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    How I explained ADHD tardiness to my angry wife
    ChristophorM posted:
    The back story here is my wife and I had been in a "discussion" for about a week. It was pretty intense. She was upset that I got home over an hour late and forgot to call when she'd been expecting me right after work. The family waited on me to eat dinner and so on. So I felt pretty guilty too. The problem is that she just kept on about it. I tried to explain that I don't experience time the same way she does. I can get so focused that the house could burn down around me and I'd ignore it. She KNOWS that's how I am. She knows it but she doesn't really feel it. She acts like ADHD is one of those things you can just conquer with willpower. She said some things that reminded me of school and the way things used to be and it struck a nerve. I went into full on jerk mode. I remembered my therapy. I took a deep breath and told her that I was too upset to be coherent and I'd need some time to cool off, could she please just leave me a lone while I collect myself. She did for about 3 minutes. Then started in on me again. This went on for nearly a week. I was ready to leave her.

    Then, inspired by the X-Men movie we'd just seen, an idea hit me. We ADHD people are kind of like X-Men "mutants" we have traits that make us a little different. Like the X-Men, we just want to be accepted and appreciated. That gave me an idea of how to talk about it so it doesn't sound like an excuse.

    Here's the tip:
    I had her take off her glasses and try to read a sign. She couldn't see it well enough without her glasses. Then I told her to concentrate harder and see if it made a difference. It didn't. I told her she wasn't trying hard enough. She could really do it if she had enough willpower. I told her to "will" her eyes to focus better or her brain to compensate for the fuzzy image. After a few minutes, she finally just said, "Stop it. That's not something I can do."

    Then I asked her whats the difference between her vision and my ADHD? She didn't buy it at first. Then I said, well, try it with something else. Will yourself to speak a different language or fly or change your hair just by thinking it. I know it sounds like I'm being a jerk, but I was very polite. It got her thinking about it. Eventually she conceded up to a point. She agreed that willpower wasn't enough, then she advised me to "set little goals." I said, what like you trying to learn how to see the letter "J" without your glasses? I set goals, I just forget about them.

    The next day, she was sitting across the room without her glasses. I held up a kitchen gadget and asked her what it was. She said she couldn't see it. I started again. Will yourself to see it. She wasn't having it. She said it wouldn't work. So I said, "What if I talk about it and remind you constantly to try harder to see it A LOT? Would that help you see it better?"

    She stared at me for a minute and said "Touche'. I get it now." She agreed to back off and let stuff go. I agreed to try to call if I'm going to be late, but I warned her. My brain won't change. This is how I am. She's going to have to accept it and let the bad stuff go and not take it personal. Even with meds, living with ADHD is tricky. It always will be.

    She's been a lot nicer since then. She backs off when I do that Therapy trick and tell her exactly how I'm feeling in plain language. So she knows to give me some space when I need it.

    I posted this because I thought it might help someone re-think the way they deal with their loved ones with or without ADHD. The main goal is clear communication and being willing to listen to each other. It's easy to let things build up until they become a barrier the longer you know someone. That's when it pays to lighten up and be friends.

    Good luck.

    Was this Helpful?
    32 of 34 found this helpful
    AngieChicago responded:
    Good for you! Good thinking. I am always amazed at people who think that taking prescribed medication is bad regardless of the issue. Here's my argument:

    Cars vs People. Cars are stronger right? People are weaker? So, we regulary put nice, clean oil in our engine. But, it gets dirty, wears out, fails to work properly over time. So we need to put new oil in the engine. Gas, too. I spend a lot of $ to put gas in my car. What the heck? I have to do that again?

    Our brains are like that. We may have good chemicals in our brain when we are born, but over time they wear out. Some people have this problem more than others. Some chemicals more than others. NOTHING in the world doesn't wear out.

