I feel so hopeless. So useless. So...damaged.

I first have to say how grateful I am for this forum. I've been reading and reading  but hadn't joined. But I have no where else to vent or ask for help. I don't have many friends and the ones who understood what I am going through, I've had to stop talking to because of trust issues with my husband and I. So I'm coming here, hoping for help. Hoping for any tidbit that will make me not drive my husband and family nuts.

I was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD back when I was 19. I'm 44 now. I've tried Adderall, Strattera, you name it. I've tried it. None of it seems to help, although I'm on Wellbutrin 300 mg a day now. It's all my public assistance will cover for ADHD since I can't afford the copays and whatnot with the crap insurance I get from my job.

I'm in counseling now, primarily for the sexual abuse that I've suffered for the majority of my life,  but that's a recent thing. I'm a mess. It seems the harder I try, the more I fail. My husband is drained. Mentally, physically and emotionally it seems, too.

He's a good man. And he does try to understand, I think. But he keeps losing patience with me. Just when I think I'm finally doing it, that I'm on top of things,  making him proud and not disgusted with me, I find out, yeah I'm doing great at one thing and severely screwing up another.  I try to write notes to myself, but I forget where I put them half the time in my struggle to stay on top of things. He's disabled physically (something he blames me and my kids for at least in part) and I try to keep up on all the housework, work a full time job I'm fighting for success at, take care of the kids and stepkids, work on my art business.  I'm incredibly overwhelmed! Every day from the second I wake up to the time I go to bed, I'm struggling just to get through the day. Every day is an internal battle to just remember, remember, remember. And no one seems to understand what I'm going through. My whole life I've been called an airhead, scattered, immature, stupid, a mess, a ditz...I could go on and on. There are days I just wish I were dead and gone and then, I wouldn't be such a burden and a failure anymore. 

My husband feels like he has to take over the adult role in our relationship and take care of me. And he's disabled and wants someone to take care of HIM the way he's been fighting to take care of everyone else his whole life.  And I try. I truly do. To the point that I'm a freaking nervous wreck. I'm just disgusted with myself because I feel I'm just not  the woman he needs me to be and may never be.

Last night he tells me that he's happy and calm until I come home. Then, apparently, my nervous energy annoys him and stresses him out. I work 3 to 11:30  pm and after a stressful day at work, it takes me a bit of time to calm down and relax. If I were working a regular day job, I could just throw myself into the after work schedule of cooking, cleaning, family. But at night, the kids are asleep, it's too late to do housework and it's just the two of us.  I just don't understand. Why am I so unacceptable? Why am I such a a mess despite trying so hard to NOT be one? I try so hard. So, so hard. I can't tell you the books and articles I've read, trying to understand my condition. All the tips and tricks where  I've tried to stay organized and failed. My husband is frustrated. He's SUPER organized. He's a clean freak. He's always neat and tidy. He wants to know why can't I be, too? Why can't I be more like him or just try harder or why can't I just calm down? Why can't I just sit down and relax? Why can't I remember simple tasks, why can't I stay organized? It's all I feel like I hear anymore. Sometimes it's so overwhelming that I just ask him to please, please tell me ONE nice thing about myself so I don't feel like a complete and utter failure. 

Don't get me wrong. My husband is very supportive, but he's as frustrated as I am. He's tells me when I say one negative thing about myself, I should find 10 positive things. But I can't find anything positive about me. Not when I feel like such a loser that can't do anything right. I'm very hypersensitive anymore to criticism. I feel constantly attacked and "unacceptable".  Not just by him, but by my job, my family. Myself.

Basically, I'm at the end of my rope and begging for any help I can get. 

Leopardprints: you are not

Leopardprints: you are not useless, damaged. You are far from hopeless. Your self esteem is crushed, you are in pain, and you have dealt w not just adhd but the traumatic consequences of sexual abuse. You are in a somewhat supportive relationship but your husband does not appear to get the whole gist of what you are going through. And though I appreciate how frustrating it can be for him (i am also the partner without adhd), it is most certainly NOT all you. This is not about blame either, so remove that word from your mindset. In fact, hearing all that you are doing.. I am impressed. "It seems the harder I try, the more I fail." this statement Is heartwrenching- Ive heard it before and this is what I have to say: its not true- though this may be your perception. I am glad you are in counseling (hopefully w someone who does know the challenges of adhd), do you have an adhd coach? Have you tried meditation, exercise? Have you read Halliwells books (ie youre not crazy?). Its hard to pull all this into one measly posting, but there are things you should be doing: #1 is to do things that empower you- grab it and let yourself love YOU. The external needs of life will always be there and need to be addressed BUT it is how you deal with the internal (what you feel about yourself) that will drive if you live life in happiness or not. You do NOT need to be like everyone else or YoUr husband (and he should not want that either). Please let him read Melissa orlovs book, its helpful. And tell him how you have been feeling aftee he does read it. You are a wonderful person, and the storyline in your head needs to support that statement even if you havent done so in a long time. Your pain is palpable but know that there is a way to feel peace and happuness. I PROMISE you. My story may not be currently happy, but my understanding of this has not changed my conviction: you and everyone who has adhd can be happy, self assured (so much as anyine can be and without sliding into narcissism) AND completely functioning people. You are not helpless, you need help (as in support, alternatives to help make your life easier/more streamlined), a better self esteem that lets you feel like you have POWER in YOUR life (no really!). It is there in your reach. Do not be afraid. Have strength sister.
leopardprints67's picture

