEKING and obsessing over being perfect. I achieved a lot as a kid, won many athletic and academic awards, I didn’t understand it at the time but looking back on it, I feel as if I was set up to fail in some way. Because I got so much recognition for my gifts and talents as a kid, I developed an unrealistic standard of perfection in concert with a sense of entitlement that I understand is HORRIBLE for my view on how to be successful in life.
BASICALLY, I’m admitting that I learned from a very young age the idea that achievement and success comes easy, without having to work much for it. I know this isn’t right at all, but it’s all I have ever known. It has to be changed, but with what idea? What am I missing? I didn’t do well in college my first year, I flunked it. But I only became more doubtful of myself from that. I don’t know what to take from the failures I’ve had up to this point
This is INSANELY long I know, but I really would like to hear from others. What lessons do we take from the failures that we have? And how do we mature from them? Anything is appreciated.
-Kendall Boults Jr.
November 21, 2018 at 5:47 am #104134
I’m going to try to give my responses to your points in the order you gave them, rather than simply answering your final question, because there’s some stuff in each of them I think I might be able to help with at least a little.
I know very much how you feel, with the whole ‘never failing’ thing. It actually took me failing to learn how to tackle it. The abusive relationship I mentioned above almost cost me the chance to go to university. Simply put, failure isn’t actually the end of anything. It’s just a fork in the road. When I failed my A-levels (qualifications British people take to get into Uni), I had to make a choice. Would I back down, accept my failure, and go work in a supermarket or something, or would I swallow my pride, re-take my qualifications, take some other ones as well, and show the world what I was capable of? I took my entire 2-year maths course in one year (it was easier, because I’d already done the material), two additional qualifications, and re-sat one of my more disappointing pieces of coursework for other courses from the previous year. the following year, I got into my first choice university, studying Maths and Philosophy. The same year, I developed terrible insomnia, and failed my Maths. This was devastating, because I wanted to be a Maths TEACHER. At this fork, I decided there was no honour in pushing through a bad position, and focussed purely on philosophy. I wasn’t enjoying the mathematics anymore, but philosophy was still full of wonders. I had to take one extra module every semester until the end of my degree in order to stay there,but in the end I graduated with good grades. Fast forward five years, I’m living in Norway, working a better job than I could ever have dreamt, ALL BECAUSE I didn’t back down from that initial failure. Through counselling, I learned a useful tool that helps me with any kind of anxiety, be it social, situational, or whatever: Ask yourself- in any situation, what is the ABSOLUTE WORST thing that can possibly happen? Be reasonable. Don’t just say ‘well, I could die’. What are the worst consequences that could befall you? Once you have that picture in your mind, PLAN WHAT YOU WOULD DO should that bad thing happen and the worst outcomes occur. If you are capable of restoring yourself to a decent position following your failure, and have a plan for how you would tackle it, then you no longer need to be anxious about anything inbetween the worst and best cases. if you can tackle the worst, you can tackle them all. Anxiety only has power when it remains undefined. If you can bring logic and reason to bear against it, it loses all hold over you.
I have a horrible relationship with my mother. But for years upon years, I worried about letting my parents down. Once my mother started letting ME down, and I looked back over my life with a much more cynical eye, I realised some fundamental truths that made me worry about this a lot less. Even if you had the BEST parents in the world, you don’t actually owe them anything. You don’t owe it to your parents to be the best you can be, or to be your best self, or to be successful. You owe them no more than you owe anyone else close to you, because at the end of the day, they had a child because THEY wanted one. You didn’t ask to be born. Be the best you can be, but do it for YOUR sake. Parental pride is a secondary bonus, not the primary goal. if you decide you don’t WANT a high-powered career, or great financial success, that is fine, too. Just be HAPPY. Parents are, after all, proudest of a happy child, even if that child’s road to happiness isn’t one they particularly approve of. And if your parents are the kind who wouldn’t be happy that you were happy (like my mother), then those relationships are dead weight. But I won’t go too far into that.
The identity thing I understand, too. I actually had to take a week’s absence from my job a few years ago, my identity crisis was so strong. Then I figured out how to define who I was. in my head I call it the Aspirational Model of the Self, but I don’t know if it exists elsewhere with a better name. Anyway: I have no idea what qualities I possess, nor how those qualities affect how people view me and interact with me. However, I know what I consider to be good, and I know what I consider to be bad. I know, if I had a choice, which aspects of good and bad I would want to take into myself. Therefore, my identity is “A person who aspires to be THIS”. By THIS, I don’t mean a career. Do you want to be kind? Respected? Intelligent? All of the above? Whatever it is, it’s unimportant. being an aspirant to that ideal IS what your identity is. Going forward, take that mental image, and take the actions that that person would undertake, or take those actions that take you closer to that ideal. It worked for me, I don’t know if it’ll work for you 😛
A lot of this ties in with fear of Failure. I was fortunate in that, in the things I actually take it upon myself to DO, I don’t strive for perfection. Paradoxically, I tend to strive for perfection in the things I DON’T want to do. So, I DON’T want to hand the pictures on the wall, so I will spend an hour plotting how to hang them, measuring distances, and EVER SO CAREFULLY hammering in the nails, only to find that one of them is 1cm too low, and thus I have failed as a human being, and the wall is ruined for all time. However, when baking a chocolate cake, and the left hand side sloughs off because that side just rose too fast compared to the rest, I don’t mind, because the cake still tastes good, so happy days. I’ve veered a little, but my underlying point is that the cake doesn’t need to be perfect in order to still taste good. A deformed carrot is just as nutritious as a perfectly-proportioned carrot. A slightly wonky table will still hold things on it. A B+ is still a passing grade. Your second-choice university is still a university. Things are only a problem when you worry about them. The proof of this is that, in my total failure as a human being re: pictures on the walls,my fiancee was overjoyed with how the pictures had been hung. I wanted them perfect, and failed. She just wanted them on the wall, and she won. I know it’s damn-nigh impossible to change the perfectionist habits of a lifetime, and despite understanding what i’m saying on an intellectual level, in the moment I still get flustered and panicked, but at the end of the day, Perfection is a myth. As long as you’re still breathing, you can make another go of things. As long as you keep trying, you can work around an obstacle. It doesn’t NEED to be perfect, nothing does. It just needs to WORK.
