Success in ADHD, no critical comments here please

While most of what I have seen here is negativity, judgment and generalizations which make ADHDers look infantile, inept, insensitive, abusive and generally a fearful burden to their spouses, I feel that portrays an unrealistic and lopsided view and serves to dishearten both ADHDer and "normal" alike. I know there are others here who are engaged  in the lifelong process of navigating the challenges of ADHD and have had both small and great successes. I propose this topic as a way to celebrate your success and provide hope to both your fellow ADHDs and partners as well. Post every day even if it is just to say"Wow, I didn't miss that appointment!" Consider this space as a support group of sorts. Tell us tricks you are using to stay on track or talk about successful communications where none existed before. Post even if its just a sentence or even just a word or 2.

Please Melissa, help to keep this topic positive and inspirational by editing out anything hurtful or negative. Nons, post only if you want to add something positive about your ADHD partner. If not, feel free to read but this is not a place to vent.

I hope to see lots of posts because I know you are out there, I've seen the posts in other forum topics. Lets give each other a "Way to Go!!"

positive stories coping with ADHD

I know you guys are here. If you are making progress coping with your ADHD, even if just getting started, post a comment here. I am starting to get really depressed and wondering if this site is only for non ADHD's who want to complain. I know I am not alone. At least I hope so.

Moving in the right direction

I don't have ADHD but my fiance does. I have often come here to try and find positive stories, but unfortunately they are few and far between (I think someone once noted that if people are coping well with ADHD and its affect on their relationship - they probably aren't seeking out websites on the internet because they don't need the help). As someone who also desperately wants some positive inspiration in their life, I thought maybe I should get the ball rolling, finally sign up for this site and share some of what my future spouse and I have achieved since realizing what a profound affect his ADHD has had on his life and our relationship. It's not a lot, but I like to think that with ADHD every baby-step counts!

First some background:

-We are both 26, been engaged for 5 months and been together for nearly 3 years.

-He has known he has ADHD since he was a child, but unfortunately beyond being put on stimulants as a teen, was never given any guidance or parental support. His parents are divorced, he lived with his father who focused heavily on his career and little on being a parent (his father believed that that buying his children things and putting them through school was the pretty much all he needed to do as a parent. He didn't care that his son chose a college he didn't want to go to - but attended to appease his father, a major - studio art -  that wouldn't help him very much professionally, or that he was severely depressed and barely made it to graduation. His father also believed therapy to be a waste of time and money). 

- My fiance came into adulthood never understanding anything about money or planning for the future. He constantly "lived in the moment."

- He has a dead-end, extremely low paying job that he has been in for the last 3 years (first job post graduation from college), which is also where we met.

- Unfortunately, in addition to all the above issues, his father now is a constant source of stress - criticizing his son for not "achieving enough" and doing little to understand why he might be struggling in life.

When we met, I thought he was such a great fun. I was going through a tough time in my own life (definitely suffered from bouts of depression) and he was so friendly, warm and generous, always trying to brighten my day. He was creative and outgoing and seemed so positive about life and all he wanted to achieve. I fell head over heels and my life became dramatically happier. We went on adventures and traveled, he was incredibly social and I met all kinds of new people. Just what I needed to bring me out of my personal funk. However, as our relationship progressed and became more serious, it became more and more clear to me that something was different about him and the way he interacted in the world. As time went on and we began to make steps to build a future together (moving in, sharing expenses, talking about marriage), his ADHD symptoms came more and more to light. Combined with his past issues and some new ones, his lack of managing his ADHD began to affect his job, his mood and our relationship. There was lots of talk, but little action and many, many broken promises. I should note though that, at the time though I didn't realize that ADHD was at the root of this. When we met, he was no longer taking his medications. I think the script ran out one day. . . and he just stopped filling it. Obviously when we first started dating, he wasn't taking the management of his ADHD very serious and it pretty much only came up when he used it to casually "explain" why he interrupted me while I was talking. I had no idea all the other ways it can affect a person.

Unfortunately, this is where my story has to get negative before it gets positive. To sum it all up over the course of the first two years of our relationship as things got more serious:

-I realized he had no clue about money, budgeting or how credit worked. Early on in our relationship, I naively helped him open a credit card account (to help build credit), taught him how to be a "balance payer" and left it at that. However, his issues with impulsive spending, living in the moment and general lack of understanding of "buy now, pay later" resulted in 5K in debt in about a year. I also helped him open a savings account during this time, which still has a balance of the initial $1 we deposited.

