Related to ADHD or not related to ADHD?

My husband, who has ADHD, has a very hard time thinking about goals and thinking about the future.  Very hard as in doing so seems to frighten him and paralyze his brain.  ADHD-related or not?

I think ADHD related.  I

I think ADHD related.  I believe thinking about goals and the future scare them half to death.  I think it has to do with the NOW/NOT NOW scenerio.  They get so focused on NOW stuff that by the time NOT NOW stuff comes around they are focused on another NOW thing.   My husband has never mentioned any lifelong goals he would like to achieve nor talks very often about the future.  Maybe their brain chemistry won't allow it.

Same here.  No future goals

Same here.  No future goals or saving for tomorrow. Also there seems to be no worries about tomorrow. He trusts that I will take care of it all.

Brain Chemistry Is Part of it, but not ALL of It

While it can be sometimes and is difficult for many of us to set and achieve goals, it is not impossible.  I am going to delete this post within a week or so as to preserve my anonymity, but BEFORE diagnosis, I, with hard work and diligence made the honor roll repeatedly at a challenging private school, graduating with honors.  I subsequently majored in a foreign language, and have black belts in TWO DIFFERENT styles of martial arts.  Post-diagnosis, I was voted Teacher of the Year at my school by my former students, even though I am a big "meanie" and assign DAILY homework (gasp).  I have worked very hard my entire life, and yes, I sometimes miss the mark.  Sometimes, no matter what I do, no matter how smart I am, I don't always see how my actions contribute to the resulting consequences.  I hate this about my ADHD and about me.  Other times, I can identify the issue but haven't a clue how to solve it.  My struggles, however much they have caused me sadness, frustration, and extreme challenge in my life both practically speaking on a daily basis and in my marriage, have molded me into the person that I am.  I don't like ADHD.  I hate it; hate how despite what I have been able to do that I haven't been able to live up to my potential.  I know this, though:  it has humbled me, but I have chosen to work had and persevere. Quitting is not in my vocabulary. 


How and Why?

You are one of the lovable ADDers.  If I would see my DH trying and communicating and working to get to where you are now, I would certainly not be ranting the way I do or feeling so betrayed.  Tell us, if you can put it into words, what it was/is in your background, upbringing, life events, attitude or whatever you can attribute your tenacity, faith, motivation, etc. that enables you to accomplish what you have done and where you are today.  Where did/do you get your gumption and commitment and ability to keep focused on future plans and actions?  WHY have you worked so hard and had the successes that you HAVE had?

Hi Jenna


I've started to examine this and put some preliminary thoughts in a Word.doc, but it probably won't be finished until this weekend as I have so much to do at home and for work.  It's a good question, though, and one I've never considered from the angle of "why?"

I am not trying to paint a picture of myself as the ultimate ADHDer. I have so much more progress to make.  Just trying to say we're not all slugs ;). 

Thanks for your kind words.  They mean a lot :).


What is it in your life that makes you want to/able to succeed?

I will open this question to any/all ADDers, WHY were you able to commit/work/focus/succeed in life or in a pursuit?  In other words, what happened in your life to motivate you to use all your talents and energy into "making it work" so that you DID succeed?

Pbartender's picture

What happens when a Scientist has ADHD?


A lot of the talents that lead me to science and the skills that I learned studying it have helped me find solutions to my troubles.  I primarily credit three things for my successes...

An insatiable curiosity.  I am driven to find how and why things work, and will go out of my way to attain as complete an understanding as I can about any subject.  It's this thirst for knowledge that first gives me the expertise I need to formulate a plan and the tools I need to put it into action.  I've said it before and I'll say it again...  As G.I. Joe taught me: "Knowing is half the battle..."

A natural compulsion to fix things.  ...But doing is the other half.  One of my strongest values -- though I'll admit I fail at it more often enough than I'd like -- is to leave things better than I found them.  If I notice (Oh! Noticing is the tough part!) something is broken or not working right, it is the most difficult thing for me to stand aside and do nothing.  So, even before I knew it was ADHD, I had noticed many of the individual symptoms in myself and found ways to ameliorate them...  They were things about myself that weren't working right, and so I obligated to "fix" them.

Stubborn tenacity.  I used to think that this was simply a trait of having a German-German-German-Austrian heritage...  I'm beginning to see that it's more likely a combination of ADHD hyperfocus and hyperactivity harnessed and directed toward a constructive goal.  Left to my own devices, once I've set my mind to do something, I have a hard time giving up until the job is done and done as well as it can be done.  Even if things get tough, I will soldier on and tough it out just to prove I can.

Of course, they can sometimes lead me to trouble, too...

My curiosity can lead me to so many possibilities (especially in social and personal relationship situations) that it becomes difficult to determine the correct course of action.  Or, it can get me so deeply focused on a single (maybe incorrect!) option that I can't see the forest for the trees, and end up creating a great plan for the wrong problem.  My fix-it nature sometimes lures me to try fixing unfixable problems, or tricks me into trying to help people who don't really want or need my help.  And that stubbornness can generate all sorts of problems, if I've fallen into trying to fix one of those unfixable problems.

When I fail, I really fail.

But...  When I succeed, I really succeed.  And it's mainly for these reasons.  Learn About It, Do It, and Don't Give Up.



Fixing things

PB, are you a scientist or a bartender?  Just reason.

Your response is interesting to me.  I usually think of the ADDers as people-people rather than task-people, but you and my DH are very much motivated by the puzzle of the task and how things work. This is useful information to me as I try to communicate with my DH. 

