all-add couple, distraction, emotional protection

Add came into my life last week. I am from europe, currently studying in the US. After my procrastinating became worse, I was diagnosed with Add. With adderall, my concentration became a bit better. Until Friday. My wife, a continent away, had one of her usual depression/Panic attack combos until sunday. The cause was her chaotic way of thinking in her Job. She nearly got fired, again. After reading about add, I think she might have it as well, but a different brand. She has zero self esteem, is chaotic, submissive to the point of self loathing. She is taking med against hypothyreodism since 2 years, but nothing has changed. Also, she has a different Job (teaching), while I am in academia. Several problems affect us. I have developed a lot of coping strategies since childhood, so that I actually seem to be very structured and boring, since I try to keep things stable. Since my wife is working, there is a major emotional crisis with here once a week. Even if I manage to work well, I am immensely distracted by her negative self-talk. Even her sad quiet face disturbs me then and especially knowing she sits in her room crying over a mistake or the past. I end up giving advice, rebuilding confidence, and after she is happily back on track I feel exhausted, I dream of being with a normal healthy woman, who is not like a child. This has become worse over the years. My work is clearly suffering from it and everything I have achieved so far is going to pieces. She fears that too. Sometimes she would urge me to divorce her, to save myself. sometimes I dream about having an affair or using an escort, to get rid of this feeling of being chained by obligation. I feel so sad. We have tried so much to get her organized. I applied for a visiting fellow year abroad to think about it. I miss her most of the time. After we telephone, I often don't. After reading the blog post I think about children: I would not have them with her. I am going back in one month and I do not know where. Probably you cannot help me with this. But how can I learn to keep a calm head when my partner is mad at times? Doing research, I try to make a living with my head. How to keep it free from relationship-induced distraction?

reading other posts I found

reading other posts I found the theory, that add-ers often pick someone out of low self-esteem. I remember that I always knew she was much more chaotic than me and that this was dangerous. I said to myself often that I liked her, she liked me and that was unlikely to happen again. So we married, she lost the rings but we got new ones. This is 1 3/4 years ago now and it has been very difficult since very often, with some short good Times in between. Still, sometimes women would hit on me, I would say no or pretend to be disinterested. But with growing self confidence (sucessful career start, before the decline) I feel sad for missing the opportunity for a quieter life by marrying too early.I do not want to be more distracted and depressed by hurting me and her with a divorce. Sometimes I think it can still work out, but I do not find her attractive, just a very friendly person. And still, maybe she is the best I can get. Is there a good way to find out if divorce is a good idea? This seems to be a forum to support an adhd marriage, I know. I am just so confused over this, I think about it all the time. The prospect of an unhappy relationship and mad children. She feels nurtured by the relationship, loves me, feels sorry about the chaos she brings in my life (barely coping myself), wants to change and tries hard. She will see a doctor about Add, she started running. It is great and then, terrible. I see her trying for the rest of her life to become someone else, failing. So many things happened, I see her as a danger sometimes. She is the chaos I have been sucessfully shutting out of my life so far. Still, I hesitate to leave, in part because I am afraid to be alone, and because I enjoy sex with her, maybe I also enjoy helping her cope. Any ideas how I can respect her again? Or, how to find out if I should better quit? Book advice? And all this in the midst of a phd project!!!

PhD project response

Wow!  You have a lot to think about.  My strong suggestion is that you find a therapist who can help you think through your issues.  Also, your wife may well need medical attention in addition to what she's getting for the hypothyroidism.  You/she may want to explore if that makes sense.

I do not believe people should stay married simply because they got married.  On the other hand, I personally feel that the act of getting married does suggest a need to explore a number of avenues before deciding to get divorced.

As for the affair / escort side of things, my personal experience with this is that it's pretty destructive all the way around.  Try to keep away from muddying the waters further by going outside your marriage for sex (particularly since you say you enjoy sex with her).  And think through the ethics of whether or not it's okay to expose your partner unwittingly to potential STDs and the like.  (My vote is no, it's not right, but some would call me naive.  But I think a person has a right to know if their partner is bringing "risk" into their relationship.)

You may find that therapy and further medical review will help you stay together, or it may solidify your concerns to the point where you feel divorce is the right way to go.

Melissa Orlov

better now...

