Can't cope that I can't cope

“Don’t complain, don’t explain”. Is a quote from Kate Moss I recently came across.
I thought it would be a help for me. To decide by myself and don’t ask to many people what is the right way to behave.

I have the feeling, that I am masking and constantly explaining why I am behaving the way I am behaving. This makes me needy and vulnerable. In terms of family and close friends, I ask for accommodations, or rather I explain why I behave the way I behave and why certain things are important to me. Now in my family there still is little willingness to understand why my accommodations are needed or willingness to listen to my explanations. Or they listen and don’t react.
That makes me feel rejected.
And if they are upset about something I’ve said or done and I don’t explain I feel upset and think constantly I should explain (even or especially though if I strongly feel my position is for sure as right or wrong as theirs). I keep on thinking all day long about it. I would love to have harmony and have it solved.

To make a long story short. I have not been able to do anything the whole week, because I don’t see hope either way and I get stuck in the thought. Explain or not explain. I am sick and tired of always being the complicated one, even though I am feeling they are.
Unfortunately I am totally blocked by that thought, while everyone els e does not really seem to bother.

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I can relate to being hung up on a thought. So there’s that.

Reading your story I have one question for you to consider: What do you hope to achieve when you are explaining yourself to others?

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I want so hard to know the answer for this, but I can only relate.
Maybe the previous Reply is a good place to start: what do you want to achieve. < And collect your thoughts from there.

I’m thinking we usually want to explain to other people why we behave or react a certain way because we want their confirmation that it’s okay to make mistakes, or that your behavior is valid, after all the times that we never felt accepted. It’s become a coping and defensive mechanism that has been developed through the years. I, at least, know that’s why I tend to justify myself to people. Maybe that validation is what you need and felt like you haven’t gotten it yet, which is why you keep doing it.

I’ll tell you, it’s okay to ask for accommodations. It’s actually a good thing that you know what you need, so that you can give others a chance to show you that you are important to them, too. It’s okay to be needy sometimes, because others can depend on us, too. I’m hoping that you’ll find people who’ll accept you for who you are and understand your needs, so you won’t have to keep explaining yourself. As you can see, it can be exhausting, too.

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Thanks for the question. I am reflecting on that one.
I try not to give an answer right away. But it certainly goes into the direction of validation and acceptance of needs.

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I lived with ADHD for most of my life without knowing about it & I suffered the consequences of it and beat myself when I screwed up which was often. Since knowing that I have ADHD, the biggest thing that has helped me was learning to accept myself as I am and treating myself with compassion when I do screw up. I don’t know how you can get there but I hope you do.

When I mentioned my ADHD to my friends they didn’t take me seriously since I had masked that part of me so well for so many years. And my ex-wife said I was merely using it as an excuse! So I stopped worrying about their acceptance or sharing that part of me. There are plenty of other ways to relate to them and I don’t seek their acceptance or to be judged by them but at the same time I try to treat them with compassion as well. It is ok for me to be imperfect, it is ok for them to be imperfect! We just agree to disagree about some things! It took me a while to get there but it has been worth it. Again, I don’t know how you can get there but I hope you do.

You matter. You are somebody whether others see it or not. Chances are, you are far more interesting than the neurotypical people around you! Find inspiration wherever you can to get out of the doldrums. If old habits or old approaches don’t work, try new ones.

I never asked for any accommodation since I didn’t even know that was an option. So I can’t help you there but if you need it, there is no shame in asking for it. You don’t have to explain your behavior. Assuming you have an official diagnosis, just say this is what is recommended and that you can benefit from it. [I know I am making it perhaps far too simple but what I am trying to convey is you don’t have to apologize for it or justify it any further or feel worse because you need it. Just as you wouldn’t feel any of those things if you needed glasses to see better!]

So chin up my fellow Brain! Hang in there! We are all works in progress and we can’t give up! At least that is my motto! Never give up! And on balance at least for me the positives of ADHD have far outweighed the negatives. I hope they do for you too.

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In my experience telling people about my ADHD and the accomodations I need because of it, is not very effective. It makes people feel enforced to help and actually invites them to invalidate your struggles.

If I just tell people what I need without explaining it, people are generally much more inclined to help. But before I was able to do that effectively. I needed to acknowledge and accept my weaknesses without being ashamed of them. Like @khagen also said: Learn to treat myself with compassion. Forgive myself for not being perfect.

Seeing how hard it was to accept myself in that way. I’ve found that I can’t really expect others to understand or see it like I see it. Even though I always craved for that kind of recognition very much. At some point I just accepted that it was never going to happen. Which, after a period of mourning, was a huge weight of my shoulders.

So no. No more explaining for me. No more being ashamed for being imperfect. No more apologizing myself for being me.

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Wow.
(processing that)

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Getting used to my non masking, not being ashamed very slow and at the moment very quiet persona.

