I have been married for 18 years (recent anniversary in June). I got married to my high school sweetheart at age 20. I have three children (17, 12, and 10). My wife is the love of my life. She is sweet, kind, beautiful and really a fantastic human being. I lover her dearly.
I was diagnosed as having ADD after college while in post graduate school. My family suggested I get evaluated because as they said, "its not normal to sit out on the balcony where you hear the constant noise of traffic, smoke cigarettes and drink coffee just so you can study". They were right. I began to take Ritalin soon after my evaluation by and ADD savvy psychiatrist. The effects were immediate. I had always been a great student, but now, in medical school, the amount of time needed to study and memorize information was overwhelming. I needed the medication to study and learn good study habits. Unfortunately, that is all I thought I needed it for. Over the next few years (including a period of time in my residency where studying was really needed) I took the medicine again. It had the same effect. But my father (also a physician and now in retrospect likely an ADD suffer) had said to me while in school "if you are a surgeon and you forget to take your pill, what are you going to do?". This had a profound effect on my thoughts about the medicine. I really felt like something was wrong with me if I needed medicine to function.
Fast forward to one year ago. My wife said to me, "if things don't change and we get some help in counseling, we going to get a divorce". This was as a tremendous shock to me. My wife had suffered periods of extreme depression (only while we were married, never before marriage) and really became sad when her own parents had divorced after 26 years of marriage. This was several years ago and she began to take Zoloft which has helped her for these many years now. I thought this was another of her "sad times".
We began to go to counseling. Unfortunately for me, this was psychotherapy, the traditional type. The psychiatrist focused on bringing up all of our feelings about the past. Only after a few months and me telling him about my ADD, did he prescribe Vyvanse. It has helped some, but I do not think the dose or effect is anywhere near optimal and he is very unfamiliar with the medicines or ADD. The counseling has helped my wife. It has helped her "find her voice". It has surfaced the many years of hiding her pain from me. She is very angry. After a few glasses of wine, she is REAL ANGRY. She described "walking on eggshells" and many other terms found throughout both books. It has brought forth the pain and hurt of my past actions. Controlling her ideas, always offering my solution first, before she had chance to think, interrupting her, making jokes at her expense, and generally being so high strung so as to make her nervous. She describes my voice or facial expressions at times as "making her break into a sweat". I had no idea how the last 18 years have been for her.
Throughout this past 6 months of seeing a therapist, we have both been trying to overcome our differences (the whole time without either of us a real understanding of the role ADD has in our marriage). She has asked the whole time for "space" while she gathers her thoughts and tries to figure things out. I asked her if she looks at me and sees someone she loves and wants to spend the rest of her life with or someone she hates and has extreme anger toward. She says "both". Each session she recounts more of the past hurt, and the anger has grown. She still has real difficulty communicating her feelings, fearful of my reaction. Fearful my reaction would be negative. And she is right to have this fear. I have always been difficult to confront, always feeling personally challenged, like many with ADD. Unfortunately, my symptoms have not allowed me to give her the space she has asked for. I have been constantly "checking the weather report" and stressing about how she feels. Nothing in life has made my anxiety soar like the fear of losing my wife. About 10 days ago, we agreed to spend time physically away from each other after a huge fight where I couldn't leave her alone and provoked her to hit me and scream at me. We have agreed to split the time with our children (despite many others stories here, I am a good father by my wife's and many other's accounts) during the summer, and spend a couple of months apart.
It was only during this past 10 days by myself, when I realized my true role in her pain. A friend who is married to a man with ADD recommended Melissa's book. I felt as though I was reading my autobiography and my wife's. I am so sad and I am very ashamed. The whole time I have been attributing my wife's feelings as a "mid life crises" and her "depression". Only now, in reflection and thanks to the books, do I realize what I have done to her over the years. Her feelings of wanting a change may have been brought on by a sort of "mid life evaluation", but it is because I have been an poop over the years that such an evaluation was needed.
I have not spoken to her about this recent revelation. I am sure that right now it would be seen as another of my "quick fix" ideas. But what I have discovered here and in the books has been profound. To anyone who can give me some hope about my chances at reconciliation with my wife and thoughts on how to progress, I would be grateful. I have made an appointment with a CBT psychiatrist who is familiar with ADD. Regardless of my marriage outcome, I know that changes need to be made for me to be a better father, brother, son and human being. I love my wife and my children more than anything in the world. I recognize how my behaviors have affected my marriage, and I am so ready to change things.
Thanks for reading.