I Want To Runaway From Home

Hello all!  I'm not new to AD/HD, but new to this forum.  I have lived with people my whole life with ADD.  I have spent a lot of time on this site and hear my story.  I'll give some background info first.  

I have a 17 year old son who was diagnosed at 4 with severe AD/HD, a 13 year old daughter who was diagnosed with AD/HD at 11, and my husband who I've been with for 15 years was just diagnosed last year.  My first husband, who died when my son was only 18 months old, is believed to have had ADD.  After more research when my husband was diagnosed with ADD, I now believe my father is ADD as well.  That's why I stated I have lived with ADD my whole life.  I went from my parents home, where I believe my father is ADD, to my first husband who I believe had ADD, my two children, and my current husband.

For years I have struggled with juggling everything and now I don't know if I can keep doing it all.    

As for my children, I have seen some improvement with the medication.  However, their attitude towards doing more to help themselves has me concerned how they will ever make it on their own.  They can't even remember to take their meds everyday regardless of the suggestions I have made to help them help themselves to remember.  Anyone with children knows how difficult it is to tend to all of their needs, toss in ADD for both, well the struggles amplify.  Oh, and I also homeschool them.  Now, toss in an ADD spouse who is in the military which adds in a whole other set of difficulties.  Mix it all together and I'm about to lose my mind.

After my husband was diagnosed (which took me threatening to leave), I jumped in doing research online, buying books, taking my time to figure out what is different between adult ADD and childhood ADD.  

So, why am I angry and/or frustrated?  I know having ADD is not their fault.  However, none of them will do anything to help themselves more.  Of course, my biggest source of anger is directed at my husband.  Now, that he has his diagnosis it's more like he just has an excuse for all of his “bad” behavior.  I have realized that a lot of the hurts I have experienced are caused by the ADD, but why is their no decrease or more effort on his part (the kids are just kids). 
My whole adult life (except for the time spent between husbands) has been a constant do you have your wallet, your keys, do you have an alarm set, did you remember this, did you remember that, have you taken your pill, do you have everything you need, did you remember to do this, do that.  I have been through all of the forgetfulness, the communication difficulties, impulsivity, lying, cheating, leaving, gaming and porn addictions, walking on eggshells because I don’t know what mood he will be in, the angry outburst and shocks to my nerves (most of these all by both husbands).  I’ve been through the countless amounts of wasted money because he didn’t put the water bill in the mail, he forgot and left stuff outside to be ruined by the weather, countless small things that only needed a few minutes to repair ended up needing major repair or replacement because he “never” had time to get to it.  I have been there picking up the pieces every time.  

I handle all of the bills, stay on house and car maintenance, kids appointments, his appointments, the bulk of the children's educational development, run my own business, and constant "reminder person" for them all.  I have no time for myself and resent all the play time he has.  I have to be the adult and he is just another child, only he won’t do what he is told.
They aren't bad people and it’s not horrible 24/7.  My children are sweet, smart, happy, and healthy.  My husband is sweet, thoughtful, smart, and healthy.  However, I feel like running away from home and feel guilty for even thinking such thoughts.  I just keep thinking when is enough enough.  I feel as if I’m drowning, he’s watching, and won’t even through me a rope.
My husband makes me feel like I have to change.  How much more forgiving, understand, and patient am I supposed to be?  It appears as if I am expected to just put up with all of this and not complain, not be upset, not be resentful, or tired, because he can’t help it.  But he does nothing to change.  I haven’t ever had a relationship with anyone who hasn’t had ADD.  So, I have no clue if this is all ADD or ADD with personality flaws that have no treatment.

I feel like I’m losing myself.  I feel like a manager more than a wife and partner. 

He’ll talk to me as long as it’s something he wants to talk about.  He’ll ask me things like what I would like to talk about or what I’m thinking.  I typically respond with nothing because of years of actually thinking he’s interested to realize he isn’t.  He cuts me off and says he has to interrupt or he’ll forget.  However, if I interrupt him while he is talking about something non-important because I’ve been reminded of something important to tell him I’m being rude. 

If I bring up something he has done that has been hurtful to me he starts an argument and I’m to blame somehow, or he tells me he did mean to hurt me and that’s supposed to make everything alright because it wasn’t his intent. 

