Can't You Just Hyper-Focus on the Laundry?!

My DH and I finally talked the other night.  He is not quite finished with the book, but he was at the end of his rope, so I thought I'd better go ahead before he really lost it.  He was open to the idea of seeking help/coaching/official evaluation and even spending the money necessary to do so.  I will try not  to give all the details of our conversation, but I think (as someone else here had warned me) that reading the book (his first on ADD) made him feel worse instead of better!  He started to understand that things may NEVER get better in the way he wants them to.  And this made him feel more hopeless and angry.  At best, he thinks he will be expected to change his whole approach to me, to our marriage, to our life, in a way that is not acceptable to him, and at worst, that my symptoms will never change or improve and he is stuck in an incredibly frustrating relationship.  He will not leave me--it is against our beliefs and he reassured me of that.  But this probably makes him feel trapped and even more hopeless?  Anyway, I shared the information I had gathered about getting help locally, and I think that made him feel a little bit better.  

And for the next 2-3 days I really BUSTED it.  I caught up on some things and made detailed To-Do lists and got a LOT of things crossed off of them.  I tried to make sure I was mostly on time for things and I did NOT make us late for church on Sunday (one of his pet peeves!).  I have been working really HARD to manage myself better the past few days and to try to accomplish things that would be VISIBLE to him (great advice from Sherri!).  I also went to bed basically at the same time he did rather than staying up until the wee hours.  Things were pretty good and he seemed to be responding fairly well (at least, he didn't seem angry).  But then on Sunday afternoon, we were arguing again.  It was so disappointing.  I guess I wanted him to "throw me a party" for catching up on doing laundry or something, but instead, he seemed frustrated that I still had not folded it all and that it took me so long to work on a memory book project for some retiring teachers at our kids' school, etc.  I got really upset--WHY WOULD I KEEP TRYING SO HARD if it doesn't even matter or help?  I tried to explain that I had essentially climbed a mountain in the past few days, by accomplishing what to him would only be like taking one step up on a flight of stairs.  So yes, I was super-sensitive to any criticism (he said I overreacted) and what I really needed was some appreciation or at least to be noticed.  But I felt so unsupported.  And this makes him mad too because he thinks that the books, and I, and probably the psychiatrist, just want him to be a "cheerleader" and not take an active part in "helping" me.  I don't think that's true--what I want is for us to work TOGETHER, but he thinks he is already doing that when he "helps" me (you ADDers know what that really means...control me or treat me like a child).  And I don't know how to explain the difference to him.  Maybe there really IS no difference?  I don't know anymore.

What I do know is that I am WEARY.  He cannot imagine the effort it takes for me to accomplish what I have done in the past few days.  I cannot keep up that level of energy without his support, and especially not if I am going to get criticism.  But then I just feel like I am acting like a baby!  Do I have to get a pat on the back to do the things I am RESPONSIBLE for?  What is my problem!?  And yet, that's exactly what I want (need?).  

Some things he said in our conversation the other night (some of which indicate he still doesn't quite understand)...

He gets it that I have trouble with tracking time and that I incorrectly assess how long it will take me to do things.  But he doesn't understand why I am ALWAYS late getting ready on Sundays when we leave at the same time every week and I do the same things to get ready every week?  I tried to explain that there are actually LOTS of variables which cause me to think I need to get up at different times (sometimes I take a shower or sometimes I take one Saturday night; sometimes I decide to cook muffins for breakfast and sometimes we just grab cereal; sometimes I have to straighten my hair and sometimes I don't; sometimes I have to iron something and sometimes I don't; etc., etc., etc.).  And I usually estimate wrongly on the length of any given task which makes me late for all kinds of DIFFERENT reasons--but hardly ever the same one consecutively!

He gets it that input is "flat" for me--I do not prioritize things or create any kind of hierarchy as I receive stimuli.  Everything is of equal importance as it enters my brain.  So he now thinks that is why I hate to shop--when I walk into a store, I have no way to compartmentalize anything--it is just overloading and overwhelming, so I shut down.  He used to think it was because I saw the whole store as one big thing and could not break it into parts, but now he realizes I see ALL the parts but can't categorize or prioritize them.  That's true.  It's one reason I prefer online shopping.  There is only so much you can see on your screen at one time and I can do a SEARCH only for what I am looking for without a million distractions to take me off task.  BUT...there are an infinite number of possible places to shop online, and I tend to think I can't make a decision until I have considered ALL the choices, so that just creates another problem that you DON'T have in a real store.  And I spend HOURS or sometimes DAYS searching every website I can find!  There are walls and limited choices in a physical store.  But then I take one of almost EVERYTHING in my size to the dressing room in a real store (I have to see ALL the choices!).  Then I must prioritize or create a hierarchy somehow to know which item(s) I want/need/like the best.  So that takes forever too.  It's also why I can spend two hours in the grocery store...especially if I don't really have a list.

He gets it that I tend to hyper-focus and become a perfectionist about things.  But he doesn't understand why I can't apply my hyper-focus and perfectionism to laundry or other housework and chores?  Okay, the ADDers out there are probably laughing at this one.  I had to restrain myself when he said it.  I don't even know how to explain it without sounding lazy or ridiculous!  But I did the best I could...chores are BORING and have to be done a million more times, even if I do it really WELL.  They are never-ending so I have NO motivation or interest!  But yes, wouldn't it be nice if I could selectively use my hyper-focuising skills?!  Maybe a coach can teach me how to do that.  And when I decide that today is a chores day, sometimes I DO hyper-focus on it.  But that is not always a good thing either...on Thursday, I was determined to finally do housework.  I did get a lot done, but I also spent two hours scrubbing the tile floor under our washer and dryer when our bathroom floor is still covered with hair and our toilet is still dirty!  But the laundry closet floor is clean enough to eat off of!

The saddest thing that happened this week was that he filled out his part of the questionnaire that the doctor sent.  Nothing really surprised me, except for one set of questions.  Q: "Forgets unintentionally" His A: "Just a Little" / Next Q: "Forgets as an excuse (intentionally)"  His A: "Very Much" (highest rating possible) -- This is not true--I do NOT forget things intentionally!!  It truly saddens me that he thinks I do.

I really hope there is hope for us.  I'm sad tonight.  (He is out of town which is why I am still up and on the computer.)  He keeps telling me that he knows he is not good at encouragement, but while he used to say it like, "I wish I was better at it," lately he seems to say it like, "So get over it because I can't help it."  But when he gets mad that it takes me twice as long to do things as it probably should, that same "excuse" is not acceptable for ME, even though I can't help it either.  I don't TRY to be slow!