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ADHD Adults

Coping/revamping without husband's knowledge?

Hello, I’m new to this forum and I apologize if this has already been covered…today has been a meltdown day for me and I just can’t seem to get my feet back under me.  Hoping someone here can throw me a rope!! 

I am 42 years old, was diagnosed with ADHD at age 29 (although have fought it all my life) and have developed many non-med coping mechanisms that worked well enough (not perfect, but well enough to function) when I was single.  I have always been lower-income and medication/regular therapy is just not an option, the money is simply not there.

A year ago I married a wonderful man - but a man who is old-fashioned and doesn’t really believe in mental illness at all, let alone ADHD.  Our church definitely backs up this belief - considers ADHD a made-up diagnosis that can be completely cured with enough prayer and faith.  I do NOT hold this belief myself, but I am, of course, open to the idea that prayer and faith can and do help with all of life’s difficulties.

There are many, many layers to what I’m dealing with today and it’s too much for an introductory email so I will get to the bottom line:  Is there a way to get my ducks in a row without calling it “treatment” etc. 

Will add really quickly - I am running a home business and also caring for my adult disabled daughter full-time. There’s a LOT to keep track of, even if I wasn’t fighting my own ADHD.  Absolutely need all of the extra physical and mental energy that God has given me…just need to get it all going in the same direction!

Before we got married, I was using Pam Jones/Peggy Young’s index card system (with my own modifications) and managing to stay on top of the most important things in my life.  Not everything, there were still a few things that got missed, a few people who got disappointed, etc.  But it wasn’t overwhelming.  I was managing.

Husband thinks I am using the cards as a crutch (and maybe he’s right) and that I am over-complicating things that just shouldn’t be that difficult.  This is embarrassing to admit but for the sake of illustration I will give you an example.  I will forget to brush my teeth in the morning if I don’t have it on a card.  I’m 42 years old and need reminded, daily, to brush my teeth.  I can understand his confusion over this because he is a person who has a very set and structured routine that he does not have to think about.

I have tried and tried to establish these kind of routines.  For me, they just don’t “stick” if I don’t have an external reminder device.  That “21 day” rule for establishing a habit has never worked for me.  Come day 22 (or day 30 or day 90 or week 6) and I’m off doing something else as if I never worked at it at all…it doesn’t STICK unless I have that external device. He is right that my system does, in fact, add more layers of complexity to household chores and such…it DOES take me longer to get stuff done than it would if I just remembered what needs to be done.  But at least, with this system…I was getting 80% of life DONE…the alternative to let my mind wander off chasing a butterfly, lose 3 or 4 hours of my day, and then NOTHING getting done.

Is there something a little more “normal” that I can do…something that looks more normal and won’t look so much like I’m leaning on a crutch?  Maybe something that you have developed say, in the workplace where people might not know (or care) that you have ADHD? 

I’m sorry this is so wordy and I appreciate any insight you can offer…except please don’t suggest I leave my husband.  He is a good man and I’ve made a commitment to him, not leaving him…he just doesn’t really get this and I’m lousy at trying to explain it to him. 

Thanks anyone who responds!


If your system works for you, I’d stay with it. Maybe you are relying on it too much. Most smart phones have reminders and there are apps that you can download that allow you to make daily agendas for yourself that you can refer to to make sure you get things accomplished. I would never recommend anyone to leave their spouse but apparently those who don’t have this problem and don’t live with it have no ideal what we go through. They either say we use it as in excuse or something else and it’s really sad that your church doesn’t support you. You have documentation that proves you have ADHD, show it to them and suggest that there are materials to read, and to your husband as well. If your husband truly values your marriage and loves you, he would look into it. I still pray for guidance and to help me stay focused. I was diagnosed at the age 25 and I’ll be 52 next month, I remain having money problems to this day, amongst other things. All we can do is to try our best and thank God for what we have. I don’t know if what I said has helped but I wish you well and good fortune.