How would you feel about this? My DH loves to fix things and work puzzles too. When something needs to be done in the home, I will, like, get all the "tools and machinery" out on a Saturday and make a big commotion about how "great the deck will look after I powerwash it!".  Then I will start doing it.  DH is there in seconds telling me how to do it and what will happen if I don't do it right ----  I can count on it.  Then, I say, "Would you do this?"  And he always wants to.  After all these years, I have figured this out.  He likes to fix things/use tools/use machinery/figure things out mechanically.  He would NOT want me to say to him.  "The deck needs to be cleaned. It's going to be nice outside today. Will you be able to do that?"  I on the other hand would MUCH prefer the direct approach..... "The deck needs to be cleaned. Will you be able to do that today?"  Then I can barter and discuss and we could come to a conclusion about what might be fair in today's in work load.  His way of needing me to manipulate him seems manipulative to me and not my usual style but I must do it to get the results.  This is the way he also asks me to do things.  I many times don't pick up on his "suggestions" because they are too obtuse.  When I DO get it that he is asking me to do something with SO MUCH SUGAR on the request, i am angry at the "slyness" of his request.   Anyone know what I mean?  Probably not an ADD thing.  Just a thing about how to get things done and communication style. Too much sugar makes me suspicious.



Task Initiation Via Jumpstart ;)


That's actually kind of funny how you have to start a task for him to take notice and initiate...and that he doesn't realize the dance you two have got going...  It must really capture his attention when he sees you doing these projects.   Is his reaction geared primarily toward tasks that he might feel would "emasculate" him were you to complete them?  What do you think this hyperfocus is about?

Also, what is it about the sweetness with requests that bothers you?  Is it because he is ONLY nice when he wants something?  If so, that would piss me off as well.  Or is it because he thinks he's outsmarting you and you find that insulting?  Annoying either way, as I see it. 


focuses on the FUN

I think he doesn't like the part of the task that includes making the decision to start the task and getting stuff together to start it.  It  is like Tom Sawyer (Gee, ain't this fun painting this fence?) ....If everything is out and ready, it looks like a nifty "kit" ready to go.  All that is needed is to pick up the tool and not think. No decision. No overwhelm.  It is a little like all of us.... We go to craft shops and get a kit to do a craft because it is easier and looks like more fun and nifty. So much more of a project if you have to think of a design, choose the colors, choose the substrate, measure, purchase all the many pieces and then put it together in a case and then start your craft.

I don't think it is a masculine thing.  If I have the dishes ready to go (scraped, cleared, cloths and towels layed out, detergent next to the sink)THEN he will offer to do the dishes. If the dishes and food are out and needing to be cleared, put away, counters and tables washed...he retreats to his man cave.

Here is another thing I notice after all these years.  He, like the Amish, always leaves a small portion of every job flawed or unfinished.  ie: He will wash the smelly spot off the dog, but leave the hose/rag/shampoo/bucket out on the lawn for weeks (or for me to put away).  He will change the light bulb but leave the ladder and the bulb packaging laying next to it for weeks (for me to put away), He will wash the dishes but leave 2 to 5 items next to the sink dirty with the water in the sink left to get cold and ringing in the the sink (for me to finish and clean the sink).   What is that about?

The Amish don't want to assume that they are perfect...which is why on every quilt, they leave a small imperfection.  Could it be that DH does not want to try for perfection?  I am serious, could it be that he does not want to try to be too successful because he, I don't know, doesn't think he deserves, does not want to be a schmuck, does not want to see himself as successful, does not allow himself the feeling of total completion because he does not like endings?   I don't know....just a ramble from me.  I am just trying to understand why he would not want the satisfaction of a job completed.

Finalizing the Details Can Be Arduous

He, like the Amish, always leaves a small portion of every job flawed or unfinished.  ie: He will wash the smelly spot off the dog, but leave the hose/rag/shampoo/bucket out on the lawn for weeks (or for me to put away).

Possibly part distraction.  Dr. Hallowell mentions this behavior of having trouble wrapping up the final details of a project once the major components have been completed.  I have found this to be true in my experience, and have been guilty of this type of behavior. I think it has to do with the boredom (already did the exciting, rewarding part, now what?) I feel as well as the fact it is an organizing experience, and I'd rather be punched in the face than have to endure the pain of not knowing what to do first, how to do it, etc...  Not saying any of this as an excuse, just why it's difficult for me.  And your husband isn't on meds, correct?  Double the fun!


My husband is the same way,

My husband is the same way, leaves every job unfinished.  It's enough to drive you crazy!!!!!!!  We have almost re-modeled our entire house and I have to tell you that every single room has one or two small things that still need to be done.  I don't understand either.  You would think that the satisfaction of a completed job would boost their self-esteem!!!!

Finishing the Job


I totally get why that would tick you off.  I am getting better about it, but it is still a struggle sometimes.  It even bugs me when I am having this trouble.  It's a lot better with meds, though... 

And remodeling??  Your husband is tackling this himself and you have to live in that chaos?  Sounds like a blast...

*SIDE NOTE* MY CLASSROOM IS ALMOST DONE!!!  It is spectacularly close to looking like a Type A person resides there!  At the very least, no one would ever say "she must have ADHD" based on my organization at school.  F---, YEAH!!!  I'm sooooooooo proud of myself.  Seriously, this is my biggest accomplishment.  Way more difficult for me to clean and organize all that crap than to learn a foreign language and get two blackbelts.  If that doesn't speak volumes about my ADHD or ADHD in general, I don't know what does...

