Like reading about a bank robbery and then finding out that you robbed it

My wife was reading up on ADHD because the idea had been brought up regarding our son.  She stopped and said, “Wait a minute…this is YOU.” Finding out I had ADHD was a milestone- my entire life fell into place. I was ecstatic! My wife sank into a depression- it confirmed the hopelessness she had felt. The very next day at lunch I went to the mall to get a present for her, maybe a small piece of jewelry or something. I saw a Barnes&Noble and went in- where better to start learning about ADHD than with a new book? I looked at the titles. I got three books in before I decided I had had enough and was already tired of the idea. Not ten feet away I spotted a book about monsters- neat! Turns out there are some pretty convincing photos of weird sea monsters that have washed up on shore. I got some coffee and went back to work.  I realized how ridiculous I am.
   I found a therapist who did some assessments and said I had, basically, a 911 case of ADD. She couldn’t understand how I even had a career- honestly I can’t either. One time in a self-review I told my boss why he should get rid of me, hire two guys out of college and get twice the work for half the money.
   Here I am, maybe two years down the road, and I am terrified. It is an awful and strange feeling when you have an epiphany and know in that moment that you will forget it and be in the same position in a month. When you realize that you may have caused literally every problem in your 20 year marriage and that your wife is an insane shrew because you broke her while chipping away at her sanity the way a patient sculptor chips away at marble.

I read The ADHD Effect on Marriage- a small victory because I don’t usually finish books. It was tremendously discouraging and painful, and at times I’d get a sliver of hope- it was fascinating to see myself in print. But at the end of it I’m left with, “where is ME?” I mean once you strip away the ADD- what the hell is left? And then I feel hopeless, because in my trail are a thousand million starts and good intentions and brilliant impulses.
I’m not looking for an answer or response; I just want to get on this forum and attempt to participate, been reading a lot of posts.

To tintoy

"Where is ME?"

Right there in the midst of that well written forum entry.

I cannot see your impulsiveness.

I cannot see your restlessness.

I do not see your chaos. 

I see a thinking, expressive, articulate, caring, and unique personality.

The beauty of this site is that we, the NONs, get to see the ADDers without their symptoms.

Just like your loved ones will see you when you have proper, three-fold treatment.

You're on the right track!

Thanks, I appreciate that.

Thanks, I appreciate that. The "NONs" all sound like my wife, and I sound like their husbands. Very surreal experience reading this forum, and also a gift.

Losing your world

I know exactly how you felt when you said that there was nothing left of you when you strip off the ADHD. when I finally realized that something was wrong with me, I started a full-scale revision of myself, my personality, my habits, my way of communication, everything... . so I started: I shouldn't talk like that, I shouldn't say this, I must not react like that, I shouldn't give in to impulsitivity at those times, this way of walking is wrong, I should stop my jerky movements, etc... but after some time I realized that my ENTIRE LIFE is wrong! I lost my point of reference, everything I did seemed faulty, I was lost, I just didn't know what to do. when I was with others I simply shut my mouth and say nothing, and I would think about a word a million times before I would say it. It was like I had to learn how to live from scratch. but then another problem came up: sometimes the replacements I took for my behaviors were just as bad, or even worse than the thing I was trying replace. oh god I'm soooo angry. I don't know what to do. It's like living in a maze, spending hours going down a path just to reach a dead end.

on Losing your World

I had an interesting experience this weekend that is related to this- I've been taking strattera for a little over a month and found that I was no longer having "bright ideas", no sudden inspirations, no thoughts that demanded to be written down. I'm an artist though- I work at a company where I need those ideas, and besides that those crazy tangents are what make life worth living for me. I've always had this dependable well I could got to for new ideas, and now it was dry. I stopped taking the strattera- the very next day the inspiration started to come back, the projects, the brilliant plans and bright ideas. I got my Wile E. Coyote back.  I could also feel the frenetic hummingbird-esque pace of my ADHD brain returning, and I decided that managing this is all I can do, too much of who I actually *am* is entwined with it to try and stamp it out.

My point is, who I am is inextricably linked to the ADHD. I can attempt to deal with behavior that wrecks my life, but at 45 this IS who I am, and my biggest strengths could also be called "symptoms".

In other words don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.


MagicSandwich's picture

Asking for feedback from friends & coworkers

Please give the strattera more than just a month in your system before making conclusions about its efficacy. I'm not trying to promote self-doubt or claim your perceptions aren't valid. I am just wondering if the people you work with would agree with your self-assessment. Do you work in an environment where you can ask coworkers for some feedback about yourself during the month you were medicated? Would you be ready to hear a potential comment from one of your coworkers that went something like, "Wow you were on Stattera last month? That might explain why I finally got a word in edgewise during the XXX meeting." In many cases (which are artfully described throughout this forum) the perceived loss of crazy tangential thinking is really just impulse control kicking in. 

You're probably right- and I

You're probably right- and I *did* appreciate the impulse control when it came to conversations. I've read a lot of feedback on this drug and thought a month would be enough, but the increasing anxiety I was experiencing was just not good. On the other hand I was feeling more and more like I don't care anymore- and was nearly unable to do any actual work (complicated to explain, but it was almost like too much impulse control). Starting/stopping strattera only showed me that there are parts to this disorder that I've come to depend on- for better or worse I've got a job tailor made for ADHD.

As far as talking to coworkers- I am VERY careful about who I "reveal" this too, my fear is that it will color everything I do in the eyes of my manager and team. Maybe today I'll approach my boss and tell him "I got a message from Magic Sandwich":)


Pbartender's picture

Also...  Keep trying with the

Also...  Keep trying with the Strattera to make certain it works (or doesn't), but have you tried any other medications?  People often have different responses to different meds.



