Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Our Weekend Without Meds"

The most common question I am asked about Adult ADHD (other than "Is it real?") is this: "Does the medication really make a difference?"

I used to recite the facts and figures. After all, double-blind research should provide rock-solid persuasion that yes, for some people with ADHD, the medication is positively life-changing.

Wrong. After only a few times of watching eyes glaze over during my recitations, I got wise: I started answering the question by sharing before-and-after stories of real-life adults with ADHD.

As one of my college journalism professors used to repeat: "Show, Don't Tell." In other words, don't tell your readers what to think by laying out tedious facts and arguments; instead, provide richly detailed stories and let the readers decide for themselves.

With that in mind, I offer you this "as told to" tragicomedy from a friend named Jason about the weekend that Robert, his partner, ran out of medication. (It's not a typo; Jason and Robert are both men, a reminder that ADHD's effect on relationships is not a "Mars-Venus Thing" and that ADHD does not discriminate on the basis of gender, age, or sexual orientation.)

It's important to note that Jason did not know Robert before he was diagnosed with ADHD and started taking medication. In fact, he had assumed Robert was making "too big of a deal" of his ADHD by taking medication. This "lost weekend" made him a believer.

It seemed like no big deal when my partner, Robert, said he’d forgotten to call his doctor and would run out of medicine over the weekend. "I'll just pick it up on Monday, no problem," he’d said. With hindsight, I should have packed a bag and gone to Vegas. He missed only three days’ medication but the downhill effect was dramatic.

I first noticed the difference on Saturday when it took him three hours to pick up cleaning supplies. On Friday, he’d planned to clean out his home office on Sunday. Unfortunately, he made the plans while on his medication and the event took place while he was off.

Sunday I sat down to enjoy some basketball games on TV in peace while Robert cleaned the office. Eight hours later, he asked me to come see how it looked. I didn’t know what to say. Yes, the office was cleaner. But the hallway was lined with junk and massive quantities of cleaning supplies.

Then he checks his e-mail. Two hours later, at midnight, I wander in to tell him goodnight. He is staring at the computer. I asked him what’s the matter. "I don't know." He is a born geek. Turns out, his PC was fine. He couldn't remember what he was trying to do! It wasn’t easy, but I finally got him to recognize it was because he had not had his medication in nearly two days.

On Monday, he found out that he couldn't get the prescription until Tuesday. He spent the evening on EBay shopping for things we didn’t need. Tuesday morning, he asked me to pick up his prescription; he didn’t have time during lunch hour. But he’d transposed two numbers in the address, and without the doctor’s name, I couldn’t find the office.

Luckily, he went by after work, got it, and had it filled. But he’d gotten lost trying to find his own doctor! He called me for directions, extremely frustrated and blaming me because I couldn’t find the doctor’s office earlier. Huh? He slammed down the phone, saying he would call back.

Two hours later, he arrives. When I asked why he hadn’t called back—I was worried— he didn't remember saying he would call. Where had he been for two hours? “Shopping.” But all he had in his hands was the prescription. "Oh, I forgot the things in the car.” He brings in groceries and more of the same cleaning supplies he purchased Saturday! Now, we have two of everything, including the world’s largest bottles of Simple Green!

When we finally got the air cleared over who was responsible for him being lost, we sat down to relax by watching TV. He picked a show about terrorist training. After all the bad news on this topic, not to mention the last three days' tension, I didn’t consider that relaxing. “But it’s really good!” he insisted.

After 20 minutes of watching him “self-medicate” by seeing torture victims suffer atrocities, I said, "No, I don't want to watch this," but he stubbornly left it on. I left the room. He said, "If you don't like it change the channel!" He had forgotten that he was holding the damn thing in a death grip. Argh!!!

He took a dose of the medication this morning. Hopefully, we will be headed back to a more even keel shortly. Hopefully, he will remember to fill his prescription next time before he runs completely out. In fact, I think I’ll put it on the calendar.

How about you? Can relate to these examples? Do you have others to share? What's the biggest difference medication has made in your or your partner's life?


  1. My son is 17, so this is not about a partner, but it is about a relationship in a family. he does all of these things all the time now that he is not taking his meds. he says they make him sweat and not himself - kinda spaced out, so we live our life like this every day. horrible.

  2. I'm sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, the teen years can especially complicate ADHD treatment.

    It sounds like a change in medication might be in order. Or at least some "psycho-education" around taking the medications.

    Sometimes, if the dose is too high, the stimulants can indeed "flatten" a person's affect. But sometimes the person who is always the "life of the party" or the "class clown" doesn't know how to transition to a different role in life (that is, pursuing his or her own goals instead of providing entertainment for everyone else).

    Good luck.