Finally, as for what we take from failures: We learn what failure feels like. We learn our responses to failure. We learn WHERE and WHY we failed, as long as we’re willing to look objectively at what went wrong and why, and are willing to ask for and accept criticism from external sources. In the instance of your flunking your first year- same here. But this failure isn’t an end, it is just a junction. It is an opportunity for you to evaluate how far you’ve come, and for how best to proceed. Do you want to continue on the same path you’ve been on? If so, what compromises do you need to make to stay on that path? If not, what path would you prefer to embark on instead? The wheres and whys and whats I mentioned earlier in this paragraph won’t help you now. In fact, they’re almost entirely useless right now, except insofar as helping inform your immediate decision. Where they will show their TRUE worth is in the NEXT time you fail. Then you can draw strength from this failure, look back, see how you handled it, and decide whether or not to use the same kind of method, or how to improve the existing one. It’s as true of education and careers as it is of interpersonal relationships. You don’t actively engage in the process of maturing. It happens TO you, despite what irritated parents say every day. Instead of running around and playing tag with your friends, by the time you hit 15, you want to stand around and talk, despite thinking that was dreadfully boring at 8. Experiencing failure and overcoming it CAUSES you to mature. Just to be clear, ANY course of action counts as overcoming a failure, except that which ends in your death. That’s the only scenario in which you let failure beat you. Deciding to quit your job because the other guy got the promotion? As long as you keep going, keep pushing, keep trying in WHATEVER you decided to go into afterwards, you HAVE overcome the failure to secure the promotion. I would only caution against taking one course of action over another solely because it is immediately easier. All courses of action are valid and equal, but taking the easy path can set you up for difficulties later, whereas pushing through now can make things easier down the line, much like exercising as a youth makes it easier to stay healthy as an adult.
This is all EXTREMELY esoteric and abstract, and I’m sorry about that, but this is the best advice I have to offer. For a little more insight into this type of thought process, try reading “The Way of Chuang Tzu”- the Thomas Merton translation- there’s a lot of it available online. Maybe try looking into daoism as well. I’m not trying to convert you to a religion or anything, there’s just quite a lot of stuff in daoism that can help with perfectionism and people-pleasing issues.
I hope this helps, Kendall 🙂
P.S. Don’t worry about your call for help being a bit lengthy, my response was way longer 😉
November 20, 2018 at 6:58 pm #104128
Kendall, I’ve read this entire thread. I’ve lived the life for over 50 years, as a wife for 39 years to a husband with ADHD and sons with the problem, each at a different level of difficulty. I have no great final solution or anything close, but I do have a suggestion. If you hope to help others, learn how to ask questions and then write down the answers you get. Everybody in the whole world is interested in themselves. ADHD affected people seem to have that problem in spades. You appear to be a high IQ individual as was my husband and two sons are. That makes the situation even worse I think because if your senses are in overdrive, so is your brain and your analysis of yourself. You have a headstart in that you have worked with medication and understand to some extent what is happening in your awareness of the world around you.
Start at a very simple level in person or by telephone with a family member, put a time limit on it. Write down on a piece of paper the person’s name, age, relationship. Ask a question that focuses on that other person, not on what is going on in your head. Tell them it is an experiment for class or something like that. Ask something you can be comfortable with, anything from what did they eat last to if you are you talking too fast. Stop. Write it down. Do not justify yourself or explain yourself or evaluate yourself. Remember, it is about them. Do that one at a time with as many people as you are comfortable with. Move forward slowly from that simple start to a day or week later increasing the time limit. Write down the words they tell you. Do not obsess with the question(s) or answers. That will be extremely difficult for you I think, but those dealing with your problem probably had it difficult dealing with your situation, and you can learn to live with a new kind of difficulty. The biggest obstacle I’ve encountered in living along with ADHD individuals is their inability to see someone else is in the room. You need to learn how to do that if you want to help others.