Posted by bluejack on Aug 24, 2014 at 7:59pm

You are a trooper, doing all that you do and without medication!! I don’t have any subtle techniques to share with you, but maybe I can give you a little hope bc my family used to be very dismissive about my ADD, but over time they’ve come to see that it is real, that it’s not me, that it is a neurobiological condition. This has helped me tremendously. Having a very structured spouse is good for an ADD person, and I’m sure your husband is a good guy. Since the card system works for you and not using them doesn’t work, gently and lovingly let your husband know that you really need the cards. Be very honest and gently stand your ground. He doesn’t have to agree with you, or think ADD is real, he just has to eventually accept your need for the card system. I wish I had a subtle technique for you. I take medication for my ADD. I cannot imagine functioning without it, so I take my hat off to you! You sound very capable and kind, so stick to your truth in an honest, loving way and you will prevail. You certainly deserve it.

Posted by carolina525 on Aug 24, 2014 at 8:35pm

I am not familiar with your card system but I do think making a list of your common daily routines..such as listing activities of daily living. and In what order you want to do them may be helpful .  Follow your list every day and it will become “a way to function” for you.  You can follow your list like a recipe.
I definitely use my smart phone to make lists snd keep a calender.  I use the EVERNOTE app to make lists or to type notes of reminders.  I especily put links to things I want to research later on EVERNOTE so I don’t interupt my task.  I set multiple alarms on the phone or use timers to set limits for tasks so I can get out of the house on time.  I also take pictures of complicated how the plugs go in the devices that hook to the tv and how something looks before I take it apart to fix it…so I have a chance of putting it back together correctly.  I store all notes on EVERNOTE so I don’t loose scraps of paper & all phone numbers, addresses & email addresses are all on the smartphone..all in the same place.  Also, I put multiple reminders on tasks on the smartphone calender even a few days prior to an appt..the phone starts to remind me.

I have been a home caregiver for 7 years for my bedridden dad with dementia.  I never deviate from his routine and thus,  it provides structure and routine for me and it aides his care and both our brains to function more efficientlyl.  If I change the order or alter the way I do things, something may get missed….and then my duck has stepped out of line!

Your home business…when I had paperwork to do @ home for my business, it was helpful to me to make a 2 hour appt. With myself to get it done.  I would set the timer for two hours and would not take any calls or interuptions.  If you cannot focus for that period of time, set your alarm/timer for 20 minutes..give yourself a 10 minute break to get distracted but set the timer for 10 minutes & then get right back to task &  but make sure to set the timer again.

By doing all my daily tasks in the same order, I can look @ my clock now and know exactly what I am supposed to everyday..I do that task @ that time.  I do not have OCD, it is just a way to organize myself & my time because structure is very inportant.  Having a written schedule..posted or on your phone..written somewhere is a great tool.

I hope something I said is helpful.  GOOD LUCK!

Posted by angelface on Aug 25, 2014 at 3:48am

A smartphone can manage most of this for you. There is an app called Rountine that will remind you about each step. I put items in my calendar with reminder alerts for lots of things, not just appointments. Here are more good apps for those with ADHD:

The real issue though is that your spouse and your community are not supporting you, and, furthermore, making you feel bad about yourself. This is not ok. I would seek out a church that will support you and offers counseling so you and your spouse can get on the same page. You have a neurological disorder that you were born with. There’s no changing it.

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 25, 2014 at 2:54pm

Thank you all so much for your replies and your kindness.  It’s so nice to just be able to talk to people who get it.  I really appreciate your time and your recommendations.

Can’t afford a smart phone but I’m wondering if these apps that you all are using can also be used on a PC?  I’m home with my daughter all day and on the PC for quite a bit of it because of the business. 

Thank you angelface for mentioning the routine with your dad’s dementia….my daughter is getting ready to start the keto diet in September, which is very rigid and structured by design…if I can segue changes in my routine with hers, it won’t look so strange to people who don’t get it. Daughter’s condition (glut 1 deficiency) has a genetic basis and no one questions the need to write down med schedules and meal schedules with her…I think I just need to get creative with it.

Random thought…I organize my time much better when I have less of it to organize, when I’m busier, the faster pace actually keeps me on track better than long stretches of “free” time.  Is that an ADHD thing or just a life thing?  Does the adrenaline rush from being hurried act like a stimulant?  Just wondering…

Posted by DianeinWonderland on Aug 25, 2014 at 3:18pm


If you can’t afford a smartphone, create the same systems and routines for yourself with paper. It sounds like you were doing that with the notecards, but I think you can accomplish it in a less obvious way.

