Help a non-ADHD spouse out…

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Help a non-ADHD spouse out… 2013-07-02T13:28:45+00:00

The Forums Forums For The Non-ADD I Married An ADDer Help a non-ADHD spouse out…

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  • #120753
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    keepingthefaith
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    Post count: 12

    Hi all! I’m just starting to get connected with some online resources after having read several books on adult ADHD.

    Here’s my conundrum… My husband was diagnosed with ADHD and depression about a year ago. It was a process to get to that point and to say the least, he wasn’t too excited about it. After the diagnosis, he seemed somewhat relieved and even said to the psychologist, “where were you 20 years ago?”

    The psych recommended a combo of therapy and meds. My husband went to therapy a few times and stopped because he didn’t feel like he was getting much out of it. He went on a med for depression which has definitely had positive results. He seems really opposed to ADHD meds.

    In his mind, things are fine now and “fixed.”

    My struggle is that it’s hard to talk to him about anything related to ADHD because he feels very negative about it, that something is wrong with him, that he is broken, etc…

    So it’s difficult to even start a conversation to help him notice that ADHD is still affecting his/our lives and that there are things out there we can do to help address it.

    I’m really proud of him for taking the steps of going to counseling (we went together for a while pre-diagnosis), financial classes (one of our major struggles), for going through testing for a diagnosis, and recognizing the need for an anti-depressant.

    I feel like that’s where we plateaued. I’ve thought about writing a letter since having a conversation often leads to defensiveness and negativity.

    Help!! Any suggestions on how help us get jump-started with seeking treatment? Or for helping him see that learning more about it and what the treatment options are would be a positive thing?

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    #120754
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    Takingbacktyler
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    Post count: 24

    A few things that may help ( If I was him anyways).

    Try to set an exact time and date where you can sit and talk.. Prefferably not after he just comes home from work or at a time he may be inclined to stress.

    Acknowledge that you also have imperfections that he has to ” put up” with and this is no different. However you want to see him get on meds or continue counseling for ADHD for himself and his pro longed happiness as well as for the marriage.

    Sometimes i get very anxious when I talk to my wife about my ADHD because I feel like I want to be with someone who DOESENT want me to change.
    Someone who can love me for me and not just put up with… tthhennn I remind myself that a good marriage is when both parties make each other better. Both parties build each other up and make the other the best they can be. Your not trying to change him your simply trying to make him stronger for himself and for the both of you.

    Hope something in this helps 🙂

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    #120758
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    Galadriel724
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    Post count: 48

    My boyfriend has ADHD, and so do I. Mine is more obvious though, so he has to do a lot more coping in the sense that you do. We are both reading “The ADHD Effect on Marriage” by Melissa Orlov. So far the suggestions seem on target. She seems to have a good understanding of the issues. I recommend it.

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    #120762
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    keepingthefaith
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    Post count: 12

    Thanks! It’s actually a book I own and I’m in the midst of reading it for a 2nd time. Good for you both for reading it together! I’d love for my husband to read it too but he’s not so interested.

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    #120763
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    keepingthefaith
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    Post count: 12

    Takingbacktyler:

    Thanks for the advice. Talking at a time when it’s low stress is definitely important. I have to say some days that’s hard to come by! Thanks for the reminder about not just talking about his issues but also about my own. That makes for a much better conversation about “us” and not just about “him.” I admire your positivity and reflection when being able to “step back” and think about making each other better and that it’s for the good of the relationship as well as the individual. How did you get such a good perspective? What’s your secret? 🙂

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    #120777
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    allan wallace
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    Post count: 478

    Kudos to you ‘Keepingthefaith’ for being so supportive, accepting, and willing to work with him despite his ADHD! Even though he might not be showing it you, or even telling you, but you can be certain of his profound appreciation for all that you’ve done, and all that you are, for those with ADHD are intuitive if nothing else, well I am anyway so I’m presuming that he is too lol….I’m the last person to proffer an opinion on the perfect marriage for my wife and I have been on the crazy roller-coaster of marriage for 16 years, but we’re still married even if our relationship isn’t where it could or should be. Ah well, we all live in hope, and I too hope that one day I can say that my marriage is the best relationship that I’ve ever had before I disappear into the eternal ether… 🙂

    Good luck with everything, and may he have the same zeal to understand ADHD as you! 🙂

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    #120779
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    sdwa
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    Post count: 363

    In my experience it is difficult to find a therapist who is trained to understand ADHD and its effects. It’s absolutely essential to find counseling from someone who really gets it and has experience with it. Organizations like CHADD might be worth looking into.

