My Forum Comments
I was diagnosed at 53 years old – my hubby could probably share a lot of “good” stories with your wife. If you’re not seeing a therapist, you may wish to consider doing so. My hubby and I went to sessions together, and she taught us a lot: I learned ways to be a little less chaotic and annoying and he learned how to work around my deficiencies. One thing that is working out really well is that he agreed to be my “ADD Coach.” Basically he calls me out on my dumb moves, and then helps me figure out ways to avoid the issues in the future. It was REALLY hard on both of us at first – he’d do the coach thing and I’d reply by bursting into tears and proclaiming, “You don’t love me!” We’ve been working on my ADD together for about six years now, and it’s better – not 100% “normal,” but we are pretty happy together. 🙂 If you think your wife would have trouble “bossing” you around, or if you think you might have trouble accepting constructive criticism from your wife, you could hire a professional ADD Coach… good luck to both of you – it IS possible to live – happily! – with ADD!
“How do I get my husband to realize the pain the rest of us are feeling is a healthy reaction to his unhealthy behavior?”
Unfortunately, I don’t think you can… if he’s willing to see a therapist, he or she may be able to do so, but I suspect that ADD works like other mental disorders – if someone is not willing to accept that they have a problem, there’s not much anyone can do. This is complicated by the fact that we ADD folk often honestly have no idea what we’ve done wrong to cause the chaos.
“The fact that you appreciate your spouse’s help is also key!”
That wasn’t easy, either. I think it took at least a couple of years before I was able to accept my husband’s coaching without bursting into tears or thinking that he hated me (Yeah, he deals with my chaos for 37+ years because he hates me – ha ha – you see where my twisty little brain takes me sometimes?).
“Thank you for your perspective!”
You’re more than welcome. I hope your husband will learn some new tricks sooner rather than later. Good luck to you…
“…it’s more like the condition PREVENTS my husband from being AWARE of his symptoms and their consequences!” – I know I can’t speak for all ADD folk, but yes, that is it EXACTLY. 30 years ago, my hubby thought I was doing these things on purpose. My husband came with me to the head doctor for the dx – when she asked, “Do you ever interrupt?” I said “No.” Hubby incredulously said, “She does that ALL THE TIME!” I honestly have no clue that I am doing a lot of the stuff I do… I often find myself in the doghouse, AND I HAVE NO IDEA AT ALL WHAT I’VE DONE TO GET INTO TROUBLE!! It took my husband a long time to realize that he had to carefully explain that he was angry because I was ignoring him… only when we got to the point where he could point out that my ADD was leading me into trouble and *I* was able to learn to accept constructive criticism without throwing a hissy fit, was I able to actually begin to LEARN. I know that “normal” people don’t have to have everything explained… people like myself can’t perceive many things without having our faces rubbed in it (metaphorically speaking, of course). Your husband has to realize that he DOES have a problem – and then he has to learn to work with you so he can learn to work around his handicaps. Once again, it comes down to a lot of hard (and psychologically painful) work. My hubby and I go to all my ADD appointments together and he is my ADD coach (my doc recommended it, and helped him learn how to do it without going nuts)…
- This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by DonkeyLady. Reason: spelling error correction
Yeah, squirrels… 🙂 I’m the ADD head in my relationship and I’m sure my behavior is sometimes pretty annoying to my husband. But I don’t yell at him and I at least try to stay on track (even if he has to remind me once in a while – okay, MORE than once in a while). He gets thanks for helping me and sincere apologies when I screw up badly. The problem you’re describing is not plain old ADD… yes, We ADD’ers honestly can’t help the way our brains are wired, but we CAN help how we treat others. It’s a LOT of work and will never be “perfect,” but your spouse can at least TRY. I had to accept that something was different about my brain’s wiring, and then had to accept that my brain causes me to sometimes do or say things that drives other people nuts. It really is hard living inside my own head, but there’s no excuse for spreading the pain around to my loved ones. The solution is NOT to sit back and say, “Not my fault, it’s the ADD.” I had to learn strategies to help me not interrupt, to keep on task, to keep track of dates and times, to not be so bloody ANNOYING… especially difficult when the dx comes in adulthood: I was 53 years old so I had decades of bad habits to unlearn… Six years later, and I’m still not “perfect,” but I know I never will be 100% “normal.” My husband has long ago accepted the fact that our life together will always be a bit unusual, but we’re happy anyway. I suspect non-ADD marriages aren’t automatically a piece of cake, either. A happy marriage is hard work, but is totally worth it. Good luck.
