Wife Mom Teacher Person Sinking S.O.S.

Oh, how ADHD seems to soak through all areas of my life. I need help as I have hit rock bottom (or close to it). Summing it up: 2 1/2 years ago I had cervical cancer(radical hysterectomy/radiation) which started sudden surgical menopause at age 31. I was later diagnosed with combo type ADHD chatty Kathy type after 3 years of being treated for depression/anxiety I teach 1st grade and have done so for 8 1/2 years. I have a huge heart for the ADHD child or kids who need that personal touch/love from their teachers. I pride myself on being "real to kids"--- I have a 6 year old MINI ME who is ADHD combo type on Vyvance PLUS a low dose Respidall (spell?) for separation anxiety, poss. ODD, negative attitude, difficult personality. Anyhow--the surgical menopause has basically taken me to a state of constant anxiety, depression, like I am swimming to stay afloat. I can't separate my work/motherhood/wifehood -----it all goes together to constant stress and pressure. I feel like all the people in my life (micromanging work, critical type A hubby, perfectionist people) only find my faults.....and they don't help bring me up. I am so starved to feel I am good enough------yet I have been sinking all year. My husband (God Bless him) has been through it with my cancer and ADHD----but at times I have felt he is mentally,verbally, emotionally abusive to me.......well the counselor has eluded to it. Our kindergartner has had a rough year of not wanting to go to school and other health issues that have made me even later for work than I usually am. So, I have taken a leave of absense for depresion/anxiety--- Does hormonal issues effect ADHD ? I feel like I have lost my mind.....I take compouded hormones, Adderall, Effexor, Cymbalta,---- Do some people literally have to stop working full time due to all of the stress ADHD puts on families? And what modifications can I ask for from my boss for the ADHD ? I have gone from SUPER TEACHER to SUPER MESSY STRESSED OUT UNABLE TO GET TO WORK ON TIME......:( And I have absolutely NO interest in SEX even before the cancer--it is so hard to initiate it......when the meds wear off I am ready for sleep. Any advice would be so wonderful. I hear Dr. Hallowell in my mind saying "The most important things are WHO you marry and WHERE you work." Maybe I have chosen wrong in both areas. I feel like such a disappointment to my husband, kids, and employer......I try so very hard....and between hormone appointments, ADHD appointments for my daughter/myself, counseling (marrital, individual, and child)---I am lost as to what to do next. I have almost felt like everyone would be better off if I were gone....I would never do that, but I feel like such a failure....
clancy's picture

I can relate

Doodlebug- i too am a first grade teacher. I feel so overwhelmed at my job anymore that I am contacting our office of disabilty to go on record as having ADD. I'm doing it as a precaution basically as I know there is no money for hiring a aide to assist. As far as ADHD and menopause: I felt like the PMS symptoms were 3 times worse than for others. But you have a lot of added stress from your daughter. MY son was diagnosed in the fifth grade but his night terrors from age 2 wore me out. My daughter wasn't diagnosed until age 19 but she had tremendous separation anxiety for years. I'm certain we, her undiagnosed ADHD parents weren't reacting wisely either and the tension between us came through loud and clear. i hope Melissa and others can offer you support. Please don't think of your self as a failure, although I think that mindset is part of the ADHD until we can appreciate our strengths. When I found a support group of ADHD adults, I stopped feeling like a failure. Good luck.

Thank you for relating and sharing

Clancy, So glad to know I am not the only ADHD first grade teacher struggling. You mentioned office of disability. My counselor said I should be looking in to disability for some time off work due to depression/anxiety (I took time off 2 years ago for the cancer), however, it is tough to say if this is due to the cancer hormones/aftermath of not actually dealing with my change in "stamina"---how do I really look into this? Does that sound crazy. Today I feel better than I did 2 weeks ago, but I am so fragile......it is like the world turns into a "ferriswheel" going round and round and I can't get off. I am so tired of the ferriswheel and I wonder if I will be alive in 5 years. I am only 34 years old and very much cancer free----however, I am so very stressed. I am so very down and overly sensitive to my husband's opinion/words toward me. What is your biggest struggle with the teaching? I was fine until I had a micro managing perfectionist boss (who means well)/who never finds anything I do right--or at least never verbalizes it. I feel like everyone picks out my flaws and to me they are already HUGE----I am so tired of comparing myself to the "normal" people who get things done, who have buckets of energy, who can plan out their week for meals, activities, housework, job obligations and actually DO IT ON TIME. Why is it that I have to screw up all the time? Dr. Hallowell always says to get good enough at what you struggle with and focus on your positives. I am not able to do that when it seems others do the opposite. Melissa, if you read this---how common is verbal abuse from the NON ADHD spouse? Two counselors have told me my spouse is emotionally and verbally abusive (on a continuum he is Moderate), however, he claims it is NOT abuse and I am too sensitive. Things like "You can't even tell the cleaning lady was here 3 days ago. It would be nice if I could sleep in my own bed when I am the only one going to work in the morning." (I am on sick leave for depression and also very ill from brochitus -he offered for 3 days to sleep on the couch so as not to get sick.) to being as cruel as "Get your ass out of bed and then maybe you wouldn't be late to work. OR "So and So can do it, everyone else can get their kids to school on time an still work a full time job." It is like the only thing I can do (NOT DO) are the things that I didn't do right.....accidentally. Oh, I prob. make little sense. I want a new brain please. Anyone else feel this way?

verbal abuse

I'm going to send Dr. H the link to this area of the site so he can read and answer when he gets a chance (or perhaps Sue Hallowell, who is a therapist, will do so) but I wanted to respond now about something I know lots about - verbal abuse.

