ADHD Roller Coaster: "Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?"
News and Essays about Adult ADHD, with author Gina Pera
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Norm on June 19, 2009 at 2:04 pm
I am a diagnosed with ADHD. I have accepted the diagnosis only after realizing that focusing on myself and exercise is not the only answer. True it took me 50 years to discover this, I feel the combination of my medication, exercise, and focusing has proven to be successful. At least in my mind. From the first day I took medication, I realized how effective the results could be. Upon my first dosage,
I was accused of being hyper, loud, entertaining, and yet, disorganized and easily distracted. Since the drugs, I hear myself, and have just as much sensitivity to my own vollume. I am now more aware of my ranting. A good arguement was like food for me. Now, I don’t have to be in the ring with every discussion, and I can focus on a discussion that I am engaged in.
With all my celebration, I have never been more ostracized and condemned by my wife. I can’t celebrate because my wife is obsessed with blaming me for a failed marriage. Sometimes I think that while I was not being treated, her obsessions were much more tolerable and I was able to deal with them.
My wife has lots of support from your website and classes. Theres a lot of sympathy to the wives out there.
I am the happy owner of a company that has been in business for 30 years. My employees tend to stick with me and like me. I have never had a moving violation nor an accident. I never, never swear. Don’t smoke, don’t drink, never eat sugar, and no drugs. Just the opposite of my wife.
Sorry ladies, not all the stories are what they seem. I think you have to let yourself take some responsibility for your life, and stop blaming your partner on your unhappiness. We are not all the abusers. We do heal. We do make ammends.
My psychiatrist and therapist do agree that my therapy is not only working, but is a success story.
I am celebrating in my heart. Too bad no ones there to toast with me……..
Robert on November 24, 2009 at 6:45 pm
So many lovely stories of how it should work. I am 3 years out of a 17 year marriage. Seldom touched here is the combination of ADD & BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) in women. Not a roller coaster, more like the house of horror. Rather than investigate (or fess up, she knew) her own problems when I insisted on diagnostics for our son.. my wife opted for a high conflict divorce.
I have read so many nice stories but no longer believe. My son’s therapist verifies a 70%+ divorce rate & 80% high conflict situation. The meshing of the affected women with the children only creates problems for the kids & guarantees another generational repeat performance. I hate ADD && what it has done to me & my family.
Gina Pera on November 24, 2009 at 9:43 pm
I’m so sorry to hear of your situation. Unfortunately, your story is not the first I’ve heard along these lines.
ADHD is all over the map when it comes to severity of symptoms. But when it’s particularly severe or when it’s complicated by co-existing conditions such as borderline personality disorder, it can sometimes prove irrevocably devastating to the partner, the children, and of course, ultimately, to the person who has it. The best you can do is protect yourself and your children — not always easily done when family-court professionals don’t understand the dynamics at work.
You’re right. ADHD + Borderline Personality Disorder is an important angle, but unfortunately there is little research in this area that I could draw upon.
I recently attended the American Psychiatric Conference in San Francisco, where I was shocked to see an entire program devoid of lectures on ADHD but plenty on Borderline Personality Disorder — all completely missing the connection to ADHD. When that is missed, so are the opportunities for effective treatment. And that is just one more weak link in our dysfunctional mental healthcare system.
All I can offer readers is a forum and an opportunity to share your story. If you’d like to write up your experience — changing identifying details, of course — I’ll be glad to post it. It might help someone else come out of the fog.