My hubby has two signs posted over the oven: “Put a lid on it” (to remind me how to put out the – thankfully now very rare – fires I sometimes set while cooking) and “Stand by your pan” (to remind me to not set a pot of rice or something cooking and then wander off to do something else). I once set the toaster oven on fire, and when throwing salt on it didn’t work, I raced it through the house and threw it into the driveway, where it eventually burned itself out – the kids were all toddlers and thought it was the best trick they’d seen in ages (“Do it AGAIN, Mom!”). My hubby didn’t know whether he should laugh or cry when he got home from work. Some years later, after the kids had moved out, I had my nose in a book and didn’t notice the rising cloud of smoke behind me on the stove until the fire department was ringing my doorbell – we were managing my in-laws’ farm and the place was wired to summon the FD: I was too immersed in the book to even notice the loud siren clanging outside. Luckily, it was a small town and the volunteer force was extremely amused – unluckily, it was a small town and I rapidly developed an “airhead” rep. 🙂 Yes, a sense of humor is key to survival!!!
Maybe large signs might help at your house: Maybe something like “Call the doc!” and “Homework: It’s a Daily Thing.” You guys sound like you’ll survive… the madness makes for good stories once the incidents age a bit! 🙂 Good luck.
One more thought on this issue…
I’m pretty sure that one reason my husband is so patient with me is that I am willing to at least TRY to mitigate my most annoying symptoms. One of you compared ADHD to having a broken leg – I think physical analogies are imperfect, but are good at explaining the fact that we ADDers can’t help the way our brains work… but that does not mean we should sit back, let the chaos fly, and sing, “Blame it on my ADD, baby!” If we behave like that, our partners would be more than justified in their annoyance! 🙂
My head doctor once told me that she believes that ADHD is a normal variant of brain wiring, one that was important for survival in pre-industrial days, but it often leads ADDers into trouble nowadays. To live in the modern world, one has to learn to live by the modern rules. I learned that I need to adapt. Hence the calendars, timers, checklists, meditation, and medication… On my doctor’s advice, my husband became my “coach,” calling me on my ADD-isms, so I could then learn to avoid or at least mitigate the fallout occasionally caused by my ADHD behaviors (Note: I would recommend becoming your spouse’s ADD coach ONLY if you have a strong, well-established marriage – my ADHD was not diagnosed until I was 53 years old – I very much doubt that my 23, 33, or even 43 year old self would have tolerated it!) – hiring a professional ADD coach might be safer for younger marriages…
I think I am more creative and empathetic than the average bear – I am also more sensitive and prone to unintentional mistakes than most – I suspect many of both the positive and negative aspects of my personality are due to ADHD. It’s the way I was born. That doesn’t mean that everyone else has to bend over backwards to accomodate my eccentricities, though. I work hard to try to fit into a world that depends on schedules and social niceties – in return, my friends and family cut me a little slack when my behavior runs a bit off the beaten track…
I’m old enough to be your mother – in fact, my youngest is your age and my oldest is the same age as your boyfriend – so please forgive me for the maternal tone. I would strongly suggest that you and your boyfriend hold off on moving in together and get some couples counseling before proceeding any further. Based on what you’ve said, it sounds to me like this relationship is not ready for the commitment (and hard work and stress) that is necessary for successful cohabitation. You don’t trust him, he refuses to discuss things that you consider to be important, and he’s driving you nuts – things won’t get any better if you move in with him… in fact, I suspect, they’d get worse, but then you won’t have to option of being able to go home to your own place to decompress. I sincerely hope you find happiness and security, with or without your young gentleman… please tread carefully…
Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. I didn’t even know that that awful, horrible feeling that consumes me when I “fail” had a name: The “Shame Gremlin.” I’ll definitely remember that (I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 53 years old. I’m pushing 58 now).