I could write three books on what I’ve lived through over all this time. Life goes on and we can’t escape it. The high intellect ADHD part can make a relationship mentally very rewarding at times but the roller coaster can bring an interaction from very high to very low faster than the brain can safely process it, resulting in stress that is overwhelming. I understand what others have written in this thread, and if I had long term answers for others I would share them. At this point in my life it becomes how I am going to deal with the next hour without cracking.
(Other writers, have you found it difficult to fully open the space where one replies in order to review what has been written?)
November 22, 2018 at 1:21 am #104214
I must confess I didn’t read all the replies, because they seemed to veer off on to other people’s issues instead of your question.
I have ADHD. So does my husband.
We are not assholes to each other. Neither of us go through our days and weeks constantly feeling disrespected, diminished, violated, burdened, or emotionally exhausted with each other. Of course we have occasional conflict as all married couples do, but it’s unusual, not the norm. We talk about it and resolve it relatively quickly.
ADHD is not an excuse to be an asshole to your partner. There is no rule that partners have to martyr themselves on an imaginary altar of being “the good one.”
If your boyfriend is treating you badly and you are miserable in the relationship, couples counseling may help. Or it may not. And you get to decide for yourself how long is too long to be unhappy.
I’d recommend the book “Boundaries” by Cloud & Townsend. It’s not about ADHD. It’s about deciding for yourself how you want to be treated, and how to get your emotional needs met in healthy ways.
People with ADHD have trouble setting and keeping boundaries for themselves. And we don’t respond well to other people telling us what we are “supposed” to do, or what we “have” to do.
But we do usually respond really well when people act on their own boundaries and we can choose how to adjust.
So don’t ask your boyfriend to give you space. Take the space and time you need, for yourself. He can adjust. Maybe that means having a separate room. Maybe that means leaving and going to a coffee shop. Maybe it means moving out. He may care about you, but he can’t be responsible for meeting your needs. You do what you need to do.
If he isn’t taking his meds or doing the other things he needs to do to function well and be a good partner? You are not required to take over that responsibility. If you want to help him in certain ways, you get to choose what you’re comfortable with. You don’t have to become his parent or caretaker. Honestly, that’s rarely good for a relationship anyway.
If your boyfriend thinks you should not be able to tell him “no” or take time for yourself on your own, or be in charge of your own space, your time, or your body?
That is not ADHD. That is being controlling, and potentially abusive.
You deserve to live a peaceful, happy life. There are no brownie points for putting up with a miserable living situation, and a diagnosis doesn’t change that.
I hope you find a way to work together that makes both of you happy. But in any case, wish you well!
November 30, 2018 at 4:34 pm #104749
My lord. I am in shock and awe at your original post. You sound like my wife and I in the early years of our relationship.
Some background on me. I’m 28 and have been with my wife who is also 28, for 11 years. We moved out together at 18, and never looked back. I have ADHD, she does not. I stopped taking strattera at 17, not because of her, but because of the zombie I felt like when I was on it. I took no more meds and did nothing to decrease my ADHD symptoms until almost 22. Also, this woman is tough. Stubborn like her father, with fight like Ali.
The only reason I started looking into my ADHD again was because our marriage was failing. I was constantly agitated over stupid things. Various car or motorcycle projects, lack of money, adjusting to office work for better insurance after leaving a factory job of 4 years, and a 1 year old son. I did not consider the reactions to my emotions and the effects they would have on us. I never personally attacked her, but yelling at her was a constant issue. She never said she was unhappy, but I could feel it, and I just knew that this is not how I should be treating her.
There were many changes we both made after I started taking Adderall. I started to pay attention to myself and my triggers to try and learn from them. She started to pay attention to them more as well to help assess the best possible way to alleviate those issues. Also, there is not a single day that I do not take my meds. I want to make sure that I’m putting forth as much effort as possible to make sure that my marriage and her happiness lasts as long as possible. I also need to set a better example for my 7 year old son and 2 year old daughter. They need to know what a great relationship looks like, especially since my parents and her parents have been divorced since early on. We bicker every once in a while because I’m tired of the mess in our house, or I’m angry that I’m having to do something I wasn’t planning for, but I keep myself in check knowing that she deserves better, and I want my son to know how a man should act and I want my daughter to know what kind of man to look for.
If he is willing to start taking his meds everyday and he’s willing to start getting himself into check when he feels himself start getting worked up, then he’s worth the extra time a heartache. Being with someone with ADHD is very hard, but if he is willing to do everything possible to keep you in his life, he will take his meds everyday and not care what other people think. Don’t let him get to used to yelling at you, if you do, it will be a life long battle with him because he’s gotten used to being able to yell at you. You need to be able alleviate his agitation while keeping your cool and working through it. Once you back him off the ledge and get him cooled off and make him think about the way he’s acting, his embarrassment and guilt may take over real quick and extinguish that fire. Just don’t threaten leaving him in the heat of the moment. It will only ignite that fire in the moment. That is something you do once you’ve both cooled off and moved on.
You deserve to be happy, but I think you’d be surprised at how far he is willing to go to keep you if he is as invested as you are in your relationship.