    1. I was diagnosed with ADHD about six months ago at 22. Its been an incredibly enlightening transition, particularly because in high school and college I was just that: a class clown, looking to others for approval of my erratic actions.
      Its been an unbelievably helpful taking medication to counteract these feelings and thoughts, but I ran out about a week ago and the patterns have been coming back.
      Its a frustrating feeling, especially when you need to will yourself to focus.
      I ran out during finals week of my last semester in college.
      I don't recommend it.

    2. Oh no, during your finals week?

      It is a lot to ask of people with ADHD: to anticipate running out of medication and build in some failsafes to prevent it. But it is necessary.

      Some physicians understand this and will phone with reminders that it's time to re-fill.

      Personally, I take care of re-ordering my husband's Rx, because there are often hoops to jump through (the refill can be submitted within a certain number of days after the last Rx, etc.). We use the mail-order pharmacy, which means each refill is for 90 days. I just put it on my calendar, to get the refill four times a year.

      I hope the results of your testing turned out well!

  3. I have Adult ADHD. Im Sorry but I laughed through this whole story. This is my Normal. I can only afford my medicine on work days. So I surround myself with people who love and tolerate this normal. To them....I Am Sorry...Its me. I am lovable though. THANKS FOR THIS STORY. Im Not Alone

    1. Thank you for appreciating the humor. I'm glad you feel lovable enough, even on the weekends. :)

  4. I think you're a thoughtful commenter on these topics. Obviously, you're bright and informed.

    Still, I find your personal stake in this perspective a sort of relentless stream of blame the victim. I appreciate that it is a matter of degree here but you do in fact seek to advocate for the partner/spouse/partner who does not have the condition in a way that is a constant stream of blame and vilification.

    I realize you love your partner and feel you have identified a constructive path for making things better. I feel like your criticisms cast you (and those like you) in the role of in house scold and nag.

    Is there a way to be less harsh, less critical, less blaming? I don't know.

    Thanks for the observations but the tone could use some work. You are a professional at this point, not merely a partner w a an eccentric and frustrating partner.

    1. Really? A "relentless stream of blame the victim"?

      Many adults with ADHD disagree with you about me on all of your points of criticism.

      I'll leave it to you and others to figure out why that might be.

    2. I am so happy to find this information. And I don't find you blame the victim at all. But, it's really really difficult to say anything to someone with ADHD (or ADD) without it sounding critical TO THEM. Maybe that is what this poster is dealing with that makes it seem this way.
      I have lived with my husband who had undiagnosed severe ADD for over fifty years. Now he is finally on medication and the change (for both of us)is great (But I'm the only one who really knows it!).
      In fact, when I had surgery and needed to be taken back to the surgeon five days after the operation, my husband screamed and yelled and called me names because he was supposed to drive me. As he bashed me around on the trip, he screamed at me that he hated me; then screamed, "Well, I haven't taken my pills for 5 or 6 days!!!!"
      I've asked him to see a psychologist who is a specialist in ADD; so far, he isn't interesed. So after 36 years of marriage, he goes merrily along while I wait for the next "blow up" (and him to move out again in a crazy ADD moment). This time I won't ask him to come back.

    3. A very significant number of relationships fail no matter what the mental health status of the two spouses. There are countless ways to fail. It sounds like you'd rather not be married to your husband. Ok, that's clear. When you move on to your next partner, you'll see whether your mental health status works well for maintaining a good long term relationship w the new dude.

      If this website is for spouses and partners of ADD partners to laugh at, mock, tease or find excuses for the flawed behavior of their partners, ok. You find a kind of fellowship here.

      I find this blog entry (and some of the book) to be written in a too often unsympathetic and mocking tone for something that though written for a lay public is intended to be quasi therapeutic. My experience with human nature is that nearly everyone is troubled in some ways or another and that long term relationships and families are always a challenge no matter the couple or the individuals. These spouses that are so pleased to read your mocking of your husband may (or may not be) a walk in the park themselves and their judgement about where on the spectrum their partner may be can't be accepted by us readers without knowing more about the people involved.

      Yes, Gina, I find your book to be helpful but also self satisfied and mocking. This woman even more so. I do not doubt that these husbands are ADD and un-medicated the relationship suffers. What I think is it is counter productive to engaging in this sort of mockery in regard to the behavior of the afflicted.

    4. I can't help but wonder if you are a therapist who remains skeptical about ADHD. ;-)

      No one said that all the partners of adults with ADHD are paradigms of mental health. Least of all me.

      I see none of this "mocking" you refer to, only honest reality checks. Or perhaps you don't realize that a sense of humor is a core requirement for anyone dealing with ADHD.

      The fact is, this blog's topic is highly specific: ADHD's effect on relationships, not the infinite range of human personality, pathology and peccadilloes. I leave that for the psychologists who churn out books with unsubstantiated theories on relationships. There are hundreds of them, and very few even mention ADHD.