MagicSandwich's picture

Yeah I hear you big time

Yeah I hear you big time about the fear of revealing too much to the wrong people. I remember watching Robert Altman receive the Lifetime Achievement award at the Oscars in 2006 where he revealed having had a heart transplant during his acceptance speech.  It wasn't safe enough, he felt, to tell anybody in the industry about his bad heart until that moment - that speaks volumes doesn't it? 

Anyway, was it that made you want to try medication in the first place? Have you talked with your prescriber about Adderall? FYI Strattera is not a stimulant medication and the list of complaints and side effects like you described goes on and on. 


My brother had the same complaint about Strattera.  He had no more good ideas, and unfortunately he's trying to finish writing a book.  So he quit the Strattera, but didn't try Adderall or something else.  So he's simply drifting again.  He planned to spend the summer finishing his book while his wife and son traveled abroad to see family.  Instead, he painted his office, wound up on an upside down sleeping schedule (going to bed at 6am and waking up at 2pm) letting the house and yard go to hell and *surprise!* did NOT finish the book or articles he'd planned to finish and spent 2 days before his family came home trying to clean up the mess in the house and cut the foot-high grass.  What was he doing for 3 months?  who knows.... 

I've been on Adderall for almost 2 years now.  While I am not transformed into a superhero, and I STILL am not earning enough money with my collection of part-time work, I would say I'm improved dramatically.  Driving, specifically has been dramatically improved.  Mostly because being more alert and aware of my surroundings I am not as terrified anymore.

I am a musician, and the Adderall has had no effect on my ability, but often things I would get 'sucked into' don't happen anymore simply because I have a better sense of priority.  (practicing for another hour is a bad idea, whereas cooking dinner is a GOOD idea...)

It Doesn't Have to Be One or the Other with meds...


I know exactly what you mean.  I felt like I had a dark cloud over my head with Strattera; I just felt blah, indifferent, and not at all like myself.  I have seen success in some students of mine with this medication, but everyone is different.  I also had horrible heart burn, sexual side effects, and a pulse of 100, which is about 40 beats per minute above normal for me.  Oh, and let's not forget that I started hearing voices.  NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE, has NEVER HAPPENED SINCE.  I am not crazy, and no one who knows me would make such a determination.  Shudder to think what would happen if I WAS crazy; I'm just moody.  It takes a while to get out of your system, but all the bad side effects went away instantly once I stopped. 

To Everyone One Else:  Again, everyone's body chemistry is different, so if Strattera works for you, please don't take it personally.  Clearly, it wasn't the case for me.

You don't have to throw out the baby with the bath water.  Strattera is the only one that made me feel horribly like that.  There are other medications.  I've tried many of them.  Don't get discouraged yet...


Thank you for this perspective

Today, right now, I am in an emotional place to read the ADHD perspective, and take it in. Most days, I am not - due to the sadness, frustration, hopelessness, etc. Your perspective that you've had to literally think about an action 1000 times before you did it, and have had to strip everything about who you know you are, must be an absolutely awful existence.

I feel like, as the non-ADHD wife, I have had to change many things about the way I react to him, and I do know the level of change I've had to make is not nearly equal to the amount of change he's had to make. So, even though I can relate a little bit to this change, I can appreciate the pervasiveness of the change throughout the ADHD'er. I think this may be why so many ADHD marriages fail - because this level of change is SO comprehensive for the ADHD'er. They are challenged to literally change their mind, body, soul, personality, emotions, perspective, thoughts, behavior, reactions, physical movements, etc.  I think for the lucky few that adapt to this change, both partners, they end up with an incredibly wonderful marriage. I am still hoping.

You are the bank that has been robbed.

 I too have found these forums in particular immensely difficult to read… the raw hurt is so close to the bone.  I have read and felt the immense pain, disappointment, resentment and anger of many non-ADHD spouse. While this has given me a real window into the world of my own long suffering partner, it has at the same time left me feeling stripped bare and completely broken, and I must admit angry.      I have this recurrent dream about us all being pieces of a puzzle searching for the place in which we fit… for us I don’t think there is such a place.
I have endlessly chased my thoughts, trying to find the fragments that would coalesce to explain who I am, and what makes me like this, trying to find just the right words, the perfect phrases to structure an explanation into some sort of justification.  In the end I just end up exhausted,   sleepless and frustrated at the lack of anything that seems to make any sense. The truth is I can’t even explain it to myself, I’m lost in a soup of useless words,  staring into space a million miles away from my life….there is a wall of thick cloudy glass between it and me and I can’t’ breath. 

  So I punish myself with harsh insults, because self-flagellation might make things clear if it hurts enough and then perhaps the pain will precipitate some semblance of clarity and it will all make sense, and then I will be better, I will see clearly and this brown fog will lift. Instead I end up frustrated and angry and with no self-esteem and left wondering who the f**& am I anyway?
If I pour on enough scorn surely that will drive me on, if I hate what I see in the mirror every day, then the logical part of me will make me change it, seems a simple strategy of unpleasant stimulus avoidance. Unfortunately I can’t change it.  I am stuck with it.  So I hate you all as well, everything in fact.  So I’ll drink/take drugs/gamble/get a porn addiction/drive recklessly, deprive myself of sleep, starve myself, beat myself down in disgust, and I just can’t contain all this rage,  and  then,  when my whole life seems completely destroyed, my loved ones can’t stand me and I feel like I’m about to explode or desperately want follow one of those exit routes that call to me every day,    some doctor in an endless chain of clueless doctors will give me some medication that makes me feel like shit, it might work to make me more like you, it might not.. so this is it,  I can feel passively like shit not being the person I was born but at least tolerable to those I love, or I can end up bitter,  angry, moody, frustrated and alone.  "Have you taken your meds today honey???? No have you?  But I’m normal honey, you’re not".                    

