New and feeling alone


I'm new to the forums (been lurking for a while) and I'm feeling very alone so I felt it was time to post.  I hope I'm in the right spot. 

A bit of history - my DH was diagnosed w/ADHD, anxiety and "mild depression" around March of '09.  We were referred to a psychologist from our marriage counselor as she felt he might be bi-polar.  My son (10) is also ADHD and was diagnosed when he was around 6 yrs. old.  We also share another son (3) and we have been married for 11+ yrs.

DH was put on meds and neither one of us thought about the ADHD or the depression again - up until now.  Of course our marriage is struggling (to put it mildly) again and we are back at the counselors.  I feel that he has more then "mild" depression that needs to be treated and I'm also wondering if the dosage of his ADHD meds is high enough (it has never been changed since he first started it).  He sleeps constantly and doesn't enjoy the things he used to enjoy.  If he's awake the TV is on and he can't take his focus off of it.  My son could be eating chlorox tabs in front of him and he would be oblivious to it (no that hasn't happened).  If he is awake and the TV isn't on - he is in a fowl mood.

Our counselor has yet to bring up his depression or ADHD in our sessions.  I know she's trying to modify his behavior but I worry that if we don't treat the ADHD/depression then he's going to struggle even more trying to modify his behavior.  Since we've started counseling our communication has pretty much been non-existant.  I've tried to back off and change my behavior to help him (and myself) but even that doesn't seem to be helping.  The counselor felt like I was too controlling of his finances since I was aware of the balance in his checking account (-$125) so I removed my name from his account thus not allowing me to see his balance on-line.  I've got to say - this scares the snot out of me!  He's never been financially responsible.  I joke and say he believes "if there are checks in the checkbook - there must be money in the account" but it really isn't a joke.  How do I draw the line between being concerned and being controlling?  I'm concerned if he doesn't take more responsibility financially that our family will be affected.

I'm starting to struggle - a lot!  Last night I cried myself to sleep.  I have no support from family or friends.  Most of my friends that I do talk to aren't in state and can't always be reached in my "times of need".  No one around me understands how this is affecting me and my family.  They all think he just needs to grow up & quit being lazy. 

A while back we talked about his ADHD and discussed that we both needed to learn more about it.  I've researched and read and I don't think he's done a thing.  He is in a job that is respected by many so I worry that he's afraid if he admits he has a problem that people might find out.

Right now I'm running out of steam.  I'm wearing down & that is scaring me.  I want to be there to support him and I want our marriage to work but if he won't let me what can I do?  He's admitted he's pushing me & the kids away and I think his depression is getting worse by the day.  Two weeks between counselor appointments seems like an eternity.  I know I need to take things day by day but what can I do when I feel like I'm at the end of my rope? 


also out of steam

I too am new to the site. I have been married for 25 years. Our marriage has been in the toilet for many of those 25 years. My husband was diagnosed nearly 2 years ago. I have had to be chief cook and bottle washer while he has gotten to live a life full of excuses, oh yeah, and get lots of time off to pursue his interests. Reading these blogs has felt alot like sanctioning the codependency that has been necessary to survive this. I would like to be happy in my relationship, and at times I do find fleeting glimpses into the reason I married him in the first place, but mainly I feel like this is a sentence that I just have to serve. If I divorce him, he will take half my retirement, one that he didn't do a thing to earn and one I earned by sacrificing being a stay at home mom (one of my life's wishes).  Our household  is constant chaos and clutter and turmoil. I feel that he has taken my life from me. There is always a reason we can't sit and talk, on the rare occasion that we seriously do address the issues, I walk away feeling like I'm the bad guy, he's that good at making a case to defend his actions. He was unemployed for 8 years. Now that I finally put my foot down and gave him an ultimatum, he's finding reasons why the job isn't working out and it's been under 6 months of full time employment. This is so hard. I don't want to divorce him, but I no longer want to live with him. I guess the only answer is getting some counseling... which is itself expensive and time consuming. We've been there and he is an expert at deflecting anyone who calls him on his stuff. Aren't there any good answers... like setting realistic boundaries and having him honor them? Wow, that would be amazing. I don't know where I end and he begins, he has taken over so much of me.

