3 months in. So depressed

I've been married to my adhd partner for 3 months now. My husband is a wonderful guy. He's so bright, intelligent, and fun. He's also almost completely irresponsible and (unknowingly) self-absorbed. I guess I could say our marriage is fairly typical of an ADHD marriage. He holds few household responsibilities (I do ALL the cooking - he refuses, I do 95% of the cleaning, I remind him to pay bills, etc), ignores problems then stonewalls me when I bring them up, and has this amazing way of turning me into the evil shrew wife whenever something goes wrong. He is partially treated. He has medication but is still looking for a good one that will take his health insurance. He's medicated intermittently because his psychiatrist will prescribe him medication then his insurance won't take it so he goes unmedicated till his next visit. (Easy solution - ask for a backup prescription!)

I'm at the end of my rope. I'm likely clinically depressed. We used to function so well. We'd talk through our misunderstandings and now I bring up any problem. When I do bring it up, I end up yelling at him and raging. He used to comfort me when I was upset. Now, when I cry, he walks into another room. He says he's waiting for me to calm down so we can talk. I just feel ignored and dismissed. I'm fighting really hard not to emotionally disconnect from him.  On the other hand, when he's upset I do everything I can to console him. I thought that's what you did for the people you love. I've started to resent him because he dismisses me when I need him but I never do that to him. I sometimes wonder if he's just manipulating me to get me to behave in some specific way. 

I was in therapy before I met him too. I used to be depressed, didn't know how to deal with anger (my family's way of fighting was to scream), and had feelings of abandonment. I got through those issues in therapy and became a stronger person for it. Now I feel like I just married someone who epitomizes all of those old feelings. He makes me feel angry, depressed, and abandoned. It's like I never escaped. All of the good things I worked for have all become unwraveled. Before therapy, I used to believe that I was never destined to have a happy life and therapy changed that for me. Now, I think I was right before.

I've talked to him about therapy and reading this book. He seems willing to go into therapy but I had to put the phone number in front of him with his phone to get him to make the call after weeks of procrastination. He had a rough childhood and battles depression, feelings of abandonment, and binge drinking (he doesn't drink often but when he does, he doesn't know how to stop). He keeps saying he'll read the book but after weeks of begging him to buy it (and almost buying it for him but he stopped me), he still hasn't done it. I feel like if he could just understand my perspective that maybe he would stop seeing me as such a horrible person. I don't want to be this way. I hate myself.

Feelingcrazy: I feel your pain!

I wish I had some suggestions or words of advice to make things easier on you and to give you something substantial to hold onto during this time. I don't. But it might help a teeny tiny bit to know that there are so many other spouses out there in the world who feel the same way on any given day. I could have written so much of your post myself, it's spooky.

You're in a difficult spot if your husband won't take ownership of his ADHD -- I've realized myself that there is no way you can make someone change when they don't want to. You can set up the best possible conditions for them to make those first steps, but you can't move their feet for them.

I told my husband several weeks ago that the only hope I had at this point for our marriage was for him to read Melissa's book. That's it. I asked him to please, please read the book if that's the only thing he would ever do for me. This was after yet another hysterical crying jag of mine. He said that he would read it. He actually said he would. And then it sat there...on the night stand....for what seemed like an eternity. He did truly start reading it one night, but then seemed to forget about it for several more days. I gently reminded him that it would mean everything to me if he would read the book. Of course, if he feels like I'm telling him to do something that's the quickest way to make him refuse to do something. But he has read a bit more over the last couple weeks. Not sure exactly what he is thinking about it.

The most amazing thing that happened so far was him coming home from work one evening and saying that he hadn't realized how lonely I had been feeling the past 5 years. I had always tried to get him to understand the frequent sense of isolation and emptiness I feel even when he's physically present with me. I guess I hadn't conveyed my feelings in a way that made sense to him. But something in Melissa's book got that concept through to him. He said he was sorry -- that he never wanted his wife to be lonely with him. I cried on his shoulder. It seemed like a real honest and hopeful moment for us.

I'm not saying that things have turned around for us. But it was a glimmer of hope. I cross my fingers and pray to my Father in Heaven that he will continue to read the book and to be open to what it says. I guess I feel like anytime I try to say some of the things that are in the book, he closes off his heart. He quietly leaves the room when I break down sobbing. I don't have a way to access his sympathy or compassion, it seems. But maybe hearing these things from total strangers in a book gives my situation legitimacy.

