Getting him to understand...

I'm already frustrated with the hubby going back to school. He's been at it a week and half and has already missed all four of his classes once and has been late to all. He keeps up with his school work and does well on his assignments and tests. But I'm afraid his instructors are going to throw him out for missing class or being consistently late. Honestly, I think if you can keep up with the work load and make good grades, then not coming to class shouldn't matter. But the school admin doesn't feel the same way apparently.

Hubby says that he gets five absences and that may be true for some of his classes, but not all. I read the syllabus for one class and it said one two unexcused absences are allowed. I'm trying to detach, to let go of the situation, but it drives me crazy that he's not making this priority. He's really at the sink or swim phase of his life. He's 31 and hasn't held down a full time job in four years. He says he knows that a lot is riding on getting his degree, so why does it feel like he's not making an effort. He stays up all night and expects to be able to get up after only three or four hours of sleep. I'm in tears because I'm so frustrated. I tell myself I'm not going to care, that if he's fails, it's his fault, but it's so hard to stand by and see this! Every time he's late or doesn't get up in time, I get upset. I want to scream at him to get it together and quit screwing up his life, but I'm not allowed to. I have to be supportive. I'm trying to hang in there. He's scheduled to see a doc who specializes in ADD next Friday. I've just got to pray that he doesn't burn his chances with his instructors before then.

OK, vent over.

Hi again

Hi again dazedandconfused!

I've been through this as well with my hubby.  It's sad because he is so smart and when he dedicates himself, he excels at school work, but it has to been interesting for him, or he gets bored.  I've also seen him do similar things with work.  He know he can't miss work, he's had warnings etc, but he still calls in, or is repeatedly late and it is so frustrating!  I don't know what the answer is to this.  With school, my hubby has been to two universities and dropped out of both.  He would love to get his degree, but he feels that he can't stay motivated to do it.  I've been working on my degree for 10 years!  I'm almost done, but I would like to go back and do a second one.  I've suggested to him that we do it together.  That way we could share something and spend more time together, and possibly keep him motivated.  I think it would do wonders for his self-esteem and his career prospects to finish school.  Here's the best part!  I work for a university so I don't pay for school, and as my spouse he also gets free school!  So he has nothing to lose!  At this point, I don't know if he could go back again because he didn't complete the courses he was in the last time he was a student here. 

It's frustrating, but I think you have to detach.  You're only going to get more upset if you try to help him and he continues to miss class.  I'm in the same boat, as you know, and I trying to figure out the solutions, but I think in some areas we can be helpful, but in others, they need to learn to do things themselves.  You can't go with him to every class, you can't make him go to sleep at night, and this one I know for a fact!  My husband stays up until 2 or 3am most mornings, and then he wants to sleep all day, but he has to look after our kids, which leaves him grumpy and not particularly attentive.  I'm looking forward to them being in school regularly so that they can get more stimulation than they get at home during the day.  The doctors all stress the importance of lots of sleep, but it means re-setting their body clocks to sleep at night for long hours and not during the day, but then they also can't turn their brains off at night.  It must be frustrating for them. 

If you have a dr. who specializes in ADD that's fantastic!  Go to him!  As often as possible!  I wish I had access to someone like that right now.  In the meantime, however, school is no doubt costing you guys, so if he can't stick with it, and you're going to lose money over it, maybe you need to put his education on hold until his symptoms are under better control, or you find a good combination of meds and counselling.  I know it's frustrating when they can't hold down a job.  I've been the primary income earner for our entire relationship.  Every job he's had since we've been together has literally been the result of me filling out the applications and writing his resumes.  I resent the heck out of having to do that, but when you have bills to pay and kids to care for, I need to ensure that he has a good job to provide for us, so I feel like if I can get him through the paperwork part, I know his personality will win over an employer in an interview, and it always does!  He doesn't struggle until he gets bored with the work.  Right now, my hubby works part-time, and this seems to be the most he can handle, and some days this is too much as well, but working full-time has never been good for him.  He stays home with our kids during the day.  This is good because he's a good dad and he loves the kids and they have fun together, but he is forgetful, and can be pretty lazy some days.  I have to try not to think about the times when he let the kids just watch tv while he dozes on the couch or obsesses over a hobby, because I can't do anything to change it.  We can't afford day care for two kids in our area, and I do prefer that they be home with one of us, but I can't be everywhere all the time, so I have to let some things go.  I just check in with the kids every night when I'm home with them to see how their day went and if they have any issues, and I call home a lot during the day to check in, and if hubby is being lazy, I try to gently encourage him to get himself up and out with the kids again.

