Nothing seems to be working!

I'm new to this blog, but not new to having inattentive ADD.  After being fired from several jobs after a long and successful career with one company I was finally diagnosed.  I've read just about everything out there on ADD, go to a support group for adults, see one of the best cognitive therapists, and a well known psychiatrist....and I still seem to be chasing my tail day after day.  I'm on meds now and they help somewhat, but not enough!  I seem to be unable to do anything which doesn't interest me, and my house is just a mess!  I can't seem to get it together!

What else is there to do?

Should I recommend this to my wife?

I took a quick look at the description of the workbook you recommended.  It looks like it gives tips to manage behavioral symptoms as well as tips for helping someone with ADHD not feel so BAD all the time.

I know my wife often feels like a failure, like she is a constant disappointment - to herself and to others, etc.

I'm thinking this book might help my wife not feel so bad so often, and so I am considering sending her the link.

Would you please tell me a little about how ths book helped you that I might share with my wife when I do send her the link?


Like Hoping, I am also very interested in the book you recommend.  Can you use it as a do-it-yourself programme, or do you need to do the work in conjunction with a therapist?  I'd love to hear some more information about it.

sapphyre's picture

I'm interested too!

I haven't been able to get hubby to go to a group, or do any counselling/therapy.

He also has comorbid Anxiety which sometimes leads to depression. He then will hardly leave the house.

I want to recommend a workbook or online program to him. Ideally something that deals with ADHD and Anxiety at the same time, but that's unlikely.

Please tell us shore, do you have ADHD and you have used the book? Or has your partner?

Miss Behaven's picture

We used this book in our CBT

We used this book in our CBT (both hubby and I)  it is written for therapists to hand to clients and there is a therapist "textbook" version as well. We used it with our therapist (separately) but I think it could also be very useful on its own. I wonder if you could also get the therapist version?

PS I had a false labor this afternoon, got all excited for nothing. Hopefully princess hurries up!

What I'd Like to Know

There are lots of books and exercises I have seen recommended.  What I'd like to know, for the perspective of someone with ADHD, is how this particular workbook helped YOU.

I'd like to be able to recommend it to my wife, not by saying "Honey, I think this book might help you" or even "People with ADHD on the blof said this book helped them."

But rather "People on the blog said this book helped them not feel so bad all the time about disappointing people"  . . . .or whatever. 

Would you be able to share HOW this book helped you?

And Miss B . . . I hope that baby comes soon!

Miss Behaven's picture

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & Book

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


Hubby and I talked about the book in question as well about CBT. We have decided that this book can be very helpful even without a therapist guiding, though much more helpful with a therapist. I also think it should not just be handed over to the ADDer I think it is something that would help both partners if they worked together as a team through the book, especially if you aren't using it with a therapist.

This is what working through the book and CBT did for us:

Learn what is and is not ADD. Learned a lot about ADD.

Learned what are coping strategies, behaviors, feelings and thoughts and such that are a result of ADD but not ADD themselves.

Learned to understand what can and what cannot be changed. Example: I will never be less forgetful, but I can put strategies in place to minimize the effects of my poor memory.

Learned what are coping strategies, behaviors, feelings and thoughts are healthy/helping and what are not.

Figured out what needed to be addressed first and what can wait.

Learned new strategies, behaviors, feelings and thoughts to replace the poor ones.

Learned to treat myself with love and respect and break the self esteem breaking cycle of thoughts and feelings.

Learned to better communicate and articulate my thoughts and feelings.

Learned to pretend to be normal better in social settings so as not to incur the humiliation, rejection, wrath and ridicule that often comes from being outside the norm.

Learned my real limitations and found the strength to rise to challenges ... and to not beat myself up over every little failure until I refuse to try anymore.

Learned to treats others with more respect and compassion.

Still learning the NT world is not out to get me :)

hockeymom11's picture

Miss B

did you find that it was easy for you to get through the book?  I've given my ADD husband blogs, articles and books and he just sets them on his desk.  This book sounds fantastic, but I'm afraid it won't hold his interest.  Did you find in reading it yourself that you felt like "hey I can do that, or hey that would help in this situation" AT the moment you were reading it?