I guess I'm done with my rant. Reality is that I am not the person I want to be because of this. I used to be happy and positive. Now I'm overwhelmed, stressed and begging for mercy. I get tired of always having to be the one concerned for him. What about concern for me and the many insults I absorb throughout this ordeal? Yeah, it's time to take care of me...

Since my son also has ADHD,

Since my son also has ADHD, I've come to the realization that it is going to be part of my life for a long time even if I don't stay with my husband.  For now I'm trying to treat this like any other disease and stay as open minded as possible.  Would I leave him if I found out he had cancer or diabetes?  No.  I'd be there to support him.  I want to try to do the same with the ADHD too but it seems like the hill I thought I was climbing is becoming Pikes Peak.

One of the things the counselor suggested was that I put more structure into our lives.  He leaves for 2 months out of the year during harvest season and the house runs seamlessly then.  He says he wants structure but when I've tried to add it in the past he seemed irritated or annoyed.  This time I've added it to where his participation is optional.  So far that is working great!  The kids seem happier, the house is staying cleaner but of course this is bothering him.  Now he feels like he isn't needed.  This is when I feel like no matter what I do - he will never be happy.

I tried to use the post-it notes so that I wasn't nagging him to do things.  I figured I'd start off with small things - things I'd ask my 10 yr. old to do.  At first he said he liked the post-it notes.  A week later after not doing the 2 things on his note (put the dog food in the container & pick up his shoes) he told our counselor he hated them.  That they made him feel like a child.  So now what?

I worry that if I bring up his ADHD or his depression that he will feel like I'm singling him out as the reason why this marriage is struggling.  I know he isn't at fault for all of it - there are things I need to change about myself as well and how I view/handle things but I do feel that his ADHD/depression does hold a large part of our marital issues.  If he's not willing to understand it more and how it affects us - is there even any hope?

Why is it we have to change?

      If my husband didn't work for 3 years because he had cancer, and I worked 2 or 3 jobs to keep a roof over our heads, while making sure he got treatment, and foregoing any medical care for myself, everyone would think of me as a hero. Because he has ADD, I'm supposed to do that and also change all the reactions I have to him, accept that my needs will never be met and just give and give and never expect anything from him.

    The new therapist we saw last week made me feel about 2 inches tall. I asked him to change the litterbox, which is hard for me to do, and he didn't. The cat crapped on a suede jacket, which had fallen on the floor, because he didn't do it. She said, forget the jacket, and find another way to get the litterbox cleaned. Well, if he doesn't have to clean it, I do. Therapy seems directed at getting me to accept that he's never going to do what I need or want. No one cares about my handicap. It's all about him. I have to change so he can be happy. No one cares if I'm happy or have my needs met.

Sueann, you have to find the

Sueann, you have to find the courage to change for your own sake. I think maybe you're confusing 'change' with 'taking over and doing everything so he can lay around and be treated to the life of a king' and they are two totally different things. It is perfectly reasonable with your being physically unable to change/clean the litter box that he would pick up the slack...but we're not always dealing with people who think 'perfectly reasonable'. I don't have a solution for you concerning how you approach him in an effective way to get him to realize that he needs to help you more due to your physical limitations. I think it is very unfair for the counselor to tell you to figure out a new way of doing it...maybe someone else will see something I don't...but it seems that 'progress' is made when the ADDer accepts MORE responsiblity, not has his counselor pushing more of it off on his spouse.

But, need to find some happiness and peace for yourself...and if he never changes the litter box again, not let it be something that ruins your day. Could a family member or friend stop by occasionally to help? I hate to suggest you just do it and accept that he never will, which is exaclty what I did with our litter boxes (I knew he would never change them, so I never asked), because you're not physically I don't know what to suggest. (((HUGS)))

I feel your pain here.  I end

I feel your pain here.  I end up changing the litterbox because my husband won't do it, even though I'm seven months pregnant and the doctor has told me not to do it due to the dangers of toxoplasmosis to the baby.  He also leaves clothes on the floor, and when they get cat vomit/pee/poop on them, I always have to clean it up.  There's no way to win in this situation.  Either you do it yourself, or else it doesn't get done and something else in the house get destroyed or ruined and YOU end up having to pay to replace it.

