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Non-ADD Partner Support This is a support forum for non-ADD partners, spouses, and significant others offering feedback from both the ADD and non-ADD perspectives

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  #1  
Old 08-28-05, 04:27 PM
chhinnamasta chhinnamasta is offline
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New Member Non-ADD Partner with Depression

Hi Folks,

I wonder if I could get a show of virtual hands here on how many of us NON-ADD partners have depression and/or codependency issues.

If so, how many of us knew we were depressed and/or codependent BEFORE getting together with our ADD partners?

My partner has never denied his ADD, but has just recently started medication for it. Things improved dramatically for us at first, but now his irritability and blaming behavior are starting to come back again. Some of this has to do with pressure from his job and extra work depriving him of sleep and interfering with his dosing schedule. I am doing what I can for myself, but could really use feedback from some other people who believe me when I say that I have taken more than my share of responsibility for relationship problems that are hardly all or even mostly me.

I have an unshakeable faith in our love for each other, but we each face significant challenges in our brain chemistry and physiology and early conditioned behavior. We're both highly educated and aware of our own and each other's issues - the difference I see between us that is causing me pain at the moment is that, while he does not use his ADD to excuse his own behavior, he has (and continues to) use my depression as an excuse for it instead.

Neither of us is to blame for the conflict our disorders are having with each other. The best I can do is to realize that even when it looks to my depression like my partner is blaming me for EVERYTHING, HE isn't "doing" anything "to me" anymore than I am accusing him or making assumptions about him when I am feeling bad about myself because of his observations and interpretations of my depressive behavior. I don't want to "catch" him making mistakes, I want to stop the flow of information to my brain that has been configured to have receptors for more negative than positive feelings. And I would like for him to meet me at whatever percentage of the way feels comfortable to him. Right now, because of specific programs I am working on, I could arguably be said to be meeting him more than 80 percent of the way. (I just condensed 45 pages of four self-help book chapters on improving our communication process down to 9 pages, emailed to him in about seven "installments"...and that's only scratching the surface on the inner work I've been doing with myself...)

He has been to individual therapy, as have I, but he refuses to see a couples therapist. This disturbs me because he claims that our major problem has to do with our communication process and is due to MY negative bias that causes ME to become defensive, to interrupt him, to hold grudges against him, and to make negative assumptions about HIS behavior. One of the things I want to AVOID at all costs on this Non-ADD Partner Support Forum is reinforcing ANY tendency or temptation to *****ing and recrimination directed at him. I am not bitter and I am not the enemy; I am willing to extend my good will and to focus my work on healing myself. The trouble is, finding or developing a way of communicating with my ADD partner that will not set off his negative programming - so that he feels as understood and supported with me as I want to feel with him.

Thanks for listening,

Chhinnamasta
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Old 08-28-05, 05:56 PM
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Hi Chhinnmasta

You know one of the key things I always feel I miss from my friendship with my aDD friend is the living experiences and perceptions of his behaviours and non behaviours that don't jive with my expectations and understanding of my needs.

What I really appreciate on these forums, is that the ADD folks here will share those perspectives and it's a real head turner, so I hope you also snoop around some of the ADD forums and look at some of the current and previous discussions that might give you some practical insight into the ADD world.

One example has to do with focus. Sometimes it is such a relief and pleasure to get focussed and working on something that any interruption is very unwelcome.

Another one is that it is so easy to get distracted, that one might miss very important dates and engagements, but it's not because they aren't important, it's about distractions.

I was wondering, do you see the same therapist? Actually my idea would work whether you are or not, but here it is in left field a bit. If not is yours familiar with ADD, as I would assume your husband's does.

Ok, here it is: your husband says there is a communications process and you have negative thinking which leads to....so why not have a session with your hubby where you jot down 2 key things that you would like your partner's therapist to work with them on.

Before you go to your appointments, talk to each other about why those are important to you and how you feel about them.

The other thing I might suggest is giving yourself a time cushion wherever possible before you decide how to react to some behaviour that has upset you. You know he loves you, you know he's a good person, and I am guessing you may have already investigated his disorder and know at least the technical side to it, so maybe what you need is to let how you FEEL get transformed by your KNOWLEDGE and see what comes of that.
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Old 08-29-05, 04:36 PM
chhinnamasta chhinnamasta is offline
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Double Binds and Double Standards

Thanks, crime_scene. I appreciate these suggestions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crime_scene
You know one of the key things I always feel I miss from my friendship with my aDD friend is the living experiences and perceptions of his behaviours and non behaviours that don't jive with my expectations and understanding of my needs.

What I really appreciate on these forums, is that the ADD folks here will share those perspectives and it's a real head turner, so I hope you also snoop around some of the ADD forums and look at some of the current and previous discussions that might give you some practical insight into the ADD world.