    If you know what helps you remember how to do your job, like $ for example, maybe you can set up a similar reward system to help you with other challenges. Certainly, having an understanding and compassionate wife with whom you enjoy spending time, should encourage you to remember to keep her informed. It's a goal anyway. Good luck.
    latpinkkid94 responded:
    I think and am pretty sure, that i may have some symptoms of add & adhd, but my parents dont believe me, and dont know where to start...but reading some of your lifestory and the adhd/add section of webmd, has helped me notice very obvious things that ive noticed about those that are very relatable to my own life, even from at least mid-childhood (mid- elementary school), i am very easily distracted, and i have one class where i need to listen to music, because half the kids in that class have adhd, therefore making it very hard for ME to concentrate on my own stuff. During my 7th grade year, i had this trial for this adhd/add medication, but nobody noticed anything different or the same so i was taken off of the trial, but lately over the last few years..well EVER...that im very disorganized, my bedrooms always a mess, etc etc. im not sure what to do, my mom doesnt think i have anxiety OR add OR adhd, however i do believe i have a merge of both of those (add/adhd), and i am, too impulsive- it sucks! though, like yourself, i do make my parents and friends laugh, LOL!

    but my parents have the mindset, like "oh you dont have that, or that. what difference would it make if you knew? we love you anyways, blah blah blah!" ...I just know that SOMETHING is different from me compared to my general ed. classmates in my general ed classes- and yes- i also am in my school's IEP program, its kinda depressing. speaking of depressing- i have depression, i was diagnosed in 2009, pretty much the beginning of my sophomore year. If you could give me some sort of advice to get started in getting the right add/adhd treatment or something? that would be awesome
    mancyjane replied to latpinkkid94's response:
    There is an online screening test you can take, either on or at the following link:

    Print this out and answer the questions honestly, then show it to your parents if it indicates that you may have AD/HD. This is exactly what I did - I filled it out, saw that the probability was high that I had it, and I made an appointment with a psychiatrist (though you can go through your family doctor first if you prefer).

    Something you may want to explain to your parents: Just having a diagnosis makes a huge difference. Even if it turns out that medication isn't right for you, there are still literally hundreds of websites where you can find help, acceptance, and a sense of community.

    Good luck!
    ChristophorM replied to latpinkkid94's response:
    Would you go to your mechanic and ask them for a medical diagnosis? Probably not. That's not really their job is it?

    Unless your parents are Psychiatrists, they probably aren't qualified to make a medical diagnosis like that. The human brain and mind are very complex systems. Even experienced doctors may take some time to even get close to what's really going on in our heads.

    At 37 years old I was diagnosed with ADHD and later OCD/Anxiety. It took my doctor about 6 months to decide if I was Bipolar or not. Bipolar is so similar to ADHD / OCD that I take the same medicine I'd probably be taking if I did have Bipolar Disorder. My brother has ADHD and Bipolar. The biggest difference between the two of us is he has wild mood swings and violent tendencies. I don't get violent. Just loud and obnoxious.

    My advise is to find a psychiatrist. Have them diagnose your symptoms. You might get a second opinion just in case. Then instead of having your parents tell you whats not wrong, you can present your case from a much stronger position. If the doctor decides you need treatment or therapy. you can ask for ways to include your parents so they can learn about how your brain works and what they can do to help you fit in better. You may not need anything at all or maybe it's not permanent. If its a stress reaction or something like that, you might fight it by removing the stress. The main thing is NOT to go into it with the attitude that you already know your own diagnosis. Listen to the doctor. Answer the questions she asks without trying to figure out where they're going with it. Lots of times they ask some questions to rule out something else. You want to avoid trying to steer the conversation in any particular direction. Let the doc do her job. Be open and honest and don't hide anything that might be relevant. Otherwise it will just take longer to find the right treatment.

    Once you know for sure what the problem is, you can begin to address how to approach your family about it in a productive way.

    I hope this helps. Good luck!
    fwmom responded:
    ChristophorM....I am recently receiving the emails with the information that have been posted to the site and I just read your post. Thanks so much for doing it! I perfectly understand your wife because I am the wife that also wears eyeglasses, don't have ADD, reacts in the same way AND have been upset several times because my husband has also forgotten to make a quick call to let me know that he is going to be late. Even though, I have learned more about the ADD through books, articles, etc. (since he was recently diagnosed with it), it's still hard for me to apply the "knowledge" when I am upset. Your example was great and I have printed the information to remind myself how he feels. Hopefully, it will help my marriage too!
    yunli responded:
    Hi Chris,
    I like the story about your wife trying to see without her glasses. Thank you for sharing.

