Sinking into depression

Hi all. I am new here and I have a partner who has adhd. I have ocd. Together we have problems.

I'm posting here because I don't want to feel alone any more. I'd like to talk to others who feel the same feelings I do.

Feeling alone. We don't have any kids and even when she's home she's in her own little world. We can be sitting side by side on the couch and I will talk to her but she won't hear a word I say. I can ask her to do something simple like take the garbage out or put the clothes in the dryer from the washer and it won't get done because she either doesn't hear me or forgets. And it's completely impossible to have a conversation. I feel so lonely. I moved away from my friends and family to move in with her so for a while I was on my own in a new area. When I'm home it's still like I am alone. She can sit and stare at a wall for hours.

Organization. Like I said, I'm ocd. I'm also kind of a neat person. I like things to be tidy and organized. I don't like to have to trip over clothing on the floor, newspapers left over from a week ago, etc. I can't stand the sink being full of dirty dishes or the carpets full of dog hair. (We have 3 dogs). She does nothing around the house except for her own laundry. I do all the cooking, cleaning, yard work, taking care of the dogs, the cats and I work full time and volunteer in the community.

I don't think I would mind doing all the work around the house if my partner was a little more interactive. Instead when she gets home from work she complains about how tired she is and how she just wants her down time. That lasts until about 9pm when she gets some sort of radical energy streak. By then I am tired and ready to sit down and am in no mood for her energy streak.

She's been prescribed Ritalin, 20mg. She sometimes remembers to take it and is supposed to take it every 4 hours but only takes it in the morning and maybe in the afternoon but she forgets to take it all the time. I have never met anyone that can be so snippy. She gets irritated very easily with me. Very simple things are incredible triggers to her. I walk on egg shells around someone who doesn't hear me when I talk.

Sleeping through the alarm clock. She can not get up in the morning. She had to change her schedule so it allowed her to start work later in the day because she couldn't get up early enough. She's not a morning person.

Lateness. She is late or almost late for everything. I am a very punctual person and it drives me nuts.

Selfishness. She only ever thinks of herself. If something around the house affects her, it will get done. A good example of that is her laundry. Her laundry will get done because she knows it's one thing I WILL NOT do. And if she doesn't do won't get done and therefore she will be affected. If she's on her way home from work and stops for take out, she doesn't call me and ask if I want something or even just grab something and surprise me.

Intimacy. I have a problem feeling intimate with someone I have to take care of. I've had no desire for quite some time now. I've had no drive at all to be honest. No chance of straying outside of the relationship even if I did. I'm a very faithful person...and devoted. That's why I'm here, to vent this all out.

Depression and Exhaustion on my part. I am exhausted. Completely and utterly exhausted. When I sit down at the end of the night it's usually on my bed...not on the couch. From the minute I get home from work it's go go go. I usually start by getting dirty dishes out of the sink and putting them in the dishwasher. Then on to feed the dogs and let them out. Then I either do laundry (mine), vacuum, mop, cook, mow the grass, clean out the litter box and the list goes on until about 9 or 10 at night. Then I go to sleep, get up at 7 and do it all over again. I'm depressed too. I cry because I am so lonely.

Is it laziness? Is she just lazy? How can you tell someone to put the clothes from the washer into the dryer as you're walking up the stairs to get in the shower, make it a point to repeat yourself at the top of the steps, get in the shower and get out to find her in front of her computer, laundry forgotten.

I'm tired. I'm lonely. I walk on egg shells so I won't irritate her. I love her with all my heart. I just need some help.

Additional Question...

I know about the 'Distraction' books but are there any books specifically for the NON-ADHD partner?

Mylank's picture

Hi "Partner"

I don't have a lot of wise words for you but wanted to make contact -- I know that "I'm all alone feeling" all too well.