And no, I have NO worries I will not finish.  It WILL happen, because I'm just that stubborn plus,  my hyperfocus is actually carrying me through, because THIS TIME I KNOW WHAT TO DO, A FIRST!!!!!!

Yes, folks, she CAN be taught ;)!



Pbartender's picture

Oh, boy... You asked for it...

"PB, are you a scientist or a bartender?  Just reason."

Oh, boy...   You asked for it...  ;) 

Occupationally, I'm more of a scientist, than a bartender (though, I am rather fond of mixing drinks, when I get the chance).  I have an undergraduate degree in Physics, another in Industrial Electronics, and I work as an electronics technician at a particle accelerator laboratory.

My username is a rather science-geeky play on words...  It's pbar tender, rather than p bartender.

My first job here was working as an "Operator" in the Main Control Room.  We were the people who operated the accelerators and kept them tuned up for the scientists and their experiments.  One of the machines we ran made and stored antimatter -- antiprotons, or "pbars", specifically.  Whoever was running it for the shift was nicknamed the "pbartender"...  Hurr-hurr.  :P

"Your response is interesting to me.  I usually think of the ADDers as people-people rather than task-people, but you and my DH are very much motivated by the puzzle of the task and how things work. This is useful information to me as I try to communicate with my DH."

It's not just things, though, it's people problems too.  I get the urge to solve ANY problem or puzzle...  Even if the problem is "I have a hard time remembering details of conversations" or the puzzle is "I don't know why my wife is upset with me".  The difference is, I'm a lot better at fixing problems with things, then I am at fixing problems with people...  You don't have to try to guess what the object is thinking to find the solution.

And that's a real tough one for me...  I have a rather bad track record with people problems, especially where my wife is concerned.  I practically get stage fright at the thought of taking another chance and failing again.  But going against my nature, and standing by and doing nothing is almost as bad.  Either way, I end up feeling rotten.

"How would you feel about this? My DH loves to fix things and work puzzles too. When something needs to be done in the home, I will, like, get all the "tools and machinery" out on a Saturday and make a big commotion about how "great the deck will look after I powerwash it!".  Then I will start doing it."

Heh...  Me?  No...  I'd let you do it.  Unless you were doing a very bad job or having a difficult time with it, and then I'd ask if you needed any help.  Even then, I wouldn't do it for you, I'd give you a few tips and tricks so you could do it right yourself.

If left to do it, I'll finish a job to it's end.  But if I get distracted by something else (like you asking me to powerwash the deck for you :) ), I'll pick up on the new job and have a real tough time getting back to the first.  I've had times where I keep getting new jobs before I finish the previous, and eventually I end up with a dozen almost-finished jobs.  Oof!

Me, personally?  I'd rather you just ask me to do it and let me know how urgent it is...  Then I can insert it into my "to-do" list (I need the to-do list, otherwise I'll forget half of what I'm supposed to get done) in an appropriate spot.  When it floats to the top of the list, I'll make sure my meds are burbling through my blood, let my hyperfocus and hyperactivity kick in, and go get it done, and then reward myself with a beer and an episode of Star Trek after.



 I'll make sure my meds are

 I'll make sure my meds are burbling through my blood, let my hyperfocus and hyperactivity kick in, and go get it done, and then reward myself with a beer and an episode of Star Trek after.

Awwwwwww...  So nerdy and cute.  My Dad was an engineer with another degree in Physics.  He liked Star Trek, too :).  He's been trying to talk to me about subatomic particles since I was in elementary school, which has always made me laugh.  He would get so excited about it.  We used to say that he talked AT us instead of TO us about his little fixations. 

Knowing you have a son on the spectrum, I've recently been thinking my Dad is a bit Aspy, and my husband's reaction when I shared this observation was, "You JUST thought of this?   I've been thinking this for years!!!"

My cousin, who has a child on the spectrum, laughed until she cried when I described all the ways I think he fits the profile. 


Ok, there's nothing nerdy about Star Trek...

You joke all you want woman, but the Klingon Battleships are on their way.... and WHEN they come..... Pbar and I (and my Dad and a bunch of illustrious members of the Klingon Language Society) will be ready (and able to communicate of course).

You think that is my ONLY nerd association??? Uh uh....

Yeah, but you see, my husband also watched Star Trek, so I'm a nerd by association.  Some of my friends, too.  I'm surrounded!  And I like languages, so I'll probably be teaching at your  Nerdtopia Klingon School for Language Learning wielding that fancy Klingon bow-shaped  knife-thingy (the official term, if you must know).



"I have an undergraduate degree in Physics, another in Industrial Electronics, and I work as an electronics technician at a particle accelerator laboratory."

...It's REALLY a shame you're such an air-head PB!

So many things I'd like to say...but of course time is short and my thoughts, as usual, are muddled.  But for now:

1)  Goals are VERY hard for me to set.  I have tons of hopes, ideas...  and although I can have dreams, write them down, and make lists... I really cannot SEE the future.  it is white.  blank.  I can't believe it.  why?  I don't know.  that part of my brain is definitely BROKEN.

2)  Each event or task in my life feels like something that will be over-and-done-with.  "well, ok... once that big event is out of the way, I can breathe again."  but of course, life is NOT like that.  there is always something else.  My brain can't seem to understand this.