BTW, it is definitely possible to raise kids when one has ADHD – I did it, too! The meals were a little irregular, the house was pretty messy and disorganized, voices were often raised a bit (or a lot!) too loudly (sometimes in anger, but often in joy), but the kids had a lot of fun and were happy most of the time. And all-in-all, they grew up into pretty darn awesome adults. 🙂 Thank goodness the whole “helicopter mom” thing wasn’t a thing back in the good ‘ol days, or I’d have been facing a whole flock of those shame gremlins!!!!
Another practical tip from the grandma: Weekend batch cooking! Maybe this could even become a fun family project. Planning the week’s meals, shopping for ingredients, and then cooking up dinners for the next week on Saturday and Sunday was a lifesaver when our kids were little (or at least a sanity saver). Before we started doing things this way, I would often come to the end of the day and realize that there were suddenly four pairs of eyes staring at me hungrily, expecting a dinner that I’d forgotten to cook! With the new system, it was so wonderful to suddenly realize that it was dinnertime, reach into the fridge or freezer, zap it the microwave, and voila – hot, homemade meal (almost) right on time! 🙂
My hubby jumped right into this routine – he loves organization! He and the kids helped me to decide what meals were to be cooked that week and all five of us went shopping at the grocery store for ingredients – yes, very chaotic, but we wanted the kids to learn how to choose food and it was kind of fun, too – besides, there was no extra cash around for babysitting in those days! 🙂 Hubby and I cooked together on the weekend, and the kids pitched in a bit, too. He always made a big batch of chili, a family favorite. I always made a batch of pizza dough and popped it in the fridge after the second rising: Pizza night was the kids’ favorite meal, when they each got a round of dough so they could create any kind of pizza they pleased.
Your seven year old is probably old enough to help out with weekend cooking projects, and it might help her learn to get things done despite her ADHD… and maybe even show her that an ADHD brain can sometimes be advantageous. I credit the extra creativity that allows me to transform limited and inexpensive ingredients to tasty meals to my ADHD… 🙂
We had three children, about two years apart, and our eldest has ADHD as well… I think life with toddlers is chaotic under any circumstances, and the toddler years were definitely crazy for us!
My hubby makes me sit down and come up with the checklists. Then, for bigger projects, he has me break down the list into mini-checklists, so each step has to be checked off. Then he goes over the lists with me to make sure they’re practical (I’m not so good at practicality).
For example, you mention that your wife needs to get treatment lined up for your daughter – you can help her get a checklist set up for the project, including every tiny detail (e.g., find counselor, make appointment, etc.) and then print it out in a monster-sized font and post it on the fridge (or some other obvious place where it won’t be lost or buried)… explain (again) that it is very important (which she probably knows – I know from personal experience how easy it is to be distracted away from projects, even when I know how important they are) and explain that it’s super high priority, even more important that getting the dishes done… Then when your two-year-old interrupts her as she’s proceeding with arranging your daughter’s treatment, she can later look at her checklist and jump right back into the next step (hopefully, instead of diving into some other project).
It’s okay to feel frustrated. It’s even okay to express it… My hubby and I found therapy to be helpful. He learned how to tolerate my idiosyncrasies a bit more, I learned how to develop a tougher skin so I could accept constructive criticism a bit better, and we both learned how to communicate better – our minds run in different tracks, so learning to communicate is important (I’ve learned that telling him, “The thingie is on top of that big thing in the garage,” does not help the average person find a tool on the workbench)!! It helped a lot… Good luck!!!
I’m the one with ADHD in our house – we’ve working on year 37 now… 🙂 Yes, I recognize how frustrating I can be to live with, and my husband recognizes that it’s unintentional – I *AM* trying as hard as I can, and so is he…
One practical tip that’s helped keep our lives somewhat sane: Checklists. A checklist for long-term projects, broken up into steps. A checklist for every day stuff, even things someone with a non-ADHD brain might consider to be obvious (like, dishes, a bit of a bone of contention in our house, too, but I’ve gotten better with them). I’m not saying checklists solve all our problems, but they do help.
