Gave Myself a Kick in the Butt

This is my first post, so please excuse any ramblings. I’m not on any meds yet! Do people use these forums as a place to just get all their thoughts together? I think that’s what I’m doing now. I am 42 years old, married 15 years with a 15 year old son. My intention is not for this to be a “rant” – just an introduction to my situation because I plan on coming back here frequently.

Our marriage was very rocky from the beginning – many destructive behaviors coming from both sides. I always thought we must both just be too immature, selfish and/or lazy and not ready to grow up. Several years ago I was looking for an explanation as to why I have always had such difficulty learning new things and retaining information. Needless to say, I had an “ah-ha” moment when I found some information regarding ADD and how problems with memory and retention could be an issue. I also recognized several other behaviors in myself that I had not even considered. My husband also had an “ah-ha” moment (for himself) when I asked him to read through the criteria to see if he thought any of the items fit me. We both made the appropriate appointments, were both diagnosed, and both put on medication. He is ADHD and I am apparently ADD. He is also borderline OCD and has SAD. I have also experienced some depression in the past (icky childhood which I’ve already had therapy for and worked through), and was told I had the equivalent of PTSD.

For a couple of years, we got along much better. There were fewer arguments and more cooperation between the two of us. He seemed more content, happy with life, not looking for the next “buzz” and was able to make better decisions regarding his impulses with over-eating, over-drinking, and establishing proper relationship boundaries with women outside of our marriage. I was able to focus more on my work and get things done even if it did take me 3 times more effort than my co-workers. And, I could finally allow myself to relax and enjoy things.

Well, as often seems to happen, we both stopped taking our medication for various reasons. He felt it put him in too much of a fog and that he needed to be “sharp” in order to perform well at a new job he was starting. I started being a stay-at-home mom and felt I could cope with things well enough since the stress of having a job (with an extremely long commute) was no longer an issue. We had been discussing having another child and my understanding was I shouldn’t be on those types of medications. It appears Mother Nature has decided we got the “good kid” the first time – and having another is definitely NOT in my plans at this point. Anyway, nothing like ANOTER family crisis to finally get me to focus on myself again and what I need to do in order to improve my life. It is sometimes hard to remember that the BIG problems we had before, the problems we’ve had all along, the problems we’re having now – are almost all related to the impulsivity and the need for stimulation (for him), and the lack of focus and poor memory (for me). I finally had my “enough” moment after the fourth (that I know of) inappropriate relationship with someone outside of our marriage. I know the first one was a physical affair (MBA classmate), the second one was going to be if I hadn’t caught it in time (old girlfriend), the third time (old girlfriend) didn’t happen because of timing and the fourth (same person as the second event) I just caught and basically freaked out on him (nipped that one in the bud just in time too apparently). For all of my rather annoying behaviors, I do seem to have VERY good intuition and my gut feelings are usually correct, but I wonder how many other times things have been going on that I haven’t caught. Frankly, I’ve become exhausted wondering and trying to figure out “who” the next one is going to be. With that being said, I told my husband that he had until our son graduated from high school to get his behavior under control or we would have to go our separate ways. He is the most intelligent person I know. He has a great sense of humor and a caring heart. Deep down I know he really does love me, and in many ways, we are still good friends. But, I know we could be so much better if we could get this under control. The ADHD is an explanation for the dishonesty, the disloyalty, the inconsideration – NOT an excuse!! He’s already been to see his PCP and is waiting for a referral. I can only hope that he will continue to view this as a VERY important process and not get bored with it and think things are just going to go back to “normal” – or normal for us at least.

My main concern right now is for our son. He is a straight-A Honor student, almost an Eagle Scout, successful in his sports activities, has had the same girlfriend for 3 years and is generally doing very well. He never gets in trouble and I’ve never had to bug him about getting homework done. Basically, he has his priorities straight and his act together. I couldn’t do half of what he does. I do not want to do anything that will mess that up! (lol – can you tell yet that I’m proud of him??) He would NOT do well with the disruption of a divorce in his life right now. That is why I’m giving this some time and giving my husband yet another chance.