Maybe you should redirect your focus on helping him find a job that he would actually enjoy, and thus stick with, and put the education on hold for now.  You can't force him to go to school, and your frustration with him probably only makes him feel worse, but I know it's hard not to express.  Maybe if he could withdraw from classes temporarily because he gets kicked out, he could consider it a break to give himself time to get his symptoms in order.  I hope the dr. will be able to give you a plan.  My hubby is also 31, so I know it feels like they should have their act together by now.  But he's probably going to need to find something non-traditional for work, and something he'll enjoy.  Even if it doesn't bring in as much money as you might hope, if it's something he can stick with for a long time, that may be the better route.  My hubby has a lot of hobbies, and he's an artist, so he recently started a home business making custom action figures.  In the past six months, he's made a small fortune!  And he loves it!  This is the longest he's stuck with anything!  He gets to indulge his creative side and spend a lot of time in toy stores, which makes him a pretty happy camper.  Maybe your hubby should try to find work in an area that enjoys. Try thinking outside the box.  If he likes movies, maybe try to work at a movie theatre where he can see movies for free!  If he likes video games, try to get a job at a game store.  That kind of thing.  I don't see school and ADD working until the symptoms are under control....sorry.  Hang in there!

Thanks Jen. It's a real

Thanks Jen.

It's a real strange situation. He actually made it through 2 years of university several years ago, before he was diagnosed with ADHD. He quit when he was offered a job in law enforcement (he was studying criminal justice). Being a cop was everything to him but the tardiness issues eventually stacked up against him and finally he tried to cover up that he was running late and his supervisor found out. A few days later he was let go though his record reads that he resigned. That was four years ago. He's been blackballed from all the local agencies and he won't countenance leaving the area and applying elsewhere. So school is a last resort. He's been let go from other full time jobs. He manages to hold down a part time job as a DJ in a bar, but I hate it. He says he hates it too. He's applied for other jobs, had interviews for a couple, but who's going to hire someone with an established pattern of tardiness? It's the Catch 22.

He told me earlier that he got to class today but he was late. I think he was lying. He told he would call me at lunch during his break but he didn't. He called just a few minutes ago and said that he had been reading for the last 45 mins. Then he said he was going to take some school books back that he didn't need. When I questioned him about driving all the way back into town, he said, "Oh yeah, I can take them tomorrow." And then says he's foggy because he's been sleeping. There's no way he could have gone to class, got out at 1:45, drove 30 mins home, read for 45 mins, AND taken a nap too because when he naps, it's for more than 45 minutes, that's for sure. It doesn't add up.

I just feel like bouncing my head off a wall sometimes. I dread going home tonight. It's supposed to be our "date" night but I have a feeling we're just going to end up fighting again or barely speaking to each other. I was so excited because our counselor thought we were doing well enough to go to one session a month instead of two, but then we've done nothing but fight since our last session.

