ADHD married to PSTD

Hello all,

I have Complex PSTD.  I don't want to get into details (I don't think I could these days)... I learned to manage it and built a life for myself, learned to give myself breaks, and coped with my sense of mistrust by being selective.  I even learned to feel "good enough" for myself.  Enters my husband...ADHD...Wonderful man, amazing hyper-focus courting....all great....then right after the wedding...I got dropped from his arms like a hot potato.  Do I have to tell you what that instant, inexplicable, sudden abandonment feels like to a Complex PSTD? ..what do I call myself? survivor of severe childhood trauma (which I compounded unknowingly by serving as an aid in emergency situations, military and otherwise).  Is like I forgot anything that had earned me the "good enough" peace.  I have spent these last year and a half working like a mad woman (seriously..I have whole 5'4" of self, repainted and repaired, and remodeled every room in his house...started the last room, the master bedroom, this morning)... why? to earn... I don't know what.  He is sweet..... he loves me.... but man he lives centered in his life, his wants, his video games... Example? We were together as man and wife 4 or 5 times in our first year of marriage.... for our honeymoon he brought his video games, and I found myself confused and "dropped" sitting at the beach alone... His finances were so bad (all found out after marriage bc he was so embarrassed to tell me before) that I had to use all my savings and retirement to "save him" the sense of safety that I earned with those funds is gone.  We have been entirely fixed on fixing his life....meanwhile I have been saying to his counselor, to mine, to him, to our pastor...I am about to break...I am exhausted... I have nothing to fall back ways left to earn anything...If he could not see me when i had resources how could he see me when I am spent?  So here I am... People must have thought I was kidding? seeking pity?.... I was not... It is so hard for me to ask for help...I was actually asking for help.... So I am in the breaking now...... I turned off all my communications with friends... social media, phone, etc... I seriously do not get how I was beautiful a year and 1/2 ago and now I look in the mirror and see an old and ugly lady looking at me asking...what happened?  We started counseling together last week... My fixing brain came to the realization that our problems are not so much ADHD (he is now on medication) and PSTD (alone I had been able to manage it), but what do you do when they marry each other?  He recently seems to have realized how deeply I have fallen into this oubliette... he is trying...but I feel numb...Then yesterday I tried to ventured out...Got time etc... to make myself obviously available... he came in he room started to give me a back rub (nice..right?) said he was about to go get an achievement in his video game and left.  Holy .... I mean... I know this is PSTD talking...but what do I have to look like to compel him?  I have arrived to a place when if anyone tells me I am beautiful, I scuff.  If he does..I look away.  If another man does, I feel mocked.  Next week I'll have no walls left to paint... what in god's name am I going to do them.  No ways left to earn...well..anything.  ADHD helps grow bad habits, and although he works on his ADHD, he does not follow through on things we have discovered helped...he is habituated to having others fix stuff for him...carry his burden...while he is the entertainment.  but he does not look funny to me anymore...all the jokes (usually all the same again and again) are now worn and puerile.  I am alone... I left my job etc... back in the old continent, from where I hail.  I know very few people... That is part of the odd stuff..he has hundreds of FB friends but he has no friends at all... ADHD style... He was the entertainment so long ...noone took him seriously,..and now he is stuck.  There are three men in my house.... The Hyperfocus him I fell in love with and went in a long away trip, the ADHD him that threw me down and now and again says oops, and PSTD (yes..I call him a man too...bc he is always playing power games with my soul, just like my dad did)... Maybe I just have to realize I will never have just the one husband to walk with.   I am breaking... and I do not know what to do...or if there is anything to be done.  It might be the end of the fight.  How to sit at ease with the end of the hope of one day finding a harbor and feeling finally safe could actually me.  I feel doomed.  Counselor tomorrow...clealy I have not given up just yet... but I feel so numb... I can see that is counterproductive ....and I can't shake myself out if it.  I shoved his hand aside the other day when he went to take over my computer (he has a hard time teaching by showing, he just takes over) ... he got so angry.... After  2 years of him living telling me he was super strong and responding to my "I am sorrys" when I accidentally bumped into him etc... with "what, i did not feel anything".... he goes and tells me for pushing his hand aside "You hit me, you are just like the people you told me about."  Who, you ask? the ones that spend my childhood throwing me down the stairs, hitting me with pipes... wait...I said no details.  I am just like them bc I pushed his hand aside.... Maybe he is trying to demonize me so he does not have to feel bad to see me break.... but now when I accidentally come into contact with him I feel panicked.  This romance feels like hells inside my cells.  If you know a road, please draw directions for me gently... I am able to take little at this time. Oh...and sorry if this sounds all wrong..English is no-where near my first language.  Sorry.

