Hi all. My name is Tim. I currently live in London, UK and am approaching my 60th birthday. I found this forum after finishing "The" book.
I am a retired fire officer and former primary school Governor (kindergarten to sixth grade translates I think for the US audience). Spelling will be English so please excuse the "S" where you expect a "Z" and the addition of U in words where there is none in North America. My role within the fire department, as well as the school, included screening for specific learning difficulties, autism, mental health issues and general welfare challenges from external sources. I never considered myself an expert in any of the screening work, nor the child protection role where abuse or neglect was suspected, but the latter is always dealt with via social services and the law courts in the UK. Despite my lack of professional training (few Governors are ever doctors of psychiatrists for instance), I felt that my radar was reasonably good when screenings took place.
Yet it wasn't until my nephew was diagnosed with Asperger's that the light bulb moment occurred and realised that my brother (his father) was almost certainly living with the same high functioning condition. I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder (actually they called it "manic depressive" back then) and, as often is the case with anything connected to mental health it became the taboo that no one was allowed to talk about - I really wanted to, but the response each time was to be shut down by friends and family.
Whilst reading Melissa Orlov's book, every page ticked a box about what was going on in my life, my marriage, my relationship with friends and former work colleagues (I'm now semi-retired). When I started to suggest that maybe I had the condition, the overwhelming response from some of my closest friends has been that it was the elephant in the room for years. I have no idea why anyone didn't see fit to mention it, but there we go. The biggest issue at home is that I am married to the polar opposite of myself when it comes to organising trips, events and life itself. As well as the "usual" list of behaviour cycles that the book highlights so clearly, the parent-child issue is painfully present as well as my ability to talk for England that can be brought down to Earth with train crash speed to shutting down and not uttering a word.
I can write what I'm thinking in a manner that people clearly understand although (as you'll notice) it's usually verbose as a simple yes or no without qualification or embellishment just seems rude. It's verbal communication that is problematic as I can't delete the last wrong word or edit a paragraph that was unwittingly critical, negative, accusatory or argumentative. That lack of editorial control when speaking should teach me to shut up for ten seconds until I've thought properly about how to respond, but that doesn't seem to work either at the moment, because as soon as I am constructing a sentence in my brain, the distraction is that I am being attacked and I have to defend myself and that just gets too overwhelming. I also swear (cuss - potty-mouthed expletive ranting) when I'm excited, annoyed or impassioned about stuff - good or bad.
Paradoxically, I spent 28 years leading and managing firefighters after I was promoted myself at operational incidents without it being particularly stressful. In hindsight, the ADHD may have contributed to some of the relationship conflicts that occurred at the time. Profile wise, I know we're all unique, but some of my own traits don't necessarily align with the stereotypes of the condition. I am untidy and need to make what seems like a huge effort to put things away and in the right place each time, but I'm getting much better at that after years of practice now. In 35 years of full time employment, I was late for work just twice. I do most of the washing and a fair share of the washing up and domestic chores in the house too. I love to cook, so that's never a chore. We are both procrastinators though, but I'd rather stay up until 2am washing up than get up early to do stuff that's unfinished, whereas my wife will be happy to leave things until the morning then she'll get up at silly O'clock, go for a swim and a gym class and maybe a run and be back for breakfast and a clear up. This is her "normal" full on a crazy busy organising adventure after adventure.
It would be easy to say that maybe that's just my impression given the difference in expectations and perspectives from one partner to the other, but friends and family routinely tell us that they get exhausted just reading about what we've been up to (almost ALL of which is organised by her-she is amazing). What has now become clearer is that it's not the actual organising so much as the engagement, enthusiasm, co-planning - sitting down together to actually help and show some sort of personal attachment. I don't know why I have so much difficulty in achieving this. It doesn't seem like an unreasonable request to chat about an adventure, but the allegation that I'm oblivious to things around me is clearly confirmed by our closest friends.
I'd love to work on things from start to finish most of the time, but even the relatively quick jobs will get put to one side because of a distraction. We're currently selling the family home in order to move closer to the grandchildren and I've been managing the arrangements for care for my mother with Alzheimer's since February that's gone awry in the last week (dispute between mum and a care worker - not ADHD related), All of this adds to the stress and distractions though.
I love my wife dearly, but it's clear that I am the cause of her unhappiness and I cannot counter that. She has said that she feels lonely and unloved, which having read the book I understand this is "textbook" stuff for ADHD partners. I'm hopeful that we haven't left it too late, but I will leave without a fight if I continue to be the source of her sadness. I'm not one to give up, but I need to try something different and maybe some space between us will help a complete meltdown.
So that's where we are, because it is WE and not just me, I get that. I'd love to hear from everyone what works best for you. What were the deal breakers? What strategy or tactics reaped results? What's the one thing you'd avoid if you could start the ADHD effect journey you're on all over again?
Thanks in anticipation of your responses.