Welcome back to the “You, Me, and ADHD” discussion group —based on my first book, Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?
Here, Taylor shares her insights about Chapter 10, the third chapter in the book’s section that examines poorly managed ADHD’s effect on the loved ones. This was the first in-depth examination of this topic anywhere.
This chapter describes what I call the ADHD Relationship Roller Coaster’s Third Plunge. It’s where you breakdown—from exhaustion. Or where you breakthrough—to clarity.
I Had Dreams — What Happened?
By Taylor J.
I shut the bathroom door, sat on the floor, and sobbed. I’d just watched a mouse saunter through my disgusting kitchen. It didn’t even feel the need to run. Why should it? This well-trod path had a long history of bestowing tasty treats. No doubt the supply would remain plentiful.
I was a horrible, horrible housekeeper.
What happened to my dreams of being a writer, of being a musician? Here I was a work-at-home mom with two children, ages 3 years and 6 months.
How did this happen?
I’d met the man of my dreams, and thanks to several birth-control failures, we’d stumbled into parenthood. I’d tried keeping us afloat with various jobs while my husband finished graduate school. I had put my dreams on hold.
Our oldest daughter was defiant and explosive. Our youngest never slept.
With everything I was juggling, I could not write. Nor could I make music. Obviously, I was not a very good parent. I could not even keep my house clean. Everywhere I turned, I was failing.
“Why? Why? Why?”
Sobbing on the floor, I cried out to God. “Why? Why can my friend with an autistic son keep a spotless, while I struggle to wash the dishes? Why do our friends have stable jobs, while I struggle to balance our budget? Why can I never sleep? Why am I a horrible parent? And why is my house so filthy?”
Call me crazy if you like, but I’m one of those people who believe that, when we ask God a question, we can actually receive an answer. In the depths of my heart, I felt God respond to me, “Whose house do you feel the most comfortable in? Which friend has a home where you feel the most accepted?”
That question was so unexpected that I stopped crying long enough to consider it. Well…that was easy. It was my friend and neighbor, Amy. She had two kids and a husband and a whole gaggle full of roommates, and her house was clean only when everyone was asleep. Just like my house.
We both worked so hard, usually with a baby on our hip, just to make it through each day. Sometimes we’d swap kids—to catch a breath, or a nap, or get a project finished. “But Lord,” I said aloud, “Amy and her husband both have ADHD, so I don’t think it’s a fair comparison.”
Deep in my heart, all I heard was silence.
And more silence.
“Wait a minute.”
Could I have ADHD too? Was it a possibility?
ADHD is a Joke, Right?
Sure, it was a running joke among my friends. I’m the hyper one. The impulsive one. The one who always says exactly what she’s thinking. I remembered a counselor once saying, “Well, you have this ADHD thing going on, and your husband has this math genius thing going on…”
Was she diagnosing me? I thought, as with my friends, she’d made a joke. I mean…ADHD is a joke, right?
I flung open the bathroom door, and called to my children: “Hey guys, we’re going to the library!”
I’d taken the Internet out of my house, because it was too distracting. So, I dressed the baby, carted the kids to the library, and came home with every book available on Adult ADHD. (Reading only one book would have been too “neurotypical” of me!)
I then spent the rest of the day crying, as I read what felt like my life story in one book after another.
“Working Twice As Hard—For Half the Results”
I read how a person with undiagnosed ADHD can work twice as hard—and achieve half of the results. How we can flit from one job to the next or hyper-focus on work while the house burns down around us. Worst of all, how we always, always, feel like we’re failing, because we can’t put a name on what’s happening, other than “lazy, stupid, or crazy.”
Diagnosis followed in short order. Unfortunately, I had to wait until my daughter was through breastfeeding before I could try medication. It was another three months.
My husband would later say, “Watching her get medication was like watching someone put glasses on for the first time, and realizing that trees have individual leaves.”
Again, our lives eerily dovetail the experiences detailed in, Is it You, Me, Or Adult A.D.D.? The catalyst for my diagnosis was a breakdown. Yet, it was also a breakthrough, because I was finally able to see my life and my circumstances accurately—and take action to change them.
Chapter 10 marks the third “plunge” on the ADHD Roller Coaster. The first plunge, remember, is “Explaining the Inexplicable.” The second plunge, “Managing the Unmanageable.” The longer you attempt to cope with ADHD—your partner’s or your own—without knowing exactly what you’re dealing with, the more exhausted and de-moralized you can become. No matter how hard you try, things don’t get better.
Finally—The Breakthrough to Truth
Chapter 10 describes the sadness, the loss of one’s sense of self, the sleeplessness, the heartbreak, and the feeling of utter neglect by one’s ADHD partner, all of which can contribute to a breakdown into illness—or a breakthrough into truth.
It is the darkest time, just before the dawn. Whether it is you or your partner who has ADHD, this “third plunge of the ADHD Roller Coaster” marks the intensified efforts to cope with an unseen force.
Right now, I sit at a (mostly) clean desk, and I can see my kitchen floor. There are no crumbs. There are certainly no mice. Yes, there are dishes to be done. Yes, we still have problems. Yes, I would still say that I’m not the world’s best housekeeper.
Yet, I am writing. I’m about to go work on some songs for a showcase. My kids are doing well in school. Heck, I’m enjoying my kids. After so long on the ADHD roller coaster, my marriage is stabilizing. And, my friend Amy and I joined Gina’s ADHD free online support group for the partners of adults with ADHD.
There are answers. There are ways to improve your situation. If you keep asking, seeking, and knocking, I truly believe you’ll find them.
For Chapter 10’s discussion:
- Did you develop any symptoms as you tried coping with your daily struggles? Sleeplessness, migraines, ulcers, and depression are just a sampling of what’s mentioned in the book.
- Did you experience emotional fallout? Depression, loneliness, “ADD-by-Osmosis” and strong feelings of unworthiness were all common among the partners of adults with ADHD
Next in Chapter 11:
We enter the third major section of the book: The Success Strategies. The first item of business: Self-Care Strategies for Right Now
The Book Club is Always Open!
We welcome your comments.
— Gina Pera