    I had better luck with a support group attended by others with ADHD than I did with private therapy – it’s important to see what other people are coping with, that we all have the same patterns and struggles (even if as people we are quite different) – it helps overcome that feeling that ADHD is a myth that someone made up to absolve themselves of personal responsibility. It is normalizing and good to have a sense of commonality with others.

    My husband and I have been married for over 20 years. Best thing that ever happened to me. Whatever is strange about me as a person with ADHD, he is fine with it. I am not a problem to be solved. Who I am is OK when I’m with him. Yet even after all this time, I am amazed every day when I wake up and he’s still there.

    I would second the suggestion that the best way to communicate about whatever issues you are having is to own your needs and feelings, and not make them about your husband or what he is doing. That way, he won’t think you are trying to get him to seek help because you secretly wish he were a different person.

    I can certainly understand why he feels “broken” since I feel that way myself – I think it’s actually pretty common for ADHDers. The stigma, and general ignorance, and confusion even for ourselves about what this is or what it means….

    I understand why people quit treatment (if it’s not helping, seek help elsewhere), why sometimes they just want to forget the whole thing. Layers upon layers of feeling weird and different and wrong. After a lifetime of that stuff, no one wants to be made to feel more wrong than they already do. I saw a guy leave an ADHD group because everyone was dumping on him about how he should be on medication – it was so not cool – as if it was his fault that it wasn’t working for him, or that he was somehow willfully not getting with the program and all that fascist non-compliance moralistic crap. Hey, it just wasn’t working for the guy. But no one shut up long enough to find out why.

    Coaching can help because it tends to be much more positive, encouraging, and constructive than therapy – puts the focus on the possible and desirable instead of the impossible and unwanted. If you can afford therapy, consider a coach. A lot of them work long distance, over the phone or Skype.

    A sense of belonging, mastery of a skill set, a peaceful environment, and positive feedback are all helpful.

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    #120788
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    Carry
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    Post count: 119

    How much time has passed since he started the meds? He’s probably going through a lot of things. He’s experiencing a lot of  ‘every day things’ as if he’s experiencing them for the first time. It can be quite overwhelming. He just may need some time before he gets a clear view on the old habits before he can take them on.

    That’s how I’ve experienced it after starting my life of being ‘clear and present’.

    I applaud you for trying to find answers and good luck! He’ll appreciate it. I know I did.

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    #120789
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    ADDled
    Member
    Post count: 121

    keeping the faith,

    Good for you to support him through all this. A supporting, understanding spouse is one of the keys. As someone who discovered I had ADHD later in life maybe I can provide some insight.

    It will take a while to adjust to this. Maybe he is still adjusting? Hopefully soon, he will realize there are still things that need investigating.

    Generally adapting to an ADHD brain style is about “pills and skills”. Therapy and counselling are as important as medication. Maybe the therapist wasn’t the right one and the chemistry wasn’t there.

    In a lot of cases, symptoms of depression and ADHD can overlap making an accurate diagnosis difficult. Usually, psychologists will attempt to to reduce the impact of the most serious condition, then treat other less severe conditions once the major one is under control. And sometimes, an antidepressant such as Wellbutrin can also help to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Maybe increasing the dose of Wellbutrin could help.

    I can’t say for sure, but perhaps the psychologist felt there was enough of an improvement to warrant not pursuing treatment for ADHD at this time. Perhaps a follow-up with the psychologist could identify any outstanding issues? I my case I see the Dr. every three or four months to see if any adjustments are required.

    There are lots of resources here on this website to help the both of you. The videos made by Rick and Patrick , the founders of the website, are good for raising awareness in a fun way.

    Assure him he’s not “broken”: just a different “brain style”.

    Hope this helps…

     

     

     

     

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    #120821
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    keepingthefaith
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    Post count: 12

    Allan:

    Thanks for the encouragement and affirmation. It helps me not feel alone on an island as I sometimes do when there aren’t other people around me that I can talk to about this. This forum is a great way to feel support and to hear other’s voices on the topic. I appreciate it, folks!

     

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    #120822
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    keepingthefaith
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    Post count: 12

    SDWA:

    Thank you for all your insight and suggestions. I will look into CHADD and look for support groups around my area. I appreciate your feedback about focusing on me and how I feel and not about him and what he’s doing. I understand that would be really overwhelming and counterproductive. I have to say that I am also really overwhelmed by it all at times but when I’m feeling more positive, I can step back and think about one thing to try to address at a time and how we can work on it together.