3)  Fear is a huge part of things.  Success, we find out, breeds the need for MORE success.  Once you do something well, there is an natural expectation for MORE.  BIGGER. BETTER.  which makes sense to the rest of the world.  It scares the crap out of many of us with ADD.  I never consciously sabotaged myself, but over and over, this is what happens.  I get in my way.  Because if I DO actually do something well, someone will rely on me to do it again and well.... what if I CAN'T? (Well, I know what happens if I fail because it happens so often.....  "Why can't you do this?  you did it right before!  What's WRONG with you???")

the geek factor/ADD - yes it's funny.  They (we!) won't do something if we're asked, but if we're intrigued..... we'll want to take over.  One day my sister in law, my mother and I were making decorations for my SIL's pre-school classroom.  They were butterflies with wire wings.  we were trying to figure out the best way to hang them.  My father was sitting in the room absorbed in the TV.  He is textbook ADHD.  We knew he'd probably have some good ideas so, we thought it would be fun to play 'Bait the Geek.'  The following conversation ensued:

SIL  "Well, I dunno what the best way to hang these would be....  what do you think?"

Mom:  "Maybe wire... or fishing line...  then they'd look like they were really flying."

me:  "Or... you could MAKE them fly."

SIL  "You mean like... actually FLY round the classroom?  How could I do that?"

me:  "Well.... you see here in the styro-foam body... if we put a remote control device HERE, its center of gravity would give the butterfly the perfect position--"

Dad interrupting (suddenly turning away from TV):  "WAIT!...WHAT?  HUH?   Remote control device?  Where? Let me see!"


Because if I DO actually do

Because if I DO actually do something well, someone will rely on me to do it again and well.... what if I CAN'T? 

This line jumped out at me.  What I consider to be the great tragedy of my marriage, and what will probably result in its dissolution, is that my husband has, intentionally it seems, made himself into a person that I cannot rely on.  I can understand the concern about not always being able to "perform," but the continuation of the "I am not someone you can rely on and I don't want to be and don't even try to get me to be reliable or trustworthy" behavior for years (now at least a decade) has hurt me deeply, especially because my husband does not do this with other family members.


to clarify:

I'm not saying that I DON'T want anyone to ever rely on me.  My kids do, my husband does  BUT - I DO Make mistakes.  often.  They can rely on my ability to remedy whatever situation arises.  But of course only to the degree that i'm capable.  I guess what I was really referring to was 'success' in terms of a career.  Like, you do great in a position in a company where you do a lot of leg-work so you get promoted to manager and the job is loaded with desk responsibilities that perplex you, but it seems 'cushy' to everyone else.  Or you do something really amazing, but burn out on it and when asked to repeat it you are just empty.

BUT as it pertains to family/husband i'm talking about stuff like say, travel.  He has relied on me to know where we're going, and if it's somewhere I KNOW then i'm fine.  But, say a few weeks ago when we changed our plans and went to another place on our way home from another state (and our GPS machine is broken) it was a nightmare.  Yes, I can guide you if i've studied the map and planned everything beforehand.  however I SUCK at trying to read street names on his tiny smartphone screen, (I don't have a smartphone myself, and i'm totally inept at trying to use one) trying to zoom in or out and not knowing the area where we are and trying to find a highway entrance/number/street and having him shout at me, "Do I get off at THIS exit?  here? HERE?"  and I'll say 'I dunno!  uh! i think so Uh... YEAH!" and so we'll get off at that exit and it's wrong.  He will be fuming, and then really lay into me, "well, NOW where are we?  WHERE ARE WE?!?!?!" and i'm panicking and trying to find the name of whatever street just flew by us and i'm feeling stupid and the kids are saying, "Mommy can I have a driiiink??? MOMMY I WANT A DRIIIIIINK!!!  MOMMY SHE TOOK MY TOY!! MOMMYMOMMYMOMMY!!!"

So I suck in a crisis.  Unlike many other ADDers.  unless you need a halloween costume last minute or perhaps a chariot made of cardboard and bottle caps for an emergency performance of Aida you have to present in a few hours....  but that's not the kind of crisis most people mean.  When I was 19 I was walking to the bus stop with my boyfriend at 6am. A guy jumped him from behind, pinned him to the ground and demanded his wallet while shoving a gun against his head.  What did i do?  I froze.  I was trying to scream, I think.  but I can't be sure - my body just locked and my mind began thinking ridiculous thoughts like: gee....I guess that's a real gun... I've never seen one, except for on cops but they're always in a holster so you can't really see what they look like and I thought all guns were black, but this one's kinda silver... I guess that's what jewelers mean by the color 'gunmetal' ...that WOULD be a really pretty color for some earrings...  I made no sound and didn't move.  I just stood there and watched.  My boyfriend was reaching for his wallet and turned his head to look at the guy then said, "Jesus, John!!* Get offa me!!!"  And the guy said, "Oh! uh... damn.... sorry man... didn't recognize you."  (gestured toward me, still standing there doing nothing) "different um... different... ladyfriend."  (boy, did I feel special)

I don't TRY to avoid being reliable.  But I often (I think?) sabotage myself by trying to 'play it safe'.  applying for jobs i know i won't be fired from for example instead of really striving for a challenge or something really well paid...  I dunno...

kids are fighting, gotta run!

*name changed of course!

To clarify in return,

To clarify in return, ellamenno, I'm sorry if I implied that I thought your feelings about reliance and expectations are the same as my husband's.  I should have made clearer that it was the general concept that grabbed ahold of me, not all the details.  I really do feel as though my husband tries to avoid being someone that I can depend on.  Sometimes I think that maybe I'm high maintenance or that I'm too needy, but really, I'm not.  If anything, I'm too independent.  Although at this point in the marriage, it's a good thing that I'm very independent and self sufficient, because I can't count on my husband to take care of me at all.  And I don't think it's just ADHD, because my husband seems willing to be somewhat dependable and reliable as a father and as a son, but as a husband?  No way.

