This is going to be a long, depressing story. It's also my first post, so you all have to be gentle with me.
I decided to post here because I want to rebuild the relationship with my girlfriend of 16 months, who is also my best friend of 4 years. She is a rising second year medical student, and I am a (hopefully soon to be graduating) undergraduate.
I have multiple psychiatric disorders. Primary ones are ADHD-combined, and Asperger Syndrome. Conditions resulting from the first two are Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Substance Abuse, Self Harm, and Avoidant Personality Disorder. I have had 3 major psychiatric meltdowns, each more severe than the last. The last one resulted in being hospitalized for a week.
My girlfriend and I separated in May while I was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward, following a large drug overdose. My girlfriend decided to separate with me then because we needed to resolve serious problems in our relationship. Also, I have displayed strong suicidal tendencies in the past, so she separated from me at a time when I couldn't hang myself. That right there earns a lot of gratitude from me, as it saved my life.
I started receiving serious psychiatric care during my hospital visit. As a result, I have had marked improvements in my symptoms. Prior to this, I was just prescribed absurdly low doses of antidepressants and then shooed out of the doctor's office, because surely nothing was wrong with me.
I have always made an extraordinary effort to mask my symptoms. My parents were very much in the "figure out a way to get your crap done, it doesn't matter how, just do it" camp. I learned to mask my symptoms so that I would not be punished by them. As a result, I resorted to drug abuse and alcoholism to cope with my ADHD and the resultant Anxiety about pleasing my parents. When that failed, I became extremely depressed and suicidal. To prove I was capable (to escape the depression), I scheduled the hardest possible schedules for myself. This, predictably, led to deeper depression and self harm for being such a failure. I also developed Avoident Personality Disorder to protect myself from failed social encounters resulting from the Asperger Syndrome.
Because of my AvPD, my girlfriend is, literally, the only person I have ever had an emotional connection to. This made me fairly dependent on her, as I had no other support structure (other than heavy, daily drinking). She supported me through each of my meltdowns, in spite of the incredible amount of stress it put her under. During my second meltdown, there were numerous times when she had to talk me down from suicide, and she often had to patch me up after drunken episodes of self harm.
Needless to say, I've put the most important person in my life through the wringer. I am now receiving the healthcare (counseling, coaching, stacks of pills, etc.) that I needed for so long. My parents are also much more supportive, now that they know I was not just a lazy slob, but actually had something wrong in my head. They are providing me with a year or two of support so that I can recuperate and get my head screwed on straight. I am no longer as depressed, although I still get into a funk every now and then. I don't drink and use drugs to cope with stress for the most part. I do slip every now and then. I am no longer suicidal and I don't self harm anymore.
What is killing me right now is not knowing what I need to improve on. My girlfriend says I need to "focus on me" for a while, but I have no idea what this means. I have always tried to do well in school to please my parents, so I have never really "focused on myself" before. I am posting here because the emotions expressed by a lot of the ADHDers here seem to mirror my own, so I guess I'm looking for advice and direction on how to "focus on me." My biggest unresolved issues are the two primary disorders: ADHD and Asperger's. I have come to terms with the Asperger's, but dealing with that is for another forum. I am struggling to get past the ADHD. Specifically, I am paralyzed by the fear of failing again and never being able to reconnect with my girlfriend. I want to show her that I am better now, but I don't know how. She is not so good at providing information on how to do that, other than "focus on me."
My girlfriend is truly an angel. She has saved my life countless times, and she fosters a deep feeling of love for me. She reciprocates that love (even now!), although she is understandably very hesitant about trusting me again. I understand that it will take time, but (probably because of the ADHD) the waiting is killing me. I'm going mad with the thought of losing her, which is making it that much harder to recover.
I don't know what to do. Venting all of that felt good though, so maybe just talking about it with people other than her will be beneficial.
Thanks for reading.