New to ADHD - my story

I wasn’t sure whether to post this as a vent or a story of hope – I’ve gone with hope – because as you will see I’m a bit of an optimist – but maybe I shouldn’t be!

I’ve been with my partner for over 20 years and he has just been diagnosed with adult ADHD. I’ve read through a lot of posts on this site and there are some aspects that for us in our relationship have just never manifested. My husband is extraordinarily even tempered. I would go as far to say he is fearful of conflict and will do everything in his power to avoid it. To the outside world we have the appearance of a very happy family…and to be fair, on most days in our house – despite the challenge and stress of raising two young kids – we are a good team. We are kind to each other and have a good friendship. He is a hands on, helpful partner. I don’t have to nag. In fact if anything I could probably do a bit more to help.

But of course, there are some serious problems. At the beginning of our relationship he was battling alcoholism. He was successful in this and now just doesn’t drink. It was all so long ago that drining doesn’t impact our relationship at all.
Then 10 years ago he admitted to me that he had seen a prostitute. This shocked me to the core as it seemed so out of character. We sought marriage counselling and after a tough year moved on.

Fast forward to February this year. After an ordinary night (no fights or arguments) I woke up and found he had gone. He had left a note apologising that he had seen prostitutes again. He had contracted genital warts and didn’t know how to tell me he had put my health at risk. He left his mobile on his desk at work which he had cleared out. This disappearance had been planned by him for months – all without my knowledge, and even with hindsight there were very few warning signs that this was on the cards.  After 48 hours of not knowing, a police hunt and fearing the worst, he finally called his mum and was admitted to hospital with ‘major depression’.

The biggest challenge for me has been to come to terms with his dishonesty. I have accepted what had happened with the prostitutes and worked through the process of forgiveness quickly (it was easier as I’d been through it 10 years earlier). However after being out of hospital a month he dropped another bombshell – he had also had a one night stand with a friend. This was now about 14 years ago. That one was hard to accept – but following this revelation came a diagnosis of ADHD (a ‘classic case apparently!) which at least to me explained his lack of impulse control – and of course I can understand keeping that a secret – as hurtful as that is.

He met a girl during his recent hospital stay who was flirting with him and they exchanged numbers. I was not happy, but OK with this, as at least I knew. He said when she asked for his number he didn’t know how to say no, and I understand the social awkwardness of that  - but given his lack of impulse control pointed out that I thought contact was unwise. Then he admitted to looking her up on facebook (not to ‘friend’ her as he isn’t on facebook, but just to check out her pictures). I wasn’t happy about that. He said he would discuss it with his psychologist.  After his psychologist visit he came home and told me he’d made a decision to delete her number from his phone. He just felt that was the right thing to do.

However I checked his phone. He had deleted her number, but he’d first emailed her number to his work. I don’t understand why he lied about deleting her number. I didn’t ask him to delete her number – he didn’t have to lie about that, I didn’t back him into a corner. He tells me he just can’t help lying. He knows he is doing it but he doesn’t know why. He has now admitted he has lied about all sorts of little things over his whole life and lots of lies to me in our 20 year together. Like pretending to be sick and not going to work. Having the odd drink, finding my family irritating, wanting to hurt himself, coming home at lunch to watch porn. Some of it is stuff that I just don’t really think he needed to lie about. Now I just don’t know what is real and what is not. I can handle most things, but not the dishonesty. To me, that leads back to the leaving of another note and disappearance, and I just don’t think I can put myself or my kids through that again.

My hope is that the compulsive lying is a symptom of ADHD. I know not everyone would have that symptom. ADHD seems to manifest in such a variety of different ways, and I’m new to it and still trying to understand it. What I need to know is if lying is a symptom of ADHD or something else. I’m pinning all my hopes on a diagnosis of ADHD being correct and treatment managing the lying (and the reckless, impulsive behaviours) but really, mainly the lying. Do you or your partner have ADHD that looks like my husbands? Has anyone successfully overcome this level of deceit in a marriage?  I’m feeling a bit isolated and confused with all this.

carathrace's picture

Misty, my heart aches for

Misty, my heart aches for you.  I am so, so sorry you are in this situation.  I will tell you what I see and think, but others may have different experiences and opinions.

I think your husband lies because he hates conflict and is avoiding having to deal with the consequences of his lack of impulse control.  I think the lying has become a habitual response for him.  I don't believe lying is a symptom of ADHD, but a learned response to his inability or unwillingness to manage his impulses.  You seem like a very caring, forgiving person and I imagine the pain you're feeling, having been repeatedly lied to, not knowing if you can trust him again.  Your world has been rocked to its foundations.

You didn't mention if you have a counselor or therapist of your own, but I strongly suggest you find one right away if you don't already have one.  You need to explore with someone who knows how to ask the right questions, how far you are willing to go with this man.  You need to know what your boundaries are, what is the line that, if he crosses it, you will take action to leave.  Your health is at risk.  There are worse things he could expose you to than genital warts, although that's bad enough.  Get a health checkup to make sure you're ok.  And read everything you can get your hands on about ADHD.

My husband's like yours in the sense that he hates conflict and has a great deal of trouble controlling his impulses.  I asked him what he thinks about your situation.  He said that the impulses never go away, and that medication doesn't make them go away.  The ADHD has to be WILLING, he says that's the big word, to employ strategies when the impulse comes.  If your husband's psychologist doesn't work with him on strategies, he needs to find someone who's well versed in ADHD.  One strategy my h uses is that when the impulse comes, he tells himself, "I can do that tomorrow, I don't have to do that today."  A lot of times putting it off makes it fade in urgency.  He learned that from his counselor, so having a good one is vital.

I wish you the very best, and I wish you hope.  It's good that you're generally optimistic, I am too, but it's best to be realistically optimistic.

Symptoms vs coping mechanisms

I agree that compulsive lying is not really ADHD itself, but rather a consequence. There are many subtypes of ADHD according to Hallowell many of which seem to be the co-morbid conditions such as anxiety and borderline personality disorder. Trying to avoid conflict is quite common. I think it's probably related to a lifetime of criticism leading to extreme defensiveness.  Melissa did a blog on porn addiction you might check out. Read Melissa and Pera's books. They don't really address your specific issues, that I recall, but they will give you a better idea of what is adhd. Change can happen but your husband will have to be very committed to making it happen.  Take his meds, go to therapy. I agree that you could use your own counselor as well. Impulse control is particularly hard to treat. Know what your deal killers are. I am so sorry.

Thanks so much ladies. I do

Thanks so much ladies. I do have access to health professionals for me and I'm doing my best to take care of my own health as well. We are also having marriage counselling. Unfortunately my husband's depression has reared its head again and he is in hospital again now dealing with that. We might have to park our exploration of ADHD whilst he overcomes his depression but I assure you I will be back and that I am still hopeful.