My Forum Comments
October 31, 2017 at 6:32 pm in reply to: I don't know how to tell my parents I failed this semester #66912
— You are at a transitional point in your life when you are shifting from doing things your parents want and/or demand that you do to — let’s hope — to doing things that you want to do. Part of growing up and becoming independent is being honest when it’s not easy and … standing on your own two feet.
— Now is the time to be honest with your parents about “certain subjects.” If you have ADHD — especially if you are unmedicated — you are not going to like or excel at subjects your brain doesn’t want to do. That’s just fact. It does not make sense to keep beating your head against a wall. It’s much better to do something you love, like ….
— Music. What does it say that you have tons of energy to do this during your free time? Perhaps you have other interests you are also passionate about. It seems that it’s also time for your parents to get honest — honest about who you are and what you love and what you like to do. Chances are, they want you to follow a certain path because they believe that’s the best way for people to succeed. But you are not people. You are you. Sounds like you need a different path.
— Medication. It’s very admirable how hard your parents worked to try to deal with your ADHD. But you are an adult now and it’s your brain, not theirs. Take medication or don’t, but it’s your choice. (I take a stimulant and it changed my life.)
— Feeling stupid: Give yourself a break. College is a big challenge to people with ADHD, much more than high school in my opinion. The demands on the executive functions of the brain can overload one’s ability to cope. There’s more work and less structure. More time management and prioritization of tasks. You are up against much more than most other students and much more than you probably realize. All the things to keep up with can sneak up on you especially if you are …
— being around the wrong people. I take this to mean partying, abusing alcohol and drugs, and/or doing other non-school and non-beneficial activities the wrong people are so well known for. Here is another place to be honest. How big a problem is this? If you think you have a drugs or alcohol problem or the like, changing the people you are with might not help. It also could be the case that you are self-medicating as a way of increasing the dopamine in your brain. When I started taking ADHD meds, I stopped self-medicating and I know others with the same story. However, people can also become dependent on meds. It depends on the person and what they are taking, so educate yourself about that if you choose to take meds. I’m not a doc so I’m not giving advice, just passing along experience in the general area of this issue. Others may have different experiences.
Go and tell the truth. Resistance is futile.
I’d like to add my two cents here, basically by picking up on some of the thoughts others have offered. I have ADHD, diagnosed at age 45, was married almost twenty years — a marriage that had a lot of love and a lot of rocky times as well.
Expectations and agreements. If you have no expectations regarding your partner and his ability to be anything other than who he is, then you will never be disappointed and it will be easier to love him just how he is now. If you have expectations, replace them with agreements. (Expectations are toxic and actually cowardly, because if I have expectations that means I am making my happiness contingent on someone else’s behavior. Can I control someone else’s behavior? No. I am responsible for my own happiness.) Or if you have any want or need that requires your partners participation, then go for an agreement. Get his buy-in and his ideas about the agreement and how best to make the agreement work. If he agrees to do something, and then has a hard time living up to that agreement — hint, this will happen and maybe a lot — then that’s an opportunity to figure out what was going on and how to make a new and better agreement. Or to drop the one if it turns out to have been unwise. Get his buy-in and his ideas on how to make the agreement work. Let him use his creativity. Observe if he is ashamed if he fails to keep an agreement or if he knows how to still feel positively about himself even when he makes a mistake. Especially when he makes a mistake. Praise him lavishly when he is doing well and observe if he gives himself credit when he achieves or does something that feeds your relationship in a positive way.
I don’t mean treat him like a child, which he is not. I just mean that it works better to keep things positive and away from shame.
I highly recommend books by Melissa Orlov. A great benefit of this reading is learning how to see ADHD for what it is as opposed to misinterpreting ADHD and instead seeing character flaws and forming negative judgments (which activate shame and withdrawal on his part) and result in a downward spiral.
I wish you both all the happiness in the world … Good luck!
Wow, this situation sounds tough. It sounds like you have struggled mightily to improve the relationship. Also, that he has at least tried several things. Sounds like you both are terribly frustrated. My heart goes out.