A lot of what you write is similar to my situation.  I'm not OCD but I do have issues with cleanliness -- I want the bathroom cleaned daily, but I settle for 2x a week; I used to vacuum daily, now 2-3x a week; dirty dishes in the sink, especially left overnight, sends my into a tizzy. I do the majority of housework at my house, too.  Husband does laundry and is on permanent bathroom detail but I have to remind him constantly.  We've recently gotten a calendar and two days a week "bathroom" is very prominently written.  I agreed that he didn't have to do it on those specific days, but close.  This has been working well.

My husband doesn't work, I have 3 jobs, although one is inactive at the moment, so technically only two!  I used to get very angry that I was working bringing home the money, supporting us both, AND having to do the housework.  I let go of the anger and it has helped tremendously -- myself and our relationship.  I also recognized that I'M the one with the cleanliness issue -- not him.  If he cleans to his standards, that's better than nothing.  If I want it done to my standards I just do it myself.  I've learned to relax a little.  Not on the dishes though! 

Also, I am doing things for me.  Yes, I'm pretty exhausted after putting in 10-12 hour days at work and doing what needs to be done at home, but I'm still a person with needs.  If he doesn't want to go out or converse with me at the end of my day, I go somewhere else.  Or, I goof off on the internet, or I read a book, depending on my mood that day.  I refuse to sit around and wait for his mood to improve or depression to subside, or whatever.  I suggest you do the same.  Try to relax about the house stuff where you can and heck, if it's bugging you leave!  Go to a friend's house, go watch a film, go to the corner pub -- whatever floats your boat. 

Oh, the eggshell thing -- I do this too, but not as much.  If I say something that triggers anger or whatever in him I apologize sincerely for what I've said or done and then go on about my life.  If he holds on to this emotion it's his problem, not mine.  I don't let him punish me for it.  What usually triggers this is me saying something that he takes as criticism -- if I mess up and use the wrong tone.  It's tiring keeping my emotions in check but it tends to keep the peace.  AND he is trying much harder than he has in years, simply because I'm being "nicer" to him.  Does this make any sense?  I'm kind of thinking and writing at the same time.

I don't know of any other books but read this entire site!  It has fab information available!

Best to you and your wife.

Thank you!

It's so good to move around here on this site, reading things from other non-adhd'ers and knowing that i am not alone in my struggle.  It's funny to read how other people say things like, my adhd partner uses the washer/dryer as a storage bin.  My partner does that too.  She'll leave her clean laundry in or on the washer and dryer all week and just go down to the laundry room for clean clothes instead of taking them upstairs and putting them away.  That annoys the heck out of me when I try to do laundry and there's all her stuff crammed in there. 


I'm only about 1.5 yrs into this with her so I have a long way to go and a lot to learn so I can better manage my anger and frustration.  I try very, VERY hard to check it now as it is but I know sometimes it still seeps through.  Thanks again for your reply!

Mylank's picture

Keep trying

I've been married to my ADDer for 7 years.  I've known him for 22 years though.  It's not easy by any means, but you did mention in your first post that you are madly in love with her.  Same with me -- I love my guy tremendously -- so it's worth the extra effort.  Maybe you could try focusing on the good qualities of your wife.  When she annoys you or you feel angry, depressed, frustrated, concentrate on something really groovy about her.

I don't know much about OCD except that for a long time I thought Mylan had that, too.  He hoards and has little routines.  The hoarding is insane.  The routines are just irritating -- for instance, he can't get in the car to leave (no matter which car we take) without going to the other car and looking inside it.  To me it's just weird.  To him it's a necessity.  I think his OCD behaviors are really just a part of his ADD.  Does your OCD upset your wife in any way?  Sorry, you're saying "partner" - I shouldn't assume.


Hi "Partner"

BEAUTIFULLY written, "SInking into Depression".  I think one of the keys in dealing with a partner with ADD or ADHD is letting go of anger and resentment.  Once you figure out that your partner isn't doing these things on purpose, then you can start to find a rythm and discuss what works for the both of you when it comes to chores.  After this, you figure out what your own NEEDS are and what are just wants.  You then find out that some of those needs or wants will need to get met elsewhere (i.e. - like going out for a walk even if your partner doesn't want to go -- you still need to do it for yourself -- and that's OK)! 