I feel like I get set up.  He’ll be very nice and offer help so when I tell him what I need help with somehow an argument is started by telling me how that doesn’t need to be done.  Or I’ll actually trust him to do something, and he’s “forgotten” so I have to try to scramble at the last minute to get it done.  I’d rather not even ask for the help or give him a task when he asks if there is anything he can do to help, it usually ends up back on my plate at the last minute and I’m even more frustrated.  He’s also pretty good about “helping” me with doing projects I can easily do but leave the projects I can’t do and he won’t do.

I stopped expecting him to make anything around the house a priority.  He claims he wants to do things but he couldn’t sleep the night before (sleep apnea, more like stayed on the computer all night), he doesn’t feel well (he is always sick on off days when there are no plans to go somewhere, or gets me to agree to do something outside of the house with him, and there’s always the “I forgot”.  Of course, I’m supposed to be so stupid to not realize what he is doing.  When I gave up expecting him to help around the house I was going to pay for help, but that can’t happen because he “wants” to do the stuff, “likes” to do the stuff, or insults his male pride.  But he won’t finish a project and I’m expected to live in a home and watch it crumble to the ground so as not to insult his pride.

We can’t even communicate effectively.  I have a degree in social work, I have been trained how to communicate with people.  He will argue, knowing I meant one thing, but because I picked the wrong word he focuses on that improperly used word to defend that he wasn’t doing that.  He also defends himself by saying he didn’t mean something or he didn’t say it that way.  For some reason, I’m also too stupid to pick up on tone or body language (they must not have taught me that one, like you even need a degree for that).  I have to constantly say, it wasn’t what you said it was how you said it.  His tone and body language is so hateful at times.  But again, I’m too stupid to know that as well.
I feel like my life is a roller coaster.  He is sweet and kind and then cold and hateful.  I think everything is going to get better and bam here’s the newest hurt.  I start to distance myself being prepared for the “typical” behavior and he’ll turn on the charm, I fall for it and then the rug gets pulled out from under me and I feel stupid for falling for it again.
I’ve done the research, read the books, even try to tell him about what I’ve read about (he only wants to hear it if it’s defending him).  I’ve gotten him into couples counseling, that helped only for a short time as it was around the time of his diagnosis when I had said “enough, get help”.
I do love him.  He isn’t all bad.  I am just tired.  Tired of being disappointed, criticized, argued with over everything, my opinions or thoughts aren’t as important as his.  How I feel isn’t as important as what he is thinking. 

I guess I just don’t know what to do.  Do I just hang in there and hope for the best?  Is there hope?  Is there help?  How can I get him to seek help?  Or am I just kidding myself that anything will be any different?  Should I cut my looses now and save myself?  Any advice?

Dear "I Want To Runaway From

Dear "I Want To Runaway From Home",

no wonder. Who wouldn't?

First, many of the things you write about seem all too familiar. I sympathise with you totally. It's really hard to run a family anyway, if the other members have adhd it's just too much. You've dragged this load with you since childhood. It's too much, it's not fair and seriously, it could make you physically ill or have a nervous breakdown or something.

You have to start thinking about yourself. Small things - what do you like and enjoy eating, doing, reading, watching? You must make time for it and invest in yourself. Every single day of your life. You have to learn to really pamper yourself on top of that - give yourself big treats, go away for getaways etc. I'm totally serious. You are their nurse in a way. You deserve to get holidays and you need them in order to get into a better place physically and mentally.

You need to find people who love and support you and who do not have adhd. People who you can have fun with, people who understand your plight, people who help you escape the bad stuff in your life. No matter how tired you feel, try and build your own life so that it contains as much positive at home and outside it as possible.

One of my kids is adhd. For her, what works is boundaries. What I mean is that very very often she struggles with everyday life, forgets stuff etc. No matter how much I teach or explain, it doesn't seem to get through to her. But what has worked almost every time is stick/carrot. Sounds crazy and I have resorted to this only a couple of times, but once she had problems with loosing stuff. She lost stuff all the time and it cost us time and money. I was also worried as she just had no clue. I practically forced her to put reminders on her mobile phone and helped her do it. I also told her that the only allowed place for her bus pass is in her phone pouch and the next time she looses the bus pass (which had been lost so many times) she will pay third of the money herself out of her weekly allowance. The sum was not big but she is really stingy (which I knew) and this worked! She has not lost anything since!!! It was a miracle ;). I obviously also praise her for all the little successes she makes, but praise alone is often not enough.

