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I have OCD and he has ADHD

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Old 06-17-2012, 01:55 PM   #1
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Question I have OCD and he has ADHD

I have OCD (mostly about keeping the house clean and tidy) and my boyfriend has pretty severe ADHD. We live together, and we fight constantly about how he forgets to clean up after himself, put things away in the proper place, clean his dishes, and other things that involve cleanliness or tidiness. He's prescribed Adderoll for his ADHD, but he sometimes forgets to take it; either on or off his meds, he still is super forgetful and untidy. It drives me crazy, but he doesn't see it as a big deal. At first, I tried to show him how I liked things to be, and asked him to do it that way from now on. He always says he will, but then keeps forgetting; every time I go into a room and see something like a dirty dish or dirty clothes on the floor, I get upset and start lecturing him about how he doesn't do what he says he'll do. He gets mad, defensive, and annoyed, and we fight. However, even after we make up and agree to be better with each other (he remembers to clean up for me and I don't raise my voice at him), he still forgets. Because he keeps forgetting, I get frustrated and feel unheard, and so I raise my voice to him and get exasperated; he shuts down and stops listening to me, and things get just out of hand from there. This gets us nowhere and only makes things worse. The fighting has started to drive us apart, but I really want to make this work. I need help to cope with our differences so we can save our relationship. If we can't find a middle ground on this, it's very possible we'll end up breaking up. Please help!!

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Old 06-17-2012, 04:18 PM   #2
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Re: I have OCD and he has ADHD

The middle ground you need to reach is that you'll have to learn to accept your boyfriend for the person he is, not who you want him to be.

I've told so many people this advice over the years, meanwhile going from failed relationship to failed relationship without any insight into myself. I myself am an ADHDer, inattentive and hyperactive. I was diagnosed one year ago and last month I turned 59.

My (third and best) husband is an OCDer, so while I haven't walked in your shoes, I know the frustrations that you experience firsthand, because I've driven every partner I've ever had completely insane, and then I'd leave them because I'd resent that they were so unreasonable and controlling.

In a nutshell, we forget, its not personal, its not that we don't care, its not that we don't even want to try, its a mental disability, its an illness. We can't control it, so it's equally true that you can't control it in him.

Medication can help with focus and attentiveness, but only for so long as its being taken, and it can't be taken 24/7or we'd never be able to sleep. I myself cannot take psychostimulants because of a minor heart condition, and I work as a legal secretary. Stress is my ememy so I have to stay very, very organized. Its very hard to do but I need the pay cheque so I engage in deep breathing exercises, and power walking, listening to my iPod with hard rock and heavy metal music to keep pace with.

Can you see what I'm trying to say here? Its that your behaviour in insisting that he change will only make him worse because he will become stressed out about everything he does. With that happening, he'll inevitably become depressed and your life with him will become even more difficult.

Encourage him instead - to relax, to take walks, to work out at the gym. Encourage him to read up on Adult ADHD on the internet - you too! There are a whole lot of helpful websites out there. Education of what is going on in our mixed up heads is really helpful. Encourage him to find coping mechanisms for remembering. Get a bristol board or a board that you can write on with non-permanent markers and write down the things that you need him to do so that he can't forget, unless he forgets to look at the board. Or, go shopping with him to buy a diary that he and you can write in every day to remind him of appointments, chores, etc. Open it again at the end of the day and whatever isn't done, carry it over to tomorrow. He may not remember it, but with you helping him that will go a long way for him and you. He will remember that every morning and evening you and he sit down and do this exercise - i.e., in itself, this becomes a coping mechanism for him.

Other than this, another option is getting some counselling from an expert in Adult ADHD. Having been through this myself, what I've described above is some of what I remember being counselled to do. I only wish I'd been able to take my husband along to my sessions so that he'd be able to understand a little better. My behaviour with him when he's hounding me about this or that is a mirror image of your boyfriend's behaviour with you. I shut down, I tune him out, I leave the house just to get away from his nagging. It solves nothing - for him or me.

I hope this helps you and your boyfriend understand ADHD a little better, and helps to pave the way to a more flexible and rich relationship that isn't founded on control, anger and resentment.

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