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Im the Mom who keeps the entire ADHD family afloat and I’m burnt out!

Tedjorich profile image

Hello, all. I sought out this group out of desperation. I do not know where to turn. We are a family of 5. My husband, 20yo son, and 12yo son all have ADHD. My 16yo daughter lacks the H but still has the ADD. My husband is the biggest issue, as I feel like his ADHD literally wrecks our marriage on a daily basis. Everyone is medicated, including him, but I don’t feel like his med does anything. He says it does because he “manages” work just fine. It’s everything else he manages terribly.

I’m aware that I’m full of resentment. Mom is the absolute last person anyone considers. And I’m starting to be seen in a negative light because I’m in a bad mood all the time. Over the last few years, I have developed my own issues, I believe as a result of the stress I’m always under with our family. I have developed pretty significant anxiety and sensory issues. My doc even put me on a medication to help focus because sometimes I am just all over the map. I didn’t used to be that way. I think managing this family has truly made me that way.

We are on vacation right now and all I want to do is sit in my room away from all of them. I love them all dearly, but I can’t handle being around them all and managing all of this anymore. I’m burnt out! Help!

17 Replies

I’m sorry about your struggles. One book that I’ve been reading just to see what I think, is What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew. I think that this will give you tips on how to help your children with ADHD. Maybe try finding books about ADHD and all that. But I wish you luck in everything. It’s okay to need quiet time, I need my quiet time too. I hope you end up feeling better and do what you need to do to help yourself. I am only 18, and I’ve never been in a relationship, I’ve got ADHD, so I can’t give you advice there, but you got this! And I hope you feel better soon.

OMG F*ing God girl PREACH! I could have written this post. 100%!!! You have my DEEPEST sympathy! I absolutely know this feeling. I will say, you’re a stronger person than I. Were only a family of 3, our son is 2yo BUT we all have ADHD. Obviously my son isn’t diagnosed but let’s just say it takes one to know one. He’s definitely got it. Between my husband and I, I was the more “high functioning” ADHD’er and well, the rest is history. My break down sounds EXACTLY like yours, it was just faster because I too am ADHD. I couldn’t handle the responsibilities anymore. I’ll tell you this, it was the worst 2 years of my life after my son was born. I just wanted to escape! I resented both of them but mostly my husband. I can still BARLY speak to my husband without it being a fight. I’m just so done. All I want to do is escape..... but of course, that’s not “actually” an option so it then turns into feeling trapped. I crave some interaction but than all it does is boil me over and just can’t take any of it anymore.

Many here give advice about reading ADHD books and learning how better to manage and have compassion for the ADHD person but I say F that!! When I first joined this site it was a nice idea and very compassionate. But I came to realize that as the spouse or head of the family of an ADHD group AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! We are done! We are pissed! We may snap at any second! If one more person needs me at this exact moment I’m going to spontaneously combust! And it looks like nothing will change. If I have to repeat this conversation one more time... I’m going to stab myself in the eye with my finger. And it looks like you can’t escape. And it can feel like this merry go round will never stop. In other words, you’re done helping your family cope with their ADHD! It’s ruining you. I doubt you feel the need or energy to manage anything besides keeping yourself out of the nut house. Yet managing everything you still do! I can absolutely sympathize. You’re not alone. There are so many spouses of ADHD’ers out there in the exact same circumstances. Finding themselves being turned into a person they don’t even recognize. Full of resentment and anger becoming increasingly unpredictable. I must say, after 20 years of this, you’ve done a bang up job! This is really tough stuff! You’re obviously extremely talented to have made it this far. They are all ridiculously lucky to have you.

