ADHD individual: office failure, marriage in decline, seeking forgiveness. Advice welcomed

Greetings all,

This morning, I write from a place of sadness.

This year, I was diagnosed with ADHD (predominantly inattentive, also impulsive) I'm in my late twenties. While the diagnosis should come as no surprise given family history, difficulties in school my whole life, and other quirks (forgetfulness with placing keys, ability to think very quickly, racing thoughts, hyper-focusing to the extreme, difficulty falling asleep, night owl- not saying all ADHD individuals have these symptoms, but I do). I am now taking medication, but living in the shadows of my past failures. I'm very sad because my marriage is in decline and, as much as I want one, I do not have a career.

Despite my struggles, I do have a strong work ethic and I somehow managed to graduate college with a Bachelor's degree. Math and sciences were never my cup of tea, and my degree is in the liberal arts field, making the job search in our current economy along with my personal struggles in the workplace all the more difficult.

I struggle to maintain full-time work. In the past 3 years, I've lost 3 full-time jobs(one was purely due to the economic recession, not a reflection at all of job performance, but still difficult). The other two jobs were office-based settings which entailed customer service, multi-tasking on admin. tasks such as answering phones, filing, data entry, etc. The feedback from my former-former employer was that I was "slow" at completing assignments.  From my most recent former employer, the feedback is that I'm disorganized and lack follow-though. I work hard and don't sit around on Facebook at work or look up Lady Gaga videos on YouTube (which is more than I can say for my "focused" co-workers), but data entry goes slowly.

These last 2 jobs ended in a shit storm of emotion of me crying at work. One job was pre- ADHD treatment, the most recent one was where I tried to go the extra mile: try to show up 5 minutes early, take the shit night shift that no one wanted during a big sale, etc. I offered some suggestions to my last employer regarding how I could improve, such as system improvements or having meetings with department each morning, but they didn't want to work with me-just say SEE YA and move on to the next person. It just really hurts. I know I'm a very moral person with high ethical standards. I don't lie or steal or cheat. I don't eat animals or litter or wish bad things onto other people. I love reading novels and thinking about big ideas. I like apple picking in the Fall and swimming in the lake in the summer. The sun on my face after a long winter warms my skin.  

And yet, I can't seem to get it right.

I'm trying to accept my recent job loss with grace. It sucks, but at the end of the day, I know I tried my best: showing up early, taking medication daily, practicing meditation for a couple minutes, taking on the shit shifts during the big-sale, laughing at my immature supervisor's lame jokes. My next work chapter? I'm going to try freelance writing and see what happens. I've always been scared of it. Now, I'm horrified of the whir of the fax machine beeping near my highly distractable brain and the clinks of co-workers heels as they go for ice cream & gossip, and I'm hovering over my cubicle, mindlessly entering data and formatting Excel.

Furthermore, my marriage is in decline. In my prior way of being, I was extremely messy, hyper-focused on my job after Job Loss 1 and would get yelled at and thought of as stupid by spouse. The burning seer of unemployment was very deep, I did everything I could to maintain my first job after Job Loss 1. I hated this job, but somehow managed to be successful at this job prior to quitting & accepting a new job, which eventually resulted in Job Loss 2.

In my new way of being, I've managed to transform from a very messy individual to one who is quite clean and tidy most of the time. I'm very good now at taking care of routine cleaning matters, such as dishes, putting away clothes, cleaning up bath room, cooking dinner, mopping kitchen  etc and try to always make it look cute and cozy at home. I've identified that clutter is an impossible to manage devil for me, and strive to throw away, sell or donate any items I do not need. Regardless, I'm still not so great at non-routine matters, such as painting or noticing carpet stains, which invites my spouse to think of me as irresponsible. I take my medication regularly and follow thru with my doctor's appointments. I've apologized to my spouse that I moved so slowly in regards to accepting my ADHD diagnosis and treatment, but it's been a long road growing-up undiagnosed and with a family who never thought I had ADHD.

My spouse is the opposite of me in many ways, and we joke that he has ASS(Attention Surplus Syndrome). Despite our struggles, I still love him very much. We can still chat and laugh, but there is always a heaviness in his eyes, and sense of disappointment. I've asked for his forgiveness that I moved so slowly towards treatment, but I don't know if he can forgive me. Prior to educating himself about ADHD, he'd yell at me and call me stupid, which he now regrets. Maybe we are both living in the shadow of regret.

How do I get my husband to forgive me so that we can be happy again? I'm very serious and committed to my new way of being and have no intent to go back to my cluttered way of being. I love him-his laugh, intelligence, our chats, his looks. And yet, I know he feels disappointed and has lost trust in me.

Anyone have similar experiences, either at work or in marriage, or in both?