-His boss at work grew to be verbally and mentally abusive. She belittled him in front of other co-workers, told him he needed to be more "proactive" and made him feel incompetent.  Unfortunately, this was at the height of the economic downturn and though he tried he was unsuccessful at finding new employment. As a result, he developed severe depression and his self-esteem wound up in the toilet.

-He has substance abuse problems that only got worse as stress from work grew (like much of his family, he definitely self medicated)

-He started many small pet projects such as collecting furniture and antiques that he finds on the street (we live in a large city where people tend to toss perfectly good items in the trash) to sell on ebay or craigslist  and make some extra cash, which only filled our already tiny apartment to the brim (that combined with his piles of papers and assorted stuff we never when through before he moved in made me feel for a long time like we should be on that show "Hoarders")

-He felt stuck. I think the lack of guidance growing up and subsequent pressure from his father as an adult, the lack of interest in school and as a result limited career opportunities, and the dead-end job with an abusive boss snowballed into a place where he felt he couldn't think about the future. It's was too overwhelming. He often expressed a desire to "make things better" but had a general lack of motivation or understanding how to do this (and my non-ADHD suggestions such as "try harder" generally had no effect - surprise, surprise)

There is of course so much more too it, but after going through the last few years and now knowing what I know I really want to smack anyone who says that ADHD is a myth straight in the face. It's serious stuff and can have a huge impact on a person's life, their happiness and health. Its been a huge learning experience for me. The first two years or so of our relationship were tough, definitely a roller coaster ride with lots of fighting and crying. But once we sat down maybe a year ago and talked and it came up that  "hey, maybe its the ADHD?" things have gotten better. Albeit very slowly. Now the positives!

-After we started to think that maybe the source of his lack of motivation or general sense where he was going in life was caused by ADHD, I bought a lot of books on the subject and read them. My fiance has issues with reading (good old ADHD again) so I bought him the audiobooks. Between his sporadic listening, my thorough reading and our conversations on the subject we both feel well versed in ADHD and his symptoms - this alone has dramatically improved our relationship. My understanding of how he operates in the world definitely changed the way I spoke to him and helped me feel less depressed and hopeless. He also seems to better understands himself and I think this gives a mini boost to his self esteem.

-He went to his general doctor and got put back on ADHD medication. This is still a work in progress (finding the right dosage has been tricky), but I know it helps him feel more focused at work and he is able to focus on the future more. His motivation improved tremendously.

-We've been able to have conversations about money without him freaking out. Money talks are no longer completely overwhelming as long as I don't try and bog him down with a lot of info. We work on one thing at a time. He has a budget, though he's still learning to control his impulse spending, and he is slowly paying down his debt. Building savings is next on his agenda.

-He recently asked his doctor about dealing with his depression and was put on an anti-depressant. This was another breath of fresh air, and also helped improve mood and motivation.

-He has made great strides in letting work stress "roll off his back." It still bothers him, but he tries very hard to not let it eat away at him anymore. He has some perspective on the situation.

-He is working on updating his resume and cover letter and actively looking for new jobs (although its taking him a bit longer than it would take me, he's still doing it)

-He is considering going back to school to help him build on his arts degree and gain some new skills. He has a great interest in interior design (note the furniture and antique collecting above) so he's leaning towards an accelerated program in that area (down the road though, once he gets other areas of his life in order). I think he'll be happy in this field (he's definitely a creative ADHD'er) and it would allow him some flexibility and something new to do every day. There is also the potential to be self employed which I think he likes.

-Similar to his new attitude towards work, he now recognizes that his father is not a hugely positive influence in his life. To this end, he has expressed interest in seeing a therapist to help him work through some of the resentment he holds towards his father and his past, and to also boost his ADHD management. Should be calling to make an appointment this week!

So pretty much the point of this long post is that we are moving the right direction! I think having a name to describe all the issues he's been having since he was a child helps to separate them from himself  - he is slowly starting to realize that things are in fact harder for him and that he isn't stupid or lazy. . .he just operates differently. Are we in a completely happy place yet? Absolutely not. It's still can be a daily struggle and often I feel the burden of trying to keep him going, keep him focused, AND dealing with my own life and career (oh and planning a wedding in about 9 months!). But I feel good about things and just his wanting to make things better has lifted my spirits. I also know that a lot of his improvement comes from how I treat him and speak to him (Melissa's book provided me with lots of insights on that front), so I work very hard to stay positive about him and his ability to improve his own life for the better.

There is so much more I could say, but I won't. Just know that there are people out there (both with and without ADHD) who are positive and do see a future where ADHD doesn't just "mess everything up." I hope to report back on some new progress soon!

great post

Thanks for the optimism. Its very real to have setbacks while making progress but it can and does happen. I wish you guys success!

Wow- very similar situation here!


