I'm not one who likes to hog the spotlight, but I do like a little house-lighting from time to time. Being married to someone who has ADHD is like being the understudy and desperately hoping the lead gets sick.
Except worse. Not only am I responsible for learning and managing that person's life, but I'm also there to pick it back up when things fall apart.
Besides having to decipher if a receipt with a phone number on the back of it crumbled up on the floor next to the bed is important and needs to be saved or is truly trash, I have to wake up and get ready for the day (even if my day starts later than his) because he will oversleep if I'm sleeping next to him.
Those two examples are small examples of why I sometimes hate my husband.
When he and I first met, we lived in different states. We had a chance meeting at an airport and a long-distance relationship for six months before he made the move to my city, where we shared not only the city, but an apartment and a bed.
While he didn’t struggle to pay bills, find a job, or start school eight years ago, I noticed little things. He never used a clothes hamper. He kept crumpled-up pieces of paper on his nightstand. He had me help him fill out the simplest of paperwork. He’d lose his wallet at least once a week.
He would get visibly upset when I tried to help him organize his belongings. He would become defensive as if I was attacking his very being.
Now that I’m accustomed to his way of organized chaos, I get defensive when people come to our home and question the millions of sticky notes lying around directing my husband throughout his day.
I feel judged when people look at our coffee-table and see the baskets on top and inside filled with important “junk” that my husband refuses to sift through and differentiate between true junk and important junk.
Surprisingly, it was six years, two dogs, one wedding, one mortgage and a baby later when my husband was diagnosed.
After failing the exam for his social work license twice, my husband sought help. He knew the information like a boss, but he failed the test twice by a few points. He became depressed. At one point, I was pretty sure he was suicidal.
Here I was feeling an immense high from being the mother of our infant son, while he was contemplating exiting this world. I felt both sympathy and rage. I felt so much anger that we weren’t enough. That’s when I realized his ADHD was so bad that he couldn’t even focus on us.
Luckily, a professional realized it too. The doctor noted that most people with ADHD as severe as my husband’s end up in prison. The ADHD pipeline to prison is that strong. So, when people tell me that ADHD doesn’t exist or that medication is the devil, I want to sing with falsetto and a full gospel choir accompanying about how great medication is.
My husband became focused. His depression melted away. He also seemed to be more focused on our family, or at least I convinced myself of this.
All was perfect for a while, but then the rage grew. He would get so angry and frustrated about the littlest things. A character in a movie says something stupid. RAGE. He didn’t like the way his boss talked to him. RAGE. He’d throw things. He even kicked a random object and it made a small but visible hole in a bedroom door.
At that point, I became depressed because I knew I was about to become a single mother. To me, it seemed as though my husband did not care about how his rage affected our family. He did care. He just didn’t know what to do.
He got help. He tried a few different medications before finding the “right” one. The rage disappeared, but there was still a lot of hurt in our marriage. I felt resented and unimportant, as he no longer needed my help.
Yet, I felt I still had to be “on-call” in case he needed my help. None of this was benefitting me or our marriage. So, my husband, without any prompting, started seeing a therapist.
I don’t know what they discuss in therapy and I really don’t care. I am just glad he has someone to talk to about his struggle to learn to function in this world. I’m glad I’m not his go-to person for advice on all things “normal.” However, sometimes I feel a little left out, but he does his best to let me know he still needs me when life is bringing him down.
He also lets me share his spotlight, too. He even points it toward me. When I was pregnant with our second child, I did not feel as though I deserved a baby shower. He kept urging me to do something, but I just wanted to get through the next couple of months.
Knowing his limitations due to ADHD, he took it upon himself to get with my friends and plan a surprise baby shower for me. He said he wanted for me to have a day about me. He put all of his focus into making sure I had a day for me.
At that moment, I realized with this disorder comes great passion and intensity. For my husband, with the right medication, therapy, and some limits on sugar—we’re still working on that one—he can focus on what matters most to him—our children and me.
The days of hating my husband are few and far between, but they still creep in from time to time. There are still days when I want to throw in the towel, but most days I’m pretty enamored with this guy who may misplace his wallet weekly but rescues me in the daycare parking lot because I’ve gotten sick in the car and don’t know if I’ll make it inside.
He may not use a clothes hamper, but adores my big butt in skinny jeans. He may not understand how the important people in his circle of family and friends organize their life, but he’s loyal to them to a fault. I can’t hate on that.