An incredibly successful failure

I will start with a couple of caveats.  First, I am dealing with ADHD - Combined type.  second, I have known about my ADHD since age 15, medicated since age 17. (it's amazing what 2 accidents within 6 months will do for rushing to find effective treatment)

I have alternated between success and failure for most of my life, and have come to the conclusion that I am the most successful failure I know.  I flunked out of a prestigious college out of high school, locked myself into a dead-end job, joined a loveless marriage (to rescue the person), and became complacent with my lot in life.  I have since discovered non-traditional colleges, graduated Cum Laude in Business and have now completed my MBA.  I am now an accountant, an accounting and business instructor, married to a wonderful (unfortunately confused by my various trains of thought and emotional rollercoasters) woman, and have 3 wonderful children, 1 of which I am watching closely for ADHD symptoms not explained by toddlerhood.

My wife and I have purchased our own home, and through my creative, problem solving ability, and her organization and persistance, we are accomplishing our family goals. 

All of this from a failure, a mediocre student in High school (not that I didn't do the work, doing it was interesting, just that once it was done, it never got turned in, a common ADHD problem), a college flunk-out, dead-end customer service rep, divorcee, scatter-brained, person. 

I know that there are other "failures" just like me, and offer these words of encouragement:  ADHD does not define you any more than Diabetes defines the diabetic, Cerebral Palsy defines those who suffer with it, or cancer defines those who withstand it.  What you do with your "disability" defines you.  I am an incredibly successful "failure," just as my father was an incredibly successful diabetic, just as a dear friend was an incredibly successful "handicapped person," just as my mother not only survived cancer, but used it to turn her life and perceptions around.

I apologize for what can be seen as the ramblings of a crazy person, but I am an incredible optimist and believe that ADHD, while attached to several problems, offers opportunity to its "sufferers" for incredible success.  Not bad for a "failure."

Thank you. I am married to

Thank you.

I am married to a man with ADHD and can tell you that the perspective of others with ADHD is invaluable to me..and others here. Especially those who are successfully coping with it and not letting it define who they are. I'm not married to that person at the moment, but hopefully someday he'll quit letting it define him too.

Best of luck to you! Your post is inspiring.

You're welcome

Don't get me wrong, every day is a struggle.  If it wasn't for my wife, half of the stuff I need to do wouldn't get done.  I just refuse to continue letting myself be defined by a disorder.  I am me, as defined by my character.  My character comes from my day-to-day struggles.


"My character comes from my day-to-day struggles"

I was diagnosed in December and have been totally lost.  I am not 'me' anymore, but don't know who "I" will be. 

now I've got an answer!



It is amazing how quickly the addition of letters to our selves can cause a change.  Think about it.  Are you any different today than you were in December?  Just because I now have a vowel and 3 consonants attached to me does not change my past struggles, my upbringing, my likes and my dislikes.  It only provides a basis to judge future behavior.  (in my case, it has led me to try to attach as many other letters to my name as possible.  3 down (MBA) a few more left)

DF's picture

True in simplest form

And that's just it.  For a lot of us we didn't know.  When we come to realize we have 3 letters attached to us, it doesn't change who we are, it gives us pause to realize we've not been looking at both sides of the coin.  It would be insanity for any one of us here to want to be in a mess in our relationships.  Knowing we have or are struggling with others that have, gives us the gift of sight and we can stop and breath for a second.  Then take scope of a situation and put it all together in a way that we're not making others frustrated.

Had I known about my condition 5 years ago.  I know I'd have been a better person for my wife and I would not be in the poop house I'm in today.  My failure to translate or hear what she's been saying for so long just frustrated me for not knowing why I couldn't get it.  With a diagnosis, I don't have reason to get frustrated so much because I'm able to see it and control it and really hear what my wife is telling me.  I don't feel stupid anymore.

Of course the one downside of it is now my wife doesn't know the person she's living with anymore.  I don't know if that's good or bad, but I'll go with bad since she's not interested in learning about ADD(HD).  I drove her car all the way to empty and I'm trying to tell her there's a gas station up the hill and she ain't hearing it.

