“This doesn’t change anything. I’ve checked out and don’t know how to check back in.”
Her statement was as if a ton of bricks had come crashing down onto me. After the rollout of the assessment results and the official diagnosis, Carrie and I went to a local coffee shop to talk. I naively hoped that hearing that I had an actual neurological disorder would turn everything around. I wanted her to “love” me again and forgive me for all the horrible ways I had hurt her so that we could live happily ever after. I’ll just put it out there… I’m an idiot.
It was at that moment that I realized I couldn’t keep chasing her. I couldn’t keep trying to fix our marriage. If there would be any hope of us ever having a great relationship, I had to start figuring what was going on inside of me. The ADHD had absolutely influenced my thoughts, actions, and decisions, but it didn’t justify any of them. I knew at that point that I wasn’t going to get support from her. Honestly, I don’t blame her. She had supported and carried me for years. She was tired, disillusioned and was not in a good place personally.
The day after the diagnosis I went to my family doctor and asked to be put on medication. I showed her the assessment and she agreed it was worth trying. I also started doing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). I had read that a combo of meds and therapy was a strategy that seems to help most adults with ADHD to learn how to cope. I also found an amazing counselor. His name is Dustin and I love him.
Through all of this, my work life didn’t suffer. It became a safe haven for me. My bosses are the most amazing men I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. They supported, encouraged and walked me through the darkest period of my life without any judgment. They called me to integrity, to fight for what was right and always pointed me to Jesus. I am forever grateful for Marvin, Blaine and the whole Elim team . I’m a better man, husband, father, and follower of Jesus because of them.
I started meds in October and didn’t get fully regulated on them till January. The months in between were confusing. I felt numb on the meds. Even Carrie would tell me I was like a zombie which was very hard to hear. I took my meds daily, I did my CBT worksheets as much as I could. Slowly, I started to change. Some of it was the meds, but a lot of it was that for the first time in my life; I felt like I was winning. I could remember things. I wasn’t as emotional. I was completing tasks that normally would have overwhelmed me. I was enjoying moments with my kids and was not distracted. I could actually pray and read the Bible without losing attention. Friends were noticing that I was calmer and present when I was talking to them. I was changing and it was affecting everything.
Carrie through this whole process was still hesitant. Were these changes real? At the end of January that year I had just come home from speaking at our church’s young adult retreat. It was like any other normal Sunday night. Carrie and I talked after we put the kids to bed. She said she had noticed the changes in me, that things were different but that she was also afraid that everything would slip into the same tired patterns we had always known. I honestly thought that this was it. I thought that this was the conversation where she would finally tell me that she had made her decision to leave. Instead, that night she decided to meet me in the middle and to give our marriage another try.
The journey since then hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it. I’m still on meds and I will be for the rest of my life. I’m still practicing the principles I learned through CBT. I still have off days where I forget things, can’t accomplish as much or am just simply struggling. But overall, things are completely different. I’m different. I’m married to my best friend… We’re actually friends. Our relationship is no longer co-dependant, it’s a partnership. Carrie doesn’t complete me, she’s not my soul mate… She’s the person I choose to do real life with. It’s sweet and it’s stable.
I finally feel like I contribute to our family’s success. Carrie went back to school and completed her education because I was able to handle things on the home front (imperfectly of course!). We started a business together that is succeeding in ways that we could have never imagined. Our kids have a dad who is present. Our life is not grand, it’s mundane in many ways, but it’s the life we are building together now, all five of us.
God took the mess I had made, and like a good parent gave me the tools I needed to clean it up.
Part 3 tomorrow // Tools to help you lead in pastoral ministry when you have ADHD.