How do you move past the old way of being with your spouse, and allow the the sunshine to embrace your marriage again?

Good for you for making

Good for you for making changes.  I know that can't be easy. 

My husband has ADHD and he's tried to make changes in the past too.  But because of our history, it's difficult for me to accept them.  I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop which makes it hard to be happy during the good times.  Any genuine effort on his part is always temporary.  That may because I don't give him as much encouragement as he needs to continue.  It's a vicious cycle. 

My only advice is to keep up the good work and hope that your husband will realize that you have changed.  He has to accept that you'll never be perfect, but that you really are working hard at controlling your ADD.

Good luck!

Chin-up their Office person

Look, I have ADHD too.  I am so very sorry for the pain I have caused my spouse. but my regret doesn't assuage much of the anger.  Her anger is very deep, but to her credit, she is working really hard to try and over come it for her own, and our well-being.  I have caused such anger, mostly for unreliability. What has always been amazing to me and something I have only recently been able to truly understand is how some seemingly trivial action, or inaction, triggers a flood of memories for her and she can recount date and time of each and every like event.  For her it is happening all over again.  It comes across as disrespectful, demeaning, and very hurtful.  For so very long I just didn't get try to walk in her shoes, and when I did, (I had to cut the toes out), I COULD see what a hopeless position I have repeatedly put her in.

I shared with her the other day that I come to this site in much the way other people might use a devotional.  It may sound corny, but think of how often our spouses feel they have to remind us of things, or do remind us of things.  When I visit here regularly, it reminds me that this is an on-going process.  I scan the various posts to find something that pertains to my situation and or seems like something that has happened in the past.  It really helps for me to try and put myself in my spouses' shoes.  It helps me to refocus my energy on what can make things better and why I may have done something.  Unfortunately, I cannot undo the past and that is and will be a nagging regret...but only if I do not step up and make a go at honest change.  It sure isn't easy, because I have cultivated behavior patterns and responses for a long time that have served me but have also caused pain and hurt to others. 

I keep reading on this site.  I have tried to set some  achievable goals,('cause our spouses all know of the grand plans and ideas that are often devised) and take responsibility for my actions.  I think what has driven my wife round the bend has been the ease with which I find an excuse.  When you think about it, many of us with ADHD have lived lives that often yield screw-ups.  We don't try to screw up, but we do. 

Armed with a diagnosis, maybe some meds, we can use some of those positive ADHD traits, like hyper focus, and try to make our lives better.  Chances are really good that they will make those of our family better as well.  See if your spouse to work with you, but don't wait.  To our spouses, actions speak louder than words.

My wife has noticed some of my efforts.  Her response has fueled my desire to succeed on a bigger scale.  It's made a difference.  It hasn't dissolved the anger, for that has developed over a long period of time, too.  My solution as I said has been to scan the blog, read some accounts and reflect upon how that is or is not how I act, or react.  It took me a long time to develop some of my idiosyncrasies and it is going to take a while to change them...but it can be done and you can too.  You will be encouraged when your spouse responds positively to something you have tried to do and how that builds on itself.

Best of Luck!


My Husband Has Adult ADD

Thank you for your post.  I wish my husband had your attitude.  Finding this site has been a blessing for me.  I realize now that its okay for me to be angry.  That it is normal for me to be angry.  He continues to make excuses and blame my anger and hurt for his wanting to make changes and to try to make things better for us.  His medication seems to have made him worse than ever and our relationship has fallen apart.  I love him.  I am not in love with him anymore because of so much anger and resentment.  I want nothing more than to be in love with him again.  I want it to be him.  But unless he shows me that he will fight for us and to make things better by actions and consistancy, I can't open up my heart anymore.  I don't know how to get through to him.  He goes to counselling but his counselor enables him and feels sorry for him and makes it okay for him to think the way he does.  She has no clue as to what I am going through.  I have no one to talk to that understands. 

So sorry for where you are

So sorry for where you are right now. I am in a similar place with anger and resentment. I have learned that it is within me and I desperately need to find a way to feel better about me. You do too. All of the resentment and anger is at me, from me, too. I don't know if or when you may feel that too. Most important, keep reading, you won't feel so alone here and if you might want ti find something to help you rejuvenate you. Maybe you can look for an adhd counselor for you? I think I read on another posting that you are seeing someone too? His counselor is supposed to be compassionate for him. So, it may take a while. He may have to build your guy back up before he can start asking him to make adequate changes?? Just guessing. All of it is hard. I'm glad you found this site. Hang in there! There is so much information and help here. Did you buy any books? Have you read any of the books from this site?