So, I have basically now forced myself into a situation where I can no longer just “get by” with the various coping behaviors I have adopted to compensate for what may be ADD behaviors. If I’ve given my husband 2 ½ years to get his behavior under control, I’ve basically given myself the same “deadline”. I’m going to see my PCP next week to get a referral. Maybe this is the kick-in-the-butt I needed. Even if my husband doesn’t take this seriously, I will be more prepared to get a job and support myself again. And, if he does make an effort and take it seriously, even better, because I still have to prepare myself and get a job. There’s a certain teenager here that has his sights set on medical school. Ugh!

I’ve been spending much of my spare time over the past couple of weeks reading books and articles on the web and a lot of the forum posts here. I’m trying to learn as much as I can before I meet with a therapist (or whoever). I’m trying to find a support group in my area (NJ), but which do I attend? The one for people with ADD, or for partners of people with ADD or both? Also, if I get on medication again, will I “lose” those good traits that have helped me get things done here? I think I was even more boring than I am now when I was on the last one. I think it’s only because of my tendency to hyperfocusing that I was able to accomplish remodeling our entire house, and learn how to do simple electrical and plumbing and tile work, and totally hard-wire our house for networking. I’m actually kind of proud of the things I learned how to do and I don’t want to give up that motivation. It gave me a sense of accomplishment and increased my confidence in my abilities. Apparently, I inherited the carpenter gene from my grandfather – I’m pretty good at building things – lol. And, more importantly I don’t want to take an anti-depression medication because it tends to make me too “okay” with everything and if I’m going to keep me on track and help keep my husband on track – I need to be able to feel “not okay” with things when they are not right.

I am also becoming confused by a lot of contradictory traits I am reading about as they compare to the things I am experiencing. Is it possible I was mis-diagnosed with ADD years ago and it could actually be something else? Okay, reading back through this though, maybe the things I thought didn’t fit actually do.
Things that DO fit:
My memory and retention and attention and concentration are definitely awful. This has always been the main focus for me and the things I would most like to correct. I KNOW I am not stupid! My husband and son do not understand this because they remember everything! I have struggled since childhood with learning new things. It sometimes takes me 3 times reading something before I “get” it. It took me 12 years to get through college (at night while working full time) because I could only take one class at a time sometimes because of how long it would take me to do the homework. I’ve come to realize that I am a visual learner, so I’ve adjusted as much as I know how for that. However, I did learn to read at age 4 – and I think reading a good book is all I really need for stimulation. I did get in trouble several times in school when I was younger when I was caught reading in class instead of paying attention and there was at least one occasion when my parents taped by bookcases shut as punishment. That’s a hoot – getting in trouble for reading too much! I had to totally stop reading for pleasure when I was in college because I couldn’t put it down to get my homework done. Same thing now – I usually only read on vacation or around the holidays because I won’t get anything else done until the book is done. The good part about that is I can save the books I really like and read them again in a couple years because it’s like I never read them. 

I am easily over stimulated – I don’t like grocery stores because they have too many colors, noises, people, choices, and the lights are too bright. I make a list, focus on the list, get in and get out. This also keeps me from buying things we don’t need. I don’t go to shopping malls for the same reason. The majority of my shopping for holidays is done online (early).

I don’t normally have the television on during the day when I’m home because if something catches my attention I will tend not to get anything else done. I do take a TV day once in a while and catch up on all the shows I have recorded.

My husband wouldn’t let me get rid of the cleaners when I was suggesting ways to save money – so I know it used to take me all day to do the deep cleaning, but I just have to worry about the day-to-day stuff now.

I don’t really enjoy going to parties because I can’t filter out all the noise. My husband tells everyone I just have a hearing problem, but I actually just can’t pick up what one person is saying unless I’m basically staring at them and am able to block out all the outside stuff – doesn’t usually work.

I do tend to interrupt conversations, or blurt out things at the wrong time – and my husband says I “parrot” him frequently. I didn’t even realize that one until he brought it up last night.