      Your argument that ADHD is really not that big a deal will find agreeable company in those who view ADHD as an excuse, a made-up condition.

      In fact, you indicate that you view ADHD an excuse ("find excuses for the flawed behavior of their partners").

      Because I focus my energies on supporting people who do want to learn more about ADHD, including facing some not-always-comfortable truths, and move on to elevate their lives, I will not try to convince you otherwise.

    5. To the other Anonymous, I'm glad you found the information on this blog validating -- and that you and your husband are enjoying the benefits of knowledge and ADHD treatment.

      It's validation that moves people on to evidence-based strategies instead of staying stuck in denial, confusion, and blame.

    6. P.S. I hope there's not a next "blow-up". Maybe you can help him to work on a better Rx reminder strategy. I know, it's not easy. But good luck.

    7. I'm late to the party on responding - I just found this site. Anyway, In my relationship - I am the one with ADHD, newly diagnosed and still figuring things out.
      It puts an enormous strain on my family at times. Especially my husband, who often feels the burden of having to help me clean up the messes I make. (literally & figuratively)
      Sometimes, he needs to rant about the latest thing I've done. Even though it's out of my control (and he understands that), it is still my actions that (typically) make things difficult.
      For him, humor is a very helpful thing, too. It lightens the situation and makes it easier to deal. I would much rather him joke about my absentmindedness and distractions and indifference to things than wallow in it.

      And even if he knows about ADHD and somewhat understands me, I can't expect him to completely get it all of the time. I mess things up and if he were to never point it out, it would be limiting me, wouldn't it? Sometimes I need to be told exactly what I'm doing that's upsetting him, because I don't get it, and I'd rather he joke about it than get angry towards me.

    8. How great that you let him sometimes rant. And how great that you two can laugh and learn together.

  5. Oh my goodness! How I can relate to almost every example here. Let me just say that the diagnosis and treatment of my husband's ADD saved our marriage- 15 years of the above finally wore me out!
    I'd say that the best and most dramatic difference now is that we can talk about and figure out strategies for communicating and working through differences. We also laugh a lot more now!

    1. It's great to laugh. Makes for a happier life, I've found. ;-)

  6. Because of the nature of this disorder, my wife frequently takes too much of her medication and we run out early. Because of the Health Dept's policies here in Aus, we can't renew it early. We've only had an absolute meltdown once, complete with anxiety and anger explosions, and now are on a much more regimented plan (that is still extremely difficult to stick to).

    But yeah, when we run out, we know that not only do we need to batten down the hatches and cancel all plans, but be prepared for lots of sleeping, lots of eating (two things that don't normally happen) and back to the irregular emotional patterns again.

    1. At least you know the reason for the "storm" now, and that's a good thing.

      Many people are still caught flat-footed by the changes when the medication is stopped or changed. It can be so hard to remember that the medication can make that much of a difference -- and not over-react.

      You know, if you have a mail-order provision in your Rx insurance coverage, some will allow you to re-order well before you run out. For example, with some policies, you can re-fill a 90 policy after 60 days.

  7. I appreciate your realistic stories, and have experienced tragedy, wonder and absolute awe in the face of my x-husbands and sons diagnosed ADHD. From the worst of my x-husbands continual denial, attemped cover-ups, perjuring hinself in court and abusive emails (i won't allow him to call me), to my son's wonderful doctor, medication when I can make sure he is receiving it on my weeks with him, his absolute brilliance and genius at age 5 and up (now 12) of understanding and compassion for the human condition. Life is a roller-coaster, but I would not give up my lovely, intelligent son for anything.

    1. What a difference it can make when ADHD is diagnosed early in life and parents make an effort to understand.

      In fact, some say late-diagnosis adults with ADHD suffer such a higher-rate of co-existing conditions due to the years of not knowing they have ADHD. Seems entirely plausible to me.

  8. Hello Gina!
    I found this article to be refreshing and incredibly entertaining! I am the spouse/partner with ADD/ADHD. My husband knows that if I don't take my meds that our world is a big different than usual. This may mean that he needs to call me a couple of times on my cell to find out what happened to me when I haven't returned home after 2 hours of grocery shopping or that he may need to retrieve me from my computer at 1:00 AM because I am surfing the internet and learning sooo many things about the world!!! :)
    Thanks for all that you do!

    1. Thanks Christine. :-) I greatly appreciate your support.

  9. Gina, your writing style, thrust and dedication are all so phenomenal and “quality of life“ saving, for me at least.. My Newish partner, a pwADD, is a treasure, fun, happy now...with medication he finally got his life on track. The skipped medication story- so so true! As in, the few days he slipped here and there..OMG..somebody I wouldn’t like to be around!