I’m wondering what the consequences are to his ADHD. To him and to you. It sounds like there are lots of consequences but they are different for both of you. If he acted differently — coped better with his ADHD — how would life be different? For him and you? How would it be better and how would it feel? It seems that a big part of the problem is that he does not see how life might change. Does he want to change? If he does, what are his ideas on how that might happen? Do the two of you actually want something similar enough to pursue as a couple? Or is there no real common intention? Is there a positive vision that he can buy into and agree to pursue as best he can in a partnership? If not, then it seems like both of you could actually feel ok about having done your best up to this point and moving on.I don’t doubt that he’s doing the best he can. Same with you.
I should say that I am a man with ADHD. I was married for almost twenty years. I had a wonderful wife and I have two incredible children. But I no longer have a family. A lot of that was due to having undiagnosed ADHD for most of my marriage — so many destructive patterns became entrenched. But there was another factor I would say. In the past, for me to change, compared to non-ADHD people, the consequences of my actions had to be severe. Sometimes, I had a hard time knowing the true value things and only realized how I really felt when it was too late. If there is a way of communicating the value of your life together, the value of your relationship, getting him to see that, maybe that is part of the answer. Maybe he can’t see it unless the threat of losing it is very real. I don’t know. I’d have to know a lot more about you to know what else to say. These are just reactions and thoughts that came up as I read your story and the other commentary. I pray that both you and your husband find some relief and some way out of the frustration you are in. Andrew
That’s quite a harrowing story you tell. I have an older brother — 18 months older — who has been a lifelong addict (alcohol and drugs), and I realized at one point that I had always been afraid and anxious about what might happen to him. That’s been bad enough, but I’d take that any day over being a little kid and fearing for my own safety.
I wonder where you find things like joy, happiness, and fulfillment in life. It sounds like through work, at least to some extent. That’s big.
I acknowledge you for getting past keeping the story of your life, your feelings, etc. “bottled up.” For most of my life, I was terribly ashamed of myself and felt like there was something wrong with me. Well there’s nothing wrong with me. Nothing wrong with you either. Opening up about shame is a good way to take the power away from it.
Hello Cluttered —
First I want to acknowledge your struggles and the magnitude of what you’ve been up against all these years. I was diagnosed at the age of 45, which is hard enough! You have suffered an awful lot.
Is it correct for me to infer from what you say that you are not seeing a Psychiatrist but rather a personal physician? Given the severity of your ADHD, your anxiety, and spending “compulsion,” it seems that it would be perhaps crucial to be seeing a specialist in these areas and for being on the best medications at the optimum doses to take priority over who is prescribing. It seems that more specialized support is in order here.
Saying that men are “not supposed” to have ADD or depression and anxiety is a negative self-judgment. Is it really true? What informed person says those things? It’s a fact that millions of men have ADD and the anxiety and depression that often comes along with that. It’s a physiological, genetically influenced condition like being tall or good at playing a musical instrument. We have a choices about how to deal with the condition and we have choices about how we feel about ourselves, but not whether or not we have ADHD. I happen to love my brain. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good at a lot of things and it’s also the only one I’ve got! If someone wants to try and judge or stigmatize me because of my brain, well I won’t let them do that. They don’t control how I feel about myself. I do.
I can share a little about my experience with the thoughts in my head and how I was able to get my very active “stream of consciousness” to settle down a lot. First, I learned that I am not the thoughts in my head. I am more like the Consciousness that can observe all those thoughts. Second, I stopped identifying with the content of those thoughts, which for me and many people are highly self-critical, ego-driven, judgmental, repetitive, and fear-based. We think in words, and our thoughts in our heads cause emotions — and anxiety — in our bodies. It gets to be a vicious cycle — critical and fearful thoughts lead to anxiety which leads to more thoughts and on and on. The trick is to disrupt this pattern. When I stopped identifying with the thoughts and paid attention to what I was telling myself and how untrue the chatter was, that helped. Then, I started choosing to think positive and affirming thoughts. I started to feel better. Another thing, I got in the habit of observing my mind work — and over-work. Through mindfulness and meditation, I practiced slowing and temporarily stopping the flow of thoughts. After a while, my mind stopped racing and settled. I found that for myself mindful observation is an irreversible process — once I caught on to it, it was like a light went on and a process started that helped me a lot. So, by becoming observant, more self-aware, dropping self-judgments, and adopting self-nurturing and affirming habits of mind, life got a lot better. I hope this is helpful. Andrew
Let me start by acknowledging your frustration as well as your interest in helping your husband’s situation and improving your relationship. Being in a marriage with someone who has ADHD can be maddening, more maddening than your partner probably knows — and I say that as a man with ADHD who only realized the magnitude of the effect of his ADHD after it was too late.