I know it feels like giving in to buy the book for your husband yourself -- that he could at least make that small effort -- but it might be worth it. My mother-in-law bought it for me and I read it and underlined all the sentences that I felt I could have written myself. Then when I gave it to him, I told him that I hoped that the book would help him understand me and my frustrations better. I asked him to mark in the book the sentences that described how he feels and his frustrations so that I can then understand him better. I think that approach helped it not be so threatening to him. It gives him an opportunity and someone else's words to let me see inside his mind a bit more clearly, which I'm sure is something he thinks would make me a better partner. So it is in his interest to read it and make sure that he underlines all the parts that point out where I'm doing things to screw up our relationship. That's fine with me. I don't really care what his motivation is for reading it, as long as we can start to honestly address our problems.

I'll let you know if this approach works in the long run. But I do see baby steps in the right direction. I'll send you my best wishes that you might begin to move forward with your husband as well.



Dear feelingcrazy,

If you can do it at all, go back to therapy for yourself soon. Consider it a gift that you are giving to yourself (and something that may save your psyche)! I have every hope in the world you can work this out with your DH, but in the meantime, you need to take care of yourself and not "hate yourself." I hear you -- I have been there, sister, with the depression, and the sadness that my DH sees me as a horrible person, the him walking into another room when I would cry after we started off as people who could talk about things. I realized that mine, and this seems common, would do anything to avoid being "badgered" or bugged by me about anything he didn't want to or couldn't deal with -- going to therapy, cleaning up his tools, "talking" about an issue I had or any emotion on my part that wasn't happy. I would wail, "I can't TALK to you." Over and over. There was something about these things that set off so much stress for him that his brain would do literally anything to escape it--run away, yell back, tell me I was wrong, make me feel unreasonable, and then finally, be sarcastic and verbally abusive: anything. And all the yelling back or crying or chasing him around to be heard or feeling bad on my own--did. not. change. a. thing. Just made it worst and I would keep repeating this cycle, feeling alone, unloved, and abandoned. Don't let yourself get to this point!!!

Full disclosure: my marriage is in the crapper right now, but I can tell you--I let this pattern go on for way, way too long, and unfortunately, if I had figured out what was going on earlier, I may have been able to work with DH to have it turn out differently. I know for a fact I wouldn't have felt so rejected and sad all the time! There are those on this site who are able to figure this stuff out and are making it work. Melissa, Sherri, and others. Look at their blogs and posts. For me, I see now, that the pattern of going in, over and over, trying to make him hear or see and get the response I needed, that I was wiring myself up emotionally to need -- for me, that was being co-dependent. I was basing my entire feelings and reaction on his reaction, hoping for him to just suddenly "see" and act differently, and each time, doing the same thing over and over, but hoping for a different result. Which, as many 12 step programs define it, is insanity. 

One thing therapy has done for me is help me stop, take a look, and identify those things I can and cannot control. The stonewalling/implying that you are a shrew/not being able to make the appointment unless you do it for him or help -- these are all things that can be part of classic patterns of relationships between those with ADHD and non-s. It does not mean he does not care about you. In the end, you will need him to acknowledge this stuff and bring his own part of it to the party, but in the meantime, you will feel a lot better if you take care of yourself. Hang in there!!

I second Lynninny's Suggestion

Get yourself to a therapist stat! I know exactly what you are going through. It just seems like they throw a switch the moment they walk back up the aisle after taking vows. It's the strangest thing ever. I made it eight months before the depression set in, but that is only because we didn't live with each other for the first six months. By the time our first anniversary rolled around, I was sitting across from him at Applebee's (because we couldn't afford anything nicer), thinking I barely knew him. I finally got some counseling and it helped to some extent; the real help didn't come until he moved out to take a job 100 miles away. Then a whole new battle ensued when the job played out a year later and he refused to move back in, but is a story for another time.