Strange - because if that is actually me, who was that person seemingly getting along so well, just because the fast speed and the adrenaline kept her from recognizing her anxiety?

My whole life runs before my inner eyes, it is like looking at my life with a pair of foreign sunglasses /a different cultures perspective.

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May I be so blunt to ask if your ex-wife is your ex-wife because she thought like this?

Actually I have the feeling that when I say people, I mean husband, children, relatives and working partners. And it is somehow important for me that I get some positive recognition somewhere. At the moment I got the feeling they don’t realize how much I struggle and they don#t realize how much they are part of this, because our house and our way to work is the least bit ADHD friendly. And even if I label stuff, I can be sure it is not but in the shelf with the label. There are many little things. Now since the pandemic situation my partner changed to remote work and that excellerated everything. Also my daughter used to have longer hours and has now afternoons of. Since I am self employed, the accomodations are more asked form partners I work with… Complicated because it is all very informal…

At the moment, I can’t see where the positives of ADHD outweigh the negatives. I hope I get back to that point soon.

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I think it depends on the individual person, with what their positive and negative ADHD traits are, and how well those traits fit in with their life. Some people with ADHD are highly creative. Others are naturally very entrepreneurial.

If a person is working as a bank teller, for example, being highly creative would not be seen as an advantage. However, being entrepreneurial might help them to relate to some of the bank clientele very well, and might equip them to advance into another position at the bank as a personal banker.

A person with a high level of creativity also probably wouldn’t be able to make an impact working at McDonald’s, but they might be a great fit at the locally-owned smoothie shop to help come up with new flavor combinations and advertising campaigns (which would also benefit if they are entrepreneurial).

I am somewhat creative, and this actually helps me with my work in tech support. I’m only a little bit of an entrepreneurial side, enough to make me a good team member to have, because I’ll catch the vision and promote it… but I’m I’m not likely to be the visionary. For instance, when promoting a new tech offering (like the Zoom-enabled video conferencing capabilities of the main conference room at my workplace), I mentioned it enthusiastically to others.

  • By contrast my dad, who also has ADHD traits, is an enthusiastic student of free-market economics, and tried out a few different side businesses during his career.
  • Sir Richard Branson is the most cited example of a person with ADHD who has a strong entrepreneurial characteristic.

Here, I mention only two (creativity and entrepreneurialism) of a myriad of positive ADHD qualities, just for example of how these positives can fit well with a person’s work life, or not.

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While (the undiagnosed at the time) ADHD certainly played a part, there were other issues. She has many wonderful qualities but we were very different people. We probably shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. But love makes you blind!

When I did tell her about my ADHD we were already divorced for a few years but I just wanted to shift her understanding in the hope that it would reduce her resentment about the past but that didn’t work. We don’t interact much but even now I have to be careful as she keeps holding on to past resentments and my saying the wrong phrase can trigger her in bringing it all up.

I realized this after I sent off my last response. I think you want at least some real understanding, acknowledgement and respect, even before accommodation (changing their behavior/doing things to make your life easier). You want them to see the real you, who is trying very hard and struggling and in general having a hard time due to ADHD.

I felt similarly. I tried to convey all this to others but didn’t really succeed. But regardless, at some point I realized I have to heal on my own – if that makes sense to you. And part of that was realizing that other people are as imperfect as me. So I learned to work through my feelings associated with all that. And I adjusted my behavior around them to accomodate my needs. That meant saying no when in the past I may have said yes, or speaking up (without mentioning ADHD) what I needed, suggesting alternatives where in the past I may have given in and so on. For example, telling them to please remind me a day before when we are supposed to meet etc. But I still help out when someone wants my help, I just have to remember to put a limit on time or when I can do it!

I think all of this was perhaps far easier for me because I have long been more or less on my own.Before divorce I used to “outsource” dealing with most social interactions to my wife. Learning to not do that was tough. Similarly not having her to lean on for emotional support was tough but all that is in the past now.

I don’t know if my sharing any of this helps you. You will have to take action to get out of your doldrums. May be therapy with someone who understands ADHD? May be there is a non-judgmental parent or someone you look up to who can help? In my case two friends helped me out in dealing with the aftermath of my divorce (and before ADHD knowledge) and I am eternally grateful to them. All I am saying is that you do have a choice even if it may be hard to see at the moment. Even if your husband won’t see your ADHD, you should be able to say here is what I need to feel better/get more done/take better care of others etc. and figure out a way to come to some sort of resolution.

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Thank you so much. Yes your sharing helps a lot. Gives me a feeling of not being alone.

I actually think that is the strategy that helps most. I hope I will get back there. Things are a little bit more complicated. Can’t get into depth here and now. But you are right I have to change my behavior and can’t wait for them to change theirs.

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