Looking for support/help/advice for my situation…

My wife (we married in 2000) was diagnosed with ADHD about eight years ago. She has tried many primary medications (Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse) and a good amount of secondary medications (Effexor, Wellbutrin). I don't think she ever quite found the right combination for her—but she did have a certain degree of success with some of them—but she always complained about anxiousness, sweating, weight gain, and feeling jittery, which made them unacceptable.

About a year and a half or so ago, she decided to stop taking the primary medications (moral reasons? not wanting so many chemicals floating through her body?) and started to take natural supplements to replace Vyvanse (but she continued to take Wellbutrin). Things seemed to be going well for a while, but recently, my wife's behavior began to change drastically. She began pulling away from me physically and mentally, started smoking, began to drink heavily and started telling me that she wanted to be "a free spirit". Subsequently, she has told me that she is questioning our marriage and pointed out that she never was attracted to me (!) and that she only married and have stayed with me out of obligation and because I was such a good "friend". :\

In my mind, I feel that all these facts are pointing to untreated-ADHD affecting her immediate (hurtful) behaviors. I also see how these patterns have affected our relationship. I have read Melissa's book and I identify with all the patterns she presents and since 2010, I have been doing my part in all this, attempting to mitigate the effects of ADHD on our marriage as best I can. However, I am convinced that her psychiatric and therapeutic treatment has not been adequate and that many of these thoughts, feelings, automatic negative thoughts and behaviors are directly related to ADHD.

So, why I am posting all this? I am sad because this doesn't feel like the wife I married. It feels like she is giving up on our marriage because she can't take the time to focus on truly working through issues that have occurred (mostly due to the affect ADHD has had on our relationship). I feel terrible because I feel like I am doing everything I can, but it is difficult for my wife to see what she is doing to me and ultimately what she is doing to herself.

The good news is she has (a bit reluctantly) agreed to see a new psychiatrist—an ADHD specialist in our area to get re-evaluated and get better advice about medications. I am happy to report that this professional is inviting me to attend the initial evaluation and requires additional information from the spouse (none of her past psychiatrists/therapist has EVER asked for my input!).

Any words of wisdom, advice, thoughts, prayers would be most welcome. I hope to share more as things progress (whether we stay together or not) in hopes that it may help others out there experiencing similar situations. :)

carathrace's picture

the joys of medication

Bob, I'm sorry you're going through this.  It must be very hard to hear those words, and to see your wife change in such a negative direction. 

To me, it sounds like she's in depression, as well as having the ADHD symptoms out and about.  I am so glad she's agreed to see this new doctor, and that you get to give input!  This is a very hopeful sign.  I can really understand her not liking the side effects, and trying natural supplements instead.  We've been contemplating the same thing lately.  My husband's on Adderall, Lexapro and Wellbutrin and suffers the same side effects you mentioned your wife did.  The sweating is so bad he has to bring an extra set of clothes to work with him every day, and it causes him a lot of embarrassment to be in professional settings with dripping wet clothes.  He's been taking SAM-e and vitamin B complex along with the regular meds and it seems to me his mood is a bit better.

But....much as he would like to go "au naturel", he knows from experience the irrational thinking, the plummet in mood, even suicidal tendencies, that happen when he stops taking his meds.  Some people just have to, there's no two ways about it.  Hope you can hang in there with her through this time.

Meds are so hard to get right

First of all, it's great that you are so understanding about your wife's condition. Even if your wife doesn't realize it, you are incredibly important to her successes. My dh has also been on the meds roulette. Gabapentin was a cheap, low side effect mood stabilizer that helped. Mils. Your wife does sound depressed to me as well. Is bipolar a possibility? Similar symptoms to ADHD, and also a common co morbid condition. Of course alcohol is a depressant, so drinking just exacerbates her current issues. I'd also say that diet, sleep, exercise, are incredibly helpful.

adhdmomof2, I think, on this site has posted about her transition off meds with the help of a naturopath. It took a long time, and getting off meds wasn't the initial goal, but they weren't needed after she made significant dietary changes and found the right supplements. There has been some correlation between ADHD and vitamin deficiencies. Some have leaky gut, difficulty absorbing vitamins, and some benefit from gluten free and even casein free diets. My dh does not want to give up all that good stuff yet but maybe in the future.  Your wife would have to really be committed to such a process. But in the meantime, a simple omega 3 supplement could help. 