I recorded the Today show segment with Melissa and Dr. H and have watched it about 5 times.  I was watching it and at the tail end today when my husband walked into the room.  Melissa was saying how she learned empathy and that she learned that her husband wasn't lazy.  The segment ended a second later and I asked my husband if he wanted to watch it.  He said yes and I left the room (thinking he may feel awkward/embarrassed????).    I guess he watched the whole thing, but never commented on it.  I just don't know if he will ever get it and if all of this is worth my time and energy. 

Carmen's picture

What about a coach?

Maybe a coach can help you to get more organized. I know it can be a little expensive to hire one, but there are out there coaches specialized on ADDers.

hockeymom11's picture

no money

I've read about coaches and professional organizers, but my ADHD has/had a problem with excessive money spending and has left us in a debt management program.  I'm extremely organized and that's the only reason our family has survived all these years, it's HIM that needs the help.

There is no way, right now to afford to pay a professional.  I found low cost counseling, but they cannot prescribe medications so he can't go.  He REALLY needs to start meds, but our MD won't start him until he has an "official" diagnosis.

He told me he was moving out last week, then this week told me he doesn't have enough money.  I had made a controlled separation contract from the book "Should I stay or should I go?".

I think what I'm going to do is make an "in-house" contract and give it to him.  I don't know how it will go over, but I told him there is a serious imbalance of household/childcare work.  And yesterday my 11 year old son (who wasn't medicated b/c the pharmacy screwed up the script and they don't have it yet!) yelled at his father "I hate you, you hate everyone, I hear the way to speak to Mommy, you never do anything with us!!!".   I went outside and bawled.  It tore my heart out.  I went out and bought him a "diary" and told him he can write any feelings he wanted to and no one would ever read it but him.  I'm reeling with guilt and hurt and dispare.

What do others feel about an "in-house" contract?  I though I would put things in like:

XXX agrees to spend ___ evenings a week with the boys, playing games, biking, etc

I agree to do the majority of the housework, but XXX agrees to perform these chores on a weekly basis__________

XXXX agrees that when he comes home from work he will NOT immediately go upstairs, but sit and spend 5 minutes with each child

XXXX agrees to spend one Saturday a month with the boys: working on a project, an outing etc.


I know this seems so basic and somewhat stupid, but I don't know what to do anymore.  He won't change.  Help please, feedback, anything.


no money

I fully understand about the no money situation.  It sucks!  The "in-house" contract sounds great but what makes you think he will follow through with it?  What will be the consequences, if any, when he doesn't follow through?  If he is anything like my husband the ball will be dropped pretty quick and we then return to a life of everything of importance being done half-a$$ed.  Excuse the language.

hockeymom11's picture

I know

I know it's a risk.  I guess I have to put in the contract that "said partner agrees not to become defensive if a task is not completed and they are reminded".   All I can do if he doesn't hold up his end is "nag", which I know is a problem in the relationship now.  I will politely remind him that he didn't complete his task.  Who knows, this whole thing might blow up in my face, but it can't get any worse in the relationship than it already is.  At least it MAY make him realize he is neglecting his children and we have all come in second place to video games. 

I don't have any other good ideas, I'm at the end of the rope, grasping at straws.  It's all I can do to keep myself sane.

reply to hockeymom11

I'll keep my fingers crossed that it will work.  Please keep us posted.  Hopefully it will be a wake-up call before your children decide they no longer want anything to do with him.

I think you'll have the best success if you agree on

behaviors and also on consequences on the front end and include them in your contract.  For example, if he does not follow through on what he's agreed to maybe that means 1 day-1 week with no video games whatsoever or whatever you guys decide yourself to be fair.


We've also used rewards to help form habits.  When we were trying to get him to check his schedule every morning before starting his day (he'd been writing things in that needed to be done but then not checking it regularly), we set a certain number of days in a row that he had to look at it in order for him to buy the new computer monitor that he wanted.  If he didn't look at it one day, then he was back to counting at day 1.  He was DILIGENT about checking that schedule daily and go soo much more done.  Course he back slid somewhat once he got the monitor, but the habit began to be formed then and it has been improving since the backslide.

hockeymom11's picture

I agree

that we should decide on consequences before hand, but I doubt he will agree to the reward/loss of privilege.  I can just hear him saying "what do you think I am, a 10 year old?!?"