I don’t think I’m a very good driver. Even with the GPS on audible I tend to miss turns if we’re having a conversation. I have to turn the radio down and tell everyone to be quiet if I’m focusing on getting somewhere. I had several accidents when I was younger, but none recently.

I do have a problem forming close relationships. I have one good friend right now and just listening to all the “stuff” going on in her life is stimulating enough for me – lol.

Things that DON’T fit(?):
I never overeat. Usually, I get focused on something and forget to eat unless I smell food. Which is fine, because my husband loves to cook anyway – he has taken over that function when we’re home at the same time.

I never overdrink. I think alcohol poisoning when I was 15 yrs old (dumb) pretty much took care of that – I can’t stand the smell of it now and I don’t like being out of control and doing something stupid. I was usually the designated driver of all my friends and I tend to perform that function now.

I sleep like the dead! Have never, ever had a problem sleeping. I get plenty of sleep and go to bed on time (usually). If I do sit still, I will fall asleep (unless I’m working on my laptop or reading). I have fallen asleep driving a couple of times though – but I think that was because of the medication I was on at the time.

I am rarely, if ever, late. I hate being late because I personally think it is rude.

I am persistent and I don’t think I get easily frustrated. I usually look at things as a puzzle I have to figure out. And, I DO read directions! Sometimes I probably don’t give up when I should though.

I do not need instant gratification.

I am EXTREMELY organized. I have lists for everything and reminders in Outlook so I don’t forget things. People know they can count on me to get things done because not much seems to fall through the cracks. I am not normally a procrastinator. The desk in our kitchen is “command central” and I go through all the emails I’ve printed out or notes I’ve written to make sure things get done on time. I am also never late on bills and check our bank accounts daily to make sure we’re okay. I’ve used Quicken for years and have everything pretty much automated.

I am a chronic organizer and straightener and I can’t stand clutter. I need a “quiet” place so I can focus. I can’t pass something out of place without straightening it out or putting it away. I go through and “toss” frequently (it won’t love me back). This drives my husband nuts as he tends to attach memories to items and he’s pulled things back in out of the discard pile. However, I did have a very good conversation with my mother who admitted to me that both she and my grandmother (her mother) are both OCD about organizing, straightening and cleaning. It’s funny how much we are alike – she has lists of lists so that she doesn’t forget things!!

I love to plan projects before I carry them out. I planned our kitchen for almost 9 years before we even did anything.

I’m rarely bored – I have plenty of detailed hobbies I’m interested in (genealogy and miniatures) and I’m always planning the next project in my head.

I am a rule follower! My family thinks I am too much in control and that I don’t relax and have fun enough and enjoy things.

I am not impulsive unless something really stresses me out (i.e. cheating) – then I can do some pretty mean and vindictive things and look back later and wonder what in the heck was I thinking.

At least I do have some hope now that if we can BOTH get our behavior under control, we may have a chance to be happy together.  Wow, this turned out longer than I intended. Sorry about that!

My son has told me he thinks I’m hyperfocusing on ADD right now – but at this point I think it’s a good thing. Hopefully, something will really come out of it this time. Oh, and here’s a funny story in ending. Do you remember the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind when Richard Dreyfuss was building the mountain out of mashed-potatoes in the living room? That was me on only Zoloft (after post-partum depression) with my hyperfocus in full force building model train mountains for my G scale trains in the basement. My husband and I can have a good laugh about that one now. 

ADD kicks you in the butt...

You said so many things that remind me of me.

For starters: I'm 46, been married 15 years and have 13 and 8 year old girls. I am the husband with ADD that I did not know about until I was 44 years old. Shocked by the diagnosis I got the recommended book and read it in one weekend, with a highlighter. I had not read a whole book in ten years.

My memory and retention and attention and concentration are definitely awful. - Yes

"It sometimes takes me 3 times reading something before I “get” it." - Yes (170 College hour = Associates Degree)

When I was a kid I read like mad. I was off the charts in reading comprehension. It was my escape...