Naomi on February 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm
A happy ending would be wonderful, but I have little hope. Twenty-five years ago, when I married my kind, attentive, brilliant computer analyst husband, I was healthy, a successful teacher and writer, had many friends and enjoyed nothing more than being with them and with my family. My husband was diagnosed with ADHD in the early 90s, and at the risk of sounding like a martyr, I did all I could to understand, support, acknowledge, accommodate, and love him. Today I am broken down to the point I no longer recognize myself. My physical and emotional health are destroyed, unable to work, penniless, and now dealing with the discovery of years of hidden pornography in my husband’s life. I have nowhere to go and I can’t support myself. And I promised our only child over the years that her dad and I would always be together. All I want to do now is find some way to save myself. Quite frankly, I don’t know how. We’ve been to therapy for decades, separately and individually, lost a modest home that was my rural haven, been through two bankruptcies, me sleeping in a car in the dead of winter while he was working in another state with a warm place to and my husband through ten jobs in twelve years. I wanted to believe it was the economy, and that was part of it. I wanted to believe him when he told me the first time I found the porn (while I was recovering from a hysterectomy) that it was a one time deal. I just found it again, on the tablet I bought him last year to help him with time management and to enjoy books without the clutter that made it hard for him to manage. “I don’t know how it got on there.” Always with the lies, the cover-ups. I know now he never stopped with the porn.
The worst part? He IS very smart, a good father, kind (most of the time) – the guy everyone thinks is a model Christian. Because my health is shot, it’s all I can do to crawl out the door to church, or to get together with a friend for coffee. People see me as the unreasonable, cranky, nagging, always-sick wife. I keep my mouth shut when those same people tell me I should get out more, that being isolated isn’t good for me, etc. Why? Because I don’t want to run him down to them or to our daughter. I suffer from high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, insomnia, and overwhelmingly chronic fatigue. I was so proud of myself for getting out when we finally had a functioning car, but discovered that our daughter and I had been driving around in an unregistered car. He forgot to pay for the tags. And he forgot to tell me he forgot. (I have tickets on my record from this happening in the past.) I had to cancel my therapy that I desperately need to access before his current contract job ends next month, but I had to cancel it because I couldn’t pay both the therapist and the taxi driver .)
I have endured one stint two years ago in a psychiatric unit because of suicidal thoughts from all the stress. The doctors and every therapist I’ve seen tell me not to enable, to do things myself or pay to have them done in lieu of nagging and reminding. But you have to have money to do that. I was on my way just a little until my husband caused a $700 overdraft on the household account, which I manage. It never changes. And it never gets better.
I don’t know what to do anymore. And I have nowhere to go. Believe it or not, I still do love him. I love him very much. But living like this is killing me.
Gina Pera on February 12, 2013 at 6:59 pm
Naomi, Bless your heart. Yours is a heartbreaking story. I am so sorry to read it.
As much as we love someone, we must save ourselves. “Understanding” a partner’s ADHD does not mean letting it run us into the ground.
It seems evident from the details you relate that a “happy ending” is not going to suddenly happen on its own. For you personally or your marriage. Right now, I’d focus on saving you.
Perhaps you have places to go but you don’t realize where they are. No old friends? No family members? Perhaps even a women’s shelter where you could get some rest and some support in re-building your life. If you are severely depressed, you might not be seeing options. I hope you will seek a mental healthcare provide who can help you.
You don’t have to end the marriage or say good-bye permanently. Perhaps that’s too big a leap for you now. But you could look at it as a self-care separation.
Please take care of yourself, because it sounds like no one else will step in to do that.
Naomi on February 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm
I apologize for the typos. Please feel free to fix my broken sentences. Irony.
Michelle Carpenter on August 2, 2012 at 10:33 am
Q: Can you recommend some adult ADHD specialists in the Chicago area? Would you recommend a psychologist or a psychiatrist for the initial evaluation? And which for treatment?
I am confident that my 47yr old significant other has adult ADHD. If it remains undiagnosed & untreated, I will surely leave him because his symptoms are wreaking havoc in my life, and we aren’t even married yet. Of course, he does not think he has a problem. However, he has agreed to go with me for a professional evaluation, although he is completely closed to the idea of medication.
I read your book. Thank you so much for all of the insight. He is an otherwise good man, but his symptoms are completely exhausting me & making me afraid to marry him for fear that his untreated symptoms will only result in our divorce. He’s been married twice. He still thinks it was their fault. He is completely blind to the negative ways that his probable ADHD has played out in his life.
Gina Pera on August 2, 2012 at 12:04 pm
I responded to your query via e-mail.
Robin on October 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm
As a woman with ADHD, I promise to never or have children. No one deserves the pain we inflict.