December 7, 2018 at 9:36 pm #105115
I married my long term achd boyfriend. When he flares, it is so hard to deal with. Over reactions are common but I have done everything I can to not feed into them, it’s hard I tell ya. Very freakinhard a at times and my feelings get hurt. But getting in his face is not the way to deal with him. That only eescalates things. So we use the calm, walk away approach. It helps that I am a sports psychologist and we do alot of research together, but the hurt feelings still happen because I am just human! I highly recommend you guys learn together about his condition, it helps alot. And keep yourself strong, you will need that.
January 12, 2019 at 6:59 am #106580
Thanks all. You’re right about keeping calm and not threatening to leave in the heat of the moment.
I don’t know what to do anymore. I have tried the talking loudly (not shouting) thing, an agreed word to act like an alert, slapping his face (but only because he asked me to do that, saying a word wasn’t enough).
Since I started this post, I have wanted to leave three times already. It is exhausting crying every few days.
I try to do extra things around the house to make his life easier. Every small thing he complains about I immediately try to change so he doesn’t get angry. But he keeps nitpicking at things, parroting everything I say and being insensitive.
I know no one can answer for me, but when is it time to just say I can’t do this anymore? (Rhetorical question).
I have turned into a person I hate. I find I am just crying or bickering or floundering. But I know how I am feeling now will pass and I’ll forget I felt like this until the same time tomorrow or the day after probably…
He says he’s made an effort with his meds, but alarms, notes, me telling him…nothing seems to mean he will regularly take them. He says he immediately forgets and I don’t know how truthful thst statemrnt is or not.
I am so tired right now. Forget sll the nice words I wrote so many times in this thread…I write them on fairly good days. I know I am not at rock bottom right now but perhaps more and more resigned to the fact that if I want to stay in this relationship, this is the bestbit will be. I will have to accept to be unhappy a lot of the time or get some courage and leave. Instead I’m going around in endless circles, hoping and trying. And who knows how much effort he is placing in except for him? I see some evidence of it, but I know nothing will work without the meds. Maybe he says he wants to change but perhaps in reality he is half hearted. I don’t know.
Sorry to be negative today everyone. I know it’s not like me and I usually see a silver lining, but I am struggling today.
February 18, 2019 at 7:18 pm #109538
I just came across your update today and hope you are all right.
I will reiterate, as a person with ADHD married to a person with ADHD:
If your boyfriend is physically preventing you from meeting your own needs and having autonomy, like blocking you from leaving the room when you want to, badgering you so that you can’t work or sleep, keeping you from leaving the house when you want to, making his anger and negative emotions your fault?
That is abuse. Emotional and potentially physical.
Please call a domestic abuse hotline and make a plan for your safety and talk to a counselor or peer advisor trained in domestic violence issues to discuss what you want to do.
The reasons don’t matter. Whether he can “help it” doesn’t matter. No diagnosis makes it okay to be physically controlling or emotionally abusive to a partner.
Saying “well, he doesn’t do this when he’s on his meds…” is exactly like saying “well, he only hits me when he drinks.”
I know it’s complicated. And I know you’ve been normalizing this for a long, long time.
It’s not normal.
Please prioritize your own needs here. He is a grownup. He will work out how to take care of himself.
You need to take care of yourself.
January 12, 2019 at 3:44 pm #106585
ADHD Pun HereParticipant
I know I’m pretty late to the party, but I’m hoping that my two cents will still be able to help. I know I don’t know you, but I hope it’s okay for me to say that I’m really proud of you for not just instantly giving up on your relationship. That takes a lot of love and courage and he’s lucky to be on the receiving end of that.
I’m in this major group therapy program right now, and it’s taught me a lot about myself and my ADHD. I’ve learned that the biggest lie I told myself, for years on end, was that my behavior wasn’t my fault, that I could blame it all on the disorder, or the behavior of those around me, or the situation I was in… I let myself believe that it couldn’t be my fault, so I never had to take responsibility.
Here’s the thing about how an individual behaves: No one can force them to act or speak or respond in any way. I’ve come to acknowledge that the ONLY person at fault for my bad behavior is me. We can influence how others may act, but we only have control over ourselves. And taking that ownership has turned all of my relationships around. I’m more thoughtful in how I respond to my fiancé, more soft-spoken when I disagree with my mother, and more patient while interacting with others.
You’re going out of your way to keep from upsetting him, even though his reaction of anger is a choice he makes. You’re taking the time to be considerate of his disorder, being patient at times for hours on end, even though he continues to ignore what you tell him. You’re being left alone to try and manage both your own emotional responses, and his on top of that. No wonder you’re so exhausted, you’re trying to maintain all of that AND your relationship as well. You’re only one person.
If he was a child, or you really were responsible for him in some other way, things would be different. But the fact of the matter is that he is an adult who is, in many ways, treating his SO like a caretaker instead of a partner. I know that you love him, and I know how important that connection to another person can be. But your first priority needs to be taking care of your own needs, not worrying about rocking the boat.
This is not me telling you to leave him. While I’ll admit that I think your relationship sounds unhealthy, I also know that I only have a sliver of perspective on your relationship. You’re an adult, and you can make the choice to stay or leave. You’ve already proven how brave you are, remember? Now it’s just a matter of being brave for yourself.