For me, it has been a HUGE step towards healing once I let go of the resentment and anger I have been feeling towards my husband.  Believe it or not, the ADD or ADHD partner goes through a period of "mourning," as well.  They, too, have dreams that seem to fade away into oblivion once they realize how unhappy they have made their spouses or loved ones.  They don't want to be in the position they are in anymore than we do! 

Once we realize this, it is easier for us to work together as a team. 


To Partner

You have written a very concise and complete view of what the issues can be for a non-ADD spouse.  It is also clear that you are almost to the breaking point, and that something has to change!  (Don't take this wrong, but I also liked that you were the man writing this, because I think that people reading this site assume that it's a bunch of women complaining about their husbands...when in fact, it's really a bunch if people, men and women, who are dealing with ADD issues that are very troublesome for anyone.  Your entry helps underscore that.)

First, make sure that you are taking care of yourself.  You sound as if you are in need of some counselling from someone who knows about ADD and can help you set some boundaries and keep from losing yourself in either depression or the vast amounts of work you are assigning yourself.

Second, start to see if you can find ways to give yourself a break.  Find a local teenager to mow your lawn, for example.  Consider a cleaning service, or organizer.  Someone who is willing to take out all her laundry, fold it and put it away, vacuum, mop and the rest.

Third, see if she would be willing to talk with her doctor about longer acting prescriptions.  Ritalin comes in long-acting form that will last the better part of a day.  She can take an extended release pill that will get her through the day, then take a shorter acting one in the late afternoon (if it doesn't interfere with her sleep).  BTW, the "has trouble getting out of bed" is common for people with ADD - but sometimes it's related to taking meds too late, so you might want to track that a bit.

Have you always been this hard on yourself?  When you were single, did you do chores, chores and more chores until 9 or 10 at night, then fall into bed?  If not, look to see what's different in your life.  I don't know if this is the case with you, but I found that sometimes I was doing chores simply to make the statement that my husband wasn't (somehow it made me more virtuous, or perhaps I thought it would guilt him into helping out, which it never did).  Could that be going on with you?  Are the animals too much?  If so, might you consider giving them to others?

Your wife's quick trigger might be a defensive response to feeling as if you are attacking her or as if she isn't good enough for you.  You can hold in your verbal response to her, but it's likely she's perfectly aware that you don't like the way she is being right now.

I am punctual, too.  But punctuality is over-rated.  As I've gotten older, I've discovered that it's polite to be on time, but that if you aren't on time you can usually call and let someone know you'll be late and all is forgiven.  If it's critical that you arrive somewhere at a very specific time (start of a show, for example) then consider going separately so the anxiety doesn't get to you.  But, don't ding her that you have to go separately, just adjust.  It's more important that you have a good overall relationship than that she arrive somewhere just on time.

She's not lazy, by the way.  But she genuinely doesn't care whether she gets her clothes from the laundry or from the drawer.  Think of the drawer as being a "box" and she is thinking outside the box on this one.  What matters is that she is getting her laundry clean (and she does do this), not where it's located.  The location bothers you because you have in your mind that it has to be put in a certain place and she's not doing what you expect.  But one could argue, at least theoretically, that you are the one with the problem here.  You are confined by your expectations about where her laundry should be located.  (Okay, I know that most people expect laundry to go into drawers...I'm just trying to make a point about expectations about STUFF unfairly coloring your opinion about her as a person.)