Thank you for your quick reply, and for the patience to deal with the muddy waters of our relationships so kindly. I feel a lot different today; I wrote my post very late in the evening, while I was unsettled. My medication is still being adjusted, and I have the impression that I tend to be depressed in the evening. I agree that it is highly unethical to have sex outside marriage. I thought about it as a way to end the relationship, because then, I imagined, it would be over and I would not return to her. But I think it is not a good way to end a marriage, nor it is a good way to start something new. So I would not call you naive for this opinion. Thank you for being honest. We will seek counseling in one month, once I return to europe. We had a long videoconference over this today. We still love each other, we just have to find a way to make living together be good again, without ending up in utter chaos. I am a bit unsettled by the way my mood changes during the course of the day, and under the influence of the new medication. At the moment, I feel calm and optimistic, the relationship issues are still there, but I think they are solvable. When I wrote the post, everything seemed to be a dead end and I could not think about anything else. I've done a lot of reading over the weekend, and I still have to learn a lot about ADD and the way we can live with it. I have to learn not to feel like a failure anymore. I told my wife about the great week I had with a few Amphetamines, and she wants to talk to a doctor now. This is a huge relief for me. Then we talked about things that go well in our young marriage, I told her what I like about her. My former girlfriend was in law school, a control freak (or maybe just normal, and non-ADD) who made me feel extremely bad at the slightest mistake (being late, forgetting a birthday). I realized that although I presently do better than my wife, I have no reason to feel superior. She manages to inspire me, to create a sense of self-worth in me, because she truly believes I can do great. I hope she starts to believe in herself, as well. What we have to do, though, is start making good experiences in our marriage, getting medical help, counseling, if we find someone who knows somehing about ADD. My last try with a therapist was that he suggested that my wife lets me care for her out of laziness, that I need to let her make her mistakes without covering up and eventually she'll learn. After reading about ADD, I don't find this helpful anymore. I am simply not able to ignore anything happening to my wife. Then, she is already trying so hard, she does everything she can to make it work. When she forgets something, she hates herself for it, crying. If I just stop to tell her when she is about to miss an appointment, she will be kicked out of her job. I hope we find a way to set up a structure that reminds us - like, buying two pdas and such. But after this experience, I have become careful of the marriage counseling industry. I am glad (and it is somehow telling) that I found more help in your blog posts than in four months of therapy. Any you do not even claim to be a therapist - maybe you should? Anyway, we try to find someone who has some experience with add couples. After she has seen a doctor.

Dreaming about a Great Future

What a nice post, and so positive in its hopefulness, and also in its realism.  Things will not always be easy - it takes a good bit of experimenting, for example, to figure out the best system(s) for organizing yourself...and some flexibility.  Neither of you will get it right all the time, even with a good system in place.  But neither do I, and I don't have ADD...I'm just human.

I can't tell you how many people report having bad experiences with marriage counsellors who don't understand the issues associated with ADD.  Search for a counsellor who does understand ADD, and if you hear things that don't make sense, push back or change counsellors until you find someone who is helpful.  (LAZY!!!  Your wife's agony over making mistakes doesn't make it sound as if she's lazy to me!!)  That's the classic "moral" diagnosis about ADD that people who don't get it give.  AAARRRGGGHHH!

Also, it is good that you are tracking how you feel with your medications.  You may wish to keep a journal with brief notes - for example, note what time of day you take your medications, and any things that seem "different" - like feeling very emotional or depressed (and time of day).  My daughter has had some issues with becoming extremely emotional with Adderall, and it turned out that this was happening when it was "wearing off".  When she became a varsity athlete, her emotional swings became more frequent until her doctor suggested a small "auxilliary" dose of medication in the middle of the afternoon to help her out when she was exercising hard.  So now, if she is in season or under a ton of stress, she takes the extra meds, otherwise she doesn't need them.  This is the kind of thing you can work through if you track your feelings and side effects carefully.

You may find that trying a different medication is a good approach - again, experiment (under your doctor's supervision) until you get to a point where you aren't really experiencing side effects.  Most people do get there eventually.  It took three different meds for my daughter, and two for my husband.

Thanks for the nice words about becoming a therapist.  I've thought about it, but find this very fulfilling as it is, and am happy to be in a position to be writing a book.  I like the idea that lots and lots of ideas and input are out there for people to explore and take away what they need, and that people from all over the world can do so.

Melissa Orlov