New to the site - my story



I'm new to this site and forum. I have a lot of questions about living with ADD and with a spouse who has ADD. But before I get into my questions, let me give you some back story. Sadly, this is really long, but I don’t know how to make it shorter without leaving a lot out. Probably a lot of it will be familiar to many people. 

My husband was diagnosed with ADD in college. Honestly, I never took it very seriously. He seemed fine to me. A little scatter-brained maybe, and he struggled with alcohol a bit, but he quit drinking for a long time and was more organized and involved in planning our wedding than I was!

We’ve been married for almost 13 years now and it has been quite a roller coaster. A little over a year after we married, we had our first child and proceeded to have two more within four years (as well as losing one to miscarriage). We bought a fixer-upper house while I was pregnant with our second child. When my youngest child was seven months old (and my other two were five and two), I had a heart attack and almost died.  Can you imagine what all this was doing to my marriage?

A year and a half after the heart attack I had weight loss surgery. I think the two years after that were the best years of our marriage because I had so much energy. I was the happiest I’d ever been, partly because I felt so great (I have a congenital hear defect as well, which made me lower energy to begin with)! And then my weight stabilized, my energy levels went down again, and the downward spiral began again.


During all these years, my DH struggled off and on with alcohol. I was never a big drinker and of course, didn’t drink at all while I was pregnant and only occasionally while my kids were little and waking up at night. His behavior would be erratic – he’d go out partying, he quit doing things around the house (not that he was ever great – I paid my preschoolers to pick up his socks that he left in the living room). Eventually it would get bad, he’d scare himself and he’d get back in line. After my heart attack, he really toned it down. But his organizational skills really began to suffer.

Last year he had something of a meltdown. He had developed high levels of anxiety, which of course, he was treating with alcohol. He had also developed an irrational fear of heights. He had a couple of late-night “freak outs,” which left me terrified and unsure of what to do. I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone at all, because I didn’t want to damage my husband’s reputation (we were dealing with serious alcohol abuse in some other family members and of course, my DH wasn’t like those people). I promise, this post really isn’t about alcohol. But crazy things were happening with him and he refused to talk to me about it. I finally told him he had to get help. He did, although he wouldn’t tell me much. What he did tell me was that in addition to the ADD, he was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, PTSD and chemical dependency.


Yikes, right?

So I guess my real questions relate firstly to how I handled his meltdown. I didn’t push him. We didn’t fight – we still don’t fight. But it’s a year later and I still have all the unfinished house projects (it took him two years to patch a hole in a wall in our kitchen and that was with frequent requests), the expensive hunting dog that’s still not trained, the cluttered garage, the neglected yard, the kids he blows up at about leaving lights on when he leaves lights on every day, the drinking until he staggers upstairs every night. Oh, and our finances are a disaster.


I admit it – I checked out. I’ve been out of the finances for years. I couldn’t handle the stress with my health the way it was. I was just trying not to die. And then with this meltdown, instead of getting angry at him (or at his issues), I really just checked out. I couldn’t share with him how his problems were making me feel. I tried seeing a counselor, but she focused too much on his alcohol abuse and didn’t seem to see the other issues he’s having. He quit seeing his counselor. He refuses to take meds because he abused them badly in college. He claims he’s tried some things like meditation (which I fully believe in and practice myself), and for a while he was doing better.

I try to not enable him – if he can’t find his shoes or his cell phone, I try not to make it my emergency. I am in the process of taking over our finances because he’s terrible about paying bills. Since he does eventually pay them, our credit score is still good. I am naturally frugal and hate to shop, so even though we’re in bad shape, it could be worse. I try to be polite in my requests and not get angry when he gets all upset that we’re going to get mice because there’s popcorn on the floor and then he sits and plays games on his computer while I sweep (after putting the kids to bed, after making dinner and cleaning up the kitchen by myself). He used to help out around the house, but he really doesn’t anymore, although he yells at the kids about how I do too much for them and that they’re so spoiled. But he’s the biggest kid of all.


There’s two weird things about all this. One, my DH really is a good guy! He’s a good friend, he loves to help people, he doesn’t mind doing grunt-type work for his job, he works hard at his job, he's a lot of fun, my family loves him, etc. I know that he truly loves me and I think he thinks we have a great marriage. And I really couldn’t imagine being married to anyone else. But it's like living with two different people sometimes. He puts up with a lot from me, too. Which leads me to my second weird thing: I’m beginning to wonder if I have ADD. Even though I’m a housewife, I never get things to stay clean. I have clutter everywhere. He and I both leave cupboard doors open, which used to bug me, but now I'm just as bad. I’m very visual so file cabinets don’t work at all for me, but I don’t really see mess. I have lots of unfinished projects as well. I forget what I’ve told people. I over-commit and then burn myself out helping other people while neglecting the people I care most about. The main difference between my husband and me is that he’s extroverted and generally optimistic, where I’m introverted and pessimistic. I’ve been depressed most of my life, but I’ve begun to see that he has, too, and it just looked really different. To escape, he sleeps and watches tv. I stay up too late and read books.