After moving to be with him last year, and his continued refusal to move back in with me, I started seeing a counselor again. It worked for awhile but then it became apparent that I wouldn't get much further because I had so many unresolved issues with my husband. It actually took me being pushed to my limit and telling him I was filing for separation (ha! we already were technically...) a few days before Thanksgiving for him to truly understand how bad off we were. We've been in counseling for close to a year now. We've made progress but recently I've been struggling again, feeling like we aren't making any progress. I finally texted him last night and confessed all this. To which his response was that "we're married, we've got to make it work." I tell myself that I should just suck it up and resign myself to living separate lives, but it's a hard notion. I told him I was afraid of making 20 years down the road and having nothing to show for our marriage but gray hair and bitterness. When he got off work this morning and came home, the first thing he did was hug and kiss me and tell me that we would work it out...that he would sacrifice, make changes, etc. I wondering if he will be singing the same tune in counseling tonight. And honestly, I think the thing that is bothering me the most right now is that he's not doing anything to treat the ADHD. He has meds but he won't take them because he says he crashes when they run out. God forbid he explain that to his doctor and look into other options. So until then, he continues to stay up at all hours of the night when he's not working and he's flunked out of three of the four classes he attempted this semester (now we have to pay back tuition for the grants he received). I'd even be happy if he could find a counselor or psychiatrist to teach him better coping methods. He doesn't seem to be able to separate the ADHD and his personality vs. the effects of the ADHD on his life, my life, his family's life, etc. It's all together and take it or leave it.

Anyway, get yourself some counseling and then maybe after a while, see if he would be interested in going with you. That's all you can do until he is ready to "see the light" and get some help.

Hang in there. We're all in this together, so to speak.

Thank you!

Thank you - all of you - for your supportive comments. We got into a massive fight over something fairly small but I managed to turn it into a - you don't respect me, you don't care what I think - argument. When everything blew over, we were both super depressed and just openly talked about how we felt in the relationship. He said he's afraid of me. He feels like he can't do anything right and I'm constantly attacking him. I told him how lonely I felt and that I feel like I'm the only one who is trying to repair the relationship. He tried to make me understand that he's actually trying (seeing a psychiatrist, he did finally call the therapist) and I should give him some credit. It was really hard for me not to remind him that I was the driving force in his seeking help. We also decided that it would be good for me to go back into therapy - to help my depression and help me regain control of my anger. I'm trying really hard to be hopeful about all of this. I feel like we've gone down this path of "lets do something about it" and then nothing happens. We both have a strong desire to get our relationship back to where it was. I hope that we'll continue on that path.

Interestingly enough, I had

Interestingly enough, I had the same conversation with my hubby last night. We had a rather intense therapy session with our counselor and on the way home, he said that he was sorry if he was neglectful but he was afraid to engage me a lot of the time for fear he would say the wrong thing. I feel similar as it seems like whenever I try to discuss my feelings with him, he hears something entirely different. The counselor picked up on it last night when he was saying, "Why should I even try? She thinks I'm a failure...she wants a divorce." The counselor was like, "I didn't hear her say any of those things. She said she was frustrated and didn't have much energy to keep pouring herself into the marriage when she has trouble seeing positive change."

After we cooled down, I asked him how I should express my frustration to him and he told me to tell him if I was mad about something instead of letting it snowball into something so monumental that I was desperate for change and so depressed. So I'm going to try that because he is right. I start thinking about one thing and it keeps escalating until I'm in full freak-out mode.

I think I need to start seeing the counselor on my own. I have to learn some coping mechanisms. I told him last night that I've never dealt with adversity very well. I would have a major freak out about something, then swear that I was going to have faith and trust God, and then freak out again the next week. I don't know why...it makes me sad that I don't have more discipline.

Try to be positive. You're only three months in.

If it helps, you aren't alone

I've been with hubs for 5 years. I have always thought that I was crazy. He has always told me I had problems, I'm abusive, I treat his children horribly and that is why they have all these problems. Lord knows, the problems couldn't come from being drug babies, being raised by a Dad who loves them to death but cannot offer consistency or stability. No, it's because I expect them to clean up after themselves and go to school. Being codependent eventually made me succumb to the typical codependent line of I have to take care of everyone. So yes, i've been a little over zealous lately. 

I can't afford to see a counselor so have started rereading my codependency books. I have chosen to detach. When he is an ass, I just stop responding. When his children don't clean up after themselves I don't say anything. I either live with it or clean it up. If his kids go to school, I just don't care anymore. F's? so what. I hate being this way but this is the only way I can save my sanity. honestly, I have told him he needs to see a dr. and he is doing so. They prescribed strattera and it made him very sick. He had an appt this morning so we will see what the dr. did. 

I need him to be doing a little better because having 3 people with ADHD in the house is becoming unbearable. I need him to be sort of functioning. I think once his kids are gone it will get a little easier. The youngest turns 16 today so 2.5 more years until she graduates (if she does).