Agreed in part and disagreed in part

Although I come at this from the perspective of a lifetime diagnosis and can not possibly fully appreciate the struggles of the recently diagnosed, I can say that having the answer is only half of the battle.  If I can shamelessly borrow from Douglas Adams, The answer doesn't make sense because we don't quite know the question.  I have been on and off of an assortment of meds my entire adolescent and adult life, and I can tell the difference in my focus.  Right now I am on Generic Adderall ER, and although it brings added patience and focus ability, it does not calm the roar in my head like Stratterra, the drug that my Insurance ceased to cover at the affordable copay level.  I can not answer the "why."  With that said, the diagnosis should be seen more as a GPS than a Wall.  The diagnosis spotlights the obstacles we face.  We then can choose the best route to overcome them.  The symptoms are all we seek to control, as people have been doing for decades or longer.  I just finished reading a book titled, The Laws of Success, by Napolean Hill, published in 1925.  In it, he describes how to be successful and how others have achieved their successes.  Much of what he discusses can be applied to our lives, list-making, meditation on positives, delegation, and organization.  Many of the other laws discussed describe our symptoms, which, when properly directed, are strengths.  Creativity, Energy, Empathy, and the like.  ADHD then was simply described as an affliction of the wandering mind, most likely self-medicated through nicotine, caffeine, and exercise.  Some of those were able to achieve incredible success, think Richard Branson.

My advice to you to get yourself out of the poop house would be this:  You know what issues you are facing within yourself.  Overcome them to the best of your ability.  Make a habit of repeating what you hear your wife say.  This will validate her opinions and show her that you are working toward listening to her.  The past is past.  You can not be a better person 5 years ago now.  What you can do is be a better person today.  When she nags you or complains, repeat back what you hear her saying, write down what it is she is asking you to do, and do it.  (I would avoid validating the "nag" or complaint, just the request.) 

If she sees that you are working on yourself, she will be more inclined to learn about ADHD with you.

Actually, yes.  I am

Actually, yes.  I am different.  It seems my likes and dislikes are different.  or, rather I have no likes anymore.  Everything around me seems to only confuse me, the life I had before makes no sense and I don't know who I am - just that I should not be who I was.  For example, I am a musician.  But since December I have not performed or practiced.  I no longer listen to music.  at all.  It seems that i just need silence.  I have done nothing 'creative.' which is supposed to be the upside of being ADHD.  THe creativity I had is gone, but I don't seem to care too much.

In some ways I guess I feel like i'm getting a second chance.  I can start from scratch and create a new self.  People always talk about soul-searching and finding out who they really are.  I guess what I need to do is find out who i really SHOULD/COULD be instead of who I really am, because that person can't function.

The most important thing is to change my behaviors and get everything done that needs to be done in order to function and succeed and earn enough money for my family's survival.  It doesn't matter who you are.  It's all about what you do.  Actions speak louder than words and all that....

common trap.

It sounds to me like you are falling into a common trap, focusing on the negative and attaching it to yourself.  My guess would be that your former self could function quite well at times.  Changing WHO you are is more complicated and potentially destructive than changing HOW you deal with life's complications.  ADHD does not control you more now that you know it's there than it did when you were blissfully ignorant of that fact.  In fact, you now have the opportunity to gain control of it, embrace its positives and find YOUR solutions to the negatives.   Losing yourself in the diagnosis is to be expected as you go through the grieving process, but trust me when I say that you have a lot to offer your community.

Seems that way... (Lost)

I am 2 years into this new understanding and I too felt like I lost interest in things that were always my escapes/interests/hobby. Make no mistake, I believe this is a process of re-tooling yourself, but you are the same person and right now you have new tools to see the world around you. I think this is a a "Re-building Year", to borrow a sports analogy, and you have to drop back to your core because of being aware of different perceptions. Seeing emotion/Body language, Hearing/interpretation what is communicated to you, seeing more things that need to be addressed in your life Before they reach the "House on Fire" state.

Be aware of past mistakes, but focus on not repeating them. Your spouse is going to need a string of better behaviors before all the previous precedents can be over-written. Re-Tooling our minds is going to take time and patience, which I have less of than before because I have better awareness of all the things to be done... Ugggg... Like DF said in a post on this thread, I wish my wife would look into some of what ADD is like, but this is not in my control, so I cannot worry about it.

As far as listening to silence, I ALWAYS had music on to buffer out the "Noise" so I could get something done, now I can function without this buffer. I still decompress with music to be sure, but I don't need it on all day long.

I would say what you seem to be feeling is similar to my experience, so give it some time and when things start to get into the New Normal, I bet some of your passions come back into the picture.


Hearing from ADHD perspective - venting

Somewhere as I was flipping through this site there was a response from someone with ADHD who sounded angry that this site appeared to be bashing ADHD people.  They said they wished there was a site for the ADHD partner to vent.

I, for one, would be genuinely interested in hearing ADHD partners vent.  I think it would be a very valuable tool in understanding the ADHD perspective.