Your situation sounds very similar to mine, although I am at the beginning since I haven't even considered my boyfriend's ADD as a factor until just a few days ago. He is also an artist (dropped out of art school one semester shy of graduating), has no money skills, is an impulse spender, and gets easily depressed and angry. Also, he was diagnosed with ADD as a child but beyond being on Adderall at one point, nothing else was really done as far as managing symptoms. However, I can't be too hard on his parents about that because his younger siblings have had some major issues,  although they are doing quite well now. Money has been a HUGE problem but he realizes this and wants to get better and has been trying harder lately. He's gotten so much better about being a good employee and has been making his managers very happy at work, although it's a very low paying job that doesn't always give consistent hours. I guess I just didn't realize how much his ADD symptoms are holding him back and I don't think he realizes this either. It makes me feel so much more hopeful that it's not just him being careless or lazy and that here is much more at play and yet it CAN be managed if we work together as a team. Now the inconsistencies in what he says vs what he does make more sense. I've always known he is capable of more and that he is so much smarter than he thinks. He is so creative and caring and is a surprisingly good communicator- he has helped me a LOT in this area since I tend to deflect issues with humor instead of dealing with them.

I see you mentioned Melissa's book... have there been any other books that you have found to be helpful?

Thank you so much for sharing your story-in-progress. It made my day to read about someone in such a similar situation!! I feel we are both headed in a good direction.

Hi Simora

I will tell you ADD has its upsides and its downsides--The upsides -since i've been on my meds my boss now things im a top team leader where before I was at the bottom of the barrel...I am inquisitive which often leads me to be intuitive. People often ask me for advice on things and I feel very flattered because I think if they only knew. It is hard for me to be in a relationship therefore I have never been in one, that is a huge downside- There are quite a few downsides but the  upsides can be equally rewarding. I see things alot of times that most other people cannot, I can reason with people and be a great mediator. My friends think I am hilarious and a daredevil. But at 32 I probably should be looking to live alone and be in a relationship but that would be a huge struggle for me. I have a full time job and a masters degree but simple things like doing laundry is not even on my realm of thought. If you love this person- love him for him because its more than likely hes not going to change for you, and not because there is anything wrong with you but because while lots of people can adapt to their surroundings- i know i find it very hard to be flexible even when I know its the right thing ot I want to try something in me just does not follow through.

Positive Momentum with ADHD

Great idea, Simora!  I've been looking for this type of forum.  I agree that it's been disheartening to read so many anger-laden posts.  I do believe, however, that the non-ADHD spouses need a forum to vent, especially after reading Melissa's book.  ADHD behavior can be ingratiating, to say the least.  That said, I would like an area which is purely productive and supportive so that we can actively help each other.  I had decided this past summer that I was approaching my ADHD from the wrong angle.  I had been trying to think like someone without ADHD in order to solve my own problems and simply trying to "will" myself to do better.  Despite being intelligent, this is not so easy with a ADHD frontal lobe.  I realized that I had to employ my ADHD outside-the-box creativity to solve my problems.

Here are some ways which I've found helpful to combat my ADHD symptoms:


1. To curb my tendency to interrupt my husband, I sat down and brain-stormed on paper the reasons why I interrupt.  I concluded that I didn't like that he tends to lecture me for long periods of time when trying to address issues that bother him, because he thinks if he talks long enough, I'll do something about it.  I took a minute timer from a game board and told him that I would like to be able to use that if he rambles, because knowing there will be an endpoint to his talking would reduce my frustration, increase my listening, and reduce my need to blurt something out because I don't feel I will otherwise get an opportunity to respond.  I am happy to report that simply knowing I have this as an option has drastically reduced my interrupting to almost nothing.  I also listen better because it's changed the lecturing dynamic in our relationship and I also can focus on what he's saying rather than simply thinking, "When are you going to stop talking???"

Prospective Memory

1.  I put a small dashboard clipboard with a notebook and attached pen in my car to remind myself of things I must remember or do that day or in the near future.  I usually think of things while I am driving.  I try to write at stoplights, but sometimes must write a word or two as a trigger while driving.  I write without looking at the clipboard so I can see while I drive,  but even with my messy handwriting I can still read what I've written.  I can't tell you how much this has helped me.  I used to forget those random thoughts by the time I arrived at my destination.  No longer!

2.  I bought a calendar hanger and made "packing lists" per Melissa's suggestion in her book.  I put the lists, which include lines for additional items, areas to check off information on the lists.  I put them in plastic sheet protectors so I can write notes and erase them with small dry erase markers.  It is in a prominent area in my kitchen so I will always refer to it.