So my recommendation is a little different. I would recommend survival mode. It’s time to unload some of your responsibility. You just have too. I don’t know the dynamic of your family but it’s time to allocate some of your responsibilities. If you drive kids to school, guess what, take the bus kids. If you get groceries every week TAKE LONGER, it’s someone else day to make dinner while you shop, slowly. Who cares how it tastes. You probably won’t! If you have a lot of chores, now it’s other kids responsibilities. AND the chore schedule that you crest is DAD’s responsibilities to enforce. You wrote things and dad unforced it. If not, dad does it! If you have money, pay them. Even better. If not, you’re teaching them other life skills. Does homework take too long for younger kids, guess what, older kids can help. Again, if you have money you can pay them. If not, tutor looks good on a resume. If you can’t stand the look of their room, here’s a different one. Close the door. Don’t put that on you. That’s on them. I know it’s super hard to let somethings go, but you need to let some things go. If you want them to clean their room, encourage them to have friends over. They’ll clean it out of embarrassment.

But number one of all... dad needs his meds changed. ADHD is 24/7 and work is 8 hours a day. I can’t say for sure if dad needs to up his meds or change his meds or add a booster but somethings got to give. Treating ADHD isn’t about managing work! It’s about managing life! And you’re not managing well right now. You need all hands on deck! My husband tried to pull this one on me a few months ago and I lost my S***. I don’t care how you’re functioning with work. That has nothing to do with me and our son. I care how you’re managing home and it’s a big fat fail! If you know his dr personally I would go straight to the source. Talk to his dr. Ask for his recommendation. After doing anything in your power to convince your husband to change his meds, call and pick up the meds yourself.

Oh! And those chef at home meals and stuff like that would be great for when someone else has to cook. I will say they’re a bit pricy but there’s usually discounts or groupons for them. Also, even if you don’t have a lot of money but enough, nows the time to use it for a maid or a tutor or paying the kids to help out. Better than vacation. Or use it on yourself! You deserve it! Take me time!

I don’t know if your dr tried a low dose antidepressant but maybe it’s also worth a try??? It sucks because even though you may have picture perfect mental health and all your feelings are totally justified, it’s also not a situation that’s easily changed. Your family is your family and you can only take so much. The people you’re surrounded with can be hard to change. Perhaps an antidepressant could just take the edge off. I’m not sure.

You should also go for some walks on your vacation. ALONE! The family probably won’t even know you’re missing! Hahahaha. Take care of you now. Make it more about you and less about them. You’re very important!

I hope something here helps.

Ignorance- Your whole freaking post helped! THANK YOU! I do a lot of this already. I have a housekeeper come every 2 weeks and my kids have always had plenty of chores. I could care less what their rooms look like. It’s the daily stuff with 2 working parents that is really tough. If one of us doesn’t make sure the 12yo takes his meds, he won’t. That kind of stuff that I just get sick and tired of being the only one to even freaking pay attention!

I have been on antidepressants for 25 years, but I’ve had trouble the last year for sure keeping things under control. It’s pretty apparent why. LOL

I went off earlier. I told all of them I was so close to a nervous breakdown. Gave them the whole list of reasons that they have all contributed to my demise. We are leaving a day early tomorrow. I’d like to think they see now, but only time will tell. 🙄

Did you ever try Wellbutrin? I know it’s mostly discussed here in regards to ADHD but it’s definitely NOT just for ADHD. It work’s totally differently than traditional antidepressants and can help give you a boost of energy, libido and possibly even loose a little weight! (Not that I’m saying your weight is bad). Perhaps a boost is what you need instead.

Also, and I can’t stress this enough, be sure you’re getting YOU time. Just you. Maybe after the smaller kids go to bed you can find an opportunity to be alone. Like, door closed, no one bother you alone. Schedule it if you have too. Then put a note on the door too! No interrupting! You could also take a class or something. Something fun that you might like. Like painting or something. Try to schedule it on days you know are hard for you. Perhaps you hate Wednesdays! The weekend isn’t close enough and you’re especially pissed at life! Do it then! Make sure it’s during dinner and clean up time so others have to handle the heavy part of the evening.

The weekend is also good becomes as much as we love to think of the weekend and having fun with the family it seems to always end up backfiring into an overwhelming, not relaxing in the slightest, weekend.

Have you thought of a cheap watch for your 12 years son that has an alarm for his meds? Perhaps he can start trying to do it himself?? Or even a super cheap phone with no cell package, for an alarm for his meds. However, if he forgets his meds, the phone is taken away.