One example has to do with focus. Sometimes it is such a relief and pleasure to get focussed and working on something that any interruption is very unwelcome.

Another one is that it is so easy to get distracted, that one might miss very important dates and engagements, but it's not because they aren't important, it's about distractions.
One of the things my ADD partner and I have noticed is that, for different reasons, BOTH of our memories and abilities to focus and follow through are compromised. However, what I am tearing my hair out over is that my ADD partner accuses me of doing what he also does, even though I have indeed admitted my problems, taken responsibility for them, and asked him to understand how my depression is affecting these behaviors. Not only does he accuse me of behaviors that I have already admitted which he himself does (frequently without admitting them), he also accuses me of ACCUSING him of doing these things - "carping," "judging," "being negative," "dragging him down with me," and so on. When he does admit to having a problem, he frequently uses this as a basis for demanding that *I* change first, in order to "help him help me." Or, he will demand that I not tell him my needs, that I work on my problems (and "show that I can do for him what I am asking him to do for me") and let him work on his problems separately. While this is fine for many of our issues, I don't see how we are going to resolve our communication problems in this way.

One of the reasons I asked my original question about non-ADD partners knowing about their own depression and codependency BEFORE getting together with their ADD partners is that not only do many ADDers have depression as well as ADD, I have read somewhere in my researches that the non-ADD partner is at risk of becoming depressed by "burning out" on trying to adapt to his or her ADD partner's needs. This was a recurrent theme in many of the posts I browsed through. At some level, I feel that my ADD really DOES understand and accept me as I am with my own neurochemical challenges, and this is BECAUSE his ADD presents him with such a similar view of the world. I want to hear from non-ADDers who knew they were depressed or codependent before their relationship with the ADDer, and find out, among other things, if this underlying sense of being accepted by the ADD partner is there for others as it is for me - despite an excruciating tendency of the ADDer to blame your depression and/or codependency for the majority of your relationship problems. Was this part of what attracted you to them, and has anybody had a breakthrough in therapy or elsewhere where you and your ADD partner both saw this? How does one get to this point?

I have to stop now because I need to go pick my daughter up from preschool. More later.

Chhinnamasta
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Old 08-29-05, 07:49 PM
chhinnamasta chhinnamasta is offline
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Double Binds and Double Standards - Part 2

I'm back...

Quote:
Originally Posted by crime_scene
I was wondering, do you see the same therapist? Actually my idea would work whether you are or not, but here it is in left field a bit. If not is yours familiar with ADD, as I would assume your husband's does.

Ok, here it is: your husband says there is a communications process and you have negative thinking which leads to....so why not have a session with your hubby where you jot down 2 key things that you would like your partner's therapist to work with them on.

Before you go to your appointments, talk to each other about why those are important to you and how you feel about them.
Unfortunately, neither one of us is currently seeing a therapist, which is a very sticky issue in itself. I am unemployed at the moment and consequently do not have health insurance. To be on my partner's insurance, we would have to "present ourselves as married." We are NOT married - by CHOICE, and CHOOSE to present ourselves as not married - although our commitment to each other is stronger by its completely voluntary nature. Very few of our conventional acquaintances understand this choice.

My ADD partner has better access to therapy than I do, should he feel the need to start up again - and he has said that he intends to, while demanding that I do so as if I were resisting the idea when in fact I have wanted to be able to but have trouble in persisting in the often agonizingly drawn-out process. There are two additional obstacles to my getting therapy locally, even through public mental health facilities. First, to qualify for my therapy to be free or even sliding-scale, without which we literally cannot afford it, I need to avoid revealing any information about the degree to which my partner is currently supporting me. Second, and even harder, is that like many highly-educated and liberally-minded unconventional folk, we have many local mental health practitioners are in our personal and professional support networks. I am afraid that in the course of the normal, appropriate self-disclosures of therapy, we may unconsciously be biasing a friend, colleague, or potential mentor (etc.) against one or the other of us, even if the highest standards of professional confidentiality are strictly observed. The latter worry I am somewhat skeptical of in myself; it's probably the depression talking because I am too emotionally exhausted to keep insisting on my needs to people who either won't meet them, or simply can't, for completely legitimate reasons.

Although I like your idea that we ask each other what two things we would like our partner to work on with his/her therapist, I have some reservations and anticipate that my partner would resist doing this. That is, unless my partner and I DO get into couples therapy, he could understandably take it as a boundary violation were I to intrude my own expectations on work that should be between him and his own therapist. As far as the professional confidentiality issues, I would feel more comfortable in couples therapy than individual therapy because then my partner and I would both know that the therapist has both sides of the story to work with, and the therapist would be less likely to attribute denial to either party. Plus, there wouldn't be the ambiguity of "giving away" identifying information or giving rise to semiconscious speculation or worse, unconscious responses to the partner's behavior on the part of the mental health professional in a NONtherapy context based on the similarity of the problems we may have described about each other in therapy.