Plus I cannot stop him from playing video games, he stays up all night doing it and I'm not about to patrol him. 

this is very very sad b/c I grew up with an alcoholic mother and around age 11 (my adhd son's age) I had to take care of myself.  My mother never cooked for us, helped us with our homework, played with us or read to us.  The things I hear my son say about "daddy" are words that came out of my mouth.  When I was old enough to do so, I disowned my mother forever and haven't spoken to her since.  I can see my own children heading down that path EXCEPT that I DO play with them, read to them and take care of them.  I don't blame my father, he was a blue collar worker who worked 60-70 hours a week to put a roof over our head and food on the table so my stay at home drunk mother could live her life.  I ate a lot of Swanson TV dinners and I won't let that become my children's lives.

this is just breaking my heart and I don't know how much more I can handle.  I'm really trying to change my behavior based on everything I've read.  When I do have to have a conversation with my ADD spouse, I listen, I pause before I respond, I don't yell, I don't use the word "you" I try to state "I".   Its just so damn hard.

hockeymom11's picture

in home contract

well, I did it.  From the book "should I stay or should I go", some advice on this blog and suggestions from others I've made an in-home contract for myself and ADD husband.  He told me he was moving out, now he isn't so I asked if he would be agreeable to a contract, he said "whatever".  So here it is.  This whole idea may be completely idiotic, stupid, childlike etc, but I don't know what else to do.  If anyone could give me any feed back or suggestions from ADDr's I would greatly appreciate it.  I'm referred to as XX, he is ADD.

here goes.....

In-Home Contract for XX and ADD

XX agrees to deposit her money into the joint checking account. ADD agrees to stop withdrawing large amounts of cash on a weekly basis and stop spending money on non-essential items (specifically cigarettes, alcohol and video games/electronics). If the spending continues, XX has the right to deposit her money in a separate checking account.

XX agrees to give ADD any extra earnings so that he may seek counseling and obtain a definitive diagnosis and begin treatment if deemed necessary.

XX agrees not to spend large amounts of money on non-essentials. If a large purchase must be made she agrees to discuss it with ADD beforehand.

XX agrees to take care of bill paying, but ADD agrees that every _______ night he will balance the checkbook so the exact amount is known for the upcoming expenses. ADD agrees not to become defensive if the task is not completed and he is reminded.

XX agrees to continue with the majority of the home care, yard care and child care, but ADD agrees to do __________ daily, do _____________ weekly and ____________ monthly. ADD also agrees not to become defensive if the task is not complete and he is reminded.

ADD agrees that when he returns home from work, he is not to go directly upstairs onto the computer, but spend 5 minutes with the boys.

ADD agrees to spend one weekday evening (Mon) and one weekend (Sun) evening with the boys. This will include help with homework, playing, cooking dinner, bath and bed.  XX agrees to spend Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat evening doing the aforementioned items with the boys.

ADD agrees to spend one entire weekend a month with the boys. This could include an outing, cooking together, playing, reading or working on projects. This does NOT include ADD playing video games while the children play together.

ADD agrees to limit or completely stop playing video games when the children are home and/or awake as to promote more time spent with them. If the children are not home or asleep, ADD may play as many video games as he wants.

XX agrees to support ADD in his hobbies and will watch the boys when he is at ___. ADD agrees to support XX’s hobbies and watch the boys while she is at ____ (which will generally be Monday evening and Sundays).

Both partners must agree to not become defensive if they are not upholding their end of the contract and are reminded.

Consequences can be set up by both partners’ if a task is not completed. These can be determined by each partner: 

Signature: ______________________________

Reading over your contract,

Reading over your contract, it sounds like you and I have a lot of similiar issues with our ADDer. I was compelled to respond to this for a few reasons...