Our loved ones,   they catch the uncontained fallout, just the bits that we can’t’ hold in. So when I read the pain in those posts, I find even myself judging the appalling behavior of the ADHD partner,   understand that this is but the tip of a vast iceberg, that person you now most likely resent is in complete and utter turmoil and carries a whole life of it, they are a shell of what they could have been had the roll of the dice been different.    I could have been like you, I could have had inner peace and quiet and seen and felt the joy, instead I feel hunted and I just want to stop running.  Please understand that while I feel empathy for your life of disappointment at having ended up with me, believe me  when I say I feel that disappointment a thousand fold,   forgive me if it is difficult for me to comfort you on our common source of suffering.  

Anyway…a rant, frustration at the endless criticism, like we are some defective parasite to be expelled, some willful destroyer of other people.  We are really just like everybody else, we want peace of mind and we want to be accepted and loved and not rejected. We were not born with all this baggage,  it was given to us by normal people over a lifetime.    

Jon, many of your words

Jon, many of your words pierced me, but especially these:  

"I could have been like you, I could have had inner peace and quiet and seen and felt the joy, instead I feel hunted and I just want to stop running. "

I, the nonADHD spouse, will probably never have inner peace and quiet and I do not see and feel the joy.  I have given up on my marriage.  I have spent years with a person who professes his love and devotion and compassion and yet will not do a damn thing that I ask to make my life any easier.  (I have a job, I do all the housework, I pay all the bills, I do most of the unpleasant parenting duties.)  I feel CRAZY, because I have done what I thought I should do as a good person:  work hard, be responsible, take care of my kids, stick with my husband; and the response I get from my husband is no support and suggestions that I caused his problems.  Yes, we do all crave peace of mind and want to be accepted and loved and not rejected.  So, spouses with ADHD, LOVE US and ACCEPT US and DON'T ABANDON US.  PLEASE!!!


Rosered, You said a


You said a mouthful!!!!!!!  I'm sure others will agree.

MagicSandwich's picture


You were not born with this baggage - it was given to you? I'm sorry but  what does that mean? 

Pbartender's picture

I think he's trying to make

I think he's trying to make the point that there are symptoms that are directly attributable to ADHD -- poor memory, hyperfocus, inattentiveness, etc -- and there are other secondary symptoms that aren't directly caused by it but are a natural result of the natural (but bad) reactions by non-ADHDers and himself to those symptoms -- depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, a lack of motivation, etc.

In other words, he might have been born with ADHD, but he wasn't born with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and all that...  Those were acquired later after the years of misunderstanding and poor reactions (by both him and others) to undiagnosed and/or untreated ADHD.




It means

If you have kids with ADHD then you will have already seen it in process. 
As children we just start out bright eyed with energy and enthusiasm, eager to be involved and to participate,  we have no concept that we are “different”   this only comes over time through constant external reinforcement.   The constant telling that you are not doing the normal things that are expected. That you talk too much, are disruptive, are messy, won’t focus “not living up to potential”, lazy,   always losing things, a dreamer.  

School becomes a nightmare, you are excluded from things, and you are punished, castigated constantly, told you are not working hard enough. You are a nuisance, you are clumsy.  You often don’t fit into social groups and are left out because you miss the social cues, don’t quite get the nuances of how these things work.   Blurt things out without thinking. You may lash out and be unpredictable and violent; you are most definitely not one of the cool kids.   

You fail at school because you are either hypo and are excluded or you are an inattentive dreamer and zone out, either way you are always bored.    You are late all the time,  forget your homework,  never follow instructions that you were supposed to because you zoned out and missed them, your assignments are lost, forgotten,  messy or missed the point entirely.
You are in constant trouble at home and at school because you are always reckless and doing dangerous things, sometimes you end up in trouble with the police because you do things impulsively without even a second thought to the consequences,  you spend an inordinate amount of time in emergency getting stitched together or having broken bones set.

You escape school and try and enter the job market, poor school results limit your options, you are not punctual, always disorganised, you don’t listen to instructions and you certainly don’t follow them.   You never seem to finish a task that you are given and you always make careless and sometimes dangerous mistakes.   You are often fired a lot,  drift to a new  low paid job where the boredom makes you frustrated and angry,   by this stage you are often depressed and anxious,  you may drink a lot,  or get involved in drugs or crime.   You may not even have job.     You might get into a relationship, chances are it will be dysfunctional for all the same reasons every human relationship you have been involved with has been dysfunctional; chances are your partner will replay the same soundtrack that has been played your whole life and you will tune out the only way you know how. Chances are you will make you partner unhappy and you will know it, by now you know your sense of self is irrevocably damaged.  Life to this point has been a bewildering assault and you are exhausted and you can’t sleep.      

 And somewhere in all this the bright eyed child with all the enthusiasm for the world has become reactive, withdrawn, anxious, depressed, isolated, angry and confused.

This broke my heart. I do see

This broke my heart. I do see this happening to my kids already, and it is probably why my husband is so defensive all the time and miserable to be around. My kids always used to smile and laugh and were so sweet, now there is often anger and frustration. I hear from teachers weekly, their enthusiasm for everything has diminished.  However I also see this in me, the non-ADD parent & spouse. The 17 years of taking care of 3 ADHD people has left me feeling beaten, hopeless, depressed, angry, what is left of 'me'...I am a shell of the person I was. I can no longer concentrate on anything for more than a few second, i am always tired yet I can't ever sleep.  I feel trapped in this chaos, yet there is no pill for me to take to make my mind clear.  I am tired of my husbands 'reality'  and behavior being dependant on whether he takes his meds or not.  ADHD chips away at everyone.

