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Archive for September 18th, 2011

Channel surfing again. It’s late. My husband is sleeping and the only light in the bedroom is the flicker that comes from the tv as I change the channel every few seconds. I set the remote down when I come to the PBS station. A couple is being interviewed. The title of the segment, “ADD and Loving It.” I listen as they talk about their marriage and the dynamics of their relationship. It sounds very much like my marriage, but instead of speaking with despair, the wife seems to be light-hearted about the challenges of their life together.

How can she do that?” I wonder. But it is only a passing thought, since I am “working on me” these days, and trying to understand my husband’s behavior or resolving my marital issues have not been a priority.

A few weeks pass . . . I am “blog surfing” and this catches my attention:

” . . . For the past three years, my online exchanges with hundreds of partners to people with undiagnosed or untreated ADHD tell me this: They desperately love their partners, and yet they’re desperately hurting and confused. They need help . . . They didn’t know ADHD had anything to do with their partner’s rage, compulsive spending, and difficulty being a parent. Many live with partners in complete denial, refusing to even hear of ADHD. It’s not that the non-ADHD partners consider themselves paragons of mental-health virtue. They represent a spectrum of personalities, behaviors, intelligences, and neuroses — as their ADHD partners do, too. Most of them want to grow, change, expand, and meet their ADHD mates halfway or more.

Yet, when their partner’s untreated ADHD creates chaos at every turn . . . They’re left unable to act, only react — sometimes until they reach “meltdown.” Even the most formerly confident among them start to believe their partner’s accusations that their partnership woes are entirely their fault . . . On top of that, they are often dealing with financial difficulties, performing most of the household chores, and often working a full-time job.

For the most part, it’s not the little ADHD’ish things that wear them down. They can live with those (mostly) once they understand their underpinnings, and they can work together on solutions. Rather, it’s the big, teeth-rattling things that send them seeking support . . .The following list of most-problematic “hot spots” – again, primarily found among those refusing diagnosis and treatment — is not for the faint of heart . . .

Financial: They wrestle with their partners’ secret (and not so secret) debts, impulsive spending . . . Mention E-bay to them at your own risk; their closets (and garages) are filled with their partner’s impulsive and expensive online purchases . . .

Children: An often-heard phrase is “We feel like single parents.” . . . They have to act as referee between their children and partner . . .

Support: Not much. Their families often see the charming “social” side of their partners and think they’re exaggerating. Their closest friends commiserate but can’t help them, other than to say “get out!” Their in-laws often are wrapped up in their own undiagnosed sagas, decades in the making. Much of the public, including the family doctor or their therapist, relegate adult ADHD to tooth-fairy status: They don’t believe in it . . .

Self-Esteem: When they are consistently not valued or “seen,” they slowly become invisible. Even to themselves. They’re blamed for the sky being blue . . .

Provocation to anger: They hate themselves when their anger overwhelms them – it’s a new behavior for most of them — and they hate that their partner keeps provoking them. They are bone-tired of fighting.

Getting Help: Many place trust in doctors and psychologists only to find their problems worsen due to their ignorance about ADHD. While their ADHD partners can conveniently forget the trauma that’s transpired or place the blame at their feet – they are so traumatized, confused and depressed that, to the untrained eye, they often look like the cause of the relationship woes.

It often takes from 5 to 30 years before they gain a clue their partner’s behavior comes with a name – and hope for change. But by that time, much damage has been done . . .” (G. Pera)

Wow. This really resonated with me. Could it be possible I am married to a man with ADD? No . . . Not ready for that question or answer. Still “working on me” . . .

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