    1. Getting lives on track...that's what it's all about, eh? Good for the both of you!

  10. Thanks. I'm happy that you find this information helpful.

    When your partner "slipped" in taking the medication, I bet he wondered how you knew. "Is it that obvious?" he might have asked. :-)

    It is for some! And more subtle for others.

    Like everything else ADHD, no cookie-cutters.

  11. Hi Gina,
    I have your book and love it. I read as much as I can either online or kindle or books from the library to understand ADHD and the associated mental health issues. It was my husbands severe depression that finally brought us to the ADHD diagnoses. What a great day that was, we got answers to so many puzzling things we had endured in our 20 years together. Best of all we had an answer to our daughters depression and anxiety, as she also is ADHD.
    We have had a lot of learning to do and grieving for the time lost in our relationship due to talking different languages in different time zones on different planets!
    Now I know that we can have fun and I don't have to endure temper tantrums and that it is ok to help with things that he 'should' be able to do. We are a team and we trust each other, it can be tough when I have to be coach/ therapist/ financial advisor when I would rather have a relaxing evening after a long day at work but the rewards are seeing him use his many talents to be something to the world only he can, because of his unique ability to see solutions in difficult situations.
    My prayer is that one day my husband and daughter will see how amazing they are, how their creative outlook is so enriching to others and that they will continue to ask for help with the overwhelm.
    Bless you all.

    1. Thanks Raquel. We are so fortunate now to have a tremendous array of ADHD-themed books, audiobooks, DVDs, YouTube videos, and more to educate us.

      It's so different now than it was 20 or even 10 years ago. Even the medications were fewer in number and more problematic in nature.

      This is a great time to have ADHD. :)

    2. This blog is an eye opener! Information!! I am a 70 y/o male diagnosed with AADD 2 years ago. And that explained a lot of things.
      My counselors have recommended Strattera for my particular condition, but I have CAD and my primary won't allow stimulant Rx's. I live in eastern Wahington state and am having a difficult time locating a support group.
      My insurance changed and I have to change counselors. What books/literature do you recommend for a "newbie"?

    3. Hi Brian,

      Congratulations for "discovering" you have ADHD. I bet it does explain a lot of things. ;-)

      As for your primary physician's instructions, I would ask him/her to please research this topic a little more.

      For one thing, Strattera is not a stimulant. It is a norepinephrine-reuptake inhibitor. And while some people have reported increased blood pressure at the higher doses of Strattera, many people are helped to some degree by low doses (e.g. 25-40 mg).

      For another thing, some cardio docs are simply unfamiliar with ADHD treatment and they have a sort of knee-jerk reaction against stimulants.

      Of course I am not a medical doctor and I don't know the nature/severity of your CAD, but it definitely something worth researching with your physician (or you doing the research and bringing it to your physician).

      What books do I recommend? Well, I wrote my book to be a comprehensive guide to understanding Adult ADHD (especially when it is diagnosed later in life) and its treatment strategies. I wrote it for the "partners of" as well as the adults themselves. So, I do recommend "Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?"

      I also recommend Dr. Russell Barkley's book "Taking Charge of Adult ADHD." There is an excerpt from that book on this blog -- about "ADHD and Time."

      Good luck!

  12. Gina,

    If I am without my meds, I will not go to work. (Utility Employee.) The risk of an accident or injury is many, many times greater off meds. "Stuff happens." Impulsive acts match up well with the need for self-stimulation.

    Jokingly, I have said to my suffering spouse, that off meds it takes a swat with a 2 x 4 to my head to get my attention regarding something I'm not interested in. In fact, if someone actually struck me with a 2 x 4 and did not knock me out, the shot of adrenaline would be good for a few hours of concentrated, focused, empathetic living and some stimulating first aid.

    Forced to choose between the 2x4 swat and meds, I defer to W. C. Fields, who upon being asked for last words prior to being hung, in one of his films, said, "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philly." I'll stick to my meds, thank you.

    1. OUCH! 2x4 therapy -- I haven't seen any evidence-based studies on that one! :-0

      Thank goodness you know that working without your Rx isn't safe for you; some people don't realize until it's too late. Untreated ADHD has a higher risk of on-the-job accidents.

    2. Not just on-the-job accidents.
      One day I forgot my meds and in the afternoon I got in a car crash. I was distracted by my car-radio while I should have been looking at the road.
      My colleagues also notice immediately when I've forgotten my concerta. I have a daily alarm on my phone now to take it and I don't turn off the alarm till I've taken the meds, not even turning it off when I think "I'll take em now" cause I know I can get distracted on the way there. I haven't forgotten them in months now.

