Trying to do self care with an ADHD spouse feels impossible

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    • #98858

      Hi everyone,

      I’ve been feeling so frustrated and lost, and wanted to ask the partners of people with ADHD – how to you manage to take care of yourselves when your ADHD partner sometimes seems to sabotage all your best efforts?

      One example that I’ve been dealing with for ages is lack of sleep. I have insomnia, but over the years have found ways to manage it. That includes having a good night routine and reading in bed until I’m sleepy. HOWEVER, my husband has terrible sleep habits and they often end up disturbing my sleep. This includes “oh, I’ll be there in 5 minutes”, then walking into the room 20, 30, or 40 minutes later, completely disturbing my reading and waking me up. Then he falls asleep instantly, and I’m up until 2 or 3 am, and have to get up with the kids at 6:30am. Or he tries to fall asleep for 5 minutes, but then gives up and gets up, then walks around the house and keeps me up.

      No matter how many times we talk about it or how disruptive he is, he just keeps doing it. I feel like he’s making it impossible for me to take care of myself and give myself what I need to be a sane person and a good parent. I’ve nagged, cried, yelled, made plans, made threats, you name it, and it just doesn’t change. I feel like it’s the same pattern with pretty much anything else I want/need in order to take care of myself, the kids, the house, our finances, etc.

      I just want this to get better, and it feels hopeless. I’m trying not to take care of him like he’s a child, but now I feel like I can’t even take care of myself, because he’s so chaotic.

      What do I do? We have two young kids, and I stay at home, so I feel like leaving isn’t even an option. But I’m tired of being an emotional wreck and not being able to meet my own needs, let alone those of my kids (one of whom also has ADHD and autism.)

      I’m a mess. Help! (Thanks for listening.)

    • #98870

      My husband is the same. I have a few suggestions. I started using sleeping pills for short term crises needs. 3-4 mights in a row where I fall asleep and stay asleep can be very calming. I also use white noise (usually waves crashing) and a sleep mask so that I don’t hear or see anything else. Though is can be a bit uncomfortable, the idea things are ear plugs or headphones (JBL makes cordless ones that are noise cancelling too). There are times when I am just so tired I need to know he won’t come into the room after I fall asleep, so he will sleep in the basement or in the couch. These are all pretty practical tips and sleep is super important if you want to engage in self-care. It’s the priority really. Hope that helps. I actually think it would be amazing if we had our own rooms and just had date nights from time to time…we graduated to a king size bed with an expensive mattress and I hardly notice him in it sometimes…and he kicks his legs and flaps his arms at night, especially if he’s stressed or overtired.

    • #98944

      I also have a similar situation, however I am the spouse with the ADHD.. LOL… I am easily disrupted with sleep and try hard to follow a specific routine in order to have good sleep hygiene, and I frequently tell him that his odd sleeping habits affect me and it will get better for a while only for it to go right back to him getting up at odd hours.

      I have learned that I need the specific sleep that is not interrupted in order to appropriately function the next day. That means work full time, take care of the kids, him and the household.

      We have 3 children, one of which also is diagnosed with ADHD and another that is about to be tested for the same thing.

      Would you be able to sleep in separate beds or rooms? Does it bother you for him just to come into the room or is it when he gets into bed? If it’s the movement of the bed, consider getting twin beds however if it’s he just can’t be quiet coming in the room then sleeping in separate rooms or one of you on the couch maybe another option. I wish I had better answers, I still resort to fussing at my husband because I refuse to sleep separately but that’s just me personally.

    • #99043

      I’ve had similar issues. In addition, my Restless Leg Syndrome makes me a frantic kicker at night.

      I tried sleeping pills, CPAP machines, melatonin, and ASMR videos with jogging ear buds–and they all help! But separate rooms were best. I feel EVERYTHING. Even now, I wake when he closes the door leaving the house in the morning.

      Sleeping together on weekends is doable with earbuds.

    • #99119

      Hi – I know you want to ask the partners but I’d like to share from my perspective (ADHD male with female partner)

      I will probably find it hard to conclude this post so it will probably just trail off. Anyway:

      We have had many arguments about my sleep. I become anxious when I feel obliged to sleep when I know I won’t be able to sleep within 30sec of hitting the pillow, because I get lost in my thoughts and struggle to shove them away – this sounds harmless but let me tell you it is hell. There was a time where I was in the bed and I knew I had to get out; I decided to get out (decision took about 10 mins) and it took another 20 mins to actually get out. I was in tears the whole time and my partner was asleep next to me. Probably about 50 times I thought ‘maybe I should wake her to alert her to this’ then ‘no, what’s the point?’ then ‘what was I thinking about’ then back to the start, in a cycle. I told her the next day but she didn’t really get it, and it took many more times of me crying at night before I decided I needed to do something.

      I cried on and off for a week about it. I felt paralysed in the bed and it has definitely affected me permanently. That time I went to bed cos she wanted me to go at the same time as her and I obliged her. So now I go to bed only when I can be sure I’ll sleep straight away, or have sex or read something I know will distract me for long enough that my eyes shut without my brain getting a chance to think in inconsequential threads.

      Anyway I wanted to say it’s important in these situations to focus on what you can change within yourself to adapt to your environment, and do your best to differentiate his intent from his procedure – for example he may say he will come to bed in 5 min but won’t come for 40. I don’t know him but I can make a guess, with my knowledge of ADHD, that he fully intends to come there in 5 mins but he gets sidetracked along the way, or he has a poor sense of what 5 mins actually is, or for 8 times he forgot when ‘5 mins ago’ was – in either of these ways he doesn’t intend to do harm. Please remember it, and talk to him, but remember to avoid talking about what he is ‘doing’ – because to him he is acting in a natural way and it’s perhaps the easiest way for him to get to bed. Rather, I suggest, talk to him about the effects on you of his actions and how those effects interfere with your emotions or your routine. There you can meet on a common ground to discuss it, and nobody is being aggressive or defensive. This way he can separate his action from the consequences thereof, and perhaps then he will find a linked solution or compromise. But for him to alter his learned behaviour so that it has zero effect on another human being is almost impossible, trust me – and if he does manage it, it will take so much time and effort it would be much easier for the other person to make the amendment, logically speaking. It’s a pity but this is why so many people with ADHD end up living alone and get lonely. It’s just a pity but it’s reality..

      All the best

    • #99572

      Do you have to share a room? I know it goes against the norm but we had an office/guest space and my husband started sleeping in there when I was sick and snoring. It ended up working out, he’s a super light sleeper and if he is woken up at night it takes him forever to fall back asleep. He doesn’t always sleep in there and of course we still have sex etc but when it comes to sleep it works for us. And I know we aren’t the only ones, I have at least one friend who is open about it and several co-workers. Just because sleeping together is the norm doesn’t mean it has to be YOUR norm.

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