Unfortunately, since this

Unfortunately, since this forum is predominately visited by the Non-ADD spouse/friend/family member I don't think you'll find a lot of sympathy or advice. A have ADD. I was diagnosed late in life when I was 29. I have been on and off my meds (while I was pregnant) and now I'm currently back on them again. My husband says he can see a big difference when I'm on them, even though I can't. I take them to make him happy. We have been together for 14 years now, had our share of ups and downs. Unfortunately too many downs because of my ADD. The thing I have learned is that the past can be forgiven but is never forgotten. I've hurt him too many times because of my ADD. He's told me time and again that now he understands why I do things and think the way I do and he tries to not get hurt or angry. And like your husband he regrets calling me stupid and lazy, assuming I was doing hurtful things to him on purpose in the past. But, even though he says he understands now I don't know if it has made it easier. He still gets hurt, even if he knows it's not my fault. I try my best to keep the house clean, but I'm constantly being told that the house is a "mess" or a "pigsty." Of course, even for the "normal" person without ADD working a full time job, doing all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, yardwork, paying all bills, taking care of the pets, and taking care of 2 young children is a lot to expect of someone. Naturally I'm far from perfect but I try my hardest. Most nights after I get the kids to bed I spend 2 hours cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry,getting lunches, school stuff, baby bottles, etc. ready for the next day. Maybe he thinks that what takes me 2 hours he could do in 20 minutes. Meanwhile he comes home from work, eats dinner, and goes into the basement to watch tv before bed. He doesn't see everything I do so it's like it never happens. He only sees what I didn't finish. I sympathize with you and your husbands ASS. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) My husband has a job that demands he notice everything and it drives me crazy. Like you I don't see the stain on the carpet or the broom that wasn't put away in the kitchen. He constantly "tests" me by waiting to see how long it takes me to put something away. Or he'll wait and finally do it himself, tell me he was testing me, and then chew me out for not doing it. When I say I'm trying my hardest at something he says I'm not trying hard enough. He makes threats as if that will make me remember the things I forget.

Quite honestly I don't think an ADD spouse and Non-ADD spouse can ever truly be happy together. I am a pessimist by heart but we are just too opposite. Even if they say they understand this is how we are they never accept it. They always want us to change and can't accept that we don't. Yes, we can change in small ways - make strides to improve our way of life. But, in the end it'll never be enough. I can leave myself notes to remember things, but if I can't force my brain to remember on it's own. My husband wants me to make things easier by doing things "his" way. He doesn't understand that "his" way doesn't make sense to me. I was keeping my pill bottles on the kitchen counter so I would remember to take them in the morning when I got up. My memory is a huge problem and I usually can't remember things unless they're staring me in the face. He said I should put them in the medicine cabinet because that made sense to him. But, I don't go in the medicine cabinet in the mornings so I would never remember to take them. I ended up putting them in my purse that way if I forget to take them in the morning I will at least have them with me when I do remember to take them when I'm at work. There are so many things I would do differently in our home if I had my way. Things would be organized in a way that makes sense to me instead of how he thinks things should be.

As far as work I am fortunate not to have the same issues as you. I think I have been lucky to find jobs that don't challenge my "problems" too much. I don't deal with phone calls or deadlines, other than my daily work. I know my husband wishes I had more "drive" and would find a better career, but he doesn't understand that there are things I know I can't handle so I don't put myself in the position to fail. Repetition has always been good for me and working on my own.

Ladyflower10, I'm sorry, but

Ladyflower10, I'm sorry, but that is one of the saddest stories I have read in a long time. You do more than your fair share and he does...whatever he does. Focusing on the negatives will not bring you both closer. By his constant picking, he is sabatoging all the good. If all he see's is negative, then how does this transfer to the kids. We have had this conversation many times. I always call it. Or, I try to, and I try to not do it too. I don't care about perfection, but I would like to get in the house and not trip each day in the garage. I was annoyed when the hardware and drills were left on the bed when he put up drapes in our son's room. I didn't say anything because at least he could hang them up. I couldn't and I tried. Does he see what he is doing to you? You sound amazing and i wish you didn't sound so sad and tired. : )

Yes a very sad story

Your husband sounds like he thinks all he has to do is go to work while you have to go to work and take care of EVERYTHING at home.  I have no idea why anyone would expect that, but it is unreasonable whether you have ADD or not.  I believe it making a list of everything there is to do and just being frank about how much of it you can reasonably get done with your work schedule.  He is going to have to claim himself some jobs at home to get everything done.


He also needs to learn some respect for different ways of thinking and doing things.  I am the non and I can see that his attitude is out of line.  However this statement is a complete falsehood in my experience:  Quite honestly I don't think an ADD spouse and Non-ADD spouse can ever truly be happy together.  ADD/non add spouses have particular challenges, but I think all couples have challenges unique to their situation.  I've been married to the love of my life for almost 10 years now (23 days till we leave for our celebration :D) and we are extremely happy.  We were married about 4 years pre diagnosis, we had a rough year post diagnosis where he was grieving and I didn't know why he wasn't DOING anything, but we are going strong and happy.  It absolutely can be done, but it does require teamwork, respect, and no one thinking the other is *wrong* all the time but working to come to compromises that work for both.