This may sound like I'm criticizing you.  I'm not at all.  I'm trying to put things into perspective a bit, that's all.  You two seem to be falling into a common trap - your styles aren't meshing well together.  You can descend into a very dark and lonely place (which I think you've already started to do) that is the place in which each person tries to control what the other can do or say and it's done through negativity -  or you can start to see this as a series of negotiations for a positive outcome.  Let me explain further my comment about each trying to control the other.  You may be trying to force her to be a certain way through disapproval, guilting her into doing more, sacrificing yourself while resenting her for it (more guilt) and witholding sex (for good reason - you're not attracted to the "child" she has become).  She is exerting her own power by not caring enough to consistently take her meds (or setting up a system which helps her do so) by making you walk on eggshells (psychological control) and by not working with you to find common ground on such important issues as bedtime and chores.  These aren't necessarily conscious forms of control for either or you, but it does represent the two ends of a battle between you.

A partnership would look more like this:  she would more aggressively work to manage her ADD (first item - a better medication regimen); she would acknowledge that you are unhappy and depressed when you bring it to her attention and show some desire to work on that with you.  You would start to try to put yourself into her shoes more.  Are your requests reasonable, or are they artifacts of how you view the world vs. how she does (think laundry)?  You would both be discussing what you love about each other, and trying to diminish your mutual work loads so that you have more time to have fun together.  You would treat your depression (pronto!) and seek counselling assistance to start figuring out what experiments the two of you can do together to make things better.

You have the seeds of your solution in your post, actually, when you say that you wouldn't mind doing the work if she would just be more interactive.  You are way underappreciated, and that's not okay for either of you.  Don't expect her to come up with ways to appreciate you on her own (that won't be natural for her) but you can start to develop some patterns which make it easy for her to express appreciation.  Take time each day to cuddle and say positive things about each other, to be open and positive (doesn't have to be sexual, but touching helps connect two people emotionally).  Set your schedule so you have some downtime together.  If she's taking down time right after work, then join her in it.  Again, it's more important that you are connected, than that you mow the lawn.  If it means letting the grass grow and sitting on the sofa holding her hand for a while when she comes home from work and asking about her day, so be it.  (And make sure to tell her about your day so you continue to have that in common, too.)  My husband and I got into the habit for a while of just sitting down and having a glass of wine was nice.

Don't blame her that you have to actively seek ways to be together with her.  This isn't personal.  it's a symptom of her distraction that she is far away (her mind is going a million miles an hour).  You will find, though, that things go in streaks.  Once you get some more personal time together, you'll find it easier to get more...and she'll start to join in again.  Right now, your desire to get all the stuff done around the house (on your timetable) may be getting in the way.

You have a joint problem, and you can't solve it on your own.  Let her know that you are having problems, and that you think that the two of you need to address them together, then ask for her input.  Make sure that your "to do" list includes making more time for fun, exciting, high energy things to do together and less time for all those chores.

Non ADHD spouse

I am tired of the comments that its the non ADHD spouse that has to do all the accommodating and changing. These people are ADULTS, its time to take responsibility for themselves including the way they interact with people. I'm tired of getting yelled at for everything that is wrong in the world! God, if I only knew how difficult it is being married to a person with ADHD-I never would have done it. It DOES take a special kind of person to be in a relationship with a person with that never expects to be the center of attention (even when they are having surgery or sick or being promoted etc, etc) , one that never expects to have their needs met, one that never expects anything...and certainly one that never expects to be in a healthy relationship at all! So, if this is you, by all means marry that someone with ADHD and live the rest of your life doing, thinking, acting for another person only. Never yourself!

Accomodating ADD

To Anonymous non-ADD spouse - WOW!  You need some therapy and fast to get out of the patterns you seem to be in, and to get away from the intense anger you are feeling.  In addition, please read "The Dance of Anger" by Harriet Lerner.  In it, you will learn effective ways to start taking control of your life.