It sounds to me in all your posts...

...That your husband is way too hard on you. ADHD or not- no one should be expected to navigate a new city with a tiny screen with someone barking at them and kids in the back seat wailing an calling your name... Next time- offer to drive and have him navigate. He sounds very tough to deal with. Hugs to you.


OMG, Smilingagain!!  for a second there i thought you were suggesting that if I offer to drive, there's a chance that he'd be ok with that!!!  HAAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

*sigh**  ok... whew....  wow... ok... now that I can breathe again:

The only thing that pisses him off more than my shit-for-brains navigation (lack of) skill is my nervous, self conscious, panicky, driving-while-under-scrutiny skills!

Seriously, the best road trips I've ever had are when I'm alone.  Yes, having the girls by myself presents challenges... well... actually does it?  hm... I do 99% of everything involving their care, so actually the changes are:  no criticism, no anger, no anxiety and my back muscles don't bunch up.  I'm not scrambling to organize and pack for the whole family while he plays with his phone/iPad/computer and gives me 'warnings' about how much time we have before (HIS) scheduled departure time.  then there's the hours spent on preparing dinners from scratch that can be replaced by stuff I make in bulk and freeze (he doesn't want to eat anything 'casserole-ish' or prepared or frozen...) I don't have to deal with snoring and I don't have to see someone sitting on the couch watching a (feature length) movie on an iPad while I struggle to get the kids to bed and clean up the kitchen, toys etc....  He will lift his feet up (bless him) if i'm mopping the floor, but will not look up from the f*cking movie....

Ok.... sorry.... rant is over now.....

Damn, I wish I could figure out the whole meditation thing.....

...not knowing the area where

...not knowing the area where we are and trying to find a highway entrance/number/street and having him shout at me, "Do I get off at THIS exit?  here? HERE?"  and I'll say 'I dunno!  uh! i think so Uh... YEAH!" and so we'll get off at that exit and it's wrong.  He will be fuming, and then really lay into me, "well, NOW where are we?  WHERE ARE WE?!?!?!" and i'm panicking and trying to find the name of whatever street just flew by us and i'm feeling stupid and the kids are saying, "Mommy can I have a driiiink??? MOMMY I WANT A DRIIIIIINK!!!  MOMMY SHE TOOK MY TOY!! MOMMYMOMMYMOMMY!!!"

I have a hard time navigating in real time, especially with my husband, because he, too, is impatient on the road.  I get really nervous when he's going off on me when I'm driving, and then CAPTAIN OVERWHELM swoops in and bitch slaps all 3 frontal lobe brain cells straight out of my head.  And kids do have a lovely way of needing you urgently and crying plaintively like you just smashed all their toys and fed them 5 lbs of their least favorite vegetable.  Ahhhhhh....sensory overload...

This summer, my husband was driving our family home and we were passing through the Bronx.  He was having a near panic attack, because even though I downloaded the directions prior to our trip AND put it into the GPS, he wanted to readjust and perfect his plans AGAIN.  I had planned ahead, but he LOVES to revise driving plans until he is convinced he has the best possible strategy to ensure the least amount of traffic.  I told him just to listen to the GPS and not worry about it.  I was also reading a map and knew we'd be fine.  It was really informative to watch how unnerved he became when he lost control of the navigational situation. 

gee....I guess that's a real gun... I've never seen one, except for on cops but they're always in a holster so you can't really see what they look like and I thought all guns were black, but this one's kinda silver... I guess that's what jewelers mean by the color 'gunmetal' ...that WOULD be a really pretty color for some earrings...

Somewhere in one of the Distraction books, Dr. Hallowell has this great quote about having ADHD means even if you have a gun pointed at your head, you'll eventually get distracted and forget.  I remember laughing when I read it, thinking that truer words were never spoken.  So don't feel badly about your stream-of-consciousness ADHD thoughts.  I totally get it. 

Pbartender's picture

If it makes you feel better,

If it makes you feel better, ellamenno, I barely squeaked through with a B average on my Physics degree, and I had one semester where I got all C-'s because I couldn't manage to get enough homework and lab work done.  I chose physics over chemistry and biology, because it required the least amount of memorization.  Everyone always expected me to go to grad school and get a PhD, but my grades and test scores weren't quite good enough, and by the time I was done with my Bachelor's I couldn't quite stomach sitting in a classroom for another 6 years.

All in all, I used much the same technique as smilingagain to make it through college the first time.  A lot of flying by the seat of my pants.

Later, when I went back to school for the electronics degree, I took as many online classes as I possibly could...  That let me study in my own way and at my own pace, and I ended up getting straight A's that time.

But, also like smiling again...  "My main troubles, and trust me- I struggle... is with my emotions and in social relationships.  I am generally "too much" in every direction... too intense. too sad, too happy, too mad... I exhaust my own self with this intensity, so I understand I drive my husband and close friends/family nuts... even though they love me. I have battled addiction, eating disorders, depression all my adult life. Until my diagnosis about 14 months ago, I never understood why."  ...Word. For. Word.    This is exactly how my marriage got into trouble.

I've found ways to work around ADHD problems with the day-to-day "nuts and bolts" stuff.  But social and personal interactions have variables and unknowns that too often elude, and require a certain focus and discernment that my ADHD brain simply isn't designed for.