    3. Wow, I hope you didn't suffer lasting injuries, Kaetje. Talk about a wake-up call.

      Good for you, for not giving yourself that "I'll take 'em later" margin of error.

      Sounds like it's an engrained habit now. Same with my husband. He takes his Rx very first thing in the morning. I've learned not to start chattering as we go into the kitchen for breakfast, so I don't distract him.

  13. For anyone who is interested, I've posted guess essays in the past from adults with ADHD at another blog:

    When it comes to ADHD's effect on relationships, I don't see "two sides" to this issue: ADHD and a "non-ADHD partner".

    Instead, I see individuals dealing with different aspects of ADHD in themselves or a partner. And sometimes couples are "dual-ADHD" -- that is, BOTH have ADHD.

    So I challenge anyone to find that I paint cookie-cutter portraits of anything to do with ADHD.

    Here are two first-person essays from adults with ADHD, both of which drew much attention:

    "On With My Vent, In All Its Offensive Glory":

    "One Man's Rugged Reality of ADHD":

  14. Yes, yes, yes. Sending to my whole family!

  15. Hi Gina, I smiled at your story. I think my husband will recognize me in it. A little. My children have used concerta. They stopped taking concerta in connection with heart problems. My son is now being treated by a cardiologist and has received other medications (for his heart and also a medicine for his ADHD).
    My daughter takes every day LTO3 now.

    I doubt. Shall I take Ritalin? Or get I the same heart rhythm problems as my children?

    1. Hi Roos,

      Do you notice any benefit from the LTO3 (which seems to be another name for L-Theanine)? I found this information here:

      As for whether you should take Ritalin, of course I cannot advise you there.

      The evidence is that the stimulants (when properly prescribed and taken) do not cause cardiovascular issues. That said, many people have congenital heart defects but often don't know it until some high-stress event brings attention to the defects. The human body and brain...very complicated. And the lack of cross-disciplinary specialists, such as cardiologists who understand the role of neurotransmitters on the cardiovascular system, complicates the picture further.

      Perhaps you could talk with your physician about trying a low dose of an immediate-release stimulant (Concerta is extended release), so that you could approach this very conservatively.

      good luck!

    2. I am not very enthusiastic about this natural medicine. But we are only in the second week ;-) My daughter says she now has a calm head. But she is violently impulsive, loud and forgetful.

    3. Yes, Roos, and that's the problem, isn't it?

      ADHD symptoms themselves can conspire to distort one's self-perceptions. Your daughter might truly believe she has a calmer head (and it might even feel that way "from the inside").

      But you are seeing that she is "violently impulsive" and that is a very risky state. Accidents can happen when one is violently or even moderately impulsive. This is why children with untreated ADHD are at higher risk of traumatic brain injuries, which only compounds their cognitive challenges and often obscures them (if clinicians take into account only the injury and not the underlying neurobiology).

  16. Gina,

    Thanks for sharing! Both my partner and I have ADHD, and your book has helped us see the necessary humor in our situation and develop a better understanding of one another's unique perspectives and challenges.

    In reading this I couldn't help but think about what our lives will be like when we have children, which is part of our plan in the next several months. I know I will need to stop taking my medication, and that makes me nervous! For me that doesn't just mean a problem with task execution and organization, it means learning to control my emotional responses on my own.

    Have any of your guest posters addressed this issue? I have confidence it CAN be done successfully, but with a very intentional dedication to self-awareness, strategy, and structure. After all, it will be "our weekend without meds" for over a year!


    1. Hi Jaclyn,

      I'm so happy that my book has helped you and your husband -- a "dual-ADHD" couple. :-)

      And a baby! Congratulations! I love babies, and just welcomed my 9th great-niece/nephew (or is it 10th? -- can't keep track).

      How wonderful that you haven't waited until the baby arrives to start thinking about ADHD.

      I've heard from women seeking advice on how to cope with going no-meds during pregnancy. But each has such different issues, it's hard to draw any blanket conclusions or give universal advice.

      There is some evidence that some women with ADHD might do well to continue medications during pregnancy. So, it might be a good idea to question assumptions.

      I've been meaning to write a blog post on this subject, so look for it at

      thanks for asking!

    2. And really, only in a sense will it be a year of "Our Weekend Without Meds."

      You are anticipating how to support yourself during that time. Jason wasn't anticipating anything! He was obviously one of those people who wondered how anyone could know when he hadn't taken his medication. :-)

  17. My partner's medication is pretty slow acting so if she forgets one morning it takes a while for me to realise most times - but I do realise, and we can laugh about it when we do, because it's often for the little things. The cute things. Like the way she eats her food - she nibbles things instead of eating "normally", or she'll be downstairs making breakfast, and suddenly you realise it's been an hour, but the kitchen's getting cleaned so it's OK. On the other hand, if we realise because she's anxious, it's awful, because you immediately think "If I'd remembered, she wouldn't be feeling bad." I think it makes me more hyper-aware, watching out for the little signs, but as long as you can chuckle when it does happen, and live life with a little bit of easiness, not fretting those little niggles of irritation, everything's fine. I think it's probably made me more relaxed - I love her so much, why would I let her forgetting to take the rubbish out bother me?