    What have your experiences been with coaching?

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    #120823
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    keepingthefaith
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    Post count: 12

    Carry:

    Thanks for your comments. He’s been on the antidepressant for almost a year now. I couldn’t say it he feels like he is “clear and presesnt.” From an outsider perspective, the med seems to have made his moods more stable. Hopefully that helps him feel “clearer” but I really don’t know. Again, from the outsider perspective, he’s either really overwhelmed by the “old habits” and doesn’t know where to start and/or what to do or is still in somewhat denial….or a combination of the two. ??

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    #120825
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    keepingthefaith
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    Post count: 12

    ADDled:

    Thanks for your comments and advice. The comments about adjusting are probably really accurate and understandably that would take some time. I would be interested in him going for a follow-up with the psych, though I don’t think he is so interested at this point. I wouldn’t mind going myself just to ask questions and learn more information to see what I can do to be more helpful but I’m not sure if he’d be into me doing that, either!

    As for meds… the psychologist can’t prescribe and that is left to the general physician (who in our case/my opinion doesn’t have a great understanding about ADHD, especially adult ADHD) On “check-ins” with his general doc about the antidepressants, I’m guessing that my husband and my perceptions of how things are working would be quite different.

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    #120830
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    Carry
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    Post count: 119

    I misread your original post about the medication. I assumed he was also on a stimulant. Those would bring the clarity (of the mind, not so much the moods), if they work out. But I read from your post that he is overwhelmed still. I’ve been using methylphenidate for almost two years (educated guess) and I’m still learning new stuff about the old me!  I have no experience with antidepressants, so I don’t know whether they help to clear the mind.

    Getting well informed is a good path. Even if he decides against a treatment or a med, at least try and make sure it’s decided with the right information at hand!

    Keeping the faith is an excellent name and a well appreciated way to go about it! Supportive people by our sides make a huge difference!

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    #120831
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    Patte Rosebank
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    Post count: 1517

    @keepingthefaith, you’re definitely on the right track in reading Melissa Orlov’s book.

    You and your husband may also find some of the videos in the Shop (http://totallyaddshop.com/collections/videos) helpful.  The “Comprehensive Guide” and “ADD…and Loving It?” have segments in which Patrick & Janis McKenna talk about their marriage.  He has ADHD; she doesn’t…and they do love it.  It’s really inspiring!

    _________________________

    As you and your husband try ADHD Coaching, you’ll find several differences between it and Psychology/Psychiatry.  Ideally, you need both, but they each take different approaches.

    Psychology/Psychiatry is based on the medical model:  “There is something wrong with you, which must be fixed.”  Hence your husband’s feelings of being “broken”.

    ADHD Coaching is based on the model of:  “ADHD is a different brain wiring, which is a paradox of incredible strengths and incredible weaknesses.  You’re not broken, just different.  Like being left-handed.”

    And that really is true.  Most people’s brains are driven by what’s important.  The ADHD brain is driven by what’s interesting.  If something’s interesting to us, we thrive on it.  If it isn’t interesting to us, we struggle to do it.  So, maybe it would be more accurate to call it “IDB (Interest-Driven Brain)” instead.

    Unfortunately, many people still think of ADHD as an “excuse for personal moral failure”, like the person is just choosing to be “difficult”.  That attitude is right out of the Victorian cautionary tales of Heinrich Hoffmann (“Struwwelpeter”, which contains “Fidgety Philip” and “Little Head-in-Air”) and Mrs. Turner.  And it’s just as old-fashioned.

    _________________________

    Another key difference is that treating ADHD is a highly specialized field, because the techniques that work on non-ADDers do NOT work for ADDers.

    This is because most general coaching & counselling focusses on the client’s weaknesses and “personality flaws” and the need to change them.  If that worked, then we’d have become fully-functioning, perfectly punctual and tidy people YEARS ago, because we ruminate on our weaknesses a lot!

    _________________________

    Another difference is that we learn best when we study in short spurts, instead of trying to force ourselves to concentrate for an hour or more at a time.  The same applies to other boring tasks, like housework or tackling the bills.  But that’s so counter-intuitive, that it’s dismissed as yet another example of our supposed “laziness & distraction”!

    An ADHD Coach will help you and your husband to focus on his strengths, and the situations where they helped him to succeed.  Then, you can all work together to figure out how they worked then, and how to apply them to the things he’s struggling with now.

    It’s not a case of not being able to do something; it’s just having to find a different way to do it.  And learning to laugh about the inevitable bumps in the road…if not at the time, then afterwards.

    There’s hope!

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