...THIS WILL BE LONG...
Hello, I have been reading here for quite some time. Finally I thought it might be useful to give some input as someone who grew up the father has ADD/anxiety/depression and the relationship of the parents can be described as co-dependent.
First of all, when you are a child you think how you grow up is the "normal" way even when things happen that seem to be disturbing after a while. Of course, you do not have any insight or explanation at that point in time. You just live in a certain environment.
So from the few memories when I was little I experienced things like the following at home:
outbursts of anger (sometimes "out of the blue" from my perspective), absolute risky driving behavior (I really thought at times my father was "crazy"), abuse of alcohol, emotional highs and lows, "severe" conflicts with co-workers or supervisors at work, conflicts with parents, in-laws etc., humiliating behavior especially towards my mother, violence at home
So when I was a child after a while I really started to believe that my father was a mean person and my mother was a victim. I really hated being at home and was always happy somewhere else.
In my teenage years things had not changed. What I noticed is: my father was a talker...like he would always initiate conversation with all kinds of people he would meet...and he would talk mainly about himself and his life. He grew up in a home where the father was a hard-working, yet violent man. It seemed that other people were always more important than to him than his wife. He would go out of his way to do something for others - even strangers (I realize know he was feeding off the "oh, you are so kind", "oh, you are so good"...attention/acceptance seeking etc.). My mother somehow always came last. But, like many women do, she would find excuses.
In my 20s I met a guy (guy friend, we probably had some romantic feelings in the beginning but it all stayed a friendship kind of relationship) who told me he was diagnosed ADD. We stayed in contact for about 2 years including many conversations on the phone and we met a couple of times and spent some days together. The more I learned about that guy the more I realized how much he reminded me of my father. I started to see the symptoms in my father like:
- excessive talking
- his interests, problems, hobbies always came first and were main topic (up to this day I can almost "sing" all the 10.000 stories of my father's history whereas I hardly know anything about my mother's history, btw my mother was adopted because her parents could not handle taking care of another child - this might explain how low self-esteem and co-dependency were developed)
- anger outbursts
- alcohol abuse
- constant conflicts with friends, co-workers, supervisors, relatives (for example, almost all friendships fell victim to stupid arguments that they had simply for the sake of arguing --> stimulation)
- extreme moodiness and a change of mind in "view of life-matters" almost every 3rd day (like claiming something as the absolute truth trying to persuade you to agree with him, but three days later he would proclaim the complete opposite and AGAIN would like to make sure you AGREE... and that was another sign, he is always right)
- conspiracy thoughts (like "everybody/everything is against me", trust issues with each and everything...the doctor or whoever)
What I also found interesting ...concentration issues - of course. We would sit together on a Monday evening for a study project. Most of the times we did not get very far because he could not concentrate OR he got sidetracked by a specific point that we were UNABLE to finish it because he had that HYPERFOCUS on something.
- short attention span (he can never watch a movie or show on television until the end - switching channels endlessly)
- no patience (if my mother went into the store to get something he would start complaining after 5 min "why does she take so long" - at the same time if he met someone he would easily be 1.5 hrs late forgetting about appointments and stuff. And he would always have an excuse why that was necessary or important
- not keeping promises/agreements/ making rules up as you go and just change your mind if you feel like it
When writing down these points it might all not seem THAT bad...maybe because I have come to grips with the reality of things I just don't see a point in letting it appear dramatic...but almost all posts I read here just describe what I saw growing up at home. If ADD / ADHD was just a matter of being messy and forgetful it would probably not so bad - but the DISRESPECT (oh, forgot about that one...somehow not having any respect for anybody...questioning EVERY authority all the time but then at the same time expecting others to agree with YOU), the many VERY HURTFUL WORDS and DEEDS, especially the alcohol abuse and most of all the violent outbursts created an environment of INSTABILITY...especially emotionally...are hard to take the more time passes by.
When meeting that guy as described above I almost fell into the same trap like my mother did...this always putting up with things to the point of turning into a rescuer and therapist...to the point of losing your OWN IDENTY, losing your friends (my mother has almost no contacts to any people anymore..so my father also had a control-issue). Fortunately I had seen enough to be disgusted with all this and I really started reading A LOT about ADD/ADHD and other neurological/emotional disorders. It helped me enormously. What I have learned is:
Yes, people with ADD can be VERY SWEET and CHARMING...maybe that is why women often have a hard time leaving ADD men despite the emotional roller coaster or even humiliating and physical abuse. People with ADD need help/support - so be a FRIEND (a have a few friends with ADD and I appreciate them very much)...however, I have come to the conclusion DO NOT GET INTO A RELATIONSHIP/MARRIGE with someone with ADD - it will cause a lot of hurt and trouble and you can't win.
Of course, I believe there are people who have a mild version of ADD and then things might not be as bad. My father was probably an extreme case but he NEVER did anything about it. He thinks he can handle it...and all psychologists are idiots in his opinion.
How I see it today: my mother has been abused in the way that she took on the role of an unpaid therapist...giving most of the time of her life while she was treated badly. She even stopped keeping her hobbies/friendships up...except for gardening.
For me personally all the sweetness of an ADD person will still not convince me to give it a try. I felt free when I moved out of my parents home at the age of 23. I realized...wow, how wonderful life can be without emotional chaos on a daily basis.
I understand, my parents both came from bad homes as well and they just never found a good way of dealing with things - not taking professional help into consideration. Either my granddad and/or grandmom on my father's side must have ADD too as I know realize decades later.
What I experienced really had a great impact on me up to this day. I admit, I have trust issues. I have very good friends. But I have never been in a relationship and I cannot even IMAGINE it. I tasted peace and I find I kind of spent all my energy in my 20 years as a child at home that there is no energy left for future "conflicts" of THAT nature. Just thinking of it makes me physically sick.
Also, I have realized how MANY women seem to ignore red flags in the beginning of relationship and have put up with disrespectful behavior and emotional abuse for years. I have learned - early enough - a man HAS to show a certain respect. If he crosses the line as a habit...it is time to leave...the sooner the better. They should stop promoting movies where the "bad" guy is always rescued by the "good" woman. This is pure stupidity. The "bad" guy can only rescue himself IF he is even determined to do so. I am not saying every one with ADD is "bad"...but ADD can really turn a person into a Jekyll&Hyde - I feel so sorry for the guys but at the same time ...a woman can only help if the man is willing to do his part.
This may sound a bit black and white. I do not mean it like that. I know nobody "chose" to have ADD and it is just one of those terrible disorders that can really ruin people's lives and relationships. I dream of two things:
a) that ADD men would realize that without therapy and medication they will ruin everything in the long run
b) that women would develop enough self-worth to not become a victim/co-dependent and stop trying to "rescue" men - supporting yes, taking responsibility for everything and putting up with bad behavior no.
I know this is a BIG CHALLENGE and whenever emotions are involved it all becomes twice as difficult.
All the best to each and every one. All I can say is: PEACE can be so sweet.