Your therapist sounds like a complete idiot.  Even Melissa has said that being ADHD doesn't give you a free pass to ignore all responsibility and force your spouse to do everything.

Engage him in figuring it out

You're on the right path.  Next time he says something like "the post it notes make me feel like a child" reply "Well, that's not desirable.  What's your idea for bringing the chore back into your mind at the right time without my needing to remind you?"  In other words, put the burden of solving the problem on him, not you.  He just needs to bring the chore to his mind at the right time - that can be done with notes he leaves himself (rather than you leave him), audible alarms, putting the food bowl into a  more obvious place...encourage him to be creative and experiment until he finds a system that works for him.

Putting more structure into your lives is good - but it's not structure that you impose.  Rather, it's a process of his creating external structures for himself that remind him and keep him on track at the times he needs to do so.  Your job, then, is to stay coordinated with him, which is different from having you create a structure in which he should live.

Hope that distinction gives you some direction and will help him keep from feeling you're trying to control his life.

It isn't that he needs reminding

He absolutely does not feel he should have to do anything he does not want to do. When we were dating, he said "I never do anything I don't want to do" which he meant to be nice (because he was doing me a HUGE favor and I was afraid he didn't really want to). I did not realize that was the guiding principle of his life, as being responsible for your own problems is one of mine. He simply does not feel he should ever have to change the litterbox because he does not like it. But he won't hear of getting rid of the cats.  (Not a desirable solution for me either.) He thinks life should all be fun and games and he should never have to do anything unpleasant. If he didn't like his job (as he didn't the 7 jobs he lost before), I doubt if he'd go to work. Is that ADD or just being male?

Melissa - I actually did

Melissa - I actually did suggest to him that he come up with a solution since my ideas don't seem to work.  He said "ok" but that was two weeks ago.

The structure I'm talking about isn't structure that I feel I impose on him.  If nothing, it is making his life easier because he has even less responsibility then he did before.  He's not at a place where he can watch our children so they go to daycare daily (even though he is home).  I'm ok with that.  They enjoy it and they like the other children.  He no longer has to fix any meals and if he does - I've already pre-planned then and set out the items necessary to cook them.  For my children and I, every night we eat dinner @ 6:00, at the table as a family w/no TV.  His participation is optional and he know this.  I haven't made a single comment to him when he hasn't joined (which he typically doesn't), nor do I make a big "to do" when he does, but this is structure that my children (and I) need and enjoy.  Before I would try to encourage him to join us - now I don't.  I'm ok to having a pizza and movie night on occasion (like we did last night) but not every night.

I've also taken over the laundry.  *If* he would wash/dry it, he'd bring it upstairs and dig through the baskets and they'd fall on the floor and get dog/cat hair on them so they'd need washed again.  Now I wash my clothes and my kids clothes and put them away as soon as they are done.  I pick his up off of the floor (they go where ever they land) and take them down to the basement.  He can wash/dry and put them away if he chooses but I won't put the effort in when it is not appreciated.

In a way I'm changing myself and doing things as if I was a single mom.  I take care of the kids, take them everywhere with me and even if he's home if I need to do something I find a sitter since he puts the responsibility of watching the young one on my 10 yr. old.

I'm feel very frustrated with myself when I feel negative towards my husband.  I know he's a good man but it is very frustrating for me when I'm expected to act like he's saved a life because he took his plate off of the table and put it in the dishwasher after I've spent my entire weekend (with the children home) cleaning up the house with no acknowledgment from him.  What is even more frustrating is when most of the items I've cleaned up were his. 

I can ask him until I'm blue in the fact to come up with ideas but what do I do when he says "ok" and that is the end of it?

Here is an example: He has a bag that he carries to work.  At his job he works a 24 hr. shift (then off for 48) so it has all of his meds, shaving supplies, etc. in it.  When he comes home from work it lands on the couch or on the floor & inevitably my young one goes through it.  I've found his razors in the toy box before!  I'm afraid that one of these days I'm going to be calling 911 because my son has taken his meds.  I've asked him several times to please take it up to our closet.  He will once or twice and then quits.  If I take it up - he screams at me for moving his bag.  If I even remotely try to have a conversation with him he just shuts down and walks away.  So what do I do?