Fear of being bored

I work as a systems engineer,   in some ways my ADHD has led me to this, the area I work in is highly specialised (large multiscreen simulation systems)   like most of us I can’t stand boredom,   doing mundane tasks that don’t allow me to focus the mind for me  are a special kind of torture.   I thrive on complex problem solving tasks where I have to fly by the seat of my pants and pull a rabbit out of the hat, I love working without a safety-net :)   Finding a solution is something that gives me a rush that I find highly addictive.      I get involved in all elements; design to hands on construction and the software that makes it all hang together.   I find I need to be involved in physical work as too much screen time seems to exacerbate my scattered mind…big time.  

Having a mind that hops around a lot and, as PB has mentioned has an insatiable appetite for absorbing information has given me a very broad range of usable knowledge. I end up being the goto guy for all the obscure stuff.    
I can read vast amounts of information very quickly, catalogue it away without realising it to recall it at some later point when it becomes useful, often when I least expect it.   Strangely enough when reading and researching my wandering mind  leads me down all kinds of  paths that  seem at the time have absolutely no relevance to anything,  it is only later, sometimes years later that  the fragments of what would seem to be useless unrelated information come together to help me solve a difficult problem.  

And like PB when solving an interesting technical problem I never, ever, give up, (hyperfocus??) much to the frustration of others at times,   my view is that if you attempt something enough, sooner or later it will all fall into place.  I also innately feel I have something to prove, both to myself and to others.

Where I fall down is in the standard ADHD places,   I tend to need others to organise the finer details, the schedules etc.    I suck at documentation and standard procedures and formalities are something I have very little patience for.  I can also drive other people way to hard….they seem to need to sleep and eat and rest or something.  Also subtlety is not one of my strong points,  and again like PB has said, when I fail, it’s a cracker.

I have by the grace of good fortune career wise at least,  mostly fallen on my feet, I would like to say I planned any of it, but in reality I just stuck out my finger till an interesting ride came along and then threw myself into it. 
What motivates me?  Thaasophobia.  When bored I become completely and utterly destructive.

Thaasophobia a new word for me

Interesting. You seem to have an active, interesting, rich mind and your attention seems to point to an involved, active and connected life.

My ADD DH also is able to store vast amounts of data that other people don't.   He is able to remember a telephone number he heard one time 10 years ago.  He remembers roads like a human map.  Sometimes I call him on my travels within the state and ask him which way to turn. He is at home.  He is usually right. He prides himself on crossword puzzles and Jeopardy.  He prides himself with being the go-to guy for obscure recall. Where is the connection between what is stored and what falls away? Why is some types of data lost in the scatter and other categories of data stay clear and recalled for so long? Is there a pattern? Is it fun factor?  Is it linear? Is it visual? Is it childhood associations? 

I may be getting adult onset ADD (if there is such a thing) when it comes to taxes and bills.  I HATE doing them now and get overwhelmed and scattered where even a year ago it was no big deal.  Here is how I have to MAKE myself do them.  I give myself a certain amount of time (like 10 minutes) then I say GO! and WHIP through as much as I can stand to do for that allotted amount of is so boring and painful to me.  I give myself a promise of a small reward.  I am a marketer/commercial artist.  The creative side of my brain works much better and is more interesting to me.  Why did it turn for me that it is now so difficult to focus on things with money?  Is it because there used to be enough and now there is fear because I see a downward spiral and not enough down the road?  Probably. 

It might well be fear.  It

It might well be fear.  It can be hard to do things that are scary.  Good for you for making yourself do the financial stuff anyway.  

My answer

Hi Jennalemon,

I have been 'successful' on paper. I didn't have the problems in my job or in school that many ADHD-ers have... I actually really excelled in school- expect for a few spectacular flops (miscalculated time and couldn't pull something off last minute). What worked for me in school was only taking what interested me (I dropped math and sciences as soon as possible and stuck to English, history, social studies, etc...) I am built to be a lawyer... verbally hyperactive, read a ton, have a massive vocabulary and LOVE writing and making persuasive arguments. I am a master manipulator (although I no longer use that in my personal life and haven't for years) and also a very quick study. I could attend no classes and then just read the text book the day before the exam and get a 90%+ on the exam... I can't remember it a week later- but short-term retention was quite good... I went to the top law school in the country, have worked at premium law firms, consistently do wonderfully in work- just got a performance award this year again in fact...

It helps at work that I have about 5 calendars, including my outlook... I also have an assistant, to whom I delegate the administrative crap that will drown me. I have missed deadlines at times and sometimes the more mundane tasks get left too long and I get a talking-to... But so far, my stellar performance elsewhere (in court I am ON FIRE), seems to carry the day so far.

My main troubles, and trust me- I struggle... is with my emotions and in social relationships.  I am generally "too much" in every direction... too intense. too sad, too happy, too mad... I exhaust my own self with this intensity, so I understand I drive my husband and close friends/family nuts... even though they love me. I have battled addiction, eating disorders, depression all my adult life. Until my diagnosis about 14 months ago, I never understood why. I have a happy and strong marriage of 9 years today, but have gone through several patches where I thought it was going to end. I am lucky that my husband and I are both fighters and are committed to marriage and to not giving up... If I married a different man, he might be long gone.

I have a few things to thank for my overall life success:

1. My childhood was very good. I think both my parents have ADHD (father hyperactive and mother inattentive). But they were loving. They both permitted each other and all of their kids to be themselves. I was told to quiet down, control myself and "stifle" a fair amount... but I was also encouraged to be silly and boisterous and my parents were proud of me for my charisma and unique personality.