First, I spent countless years and $$$ in counseling trying to 'fix' the money spending issue. He knew he spent too much at times, would admit to RARELY ever consulting me (who is 100% responsible for all bills and finances) before spending $5 or $500, but NOTHING was ever accomplished. We tried giving him an 'allowance'..say $100 week. He would take out his $100 promptly (NEVER forgot to do that), blow it in 2 days, and then take out $100 more. We tried getting him involved in the finances to see the actual damage he was doing..never happened. At one point if I even mentioned that we were behind on a bill (due to his over spending or not) he would get all defensive, clam up, refuse to discuss it "you know I don't want to talk about money". NOTHING ever worked...until I took away his debit card. I had 2 counselors tell me, right in front of him, to take it. He would offer, I refused because it was just example of me feeling like the only solution was to be his "mother" and I wanted no part of it. Finally, I took it. He gave it up, hasn't asked for it back since, and the problem is about 80% solved. If he wants to 'support' his habits (guns, guitars/amps, video games) then he sells a gun to buy a guitar...or a gun to buy a gun..or a guitar to buy a gun. He sold his 4-wheeler, which was sitting and rotting, and got 3 or 4 guns. As long as he doesn't take money that we don't have for unnecessary stuff, I'm fine with him 'being creative' to support his spending urges. He smokes and his cigarette money comes straight from his paycheck, but I used to buy them for him otherwise he'd take $50 to buy cigarettes and end up getting 2 packs. Now, in an attempt to save money, he makes his own. At least he is 'aware' of the concept of 'cutting back' for that I'm thankful.

In my situation, again sounds similiar to yours, I'm 100% certain a contract would be worthless. The longer and more complicated it was, the less chance I would have of ever getting him to do anything. Since we've had your issues, and we've managed to make a LITTLE progress over the years, my advice to you would be to pick the two main things that you feel absolutely need to change in some way and sit down with him and say "this is how I would like to see things work out in this situation, and I would appreciate your input as to how you think we can compromise and both be happy" If he is destroying you financially, then cut him off. Don't expect him to change, wait for change, demand change, and then be disappointed when it doesn't happen. If it takes getting your separate account, putting XX amount into the one he has access to, and letting him deal with managing only what you put in it, then so be it. What choice would he have? Some things I can see bending on a little, being understanding, but destroying a family financially is something that HAS to be gotten under any way necessary. Believe me, it took me a very long time to realize this...and I fought tooth and nail all the way resisting 'treating him like a child' when it came to finances. He blew through thousands of dollars of my father's life insurance money in 3 months then I didn't care if he left me, but I wasn't going to let him destroy his family in the process..or himself, for that matter. I took his debit card and don't regret it at all. The first few months though...his mood was HORRIBLE. Just be prepared.

As for the time with the children, what worked for me there was doing things that HE enjoyed doing and incorporating them into a day..we call Family Day. Every Saturday we spend time together, as a family. We go out to eat, go riding, hiking, to the lake for cookouts, etc. He would spend the entire weekend on his computer before I finally dragged him, kicking and screaming, and forced him to spend time with us on the weekends. I had cried, begged, pleaded, etc. It didn't work. I finally just insisted...and didn't take no for an answer. Now, he rarely spends any time on his computer and LOVES Family Day. I didn't insist on anything that required a lot of 'memory' to keep up with, just simply Saturday. Now, he takes the kids with him anywhere and everywhere he goes and really enjoys spending time with them.

I truly feel that keeping it simple is really key to getting a response you like (or at least can live with). Always remember compromise too...we can't always get everything 100% our way. Some things we learn to accept and go on, those that we can't accept, we struggle to find a happy medium. Unfortunately, they won't always meet us there.

I really, truly pray that you start to see something that gives you the hope you sound like you so desperately need. Always keep in mind...real change...change that will matter most to YOU starts within YOU. First and foremost find happiness for yourself and decide to focus on being positive, fun loving, happy, and most importantly let go of the matter what HE does. Best of luck! Please keep us posted.  

Almost forgot

One more thing...that I hope might be helpful mentioned that you would like for him to spend 5 minutes with the kids before heading upstairs when he gets home from work. This is something I have absolutely had to learn to follow my husband's cues on, but if he comes home and heads for the bedroom or den then I know that he's needing to 'unwind' and I give him some space for a little while. Insisting that he jump right into 'daddy' mode when coming home might be asking the impossible..even for non ADD men jumping into Daddy mode right after work isn't easy. Again, let him know how important you feel it would be for the kids' sake for him to spend just a few minutes asking them how their day was each evening, or at least a few times a week. The more you come at this with the attitude 'this is what's wrong and this is what I think you need to do' the less cooperation you're most likely going to get. Speaking 100% from my own personal experience. I just hate to see you put this out there, have him 'disappoint' you when he doesn't (isn't able to) follow through, and the cycle of resentment and anger just rages on. I was in your shoes for so long...and I thank God everyday that I was able to move past the anger and see that my approach was absolutely horrible for my situation and that I was, in fact, setting him up to fail at every turn. When he did, I was quick to point it out too.