If you do stay with him, I highly suggest you stop letting small behaviors slide. It will only lead to resentment, and that’s not good for either of you. Establish boundaries, WITH consequences (example: “I need to finish reading my book tonight. If you keep interrupting me, I’ll have to go to the leave”). And then make sure you follow through. These shouldn’t be ultimatums, because all you’re doing is establishing a boundary in your relationship and holding to it. It doesn’t have to escalate into a deal breaker. I also suggest you give him as much positive reinforcement as you can when he does something right. A little acknowledgement can go a long way.
If you do leave him, please try to explain to him, as clearly as you can, what led you to that point. There is no greater consequence for one’s actions than the loss of someone dear. He needs to understand what he did and didn’t do to get you to this point. And remember that just because you love him, that doesn’t mean you have to be his caretaker. You leaving him would be about your boundaries and limitations and what you’re willing to put up with, not about his potential sadness or remorse.
Whatever you do, remember that you are only responsible for your own actions, and let that be a comfort if you start to regret your decision. I’m sorry this was so long, but I hope it helps. Good luck, whatever you do.
January 13, 2019 at 3:45 am #106592
Thanks @adhd Pun Here for your reply. I see a lot of ADHD sufferers saying that they themselves have to take action. It makes me happy that this is possible but sad that we haven’t reached that place yet in our relationship where he would make sure he’s taking his medication daily and at the right intervals etc.
I felt a bit better a few hours after writing the post. But reflecting, I feel like it is very difficult for me to follow through on my boundaries mainly because his behaviour does not allow me to do so. Often I tell him ‘If you do x, I will have to go to the other room’ but when he is not on his meds (all of the issues only occur when he is not on his meds), he then will block me from going to another room or follow me and talk outside the door begging me to immediately forgive him. So I don’t get the space I need to calm down and not become this really angry person. I had been given advice to go for a walk and come back, but sometimes it can be evening/night or I simply want the right to be in my own house. It is very upsetting.
I guess I can’t try any harder because I don’t think I am the problem anymore. I have my boundaries repeatedly crossed and if it is true what he says that he is trying his best, I feel sad that maybe his best is not enough for me to not feel stressed for the majority of time. He blames me for a lot of his behavior and later claims he is only joking. I am not sure I have enough good grace to make this work.
I feel utterly heartbroken, over and over.
- This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by ADHDSpouse123.
January 13, 2019 at 4:10 am #106594
Hi @adhd Pun Here. Thanks for your reply. I wrote at some length but it doesn’t appear to have posted. So I will try again…
Everything you say gives me hope and also not. On the one hand it shows me what could be achieved. On the other hand, how maybe my DH telling me he is trying his best isn’t true. He claims he can’t remember to take his meds. We have tried so many methods of reminder. Alarms, me telling him, him keeping them various places around the house. Nothing works.
I find it hard to leave the space/room when I need to because he blocks me or follows me. This escalates my anger. We have spoken many times about it but he does not respect my boundaries. This only happens when he is not on meds…everything bad only happens when he’s not on meds.
I keep thinking maybe he is trying his best…only he knows whether he is or not. But another part of me says he isn’t and feels betrayed that he says he wants things to be better but can’t do the one thing that does make pretty much everything better, which is to take his meds.
He blames a lot of his behavior on me. At the beginning of our relationship I was more naive. I used to believe him and thought I was going mad because I couldn’t remember doing half the things he told me I had done. Then I realized none of it was true. Nowadays I realize some of it is correct about me making things worse with my behavior. It’s because I am fed up. I’m not proud of my behavior but I don’t see how I can behave any differently. I can’t help feeling annoyed at times and I can’t get the space I ask for…but I DO get blamed for then getting angry and panicked. I feel like I’m under attack during those times that I feel so overwhelmed – it is the same physical sensation. But no, I’m supposed to be some miracle person who can deal with all of this…deal with everything and remain calm all the time. It is so much pressure.
I feel so utterly heartbroken, over and over. And every day I forgive him over and over. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that resentment has been building up. I felt so confident we would be happy and more peaceful as the new year came in. But it’s more of the same. Sometimes I wish I didn’t love him. It sounds so cruel, but that is what makes me continue to damage and exhaust myself and not walk away and to keep trying even though it seems pointless. I know in myself if it were any other situation, I would have moved on a long time ago. But in this one situation, I make every single exception. I break all of my personal rules. I forgive over and over when my boundaries are trampled on. I know I am probably encouraging bad behavior. But short of leaving, which clearly I am not ready to do, I don’t think he will get the message. Ever.
So I need to get used to this. I need to accept that this is my life now if I choose not to leave. I don’t see what will change to make him want to make more effort. The craziest thing is I KNOW I am the person he most loves in all this world – beyond any of his family or friends. But this is his best…supposedly…and I am so tired of voicing that I expect more and I think he is too. But we’re still together. Like broken records that keep trying to play a love song.
I hear my friends with non-ADHD partners talk about their DHs and I wonder if maybe I’m just too critical and maybe this is just the nature of all relationships and I should be more grateful for what is good in the relationship. I have been trying to make a mental note of all the good things at the end of each day to remind myself of why I am still in this situation. There are plenty of good things, just the bad parts seem so unbearable…but I guess they aren’t so unbearable if I’m still choosing to be in this situation.