Gina Pera on November 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm
Robin, Many people with ADHD do well in their relationships, romantic and parental. It just depends on the individual.
And many find that, with treatment and strategies, they actually can have the relationships they desire, including with children.
Personally, I enjoy other people’s children the best!
Shannon on February 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm
I live in Central California and have been given a precription for generic Concerta. I have taken the name brand several years ago but insurance does not cover the cost since I was over age 18 and it was just too expensive. Can anyone suggest who has the best prices in California for the generic concerta since I will be paying for this out of pocket.
Thanks for your help
Gina Pera on February 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm
It’s hard to say. Probably depends on your locality. Did you check Costco?
Tony on February 22, 2013 at 1:31 am
I am in my fifties and am just now coming to the conclusion that I may have adult ADHD. My wife (in a canary in the coal mine moment) has told me that she just can’t take it anymore. If I can’t make some changes, she can’t stay. I need help. Do you have any contacts/colleagues in the Seattle area that are adult ADHD specialist psychiatrists that you would recommend? I have Blue Cross insurance but their website has not been helpful in helping me locate that awesome and understanding knowledgeable doc I need to see. I see myself in a lot of places in your book. Thanks for writing it and thanks for your help if you can.
Gina Pera on February 22, 2013 at 9:50 am
I’ll send an e-mail to you.
Olivia on March 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm
I have noticed many people with ADHD (including a close friend of mine) seem to be constant workaholics, with the result that they become overextended, irrirable, anxious, and somewhat withdrawn. Why is this the case, especially since it causes such discomfort, including making relationships difficult?
Olivia on March 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm
I have noticed many people with ADHD (including a close friend of mine) seem to be workaholics and overextend themselves, resulting in irritability, anxiety, and being somewhat withdrawn. Why is this the case, especially when it causes such discomfort, especially with relationships?
Gina Pera on March 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm
Yes, that is often true: People with ADHD can tend to be workaholics. The reasons are many and often run along the same lines as for everyone else with workaholics. As I always say, ADHD can be called “Extreme Human Syndrome.”
For example, they might be less efficient on the job, causing them to work later in order to get everything done. Or they might have trouble transitioning from work to home and back again — so it’s easier to stay in work mode.
In many ways, it’s another example of the difficulties around self-regulation — regulating one’s time, focus, and energies.
Kari on March 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm
Do you know of anyone who treats ADHD in adults in the Albany area? I need someone for my husband to see. He has been diagnosed. I am at the point of not being able to take it anymore. He is on Adderall but we still fight constantly. I also need support for myself. Some therapists think it is normal couple stuff or make suggesstions that are not reasonable for my husband to stick to. Thanks
Gina Pera on March 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm
I am working right now on a professional guide for couples therapist treating ADHD. (I was asked to write this book by a major professional publisher.) It is very hard to find the right expertise.
Adderall might be part of the problem. I offer telephone consultations, which typically prove more cost-effective than therapy — and identify the main issues more quickly, too. You can write to me Gina@GinaPera.com
Amy on March 25, 2013 at 6:46 pm
My husband of 17 years received his ADHD diagnosis approximately 3 years ago. His use of the prescribed medication is irregular and he has no relationship with his prescribing physician, so the effectiveness isn’t monitored.
My husband hasn’t worked in 13 years and, due to my “frog in the pot syndrome” and my “enabling”, he has evolved into an extremely low functioning person. He has alcoholic tendencies and anger management issues — both common “side affects” of his ADHD, apparently.
Last month, a benign conversation triggered an angry outburst in which my husband became physically threatening to me. He pinned me up against the kitchen sink, screamed and spittled with fury while he shook a finger in my face. These physically threatening outbursts are not common; they occur perhaps twice a year and have occured for nearly 20 year. The tragedy is that, for the first time, his rage toward me was witnessed by my daughters (aged 14 and 11).
This was the “most current” last straw and I asked my husband to choose to (1) commit to immediate treatment for his ADHD (and related anger management issues) or to (2) end our relationship with divorce.