Perhaps you are only selectively reading my posts?  Or perhaps you are responding to the posts of others?  Because I think I'm pretty clear about saying that BOTH partners need to change to make things better.  YOU CAN'T CHANGE what are you going to do about that?  Are you going to continue to complain about how put upon you are as a non-ADD spouse?  Are you going to continue to play the role of victim, because it sure sounds as if you are doing that.  Come on - shake yourself out of it.  Your husband isn't responding to you - perhaps it's because you don't expect him to.  Yes, it takes effort for ANYONE, ADD or not, to focus on another person.  If they don't demand to be focused upon, will it happen?  And don't get me wrong.  I'm IN NO WAY, SHAPE OR FORM,  suggesting that the way to get him to focus on you is to unleash your current anger on him.  It is 100% guaranteed that if you do, he'll either retreat or become so defensive that you will end up in a worse place than you currently are.  Rather, give him positive reasons to focus on you.  He CAN do it - he's done it before.  But with the amount of anger you are harboring right now, it's probably not a happy experience at this time.  You DESERVE better...but YOU are the one responsible for making sure you get what you deserve...not him.

So my question is this - WHY aren't you thinking, acting or doing for yourself????!!(see your last sentence)  Don't you deserve it?  Don't tell me that your husband forces you to think only about him!  He can't do that any more than you can force him to think about you.  No, you choose to think about him and to let ADD affect you rather than control your own life.  Why?  Is what you are living through better than, say, divorce?  Are you afraid to set boundaries and rules and then suffer through the consequences if he can't deal with them?  That would be understandable, by the way, it IS scary to move into the unknown.  Or, perhaps you have strong feelings that women should cater to men?  Or perhaps you have a weaker sense of yourself than is healthy in this particular relationship?  I don't know what it is, obviously, and ANY of those would be fine...but you should see what you can do to figure out WHY you are blaming your husband for decisions you are making.

I think of ADD in relationships as a sort of "tyrant".  It's easy to be consumed with thinking about it, blaming it, and responding to the issues it brings up.  But way too many people then translate that the way you did - since this tyrant is in my relationship I must just suffer.  NONSENSE!!!  Fight back!  Set your boundaries!  Live your life the way YOU want to live your life!  Your husband will fight for the comfort of the status quo for a while, and it will be hard, but stick to your guns.  Be the person YOU want to be.  If he can't deal with it, then eventually you'll decide to leave the relationship.  But I personally think that most men WILL respond positively (did he marry you for your strength in the first place?  Mine did...) and your life will turn around.  Because YOU took charge!  Life is not for throwing away in one year of misery after another.

If you've been able to make it through this post (which is, by the way, not intended to sound judgemental in any way, and I hope you don't take it that way...I'm trying to RALLY you into action!) then I suggest you find a pen name and register.  Stay in touch, and good luck.

P.S.  PLEASE read the anger book I suggested - The Dance of Anger.  It's great and will really help you.



Hi Melissa I am angry! We

Hi Melissa I am angry! We have been in couseling for over 2 years. This dr diagnosed my husband. Since then my husband's poor behavior is always "excused". I am expected to calmly respond to his crazy outbursts over the most rediculous things. He is often rude, harsh, and downright mean in his impulsive comments. Over our marriage he has said some very cruel things to me and I am expected to remind myself that he doesn't really mean the things he says. (according to our dr mind you...this professional suggested this!) I have tried to take control and not be the victim, but it makes his outbursts worse. He is very spiteful. If I stand by my convictions, he does things to spite me. I set boundaries...he is even worse to live with. He was never like this while we were dating. He was hyperfocused on me. I was his everything. Now he ignores me unless he needs me for something, I have tried the honey vs vinegar thing. Most of the time I react calmly to him...its my nature...but once I let loose and actually got angry with him and acted like he does, although I didn't demean him or call him names. What a nightmare! I'll never do that again, I cannot afford to leave finacially at this time. Just when I am emotionally ready, he turns on the charm and I stay. I should mention that his family all have ADD and he is the product of an abusive household so his role models for a marital relationship aren't healthy either. I feel like taking care of him is a full time job plus some. I do cater to him, partly becuase its in my nature to care for my loved ones and partly because he expects it and makes my life miserable when I don't . I specifically ask for what I need and want, and get nothing. I don't even ask for much. Just some time. I have watched him walk out the door to do his precious hobbies rather than sit with me while sick, recovering from surgery and once while grieving the loss of a loved one. Our counselor told me that I am going to have to be the one to sacrifice in this relationship. I always thought it should be closer to 50/50??? I do love him though. Crazy as that seems. He is better when he remembers to take his meds. When he remembers. The other times I am just walking on eggshells waiting for something to frustrate him and he unleashes.