Many people (ADHD or not) live by their planner. They take it with them everywhere and write everything in it. I recommend a full-size planner that has just one page on every day—that way you can plan your time down to 15-minute increments if need be. Seeing the time slots also helps with time management. Here’s more on successfully using a planner when you have ADHD:,, and

Then, record and post your routines. In the bathroom, post a list of your morning and bedtime routines (you can even make these lists look like art and maybe it wouldn’t stand out so much to your partner: like these examples: and There’s no shame in posting reminders - lots of people do it.

Structure is the cure for chaos:

Good luck!
ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 26, 2014 at 12:54pm

Most of the same sorts of apps or extensions are available for desktops, laptops, tablets as well as smart phones.
Chrome is my preferred browser and has a lot of free apps and extensions that automatically sync my phone and desktop. Other browsers and operating systems probably have a good array also.

Posted by Gadfly on Aug 26, 2014 at 2:42pm

Have you looked into Flylady?  She based her system on the index card system you are using.  She has a great tool called a “Control Journal” that replaces the index cards.  Mine is housed in my planner.  I also have a Household Notebook where the expanded version of the Control Journal can be found.  The portion in my planner are the general routines.

Btw, I do have a sticky note in my bathroom that lets me know what I need to do in there each morning.  I never told anyone about that before.  You are the first.  I use Post-It Notes so much that you would think I owned stock in 3M, or that I got a huge discount when buying them.  My husband of 47 years finds them amusing….  LOL

The same information is stored on my laptop and in my smartphone and tablet, but it is not always convenient to have those with me.  The planner is my preferred life management tool.

I do not doubt that ADD could be healed by God.  I do, however, also believe that He leaves some things unfixed so that we can learn to live well with the problem.  I live well in spite of my ADD because I have chosen to live with my ADD.  My ADD does not define me.  It does define how I do things, which is really not a big deal to anyone else.  Why?  Because with or without my ADD, I get things done.  It may take a little longer for me to do it, but it is done.  What difference does the time make if I am aware of my limitations and Making more time available for the things that take me longer to do?  I mean, who makes these rules on this stuff anyway?

I take no medication for my ADD because of other health issues.  That is fine by me, but had the ADD been diagnosed sooner, I would definitely try them.  Since I cannot take the meds anyway, it was going to be up to me to do what I could to live better with it.  I think that I have done well.  My husband says that I am amazing.  My kids think that I am Wonder Woman.  Friends and acquaintances think I have some kind of “powers”.  I laugh at this.  I am an ordinary woman who has chosen to think of my ADD as a very odd gift and am taking advantage of that gift.

I love my life.  It just happens that my life is built over, under, around, and through, my ADD.  God loves me “warts and all”.  If He can accept me as I am, then why can’t his people?  Hmmm…

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Aug 26, 2014 at 9:02pm

Thank you all again…after much more discussion about this (and some other issues) and after sitting my husband down and actually going through the cards with him, and having a fat stack of cards at the end of the day to show him what I actually DID get done, he’s agreed that I need to stay with what works.

It helps that he sat with me when we were looking at the various apps for an ancient tablet I forgot I had, trying to get the new programs to load onto this old device and hitting one road-block after another, his frustration was even higher than mine.  So…cards it is.  So relieved!! grin

He really did not know how much I actually have to do and keep track of.  He works 78 hours a week, so pretty much anything else is my responsibility, anything to do with running the household and the business and finances and well, pretty much everything else.  He didn’t realize how much of a workload that was until he saw it, in great and gory detail, in my card system. 

My card for “weekly chores dining room” has a checklist for the individual things that need to be done in that room and a time estimate for how long it takes - I make it a game…somewhere along the line my hubby got the idea that “housewife” is someone who does a few little household chores, then sits on the couch and watch soaps for the rest of the day, lol….I was able to, lovingly, set him straight on that. He even admitted to me that in all the time we’ve lived together, he can’t remember ever seeing me just sitting around doing nothing, not once. 