Quote:
Originally Posted by crime_scene
The other thing I might suggest is giving yourself a time cushion wherever possible before you decide how to react to some behaviour that has upset you. You know he loves you, you know he's a good person, and I am guessing you may have already investigated his disorder and know at least the technical side to it, so maybe what you need is to let how you FEEL get transformed by your KNOWLEDGE and see what comes of that.
How right you are! Me not getting reactive is easier at some times than at others: I have to be feeling pretty good about myself in order to walk away without plunging into a self-destruct loop and exploding (on myself, my partner may or may not be a bystander). My more extreme episodes of insecurity and needs for reassurance are pretty hard to navigate alone or when he is demanding that I give priority to his needs while criticizing me for beating myself up instead of paying attention to him.

As for knowing that he loves me and is a good person, I am aware that I have not put too much positive stuff in my postings so far - why I DO love him, etc. Two things that strike me right now (and I am going to have to close again here shortly - somewhere else to go) are his energy and helpfulness in problem-solving. However, these very virtues associated with his ADD leave him highly vulnerable to exploitation by others. He has trouble saying "NO" to anyone but me, I think - and he claims not to say "NO" to me as often as he really needs to for his own well-being. I can believe this. As I mentioned in my first post, he doesn't ever use his ADD as an excuse for anything, and I'm beginning to believe that his biggest trouble in saying "NO" comes from an underlying attitude that refusing to do everything asked of him feels to him like (and he may - possibly justly - feel like others will perceive it as) making excuses. He has told me that I am not to tell anyone who doesn't already know about his ADD that he is on medication for it. I think this comes from a "No excuses, period!" attitude on his part. I think that he has a defensive blind spot that, in order for him to maintain his self-image as someone who never gives excuses, he makes ME into the necessary excuse/scapegoat - and perhaps the one person whose needs he can consistently say "NO" to.

As I said, I need to go soon. I don't think his and my needs are ultimately as mutually exclusive as they might appear. The most important thing that I think I need him to see is that if he agreed to meet my needs at a reasonable level, I would improve so dramatically that the exploitation he works so hard to prevent would no longer be an issue, and I can see myself being capable of being much more positive and supportive of him (especially of him saying "NO" to some other folks for a change...)

Chhinnamasta
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Old 08-29-05, 09:24 PM
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Hmm. I'm not totally sure the saying no/not saying no is exclusively an ADD trait, as I have had other friends I'd put in that same basket for that particular issue.

I always like to look at that perhaps my friend might not be close enough to someone to avoid that weird social manipulation thing, and that she felt close enough and relaxed enough with me to be honest and say what she really did or didn't want.

There could be a bit of controlling in there, but I wondered that it wasn't part of the letting down the guard and saying how you feel part-- since you are doing so much for so many that you didn't totally want to, the power to say no in a trusted non threatening environment might be very rewarding.

I do agree though, if you have some drop dead important needs, you should try to talk with your partner about them, or there are no winners in the long run if they are ignored. I wonder what his needs are, or maybe they've been already addressed.

food for thought, anyway.

good luck!

cs
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Old 08-30-05, 04:17 PM
chhinnamasta chhinnamasta is offline
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crime_scene,

I agree: I don't think the inability to say "NO" is EXCLUSIVELY an ADD trait. It's just that in my partner and from my perspective, it appears to be a compensation for his difficulties with prioritizing/organizing and setting boundaries based on knowledge of his personal limits - and is kind of culturally a masculine thing, to never look weak to one's peers or supervisors by asking for help (or some slack, or a break). In a woman, it is more likely to take a passive-aggressive compliant form instead of the last-minute uproar where everyone else's needs (particularly emotional needs) must be subordinated to the super-responsible ADDer's mission-critical unfinished and over-the-deadline projects.

One of the psych sites that I am finding oddly helpful in generating some insight and compassion for my partner is a draft of a group therapy paper by a therapist named Jay Earley: Earley's thoughts about the positive role of DEFIANT personalities in groups and in society fits my partner quite well, although some of what he says about the Angry Victim personality applies to him, too (women more likely to be Helpless Victim personalities).

And though we can both be scatterbrained and absentminded, an issue that came up today is that he could not tell that I was NOT being sarcastic when I thanked him for calling me to remind me of the spot I was picking him up at: I made a point of telling him how grateful I was specifically because I knew that he might have been reluctant to do to me something he HATES being done to him (reminding). Unfortunately, I was not listening to the factual information in his message, and I went to the wrong spot to pick him up, anyway. Arrrrgh! I am NOT stupid, and I certainly am not passive-aggressive...I just try TOO hard sometimes at positively reframing the emotional content I get fixated on.

chhinnamasta
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