After 30 years living with ADHD partner, now need to help ADHD daughter with her problems

After living with my husband for 32 years, and suffering , grief, loss, being constantly lonely, raising 3 children almost single handedly and working to make ends meet, while he squandered our money, spent most of his spare time out enjoying his latest hobby (hyperfocus) completely oblivious to how much I was hurting, I  finally found out that he has ADHD -   He is still in denial, but at least has attended 1 appointment with a Psychiatrist after I threatened to leave 2 months ago.

I have been reading books, research articles and of course stumbled upon this site, which has been a godsend for me and my sanity, because I have been making excuses for him to my family for our entire life together.  Often taking the blame for  his indiscretions.

My daughter was diagnosed about 18 years ago with ADHD, when she was aged 9, however at that time they told me nothing and no recommendations.  Due to my daughter being quiet and not having any behaviours associated, was more the inattentive type, but very disorganised, untidy, never finished anything and really slipped under the radar back then.

However now at 26 , she has gone through, severe money problems, prioritises self and her needs always at expense of others close to her, unable to take responsibility for anything that she does will always blame others for her mistakes, very defensive always and takes every comment personally, alcohol issues, untidy to the point of being unhygienic in many ways,  several broken and unhealthy relationships, a marriage that was abusive and only lasted 1 year (thanks goodness),during her time with her husband (2.5 yrs) she rarely saw any of the family,  and she has now jumped straight back into another relationship only 5 months after leaving her husband.

After finding out about my husband only recently, I tried to have a discussion with her about it, and that she had been diagnosed as a child, but we had never done anything about it and I didnt really want to give her a 'label' at that age and make her feel she was different, so I suppose I just managed it by myself, really not knowing what I was dealing with.  I must admit I feel really guilty now, for not trying to find out more back then, but I was just fobbed off by the Doctors.

She said she could see why her father (my husband) had ADHD she could see it, she even said, he's never been good with time, money, coming to family things, staying out late every night of the week, severe memory problems, learning problems, never finished anything he started, hoarder, over -the-top when it came to his hobbies - she agreed with all of them, but when I started to say something about her, she said she was nothing like that and couldnt see any similarities with her life or problems.  (it's quite funny, because when I had discussion with my husband about daughter, he said "I dont know why she is like that - I cant believe she does those things"  but cannot see it in himself) Oh Humm Sigh!!! Am I only one has this problem.

I tried to explain to my daughter that everyone with ADHD was very unique in the way that it presented , and that I was not comparing her to her father, just to perhaps learn a bit more about it, so she can maybe not repeat some of the mistakes/choices that she has made in the past.  If she became more aware of her ADHD and the reason that some people get upset with her and do not understand why she is the way she is.  She is currently living with  my youngest daughter who is struggling living with her, and is at the point of telling her to get out.  I feel for both of them. The youngest is doing everything and feeling the stress.

I am still struggling with my own relationship after 32 years of marriage, so there is still hurt and bitterness to get through, but I dont want to be alone at this late stage in my life,  and we are trying to work through our problems, but I am tired  and now I'm trying to help my daughters through it, one who is trying to live with her sister who has ADHD the other is one with ADHD and in denial.  

Everything was going fine when they first moved in together, but now older sister has found new boyfriend and that is her total focus now, and is leaving behind all her responsibilities that she previously agreed to when she moved in with younger sister.  I can see things are starting to come to a head, but feel really helpless.

No amount of explanations to either daughter is helping, one is angry, hurt and now resentful the other is in complete denial and happily going on her way with her current focus thinking that younger sister is just unreasonable and she is not going to change for anyone she is not doing anything wrong in her mind.

Ive tried explaining to youngest about ADHD , but she is at the point of I dont care what she has, what she is doing is unreasonable, and the problem is that everyone who see's what my  ADHD daughter is doing - can only see the same thing, whats wrong with that sister/daughter of yours.

I really want to help both understand, and work with each other, but my daughters have had to live with their ADHD sister for many years and I think, they are now sick and tired of excuses being made for her and their patience has been depleted -  As I only know too well, living with  it for 32 years. (not knowing what I was living with before now).

I know communication is the key, but at the moment its all a one way street -  I want to keep neutral - but its hard when Im still struggling with my own relationship with same problems.

ADHD is a vicious vicious problem, that seems to raise its ugly head over and over again, I only wish that I was the only one in the family who had to cope with an ADHD partner, I wouldnt wish living or having it  on anyone else in my family, but unfortunately it is hereditary so the cycle will continue through the generations.

Any help/suggestions appreciated.