As in the past, my husband took no action for 4 weeks, so I retained a divorce attorney and declared my wish to separate. This action served as a catalyst for my husband to seek out and meet a very qualified therapist. Of all the questions I have, my question today is this: How do I support my husband’s efforts to seek treatment AND convince him that a separation is essential at this time. He seems to think that seeking treatment should be a great enough indication of his good intentions, though his track record suggests otherwise — he has abandoned three attempts at therapy with three different therapists in the last three years. Also, because he is so low functioning and unpredictable, I concerned about a “nesting” separation arrangement where one parent spends time with the kids at our home, while the other stays in a rented apartment. If my husband’s new doctor will be working on a medication regime, I am concerned about the unpredictability of his behavior during this time. Perhaps too complicated for a post…but I thought I’d try.
Gina Pera on March 25, 2013 at 7:13 pm
I appreciate the difficulty of your situation.
If you read my book (and I do recommend it), you know that the ADHD partner taking no action toward treatment is not unusual. Treatment often happens when the partner of that adult makes the appointment, etc. Better treatment outcomes also seem to result when there is a team effort. Left to the adult with ADHD, some will put it off until the roof caves in (that is, divorce is eminent).
Perhaps your husband didn’t find the therapy helpful; so much of the therapy offered to adults with ADHD is not. Then again, it’s important to remember that the very qualities required to find and follow through with treatment are often the very deficits that need treating. A real chicken-and-egg situation, if ever there was one.
As for how to support your husband’s efforts while you are separated, well, that is a good question. That sounds a bit like trying to take a shower with your clothes on. I mean, it could be much harder trying it that way, in contrast to you two continuing to cohabitate.
I do encourage you to read my book and make your decision based on how what you read applies to your situation.
Tina on April 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm
My husband and I have been married 22 years. His ADD wasn’t diagnosed until about 6 years ago, after we started counseling subsequent to his being with my 4 year old son and sending son out into a busy street to get a ball; son was hit by a car and hospitalized for a month (and has made a full recovery). Then husband was laid off from his job (he’s a civil engineer), got another job 6 mos. later, but was laid off again 3 years ago. While he was working, he moved out. Then his $$ ran out and he came back 18 mos. ago. He tries to say he can’t work due to health and ADD issues, but when he gets involved in a job, he’s able to do it full speed ahead.
He quit the original counselor after 2 years (his reason: i wasn’t being “fixed”); we found another counselor 3 years ago, but he quit last May (I wasn’t being fixed again; focus was turning to him). He sees a counselor for what he sees as his “issues”: depression, anxiety, etc. I am currently seeing a therapist as well. He is trying to make a case that I have Borderline Personality Disorder (my therapist laughs). But neither therapist has ADD background, and I think that’s a big mistake.
Financially, things are going downhill rapidly; we have 2 kids, the first of whom will start college in 3 years. He says I make enough $$ for both of us. I do make a great living, but we’re going backwards each month with almost no financial contribution from him.
I live in the Central San Joaquin Valley. Can you recommend a therapist or a different direction to take here?
Gina Pera on April 22, 2013 at 7:04 pm
First, I’m glad your child is okay. This afternoon, I am editing a chapter in a clinical guide for couples therapist, the chapter on co-parenting. And that is a very real risk with untreated ADHD. A well-intentioned parent can truly endanger a child.
Second, it is hard for me to recommend a different direction to take, when I’m not quite clear the direction that’s been taken. You don’t mention medication.
Third, if the “direction was turning to him” in therapy and he didn’t like it, he might have had good reason. Therapists who don’t understand ADHD and thus don’t target meaningful strategies can feel, to the person with ADHD, as less than useless. They can feel abusive, in the sense the therapists simply are not understanding the nature of the problem.
Fourth, if you haven’t read my book, I recommend that you do that. Then, if you have questions or would like for me to help assess the next step, I offer private consultations. This page explains how it works: http://adhdrollercoaster.com/private-consultations-with-gina/
I don’t know of any therapists who specialize in ADHD, in your area. Even if I did, though, I would still recommend that you read my book first — it is vital to be an informed client before you even begin to interview a therapist for ADHD.
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