Another time she was hyper-needy about friendships (constant worry, but there are better and worse months for her). She would mimic  and copy her friends and when they got irritated with her she would come crying to us, saying how she is being teased. Her friends had told her to stop copycatting and that they don't copycat anyone either. They had been reasonable and right and she had really been a nuisance. Still she was martyr about it and had no idea why they got mad. We talked about it all gently and explained and comforted her, didn't solve the problem at all. Only when we literally forbade her to mimic anyone anymore did she manage to pull it together and stop the copycat thing. This obviously resulted into her being happier, but it had to be done with really strict boundaries compared with my other kids.

One time she had big problems about staying at home for even five minutes without us. Her siblings were at home, too, and everyone else was fine about it, even the one who is three years younger. She created a huge problem about our 15 minute walks (which we did in order to teach her to be able to be slightly less clingy) although the same kid played in the yard happily without us and went to school no problem without us. Talks didn't help, explanations didn't help, her mobile phone next to her so that she can talk with us for the whole 15 minutes if she's worried did not help. What helped was that after a couple of weeks of this show we told our child that as she is so tearful and clingy in a really safe situation like this, we cannot allow her to attend the summer camp she went last year. We said it's too far away for someone who can't even bear to be at home with her own siblings for a while. In a split second, she was miraculously cured.

I am not underestimating the problems (and my kid has them, too) but in some cases I have noticed that (if used in moderation) what often works is that there is a direct reward for remembering/ doing something well and also consequences for constantly doing the wrong thing. Whether this works or not depends on the person I think.

What I'm also saying is that your husband and children are responsible for themselves to an extent. You husband is a grown up. Like my best friend who has adhd said, when she got her diagnosis, that diagnosis was not a justification for being rude to people or failing in many things. For her, it was a sign that in many things, she had to try harder than average so that she would be nice and that she could chase her dreams.  Legally, an adhd person is still responsible for his actions so its a load of rubbish to try and dodge responsibility if you have it. Your children are not grown up but they, too, can and should be able to carry some responsibility of their own actions. 

Your getaway holiday could be a healthy boot camp for the trio at home. If they are anything like my adhd husband, they crave and need a lot of help and attention, yet kind of take it for granted. Perhaps your escape could make them appreciate you more, too, and teach them about managing their own lives.

You must learn to say "no" and "how would YOU do this on your own? Ok, now do it!" a lot, if you are not doing it already.

Finally, save yourself. If you are too tired and therapy(theirs or yours) and serious talks or holidays on your own don't help, I think you should save yourself. You are a mum to adhd kids but you have absolutely no obligation to continue being a mom to your husband, too. You need to be you and embrace being you. Reads like at the moment (and for years and years) there hasn't been enough space for you to even breathe.

All the best and a long-distance hug,



Thank you for your words of

Thank you for your words of validation and support, and your helpful suggestions.  I have since had a conversation with my husband about getting back on track with all the ADD issues in our home.  I have also returned to therapy.  I am now making myself more of a priority by stepping away.  I can't help anyone if I can't help myself.

I am picking my battles at home.  There are things I can't control and those I can.  There are things that can be controlled and bother me more than others.  I will be prioritizing things I have to have in order to keep my sanity and express it to my husband.  He has agreed to work with me.  A sort of, help me, help you, help me, kind of thing.  

I told him I wasn't opposed to helping them keep things on track, but I didn't want the hatefulness that usually follows when I do.  To him/them my helpful words (and they are well thought out and spoken gently) are taken as an insult or I am belittling them (mostly my husband).  There has been a tendency to lash out at me for reminding them or keeping them more focused which causes me to retreat,  so why would I even bother to remind someone of something if I'm just going to get argued with or my feeling hurt with some hurtful comment.   There has been an agreement that I will do things I can to help them, but expect to be treated better when I do because my help doesn't warrant the hatefulness, nasty comments, eyeball rolling, etc...

It may not be the solution at this point, but it is a start.  I don't want to lose my family in order to save myself.  As long as we are all willing to try things can improve and at this point we are all still willing to try.