2. I am extremely competitive, proud and stubborn. When someone underestimates me (which is often), I quietly set about showing them up and proving them wrong.

3. I have been close enough to death to realize I have one life and shot at this. I have been sober for 10 years now- but fantasize about alcohol and drugs many times a year... I literally watch that show intervention as a reminder of where I could end up if I let things go...

4. I picked a remarkable husband- who is a rock for me. He is tough and can be mean and nit-picky... but he is THERE. He gives me chance after chance. He lets me be me.

5. I picked a job I am naturally good at- so it gives me energy and doesn't drain me.

Again- I am not perfect... I struggle along... But I am a good planner and I think about the future constantly... My 2 big fears are not living up to my potential and also somehow not providing a good life for my son (and other baby on the way)... And those twin fears keep propelling me forward...



Amazing.  This is a great topic.  It helps us to be motivated and hopeful that these things are possible and part of everyone's lives.  It helps us to differenciate what is ADD/ADHD and what is not. You are showing it can be done, why you are doing it and some hows.   Thanks for sharing.  We certainly have some accomplished people on this site. It also reminds us of what is GOOD about our spouses.  Thanks for sharing this.  I hope more of you share your successes and what enabled you, motivated you and assists you.

thank you for opening the

thank you for opening the topic! It is nice to think about strengths, along with weaknesses. :)


Pbartender's picture

Reading your post was like

Reading your post was like being in one of those Star Trek episodes featuring an alternate universe where you get to meet your eerily similar, but not quite exactly identical, doppelganger.  ;)

Oh look!  It's me...  only she's a lawyer and a woman!




Thank you! I feel similar reading your posts! I also identify with adhdmomof2, ellameno and others... There is definitely an affinity... We're all different- but there are similarities.

In answer to your

In answer to your question:

Hard-wiring for stubbornness?  The psychological evaluation I had had as a child said, ”___________ appears to be a creative and independent thinker, a characteristic which often makes her appear oppositional.”

 This stubbornness, which my mother often lamented, was also the root of my I’d-rather-die-than-quit mentality.  I KNOW  I could not have had the successes I have had without this quality nor could I have endured having ADHD or had a meaningful life without it.  I knew there was a way out, but that I didn’t know what it was yet (glad I didn’t know then that I would still be struggling with it now…ugh…).   I knew I was smart, I just had to figure out why there was such a horrible disconnect between my raw potential, and the fact that I struggled endlessly in school. 

2.  A love of metacognition:  I have a driving need to learn more about myself and how I think, which has served to help me help myself.  My father was fascinated with learning differences, and was usually highly engaging to my easily distracted mind (except when he was talking about subatomical particles; sorry, Pb;).  This fascination eventually led me to my teaching career, where I continue to learn about the human brain, both from reading and from an experiential standpoint with both my students and by examining my own thinking and behavior.

3. My parents sent me to parochial school with like-minded peers who valued education, with nuns who were both highly structured and strict (the nuns did me as much harm as good, but that wasn’t your question).  I had to write down my assignments MYSELF in an assignment notebook from 1st grade on.  I had true ownership over my work.  Shockingly, I never had to be reminded, coaxed, or scolded about my homework.  I got home, ate a snack, played for half and hour, and started my homework at 4:00 without EVER needing to be told.  Now that I’m a teacher, I’m even more amazed at this in light of my ADHD.  I rarely forgot an assignment. 

4. Because I was “compensating” too well to be coded, I continued experience school without any accomodations.  In my case, the STRUGGLE made me more resilient and made made any gains I made meaningful.

5.  Starting martial arts in high school was the first time I *started* to be able to break down a task, and this newfound (but rudimentary) ability caused an immediate increase in my grades.  I remember learning a kata (a series of prearranged karate movements) and my instructor talking about one part of a block and how to stand with one’s fingertips touching the wall and how to do a circular block over and over again until that one small part had been perfected.  It REALLY helped me understand school better, as I unwittingly applied this logic to school.  Karate also helped my confidence and my anxiety. 


6. My Dad has never stopped learning, which is what I admire most about him:  He got his black belt at age 44, something which impressed me as a teenager.  He LOVES to learn. 

A recovering alcoholic, he also got sober and changed for the better.  His daily demonstration that people can change inspired me and is something I continually try to do (whether or no DH believes me).  My mom always respected me and never made it harder for me by getting  in my way when I tried figuring out what to do (how to study, not losing sleep, etc…).  She never said, "You've been down to the basement 8 million times today to jump on the trampoline even though she didn't know why I needed to get up so often while doing my work.    Her willingness to back the hell off allowed me to take ownership of my problems and solve them in a way that made sense to me (and my brain). 


O.K.  My eyes are crossing, and my head is bobbing.  Time to go to bed!  I will make edits if necessary tomorrow.   I can't think, now :).





Pbartender's picture

"Her willingness to back the

"Her willingness to back the hell off allowed me to take ownership of my problems and solve them in a way that made sense to me (and my brain)."

That, I think, hits the nail on the head...  It's the same old idea of "don't try harder, try different".  All of my most successful strategies were developed when people weren't pestering me about not getting it fast enough or not doing it right.  Having the time and space (and also being willing and motivated) to figure out the best method for ME, makes a huge difference.  Often what works for me is completely confounding to everyone else* in the world, but that doesn't mean it's wrong, it's just different.

Give me the problem to solve, stand back, and give me the chance to solve it MY way.