Pbartender's picture

Without going into details of

Without going into details of the mistakes he's made, this describes my youngest brother almost perfectly.



Jon I too find what you wrote heartbreaking

But I also believe it doesn't HAVE to be that way.  I know it wasn't that way at all for my ADD husband, and I think we owe it to everyone to come up with solutions that will make it so that it isn't like that for anyone who is trying to make things different.

I don't know what the solution is........I really really don't.  Do you?  I get so weary hearing only the issues because I am a fixer, and I want to believe that something can be done to make it so that no one lives that way, but I honestly don't know how to get there.  I hear things like 'the school systems need to change so as to conform to an ADD way of thinking'....I don't think it will happen as long as ADD kids are the minority.  And it isn't even reasonable to expect in my do that and now the majority of kids are being taught in a way that is helter skelter in their minds--how does that improve things?

I think parents are the primary providers (or should be) of help and structure for their children. IF their children are taught structure and self control to the extent possible, the school won't be needing to discipline them all the time.  Special schools sound ideal to me, but how many can afford that?  It will obviously be a struggle to get complementary teaching/training at home and at school but that is the only option I see now.  So many comments I see from ADDers complaining about schools and teachers and I keep my mouth shut, but I often see the parent as being in the wrong.  You want to walk into a school with say 1500 children and tell that school system "here is what you will all be expected to do to help my Johnny or Janey"--seriously?!?!  Yeah impossible to treat each situation totally uniquely and even if it were possible, that is not their job and your child may as well learn early that the world will not conform to him.  Wouldn't we all like it to?  And we all have to learn that it isn't going to happen, so deal with what IS.

I go to an ADD website sometimes and while I assume it is helpful to the posters, I don't understand what they get about griping all day and night about how much they wish the world was different. Spend that effort learning to get along in the world that exists today, while trying to change what you think needs changing, and you are much better off.

I taught in the school system here for a few years and did quite a bit of work with the special education classes, and YIKES it is hard to get anything done in there with several kids all dealing with different issues and learning disabilities and comorbidities........I think those teachers who are working in there deserve a MEDAL and not the constant criticism they get. 

I went to public school and knowing what I know now, I was in school with many an ADDer--honestly, in general I did not care for them at all.  Especially the "look at me! no look at me!!' class clown types.......loathed having to share a class with them because while many of us wanted to learn what we were supposed to, they were diligently competing with each other to get everyone to pay attention to them.  Now I know why they acted that way, but knowing why or not it still isn't acceptable behavior.  How would you have a teacher handle that?!?!  I get that it hurts to get castigated constantly, but chaos reigns if a teacher allows that behavior also.  Is that fair?  I just don't get what you want the rest of us to DO to prevent the traumas that you posted above.  I see the reactions being offered as the only thing the people being faced with this behavior know to do.  Everyone is mostly doing the best we can with what we have.

I certainly had no right to mistreat these kids in my class (and I didn't though I didn't spend much time in friendship with them either), but they also had no right to affect the experiences of huge classrooms full of students who were not there to pay attention to them.  In public schools the class sizes are unwieldy, and these disruptive kids really make the entire experience more miserable for everyone.  Should they be allowed to do that?  I believe they should not.

Is it unusual that other children don't like to be with them? I don't think so, though I definitely think all parents have a duty to teach their children to be as tolerant as possible.  In general no one is having a rocking good time in school, so each child is looking for someone to share their feelings/interests/sense of humor to make the time go better.  Is it wrong of them not to choose children with whom they cannot converse or who are self absorbed and uninterested in them?  No.....that is called life. 

I get that the work experience is often challenging with ADD, but try to see it from the bosses side. Especially right now when they can have their pick from many qualified workers.  Would you hire a person who is late all the time, making mistakes all the time, disruptive in the work environment over someone who does not have these faults if both workers are skilled?  No one would.  No one will happily hand out money to someone doing a poor job.  Do I think all ADDers do a poor job?  ABSOLUTELY NOT AT ALL, but the worker you describe above would not be welcome to work with me......I just don't have the ability to manage another person when I am handling enough already.

Do I believe these children or bosses later in life have 'handed baggage to these children and adults'  I really don't.  Sure there is probably some angst caused by negative reactions to their behavior, but isn't that just as much or even more on the person with the abnormal behavior?

Aspen, I completely agree

I completely agree, I doesn’t HAVE to be that way and nor is it that way for every ADD kid.   I do stongly believe that everybody has a basic human right to a fair education, and that a system that marginalises any part of the population because they have a disability of any kind is a system that is discriminatory and needs to change.    Accessibility requirements are enshrined in most civilised legislatures in this day and age.  These days it would be unthinkable to allow hearing or sight impaired kids to languish because the rest of the world can hear and see perfectly well, or to make people with wheelchairs sit at the bottom of the stairs because everyone else can use their legs. 

I wish I had all the answers, I really do.  I have a child with this condition, I *should* be able to relate better than most, and yet I am still at a loss a lot of the time as to what is the best thing to do.    All that I can do is offer encouragement, support, and love with some consistency and discipline that is fair.      What I can’t do is beat him down for struggling with things that are clearly not deliberate failings on his part; else I am not helping him I am part of the problem.    And while some of his and many ADHD behaviors may well be socially awkward or unacceptable,   so are many behaviors from kids with other conditions such as Autism and Tourrets , OCD and ODS etc, perhaps you are right and in order that normal kids get the best start in life we should separate all these kids out and put them through a special education system, so long as social inclusion is not a goal we are striving for, and as long as we don’t mind picking up the tab later on, because you can be sure at some point there will be a social and financial cost.  