Timers are helpful as well – if your wife is anything like me, she has absolutely no sense of passing time. I hate wearing a watch, but I do bring one outside with me when I do the gardening – my hubby will give me a time I need to come in to do something else, and I set a timer on the watch so I can’t forget… otherwise I’d be outside until the sun sets, and then wonder why my husband is annoyed!
Good luck… keep a sense of humor, and remember to love each other!!!! 🙂
My “Affordable” Care Act insurance is pretty useless for mental health meds. I use goodrx.com – they negotiate good prices with the pharmacies and pass them on to folks at no cost. I wouldn’t be able to stay on my own meds without them. I just go go their site every month and look up my med (generic ritalin in my case). I then get a listing of pharmacies with the price discounts offered… I print out the coupon and head out to the cheapest place. My hubby figured the pharmacies participate because it’s a way to get folks in the store (and then spending money on stuff besides ‘scrips). I just looked up 120 tablets of 10 mg generic Adderal, and it costs $68.48 at Walgreens through Goodrx. More than $10, but way better than $795. I’ve never had a problem with them and highly recommend them… you don’t have to sign up for anything and it’s a free service. Good luck to you.January 3, 2019 at 9:33 am in reply to: Bullying, PTSD, Learned Helplessness and my life now #106120
I’m almost 59 years old, and I understand where you’re coming from. I was just diagnosed with ADHD five years ago – previous dx’s included depression and GAD. I was bullied in school as well – in the 60’s ad 70’s, it was just the way it was. I never told my parents, because there was nothing they could have done about it. Stephen King literally saved my life – the movie, “Carrie” had just come out, and one day when I was surrounded by a group of taunting girls I just snapped and started screaming at them like a banshee. They all backed away and one of them said, “Oh my God, she’s just like Carrie.” I was left alone after that day. 🙂 I hadn’t seen the movie (no money for movies in my house!), so I went to the library to find out who this “Carrie” was and thus began my life-long love of Stephen King’s books – very cathartic!
I still punch myself and hit myself in the head sometimes… 🙁 I am also working hard on fixing this, but I have over half a century of bad habits to relearn, so it’s taking a while.
Pain causes your body to create endorphins, something we ADHDers tend to have too little of – there are healthier ways to get those endorphins than banging your head: Music, dancing to said music, exercise, meditation, HUGGING(!!!!) – even eating sweets is better than hurting yourself – says the woman who just ate two ice cream sandwiches half an hour ago – they were low fat, at least… 🙂
We ADHDers are wired differently than most people, but that’s not all bad. Find your “superpower(s)” and revel in it. If someone gives me the right book(s), I can learn anything – I’ve since learned that this is probably due to ADHD “hyperfocus.” I used to be a nursing assistant and I had a special gift with working with people with dementia – I was able to relate to them on whatever wavelength made them most comfortable, even if that wavelength was 80 years into their past- most people don’t want to look “weird,” but I am way beyond that worry by now! 😀 My ADHD causes a lot of problems for me, but it also gives me the ability to do a lot of things most “normal” people can’t – I’m learning to live with it. A lot of people are put off by my odd behavior, but I’ve decided that my ADHD symptoms provide a good litmus test for friendship. I have very few friends, but I know that those friendships are real.
I’ve been married to an amazingly patient man for the past 37 years. He accepted the ADHD dx before I could – when the psychiatrist began to describe the symptoms, he suddenly said, “Well, that explains a LOT.”
Just remember, you’re not alone. One piece of advice I can pass on: Be kind to yourself. It’s so important, I’ll repeat myself in all-caps: BE KIND TO YOURSELF. I wish good luck to you…
- This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by DonkeyLady. Reason: A bit of explanation
“All Dogs have ADHD,” by Kathy Hoopman – a short picture book, but don’t let that fool you. I’m almost 60 years old and I love it. It does a great job of explaining how it feels to have ADHD… it describes my personality in a nutshell! 🙂