"I am easily over stimulated – I don’t like grocery stores because they have too many colors, noises, people, choices, and the lights are too bright. I make a list, focus on the list, get in and get out. This also keeps me from buying things we don’t need. I don’t go to shopping malls for the same reason. The majority of my shopping for holidays is done online (early)." - Wow... = Yes!

I can't have the TV on if I am going to get anything done. I NEED my music on to get things done. I now know why... Music buffers out all the distraction! Wow... 

"I don’t really enjoy going to parties because I can’t filter out all the noise. My husband tells everyone I just have a hearing problem, but I actually just can’t pick up what one person is saying unless I’m basically staring at them and am able to block out all the outside stuff – doesn’t usually work." - EXACTLTY! I kept getting my hearing checked and there was not a problem. In these noisy places there are too many sources of sound for our ADD brains to process, so the net effect is hearing nothing.

I have one best friend, since high school, many others come and go. Some thought my lack of contact meant I did not care, so I'm sure that is why I lost them. My thinking is the phone works both ways, you know...

"I do tend to interrupt conversations, or blurt out things at the wrong time" – Yes

"I have to turn the radio down and tell everyone to be quiet if I’m focusing on getting somewhere." - Totally

I don't drink much. I somehow survived my 20's when I did drink too much.

I DID over-eat compulsively, it was one of the only things I could do for a fix. I am cured of this issue.

I HATE being late, because it is rude and I have disappointed so many in the past because of my poor time management. As I got older I compensated by figuring time in an X3 way. If I think it will take an hour, I say 3 hours... Ah coping skills...

"I am EXTREMELY organized. I have lists for everything and reminders in Outlook so I don’t forget things" - Outlook Saved my Life. Once I had a phone that would sync with Outlook I was confident in my remembering things, as long as they were setup :)

Bored... Never... Computers, home theatre, Fast cars and too many home improvement projects.

Impulsive behavior causes hign anxiety. I love the Close Encounters reference, classic... Do you think Richard Dreyfus' character was ADD?

I'm curious about the Meds that made your husband feel like he was in a fog. Twenty minutes after my first Adderall I felt like a wet blanket was taken off my brain and I was coming Out of the fog.

Like you stated, as I focused on my ADD and learning it's affects on my life, I realized that ADD symptoms vary greatly and we learn to cope differently. Some people function at a very high level and some do not function so well. Two years later, the Ah-Ha WooHoo excitement of explanation of many behaviors is gone. My wife, probably beaten down during my Hyper-Focus on ADD period, has never really read much or think much is different about my overall behavior other than my weight loss and exercise regiment. I did medicate my whole life with food. After meds, I stop eating when I'm full and just don't eat as much. I walk 10 - 25 miles a week at a 4+ mph pace, because exercise makes me feel Good. Who knew?!? 

I don't ever want to go back to the old Fog that I used to live in. I never miss my meds, because they wear off and I begin to feel like I used to feel. I am in the best shape of my life, not saying much, I am a better programmer, organizer and even better at time management, and my memory IS better, not great but definitely better. I know my Hyper-Focus was key in my abilities to problem solve, assemble complex do it yourself projects, musicianship and definitely my current job as a accounting systems developer and troubleshooter. The Meds have only enhanced my natural abilities in these areas. I am more efficient and can stop when I need to when something needs to be addressed. I can react when something hits my from out of nowhere, instead of looking stunned and not knowing what to say or do. My impulsive behavior is much better, not great, but much improved.

I feel like I am in better control of my life, but I have much more work to do. I keep coming back to this site to learn more and it is great to know I'm not alone with my crazy ways of thinking.

