"you made my cry. why can't my H TRY ????? I'm proud of you, let me give you a virtual pat on the back. keep it up !"
Thanks, FF... I can't possibly tell you how much that means to me.
Much of my progress is due to you and the other non-ADHD spouses on these forums. You've all given me insight into what my wife is feeling and thinking, and have been able to explain, at least in part, way she sometimes acts and reacts the way she does. You've all been helpful and supportive and understanding and encouraging at the times I needed it the most, and despite the all the troubles and frustrations that you have with your own spouses. That's been a bigger help than you can ever imagine.
"Why can't my husband try?"
I've seen so many of you post that, or something similar, somewhere on these boards.
And that's just it... Right now, he quite literally can't. Or rather, he could try, but circumstances are such that he will always fail, and so there doesn't seem to be a point to it.
This going to be a rather exaggerated comparison, and a bit of hyperbole, but bear with me...
Imagine asking a paraplegic to run across the room. Everyone else can, why can't he? But every time he tries to just stand up, he falls on his face. Why doesn't he just try harder? He could do it, if he wanted to. What is he, lazy? He won't even help out around the house... He just sits in his chair all day long.
Silly isn't it? You'd never treat a paraplegic that way, unless you were a colossal asshole.
Imagine the supreme discouragement of constantly being encouraged to do something you can't, failing every time, and then being ridiculed and belittled for your failure. Imagine the humiliation of having to rely on others to accomplish simple every day tasks that others take for granted and can do without thinking. Now, add into that the confusion and frustration of not understanding why you can't, when others can.
Like I said, it may sound like a ridiculous exaggeration, but in a way, this is very much what it feels like to have ADHD... especially if you haven't been diagnosed.
In the real world if the paraplegic, with the help of crutches and months of physical therapy, managed to stumble through a few faltering steps on their own, then we'd celebrate it as a miracle! A triumph over adversity!
Think about how much courage and confidence it takes to take those very first steps... How much pain must be endured and how much hard work must be done just for the least success... How much time it takes to turns those small squicks of progress into something significant... How much patience and tenacity and endurance it takes to continue after all that time with so little progress.
We generally don't get those celebrations. The focus is rarely on our successes, and more often on our failures... You can see that here on these message boards. The "Anger & Frustration" forum has nearly twice as many posts in it as all the other forums put together. Nobody cheers when I clean the house, or cook dinner, or get the kids to school on time. Nobody congratulates me when I pay attention through an entire conversation, or when I manage to remember the details of that conversation days later. Nobody throws me a party for paying all the bills on time for an entire year in a row without going overdrawn. Completing a home improvement project on schedule and under budget is not a reason for celebration.
All this is to say, on any given day we like shit about ourselves. And we feel that way because of something we cannot control.
Many of us seem to fall into unhelpful, unhealthy, often damaging habits to try to regain control in some way... We bully, or play the victim, or withdraw, or simply give in and indulge our impulses. We feel worthless, useless, unloved, and alone -- undoubtedly, you feel many of the same things as a non-ADHD spouse, but for very different reasons. We get stuck there and can't get out, because we don't have the self confidence to overpower the sense of inevitable failure. We're too scared to take that risk, and are mentally and emotionally paralyzed into doing nothing and stay in the "safest" place we know. The inertia of those emotions combines is hard to overcome on your own.
Oof... I've got cut myself off, here... Writing this was surprisingly exhausting.