Thank you.

Thank you, Lulu. I appreciate it. I told myself this morning that I am not stupid, I am not useless and that I have value. That I am loveable and deserve love and understanding. I am, at least for now, trying to gird myself with positive thoughts and remember that, yes, it's not ALL me.  He has his own anxiety and OCPD issues. I am not wholly responsible for those, although for some of it, yes, I am. I've made bad choices and we had a lot of issues with my lieing in the beginning of our relationship. Because of my past of extreme sexual abuse, I've made some bad decisions and couldn't bring myself to tell him about them. I didn't think anyone would love or want me because of them. SO I withheld a lot. I also was flirting with people on the internet and while I never physically cheated, I was flirting and seeking validation from others in a need for attention. I keep thinking we're going past all of this and I don't do anything like those behaviors anymore since I'm aware of them now, but it keeps rearing it's ugly head up.  My feeling is how can we move forward if we keep reliving the past? We've both made mistakes. I've forgiven and moved on...why can't he?

I am not able to afford an ADHD coach.  And the counseling, well, I never asked if she's used to adhd people. I'll ask her tomorrow if she is.

I'm currently upping every chance I have for exercise because I'm recognizing that I NEED it. And walking with the husband is AGONIZING...because Lysa has 1 speed and that's FAST. Hyperdrive. He can only move slow now due to his MS and other issues and forcing myself to walk slow with him is like trying to rein in a thoroughbred. I chafe at the bit, stomp alot and basically get bored as hell. I know he's upset about that because when we started dating, I walked everywhere with him. I am doing a lot more of my own type of walking at work. So it's helping. I am thinking of starting bellydancing again and maybe even teaching it again as well. That was the one thing in my life years ago that made me feel impowered and strong. I just don't have the time and my time management still needs some help. Ok, it needs alot of help, LOL.

I've tried meditation but I gave up in frustration because isn't the whole idea to clear your mind of thoughts and just relax? I can't get the cracked out hamster on a wheel that is my brain to slow down enough to manage just a single thought. But if I can find a nice quiet place (haha!) in this place, I'll keep trying it if it really helps.  

A friend of mine gave me the Melissa Orlov book, The ADHD Effect on Marriage. I've read it and I'm getting ready to read it again. He's read it, at least in part. I don't think he went thru the whole thing yet, though. I haven't ever read the Halliwell book, but I want to. I'm looking to see if the local library has it. My doc gave me a list of books he'd like me to read but our budget simply doesn't allow for it. And I've told him time and again how I'm feeling. I think he does try to understand at least. He's just so fed up and frustrated. And I GET IT. I understand. I get frustrated and fed up with myself, too. I just wish he'd move past it and just see how hard I struggle. 

You mentioned that your story isn't a happy one. Could you tell me more about that? And thank you so much for the encouragement. I thank you so much for it. It makes me feel not so hopeless. 




You ask "isn't the whole idea [of meditation] to clear your mind of thoughts and just relax?"  Not really.  I think meditation is a place to just be in the present moment and breathe.  There is nothing to achieve, like an "empty mind" or "relaxation".  Thoughts will come, rapidly and over and over again.  You just observe that you have had a thought and go back to observing your breath.  Meditation is sitting with yourself, and whatever thoughts and emotions and ideas pop up, then setting them aside without judgment or feeling you're failing at meditation, and going back to observing your breath.  There is no magic ... Sometimes you may feel calm during or after.  Sometimes you may feel like it is a struggle, you want to get up NOW!  Sometimes you wonder what the point is.  All those are just "thoughts" you can say "huh" to and set aside and go back to observing your breath.  You "do" meditation by "not-doing".  Just for a few minutes a day, there is nothing to be "done" but breathe.  One key is to not "judge" poorly or well, the quality of your meditation.  Just do.  This is hard for our constantly achieving culture to understand.  Imagine a baby just sitting looking out the window at leaves moving against the sky.  Who would say they aren't doing something good?  