Gotta love an ADHD specialist. They know self reporting is not all that reliable. Good luck for you both.

Thanks for the kind words and

Thanks for the kind words and inspiring observations. :) While I am 98% sure ADHD has a huge role to play in all this, I am preparing for the worse (divorce), just so I don’t “put my eggs in one basket” as the saying goes. I am hoping the ADHD specialist can truly make a difference in my wife’s life and can break this cycle of madness that seems to happen from time to time, but at the same time, I don’t want to put all my hope on this specialist and/or even my wife to magically have things turn around. There is a lot of work ahead of us—I just pray we both have the patience and stamina to get past this. :) Thanks again to all who have read this and (even silently!) send us positive thoughts!

Update

My wife and I met with the ADHD psychiatrist (not cheap!) and he brought up some very interesting concerns involving narcolepsy and sleep disorders. So in the near future, my wife is going to get evaluated for sleep disorders and having her thyroid tests checked to rule these out as possible contributors to her unhappiness. She is also now on Concerta which seems to have helped her ADHD symptoms and general mood (she doesn't think it is significant, but I certainly notice it).

While things are getting a little bit better and I am patiently waiting for the right time to progress to the next step of repairing things in our relationship professionally—there is still a lot of anger, defiance, and resentment in her that comes out especially in the evenings when we make attempts to discuss our relationship. Evenings are also the time when she is more likely to "need" to smoke and want to impulsively go out drinking—which to me sounds like a defense mechanism to avoid me and an excuse to not take time to look at ways to improve/figure out our relationship. *sigh* (possibly a strategy of self-medication when Concerta wears off?)

I am practicing meditation now. I have also vowed to not drink while we are going through this (I enjoy having a few drinks from time to time for fun, but these days it just makes me more depressed and frustrated which is not helpful for our environment) and I am continuing to be patient. I am reading books about love and positivity and trying to keep myself busy and happy while I wait for my wife to "come around" or for things to end between us.

Please keep sending us good vibes and if you have any helpful/insightful comments to share, I would love to hear them. :) 

carathrace's picture

sleep

I think that your wife having a sleep disorder eval is a very good idea.  A lot of ADHDs have sleep disorders.  When my husband was evaluated, the doctor was shocked at how little REM sleep he was getting per night.  It was a matter of minutes rather than hours.  No wonder he was a mess.  Now he uses a CPAP every night and it makes a big difference.  Lack of REM sleep can definitely cause depression.

I respect you for your patience and for taking care of yourself -- meditating, reading, avoiding alcohol.  You seem like a guy with his head on straight and I think you'll be all right no matter what happens.

ZZZZZZ

Until about two years ago, I LITERALLY thought people were not being honest when they would blissfully say they felt so rested and had caught up on sleep over a vacation, the weekend, or whatever.  I simply did not think it was possible since I was tired from the second I got up, until the second I went to bed, regardless of how little or how much sleep I got.  From puberty until the past few months of my life, I was ALWAYS TIRED.  Every time I would complain to my mother I was tired, she would tell, "You're always tired." 

And I truly, truly was.  I do blame sugar cane for its' effect on my energy, the insulin spike and drop was certainly part of the problem.  I do also think the other "happy pills" I have been taking, such as D3 and fish oil, have really calmed me down so I CAN sleep.  I am beside myself with glee that I have solved this problem.  Boy, does it ever make a difference for attention and concentration, as well.

I'm glad your husband got a CPAP.  It's pretty important for the brain to have oxygen, and I'm glad he was not resistant to it; a lot of people are, and my lot can be a tad stubborn ;)!

On that note, good night!