Ha!  Our few and far between

Ha!  Our few and far between date nights always turn into fighting as well!  That is so frustrating!  I'm sorry to hear that he lost his job in law enforcement.  I think it's a terrible thing that the issues associated with ADHD, like being late, and having anxiety, memory issues etc are simply not tolerated or understood in the workforce, even when you're honest about having ADHD.  I guess I can sort of understand.  If I often wonder why he just can't get his stuff together, even though I know the logical reasons why, how can we expect a detached employer to have much sympathy.  Every one else seems to manage getting to work on time and doing their jobs well, but our poor spouses struggle with it, and people look down on them for it.  I know it's a big hit to my hubby's self esteem.  He thinks everyone thinks he's a total screw-up, and I'm sure some people do.  I always encourage him to be as honest as possible with his bosses, and provide as much medical documentation as possible.  Just this week my hubby has missed the last two days of work because of extreme anxiety and medication withdrawals from changing dosages.  But his bosses were none too pleased about it, so now he's back to the doctor on Tuesday for more notes.  It's very scary thinking he may lose his job because, as you said, who's going to hire someone with a job history of tardiness and missed work?  And, in some cases, even if you are honest about your issues, doesn't it make sense that many employers would probably just rather not have to deal with the reliability issues and just go with a different job candidate?  I feel for you, and I feel for your hubby that he's lost a job that he really cared about. 

As for the lying.  I know about that too.  They lie to us because they know we won't approve of their actions and they don't want to hear it from us.  I get that, but the lying hurts, and tends to cause more trouble.  My husband likes to borrow money from his family without telling me, so that he can buy things he collects etc.  He then promises his family he'll pay them back on a particular day, and doesn't discuss any of it with me, the person who does our budget.  I then have to scramble to find the money in an already tight budget and often make last minute bank visits etc to correct issues when money has been taken out of our account when a bill is due to withdraw.  It stresses me out to no end.  Not to mention I find it really embarrassing.  I don't want his family thinking we mismanage our money!  And I don't particularly get along with his parents (who also have ADD), so to know that they think I'm part of this plan to be constantly borrowing money and not paying it back when they expect it, is really hard on me.  But I think that's all part of what Melissa talks about in her book, about not being able to think about the future.  They are so concentrated on the now, and getting the money to go and buy that thing, OR taking the nap because they're too tired or overwhelmed, and not thinking about the consequence of missing class again, or being late for work, or spending money we don't have.  For me, I feel like if he were honest with me, we could talk about a plan together, but I know when he gets an idea in his head he obsesses about it, and if he can't have it his anxiety goes through the roof.  I'm sure you feel the same way.  You're willing to help, but he needs to meet you half way and be honest.  And frankly, I think sometimes they need to trust that we can see things a bit more clearly than they can!  It's not that we're smarter or better or anything, but I think we can view the bigger picture more clearly, and help navigate a path out of the difficult times if they would trust us!  It's like the simple issue of timing.  He will insist that he has time to get something done, and I KNOW there is no way he can get that thing done in the (usually) 15 minutes he thinks it will take, but he doesn't listen.  Meanwhile, he knows that his sense of time is off because of his ADD, but he can't get out of his own head and ego long enough to just trust me when I tell him to add more time.  I'm trying to make things easier on him!  Not harder! 

In terms of work, I don't know where you live but do you have the option of disability? 

If tonight is date night, I know it will hard not to talk about what happened today, and that you're angry, but maybe try to plan something really fun, that will totally distract you.  Make a deal with yourself that you are not going to bring up what happened today at the start of the date, and he's probably waiting to get the third degree about it anyway, so if you just don't bring it up you can alleviate the stress and try to enjoy yourselves.  If you can do something fun and physical, that keeps you moving and engaged in what you're doing and not in just talking about every day life, you will both be in a more relaxed state of mind to enjoy the date, and towards the end of the evening, maybe you can approach it more calmly than you feel now, and he may be in a better place as well for you both to talk rationally about it. 

Have you both read Melissa's book?  Or has he been on this site as well?  If not, why not make an agreement that every night you will take even 20 minutes together to read one chapter and discuss, or read one blog entry and chat, and this could serve as a form of counselling in between your sessions with the therapist.  If he's not being educated about the problem or about how it makes you feel, he's not going to improve.  You need to let him know that you're willing to work on all of it with him, as a team, and support him, but he needs to do the same for you and understand that this is NOT just his problem.  It does affect you, and your lives together, and your future plans.  But try to have a fun date first!  I know, it's way easier said than done.