Anyway, I really don’t know where to go from here. I’m realizing that I’m very lonely in this relationship and I want to change it, but there doesn’t seem to be any productive way for me to approach my husband, especially since whatever I would say, he’d be able (and justified) to turn right back at me. I’m a bit of a mess at this point – my time management skills are down the tubes, I’m drinking too much, I’m not getting enough sleep, I’ve quit exercising, which combined with increased alcohol, has caused me to gain back a few pounds, which makes me even more tired. It’s too exhausting to think about sharing my real heart with him and whenever I open up a little bit about what I’m thinking or feeling, I get shot down and I feel stupid for wanting a deeper, more meaningful life. I think a lot about faith, about meaning, about purpose and such things. He used to, but now it seems to just make him feel like a failure and he has all the reasons that I should be happy with the way things are. And I never know if he’s really listening to me. Sometimes I wonder if he truly likes me, because I’ve heard him listen to his sister and spend hours on the phone with her and then turn around and tell me that he doesn’t really like her.


Neither one of us handles criticism well (I get defensive too) and as I look back, I realize our relationship began to fall apart after our first child was born. It makes me really sad, because we did love each other. It also makes me sad because neither one of us will leave unless the other does something truly awful – we’re committed to each other and our marriage and I’m facing a lifetime of being lonely and of patching the wounds of my children. I yell at them plenty, too, but I know how to apologize and I do it frequently with hugs and assurances that I love them, plus I spend lots of time doing things like reading out loud, playing music, hanging out on the couch, etc., that my relationship with them can better handle some bumps. My DH is just not around, since he works, and he’s so edgy when he is home. Sometimes I just wish he would leave for a while. He used to travel a lot and while it was hard on me because the kids were little, I miss the time alone and I think he does too.

I’m sorry to have written a novel and I’m probably rambling now. Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated. I know that part of the root of my DH’s issues is his ADD and I need to become better educated about how to recognize it and manage it.


Thanks for reading, if you made it this far!

Hope this helps

I am a wife, mother, and have ADHD. I wasn't diagnosed until about 4 years ago. I know this post is not about me, but I can try to let you know how I am. I am disorganized, forgetful, want to help everyone, and have many  what I call squirrel moments. Have you seeked professional help to see if you have ADD? Dr. Hollowells books could be just a start before you see someone who specializes in it. Knowing the symptoms, and their effects can help, I feel. It took me posting on this website (and my soon to be ex telling me we were roommates) to realize that some of my ADHD behaviors need to change. I wanted to change them, to become a better person. I felt like I could never do anything right in his eyes, and that was so lonely. I now see a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and I am in a totally different place (so much better). After 20 years of being out of school (mainly because I felt I would fail), I have been in college for over a year now. I am on meds, whic help me focus. I make a list of things to do, and I can usually get all of them done. I am still learning, and I think you are a brave person to even be on here asking for help. That is the first step, I think. If in fact you are ADD, I think acceptance is a big part of how a person feels. In my psychology class, the Maslow Triangle of needs really helped me understand some things. I know I am not perfect, nor is anyone, but I did accept him for who he was. I know he didn't accept me though. He said that we needed to see someone who deals with "ADHD" , and I feel blames me for our marital problems. I filed for divorce in early Jan, because I need someone who accepts me......flaws and all. I am not saying that my behavior is good or bad, but I am who I am. Someone shouldn't want to change you, you should want to change to become a better person...for yourself. I hope this helps, if you have any other questions, I will be happy to help. Just make your life what you want, no one else. Be happy with yourself first, you CAN do it. Believe in yourself, then others can too.  :)

Thank you for the reply! I am

Thank you for the reply! I am currently reading Driven to Distraction and it's really interesting! I honestly don't think I would be diagnosed - I think my ADD-like symptoms are more from adapting to my husband for 13 years, my ongoing battle with depression and my stress levels. And I don't think I would get the needed confirmation of childhood problems. I was so quiet as a kid (I don't know whether I was dreamy - I was always reading or writing) and I never caused problems. My brother was the one who fell off chairs and needed to run around the house. I was homeschooled from 5th grade on, so I wouldn't have any reports from school, independently of my mom, who really dislikes labels and tends to only remember the positive. I also know that executive function problems are associated with giftedness and I was a gifted child. Not that I have achieved anything at this point (I didn't even graduate from college because I couldn't choose a major  - I tried three - and was more interested in traveling and seeing the world and then I got married and had babies), but it makes me think it would be harder to point to a diagnosis. I just wonder how much of my difficulty is from needing to focus on myself to stay alive.