I hope something here helps.

Sorry you had to cut your vacation short. Traveling can be sooo much work!! Maybe next time it can be an overnight hotel say with just you and the husband. Just for rest and relaxation!

I tried Wellbutrin years ago. The wrong drug for me- I spiraled horribly right away. I don’t know that I’m not on the right need. As I tell my husband all the time - medication can’t fix everything. If you’re stuck in an impossible situation, under an extreme amount of stress, not to mention suffering chronic pain, no antidepressant is going to “fix”it. I can’t imagine if I wasn’t on what I am right at my boosted dose, really.

My son has an alarm, that’s not really the problem. If someone doesn’t WATCH him take it, we don’t know if he really did. And we have to micromanage everything he eats because if he has the smallest amount of sugar or red dye, he makes us crazy. So it’s mostly that stuff that I’m the one that tries to keep him on track. If I’m out of town for the weekend, Dad doesn’t remember. It’s just ridiculous.

I absolutely LOVE YOUR REPLY!!! SO TRUE, all of it! One can only do so much for so long, thanks for putting the reality check out there! What you posted is some important stuff! 😆🙂

Hi there, your story sounds just like mine I have a 5yr old with ADHD after he was diagnosed and I learned about ADHD the more I read the more I realized my husband should be tested, he was diagnosed shortly after. I’m certain one of my stepdaughters has ADD as well and the other exhibits ADD with anxiety also, I always feel exhausted and the one trying to hold things together, everyone seems to be impulsive and can’t consider others feelings, my son we are working on his being managed but my husbands behaviors haven’t changed a lot even with medication he recently upped his starting 2 days ago it’s too early to tell if it’s really helping more. The same situation you are in brought me here also out of desperation frustration and being exhausted. I seem to be irritable so often and get mad because the basic things are overlooked my patience seems to be worn out and it’s just not fair to my son or husband I am almost resentful my patience gets worn on him when we have a 5 year old that needs us. I’m repeating remind and redirecting all day. I seem to often to have lost my own sanity in trying to manage. It’s like my husband is often childlike and I can’t count on him for basics so I end up doing more then I should all the time it’s definitely strained our marriage. Please read the post I made a while back and the comments I received I’m sure you will see you are not alone in this and many of us with loved ones that were diagnosed struggle also. I’m glad you are here and reached out, this is the place you will find comfort and not feel alone. Take time for yourself. Perhaps you can persuade your husband to listen to or read up on how ADHD affects marriage the first one I read about it was actually called the ADHD effect on marriage by Melissa Orlov. It opened my husbands eyes at least to how I felt and I was able to understand more about his ADHD we also had therapy from a couples therapists who was familiar with ADHD which helped a bit, I’m sure individual therapy may help as well I’ve been suggested that just haven’t found one yet. But what’s helped me most to be honest is taking time for myself when needed, and reading on this site. You are far from being alone. I’m so sorry you are struggling hang in there! They are all lucky to have you, it’s so important to reach out and talk about it I’m glad you made it here. 🙂

Several have been in your shoes - add me to the list! We looked at divorce for a loooong time. My ADHD husband finally got CBT (behavioral therapy) AND medication and the combo has made ALL the difference. Your HUSBAND has to change. YOU CAN'T fix this relationship, picky he can!

I have found that with our communication and partnership on the mend, I am happier & feel supported and less alone, less worn out.

We also (finally!) work together decently on the mutual goal of helping our 4 (adult) kids' needs to be met.