The kids that you mention do sound like the hypo ones, rather than the inattentive ones who were probably staring into space not even noticing the noise around them.     

I can’t help but feel there is still often an implicit undercurrent of “you could all change if you really wanted to”, and I just don’t get how this is any different to the ADHD person in denial and refusing to seek treatment.    It seems to me gripes and spleen venting abound from all sides and like you I assume it is helpful to those aggrieved, I must admit I do need to take a deep breath at times, though I must say for a condition that has anger as one of its’ hallmarks,  I find it ironic that the bulk of the anger is  mostly directed at us rather that from us :)   I guess what is important is to seek understanding of all perspectives and the one way to achieve that is through honest heartfelt dialogue,  one thing is for sure,  there is a whole lot of hurt out there.

Interesting...I don't know that i have considered this before

I do stongly believe that everybody has a basic human right to a fair education, and that a system that marginalises any part of the population because they have a disability of any kind is a system that is discriminatory and needs to change.

I am not sure of my stand, but reading this sentence just sounded *wrong* to me in some way.  I obviously need to think about it more, but I think I don't believe that everyone has a basic right to education--at least not one provided by someone else.  I think we have to take our education in our own hands and be responsible for it ourselves which naturally puts the parents in the education drivers seat until your kids go to school.  Which means in my mind that if you have children, part of your responsiblity is making sure they get the kind of education you want them to have.  My parents would have loved to send us to private school because we were all high achievers in a country school district where regularly some kids wouldn't come into school because they were needed to help work at home.  Private schools were not in the budget, so my parents made sure we got the most out of what was offered.  A LOT of what I learned wasn't learned with a teacher's help, but was learned on my own as I worked my way through my school books.  The info was all provided there, but the teachers could only get to some of it based on the pace of the class, but I didn't agree that I needed to be limited to that.  Teaching ourselves in a way that works for us is certainly an option.

My SIL has 2 children with what are believed to be at this point mild learning disabilities & her public schools didn't seem willing to help with at all because it wasn't severe enough, so therefore she is now home schooling her children for just that reason.  Her kids don't feel isolated.  They gripe about having to school when they aren't in the mood (as we all do/did I assume) but she tries to stick to a schedule so they learn that as a basic skill and it does give them a ton of other freedom not having their life ruled by the school district.  Turns out the oldest daughters odd form of dyslexia is something my SIL has always had (she thought everyone did) and was never diagnosed because her parents didn't care about education and just let her quit school, so she has been proactively learning techniques that help both she and her

I do agree that in the some senses that all disabilities, including ADD, should be accommodated but I don't believe you can disadvantage other ppl to do so or that is only reverse discrimination.  You describe it like offering wheel chair accessibility--I get that analogy because we travelled Europe several years ago after I broke my foot and there was almost no where in the 5 countries we went that were wheelchair accessible (I didn't NEED a wheelchair the whole time but we were hoping to use it for tours), the cobblestone streets made my crutches useless so both the wheelchair and crutches got donated and I hobbled around with just a cane (about 2 weeks too early to graduate to a cane) and my boot.  It was ROUGH at times, but I was determined to miss out on as few things we'd planned as possible.....obviously our hiking plans got torpedoed.  But believe me we were in civilized countries and there was not access for anyone in a wheelchair in most places and using crutches probably was a risk to both me and other pppl.  We found ways for me to adapt.

I think wheel chair accessible is a good analogy because there is special access for those need it (ramps, elevators) and regular stair access for those who choose that for convenience.  I get that you don't like my separation idea for schools.......I frankly don't like it a lot either BUT there are several ADD members in my husband's family and one, the most severe, went to a specialty ADD school and it was honestly his only chance at an education.  Still I don't know that he'd be able to hold a job with anyone but his father as his hyperactive and impulsive behavior is still off the charts.  My husband said before special schooling, he could hardly stand to be with him for any length of time.

Where would you start making changes in the school system? I can't see that it is fair to change all teaching to ADD friendly teaching. ADD thinking is not like the majority of the children are thinking.  And I think it isn't right to discriminate against the children that learn better the way the curriculum is now. Is there a way to have a curriculum that is good to all?  I honestly wonder.  Look how hard we work to set up lives that work for both ADD member and the non, and we are adults doing this for a worthwhile goal.  Most kids don't view school that is only a necessary evil in their minds anyway so they put into it the bare minimum.  Personally I don't think anyone should ever allow that, but I came from a family who really valued education and my siblings and I were all class valedictorians.

What I can’t dois beat him down for struggling with things that are clearly not deliberate failings on his part; else I am not helping him I am part of the problem.

Agreed........this should happen to no one, but you do see the need for him to continue that struggle because it not being a deliberate failing is not going to save him in the real world, right?  I mean go to work and get paid hopefully on merit.  Too many failings, deliberate or not, and you have no job :(

perhaps you are right and in order that normal kids get the best start in life we should separate all these kids out and put them through a special education system, so long as social inclusion is not a goal we are striving for, and as long as we don’t mind picking up the tab later on, because you can be sure at some point there will be a social and financial cost. 

When I suggested separating my goal was getting BOTH groups of kids the best start in life.  It is the ADDers screaming from the housetops that the schools as they are set up don't work for the ADD child.  But what do you do if they work well enough for the average child and you want all kids to learn?  There are plenty of high achievers in those same classes being held back because of slower learners, which I guess I am sympathetic to because I lived it. I was bored plenty and generally ended up as teachers assistant which helped with the boredom but didn't do a heck of a lot for my own education.