    1. :-) Nibbling things instead of eating "normally." Cute.

      I normally remember not tell my husband anything important in the morning, before his Rx kicks in. And if I forget, he'll say, "Remember, I have only four working neurons right now." And sometimes he'll give them names. ;-)

  18. Well, after reading this, I need to make an appointment to head back to my doc. I had a prescription, but too much time elapsed, and I can't fill it. And I can find it to trade out for a new one. SO. I need to figure out when I can go again. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Hi Claire,

      Maybe you can mail it in to your doc and ask for an updated version.

      I don't know how people do it with the 30-day Rx. We use the mail-order pharmacy (3 month supply), and that is a godsend.

      good luck,

  19. I wants to share the start of my journey. I am a 38 year old separated man with two children who basically has lost everything. I am married to a wonderful woman who finally has had enough I was acting out in ways that were very distructive and hurtful. In particular I was looking at porn and chatting online with other women.

    I say this to be completely honest. I have struggled my whole life with honesty. That really is the basis for my downfall. I could not face the truth and I felt so unworthy of love that rather than risk rejection I always lied. The. Biggest lie was to my wife and it was one I carries into our marriage. That was that I had finished my degree. I hadn't. But I couldn't tell her that because I thought I might lose her. So I carried that lie our entire marriage never feeling worthy of her. As a result I was always feeling that I conned her into marrying me. Despite the fact that I know she loved and still loves me I felt unworthy and felt it was just a matter of time til she left me. I could never understand myself much less my actions. I still don't. But at rock bottom I have gone to a few people I trust and one hooked me up with a therapist who with five minutes of talking to me and listening to my life story was convinced I had Add. I did the tests today and have been told I have severe to almost extreme ADD. It has been eye opening and terrifying all at once. I don't know if I understand it all. Hence how I ended up here

    It doesn't excuse the pain I have caused my wife and my two wonderful children. Nothing ever will. But at the same time I am Starting to understand the massive effects it has had on me my entire life. The struggles that I has throughout school. The old line my mother use to give me was you are the smartest of the kids. Why are you so lazy. Why don't you do better. I thought I was just a failure. I don't know how meds will affect me. I hopeful that they may change my life. I don't believe my wife will take me back. I have hurt her too much and she deserves happiness. But the most amends I can make is by living the life she has always believed I was capable of. By becoming the man I want to be. I appreciate this blog and the chance to just share a bit of my story. Thanks so much

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. It is one of the thousands I've heard for many years that gives testament to the fact that ADHD is not "simple" matter, and it's not a "gift" (though of course the people who have ADHD definitely have their individual gifts).

      It is something to be faced squarely -- as early in life as possible -- so as to prevent exactly what you describe: these intractable feelings of unworthiness.

      You are young. Treatment CAN make a difference for you, along with realistic information and evidence-based strategies. There is obviously much to love about you if you attracted such a lovely woman and you have wonderful children. Please hold onto that as you tackle the ADHD symptoms that have made life harder-than-necessary for you.

      take care,

    2. As a woman with ADD, please don't assume she won't take you back: With time apart, changes in you once you are on meds/therapy, and education (stories) about ADD for her to gain knowledge and understanding, you'll develop a different (better) relationship with each other than before, whether you get back together or not.
      However, when you "But the most amends I can make is by living the life she has always believed I was capable of. By becoming the man I want to be." she will think she wasn't deserving of this from you, why didn't you do this for her, and so on. Please make it clear from the beginning what has been going on in your mind that you weren't aware of with the ADD, and give heartfelt apology for the lies (the degree, for instance), and explain to her that you wish you had the opportunity to become the man you want to be *with her*, but regardless, with or without her, you are going to work toward that. Ask her to understand that it has everything to do with her feeling so hurt and slighted, and nothing to do with her "not deserving" the best you can become.

  20. This topic is extremely relevant for me right now. I made the transition to self-employment, which is great, but that means I no longer have health insurance...and won't be able to afford to pay it for myself until the end of the summer. Meaning: I can't afford the $165.54/mo to refill my Concerta prescription.