    My son is in middle school, a very bright, extremely kind and fun kid. However, he is not "fitting" in, and I feel hurt seeing him struggle to fit in, but he can not. His brain works differently. I am sure he will be great as he is older, but he can not know that at this time. I am very worried about the process (of growing up) in the environment that he does not feel fit in will hurt his self esteem. What do I do? Is there a community that helps young kids to thrive regardless the differences, in this case, ADHD? I think kids like this need a mentor, such as yourself, to tell them that they are OK, and much more than OK. Thank you.
    zoeymou responded:
    This is exactly what I have been looking for...trying to come up with a way to explain my tardiness without making ADHD sound like an excuse. My husband doesn't get it, yet. He is very intelligent, but often tells me: "Not to accept mediocrity." Grrr!!! So, thank you.
    TNJ2112K responded:
    thanks for the awesome advice on how to handle those type of situations that have been my wifes biggest complaints to me for not communicating a closer time frame. im sending this to her know cause we have had some issues lately and even ur way of handling getting ur self in better control by slowing ur mind down and then confront. ex. im no morning person at all and she is bouncing in mornings an hour before i even get up for work and i have to tell her im no am person,no excusses, but i dont keep myself in calm collective reasoning @ 6am and let me get up and shake my cob webs out and eat then lets talk. She dont comprehand that still and i understand her frustration but if i cant be collective and reasoning then the issue want even get resolve at all and cause a long day of both of us ill. thanks, and always post example u have that seem to work cause it helps us explain in a rational way what we got to deal with.
    sullygrl99 responded:
    I think it's a great way of explaining it. That being said, your wife DOES wear her glasses when she needs to see, do you always take your medication/see a specialist for therapies designed to help you deal with your ADHD symptoms?

    A good book for your wife might be "The ADHD Effect on Marriage" It really explains the relationship issues around ADHD and how the non-ADHD spouse reacts, personalizes the ADHD behaviors and helps them refocus those thoughts so the ADHD spouse is reposnsible for behaviors but IS NOt setting out to ignore and annoy the non-ADHD spouse.
    Raven951 replied to zoeymou's response:
    I know it's been a while since you posted this, but something just occurred to me about the tardiness issue. I'm notorious for being late especially when focused on something. So, considering all of the Gee-Whiz apps that everyone has on their phones, it might help to set up some sort of alarm on your phone that goes off at the same time each night, but maybe with a different sound byte, if possible. This way, if you are running late, it could remind you to call home. Then, if you could set it up with a random (and loud) sound byte each night, it could force you to pay attention. (Often my phone will ring and it just becomes part of the background noise.)

    Peace and Good Luck!
    ChristophorM replied to Raven951's response:
    That is a good idea. I do set alarms on my phone. I use Outlook at work since I can't use my phone there and I do other stuff. One problem with me is I'm impulsive. If I'm not going to remember to call home right when my buddy says "Hey, come over and check out this new toy I got." I won't remember to set the alarm either. It always just seems like a few minutes, then it turns out to be hours. It's weird. It helps work go by faster though.

    For my wife I use the one that sounds like a nuclear bomb is about to go. I also use a variant of that for my wife's ring tone. It says "WARNING THIS IS A CALL FROM YOUR WIFE... etc." She hates it but she doesn't use my phone or call me on it when we're in the same room so it's my little secret.

    Thanks for the tip. Good luck
    Abbey2007 responded:
    After reading your story, I find myself feeling a little guilty about how I've gone about trying to communicate with my son. He is 8 years old and was diagnosed with ADHD in 2010. Even with medication, sometimes, there are very challenging moments for us to overcome. Like being responsible in school and remembering to bring home his homework and the tools he needs from school to complete his homework. I had NO IDEA how hard it really is for my son. THANK YOU for a new perspective
    booberryjuice responded:
    Touche' !! I almost cried! I hate how people don't blame ADHD enough for things. I can not remember things easily- and write things down to remember. My husband gets annoyed with it a lot. I try to remember but my ADHD kid-'s and my life are very stressful all the time , it's hard to think clearly allot of the time. I'm sure mines from stress, I have picked up 3 lifelong ailments from it already. I'll be a bit easier on my DD now.
    dianeMA responded:
    Thankyou for sharing this,now i can make my partner realize things, anything you can suggest for being lazy doing chores? she always gets me that way.

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