Not used to advocating for myself.  In this case it worked, and it kinda felt good.  Who’d a thunk it?

Thank you again for all your support and ideas!!  Some of them I will still check out, even though I get to keep my beloved cards, lol.

Posted by DianeinWonderland on Aug 26, 2014 at 11:30pm

Previous people who have posted have said some good things about strategies for AD/HD. I would like to comment on the belief by some Christians that AD/HD is not a real medical condition.

I am an ordained pastor and I have run into the same belief, though thankfully not in my denomination. This belief comes from a lack of understanding of how AD/HD is affected by genetics and of its being a very real disability resulting from issues in the person’s brain (it is NOT a mental illness, but is categorized as a mental health condition).

AD/HD is real, and if people choose to say it is not, perhaps they would be willing to read an article from ADDitude magazine explaining the physiology of it. If they are unwilling, they reveal their close-mindedness and judgmental spirit. This is a true shame, for Christ does not want us to be critical, but to be encouraging and considerate! Do not let the words or judgments of others bother you. In fact, it is usually best not to self-disclose in most settings. Just be the best person you can be in each setting, keep praying, and believe that while you will not be the same as a neuro-typical person, you are the very person that God created you to be. He was not surprised by your AD/HD and he does not make mistakes. He loves you with your AD/HD and looks at you and says, “Very good!!” Blessings, Diane, (The AD/HD world needs a chaplain. If there was a position, I would love to fill it!!)

Posted by patriciajean on Aug 27, 2014 at 3:08am

That is so sweet and encouraging…thank you! 

There are a few in my church I might tell about it if the opportunity presents itself, so far it really hasn’t.  There are a few I wouldn’t waste my time with…there are two in particular who think taking an aspirin is a sin, or at the very least a total lack of faith - clearly these are not folks who are open for discussion about it, but not anyone I would lose too much sleep worrying about. grin

I probably misspoke when I implied the entire church feels this way about it.  My denomination is Word of Faith and they are BIG believers in faith healing, although only the most extreme would advocate refusal of medical treatment for serious conditions - definitely not the entire church body.  Mental health/differences are a grey and disputed area that we usually just don’t talk about, but there has been some pretty frank discussion about depression since Robin Williams died.  Our pastor, in fact, talked openly from the pulpit about his own battle with depression and it definitely opened some doors for a little more open-mindedness.  He ruffled some feathers too, but I was personally glad to hear it.

This is definitely not the denomination I would have gravitated to on my own, but joined because my husband was already heavily involved with children’s ministry there when I met him.  I love that it is a smaller church full of “do-ers” more than talkers, who get out and serve and help people, especially after the tornado went through (we live in Joplin.)  Mostly, they take the call to serve very literally and enthusiastically.  Guess I will take the bad with the good, for now anyway.

Because I definitely have the hyper component, I personally feel like my ADHD is a gift from God…a gift he KNEW I would need to care for my daughter…who is also a gift and a constant learning experience.  I think my husband will see it that way too, eventually.  I know he loves us both and that this is just a new and foreign world for him.

For tonight, anyway, a big hurdle crossed.  Feeling pumped!!  Think I’ll go tackle some cards! grin  Thank you all again…this group rocks!!  So glad to have found you!

Posted by DianeinWonderland on Aug 27, 2014 at 4:12am

I want to comment on how you feel things are better when you have less time. It is an ADD thing and here’s why: with ADD, your neurotransmitters aren’t firing the same as with “neurotypical people”. It’s as if your clutch is not engaging fully and your power brake and power steering fluids are low, so you aren’t in gear, you don’t slow down and you get off course. Medication can help people just like adding the fluids and lubricating the clutch. They are boosting the braking and steering mechanisms with stimulants, which slow hyper people down and help distracted people engage their focus. Adrenaline may be doing the same thing for you- the increased stress is causing your neurotransmitters to allow you to come into sharp focus - like people who are first responders their brains are very sharp during a crisis. Medicating for ADD is not that different than people who drink coffee all day or they can’t work.

Posted by Juggler on Sep 01, 2014 at 11:03pm

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