    The difference between me on, and me off, is unmistakable, even if only to myself at times. I am constantly irritable and angry because I cannot manually shut off the constant provocation of my environment. Every little sound, movement, change in lighting change in activity is extremely loud to my senses and I just want to yell "STFU" pretty much all the time. I get mad about little things. I have a really hard time waking up in the morning. Went to a baseball game for one of my kids today and absolutely could not enjoy any of it because of all of the "stuff" going on in my environment...whining children, whirling dust, things that feel sticky, flying balls, people doing annoying things...I have enough practice in life with working hard to at least not be a total jerk to people around me, but considering how frequently I feel this way lately it's exhausting to me. It's a lot of work to maintain the appearance of not feeling this way and it's easier to just avoid people (which is easier because I work for myself!). When I can't avoid people, all I can think is "oh shit".

    And the creme de la creme was this morning...when I completed a step out of sequence on two of my business websites...yeah that's right, I didn't just do it once, I did it twice - and exploded both full websites to high heaven. I have to rebuild them both from scratch now. Somebody shoot me.

    As you can imagine, feeling this way most of the time can be anxiety provoking and not in the positive "oooh, I feel motivated and a little amped up" way but in the "oh my god, what was I doing and how much time has passed" way.

    I've also noticed myself ruminating on negative things more...the way I used to, where I would get stuck on something to the point that it would inhabit my body in a palpable way...and I am getting that old familiar "high on ideas!!!!!!!" feeling that will stick with me for hours and again, keep me ruminating, but at least in those cases it's usually something that's positive even if it's totally distracting me from whatever it was I was supposed to be doing. Case in point - had a lunch meeting yesterday that ended up being three hours long...and while the topic at hand was interesting, it wasn't what I should have been doing with my afternoon...but even after the lunch was over, I couldn't return to my to-do list in progress. At all. I did didn't work.

    I would say that the greatest gift my medication gives me is peace. And I know that I deserve that kind of peace. And I also know that I literally can't afford it. That's a crappy conundrum.

    1. Hey 18 Channels,

      What the heck. :-(

      Did you know that there's a generic of Concerta now? I don't know if it's yet available at the Costcos and Wal-Marts of the world, but it's worth a try, eh?

      It's actually the "real" Concerta but made available as a generic through an authorized marketing agreement.

      I write about it here:

      It's saving us lots of money. ;-)

      You can also check with the manufacturer. They often have programs that help the financially needy -- and the cut-off is rather generous with some.

      I know you have what it takes to make your business succeed, but you also seem to know that Rx might make a big difference.

      Good luck!

  21. Friends,

    I just created a petition: Director NIMH: Meaningful NIMH recognition of ADHD as a lifelong disorder, because I care deeply about this very important issue.

    I'm trying to collect 100 signatures, and I could really use your help.

    To read more about what I'm trying to do and to sign my petition, click here:

    It'll just take a minute!

    Once you're done, please ask your friends to sign the petition as well. Grassroots movements succeed because people like you are willing to spread the word!


  22. Dear Gina,

    I just ordered your book and can't wait to receive it. I was in a 5 year relationship with a man 17 years older than me. He will turn 70 in December and has never consult about ADD. After answering a questionary of 20 questions, I see that we have to answer yes to 18 of them.
    Throughout the relationship, we've had many misunderstanding. He is English and I'm French (He'd get very upset if the way I'd say something wouldn't sound "respectful" to him. He has an earloss problem and a memory problem. And yet, he blames me for most every crisis we had throughout the relationship.
    I, on the other hand have a thyroide problem which has made me strongly reactive and hypersensitive at times.
    Jay is a professional musician and had a lot of relationships in his life and had the need to keep in touch with most of the women. Needless to say that I didn't find my place in this and that most of them didn't accept me in his life.
    What's been the most difficult is that with ADD, we couldn't discuss very long before he'd get tired, anxious and upset.
    Everything was a challenge. He couldn't talk while washing dishes. I couldn't wash dishes while he was on the phone. He would spend 6 hours in a row watching sports on tv, and he would take half an hour looking for everything he needed before going out of the house which always made him late for most everything. When I'd be upset or impatient, he'd resent me.
    Turned out that he left me 3 days ago because he couldn't take all the anxiety I was inducing in his life. I love him and even though it was difficult, I was ready to accept everything and work with it. But HE couldn't accept that I'd get upset and lose my cool sometimes.

    I HOPE you have some advice or word of wisdom

    1. Hi Johanne,
      Your relationship sounds a lot like mine. I try to talk to my husband and yet I never seem to be able to understand what I have said or done to upset him. ADHD seems to control all conversations as I think I am on the right track and then after a few minutes he will change his opinion and turn the conversation in a different direction. I am constantly on guard and confused. He moved out for the second time in 11 yrs last month. I am exhausted!

  23. HI Johanne,

    Any advice or "word of wisdom" I might offer you is probably found in my book. I can say, "I'm sorry that you went through this," and I am. But that often doesn't go far enough to explain such a confusing and often heart-breaking experience.