From what you have said, it is impossible from my perspective to offer much in the way of advice regarding medication. Your husbands medication may or may not be a problem. There may or may not be some other condition that is hurting his work.
However I do think it’s possible to make a few observations about communication.
On one side, you note that he says he feels his medication is working, and is “super stubborn” about considering alternatives. On the other, you feel his medication is a problem and are “very frustrated” with it all. You are “losing your patience” with his “stubborn attitude. I get the impression that the two of you have gone around and around on the topic many times and are entrenched in your positions. From your perspective, that’s very logical. After all, he’s been laid off from his job. Maybe if he just found the right medication, all these problems would go away. So why won’t he try?
The problem as I see it is that the two of you are no longer hearing each other or communicating at a level that will move this issue — or your relationship — forward. You are locked in conflict on this issue, and from experience I fear maybe on many other issues as well.
Let me tell you what I think he is going through. First of all he is very ashamed of losing his job, and he’s probably extremely frustrated — likely more frustrated than you know — at all that has happened. He may be at a loss regarding how to do better the next time. When you confront him about his medication, I suspect that you — unintentionally! — activate his shame and feelings of unworthiness, which causes him — involuntarily! — to become emotionally flooded out, shut down, angry, irritated, and uncommunicative. His lack of openness or ability to communicate in turn makes you even angrier, so you turn up the volume, so he shuts down more, and on and on to chronic unhappiness on both sides down a road that leads to a not good ending.
If this is the case, if this is a pattern, doing more of the same will not work. You both are well meaning and doing your best. But you both are continuing to take actions that are counter-productive. I would say try something different. Plan a place and time to talk about these issues when both of you are calm and not in conflict. If he is in a defensive, shame-induced crouch, you are not going to get through to him. Come at the problem from a place of compassion and curiosity. Imagine that your husband is not being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn but that there is something else going on — like perhaps, he does not know what to do or how to explain himself and that he really does not believe other medications can help him. Or just believe him when he says the Adderall is fine and then ask what else is going on and how can you talk about that in a loving and supportive way.
This is hard stuff. It requires letting go of very logically understandable resentments and grievances and of knowing best and being right about what’s happening. And that is just on your side. I recommend reading books by Melissa Orlov who is very insightful into just the kind of relationship troubles you describe.
I would also observe as others have that your husband might be in a job that’s not good for him. Why is he having these problems “handling certain things.” One of the most important things for anyone with ADHD is to be in a job they find highly exciting, interesting, and of value. Even if he is a genius he will not be good at doing a simple job if he doesn’t like it. It’s not a character defect — it’s his biology; his type of brain. If this is the case, I’d say support him in finding a job he loves. You’ll be glad you did.
Last thing, I would ask if there might be a way to get him more information and knowledge about what non-ADHD partners go through, which might lead to him being more understanding and compassionate towards you. A good ADHD coach could help with all of the above.
I totally agree that a second opinion is in order and that your first evaluator seems to be misinformed. Sigh. It seems to me that you strongly identify with a profile of ADHD and describe a lot of prevalent symptoms accurately. So, yeah, try to find another diagnostician and see what they say.
Regarding ADHD with anxiety, I can personally relate. Social situations and speaking in public in particular make me anxious. One other topic you might want to read about is Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, which basically means being extremely sensitive and anxious about rejection. My understanding is that being very sensitive to rejection is a very common aspect of ADHD, and that people with ADHD are apt to experience rejection very strongly. That means we might become anxious when rejection is simply a possibility, and want to avoid that kind of situation, as with meeting a new person or being in a group. Some people have extreme RSD, which can be debilitating. Sometimes people try to overcome their rejection sensitivity by being perfect and above reproach. Boy, that sounds like a good time!
Good luck getting the information and answers you need and don’t stop until you are satisfied you know what you are dealing with!