What does it look like when you effectively treat ADHD and your life starts to turn around? Here I've reprinted a recent post that says so much about the hardships of the ADHD experience and what can happen when things start to change. Thank you, ptc909294, for your contribution.
"I am 50 years old and was recently diagnosed with ADHD. Apparently, no one other than me, was surprised by the diagnosis. My wife and I have had almost a non-existant sex life for years. While it left me angry and resentful, having been placed on medication (vyvanse 30mg) and going to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at least once a month has enabled me to see past myself for the first time, probably in out 23 years of marriage. For the record I was diagnosed in January 2009.
From January through July I grew very angry and distracted at home. My wife wanted me to stop taking the medication, and had I not been going regularly to CBT, I might have agreed to do so. However, slowly I began to recognize that the anger was really directed at myself. It was as if a giant ship was slowly turning around. My wife was always the brunt of my anger. However, as I began to see clearly just how I had been living my life, albeit for the first time, my anger grew even more. When anyone is that angry, there is no way one can have any relationship with them.
I had come to the realization that had it not been for my wife, we/our family would not have many of the wonderful things we have today. A home in a nice neighborhood, a son off to college-and the money to pay for it. Whether by way of ADHD or selfishness alone, the results were/are the same. She was always left alone and waiting for the other shoe to drop. I slowly forced her into the role of parent and I accepted the role of a child. I was always good at apologizing but, in retrospect, I failed to do so with the true remorse of someone willing to change. Therefore, trust, ever slowly eroded, never returned. The scary part is that whenever caught in some tangled web of my own creation, she would scream, I would apologize, and inside wonder why I had no feeling of remorse for whatever injustice I had done. Intellectually I knew what I had done was wrong, but had no feelings toward it. I was frightened that I was truly broken in a significant way.
Over the past few weeks I have finally filed three years of back taxes. As I put the peices of my life together, and reviewed the bills that so vividly highlighted my shopping impulsivity and other excesses, the weight of a life poorly lived sat on me for the first time. Imagine what it might have felt like to feel for the first time true remorse, all at once, for so many wrongs perpetrated. While I could point to ADHD as the reason, it did not remove the responsibility. I cried over these emotions. I apologized for the sins of my past, and over the past several weeks changed in a way that my life depended on it. My wife said she is seeing for the first time the person she thought she married.
The things she lived through: alcohol abuse, infidelity, unpaid taxes, job changes. Maybe not all ADHD related, but maybe they were. The result is the same: distance, lack of intimacy, eroded credit rating, etc. With an understanding of ADHD I can see these things as the actions of someone-me-with a problem that was now being treated. And no, we have not had sex in over a month (I used to say we had sex once a year whether we wanted to or not) but every day I make sure that I sit next to her on the couch, hold her hand, call during the day to see how she is feeling, and try to live my life from my heart. I love my wife and am willing to wait to see if she can heal. I realize that there is something greater in life than me and my problem(s). I see my family (19yr old boy, 17 and 15 year old daughters) as an entity to be protectd whereas before I just saw my self as one of five. My entire view of who I am is undergoing a dramatic change. I do not know where it will lead, but I do know that everything I do going forward will be done with complete honesty and transparency. And I will be willing to accept the results going forward. I do not know if we will have sex, or even remain married. But I do know that whatever her choice, I will be either the best spouse and father one could ever know, or the most supportive ex-husband. Granted, we are still more likely to end up on Jerry Springer rather than Oprah, but we are moving in the Oprah direction.
I wish you peace, you and your ADHD spouse, in whatever direction life takes you. My path has been very difficuly and it woul have been easier to give up, but I feared I may loose my soul in the process and never get it back."
(Question from another reader...)
Wow, thank you so much for sharing. I'm sure any of us non-ADDers would be encouraged to see an ADDer recieve revelations like you have. What did you feel was the turning point? What suddenly gave you remorse and feelings? My husband definitely has neither of those things and it's so hurtful. I can only pray that my sweet husband can feel those same things you're now feeling! Now that you've recognized some of these things, what do you feel are some things that your wife can do to support you? Luckily my husband doesn't seem to have much anger, I have more if it myself even being so frustrated with him. Anyway, thanks again for sharing.
(Response to the question...)
"When I was tested for ADHD in the beginning of the year, they asked me what I wanted to get out of treatment. I told them that if I could just find my wallet, keys and cell phone each day, I could pick up weeks of time each year!
Everyday for me was a struggle, and I didnt know why. When asked what would I put on my gravestone one day, I simply replied "I Struggled". My wife and others would tell me how frustrating it was watching me struggle because I was my own worst enemy. I was an average student in school, and didn't exhibit the hyperactivity that some parents experience with their kids. Of course, the nuns back them would have killed me if I didn't conform. However, papers and homework were always late or forgotten. When I attended public HS my C's and occassional B were enough to hide me from attention.
I went to a State school and continued my average performance. My SAT Scores were low (440Math/460Verbal) so I began to expect average performance. I wanted to go to medical school and while my father supported me, there was nothing in my past that proved I would suceed. But, I went back to school took the science prerequisites and no one was more surprised than me when I pulled a 3.95GPA and was asked to enter a graduate program for Organic Chemistry. Of course I thought I was fooling everyone and was waiting to get caught. Now I realize that the seeds of the low self-esteem were already sown by the time I reached high school and by grad school had been giving myself negative feedback for years. I couldn't understand how I could be doing so well in a much more difficult school in a much more difficult major. Unfortunately, my father passed away suddenly and I couldn't continue. I even had received a grant to do cancer research at NIH. When you think you are fooling everyone it is difficult to accept success. So, I went into the business world.
As life got busier and more complicated I fell behind. By now I was married and my wife's career was taking off. I slowly took on the traditional male role of paying bills, etc and failed miserably. That was when the mistrust started. I just couldnt manage to get the bills paid and in the mail. I would forget constantly. When my wife would pick up the slack I would be relieved inside, but also became resentful of her! That was when I became to child.
Fast forward to last October when my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had to pick up her results of a mammogram on my way home from work. She was on pins and needles waiting for the results. I walked in the door......without the results. She was crushed and I took my typical defensive stance and yelled back at her. The fact was not that I forgot them, by the time I left the office, it wasnt even in my mind or on my radar screen. It seemed that whenever I tell someone that I will do something, I automatically check the box in my head that it is done, and forget about it.
I am also sober. I have been sober since 1/4/2002. I walked into AA, not because I thought I had a problem with alcohol, but because I didn't understand just how I could not care about anything in life nor show any remorse. I was frightened.
My wife and I were at the point this past summer where it was time to separate. Even our marriage counselor (our 5th!) thought it was time to move on. I was behind on my taxes and had to get them done so we could begin the process of separating. As I waded through the years of information and disorganization-and was working with a great accountant that knew I was ADHD/AA-we pieced my financial life together and it just hit me. Everything. All at once. I mourned for 2 weeks a life that had been poorly lived. Luckily I was seeing a CBTherapist twice a month so I had someone to talk to about what I was experiencing. It was more difficult than recovery for me. I couldn't work for 2 weeks. I was in mourning. My therapist told me not to run from it but sit still and feel it-for the first time. I finally felt connected to life. As painful as it was, I could feel. It was amazing. I real gift.
In retrospect we always felt like there was a third unseen party in our relationship. We just didnt see it as ADHD. Gina Pera's book "Is it You Me or ADD" was helpful to my wife. But I see this as my problem and I need to do the things that enable me to live in the world.
I would be more than happy to answer more questions but that's it in a nutshell. The book doesn't have an ending but it is wonderful to be an emotional participant in my own life. Everything is changing. I will let you know how it goes."