Getting Out of the Post- ADHD Diagnosis Doldrums

ADHD Marriage: 

It is common that people diagnosed with ADHD as adults go through a period right after diagnosis in which they seem to make progress, then get into the doldrums.  Adults are different than kids.  With kids, the natural forward momentum of their development help keep progress with ADHD treatment headed in a positive direction.  With adults it’s just the opposite.

Recently diagnosed adults often fall prey to their disappointment when the forward momentum of their treatment slows down.  This is because they have a long history of pessimism, shame and negativity related to their ADHD experiences to fall back upon.  When their momentum stops, it is easy to dig into their experiences, and become negative all over again.

Ned Hallowell discusses this syndrome in detail in his “Don’t SPIN” chapter of “Delivered from Distraction” and includes specific ideas about how to get out of the negativity adults bring with them once and for all (or at least most of the time!)  One of his most interesting ideas, I think, is that people who are trying to improve their ADHD symptoms need a “productive, creative outlet”.  Creating something, whether it be learning how to cook, writing a diary, singing a song, or creating a more positive set of communication patterns with your spouse, provides a natural forward momentum and provides positive feedback.  Both Ned and I use writing as a creative outlet.  Ned considers his writing to be one of his main resources for controlling his ADD symptoms.  I also use music and (when I’m in the mood) cooking as ways to stay creative.

Last night I went to a meeting of a new concert band starting up in our town – it’s for adult beginners (you don’t even need to read music!) who want to (finally) learn to play an instrument.  The band is part of a nationwide movement to bring music to adults called New Horizons.  As I was sitting there, listening to New Horizons players from the Portsmouth, NH group talk about how great their experience making music has been I thought of all of the adults with ADD I know who would love to try something this fun.

If you find yourself, or your spouse, in the post-diagnosis doldrums, find a good creative outlet that can provide productive forward momentum for you.  You may not be lucky enough to have a beginners band just starting up in your neighborhood, but use your inborn creativity and let yourself go!



I have been married to my husband for almost 20 years. We have two wonderful children and share a successful business. But I am not happy in our marriage. I am overburdened with responsibility and I cannot count on him for much. He is wonderful in a few areas, but I am growing old and a little mean as a result of carrying so much more than my fair share of responsibility and work...He on the other hand is very busy having fun...sometimes it seems like his life is a party. I also used to like to have fun, but I kind of forget how...I am always so busy just trying to keep things together...and I mean necassary things like keeping the business going, getting the kids to school, paying the bills, fixing the furnace, making sure the cars are serviced, Dr. appts., etc. Anyhow, I know that my husband suffers from adhd. His mother even told me that as a warning when I was pregnant so that I would watch closely for it in my own kids. My husband has suffered his whole life...he was horribly bullied as a child and has never fully gotten over that and projects his fears onto our son. My husband and myself and are both sober alcoholics in AA. He has 21 years and I have 27. It was harder for him to get sober than me....I think because he was self medicating...he also preferred methamphetimine and is still a HUGE coffee drinker. Anyhow, my dilema is thia: we have been to many marriage counselors over the years and they have always suggested that he has adhd and should seek treatment. He has never agreed. He has had a belief or fear that if he admits this problem, then he will have to take medication and then he will not truly be sober in AA. So about 2 years ago, he went into private counseling for a period of time and this therapist (whom I never met), told him he did not have adhd or depression or any other diagnosis. Or this is what he tells me. All of the times that we have been together in therapy, I have come to know that he does not tell the therapist the truth...I do not even think this is intenetional , but his self awareness is limited in some areas and so he only gives partial information to inquiries and when I have been present, I have been bold enougth to speak up and offer the whole truth, and many facts, whcih he then does agree is probably true and then voila...everytime a diagnosis of adhd and usually coupled with bipolar or depression.....although really I think that his depression is just a byproduct of his untreated adhd. I love my husband and he is wonderful in many ways and I want to have a happy marriage with him. We talked again yesterday and I told him how frustrated and unhappy I am and that I think he has adhd and needs help with learning how to live with it. He said maybe that's true and that he would go an get a diagnosis if I would set it up with somebody who absolutely specializes in this. But I want to go with him....not becasue I am overbearing and want to to in control of it....but because I am growing weary in this marriage and I do not know how much longer I can wait for him to start to get some help....and if I am there, I can at least be sure that the information that the diagnosing Dr. is getting is accurate. What is your suggestion? Where do we go for diagnosis and can I sit in on the question/answer portion? P.s. I am so relieved to have found this blog...I have been reading entries all morning and relate to MOST of them.