The world doesn't get it

Hi Friends,


I've been around for some time, reading your posts and finding great consolation in all the experience you're sharing here. However, since it doesn't make the problem magically go away, I felt I needed to put my two cents in on a topic that I has been really bothering me.

I've been in a relationship with a possible ADD/ADHD-er for some time now, it's been a few years (hopefully, soon to be officially diagnosed). We're both approaching middle age, but we're still young. She's a caring, loving, very likeable person. We care about each other a lot, and I know she's trying very hard, but it's also very frustrating for me to see that all her effort (and mine) has brought little to no results so far.

Since the very beginning, weird things kept happening, but it took me a really long time to even start connecting the dots. Once it clicked, it was quite a revelation, since it gave me a direction. I suddenly had all that scientific knowledge to relate to and great places like this board where I could go and discover I'm not the only one having that kind of trouble with the SO. And sometimes simply to convince myself I'm not mad. That when I feel angry, frustrated, tired and burnt out the way I often do, it's a normal way to respond to the ongoing, everyday struggle with her symptoms.

Since the very beginning, I've had this feeling I'm not coping too well alone, and I also feel quite lonely in my relationship. Because of her absent-mindedness (and sometimes overfocus on insignificant details), I don't really have the feeling we're able to discuss things too deeply and truly come to conclusions, at least not to the point that would be satisfying for me. So I've been talking to friends about it from time to time, if only to blow off some steam. When I discovered what the underlying issue was, I introduced the name ADHD to some of those talks.

Which brings me to the point: regardless of whether the issue is named or not, it seems like the outside world doesn't really get it. I mean, I can talk a lot, say thing like "X is doing this and that", "it's really annoying for me that X does this", "I fell like I'm drowning in chaos", etc., and the only feedback I'd get is "well, that's X for you!", "yeah, we know she's messy sometimes, but surely you're overreacting", "it can't be that bad", "there's two sides to every story", "maybe you're not listening to her", "it's really hard for me to imagine", and, last but not least, "so she has some really weird ways of doing things, but why do you care? it's her time and let her manage it". I've been getting that from friends, some of whom know her quite well, but also from therapists. It's making me sink even deeper into "there's no hope" thinking.

On the other hand, I understand this quite well. When she focuses, she can be a good partner in conversations, and her hyperfocus and the occasional interruptions are interpreted as deep interest. If she gets distracted, she's really good at keeping up the appearance of listening, even if she doesn't register a single word. If she talks about our shared problems with our shared friends, she always gives logical explanations for everything, that have nothing to do with ADHD. She can present herself as a victim of circumstance, usually has a wide variety of excuses for every occasion (that she seems to honestly believe in), it's always a "temporarily busy period in her life", and she very often mixes up cause and effect, showing our trouble as a result of my decision, rather than my decisions being the effect of her erratic behaviors. She underplays her mistakes, often saying "I think it's not true", or "ok, that did happen, but it happens to everyone", or "well, I think maybe from time to time it happens to me that I can be late sometimes, but I really don't think it happens so often". Also, she uses lots of "honest lies", like "I understood this differently", where in fact the message was quite clear. But from the outside perpective, it always appears very logical and convincing. So, both the way she communicates with the outside world and the message really create the illusion of a non-ADHD person, maybe a bit messy, maybe a bit absent-minded, but all-in-all, within the limits of what's usually described as "normal". She's often late with deadlines, but covers it up with excuses or speeds up for the final sprint, so it's often "only an hour late" or only "5 minutes late", or sometimes "barely, but still on time" - nobody except me knows what's been going on behind the scenes. She's always very attentive when it comes to looking for possible explanations, so whenever something happens to explain her delay, she uses it as an argument.

Bottom line: I feel like there's no other person in the world who'd be able to understand this, and I mean truly understand. I can describe dozens and hundreds of everyday situations, but it's still just a description of separate events, it doesn't even begin to cover what it's actually like to be living it. Every time we're together, I feel like I'm in this weird singularity that's sucking out all my energy and strength, where space and time mean something different, and the communication can be an absolute nightmare - it's like the words mean different things, and even if formally we both speak the same language, there's something happening in the communication channel so that virtually every message get through distorted. The simplest, everyday actions like going for a walk, or shopping, can turn into a life-draining struggle. And the simplest decisions, like deciding what shoes to wear, can take long hours and usually mean never-ending debates I'm involved in.

But when I say I have trouble communicating, or doing things together, or not coping well with the chaos, it always feels like I'm only scratching the surface, without really describing the true nature of the problem, no matter how many examples I give. Sometimes, it makes me doubt myself, because once I'm done talking, it always feels inadequate. And then I sometimes feel like maybe I'm the one with the problem, since, once put in words, those things don't really seem like something to even worry about, and definitely not to be described as a "living hell" that I sometimes feel I'm in. So maybe I'm the one making something out of nothing. It's only once you experience all of them at the same time, with all intensity, frequency and absurdity, that you get this internal understanding of the problem, but I often doubt that's something that can be conveyed. And sometimes I really need to, because I feel like I'm on the brink of madness, and just need to talk and be understood.

So, my questions are:

-> Do you also feel like your SOs are really good actors, and may seem pretty "standard" to the outside world, most of the action happening "behind the scenes"?

-> Do you find the same difficulties with accurately describing your problems? Do you think neither a clinical list of symptoms, nor a lengthy list of examples really describe the issue? That's it a matter of "I feel it" rather than "I comprehend it"?


Anyone care to comment?