I've been in my "living hell"

I've been in my "living hell" for 29 years (not knowing what I was living with until a diagnosis approx. 3 years ago).  Still dealing with the denial and grief that surfaces after the diagnosis.  Husband remains stuck with many of the issues he will continue to face for the rest of his life.  So sad for the rest of us, when we know if he would put in the necessary effort to make his life better, it would be a win/win for all parties involved.  (Any effort on his part, as long as I can remember, has always been for his benefit only.  Because of this, it has really taken a toll on our relationship and his relationship with our daughter)  Same scenerio here, me doing pretty much everything single handedly while husband out spending excessive amounts of money on various hobbies and living in his so called "life is great" world, with no regard for how all of this was affecting the people closest to him.  I just hope for his sake, that he will be able to maintain "living in the present moment" so regret never raises its ugly head.  Time will tell!

Sorry, I got off track a little bit.  Our only child, (I don't think I could have handled anymore and I totally admire those of you who had more than one.  I don't know how you do it.) came along after 8 years of marriage.  He tried to come across as the strong one but deep down it scared the crap out of him and he has been running ever since.  Our daughter is now 21 and luckily because of my husband's diagnosis, we are now able to recognize that our daughter has a few ADHD symtoms, too.  Nothing drastic, just some procrastination issues, but she has always waited til the last minute on anything having a time line, and always comes out smelling like a rose.  It drives me crazy, as I am not anything like that, but I have come to accept that this is just the way she is.  Only other thing is that from time to time her room looks like a tornado has struck.  Eventually, she straightens it up once she can no longer move around in it without tripping over something.  I have reached the point where I have also accepted this.  

I believe my saving grace in all of this was that a long time ago, as my husband continued to run from many of his responsibilites, I was, as I see it now, blessed with this responsibility and tried the best I knew how to keep stability and structure in our lives.  I thank GOD I was!  Now, hopefully, she can live a somewhat 'normal" life with our knowledge we have learned about ADHD.  We also talk very candidly about all of the issues and struggles that her father and I have been through and can only pray she doesn't make the same mistakes.  I will strive to keep her on the right track.  Her priorities and values appear to be right on.  For this, I am thankful. 

Here's hoping you can get to a peaceful place with your daughter's problems.   


Unless your daughter has had a positive diagnosis, I urge you to take heart.  These symptoms you describe sound like merely young adulthood.  :)   I am the non-ADHD partner in my relationship, but I too was a messy teen and took me a while to keep house the way I ought once married.  I had plenty of friends (still do!) that are the same way.  My mother and father both were procrastinators in some areas and so I learned do a little of that too.  In college, I was smart enough to get away with it.  Maturity and having to be the responsible one in our house now has shaped some new thinking. 

Here's to hope and encouragement to you.

so how do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time. When I realized that I had grown up around family with (what could very well be ADD) I was overwhelmed. My father, my sister, then my husband who was diagnosed with ADD (like, how did that happen? I tried to be sure I married someone who was the opposite of my dad!) Later, my daughter was diagnosed as bi polar which could still be ADD I think because she is really like her father. She doesn't talk about it and is not being treated. For a while, I just thought they all had the same "personality".

So there's this big elephant in my life and it is challenging to keep it from being the obvious center of attention. My father and sister were both loud, attention seeking, always demanding their own way. As soon as I could move out I was estranged from my father. I remember him as an angry, verbally abusive man who picked on me about nothing like the way I sat or laughed or because I was reading a book in bed. Then my sister. I was the oldest and Mom trained me to do whatever it takes to keep her happy. She quickly learned that she would always get her way. The thought of it all was so overwhelming I told my husband I would leave him too. I won't walk away from my daughter who is grown and married with a child of her own now. That probably helped my husband acknowledge the issue and see a doctor. He'll take medication but, won't counsel. They all think everyone else is the problem.

Dad passed away years ago in another country without ever reconciling with his "rotten" kids. My sister always hated my fathers behavior but, can't see that she is behaving the same way. It boggles the mind! In my 40's I had to sever ties with her because of her temper and bullying. She actually told a friend of mine that I am evil and I tore our family apart. All I did was quietly back off because she could be so verbally abusive and I have enough of that at home with my own ADD husband. How can you be nice to someone who is mean and unpredictable? It is not what I wanted for my family but, I feel like I have to protect myself somehow.

I've lived with ADD affecting my marriage and my family and it feels like a curse! I feel so inept at my ability to help anyone, even myself. I've just done my best to minimize the hurt and deal with it one little bite at a time... I hope you are able to find ways to keep your family together.