We are here for you.  Please

We are here for you.  Please do not give up hope.  Go to the counselor and pour your heart out.  

preconceived patterns

/Sigh.... so that did not work so well... Counselor insisted in these "generalized patterns" and even my husband was is not how it is manifesting for us.  So apparently the problem is that I "mother" him... Even though that is something we have worked on and my husband admitted that he tried to put me in that place but i would have none of it.  Aren't counselors supposed to listen first and come up with conclusions after?  Counselor said my husband is as he is bc that is what he knows how to do, so, it is up to me to change what I know to do, to survive, and go hands off.  I said... i have to do the bills... learned we have to play to each other's strengths and we live from hand to mouth.  Counselor:  what is the worse that could leave him?..I said "no...our children end up in the street...we have no savings at all after we fixed his debt and Sandy destroyed half our house."  He shrugged and said "So....You are going to just have to let it happen so he can be a grown up or not".... Seriously? That is an acceptable price?  My husband and I left there dumbfounded.  We both just said "we are alone with this."  He wants to fix it and it is freaked that his attention will wander again...and I am in frozen mode unable to even think clearly.  Counselor said it was his job to see patterns.  Not floating in the air, it is not.  He needed to talk to us to see "our" damaging patterns.  I feel as if I am stuck in the other side of the looking glass.  So lost.

Wow.  Right now, are you

Wow.  Right now, are you feeling like "I had to pay someone to tell me that?"  Part of it obvious, the rest misguided or wrong.  Geez.  If I can offer you anything constructive, I will.

MagicSandwich's picture


Um... your counselor sounds like a trustafarian idiot. 

Keep looking for a better

Keep looking for a better therapist. I have been through a lot of them (4 marriages); some are helpful and insightful, some are mediocre, and some are more damaging than your relationship! If your dh is willing to go, don't lose the opportunity. Quite a few offer free initial consultations on the phone -- take advantage of them and ask them how they approach a couple dealing with ADHD. You can even go to more than one initially, until you decide on who is most helpful. Don't give up too easily.

A bit stuck

We both have the desire and awareness that we desperately need help, but all the help we can get is a free counselor through a local program atm.  We are totally hand to mouth.

Sorry to hear that, but all

Sorry to hear that, but all is not lost. There are many many excellent books on ADHD, marriage communication, and anger issues. And loads of free information on the web. Make reading and talking about what you read a priority hobby that you do together. Even a therapist has to learn what they know from somewhere.

If you stay with your current therapist, you still need to read up to be sure you can filter out anything that may be harmful to you or your relationship. Trust your instincts. When its all over, you'll realize you know more than you thought you did, but you have to listen to yourself.

Mothering --- ugh. One counselor mentioned a parent/child dynamic, and boy did my X jump on that! Suddenly I was too parental. But counselor just didn't get that SOMEONE in the relationship had to step up to the plate and get things done! I'm not going to just sit back and let the world fall down around my ankles to illustrate to a spouse that it really will -- they don't care. They know it will fall down -- that's why they chose you.

I agree and don't give up

I completely agree with lynnie! I have seen five therapists over the years, three PhD psychologists and two licensed social workers. Two of the psychologists were pretty great. Of the other three, one was an idiot, and the other two and I just didn't click and wouldn't be on the same page no matter what. It is surprising how many out there really don't know what ADHD is or how to treat it. 

Anbe, hang in there! I felt so strongly for you with your post. You deserve and need help. OK, crazy analogy, but my own asked me, what if you found you had diabetes? Mental health issues are the same in seriousness, and it is that important at times to seek treatment. PTSD is a significant disorder and trying to manage it on your own has to be overwhelming. My workplace has a program that offers three free sessions for any mental health-related issue (I had to ask HR). Is there a church? Support group for PTSD survivors in your area? Get a small part time job to make enough to go? Can an MD evaluate your DH?

What I am trying to say is that you are worth it! You deserve and need help. Don't give up.  