I know it's hard to see that your resentment and anger is fueling the situation almost as much as his ADD, and I SWEAR I only say that because my heart breaks for you because I have been there and it is the worst place to be in the whole world...but you have to sit down and rethink things. Is there any chance at all that if you just threw out the contract, discussed a couple of key issues and asked his help in resolving them (maybe taking the financial issues into your own hands), that he might respond positively? It is so hard to love someone who you feel is completely out for themselves and doesn't care about your feelings at all, but I would bet my life that he feels the same about you. Break the cycle by showing him you love him inspite of his ADD and that you're there to HELP him as long as he's willing to meet you half way.

Again, I know all situations are different...I hope maybe some of this helps, it certainly was my intent. To help. ((HUGS))

Reading the comments by those

Reading the comments by those who do not have add makes me very sad for both of you and also thankful for the husband that I have. I was reading the contract and immediatly felt my anxiety increase. How sad that a marriage where team work is essential to success has fallen into a work like contract.

I know that for me (the ADDer) a contract would be setting me up for failure. I know that my intentions are always good and that I may agree to a contract as a great idea, but i would not be able to see the flexibility and would not know what to do if say I worked late for my chores per se for the the day weren't done. Also knowing my limitations and if I have something on my mind i will completely forget about the contract, then i will feel guilty and probably get defensive.

I understand the frustration that non ADDers are experiencing. I understand the spending issues as well. In our home we sit down together and figure out the bills. We open them together and figure out how much is in the account and how much we are going to pay. I am more computer savvy so I plug in the amt and then we both review to make sure that some other thought hasn't slipped out the end of my fingers (as I have tried to pay my phone bill with my car payment amt). Then we discuss what we have left until the next paycheck, and what I might be interested in purchasing, or what he may need. It has worked nicely over the last 25 years and we had only a few errors. Neither one of us makes a purchase for more than 150 dollars without first having a discussion.

There are things that need to be done and we discuss who will do what with a time frame. I hope this helps. I sometimes get defensive or less communicative when I am a little overwhelmed and don't know how to express myself in a concise and understanding way.

hockeymom11's picture

thank you

I guess I'll forgo the contract.  I figured it wouldn't work anyway.  Thanks for reading it and your input.

First Miss B I agree WE BOTH need counseling, but with 0$ to our name it is NOT possible.  My husband has spent ALL of our money.  Taking away his debit card or having him only pay "his bills" is not possible.  All I was asking you was if you felt the book was helpful and if as an ADDr you felt the content was "do-able".  Your sarcastic response was unnecessary. 

Sherri: thank you for your kind NON-judgemental thinking.  I've dealt with this for 14 years and am trying to figure out a way to cope.  I cannot move out, he cannot move out.  WE ARE BANKRUPT.  We have three years to pay off a huge debt loan to get out and then I'm gone, but until then I thought I could come up with an idea to help him.

It was NOT my intention to offend ADDrs, why would I ask for you input in the first place?  Miss B, you are judgemental of all NTs as you call "us" so if you don't feel you can objectively respond to a post please don't.  Believe me I will not ask you for anymore input.  I AM TRYING to help my husband, from what I've read and been told about ADD brains (and YES we have been to therapy Miss B until my husband spent the rest of the money).  I thought that making a list of very clear items would help him.  and the part about not becoming defensive was an idea that came from a ADDr.

So I'm sorry if I offended any ADDr's as it was not my intention. 

Contract? Another option

I am the one who recommended the Stay or Go book as a way to think through issues in your relationship, but I think that the contract doesn't work in this situation.  Here's a different approach:

Take a paper in landscape mode and make three columns.  At the top of the left column, write "reasons to do".  At the top of the second column, write "reasons to not do".  At the top of the third column, write "creative ways to approach this."