I don't want to divorce but I can only help him if he will let me and I have to change what I need to in my life in order for me to function w/o going into depression myself.

safety issues first

for the safety of your children, you need to separate out the truly dangerous from the annoying.  Let him know that the razors and pills within kids reach are completely unacceptable threats to their well being and insist that he create a system (a locked cupboard where he can put things near the door?  A  high shelf? Leave in his truck?) IMMEDIATELY that will fix this.  I would not budge on this one in any way shape or form, and also would never leave the bag out no matter the consequences.  (In fact, and I know I probably shouldn't say this, I would promise him that if he leaves it out I'm would put it in an announced inconvenient place - for example in the attic.  In my household, he would get tired of going up to the attic to retrieve the bag and figure out how to keep it out of my way.)

You simply can't solve your problems by doing all of this stuff for him.  Your resentment (which you already feel) will only build more.  Pretty soon you won't just be frustrated, you'll be seething.  That won't help your marriage.

Perhaps your husband denies that his ADHD impacts your life?  Can you give me a little more background about how he feels about his ADHD?

I would love to give you more

I would love to give you more background on how he feels about his ADHD but I don't have a clue.  He won't talk to me about it, our counselor doesn't talk about it and I honestly don't know if he even talks to his psychiatrist about it.  Seems to me he just goes in every 3 months and gets a script to get his prescriptions refilled. 

He was happy w/the diagnosis because our counselor thought he might be bi-polar so he was "relieved" with an ADHD diagnosis.  I really don't think he feels it affects our lives/marriage as much as it does.  He hasn't looked into it/researched it much either.  I think he thought the pills would be magic and make everything all better.  That obviously isn't the case.

As for the bag, it makes me insane to think I'd even have to tell him how unsafe it is to leave it out.  Even more so considering the career field that he is in.  We have a small house the only place he could put it that it would be out of the way is our bedroom closet.  It doesn't have a lock on it.  I purchased locks for our closet, my office and our cleaning supply closet but he hasn't installed them yet, I can't figure out how to do it nor can I afford to pay someone to do it.  He doesn't see the importance in it.

Right now I don't eevn know how to start a conversation with him about this w/o him feeling like I'm attacking him.  We've discussed this several times (even with the counselor) so I'm not sure if he forgets to do it or he just doesn't feel it is important.

I am new to the site.  I've been reading when I have the time (not as often as I like) and wanted to let you know that  I do appreciate your responses to my post.

Lucy Lu, I totally

Lucy Lu,

I totally understand the concept of treating this as a disease, although I prefer to really think of it as a uber-strong personality trait. My daughter is dyslexic and we have never treated her as having a learning disability, but rather (as much as I hate politically correct speak) as "differently abled". She is fun and exquisitely creative. Likewise, my husband has behaviors that are near genius and very enriching. The problem is filtering through the chaos that is ADHD in order to really appreciate them. Your analogy to climbing Pike's Peak really hits home! In fact, I have many of my own analogies, my favorite one is of me trying to get ready for work in the morning in the middle of his Tasmanian Devil whirlwind!

I also want to work on things. Now that he has a job, he has that too as an excuse to deflect any attempts at taming this beast. We will finally agree to some changes, but if I don't take it upon myself to follow up and remind him in the ever so specific way that is not seen as a threat nor as an attempt to condescend to him but rather as a kind and loving prompt, he quickly forgets. Not just the agreed upon changes, but the entire conversation. Then I am the bad guy. Again. Why is it that I have to walk on eggshells regarding my every interaction with him, yet he can just ignore, interrupt or otherwise disrespect me?  I think that is what's so very hard about this. I always feel like no matter what my response is, it's wrong.  I have only rarely won any arguments, and mostly they are concessions to simply end the argument, not to solve it.

When I read some of the posts here, I do become a bit more optimistic, but right now, I am simply so overspent, I can't imagine doing more in this relationship. I know I have my own issues and that I'm far from perfect, but I really feel that what I need is respite care. Can't someone else take a turn and support him for a few years?

what now?