I am rambling now. I will leave it there.
January 14, 2019 at 6:59 am #106612
I’m so sorry things aren’t picking up for you. I’d really hoped that by implementing some new measures things could turn around for you relatively quickly.
You said last time we spoke that you could see GRADUAL improvement in your DH. Is that still the case, or has it stagnated? Or worse, gone backwards?
There’s a philosophy I ascribe to that helps me make most of my major decisions. I call it ‘The Dynamite Approach’. It is based on the wisdom of Mary Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. There’s an episode where she states “There’s only so long you can fish before you have to throw a stick of dynamite in the water. I’m done fishin’.”
My interpretation of this is that there is only so long that you can dance around a problem, trying to solve it in the most optimal way, taking into account all the factors, different potential scenarios, and what is best for everyone involved, before you just have to say “to hell with it”, and just conjure up A solution. It doesn’t have to be the best one. It doesn’t have to be the kindest. It doesn’t even have to make you happy. It just has to SOLVE THE PROBLEM. There comes a point where trying to strive for the best outcome, and the uncertainty, pain, and pressure become more painful than even the worst possible outcome.
In your situation, only you know where your limits lie. Only you know when enough is enough. If and when you reach that point, I would recommend following your self-preservation instincts, even if they point you towards leaving your DH for your own sanity.
Some time BEFORE you get to that point, however, I would recommend (if you haven’t already) talking with your DH about this situation. If he doesn’t already know that you’re considering leaving him because of how this is going, and that you can REALLY tell the difference between when he’s on and off meds, etc., tell him. I don’t like the notion of backing someone with ADHD into a corner like that, because it can just make them bite back before they stop to consider the consequences (so it might be good to discuss this on a medicated day), but if he doesn’t realise what the stakes are, he may just be going on as he always has because he’s never been given sufficient reason to change. This isn’t me blaming you, far from it, it’s just that he GENUINELY may not realise the precariousness of his situation. If he loves you, and knows you love him, he MAY just assume that that is enough to carry you both through anything, and that he is fine the way he is.
– As an aside to this, it should be noted that, completely devoid of malice, ‘other people’s problems’ aren’t nearly as
strong a factor in an ADHD person’s actions as ‘MY problems’. If you MAKE it HIS problem, not yours, that COULD,
POTENTIALLY, MAYBE trigger change, which is why I suggested telling him.
One thing you said above is that ‘this is my life now, if I decide not to leave’. That is simply untrue. If you decide to stay with your DH despite all the crap he’s putting you through, he is honour-bound to try to rectify these issues, and you have a RIGHT to complain about that crap. If at that point he’s unhappy with you trying to make your own life livable, HE can be the one to leave. It’s not like you’re asking much- “Take the medication for the condition that you have”, “Please don’t do this list of very reasonable things that drive me up the wall”, “Please let me have my own space when I need it”. These aren’t massive asks. They’re the type of lists that everyone in every couple has, bar the meds thing.
In the self-care category of advice I have, do you have any hobbies that are away from the house? If not, maybe starting one up, and actively TAKING that time to yourself would help with some of these issues? ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ isn’t just for ADHD folks 🙂 Something exercise-based will help most, not just with getting time away, but it’ll also boost your mood generally. I, personally, recommend martial arts as more or less the ultimate hobby. In addition to getting fit, you learn to defend yourself, gain self-confidence, improve your balance, improve your resilience to injury, reduce likelihood of GETTING injured, improve your reflexes, and a whole host of other things. Also, learning how to defend yourself in a combat situation makes you more likely to defend yourself in personal conflicts (I pretty much backed down from every confrontation I ever had before I learned how to hit things really hard. Now, I don’t back down unless I see a reason to do so, such as being in the wrong.).
As another suggestion, would taking a trip away, just you, or maybe you and a close friend, help give you some time and perspective to make the decisions you need to make in the coming months? Or even just giving you some time away to recharge your batteries, to better deal with your situation as it stands?
Given the way things are going, and that the current situation is untenable, it may even be worth your DH going BACK to therapy for ADHD, and perhaps learning new techniques and coping strategies. Alternatively, it could be worth investing in an ADHD Coach to help him learn some of these techniques. Unfortunately, his participation in these ideas is HEAVILY dependent on his seeing that there is actually a problem.
I’m sorry that things aren’t going as well as I know we’d both hoped, and I hope that my newest advice can be of some use to you in the new situation. I wish you the very best of luck, and whatever you decide, we as a community are still here for you.
Message anytime. I’m so sorry I took so long to reply this time.
January 13, 2019 at 12:19 pm #106598
I’m sorry about your trouble with your boyfriend!
