I am 40 years old. I "self-diagnosed" my ADD about 2 years ago after my son (then age 10) was diagnosed (Inattentive Type Only, no H). As a Mom, I dove into research to help him and discovered that this condition is very hereditary. Then after about a year, the pieces started coming together and I realized that I have it too (same type). I sought out a licensed counselor at my church who is familiar with ADD and asked my family doctor to allow me to try meds. My son's improvements with meds are DRAMATIC, but me--not so much. So I thought they weren't working. But over time, I have come back to them and tried different types and I have realized that they DO work, but the effect is much more subtle for me. My self-esteem is terribly low. I always thought it was due to an overly critical mother (who now I think also has ADD!), but I am learning that some of it is from years of undiagnosed ADD and so many failures. It was so incongruent to me how I always KNEW I was smart--I had evidence of it, but yet I could never figure out why did I so often act so dumb or with no common sense!? I finally concluded that I must be lazy, selfish and undisciplined with no willpower. Then I found ADD. It took over a year in counseling for me to finally believe that I was not a bad person and that I do have strengths. When my counselor first asked me what my strengths and gifts are, I literally did not think I had ANY. Only weaknesses and failures.
My marriage of 18 years started out GREAT after dating for 4 years. We had some major issues with sex right after the honeymoon (I lost interest COMPLETELY and started freaking out about the whole experience for no reason that either of us could ever figure out), but other than that, our life was truly wonderful. And the sex got better over time. Enter kids. The first two were only 17 months apart and I was trying to work FROM HOME part-time. It was horrible. I think I probably had clinical depression during that time, but did not realize it until I was finally pulling out of it. I quit working as soon as we could manage it and that relieved some stress, but unfortunately my home-making skills did not improve much at all. Then we had our third child. I actually managed the kids pretty well, but that was about it. I barely ever cooked dinner, and the housekeeping and laundry, etc. was a disaster. I still have these same struggles now even though my kids are all in school all day (ages 9, 12, 13). I just cannot seem to make myself do something that is so never-ending and when the mess and clutter just doesn't bother me all that much. And it's like I have no ability to think ahead to dinner until it's time to eat, which of course does not leave time for meal planning or grocery shopping!
Before my "diagnosis," my husband was my hero. He is very successful and smart. He is a planner and is organized. He sees the big picture of everything. He doesn't make messes--he puts his clothes and dishes...and EVERYTHING away. His motto that my kids can now quote, is that a job/project is not finished "until the tools are put away." He is super-logical (a lawyer!) and very even-tempered. He never raises his voice. This was a perfect mate for someone like me who was the antithesis of all these traits...for awhile. But the years of him having to TRY (unsuccessfully) to motivate me, correct me and instruct me have taken their toll on us both and have led to him being controlling and unhappy while I feel unloved and like a child.
Since diagnosis, I have come a long way in accepting myself and my differences. I no longer attribute moral failure to my weaknesses. But as a result, my "hero" has lost some of his status. I have been trying for 18 years to please him by doing things HIS WAY. And now I am learning and realizing that his way will NEVER work for me. That there is a better way for me. But now I am afraid to try or experiment with new methods because I am so afraid to fail. Afraid to not succeed, yes, but also afraid of disappointing him...again. Even when I do try something that works, I am afraid for him to know it or get too excited because I know me. I am inconsistent. That is my trademark. Anything I do successfully only lasts 2 weeks at the most. And then I will fail again. And then the only thing I have accomplished is to prove to him that I am CAPABLE of success, so that WHEN I inevitably fail, it is even worse because he knows (and I do too) I could do it "if I wanted to" or "if I could exercise some self-discipline." So sometimes it is easier not to try to change. And I have started to notice and discover HIS weaknesses and for the first time I am trying to learn how to love someone who is less than perfect. This is new and scary for me and I don't know how to deal with it. Should I even point out his flaws to him or try to help him? Or is that just doing to him what I hate and resent when he does it to me? But I don't know how to just accept them either. I feel stupid for saying this, knowing how many years and how many of my flaws and failures he has had to live with!
One thing that has irked me is that I have been going to counseling and taking meds and trying to get some help. But he has yet to even read one book about Adult ADD (even though I have several) or try to learn anything about it other than what I have told him. And my descriptions and explanations have been sketchy because I do not fully understand it myself either. At first I think he did not believe in it--that it was just an excuse for me. But now I think he agrees that my brain works differently (how can he deny it?! Haha). But I still don't think he has any idea what it's really like for me. That I am trying SO HARD and I want to please him SO MUCH, but I always fail. And I am so SCARED to fail that I am paralyzed.
I have just finished reading "The ADHD Effect on Marriage" and I have begged him to read it. I am hoping a light bulb will go off in his head somewhere and he can find some empathy for me. I certainly have a LOT more empathy for him now, after reading the book. I can only imagine how hard it has been for him all these years. And now I see (hope) that he is not really as controlling as it seems. That and "parenting" me are his way of coping and he doesn't know what else to do. I don't know what else to do either! At least he's doing SOMETHING. But now I have a vision from the book of us working TOGETHER as a TEAM on new strategies to address my symptoms. If we could create that "safe environment" where I can experiment, where I can try and have the freedom to fail, it would be life-changing for both of us! I have not really TREATED my symptoms other than meds and some counseling that has helped me work through some of my feelings. The counseling has helped me accept myself, but it has not provided practical suggestions for addressing symptoms. I have read books and tried a few things here and there, but now I am ready to get aggressive about treating my ADD. I want things to be better! For me. For him. For my kids. But I also feel that if we don't work together, it will not be nearly as successful a process.
I have a wonderful husband who has been so patient with me. He has never threatened to leave and I feel very secure in his commitment, if not in his love. But I think we can move forward together to create a new loving relationship IF I can get him to buy in. Your book and others talk a lot about the non-ADHD spouse trying to convince the ADHD spouse to get out of denial and get help. Our situation seems to be backwards. I KNOW I NEED HELP! But I am not getting the support I need from him to be able to succeed with it. I am praying that your book will be the catalyst that will open his eyes.