I am the non ADHD spouse, and guess what?  When I am trying to be "successful" at too many things, I feel like a failure.  You write that you have a disabled husband, a full time job, children and step-children to care for, housework and cooking, and a business.  Um, hello?  While it may seem unfortunate that you both need supportive spouses at this time in your lives, guess what?  That's what we all want, and every point in our lives.  There are no "turns".  Just because your partner made the choice to look after everybody else for most of his life, doesn't mean now it is his "turn" to get looked after.  First we have to look after ourselves, then we look after those we love.  Expecting to be taken care of is a fantasy.  Loved, yes.  Admired and respected, yes.  Fun and play?  Yes.  But "take care of me" is a recipe for disaster in an adult marriage.  

If your nervous energy stresses out your husband when you get home from work at midnight, perhaps he should go to bed earlier.  About once a week I have to work a very long day, don't get home until 10, and have to get up at 5.  There is no way to quickly relax and unwind from a day like that.  People with a "regular" schedule have five or six hours to wind down to bedtime.  You can either explain that to him, or not, but I suspect he wants something specific from you at the end of the day, and this is a 'hint" about what it might be.  Attention?  Care-giving?  whatever it is, you might have to suggest that he ask for it at a different time of day when you are able to give it.  I, for example, would love to go off to work each (very early) morning with the memory of a cheerful conversation and hug with my husband.  Not gonna happen.  He's groggy, crabby or just not all there.  Oh well.  I got over it.  

You can have a very satisfying, joyful and peaceful life, just being "good enough" at what you have to do.  If your days are full and your children safe and cheerful, and you are laughing now and then, you're doing great.  Nobody, ADHD or not, get's it all done, perfectly, every single day.  Nobody.  I recommend meditation, even five minutes a day, to get perspective.  And don't tell me ADHDers are bad at meditation.  Being good at it is not the point.  Best wishes.

leopardprints67's picture

I just feel so very

I just feel so very overwhelmed and I don't know how HE can juggle a bunch of stuff and keep track of all of it.  I wish I could visit his brain so I can see what a compartmentalized brain feels like. So I can see what it's like to just have one thought at a time and be able to act on it, like a "normal" person does. 

And yes, I'm a bundle of nervous energy. After work (I work at a call center which for someone like me is HELL) I'm so UP that it takes me a while to calm down again. The last couple of days he's told me to go play World of Warcraft before coming in to the room. Internet and games really, really helps my brain slow down, but he hates when I'm on because I tend to hyper focus and forget when to get off again, he says.  He just wants to sit and watch movies and tv shows. I have a hard time sitting long enough to watch anything ​unless I'm really into it.

What upsets me is that I thought we were having a happy life. Apparently, not to him. I think all he wants me to do is cook, watch tv, spend time with family and clean, clean, clean. He actually wants me to throw the computer out and not have any internet, games, books, etc because it keeps me from doing what I need to be doing. The very thought of that makes me insane, because without the computer, I would go insane. Without my books, I would go insane. It's my escape.  I'm doing what I NEED to be doing. I'm there, cooking, cleaning (although not good enough, he says), I do spend time with the kids. I do spend time with him and would love to spend more if he could get up in the AM when I do. 

And I would LOVE to laugh more. But I just don't know if I'm coming or going anymore and the criticism is ruining my self esteem. I'm so depressed. I don't know if he's mad at me or what to expect anymore. So I walk around wondering when I'm going to do something wrong AGAIN. It really makes it hard to laugh and be myself.

I just want to love and be loved and be happy. Laugh. Play. Do what's necessary, yes. But I want to have some fun, too. I want to be Lysa, not some drudge that only works, works, works.

I am so impressed by all you do

We have the same elements as you, different combination. I am the one that's physically disabled, not as bad as someone with MS but as the result of a car accident. He, perfect physical specimen, has ADD. He lost a job he loved in May and since then has not looked for work, mostly just sat around doing nothing. I, meanwhile, after years of call center work, lost my job and got another working from home. But I can work usefully for many hours, and have to struggle to get housework done and so forth when he feels, apparently, no compunction to do anything at all.

I am so impressed that you, with ADD, can even work in a call center. My husband, before we knew he has ADD, worked in several but the rigid rules and productivity standards eventually doomed all of those jobs. (In one job, he got fired for hitting the wrong button and hanging up on someone, just one time.) That's what Employment Security wants to do with someone with a BS in psychology. He hasn't enough training to do real counseling, and has a poor track record with everything else. I thrived in the call center environment because you don't have to walk much and the time constraints don't bother me much.

You are not a failure. Anyone who can survive a call center, especially with ADD, is doing great.

Is there any possibility of paying someone else to clean the house, even if you had to work more hours to pay for it? It is amazing how much "the pros" can get done in a short period of time.