That sounds incredibly

That sounds incredibly stressful to watch while your husband squanders an opportunity to further his education.  I went through my entire education without medication (was not diagnosed in time) and it was incredibly difficult for me to concentrate.  I will say I did attend my classes regularly, and I didn't get much sleep in high school as I was taking college prep and honors classes in a challenging private school.  I did manage to make the honor roll and high honor roll in spite of my undiagnosed ADHD and accompanying anxiety (I knew there was something wrong with me, and the very thought that it was impairing my learning despite being bright made it even MORE difficult to concentrate; I was pretty hard on myself), but I don't know how I did it.  I had to get up from homework every 10 minutes, and do some type of exercise.  I had no idea why I needed to do that to stay awake, or alternatively, to get my energy out.  While I can't say I ever did what your husband did, everyone manifests a little differently, so I can't judge him.  I'm sure I have some bad habits, coping skills, or symptoms he doesn't have.  I look at my ADHD students (I'm a teacher) and recognize what I did WITHOUT medication was amazing.  I almost never forgot an assignment (thank you, hyperfocus).  But I am not recommending he go without medication.  I am glad he has an appointment soon.  May I make some suggestions?  He needs a doctor (is it a psychiatrist that he will be seeing?) who really, really, really understands ADHD.  Don't be afraid to switch docs if not.  I did because my previous doctor, a trained psychiatrist, treated me like a drug addict.  I didn't stick with him for long.  In talking to a secretary in the practice, I discovered that he didn't even BELIEVE in ADHD, so of course he thought I was an addict.  Why else would I want "speed?"  Silly man.  Little did he know that people like me forget our meds sometimes, make our appointments at the last minute or forget them altogether.  'Cause we have something called ADHD.  Which exists.

Another suggestion I have is that your doctor be comfortable screwing around with different medications and dosages until you have some improvement.   If he or she gets too edgy about this, find a new doctor.  It's so important to be on the right med at the right dosage.  Everybody has different needs and reacts differently to different meds.   I had a student who did a 180 as soon as he went on Vyvanse.  Alert, focused, and started turning in his work.  Me?  I fall asleep on Vyvanse.  It drains me.  I am on a much higher dosage of my medication than most people.  My doc specializes in ADHD, and I am the only of his patients to have 3 dosages a day (I take 60mg of Focalin in the morning, 20 mg of short-acting Focalin in the afternoon, and 60 mg at night.  It helps me fall asleep because it slows down the racing thoughts and focuses me so I don't spent as much time running around like a headless chicken and accomplishing little.  There is science behind this; I was googling sleep issues and ADHD and read an article in ADDitude magazine which concerned the biologically based brain differences that cause this, and the paradoxical effect of taking a stimulent to calm down and sleep.  Your husband also needs a coach or therapist who specializes in Adult ADHD to help him deal with his symptoms.  Meds are a fabulous aid, but they are not a cure. 

Books I have found to be very helpful and illuminating:

The ADHD Effect on Marriage:  if you haven't read it already, it really illustrates the roles both people play, symptoms, how to deal with them, and each other.  I never knew why the hell we were imploding until I read this.  I just couldn't wrap my head around it.  I thought it was all him.  That's how unaware I was.  It was like seeing the sun for the first time.

Understand Your Brain, Get More Done (Ari Tuckman):  An ADHD-friendly workbook that asks both spouses to answer questions (mostly for him, though) in order to determine how symptoms are manifesting and what to do differently.  I have been waiting for something like this. 

The Dance of Anger (Harriet Lerner).  Recommended by Melissa Orlov in her book, I should have read this when I bought hers.  You have to be ready for it, though.  It will show you how to deal more effectively with your anger so you can let it go.  So you can express yourself without feeling guilty, but without raging or repressing, either.

Good luck!

ADHDMomof2