Without your husband going to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) weekly, -you- are better off divorced. ❤

Hi,Being an ADHD mom and spouse means you will have all the normal marriage and raising kids issues, (feeling taken for granted, never having time for yourself, not feeling appreciated, etc.) magnified 100 fold. I’ve found that one of the primary coping mechanisms ADHDers use, is to blame someone else when they’ve screwed something up. It usually ends up being “Mom” who gets that blame. Mom, who is struggling to her last breath just to support management of the daily family train-wrecks (I can’t find my keys, I forgot my homework, I’m late for work, I’m locked out of my car, I lost my wallet, our bank account is overdrawn, I have to bring cookies to a bake sale in two hours...) as well as her own life and job. Yes, all families have to deal with those issues on an occasion basis, but ADHD families deal with them hourly and all at once and from multiple family members. Then there’s the emotional disregulation, the over-sensitivity, the melt-downs, the rants and the resentments that no one else has to try so hard just to stay even. In trying to keep things running, Mom is often criticized as a control-freak and hardly ever gets recognition for using every last ounce of energy just to hold things together. Then when Mom collapses in a puddle of tears, she becomes a drama queen who is making a big deal out of nothing. (Usually it is some small incident that causes Mom to lose it, and difficult for family to understand the underlying problems). If you can afford family counseling, try to express your feelings without explicit blame and think about what you need to survive in your family. Some families seem able to discuss issues without expensive professional help, though mine never could. At the very least, let your family know that you love them beyond words, but need occasional time to yourself. I have a sister I stay with and sometimes just do a mini-vacation completely by myself. A one night stay in a nice local hotel with dinner, drinks and a massage is good, if you can afford it - camping if you can’t. My problem was that I tried too hard to prevent the ADHD feelings of failure and subsequent depression and self-loathing. I tried to set up success from the get-go, but was using my well-developed executive functioning skills to do so, rather than letting them develop their own. I just couldn’t stand to see the hurt and frustration and low self-esteem that followed in the wake of too much failure. It broke my heart to hear my smart, articulate intellectually curious son call himself stupid and a looser, so I overcompensated. It exhausted me and made him feel angry and manipulated.

In conclusion, I feel your pain and want you to know you are not alone in your frustration. I don’t have any great answers, except to take care of yourself. Join a dance class, a book club, a gym. Take loving breaks from the fam, even if just for an afternoon. If you can afford it, get counseling to help you resolve your own anger and the behaviors that stem from it. One of the worst things about coping with my family issues is feeling as though I’ve become a person I don’t want to be. Letting go of the anger is difficult, especially when confronted with everyone else’s emotional outbursts on a constant basis. Meditation, focusing on the positive aspects of your family, feeling gratitude for what you have, exercise, ect. You can only control who you are and what you do.

Tedjorich profile image
Tedjorich in reply to 406M

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard what life is like for us described so exquisitely LOL. You gave me much to think about. I do tend to take me time, but I think I take it at the wrong time. I need to steal it from THEM and not myself. So maybe in the evenings or weekends. Going to work on that! Thank you so much!

Pinsnneedles profile image
Pinsnneedles in reply to 406M

Wow this has hit a spot!

I’ve been asked to give my executive functioning skills and being the brain for the whole family has worn me out. Its refreshing to hear someone describing whats been happening.

Decision making, planning, time management etc is boring and stressful & limits my creativity amongst other things. When I was asked to do things and I had to say no - eg I had other things to do, needed to relax after work or plan my own work, it was evening and I didn’t have the energy - it would cause a massive reaction. So I ended up feeling like I was expected to give everything I had endlessly until I was an empty husk and then who would pick me up and look after me?

Even when we’d discuss this the conversation would be well I can do it and its easy for me so there’s not even an option for me to say no. But just because I have an ability to do something doesn’t mean I have a duty to use that energy on someone else at the sacrifice of myself. I don’t have to give half my battery to someone else so they can tolerate their own disability (there are other health conditions too), it isn’t my responsibility. (Still trying to convince myself of this!)

I did it willingly for a time while he couldn’t. And I’ve also tried to protect him from failures and hurt and comforted a lot.

Wish I’d known more of this 5 years ago!