*For example, my wife always makes fun of me for the way sometimes I add or multiply large numbers...  I'll round up to an "easy" number, add/multiply them together, then subtract the difference of what I rounded up to.  Confusing?  Maybe.  But it makes perfect sense to me.  In my mind it's the difference between:

The usual way...  245 x 20 = (20 x 5) + (20 x 40) + (20 x 200) = 4900  ...I can do that, but I'd need a pen and paper to write it out, or I lose track of numbers.  I'll have a hard time holding the result of 20 x 5 in my head, while I'm multiplying out the other two, so I can add them all together.  I have to practically talk it out one step at a time out loud to myself...  "Twenty times five is one hundred... twenty times forty is...  eighty...  eight hundred...  plus one hundred is nine hundred...  twenty times two hundred is...  forty...  four thousand...  plus nine hundred is four thousand nine hundred."

My way...  245 x 20 = ((250 x 2) - (5 x 2)) x 10 = 4900  ...This I do in a snap in my head.  Doubling a number is easy, and multiplying by 10 is easy.  The answer is just 500 minus 10, multiplied by 10.  But to my wife, it's "just wrong", because I'm doing it "backwards".



Me, too!

I do the same does my son and he's in the 99th percentile for Math for standardized testing :).  We're in good company...

245 X 20 Whatever makes sense

245 X 20

Whatever makes sense to you, right?  I would say 245 X 10 = 2450

2400 + 2400 =4800

plus the 100 leftover is 4900.

Conclusion:  There is more than one way to skin a cat... (Who came up with that appalling expression?)

Holy crap.  I forgot to take my 2nd Focalin XR.  Am brain dead right now...




joi di vivre

ADHMOM: It sounds to me that you were born to be motivated to learn and have a curiosity and joy of life that have led many of you to work to find ways to succeed.   That and a parent who had interests in growing and learning to instill that motivation. Breaking down a task is key for me too to attack a project - I didn't know that was part of martial arts.  Thanks for a new word - metacognition.  You seem to have had good people around to show good habits but also an ingrained energy to try to do your best. 

I was watching a TV show yesterday and the researcher said that having an avocation (activity/passion outside of occupation) is a secret to vital longevity.  Those of us who have this passion for an activity will be better off.  A place/activity in our thoughts and memories to put our focus on to let our hearts sing in those moments when life is dull or painful.  I have had many of those over the years.  Art, dance, theater, swimming, boating, sports, friends, children, interior design, fashion.  I think what happened to me is that after we married,  while I was working full time, big house and yard, children, husband, financial responsibilities, kid's parenting responsibilities, cooking, elderly parent, cleaning, shopping...I didn't give myself an area where I could put my heart outside of family and home.  Kids have been gone for a while now, mother died, dog died, I am trying to find some quest/activity/avocation I can latch on to that could fill my heart with passion again rather than being on this site trying to figure out what went wrong between us and blaming both of us for not being the "couple" I would like us to be.

I was successful in business.  Because I LOVED what I did - creating art with shapes and colors and placement.  I think like a Macintosh now - I am sometimes looking for the "command z" (undo) in my daily life.  My connection with creation also came from not having a lot when I was a kid.  I MADE things I didn't have.  Sewed, painted, sawed, nailed, papered, drew, designed.  I was great at making things out of things that were thrown away.  Maybe that could be my new avocation now. I also was taught good habits and discipline.  We had set times to eat. Not much snacking. Worked hard around the house. I would like to do more WITH other people since my business is so much alone all the time. Now that winter is coming I must again join some groups  - book discussions, church groups, exercise groups, yoga groups, performing groups to get the people contact I yearn for.

I hope more people, ADD and non ADD will write about where in their life they have been successful and how and why they think they were motivated to do the things they did in that area. I find it fascinating to read on a site where focus is an issue.

Metamorphasis? :)


I feel like you are starting to transform.  When you first joined this site, all I could see was the anger.  We've all been there, for sure. Some days, I still feel that way.  But it seems like there is SO much more to you and you have had many things that have brought you joy in your life, and you are realizing that as well.  I agree with you that this is the key to finding peace in life with where we are in our marriages.  I haven't done it (martial arts) in a long time, and I miss it daily.  I'm trying to do other things in the meantime, but my time management is still lacking and I am still trying to master my house, and balancing it all, which I have not yet managed to do. Not giving up, though.  Too stubborn ;)!


I'm the nonADHD spouse (I

I'm the nonADHD spouse (I think; sometimes I read about ADHD folks on here and think that I share a lot of their characteristics).  Anyway, here are some of the things I've found to do with my life.  I am an editor. When it became clear that my husband was not to be relied on long term for income, I realized that I would have to be prepared to work continually, and I have (although not full-time) since our children, now adults, were little.  I've done freelance work over the years in addition to my permanent part-time job, and I've enjoyed learning about lots of different areas.  I read a lot.  I'm willing to read books in almost any genre.  I ask friends for recommendations and read almost everything that is suggested.  I taught myself to bake bread.  It's extremely satisfying:  I try different recipes, I know what's going into my food, I get upper-arm exercise, I have something to give friends and neighbors after they've done me favors, and the bread tastes good!  I've reconnected with people on Facebook.  I finally have enough time to confront the messy and falling-apart house.  

I'd love to have a life-time partner.  It doesn't seem right now that my husband can be that person.  I'd like it if he had an avocation; what he mainly seems to operate on is avoiding life, not pursuing it.  That's why I come here, to get support from you folks when I'm feeling alone.    

Not me...

 I am a huge planner and goal-setter... I spend too much time planning the future, if anything. Then again- I also have a side of OCD... So who knows? :)