Again I am asking........I sincerely wonder........what would you have ppl do?  It seems to me that you can't get 5 ADD 'experts' to agree even on what an ADD friendly curriculum would LOOK like much less how to implement one.  For example, a few years ago my husband and I did the Virtual AD/HD conference--HIGHLY recommend it, but some of the ADD instructors....OH MY LORD I WANTED TO GOUGE MY EYES OUT BY THE END OF THEIR PRESENTATIONS!!  My husband didn't react quite as badly as I did, but then I could force myself to keep listening, and be driven insane, while he just tuned that stuff right out.  I guess experiences like this one are what convinces me that there is no one size fits all solution (there were ppl on the boards who enjoyed those presentations!) so how can you expect a public school to be able to address all the individual needs?

I think you might be confusing hyper and hypo, which I only mention because your statements have confused me a couple times.  Yes I am only distracted by the hyper kids.....and adults.....and sometimes they are very hard for both me and my inattentive ADD hubby to be around.  They are just exhausting--not because of the energy because I am high-energy-- but because of the constant attempts at attention grabbing.  Many many many adults have learned to control this by learning tricks/tools that work for them. The one benefit for them is that their disability is so visible that they usually get an earlier diagnosis.  But my point as relates to my post above is even the hyperactives and inattentives won't necessarily respond to the same proposed modifications in school curriculum. 

My husband is hypo and he is the dreamer type, so he was never disruptive but only excelled in school for as long as he could get by without studying.  As soon as he hit classes where home study/homework were required, his grades slid, and once he went to college where everything he needed was not taught in class, he started failing classes.  And this is a brilliant man.  Did that affect him?  Yes it did, but perhaps because his ADD is milder, he was able to compensate.  Step back and catch up in Junior College, when his degree was still elusive, he ended up in the military where he loathed the enforced structure but it worked well for him.  He got his degree in the military while still undiagnosed.  He, like many inattentives, didn't get diagnosed until after our marriage when staying focused in a romantic relationship caused us so many issues that we had to go digging for the cause.

We have actually had professionals in dealing with hubby's ADD who I'd describe as well intentioned but poor performers--2 of them are ADD themselves and quite frankly they were/are the worst (we've been able to replace one).  Most of the progress has been made by our own hard work, and we've hit another plateau we are trying to break through as we speak.  I guess I just think that support should always come from those who love you, I understand this is idyllic thinking and not everyone has that experience, and you should certainly try to find whatever outside support you can and do your best to benefit from it, but at the end of the day we are all responsible for ourselves.

I can’t help but feel there is still often an implicit undercurrent of “you could all change if you really wanted to”, and I just don’t get how this is any different to the ADHD person in denial and refusing to seek treatment.

As far as my opinion on this issue, I think it comes down to what do you mean by the word change? If you feel it is boiling down to 'you could all be non ADD if you really wanted to', I don't agree with that statement at all.  If you mean "you can learn how to work within your brain chemistry to lead a happy, successful life", I do agree with that statement.  You can hold a job, you can both be happy and make your mate happy, you can love your life--all statements I agree with and live with in a non/ADD marriage too btw at least most of the time :)  A person can learn to pick up on social cues--we have several members here who basically function fine in their work lives and social lives......they are down to just figuring out their own mates social cues and they will have mostly resolved a painful issue.  The reason they are still struggling in their marriages is mostly because their mates aren't working WITH them on this. 

A happy marriage involves compromise on both parts whether or not one member is ADD.  To help my husband live in a happy fulfilled marriage requires both of us to figure out what that looks like for us and work to create it.  We have never felt unhappy enough in our marriage for either of us to want to leave it, but we have sure felt unhappy with undiagnosed ADD behaviors and my reaction to them!  I give my husband all the credit in the world because that issue was enough to send him looking for an answer because he wanted to be a better husband.  When we learned what the issue was, I wanted to adjust my way to thinking/dealing with him because obviously my natural reactions to ADD behaviors were making the situation worse.

If we knew then what we have learned now, we'd have done better faster, but we have had a lot of trial and error with modifications.  Something seems like it should work, yet the reality is that it didn't work for us at all.....we don't necessarily understand it, but we have to move on to something else.  I think if we had better professionals, we'd be doing even better, but we can only work with who we've got at the moment.  But since our trial and error will naturally be different from what works/doesn't work for you and/or your children, how do we all help each other to get where we need to go?


I am the nonADHD spouse.  I

I am the nonADHD spouse.  I was born with genetic tendencies toward anxiety and depression.  When I was an infant, my mother was hospitalized for postpartum depression.  I was cared for by a friend of my parents who also had a new baby.  I always struggled with separation anxiety.  I developed an eating disorder when I was in high school.  I was hospitalized several times.  I recovered.  I've continued to battle anxiety and depression as an adult.  

Here are some of the things that I've been told, on this forum, result from my husband's ADHD:  being fired from jobs; not handling finances well; not being able to look for more work; not being able to have a conversation with me; not being able to remember to call me when he's away from home; being overcome with guilt, to the point of mental paralysis, when I talk about weighty personal topics.

Here are some of the things that have resulted from my psychological make-up and my background and my choices:  I figured out exactly how little I could eat to spend very little money but also keep myself just of danger physically; I stopped spending money on myself otherwise; I became compulsive about getting more work; I swallowed my anxiety and depression and reserved my crying for the car.  Well, I could go on, but I won't.  Right now, I just want to cry, and I can do that, because my daughters are back at school and my husband is out.  (With the one car; did I tell you?  He has our one car, and I don't have a car five days a week. But  I rekindled my long-dormant ability to endure hardship and I walk everywhere now.) I don't cry in front of them, because I've been told how stressful this is for my husband.  Bye now.