FYI, I generally recommend against giving over control of the finances to an ADHD partner who has a proven track record of having difficulty managing money.  There are often control issues, but you can deal with them in other parts of your relationship (surely they aren't JUST in the area of money!)  Keep your finances under control (in fact, I often recommend to non-ADHD spouses to take over the finances).  The damage that can be done with horrible credit or the inability to pay the mortgage is just too great.

This may come across as self-serving but it's not intended to be.  Consider bringing a copy of my book, or a print out of one of the blog posts here that you think is representative of your marriage, to your marriage counselor.  I've had many people tell me they have done this and that it has opened up the conversation about ADHD again.

Don't assume that low dosage is the issue for your husband.  His doctor and he should create a list of "target symptoms" (i.e. symptoms he wants to have improved through treatment) and then measure his progress against those specific symptoms.  You may find, from the way you describe it, that some of the symptoms are depression related, not ADHD driven (or they may be interconnected).  Treatment takes a number of forms - medication is only one possible avenue (see the treatment section of my book if you end up getting it).

And for you - you can't do this alone.  Find support where you can - whether it's indulging yourself in being pampered a bit, asking a friend to help you get through this or posting to this community, get support.  We are all healthier when we are connected.  To help yourself feel better, make sure you get enough sleep and exercise, too (make a rule with yourself!)

I assume responsibility for

I assume responsibility for the majority of the finances.  He has an "allowance" (if you want to call it that) that he gets bi-weekly.  It goes directly into his checking account.  This is the account I removed my name from.  The money is used for 'his' needs such as gas for his vehicle, his prescriptions, his tobacco, and anything else that he might want/need.

The remainder of his check is deposited into my account and I pay all of the bills.  If I allowed him to manage the finances we'd be bankrupt.  We only have one credit card and his name is not on it.  Unfortunately his credit union has allowed him to take out "personal" loans w/o my knowledge.  He's taken out $1100 worth of loans and as far as I know the money has been spent at convenience stores.  He uses his debit card on his checking account so he never knows his balance.  With the new regulations that went into affect he can now "overdraft" his debit card.  The bank will pay the charge (usually it is a $3-$4 charge at a convenience store) and then charge him a $26 overdraft fee.  This can continue on until he's racked up $300+ in debt to the bank.  Our counselor told us at the last session that I shouldn't be looking at his account if it is "his" account.  She made me feel like I was 2" tall and informed me that he is smart, knows what he is doing, and doesn't need me looking over his shoulder.  I'm frustrated because he actually likes this counselor and is willing to go to see her but I'm not sure she's taking the ADHD as an issue w/our marriage seriously & I honeslty don't know if any other counselor in this area would be any better.

I don't have your book but I will look at the post here and see if I can find a good one to print off.

I honestly think his depression and his ADHD interconnect.  He is at home 2/3 days a week and I've read that boredom in ADHD patients can lead to depression.  I think the two feed off of each other but I'm honestly not sure which one is worse.  Right now he knows our marriage is on the edge like never before (I kicked him out a few months ago but he is back in).  I think the stress of feeling inadequate due to the ADHD have feed the depression even more so then normal.

I've looked for support in my area and so far the closest group is several hours away.  I'll admit - I'm still struggling to "get it" and understand what all is just him and what is the ADHD/depression so I can understand why my friends/family don't get it either.  They have all urged me to just leave him (including his family) so I don't think I'll be finding much support there.  The closest support group I have found is this one here.  Unfortunately - the more post I read the more I wonder if I'm fighting a battle or a war.  I want to be there to support him but I also don't want to go down w/the ship.

I'm going to go buy the book

I'm going to go buy the book Driven to Distraction tonight.  Our local bookstore has it and I'm kind of an immediate gratification gal when I decide I want something.  If I recall correctly when my DH was first diagnosed w/ADHD this book was recommended by his psychiatrist.  I'm going to try reading it (I'm not big on books) and I'm hoping that if it is in the house he'll opt to pick it up during his free time and read it too so he can understand what he is up against.