This is something my husband and I need some help/suggestions about. Someone mentioned in another thread that my husband seems to do well when things are relatively calm (the way most of us NTs do) and when things take a chaotic turn he tends to spin in place without being able to get his bearings (also in a way that happens to many of us NTs when we are overwhelmed). It is true that he basically has the same pattern a lot of us have, but the frequency, duration, and amount of outside help needed to resolve it seem very different.
A similarity I can see between when this happens to me and when this happens to my husband is that comfort and empathy and NOT adding anything to the plate of the overwhelmed person seem to be the best way to go. For example when my grandmother was dying, my husband picked up the slack like a champ until I could deal with all the things having a slowly dying family member entails. By the same token, my husband tends to get overwhelmed a lot more often and more easily than I do, therefore I try to step in and take over the things that I can until he can re-gather himself. One issue that I have is that he is not that great at the re-gathering process, and when he is caving/avoiding/feeling a little down and I step in to help, it seems like he feels such relief that he wants to wallow in having the help when I need him to re-gather and get back to our regularly scheduled life.
Obviously this having the other one step in only works well when something is overwhelming one OR the other of us. Sometimes we face things that are overwhelming to us both, and the other just isn't in a position to take on anymore.
Here is where I see a real difference in the way we handle this. I have a much better sense of priority than my ADD husband (I read this is a common weakness for the ADD mate), so I can tread water pretty well and realize what to put on the back burner until I am at full strength. Because my husband lacks this ability, if I am not there to walk him through the process and keep him feeling grounded (which I am just not up to for example when the problem is his family like it was recently), he just seems to spin in place until I am able to pull him out of it.
I really feel a necessary skill for him to develop is the ability to stop himself from spinning. Have any of you had success in conquering this? Recognizing that you are accomplishing nothing even if you are trying, stopping, taking whatever kind of deep breath is needed, and working your way out of the hole the overwhelm causes?
My husband's natural defense is to shut down and hole up. Frequently while in his man cave, this is when the video games come out. Now I don't mind this because I grew up being taught the Mars/Venus explanation of the man cave is that when the man gets overwhelmed, he goes into the cave in order to regroup and he will come out with a plan. My husband NEVER comes out with a plan, and I wonder if I am not somewhat to blame in that I usually have to prod him out after what I feel is a reasonable period of time to caving/avoiding. There comes a point where you have to get back to regular life, and if I am honest I am afraid if he is left to his own devices that he will never reach that point on his own.
Our life is such that while he is avoiding, things are coming in to do, therefore the longer he is in there the more behind he gets, and the result of this (as best as I can tell from observation and conversation) is more desire to cave/avoid because he is overwhelmed by being behind. To be fair he keeps up with the bare minimum......he does his work, he cares for things on fire, but he cares for little/nothing that isn't actively on fire so there is all sits smoldering during these times.
Like I said, I think we have an OK system for when he is overwhelmed and I am not.......I can gently get him back on track.......sometimes if I am honest not so gently, but as long as I am not in the mire too, I can pull him out.
He has infinite patience if (in Mars/Venus parlance again) 'my wave is crashing'. I especially have a week every couple of months where I get hormonal affected overwhelm and he does FABULOUS at not stressing me out further. He will take on things like all the cooking (he usually does 1/2) and maybe a little amount of extra cleaning, but basically I pull myself out my hole, whatever I got myself behind while I was in there is cleared up by me, and onward I move.
He seems to need a lot more of me to pull him out. I would like the situation to be more like it is for him.....where my part of the equation would be just to help and support and know confidently he will bounce back, he will take care of what he is behind, and he will be his regular self.