Rosered, I'm sorry. Your

Rosered, I'm sorry. Your story really pulled at my heart. I've been going through a rough couple of days...OK, weeks. Hang in there, OK?

I think the takeaway is that a lot of us have emotional predispositions that when paired with the baggage that ADHDers develop, equals a perfect storm. I'm from a broken home so I have abandonment issues. ADHD in itself is abandonment; when you don't figure into their current fascination, you're toast.

But you know I just made a revelation. After several months of positive forward motion, my hubby and I have come to an impasse. He's kicking up a fuss (or making excuses) about taking his meds. I'm tired of being the mother, yet so afraid to let go because if he fails, it reflects on me. And most likely, I'll be abandoned for his depression over the failure. And left to being the major bill payer because he can't get a decent paying job because he's been fired so many times before.

I was writing out an e-mail to him (I'm a writer, so that's where I excel) and it hit me--I was finally able to label my fear. The one thing that I haven't been able to admit to myself. If he can't love himself enough to get help, then he sure as hell can't love me the way that I need to be loved. And no matter how much I love him, no matter how much I try to help him, it will never be enough. At the end of the day, he's destroyed every relationship he's ever had. His parents don't trust him and constantly worry about him. His sister and brother-in-law can barely stand him. I'm still here though. It makes any attempt by me to leave even more cruel.

I know that deep down he wants help but he's so up and down. One week he's all "I'm going to do whatever it takes to get the ADHD under control...meds, counseling, the works" and then the next week, "It's lay off of me. You just want me to be some sedated zombie so I can fit into your definition of normal." No, I just want a husband who can help provide for us. Who treats me like I'm worth something. Who doesn't prowl around at night because he's too bored by sleep.

What do you do with an attitude like that? How do you get them to see that they are only hurting themselves? That you don't want them to be a sedated zombie but to be productive and happy? It's an awful Catch-22. And I think that is why there is so much resentment, pain, and disillusionment on these boards.

I too am sorry :(

I too am sorry  :( 

I would like to think that we ADHD folk are not just clones of a condition,   under all the symptoms there still lurks an individual personality with individual responsibilities.  Some of us are gregarious, some of us a shy and withdrawn, some us are decent and mostly polite and some of us may even be anti-social slobs,   and just to let you in on a little secret, sometimes like everybody else, if the opportunity is there and we can get away with it,  we like to take the easy path.   
I could not imagine my wife letting me sit idle while she worked,   she would make my life a living hell, and then she would kick my butt out on the street.   It must be very soul destroying. 
The thing I would really like to know is why do you guys let your ADHD spouse get away with this kind of behavior?  Life sounds like hell, why put yourself through it?    I would really, really like to understand.  Is it that the conflict in attempting to set boundaries causes too much stress all around?   You do know we can use this to manipulate a situation right?   I have to admit to being guilty of this myself. 
We can be very accomplished at manipulation, it is unfortunately one method of environment control that some of us have honed over time as a self-protection measure and sometimes u should all call us on it, sure we may bang and crash and rant and rave. But you know what?  I am willing to be that if the alternative is a whole lot less comfortable then you will come out on top, most times we are not stupid and we know which side of our bread is buttered.  And if we are in “I’ll be stubborn martyr” mode then meh, I won’t take long till we get it.  Remember, Pavlov’s dog.       My wife just let’s all my clothes pile up, if I don’t get involved then I don’t have clean clothes to wear to work,   “I’m not your maid” she likes to say.  Fair enough, she is right.  We might be deficient but we are not completely immune to classical conditioning techniques.  Everybody needs boundaries IMHO and we really are no exception. 

Some insightful posts

There have been some really insightful posts lately and I like the tone they have been brought to the table with.

A couple of points jumped out at me;

I do think it is massively important to recognize which behaviors are intentional and which are not.  For example, I will never, ever lose patience with my BF for losing his keys etc., nor will I react to his frustration when he does.  No one ever intentionally loses their chit.  On the other hand, as mentioned, he can be a master manipulator and I will almost always call him on deflecting or manipulating. 

Boundaries; setting them and sticking to them has been a huge catalyst in my finding peace and happiness within my relationship. 

Medication, I used to wish he would try it thinking it would be a fix all.  He won't and as someone mentioned I immensely enjoy the gregariousness of his personality and would hate to jeopardize that.  We have been able to dealwith/manage many symptoms without it.  I'm sure it would help him in some aspects but it is not a deal breaker for me .  And, perhaps not worth the trade off.  The stigma of it is a huge thing for him.

School, it is unfortunate that the school system is taxed and individualized attention is not feasible.  I agree that teaching children about themselves and their behaviors can mitigate their personalization of and damage that responses to their behaviors can cause.  Recognize their needs and teach them a more appropriate way to meet them.  Bald language sometimes works as opposed to coddling.  Sally needs attention, tell her flat need attention and this is how you get it and still make people like you.

Short on time here but again, some very helpful posts lately.


Please stick around, Jon.

Please stick around, Jon. I really enjoy reading your posts. For whatever reason, I learn more from hearing other ADHDers talk about their experiences than I do with my husband. I guess he's too close for it to make an impact, although I wish I could get over that. He says I never listen to him. As we were fighting this morning, I told him that listening to him was like having my brain thrown into a blender and turned on high.

We both have insane communication issues. I never talk about something until I'm ready to leave him over it and he takes everything I say and turns it around.

