Divorce in Progress - ADHD treatment just resumed after 18 years (I'm 36 now). How to get my wife to check back in?

Hello,

For several years my wife has wanted a divorce, and she finally told me a year and a half ago.  I was in denial for a long time.  All of her complaints mirror textbook ADHD behavior exactly, including angry outbursts, negativity, impulsive behavior and pressure speech (oh the pressure speech is the worst), threats to commit suicide, homicide, etc.  All of those were seen as manipulative tactics because I was "the boy who cried wolf".  Things got worse and I developed a cyberstalking behavior and tracked her online, called her friends, thought she was cheating, threatened suicide again, checked myself in as a 5150.  The list goes on and it's a real smorgasboard of shit sandwiches.  She finally served me with a divorce petition in October.  Smart woman.  October 4th to be exact.  I begged her not to, but I agreed to be amicable.  Believe it or not, we started getting along a little better and even had sex once after the acceptance of process.

Now she is vehemently convinced that I was a charmer the whole time and just put on an act, but I wasn't.  She asked me if I was a psychopath and at first I was worried I was.  I'm not.  I've never been psychotic, just impulsive and reckless.

Let me just say that as an ADHD spouse I was a definite abuser, and I never sought treatment for the right thing.  In fact, I took lexapro for anxiety disorder which actually magnified the symptom of ADHD.  I believe she has forgiven me for the years of abuse, but there are definite behavior patterns that things that I have done which make her question my sanity.  All of these are impulsive actions that would have been prevented by me having the proper medications.

* Stalking her online and pretending to be someone else.  Everyone has compulsive thoughts but only ADHD people act on them.

* Banging my own head against the wall on two occasions, one while holding our two week old (6/15/2013)

* Slamming my head in the car door.  (That happened last Sunday) (10/13/2013)

This sounds pretty hopeless right?  Well, maybe not.  In May I was having work problems at my job.  Let's just say I work at a place that puts things on Mars and I'm so-so at what I do.  I'm not a rocket scientist but affable and people like me.  I went to a psychiatrist who administered a quotient test and diagnosed me with ADHD.  I thought it was nonsense.  I had that as a kid and it went away when I was 18.

As a youth, I was treated with Ritalin from age 9 to age 18.  I was excellently behaved and very reserved, even shy, and great at getting things done.  I had no social life.  I'm a good looking guy but I couldn't talk to the girls.  I wanted to be more outgoing and the ADHD meds were hampering that -- or so I thought.  So I went off my meds and about a month later I kissed a girl for the first time.  For 18 years until TUESDAY of THIS WEEK, October 15, 2013, I was not on any medication.

I started taking Adderall XR, which I should have taken starting in May when my doctor recommended it.  When I went back this week he said to me, "If you had taken this in May, you would not have been acting out and would not be getting a divorce."  It was hard for me to hear it, but it gave me hope.

I've been on the medication for three days and I am mellow once again like when I was younger.  Due to the paradoxical effect, chemicals like Ritalin, Adderall, and Caffeine have a calming effect on me, since I have ADHD.  Otherwise, I would have gotten worse, not better.

Unfortunately, yesterday my wife called the police to report my last Sunday episode of self-harm since it occurred in front of our children.  I'm not sure if her motivation was custody-related or genuine concern or a mixture of both.  However, I kept cool even during the police questioning, did not break down, did not faint, or any of that histrionics that she was used to, but she was in tears.  She left with the kids.  She went to her sister's house.  I don't blame her.  She has lost all trust for my ability to contain myself, just as I was regaining it.

I have continued to remain calm and am confident that I can continue to keep my cool and not lose my temper.  In addition, I am going to regular psychotherapy.

My wife has dug her heels in vis-a-vis the divorce and I do not expert her to change her mind overnight.  However, in light of this diagnostic information and the fact that we have two children together and she has a psychology degree from UCLA, I have to believe that she is a rational person.  I've always said she's the Stephen Hawking of emotions.  Right now, from what I can tell, she is terrified of being around me, and it's very possible that her fight or flight mechanism might engage at the very sight of me. 

I have spoken to my psychiatrist who treated me from 1997 - 2003 in Palo Alto, and my psychiatrist who treats me now, and I want to see if there is something they can say to her.  I can not expect her to cancel divorce proceedings overnight, but I have asked her to delay things, not to go to counseling which she has always refused, but mainly to let me get better.

Even after three days on the meds I am in excellent mental shape, even laughing about things I never used to laugh about.  I was also incredibly helpful with the kids the last few days.  Unfortunately, since she hired someone to help, she has not been home as much and did not see how excellent I was with our 3 year old.  I hope to have an opportunity to demonstrate. Forever.

How can I re-gain my wife's trust in me as a person?  I know it may take a while, but In a matter of days I am back to my old self, and I am getting things done around the house.  The house I have to move out of this weekend.  I don't feel that she has to worry any more but I understand why she is.

What can I do to:  Regain my wife's comfort around me and comfort with me taking care of the kids?  Regain her trust about me as a long term partner?  Help her forgive me and consider something less drastic like legal separation or something like a timetable for divorce cancelation.  I really feel like she never got to know the real me and I'm sad because I thought I was giving her my best all along and I just haven't been.

Right now, I am not doing anything manipulative or underhanded.  It's my actual diagnosis from 1986 and it never changed.  Everything else was just me jumping to conclusions.  Apparently people with ADHD even self-diagnose all the time, and that's an impulsive behavior.  The good news is I have no personality disorder, and very minor neurosis about my hair line, and no thought disorder.  I just have poor impulse control and that's under control.

Has anyone any stories about marriages already into divorce proceedings that can get pulled from the brink of finailzation by a decision to treat ADHD?  I know there is hope, but I want to present documented evidence to her since she is a facts girl.  I'm willing to do all of the heavy lifting myself to get better, but just need her to be comfortable believeing me.  There's still a lot of love left, and it's a tiny flame, but it's there and I want to give it what it needs to grow.

Thanks,

Jon

A few comments

I'm not in your requested set of responders (last minute rescue from impending divorce following diagnosis and treatment - instead I am non-ADHD married to ADHD) but if you don't mind have a few thoughts. It seems you've had a really difficult time recently and I hope that things improve.  My comments:

1/ You mentioned re your psychiatrtists "I want to see if there is something they can say to her" - I think that getting her to attend an appointment with you, if your doctor(s) would allow it, would be an excellent step. It would be a chance for a third party to explain to her the impact of untreated ADHD and how they foresee possible future outcomes of treatment. But there is another possible angle - since ADHD is highly heritable she has to consider whether one or both of your children might at one time manifest signs, and if so then how to look out for it, how to get evaluations, what are possible treatments and so so. The doctors could prep her for this (they might have more authority than if you tried alone) - and so it might be worthwhile for her to attend an appt since she does have her children's best interests at heart - that might be a way to pitch it to her.

2/ Have you read any (recent) books on ADHD and if so do you think she might be willing to read something on her own (especially after she attends an appt, if that can happen).  Obviously you found this site and  there is Melissa's book as well as many others. Do you think she might consider this?

3/ This is a radical thought but sometimes divorces are not the end.  Maybe you need time apart from her to work on your ADHD treatment and she needs a fresh perspective in order for her to notice your (hoped for) improvements without both of you having the added pressure of trying to rebuild a relationship at the same time.  Sometimes people remarry..

Hope this helps a little bit.