    I hope that, as you continue to read through it, you will find some explanations that help you to take his behavior less personally and move on with a lighter spirit.

    take care,

  24. Hi Gina,

    I purchased your book a few years ago as I was struggling to understand why my husband was making me feel lost and loved all at the same time. We had separated after 8 yrs of marriage w/4 daughters from previous marriages.
    We could not agree on many of the day to day activities that centered around family life. My husband always seemed to be fidgity and preoccupied with everything but also hyper focued on issues that could be easily resolved. He would love one minute and rant and rave in the very next.
    We have been remodeling the house we bought together 11 yrs ago. I bought his out of the house when he moved out almost 5yrs ago and then came back after 2 1/2 yrs. Well he moved out once again as he can not compromise on many many issues with my youngest daughter who has ADHD like him and I can not continue to leave her in an emotional disruptive relationship. She is on medication and works very hard to understand her mental health and emotions. My husband was taking medication but decided the doctor didn't know what he was prescribing and stopped taking it and after 2 months we are back to square one and separated again.
    So once again I am trying to finish the remodeling on my own as he continues to give input and yet is working to set up his own place by buy the third set of pots and pan, bedroom set, dishes, linens, etc...oh by the way he also still has the first house he bought after he moved out 5 yrs ago that is in a state of remodeling in another state...and now he pays more rent than the mortage that I am paying. Oh boy am I exhausted just telling you my story.
    I know he has a lot of good qualities and it is very upsetting to see the pain that he carries when he hurts me and our daughters or he can't stay focused on the task at hand but I just can't do this anymore and I don't know how to help with the situation and I noticed an exchange between he and one of my best friends that made me very uncomfortable. I am on a constant roller coaster...Help!

  25. Hi Sandy,

    Yes, I was starting to feel your exhaustion by the third paragraph.

    I'm not sure what I can do to help in a comment here. That's why I had to write an almost-400 page book. As you've found, reading isn't enough (you did finish reading, right? :-)). It must be put into practice.

    It sounds to me like he is making his choices, and you must make yours. He doesn't want to keep pursuing treatment? Instead, he wants to keep injecting chaos into your home and the perhaps-tenuous hold your daughter has on her own ADHD-symptom management?

    Sometimes some people with ADHD don't "get" mixed messages -- and your allowing him to keep offering input on the house might, to him, means he's still a viable partner. Allowing him to keep treading in this gray area could just aid and abet his denial. Allowing him to hurt you and your daughter (and whatever he's up to with your best friend) is definite gray area.

    You want him to stop creating chaos in your life. You have to decide that it will end. And mean it. I'm sorry, but that's how I see it. Change has to come from you.

    Good luck,

    1. Hi Gina,

      I did finish reading your book but looks like I better read it again and start apply as much as I can...Thanks for the feedback it was encouraging to know that I am the one who has to take away the gray areas or this will continue.

      Thanks for the support...

    2. Hi Sandy,

      Yes, it is a very dense book. Not much fluff!

      Many people have told me they kept re-reading at different stages, because they were ready to "hear" information at different points.

      I'm working on a workbook, to help guide folks through it.

      good luck!

    3. Hi Gina,

      I think it takes time to figure out where you are with the situation...I look forward to the new book.


  26. I find this article very true. As a mother of a 9 year old boy who has been on medication for the past year i can certainly tell the difference if my son has not had his tablets. He gets very angry and frustrated, the violent temper returns as do a million and 101 other things. He has 2 to take per day he has a top up at 3pm and we can tell if it is getting close or if we have lost track of time simply by his anger and frustration.

    I was skeptical about medication at first, but I left the final decision to my son explaining the pros and cons. He said he would give it a try and see how it goes.

    He at 8 said his jigsaw puzzle brain seems to be slotting back together. I am more than happy with that response

    1. Sorry for late reply, Nichola. Somehow these comments slipped under my radar.

      Your boy came up with a brilliant metaphor!

      Good for you, for tempering your skepticism with evidence -- and giving your son the pros and cons. How great is that....

  27. Oh I laughed so hard at the accuracy of this article (coming from a home with 3 people with some form of ADHD), that my 4 year old son finally asked if something was tickling me. Thanks for making light of a difficult situation; I prefer to see our issues the humorous way.

    1. So happy to hear that! I'm a big believer in Comic Relief!

      It's not always appropriate, I know, but it can really help to ratchet down the frustration, anger, and shame.

      We are all in this together.


  28. I once stopped taking all meds for one month. There is now a "black hole" that represents that time period. I watched the days whiz right by. I accomplished nothing. I felt I was in a Terri Schiavo-like vegetative state.

    1. Wow, Jeff. That sounds surreal. Imagine how many people are going through their entire lives that way, not knowing they have ADHD.



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