When I think about my own ADHD, here’s how it makes difficult to share living space with: I am chronically disorganized in the extreme and no matter how badly I feel about that I can only make promises to correct this, I forget what time I’ve invited house guests to come over and sometimes they show up before I’m home, I don’t notice certain details in my environment like the slow accumulation of crumbs under the toaster or mold near the shower vent so I take less initiative on cleaning, I leave my belongings all over the place, ect. I’m usually a kind person and meet my short comings with apologies and and a self-depricating sense of humor. I actually feel enormous amounts of guilt over them. Sometimes I see myself as like, not immoral, but as someone with so many defects that it’s not worth anyone’s time or patience. I live in dread that others see me as immoral and lazy and uncaring. This stress sometimes results in me interpreting silence or any change in a person’s behavior as anger or judgement against me and I start getting annoying in an attempt to be playful. However, I am pretty in tuned to how people feel and really want to make people around me as comfortable as possible, and find a way to meet the needs of others. I really, really need understanding though on how hard it is for me to get organized. Without this, I will fail.
The type of relationship I do best in is one where I don’t live with my partner. In fact, their coming over to visit motivates me to get my shit looking presentable. (I power-clean my house when someone I find attractive is visiting.) Arguably if the person is just as disorganized as I am, I often become the one taking point on delivering motivation to get things straightened up because my problems become visible in theirs. Theoretically, I also do well with a good communicator. If someone reminds me “honey, you left your clothes on the floor in the bathroom.” I will immediately address that… I won’t feel nagged, unloved, misunderstood, ect. If the clothes are picked up for me I feel an incredible amount of guilt, so, someone who just helps me not miss a step works really well for me.
If it’s these sorts of things in particular that make it hard to live with your boyfriend, you may be struggling to cope with his symptoms. Just remember that if he becomes abusive or neglectful (as in, he takes work-related stress out on you, he’s defensive and oppositional when asked to address a mess he’s made, he doesn’t accept reminders, ect) this is something he’s obligated to work on..
January 19, 2019 at 6:16 pm #107081
Hi @damnmouse – thanks for your message. No thankfully the house being messy etc isn’t a thing that really troubles me. It’s more emotional responses and not providing emotional space when I need it that is the issue.I hope that you don’t feel too much like you’re not worth anyone’s time and patience. I think that anyone who is open and honest about their issues and works on them is definitely worth time and patience!
@Spaceboy 99…At the risk of sounding defeatist rather than truthful, I have tried everything you mentioned in your post 🙁
I wouldn’t say my DH has stagnated, rather than he is really inconsistent. One thing both of us are good at is being very open with one another. He knows I have been thinking about leaving and we’ve had many arguments that have led to more level-headed discussions (when he’s on meds) that I am thinking of leaving. So I think that maybe as much as he may think I’m important enough to him to try to change and take his meds, he doesn’t realize that I’m not important enough to him. And I don’t want to accept that I’m not…or I also doubt my thought on this matter as I may well be just pitying myself.
All I hear is how he wants to change and how he is trying. Maybe my expectations are too high and it is too much to ask of him to take his meds.
I keep imagining us a happy family with children…I wanted that so desperately and now all I can do is cry at the future that probably will never be. There are moments when I want to kill myself because it is too much. I know ultimately that I would not take my own life over this, but I must admit there are small pockets of time when thibgs get too intense that I think I’d rather be dead. And it’s such a selfish and awful thought to have. And I know that really that should mark to me that all boundaries have been crossed and my mental health has gone and I should get out.
But I keep trusting my resilience and I know this relationship is no longer healthy for me, but I love him so much and I don’t believe in giving up. I know I am pretty much wasting my life away in panic and tears but I keep doing it anyway. It disturbs me that I know what this relationship is costing me but that I still pursue it. I think it’s because I know that I’m not blameless and that maybe if I could be the better person…and I am getting better at that…then maybe it would work.
But it’s been many years now. It’s not like I tried and gave up for a season. I’ve tried for years. Gone to counselling, changed my behavior, read up on ADHD, joined forums like this one to hear from others to make sure that I’m not just an ignorant spouse who has no idea how difficult it is for my DH. I’m running out of reasons and excuses to stay…and I keep searching for them because I don’t want this to be the end.
He’s the one I imagined myself growing old with but maybe the picture in my head is just false. Or only part true. Of course we have good times and a laugh and the rest of it. But he is controlling…I think this is the hardest thing to accept. He does all the things we agreed he wouldn’t do, doesn’t take his meds, unwittingly dictates whether I should be sad or not, tells me off for getting upset by his behavior, shushes me like a dog, doesn’t respect my space (or more accurately takes too long to respect it), and denies what I am feeling. Again, he does none of this on his meds.
Why can’t he just take them? Why is it so hard? It is so hard to accept that after all our years together and his claims that he wants to start a family with me that he is choosing not to take his meds over our future together…he’s choosing the end of our relationship. And he will be surprised if I walk away even though we’ve had MANY conversations (unheated I may add, so they weren’t arguments rather than very open conversations), because he has admitted that due to his ADHD he only really responds to a threatening situation and my threats of leaving don’t last in his mind for long.
…And guess what? Tomorrow I will forgive him and this will all happen again. Tomorrow I will hug him and tell him how much I love him and he’ll do and say the same. And in the evening or maybe the evening after I will cry again and feel overwhelmed by his behavior. I’ll be an old woman by the time I know my answer…whether I’d wasted my life or simply was a fool in love.
January 21, 2019 at 5:43 am #107199
Hi again, ADHDSpouse.
