I can't seem to communicate

I am looking for advice or effective mental tools to help with communication. I was originally diagnosed with ADD in early elementary school. For a short period of time I was medicated and eventually was taken off. From there I met regularly with psychologists to monitor my progress. I was the kid you that had a desk, not in the classroom, but outside the principal’s office because that is where I spent most of my time. I ended up at a private high school that was slightly more disciplined than public schools and slowly but surely my grades improved and my chaotic behavior lessened to a point that was more fitting a teenage boy. All this time I still did not take medication! Eventually (much to the surprise of my early therapists) I graduated from college with a degree in Physics and on the honor roll. Shortly thereafter I married my wife, started a career path and had children. In the current time I am facing very hard difficulties with my wife to the point we are closing in fast on a divorce. We have a wide range of problems, but there are multiple issues that I feel derive directly from my ADD. The biggest being my inability to communicate effectively and rationally.

I have very little trouble listening since I learned long ago that this was a problem area for me and I focus on listening a lot. The problems stems from me being unable to get the thoughts out of my mind and into my mouth correctly. Sometimes I say stuff that doesn’t make sense and wasn’t what I was trying to say at all. Or I over focus on what I am saying and go into every little detail that really has no point in the conversation. Then we can also add in the jumping around from topic to topic with no rhyme or reason and occasionally interrupting the person I am speaking with. It is just so frustrating for me because when I try to get verbage out of my head it is like the gears are going wild, but the product isn’t what I ordered. From there I get very conscious of what I am saying and usually slow down (which is annoying to my wife) and second guess everything I am saying. From how it will come out of my mouth to how it will be received. I am trying to change how I communicate, but nothing seems to work and it is just making things harder with my wife.

I am opposed at this point to taking medication. There are certain ADD traits that I rely on heavily. I do tend to multi-task very easily and when I need to get focused on something completely, it is very easy. I want to see if there are effective techniques to help with my communication problems prior to taking medication and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

 

Waytosouth

 

Sorry about the format

I typed the post in microsoft word and forgot that it messes up post like this. I did not see a place to edit the post, so I hope you skip the first part and share some helpful advice.

Not always as black and white

Thank you for the post.

 

  I am a 35 year old male who earlier in my life was tested for ADHD, and they didn't find anything then, However since I have been married to my wife (10 years) She has directed me to the knowledge that I still have ADD which is frustrating because I cant communicate with her.  We have two different personalities she is VERY pessimistic and I am very optimistic or to put it in her words I am with my head in the clouds and she is down to earth. As a side affect to the ADD I have just lost my second job in 10 years. She degrades me every time she gets a chance and tells me that I don't care, and one more mess and she will take the kids and leave. I like to think of myself as being Christian and it is hard for me to even think about divorce. I feel I am in an abusive relationship with her coupled with the uncertainty that I have ADD, I would like to get help but don't have medical because of no job. But I too have the problems of getting thoughts out to words and have always been quiet because of this. If I have a discussion with her she tells me that I don't make sense and it quickly grows into an argument, I cant seem to get anywhere with her because I am "Not acting like any man she has ever seen before", "I hate you", "you ruined my life" which in turn makes me not want to try to work on my problems, I know its a case of what came first.....But I am trying to find another job and trying to be a compassionate man and a loving father, but sometimes there seem no way out, too little too late, and don't know what to do.

Try writing it out

"I have very little trouble listening since I learned long ago that this was a problem area for me and I focus on listening a lot. The problems stems from me being unable to get the thoughts out of my mind and into my mouth correctly. Sometimes I say stuff that doesn’t make sense and wasn’t what I was trying to say at all. Or I over focus on what I am saying and go into every little detail that really has no point in the conversation. Then we can also add in the jumping around from topic to topic with no rhyme or reason and occasionally interrupting the person I am speaking with. It is just so frustrating for me because when I try to get verbage out of my head it is like the gears are going wild, but the product isn’t what I ordered. From there I get very conscious of what I am saying and usually slow down (which is annoying to my wife) and second guess everything I am saying. From how it will come out of my mouth to how it will be received. I am trying to change how I communicate, but nothing seems to work and it is just making things harder with my wife.

I am opposed at this point to taking medication. There are certain ADD traits that I rely on heavily. I do tend to multi-task very easily and when I need to get focused on something completely, it is very easy. I want to see if there are effective techniques to help with my communication problems prior to taking medication and any advice would be greatly appreciated."

I know exactly what you are going through here. I have been recently told that I may have ADD (which I am not doubting after taking some time to read about it) and could not have put what you said any better. The only difference with me is that I am willing to try medication along with therapy to see how things work. I have only been to a few therapy sessions and am still waiting to see my psychiatrist about medication, but one thing I learned is that working things out and communicating by writing seems the only way I can focus on what's going through my head and seeing what's happening.

I know, does not work in the heat of the moment, but afterwards, take the time to write out what happened and watch the gears slow down. Then, I start to compile my thoughts together and it becomes a bit more clear on how things played out. Then, send it to your spouse, or talk it over via IM.