At this point, while I know I shouldn't self-diagnose, I'm pretending that I have ADD, since so many of the solutions seem to be things that would help me and everyone in my family (other than meds). I'm hoping it helps me accept my husband for who he is. What's funny is that I always felt he was the capable one. I may have read complex books and discussed philosophy, but he's the one who got things done. Not anymore. I sometimes wonder what life is like for normal people who can actually make things happen. 

I did apologize to my DH the other night, both for "checking out" of our finances and for not taking his ADD seriously. That meant a lot to him. I still don't know how to help him and how to do it in a way that makes the needed allowances for my health and energy levels. I don't think he realizes at all how stressful this last year has been - and it's not like it happened in isolation. We've gone through tough times before, but there was always some crisis that focused us. There isn't one right now (other than our finances, which are really an ongoing problem) and we're older and have to deal with who we are. Both my DH and I are bright, creative people. We're also square pegs who have been forced and are forcing ourselves into round holes. We've done it for too long. I'm just hoping it's not too late for both of us. 

Thank you again for replying. It just feels good to finally vent some of these things.

Serotonin Deficiency

LadyBug--look up Serotonin Deficiency. While I haven't been formally diagnosed, I'm pretty sure that I have it. Like you, I'm introverted and love to read, but I've also had a low level of depression all my life. After I got married to my ADHD husband, things went down hill and I got REALLY depressed. Things are better now, so there is hope when both people want to change but also accept each other deficiencies. That was the turning point in my relationship with my husband--when I accepted that he has ADHD and I could learn to live with it and love the parts of it that make him a fun person or get the heck out of town. I love him too much to leave. I think he subconsciously picked up on my decision because things are better than ever. We still see a counselor once a month, but I think this may just be our MO. We have trouble communicating and the only way we managed to get out our junk is when there's the counselor to referee.

But back to Serotonin Deficiency. Like you, I started to wonder if I had ADHD too. I was very un-focused, didn't have any motivation, was very short tempered/moody, trouble getting up and out of bed in the morning, etc. I learned that all of these symptoms plus more were a part of the Serotonin Deficiency. Last week I started on Celexa and I'm already feeling better. I'm still very tired, but I'm sleeping better. I think when I get back to feeling more like myself, my focus will return, which is good thing since I write in my spare time and I haven't gotten much of anything done in months!

In any case, what you guys have experienced is a lot of added stress on a marriage, which is fragile anyway. You guys are both pretty tired, I imagine. I wouldn't beat yourself up about the past, just admit that there have been problems and then determine to do something to make the future better. You don't have to be lonely. Have you ever approached him about seeing a counselor together? It can make a world of difference. Whatever happens, you both need to stop self-medicating with alcohol. Your hubby sounds a lot like my stepdad. He has mild to moderate ADHD, but manages to hold down a good job and work hard. But he self-medicates with vodka. A lot of vodka. It breaks my heart, not only because it's bad for his health, but because deep down, he's a good and loving person with a big heart. ADHDers are susceptible to both alcohol and drug abuse, and with him already abusing alcohol, I can see why he may have issues with taking meds. Perhaps you could talk about holistic remedies or something in order to alleviate some of his side effects.

Best of luck to you.

I cant even tell you how much

I cant even tell you how much I identify with this.  I too, checked out and am currently in the middle of a divorce.  I dealt with this for 20 years and the straw that broke the camels back was him completely disintegrating because I was having my own issues dealing with a critically ill parent and having someone who was like a 2nd Dad to me pass away last summer.  He spiraled out of control.. anxiety attacks etc.. refused to get help for that and drinking until after I left.  This after years of enduring scary and unpredictable behaviour... I decided I need to be in relationship with a true partner.  He's since gotten help but he thought processes are still erratic.  He's stopped drinking and is in therapy but I felt it best for my long term mental health and to be able to continue to care for my son and my elderly parents, I needed to be free of this.  I understand that hes not well but I tried for years to get him to get help and the fact that it took me leaving for him to get it leads me to believe, if I came back, he would resume old habits.. because we had almost split up several times before and those promises were broken.  So hang in there and dont be afraid to put yourself first once in a while.. your kids deserve their Mom to be happy.. I know now how much happier I am... Good luck to you