At this point, I’m not going to tell you what to do, since, by the sounds of it, you have all the information, you’re trying all the strategies and ideas, and things still don’t seem to be working out. Literally the ONLY thing left to you is for your SO to either go to a therapist or get an ADHD coach, and even these things may not work out, by the sounds of things. If he’s aware that you’re considering leaving and is still consistently inconsistent, I’d argue that you’ve exhausted all avenues.
So all I’m going to tell you is that it’s OK that you feel this way. It’s OK that things have become too much. It’s OK that you’re struggling, and it’s OK that you’re strongly considering leaving. It’s also OK to leave. It’s OK to get out. It’s OK to take several steps back and announce that you can’t do it anymore. It’s OK to put yourself first, and it’s OK if that comes at the cost of your relationship.
Suicidal thoughts and prolonged bouts of crying are both signs of depression (not that I’m a doctor, please do see a specialist). These are not meant to come about as a result of your relationship- rather, your relationship is supposed to be the thing that, where these are present, gives you the strength to carry on. Self-sacrifice is a necessary part of any relationship, but that has to come from both sides. I act as a carer (in many ways) for my SO, who has a disability, which is an ongoing sacrifice, insofar as I’m the primary provider for our household, and take on the bulk of the work around the house. However, she makes sacrifices too, as and where her disability and my ADHD allow. We get frustrated with each other on occasion, but ultimately, our relationship is a net positive, for BOTH of us. That’s why we’re still together, and why we’re getting married this year. I’ve been in relationships before where I’ve had to give, and give, and give, and give, and gotten absolutely nothing in the ways of results from the other person. I lost 40lbs to one of them, because of the stress, and I didn’t have 40lbs to lose. I lose an entire year’s worth of sleep to one during the first year of my degree, which nearly got me kicked off my course. It was these two that taught me to avoid people with problems I can’t fix, or that require so much intervention on my part that I neglect self-care. My SO may never get well, and she may even deteriorate to the point where she dies before her time, but I know that she’ll keep fighting. I know that she will actually do as much as she is able (more if I don’t stop her), and that even if I wind up having to take on every single responsibility at home, quitting my job and acting solely as a carer, it will STILL never be ‘just me’ making the effort. For my part, a large motivation for me to get medicated is so that I can better live my life, and hopefully be more effective at juggling me, work, and the house, because I’ve been struggling as more and more has been put on me. Self-sacrifice is a noble thing, but only when it allows you to still be your ideal self.
I understand very well the dream of a happy family with children. It’s all I’ve wanted out of life for more than 10 years, when I realised that I didn’t give a toss what career I ended up in, as long as I had a family. Ironically, my SO’s condition may actually preclude us from having children, but I find that as long as she’s in my life, I don’t regret the loss. That, to me, is what a relationship should be. One that doesn’t necessitate that you give up what you want, but that you would give up what you want in order to have it, and still find yourself happy.
One thing you say that I want to express an opinion on is that suicide is ultimately a selfish thought. You can argue that it is, but I’d always argue that suicidal tendencies, or the act itself, are symptoms of wider problems. It’s not an action you undertake with TRUE agency, it’s something you are DRIVEN to by outside factors. There are even scenarios in which it is considered noble (sacrificing yourself to let your platoon get away, for example). You’re not selfish. You’re under an enormous amount of pressure, more than anyone should be asked to handle alone. And it’s OK that it’s hard, just as it’s OK to say “Nah, screw this”.
I’m not going to tell you whether or not you should stay with your SO, because that isn’t my place to do so. It’s very much a decision that you need to make on your own. But should you decide to, then at least from where I, and I daresay many other people stand, then that’s OK. Like you say, you’ve tried all the accommodations under the sun, you’ve read up on his condition, you’ve joined support groups, undertaking counselling, and tried to improve yourself to better meet the demands of his condition. You have TRIED. It’s OK, then, to turn around and say ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’. It’s not that you CAN’T- you COULD if there was a similar amount of effort coming back at you- instead it’s that you don’t want to be the only one working any more.
Starting over again isn’t as scary as it seems. The picture of the happy family doesn’t go away, and the possibility to grow old with someone doesn’t vanish into the air. Instead, you search for someone else to put in the picture. A picture where you both contribute to getting everything in line, and where you both sacrifice, where necessary, for the other one’s wellbeing. rather than thinking in terms of what you stand to lose, rather think in terms of what you stand to gain- your sense of self and your happiness, for starters.
The only thing I would urge you to do is to not get married and have kids ‘to see if that changes anything’. Kids exacerbate already-present issues. Kids don’t CAUSE break-ups, but the stress of raising children COUPLED with underlying issues in the relationship definitely does. Except now, there are kids in the picture. That’s what might actually preclude me and my SO from having kids. Depending on how her condition develops, and how I respond to medication, there may just be too much for me to actually take on. I can’t parent children and care for my SO, all on my own. So, that’s a sacrifice we’d both be willing to make, for the sake of us.
I’m still here, and still willing to help, whatever course of action you decide to take. Just know that there is no shame in either course, and you have just as much right, without judgement from any quarter, to choose either one. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise should walk a mile in your shoes before they criticise.
Good luck, and talk soon 🙂
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