I have a question though. Do you see the ADHD as a condition or something that's apart of your personality? My husband seems to be on this kick that ADHD is not bad and to dislike it is to dislike him. I don't understand that thinking. I look at the ADHD as kudzu (I'm in the south) growing on a tree. You got to continually prune it back in order to see the tree. I love my husband--I love his sense of humor, his spontaneity, the fact that everything can go to sh*t and it won't phase him. The fact that we can have fun together when we travel (we almost never fight because he's so laid back). But he's also got issues that he's developed as coping mechanisms: lying or withholding details to obscure the truth, lashing out in anger (mostly at inanimate objects like the cat box which he drop kicked this morning), etc. 

It's just enough to make it difficult to focus on the positive aspects that the ADHD brings to him. And it's almost impossible to find people to support me in any attempts to support him. Both my dad and stepdad think he is lazy and can't take care of me. It leads to a stressful undercurrent to most of my interactions with him. I occasionally freak and vent to my mom which automatically reverts her into "you just need to divorce him" mode. It's tough. All that on top of trying to cope with the fact that he will never be like other husbands.

I see it as bit of both Dazed.

Thank you, I do really appreciate the sentiment :)

I have a question though. Do you see the ADHD as a condition or something that's apart of your personality?

The way I see it, when you have had certain symptoms or behavioral traits for your whole life it is difficult to separate them from “you” as a person.         With Anxiety and Depression, it is reasonably straight forward to separate them out from who you are as a person, at least for me.  I see these conditions as entirely unwelcome add-ons quite separate and distinct, i.e. I can identify irrational anxious thoughts and behavior, and I can identify depressed thoughts and see them in isolation.      With ADHD I find this much more difficult, the behaviors are just so enmeshed in who I am. There has been some discussion in here about meds and taking a break etc. I guess when I first looked at meds I was very fearful that “I” would be washed away and I had no idea what it would be replaced with, and if I would even like that person,  it was like the potential prospect of letting a total stranger into my house to live, and where would “I” go? 

The prospect of an identity wipe is really scary!  That and I think I had a bit of a  “stuff you if you don’t like me as I am” defiance thing going on.  In any case I find stimulant meds horrible,   I feel like I am crawling out of my skin, I feel dirty and grungy,  my anxiety goes off the scale, I grind my teeth ( I broke 3 of them!) and I bite my nails till they bleed.    To make matters worse I cannot stand the yo-yo effect from them coming on and wearing off and I just feel plain drugged, I have tried them all and in varying doses it seems to make no difference.

Besides my wife doesn’t like me on them, why?  Because she doesn’t like the person I become!

Strattera made me constantly nauseated, I had vertigo every time I moved my head too fast and I was always hungry. I hated it.   I found not responding to meds extremely depressing, especially after hearing all these stories of people getting such a great response.
So my plan now is to get Anxiety under control with an SNRI type anti-depressant that seems to be also helping me with focus, it is early days but for me shows real promise. The best bit is that it gets the anger/frustration off my back, this allows me to be a warmer person because I am not so caught up in my own mess, it just makes room for me to empathise with others, if that makes any sense? It is really hard not to be self-absorbed when all you can think about is what is wrong with you.

I find it also allows me to communicate better with my wife, we also have crazy communication issues, she gets very defensive and has an incredible skill at turning every little thing back on me.  So I bring up an issue that I feel is affecting me and I always end up walking away having inherited the blame for it, this is very discouraging, but also very effective.. I stopped bringing up issues and just stewed on them instead.  Now I am a lot calmer and more patient, discussion of issues is vastly more effective.  And what is more I no longer seem to kick stuff and slam doors.

What I do know though is that in my raw un-medicated state, I am impossible for anyone to love, or at least for anyone to love long term and to be in proximity with.  So I face a choice, be alone and lonely or bite the bullet and go on the hunt for effective meds and treatment.  And accept that this is likely to be a long road with no easy fix, yes I still feel ripped off at times but in the end life is like that.      My relationship may or may not be salvageable and I may have left it too late, all I can do is to try my best.     But you are right, I will never be like other husbands, I’ll be me, but I’m determined that *can* be a good thing.

Hang in there, Jon. Hubby and

Hang in there, Jon. Hubby and I have been married for four years and have only lived about year and half of it together. The rest has been separated, either voluntarily or involuntarily. But mostly voluntarily. :-)

We've been in marriage counseling for about nine months and it's still rough going. Even our counselor has agreed that we have come a long way since the beginning, but our marriage is still in a fragile state. We had been so well , but then moved our appointment from every two weeks to once a month and everything went to hell in a hand basket. We finally got back with the counselor yesterday and will be seeing her again in a week. But I still feel so lost and alone sometimes, with no one to lend me any support through this. Even my religious family has encouraged me to leave because I will have to sacrifice too much to remain with him. It's hard to hold out against such feelings when your family is support system. Like my mom said earlier, "I can only hope that we'll wake up one day and he'll have a great job and will be the person you thought you were marrying." Ouch. Mostly because I think the same thing. I ask God to give me to strength to stay the course, to be OK with the idea of being the major breadwinner if the hubby never pulls himself together beyond working in a bar or forgoing having kids because there's not enough money or adding that additional stress may make him implode.

I can relate to the defiance you speak of. My hubby is very much like that. He doesn't understand how I can't love everything about him. I asked him once, "how can I love the things that hurt me or cause me pain?" He said he had never thought about things that way. He seems to be getting better about thinking about my needs--changing his schedule, etc.

I agree with you about not being like other husbands. I'm not bother by some of things people tell me I should be bothered about. I'm OK with forging our own path. But in this world of TMI via the latest Facebook posts, it's exhausting to defend our position.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. They are very valuable.