3.  Small notebooks in purse so I can record random thoughts or things my husband says or requests he makes while he is driving his car (and when I am the passenger) or we are out.   He used to resent it when I'd ask him to "remind me later, because I'll forget what you've said." 

Now I am able to take responsibility for this.  Simple idea, big help!

a notebook or an IPhone

is my best friend. I don't wait until after I am out of doc's office to enter the app into the calendar. I take pictures of things like business cards. My doc says the phone is only good if you use/don't loose it. Haven't put the find my IPhone AP on yet but its coming. and dragon has a speech to text AP so that voice notes can be converted into text and emailed to yourself.

lots of great ideas mom of 2, I would like the non's to be able to come here and see that we don't all hide behind ADHD and that with understanding and patience, we can succeed in the "normal world". While I'll grant that we can be a handful both to live with and understand and that not all ADHD's strive to co-exist peacefully or do so to varying degrees, hope is so pivotal in improving an often dire situation.

A Thank You and a Question

Great use of the phone with business cards and taking pictures of things to remember.  How do you deal with clutter?  I feel like I am pushing a boulder uphill on a daily basis.  I tackle it all the time, but I feel like it's in a not-so-secret government breeding program. 

currently on a declutter rant

2 things

One is to to stick to a "right place" protocol because the way I see it, clutter occurs because of multiple purchases occasioned by loss of stuff. If I always put things in the right place, I don't have to by a new one. The second thing is a tactic adopted from writing essays. I am a chronic impulse spender, hence accumulation is inevitable. So like an essay, where I write, leave and revise the next day, I will first browse and note, go home and read reviews, comparison shop, and if I still need it, go back and buy the day after.  The rule of not buying things that moment is very hard to adhere to and takes a bit of self talk, just like my bed before midnight rule. These are self imposed, and to encourage positive results, I only try one rule at a time and move on once I have internalized it.

is this reflective

Of how few here with ADHD feel that they are having even small victories ? This should indicate to "normals" just how low self esteem runs in the ADHD community.

fuzzylogic72's picture

I'm here too Simora!

But too tired to post anything meaningful right now; just fighting a lung and sinus infection, but will write more tomorrow! I tried to access your contact page, but it said access denied.



I had a crisis and instead of

I had a crisis and instead of it deteriorating everything I worked so hard for, it was prolific and became the catalyst of my changing future. I always knew the one thing that was a constant was time, while in the moment it may seem like its forever but time keeps moving forward. I too shall be like a clock and move forward. There will be roads, that may be misty but if I did not try to get past them in a positive light, I would never know that i can do it and be proud o f myself  for doing so. ADHD is my other half, my best friend, the partner, something I can never leave home without. If I don't learn to live with the cards I have been dealt, I will never know. I do not need to lead a life like everyone else but I do need to lead a life, that I can be proud of. We all have issues, its how we over come those issues that catapults us into the future!

'hear hear Simora!' I found

'hear hear Simora!'

I found this website yesterday all consumed by my anxiety and worries over my unemployed ADD husband. I read a couple amazing articles, I purchased Melissa's book and then I found the forums. I started in the Anger and Frustration thread, because that's what I was. Well, you all know the levels of frustration and anger but it made me remember all the things I have learned, and love, about my husband. 4 months ago his best man said in the wedding speech 'always remember, he has the Best Intentions'. I laughed, and then the following week I was annoyed. Sometimes I think it's almost as bad as saying "ah well, you did your best" with an accompanying condescending pat on the head. He really does though, have the Best Intentions at heart.

I wrote a list of cleaning jobs on the fridge mounted whiteboard yesterday before I went to work. My husband diligently followed the list, and when I got home he was cleaning the stove top. I smiled to myself after he left to go to work, with half the stove shining brilliantly and the other half sticky with spray and spilled sauce.

The fact that he followed the list even after my excessive worrying and wailing the night before deserves a massive 'Way to go!'. I'd even throw in a high five.

Sometimes I lose sight of what an amazing man he is because I'm so wrapped up in my anxiety, worrying about things, trying to find a reason for his actions and usually blaming and hating myself because I just don't understand. I have never met anyone like him, we adored each other secretly from afar for years and when we finally went on a date it was LOVE. Recently, I have mostly lost sight of this due to all those things that crop up that affects couples like us, but it's like someone has flicked the switch and the reason we're together has become clear again. I think even typing this is a therapy in itself.

I'm continuing my learning about ADD/ADHD in adults and I'm getting myself back on track with helping him with his routines and lists, so that we can both concentrate on what we should: how much we love each other and how right we are for each other.

**Apologies for hijacking your thread, and thank you for indulging me, but I wanted to say something positive after reading all the negativity.