Speaking verbally and in the heat of the moment does not give you a chance to reflect on what's about to come out of your mouth and your mouth does not have a backspace key, but writing does.

Now, I have to put that into better practice with my wife...

Hope this helps some. :)

Communication Issues for WaytoSouth

I have two specific suggestions for you.  First, you seem to write well and clearly.  I would suggest that for important topics you consider writing some thoughts down for your spouse.  This way you can think clearly about what you say.  I would augment that with a book called "Fighting for Your Marriage".  Skip to the part about the "speaker/listener" conversational technique.  I think this will help you as a couple, if your wife will go along with it (which I bet she will) because a.) it breaks the conversation down into smaller chunks, b.) it has built in "I said what I meant to say" and "I understand what you meant" checks in it and c.) it will help you get at very difficult issues (which seems to be where you are right now.

 

Communication

For as long as I have known my husband, he has expressed EXACTLY the phenomenon that you say happens to you.  He says that he knows what he is thinking, but when it comes out, it isn't what he meant at all.  He has struggled with getting his thoughts into words.  I recently earned a master's degree in special education, and I began looking for clues as to what might be causing the problem.  There are "communication disorders" which can cause this. 

You seem to be very adept at writing what you are thinking.  Have you ever tried IM'ing your wife or sending email back and forth?  Maybe the stress caused from "being in the midst of the conversation" makes your communication challenges "kick into full gear" ?  If you exchange email, then you will have time, alone, to think about your response.  You can then look over it to make sure that it conveys exactly what you are thinking before you send it.

Another thing that I noticed was that my husband's response time is slightly slower than average, so I (also ADHD) tend to "rush" him or to assume that he is not responding or not listening to me.  This adds to his pressure and it gets even worse. 

From the spouse's perspective:  When the answers don't have anything to do with the questions, we think that you aren't listening to the questions - that you aren't paying attention.  It hurts to feel like you are so unimportant that your spouse is literally ignoring you all the time, and it is literally terrifying to entertain the thought that he truly understanding the simple concepts that you are trying to get across.   You feel like you have lost him when you think that he doesn't comprehend things (because his answers are so unrelated), and you wonder if you made a mistake marrying someone who doesn't speak your language.  It is very difficult to feel like you have an intimate connection with another person when they don't seem to comprehend what you are saying or how you are feeling.  Isn't that how we "know" each other, among other things?  She may or may not be feeling this way.  The good thing is that it sounds like you ARE comprehending the questions.  You're answers just aren't coming out like they should be!!  Luckily, you seem to be able to communicate in writing, so you can SHOW her that you really mean it when you say that you are thinking about it, and that your words just aren't flowing properly. 

One thing about ADHD medication.  Personally, the medication NEVER took away any of my positive ADHD traits (and I do value them!)  It only made it easier for me to access them.  When I take it, it's like I can multiprocess even better, because all of the "noise" in the background is not there anymore . . .  Suddenly, all of my creative ideas come SPILLING out like they have been piling up in there, wanting to escape.  With the medication, I am able to organize the ideas into meaningful projects and I make schedules and keep calendars.  You might want to give it a try before you write if off completely.  If you don't like it, you can just stop taking it, right?  One small tip:  I noticed that if I take a couple of days off of the medication, it continues to work.  Otherwise, it seems to lose it's effect, and I have to increase my dose, which I don't really like doing.  Apparently, this doesn't happen to everyone, but it did happen to me.  On the larger doses, I tended to "crash" when it wore off - not an option!

Same Here...

I have ADHD and its like my head is going faster than I can get it out of my mouth so in the process I'm leaving things out or skipping around...My spouse and I met online and thru email before we ever met in person and she said I was articulate and intellegent and then after a while of us being together all the time in person she finally said "I don't know how to communicate with you...its like you are only using fragment sentences and exclamations"...like Oh, Hmm, Wow, Really, etc when she was talking and even when she asked me questions I THOUGHT I was answering. Anyway point is we learned that we were having alot of communication issues because of my ADHD so we came to an agreement to discuss important issues via email or letters (which helps because I can get everything I need to say out right then without any interruptions), plus if she has a beef with me, I NEED it in writing too because I'm not an auditory learner at all. This works for us anyway.

Say it in e-mail

Crissy....

I agree with you, e-mail is an effective way to communicate in complete sentences and express what you want to say 'in full' and without interruption.   When talking about something important to the ADDer....  with impulsivity, inattentiveness and flight of ideas going on....  the conversation often veers off into chaotic pathways you don't expect or want.  In an e-mail, you have the floor all to yourself and you can feel satisfied that you have been heard.   Plus, there is no raised voice or tones that could be misperceived or misjudged.   I believe it is great to lay out your issues there in the e-mail,  but also to speak in KINDNESS in offering ideas or plans to strategize for the future or in stating your boundaries.   I have found that thru e-mail, we can arrive at an understanding and avoid the 'big fight'.