How do I repair the damage that I've done to my poor wife and begin to make it better?

Hi all,

Firstly, I'll start by saying that I've been browsing this forum for some time so thanks to each and every one of you who contributes. It's very powerful to read other people's stories and, rightly or wrongly, I take comfort in knowing I'm not alone.

So,a bit about me - 

  • 35 years old
  • Married to my beautiful wife for 5 years and 356 days. We have 3 beautiful children together (nearly 6 months, 4 years and 6 years)
  • Diagnosed with ADHD in September 2020 (combined, severe)
  • Been medicated since March 2022, currently on 60mg Elvanse once daily with a 5mg top up when needed (although I usually forget to take the top up).
  • I've wronged my wife for too long and I need to change - I've never wanted anything more in my life
  • I'm an expert in distorting reality, I guess to protect myself from the truth
  • I've never really fully and truly accepted my ADHD diagnosis. I have no idea why as my wife has never been anything other than 100% supportive and accepting and loving of me for me, ADHD 'n all.

Whilst I've only just begun to accept this and start to come to terms with it, I've been in a pretty bad place mentally for the last 3 or so months. I've been snappy, useless, (more) incompetent, unhelpful, uncaring and downright horrible to be around. I refused to accept this change and did what I do best, bury my head in the sand and pretend everything is all good. 

Fast forward to mid November and my wife and I separated. I say separated, I left with nowhere to go in a temper one day after an argument. An argument that I caused despite my wife trying her best to make it better. Just typing that out for the world to see fills me with shame, frustration, disappointment, hurt and every other negative emotion going. 

With nowhere to go, I had to swallow my pride and reach out to a mate from work. He's a good bloke with a big heart and I knew that, whilst judgment would be there, it wouldn't be too intense and I'd probably be able to convince myself that he wasn't passing judgment. He gave me somewhere to stay, he gave me someone to talk to, he gave me a shoulder to cry on and he gave me support in the only way he knew how. I'll forever be grateful to him for what he did for me. I was too embarrassed of my situation and he also kept it entirely under wraps from everyone else at work. I'm a senior manager there and, until recently, I had the mindset of not showing any weakness and being a trusted person for anyone and everyone - if only I'd have taken the same mindset with my marriage I'm certain I wouldn't find myself where I am today.

I was really quite hard on myself during this time. My mindset and thinking was at an all time low and I'd convinced myself that they're all better off without me. It hurt so much not having my wife and kids by my side but I'd convinced myself they were better off without me. 

My wife begged and pleaded for me to come home which I eventually did. Although I did it still refusing to accept the reality of where I was at mentally and the struggles I was going through. I knew deep down it was ADHD related and probably driven by ineffective medication but I'd waited years to get medication and I was terrified it would be taken away from me which would cause me to lose all home with my struggles in day to day life that having ADHD brings. That hope was important to me to a point where I'd managed to (very successfully) convince myself that everyone was better off without me. 

My inability to accept the reality and face the truth meant that me going back home was an absolute shambles (all of my own doing). I spiraled downhill further and reached lows I didn't think were possible. This resulted in me leaving again. 

I moved into my own place a couple of weeks ago which has forced me to spend a whole lot of time on my own and with my own thoughts.

I spend my days frightened. I spend my nights frightened. I'm having panic attacks that cause my feet, hands and face to have pins and needles, I spend every minute missing my beautiful wife and beautiful children and I spend my days with nothing but my own thoughts. I spend my days regretting all the little things I did wrong. All the big things, not caring enough, not being honest with myself and desperately trying (but ultimately failing) to distort reality into convincing myself that this is for the best. 

Fast forward to about a week ago and I read something online about being honest with yourself and how it can't possibly harm you unless you allow it to. It said that its safe to be honest with youself and at that point, you can choose what to do with that honesty.. As soon as I read those words, my thoughts changed and I wrote down a whole list of honest things. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them at this point but I didn't have anything to lose so I gave it a shot. 

Some of the things I wrote down - 

  • I miss my wife more than I thought was possible and love her more than i even knew I did 
  • I'm well aware that my mood changed about 3 months ago and it changed because of the beginning of a process of coming to terms with having ADHD
  • I'm scared to lose my medication but I know it's making no difference in a positive way but is severely and negatively impacting my mental health
  • I'd do anything to have my family back
  • I haven't been a very good husband and father 
  • The one thing I want more than anything in the world is to be the husband and father that my wife and children deserve
  • I don't know how to fix this but I need to make a pact with myself to be honest. Like the article said, it was safe to do because I was in control of what I did with that honesty. I could do something useful and productive with it or I could do what I've always done and bury it and conjure up some nonsense as to the reasons for my behavior and actions that didn't make me feel so bad

I've sat with that list for several days and I haven't been able to get it out of my head. I must have read it 1,000 times and spent hours thinking and analysing all of the points.

I made a promise to myself, If I didn't want my life to end abruptly with a lot of pain and suffering for the people that care for me, I need to be honest, no matter what and no matter how uncomfortable that makes me feel. 

I wasn't suicidal but there's been plenty of times where I'd longed to be dead over the past month or so. You see life through some different lenses where you're sat on the edge of the bed at 2am trying to get yet another panic attack under control, knowing full well that the next one is probably only a few minutes away anyway. There aren't words to describe the pain but there are actions I can take to try and make it better for my family. In turn, having them back will remove my pain.

I laid my cards on the table with my wife and told her how I really felt. I tried my best to demonstrate that this is different and that I'm aware and have some answers to my behavior and will stop at nothing to fix this and I meant every word. There is nothing I wouldn't do and I know it will take time and I know it will take effort and I know it won't be perfect but I will try. She's such an amazing person and she's never had unrealistic expectations of my and my ADHD. She's my rock and I will stop at nothing until I'm her rock. I love her more than she'll ever know and certainly more than my actions have ever demonstrated and that also has to change. And they will. 



So that's the background of my situation. Really, I'm looking for some guidance from people that have been in my wife's situation. I so desperately want to get this right and prove to her that I can be the husband that she needs and deserves, that I can be the father to our beautiful children that they need and deserve and that nothing is more important to me than creating harmony is our family again. And most importantly, I'm 100% confident that we can get there because a positive outcome is driven by MY actions, MY changes and MY behaviours being corrected. 

If anyone has any thoughts, advice, tips or anything at all to contribute, I will be more grateful than you'll ever know. I just want my perfect little family back.

Thank you all for reading.

Chris x