Oh wow! There’s so much information here. My husband had a mother that did EVERYTHING and 100% is STILL the blame everyone else for his mistakes! It is absolutely infuriating! He will even blame our child for the most ridiculous things. I’ve tried so hard to help him see that. It’s getting a little better but my lord! Really man? Just own it! I, also raised in an ADHD family did not have someone to manage everything as my mother was the one with ADHD. Don’t get me wrong, she rocked it, but in light of my diagnosis (and my whole families diagnosis) there was a lot missed! Unfortunately, I did a lot of fending for myself and just like you said, it created a lot of failures! Eventually, depression and self loathing eventually morphing into anxiety trying to constantly “run” my life and then overcompensating in some OCD like traits. But I could take responsibility for all of my actions. If something is my fault, it’s my fault! Come to think about it I definitely had many years where even things that weren’t my fault, I blamed myself for. Are those the only 2 options? Us with ADHD either shirk all responsibilities or develope depression and anxiety from having to have responsibilities?? I will say this, my ADHD my WAY better controlled when my husband and I married. I could deal with the day to day, things were clean and organized, I could fulfill my work, home and wife duties, I had exceptional memory and amazing multitasking skills, flexibility, I had eventually learned patients and had more of a handle on emotional dysregulation, depression was a thing of the past, anxiety was daily but manageable.... but I was also 36 and it took me my whole life to get there. My husband developed zero of those skills. And he ripped our lives down year by year until I had a full on ADHD melt down, was forced into becoming some wierd Type A person (literally my nightmare) and don’t even recognize or like myself anymore. As a person who spent my whole like blaming myself for everything, I can confidently say this is my husbands fault! Hahahah. Well, the baby too. I was unlucky to have a different labor, 2 postpartum surgeries, zero support and help, my son was colic until almost 12 months old, didn’t sleep through the night until almost 2 years old (and still doesn’t about 3 times a week) and I breast fed until he was 2. With my ADHD husband who is a workaholic, is happy to sit back while I work myself into the ground without even noticing I’m struggling, barley answers to his name and then blames me for everything, or worse, the baby. I’m on birth control. That all I have to say about that! I don’t know how you ladies survived. I swear to God! I mean, you don’t have ADHD like me, thank God, but just one child and husband dismantled years of work on myself. I will never have more children. I just can’t be the “head of the house” with my condition. I feel all the same things you ladies feel, the resentment, the frustration, it all unraveled just as all you ladies are describing (so much to relate to in this post!), except my undoing was instant! It was so fast and furious and I also think about divorce ALL. THE. TIME! I don’t see how this life will be possible for us. My husband is FINALLY starting medication and I pray that it’s a saving grace otherwise I have no idea what will happen to our little family. But I know I’m doing everything I can to raise my son without the hardships I had and without the coddling my husband had. Hopefully somewhere in the middle will help my son thrive. Even at 2.5 years old, oh man my son has ADHD. NO MORE CHILDREN! Ever!!!!!

I can relate to the chaos ADHD brings. When I was young I was hyperactive big time. As I grew up though I was left with just the ADD. It wrecked my life. The doctor said I was the worst case he'd seen in 40 years. I cant function or even think a lot of the time. Functioning for a job is something I don't have the luxury of. The only job I'm not going to mess up is what I'm doing now, food delivery. I don't believe in myself, but that's because I've seen myself the way that I am. I know my handicap is a pretty big one. I've never had a romantic relationship because of it. But I was thinking I would like to meet someone that also has ADHD. That is probably the only type of person that could understand me.

I'm sorry to hear of your struggles, be kind to yourself and don't ever not believe in yourself. Its a journey and the best we can all do it take it day be day. Sometimes just letting out how you are feeling can make the difference. I hope you can find the solutions to what you are looking for. Hang in there you are not alone 🙂

Thank you Tedjorich and all those who chimed in on this topic. This is why I joined. I am at my wits end and just reading how many of you have learned coping mechanisms or survived similar events has been very cathartic. I don't know if my situation will improve but at least I know I'm not going crazy with all the pinballing that goes on, lack of follow-though (on absolutely everything) and then the deception to cover it up. I still need to find a path to peace and forgiveness but this site has been a lifesaver. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Oh and I forgot to mention, managing the rejection sensitivity dysphoria...I'm exhausted and just wish once in awhile, someone could take care of me...

Tedjorich profile image
Tedjorich in reply to Davinci89

So I just had to look up what this was. Definitely t12yo! And YES, this is horribly exhausting!

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