Go see the doctor... Keep reading :-)

ADD kicks you in the butt

Thank you for your response!!  My husband doesn't really want to talk much about it, so it's good to talk about it here.  He feels like he's already educated himself enough about ADHD and has the big picture - he doesn't need to know the little details.  He was mildly interested when I told him we were both probably going to have to cut out all the caffeine though - he's been drinking coffee since he was 2 yrs old (not sure why).  He also learned to read at 2 (I mean really read - like the newspaper - not little kid books).  Can't get him to read anything about it now - no matter how many books I leave in the "reading room".  lol

To answer your question - my husband was on Focalin - 2 to 3 times a day.  He said at first it "lifted" the fog and made him feel sharper than he ever had felt before.  But, then it made him feel the opposite and gave him a headache.  He started taking it again after this last incident - but it was still giving him too much of a headache, so I guess he will have to talk to his doctor about trying something else.  It's very hard for me to not push and give him the opportunity to take care of this himself because I know his follow-through on this type of thing has not been great.  There's already been a misunderstanding - he though his doctor was going to give him a referral when actually he doesn't need one - he's supposed to find an in-plan psychiatrist on his own.  I'll call around on Monday and find one for both of us that has some clue about ADHD.  Too much money has already been spent on marriage and individual counseling that hasn't worked, our current insurance sucks, so we're don't have funds to waste.

I'm actually excited for my upcoming appointment - I'm looking forward to getting started - being in better control of my life.  I'm reading about 4 different books on ADHD right now - switching to the next one when I get bored with one and leaving them in various places throughout the house so when I see it - I'll pick it up.  It's okay, you can laugh.  But, I kind of feel like I'm going to have to prove this to my doctor - that she might think I'm just looking for an excuse.  I've made a list of everything I've read that sounds like me - so I won't forget when I see her. 

I ended up double-majoring in college.  Got my BS degrees in Accounting and MIS.  Thank god I went the MIS route instead of accounting!!  I imagine I would have died from boredom - but I do think the interest in accounting is what has helped me keep our finances in such good shape.  So, I was a programmer in my former working life and that is what I would like to get back into now.  I remember having to bring noise-canceling headphones into work because the girl who sat in the cubicle in front of me was on the phone talking all day and I couldn't focus on anything.  I also listened to music - but it had to be classical music without words - otherwise I would focus on the words coming up in the song instead of my programming.  Have you found any skills that have helped you retain information and learn new things?  I almost feel like I'm starting over - at least I have the "big" picture - but I need to be able to remember all the details in between.  I am a sequential learner  - A to B to C etc.  I don't do well with A to G for instance.  And, I learn more with pictures and graphs and charts etc. than by just reading text.   My last boss was great.  He seemed to get "that" part of me and would draw data flow diagrams and such whenever he was trying to explain something to me.  Doubtful that I'll get someone as understanding as him next time.

I am also our resident computer geek at home - I have the patience to figure things out and do all the computer maintenance, upgrades and repairs and networking "stuff" around here.  But, I wonder if maybe I'm trying to "force" myself into the wrong profession with the programming - as much as I like it I just don't see myself getting very far if I can't remember the little details.  I did do all of the home remodeling projects around here (except for the drywall and tile) and it's been suggested I try and find something a little more along those lines since I seem to be pretty good at it.  

Are your girls showing any signs of it yet?  I kind of wonder how both my husband and I could be AD/HD and our son not.  He is an over achiever and is going 1 million miles an hour at this point with everything he does, so I guess I'll just have to keep an eye on it.  He hasn't mentioned having any difficulties yet.

Okay - back to do more reading...  after I replace a hard drive..... and finish watching a show...  and empty the dishwasher....   and.....   lol


Sorry for the slow response... and I just have a few seconds now.

How are things going?

It sounds like you and I have similar ADD traits. I definitely think ADD hyper-focus helped me in many ways with my IT Career, and post Adderall I can still maintain great focus and I'm more efficient. The fog is only there when the Adderall is gone. I know the meds affect everyone differently, but tell your husband not to give up.

I am watching my girls closely and my youngest reminds me of my distracted childhood, but she has an almost photographic memory. Her sense of mechanics and logic and the way she plays is like looking in the mirror of the way I played as a child.

I gotta go, but will check back...


Best wishes for you and your husband.