To I Am Angry

My first response to this was to say GET A NEW COUNSELLOR - PRONTO!  There is no excuse for being mean, rude or dismissive and the counsellor shouldn't be enabling this.  Also, read my post on using ADHD as an excuse and why this isn't helpful.

You still love the man, you need a counsellor who can help you create a great today and tomorrow - not someone who will make excuses for either one of you.

Also, you are being manipulated by this man.  The book that I suggested - The Dance of Anger - describes EXACTLY what you describe about his responses to you.  Please read it - I think it will help you sort things out a bit, and also help you find a place where he isn't treating you this way.

My second thought (upon not being so hasty - I've come back to this post a couple hours later) is to say that perhaps you can gain something by confronting the counsellor with how you feel about all of this.  If you don't like the way he/she responds, then go for a new counsellor.  (Hint - he/she should view your anger as legitimate, and be willing to converse with you both about your feelings and also about why he/she has been acting that way).

To Melissa

Thank you for your insight and advice. I am going to buy that book. Before my husband was diagnosed with ADHD, my own couselor thought it was Intermittent Explosive Disorder (to explain all his angry outbursts) When our marriage counselor suggested ADHD, then we followed up with that and then when he began the meds, there was a dramatic change in behavior all for the good. I'd like your opinion on one recurring characteristic that I have read about many, many times in many different books, websites, blogs etc. Why are some ADHDers so hyperfocused on the other person while dating and then almost immediately after the wedding, the ignoring and self centeredness starts? How can they sustain the caring, the concern, the attentiveness to the other person for the entire dating period and then it just stops after marriage? I am still the same person, he is still the same person. We interacted the same until he pulled the rug out so to speak. Why is that?? Now, he just seems to lack sympathy and empathy.

Thank you, I thought the same

Thank you, I thought the same that everyone seems to be saying that the non-adhd or add spouse should take care of them. Thats crap, they are definatly adults and how many people blame a disorder for the way they just are. Im not saying that certain people dont have it, but think about it, look up disorders on the internet, every single human on this earth could or does have some kind of something that they could be diagnoised with!!!! Grow up, get up and do your own work or help out and stop blaming disorders because the fact is your selfish. If you have been to the dr and indeed have whatever, then adult-up about it and take your meds and get on a schedule or something. This all especially makes me mad because of my spouse being that way, selfish or add adhd whatever you want to call it. I tried for 10 years to do everything and I am a female, I took care of the kids dealt with family, his and mine, cleaned and walked on eggshells because he would get mad at things that he shouldnt and not at things he should, like bipolar in a way, but when I tried to talk to him then he was like adhd, duhhhhh..anyways. Im a very kind kind person, I get hurt easily and I dont talk down to people, but after all that I found myself in another world. I had an affair about 4 months ago, well I think if you can do that and your not that kind of person and Im not, then its over. It was over before I actually did the deed and definatly over to me after, I filed for divorce, but here he is wanting to change and clean and listen. So I am guilt ridden and cant bring myself to go through with the divorce, even though I feel like I gave him 10 years of my life. I wasted all that time bothering with someone who never cared, I begged cried and everything you can think of to get him to wake up! Nothing worked, now all the sudden I feel like I have to give it another go because he hangs around me moppy and crap and makes me feel like you know what, gee people..when you have issues and you all know when you do, get up fix it and quit playing the disorder card, then when the person moves on and is happier w/out you because you never tried then dont cry about it! And dont think that all that loneliness that the non-adhd add spouse wont stem to an affair for one second, it doesnt take a mean selfish cold-hearted person to cheat, the kindess most caring people can be brought to do just that because of the adhd or add spouse!