Then, take one of your issues and see what progress the two of you can make together solving it.  Both of you should fill out each column together, in order from left to right.  The idea behind this is that you will be working on the same team if you both have to work through the pros and cons together.  So you might put "get separate bank accounts" at the top of the page as the issue you are trying to solve.  Then make the list.  As you work through it, take the time to discuss why you are putting what you put in each column.

Another benefit to working this way is that you both may buy into the proposed final solution at the end of the process.  It's better than one spouse telling the other what to do or demanding a signature on a contract.

The tricky part is the "measurement and consequences" part.  This works best if both people agree that the issue is an important one, and that failing to do what you've jointly agreed to means that you aren't functioning as well as a couple as you could and that further work or talk needs to happen to make the original agreement happen.  What can you learn from a failure?  Perhaps that there wasn't a good reminder system in place (add one!) or that one partner's anger interfered with getting something done (work on the anger!)  Over time you might end up with:

  • a series of agreements that you both created and agree with
  • a better understanding of why each of you feels the way you do about specific issues
  • a list of creative alternatives for dealing with the issue
hockeymom11's picture

thank you Melissa

thank you for clarifying this.  I asked the same question in another post, but you've already answered it here so thanks.

I will try your approach to our "contract" and see how he handles it.

Should I just start with bank account/bills and time with children to keep it very simple?  I know you don't know our individual situation, but I do appreciate your help. 

Keep it simple

Yes.  Tell him up front that there are many things that you would eventually like to work on, but you would like to just start with a few (this is better than just telling him there are a few and then adding them - he'll think you're moving the bar).

I find that many of my clients with ADHD are feeling pretty overwhelmed and this is something that you should expect to hear about.  Take it seriously - this sense of overwhelm is very real - it takes more time and is harder to do things when you have ADHD.  BUT it is also true that getting a good system in place that you both agree to can make some of the overwhelm go away.  So start small and get some successes under your belt.

You have already gotten some feedback

but I'd just say that I also think this contract is too lengthy.   Some of the things in it may not need to have a "contract" per se, but just an agreement between the two of you.  Why not have him agree to try to spend some time with the children when he comes in from work regularly, and then if he feels he isn't up to it one night then it is no big deal.  Or if he comes in wiped out and needs some time to decompress, what about some regular time spent together after dinner?


As far as the money goes, would it make sense for you to have a flat amount of money that cannot be removed without a discussion?  We do our budget together.--He shares with me if he has any particularly needs/wants coming up, I write out the budget, and we agree on the categories together.  We don't spend more than $50 on anything not in the budget (unless it's out of our personal blow money) without discussing it.  Either of us.   My husband tends to run through money pretty quickly, but our solution is that he gets his blow money in cash and when it is gone, he has to wait until he gets more before spending what isn't on the budget.  Period.   Neither of us get cash withdrawals from our accounts.


As far as rewards/consequences this has worked for us very well.  Some ADDers may not like it, but mine likes it fine and he ends up getting toys he might not get otherwise so everyone wins.  As a matter of fact, we worked this out with his coach, so those who are poo-pooing the idea may have a different experience, but professionals in ADD agree with it & only you can decide what to try with your husband. Most of us have done some trial and error to find what is currently working.  My husband has lots of technical toys that he wants and lots of tools we are trying to put into place to control his ADD symptoms.  Sometimes, we make an agreement that if he works on a behavior in a measurable way (there is something he physically has to do so that I can tell he is working on it) for a certain length of time, then he gets the extra money to spend on something that he wants.


Also there are some behaviors that we are trying to curtail,,,,for example playing computer games and not getting something done that needs to be done that day.  In general he tries to get important things done first, but there was one item that kept falling through his system.  We agreed that since he loves a particular subscription game he is playing currently, that for every week he doesn't do the item, he can't play that game for a week.  Before that went into effect, he was forgetting at least a week every month to get the item done.  Since it has gone into effect (about 3 months now) he has never forgotten to get it done.

No one is setting anyone up to fail.  We are doing our best to keep things set up for success.  I was concerned when we first talked about it that it would seem childlike to him, but it doesn't.  He view it as earning things he wants and having consequences for forgetting important things.  We don't ever work on more than 1 thing in this way at a time.


Hopefully something someone is suggesting can help you!