I put cards on the table

Yes,..we have bough and I have read many books (he trails off so i get the info to him), he worked with a counselor and got medication also, and I did to through church.  I realized we need together counseling, so that is why we found this guy through a local free program.  We had a very hard conversation yesterday after the counselor.  I told him it was about time to put the cards of secrets on the table... As hard as I have worked not to mother him he works harder to get me too...I told him this goes beyond ADHD... he has clear infantilism tendencies (wearing diapers at night, for example)....calling me mama at the start of our marriage claiming that it was short for "sexy mama"... I nip that and told him I have a name and that made me uncomfortable.  I told him he was walking a dangerous road between the excitement of getting caught and the danger and asked him simply...what do you think would happen if your daughter found out?  She would tell her mom...who would love to hear it....who would tell....on and on...till his father would find out and be heart broken.  I told him that there is a huge conflict between these behaviors and him wanting me to see him as a protector, a grown man, to feel safe with him, etc...  He simply cannot have both.  I don't think anyone ever showed him the flash cards so clearly.  He said he would train himself to sleep without diapers again.... so we read about how and he stopped drinking fluids after 6 pm.... I was calm but firm ... I think I was able to show him how he has been trading off the precious (ie..time with his daughter) for the mundane (time in his video games)...and told him It is part of being a grown up to exercise self control and to fix your own problems...It is ok to ask for help..but not to pass your stuff off to others.  He is not talking to me atm.  He is very attached to the diapers...sad really...bc his anxiety dreams are all about being caught.  I think it is hard t deal with his ADHD bc of my PTSD..yes... but there is so much more there making it hard to function as a couple of grown ups tackling a problem.  No wonder i am so tired.

Your honeymoon sounds a lot

EDITED: Anbe, I just read your last post. I'm kind of speechless about the whole diaper thing. I think he has issues beyond ADHD, so my advice below may not apply. Filter at will.


Your honeymoon sounds a lot like mine. We had some good times, but I was thoroughly upset to discover that he was basically an insomniac and felt the need to prowl at night, even in a foreign country. He came to bed at 3am or 4am after spending the evening at the local pub. It was tough to take.

I echo the others in that I definitely think a new therapist is in order. He sounds like he has no compassion. He should be able to do more for you than just "recognize patterns." He should be able to help you break these patterns.

My hubby has ADHD and I think, mild PTSD from where he was a cop. It seems to be under control for the most part now, but there was a time where he would get violent, not with me, but towards himself. It broke my heart to see him in such pain. He has a lot of deep seeded issues from his past--he was adopted and while loved, he says he never felt like he fit in. I don't know what kind of past your husband comes from, but keep in mind, just as your past affects you, his affects him. He may paint a rosy picture of things but the truth is that we all carry around wounds.

I agree that you need to seek some help for yourself. It sounds like you may have seen a counselor in the past, but it's obvious that your marriage has set off some past wounds. I know mine did. It was like my hubby was the fire and I was the fuel. I think mental health care is a continuous thing. We may survive on our own for a time, but life has a way of playing off our weaknesses or at least kicking us when we are down.

Try, try, TRY to see that your husband is working to rectify the situation. If you read some of the stories on here, you'll realize that that is HUGE. So many spouses on these boards refuse to seek help or even to recognize they have a problem. Your husband needs emotional support, though I can see that you are probably not in the right frame of mind to do that for him. I know it's hard when they say they need something and we feel like we have none left to give. I know it's hard when we need emotional support and don't get any because they are not capable or aware enough to give it.

The one thing that stood out to me is that you took a lot on in your relationship, and I'm not sure if it was necessary. My husband has debt, about $3,000 that has been in charge-off purgatory for five years because we haven't had the means to pay it off. Sometimes you just have to let things go. I'm focusing on paying off my own debts because I have managed to keep payments current, even in the worst of our financial struggles. When money is available we will see what we can do for him, but we cannot send ourselves to the poor house in order to so. I know you wanted to help, but it wasn't the best decision to spend your retirement paying down unsecured debt. Especially if he didn't ask you to. If he did, then well, that may have caused a problem for you to refuse, but what's done is done. 

Two main things. One, you have to quit projecting your couple problems onto yourself. You are beautiful and if you need his reassurances that you are so, then it's something that you need to take up with a counselor. Sure it's nice to have daily reassurances from our spouses, but I think you'll find that this is an issue even in "normal" marriages. We don't always remember to say something in the daily hustle and bustle of life. We have to have an innate confidence in ourselves and should never look to anyone or anything to "complete" us. I know that defies society's rules: we are programmed to believe that we'll be happy if we have the perfect spouse, the perfect kids, the perfect job, etc. The one thing I've learned out of all of this is that if I don't like myself, then nothing and no one is going to change my mind.

Two, the big thing is that you have to let go of the past and you have to accept him as he is. If you can't do that, then you are not only shortchanging yourself, but also shortchanging him. I struggled for so long not being able to accept that my husband wasn't who he was when we dated, I blamed him for misrepresenting himself, etc. But once I laid aside my hurt feelings, I began to see that he wasn't so different than he was when we dated. I started looking hard at the past and I saw the clues that I failed to see while we dated. So it was me that was blinded and I had to take responsibility for that. Now I can appreciate who he is. He still makes me laugh, we have fun together, I love him. There are bad days (last Friday sucked pretty bad), but I have to keep moving forward and not get mired up.

Good luck to you. Please get some help...some "good" help.