Yes, it is not only possible that a non-ADD spouse can be verbally abusive, but my experience would suggest that is might even be likely.  I was the verbally abusive non-ADD spouse in our relationship.  I remember being very mean to George - cutting him down and belittling him.  I was very, very angry, and this was my response to the anger - an almost constant lambasting and judging.  I was able to realize that I was "being hard" on George, but felt that his behavior was "irresponsible" and "thoughtless" and, therefore, he needed someone to be hard with him to "shape him up".  I, too, would have denied being abusive for many years.  Not to completely let George off the hook, my behavior angered him and he gave back as good as he got (though perhaps in a more passive/aggressive manner that wasn't so obvious to everyone around us as my approach!)

Both were the completely wrong approach.

Your husband's verbal abuse signals that he has lost empathy for what you have experienced with your illness, your job and your ADD.  (I'm assuming he didn't used to be verbally abusive.)  You've been through a lot, and aren't getting credit for it.  I have a dear friend who had cancer 5 years ago and still isn't back to working full time...it can be really tough!

Your husband needs to internalize your crisis and start to both curb his tongue and work out his anger, or he will lose you.  When people start saying thing like "I'm only 34 but feel so stressed out I don't think I'll make it another 5 years" and that they think they have both the wrong job and the wrong spouse, things are pretty critical - which often means major life changes like divorce, etc.

I don't have specific suggestions about how you can get him to understand either your dilemna or your needs.  Your counsellors are probably best suited to help you with this - but please make sure that they understand the ramifications of ADD in marriages, as yours is showing many of the typical signs of ADD-induced marital distress.

Melissa Orlov

Overwhelmed with ADD

Doodlebug, (I love that name by the way - my grandfather used to call me that!) ... anyway, it is about a few weeks since your post so I am curious to know how you are feeling now. I hope all is ok. For a perspective, I am 36, have ADD, and feel fragile as well. Your scenario sounds familiar to me - as if a lot of stresses just pushed you and your husband to a place that feels out of control and frightening. I am a brand new social worker (so not a PhD or an authority at all). But, I did take some excellent self-care classes in graduate school and was taught part of putting a healthy self-care plan in place is recognizing when we feel fragile and instead of running away from it, saying, "hey, my automatic warning system is working well - it's telling me I feel bad" and realizing that is a good thing, not a bad thing. It's a great built in warning system our bodies give us if we listen. With the help of a therapist you can probably figure out what's going on and then create a plan so that it doesn't happen again or if it does, that you have a list of resources handy to call or contact before it gets too frightening. As for if the comments sound abusive - it's too hard for me to tell from an e-mail but you can visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline online or via phone and ask them questions - they are pros and may be able to help you with your questions - http://www.ndvh.org/

struggling with work and marriage

Dear Doddlebug, This is the first time I have ever written on one of these sites so please. First, I am so sorry you are having such a tough time. It sounds like you have so much going on. You asked about the effects of hormones/menopause on ADHD. I have many female clients and many of them have noted an increase in ADHD symptoms during menopause. Women, whose ADHD was pretty well managed feel like they are beginning all over again. Sometimes solving it requires a shift of medication. Knowledge can be helpful and taking really good care of yourself, sleep, exercise, eating right and mostly being kind to yourself. Have you ever read Sari Solden's book on Women with ADD. She wrote this book many years ago and I still think it is the best thing out there for women. She talks about Women managing the work/.home struggle. Women are the natural Executive function of families, work, church, clubs, etc. Women with Add struggle with this function, though many hide it very well or are able to handle it until circumstances provide stress that undoes them somewhat. It sounds like to me you were a well functioning woman at work and home whose equilibrium became upset by the cancer and a new boss at work who no longer provided you with an environment that helped you flourish. This was further complicated by hormonal symptoms. You are on overload and it is spilling into all areas of your life. It feels to you like your life is falling apart. Learning to manage the stress would help a great deal. Learning that you are ok and being compassionate with yourself. Finding people in your life who can champion you and spending time with them. Prehaps you could think about whether teaching is the problem or you need to teach in a different situtation. Regarding your marriage. I like a lot of what Melissa had to say about your husband and your marriage. I try to work with couples around staying away from words like Verbal Abuse in situtations like this because they are trigger words and they stop the conversation before it starts. You and your husband have been through so much. Both of you are frustrated and frightened by what is happening. It is important to try and be compassionate to each other. It is important for him to really listen and try to understand what is going on for you and it is important for your to try and understand things from his perspective and to have some compassion for him as well. It is not easy to do this, but it sounds like the marriage has some strengths. I hope the two of you can once again see yourselves as 2 people on the same team. I know this is a very hard time in your life, but I do think you have a lot of strengths and with help can come through this and be even stronger.

ADHD/sudden Menapause

I just posted on this topic and am convinced that hormonal shifts have a huge impact on ADHD.  Though this post is a year old, wondering what kind of hormones you are taking -- I hope 'compounded' means natural and that you have a good person to help you adjust the combination of hormones to help your symptoms.  For me, Progesterone has been a godsend though I'm still trying to figure it all out.  I have found traditional doctors to be sorely uneducated about the balance needed and far too quick to prescribe the pill and traditional HRT options while dismissing the value of blood tests to see what is really going on.  Two books I've found useful are "Natural Hormone Balance" by Uzzi Reiss and "What your Dr. may not tell you about premenopause" by John Lee.  They don't focus on ADD but explain a lot about the nuance of hormone balance.   Hope all is well.