To Lady Flower

Dear Lady Flower--

You have written a very poignant letter.  It is also eye-opening to me. MY husband IS ADHD ( undiagnosed)---meets every diagnosis criteria---and yet he behaves  a lot like your husband: noticing the stains, stating the "right" ( his) ways to do things which don't make sense to practical me. Yet these very same "controls" , of course do not apply to his behaviour, and should I (politely) point out that, for instance, he left the sink full  of food ends when he did the dishes, instead of saying "Whoops, I'm sorry " & correcting it, there's got to be a long song and dance about why it isn't his fault ( and is probably mine in some way).

Unlike your situation, HE is the negative guy, and must make the negative comment, in almost every situation.  Yet, like you, he has a fearsomely bad memory---but UNLIKE you ( it sounds like you actually understand and quite capably cope with your issues if left alone----you go, girl!), and while he admits he has this, doesn't accept that someone else might remember something better:  i.e. he's GOT to  be right. (I wonder if this "got to be right " is an ADHD trait in some types?)

You wrote: "He doesn't see everything I do so it's like it never happens" In my case just change that last word to "happened". It is as if when he went off to work in the mornings and I was home with the kids, we disappeared. So little I say about the kids has much validity because of course "it didn't happen". 

We both now have our offices at home----I'm learning this is a bad idea for ADHD types--- when he drops in to my office for a visit, he's GOT to fiddle with everything that catches his eye( I'm an artist so my stuff is bright and colorful) . I've put dust sheets over every surface( very helpful and no nagging necessary) I'm not actually working on at the moment so that he will not get distracted and at least finish a sentence! But reversing the situation, should I visit his office ( a rat's nest of untidiness-) and express interest in an item, its being "nosy". Is he ( subconsciously) thinking I'm am being critical? I'm not.

So I, too, work hard to be "better", try my hardest. But I'm coming to realise that, until he gets some help, this is really stupid on my part because its not going to make any difference; there will always be something else......ADHD is a roller coaster for sure.

I wish that I could reach out and hold your hand----you've given me great insights into my own situation & that's  huge----AND I sense from your letter that you are as tired of "fighting" all the time as I am.   I am not sure how to approach the subject of him getting a good diagnosis, but your letter has given me some thoughts on how.

Thank you,



Forgivenes is easy when the same behavior isn't continuing

If you are saying sorry at one moment and then continuing to do the thing causing the upset/frustration, your mate is regularly feeling the same pain over and over and is probably building up walls and detaching from you to stop the pain.

You are making some serious changes that he hopefully notices.  If he isn't commenting on them (which is NOT the way to encourage an ADDer--praise is the way to go), it may be that he just doesn't trust the changes yet.  As soon as he starts believing in the changes, he will likely open back up to you.


How did he react to your apology?  It sounds like he had one to offer himself for the way he misunderstood you and what you were going through.  Those sound like some awesome first steps to me.  If you both see that you have a part in being where you are, then you can move forward as a team...not as one mate waiting for the other to 'straighten up and fly right'.

Another suggestion I'd make is to ask him what thing (or up to maybe 3 things) he'd most like to see changed in your interactions with him or in your home.  Do you level best to change the things that are most important.  I am a person to just kinda talks out loud as I notice things needing doing (kinda processing out loud) husband thought every time I was telling him that doing x y or z was of UTMOST IMPORTANCE.  I couldn't even fathom why he'd feel that way as I certainly wasn't making a big deal over my musings, but my husband isn't a talker, so for him to mention x y or z, it would have to be of MAJOR IMPORTANCE in his mind.  He was bending over backwards to do little things I was commenting on, and then dropping the ball on the big stuff. 


I think that has something to do with the hierarchy thing that Melissa mentions the ADD brain doesn't do automatically.  I don't receive 30 pieces of info at the exact same level of importance.   In my mind, as they come in, they are automatically shuffled into where they fit as far as importance.  I dont get thrown off by some random thing being added, but I recognize immediately that it fit in after 5 other things get done.  My husband will often immediately stop and do new things as they come in because they all seem to come at him marked URGENT. 

We have handled this by my trying to be careful about mentioning things that need to be done......and I never ever mention anything else while he is in the middle of a project........oh the ways I have thrown him off in the past without knowing it by doing that!  But his part of fixing the issue is to try to find out what things are really important and need to be done most importantly and which things are more 'if you have time' things.

Sometimes we just have to start figuring out the page our mate is on and work from there. Best wishes to you!