An OCD Mom living in an ADHD Home

Imagine needing everything organized, everything done in a specific order and completed to an accurate finality.  The urgency of needing these desires met is so strong that it creates anxiety and stress migraines.  Now imagine having these same desires while living in a world where everything is scattered, half completed, and what is done is typically only partially done for you to find out later.

This is what it is like having OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, while living with my husband and oldest son who have ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

I was diagnosed with OCD after my oldest son was born and my mild postpartum depression and the strains of my first marriage became too much for me.  I couldn’t handle the idea of the doors being unlocked and checked them excessively.  I even had silly needs (as in unnecessary), such as having to pull out exactly 4 wipes when my son needed a diaper change, whether I needed more or less.  They never were directed at him, except for his safety and comfort.  After my second son was born, both my grandfather and father died, and my divorce (talk about a rough year) it became worse and I had to clean everything until I couldn’t stay awake any longer, I would then stay awake most of the night thinking of what else I could clean in the morning.  If it weren’t for my boys, I would probably be worse.

After 4 years I met and married my husband.  He is amazing and has been the yen to my yang.  He grounds me and keeps me real.  He also drives me crazy.  At work, he can focus and help dozens of individuals and their families receive psychological help and resources that would have been difficult to obtain otherwise.  At home, though, ADHD causes him to complete half of most tasks he starts, to pace excessively during phone calls, and makes our communication difficult.   My oldest son has an extremely difficult time remaining focused during homework, chores, or anything that is not as stimulating as tv.

mike and I-3

How we make it work

After years of hard work, we have learned that I over communicate (thank you nursing) and he under communicates.  It requires constant work but we now use our google calendar and record all Dr. Appointments, school activities, weekend events, or anything we want each other to know about.  Mike, my husband even puts all of his work hours in the calendar.  This has helped so much.

You know those Hunny-Do-Lists that you hear about all the time?   They’re real! And they are amazing!  We use them constantly in our house.  I need the dishes done? I post a list.  Need laundry sorted? Post a list.  Yard work? List.  Homework? List.  Pull chicken out of the freezer? List.  School meeting reminder? List. Without the list, I’m at work knowing there is a 90% chance my requests were forgotten before I even made it out of the front door.  With a list, I know that there’s a 95% chance that everything will be completed.

As far as my son goes, I check on his homework progress constantly and make sure that all of it is either electronically turned in or in his backpack in the right spot so he has to see it while he’s in class.  We also review his homework assignments together each night and any emails from his teachers.  This has helped us both to keep him on task and accountable.  All 3 of my boys are extremely smart but need reasons to remain on task and motivated.

As for me, I have learned that not everything has to be put away all the time (maybe most of the time).  I also must remember that just because everything isn’t done exactly the way I feel it should be doesn’t mean it isn’t done well enough to count as finished.  Seeing that my middle son is becoming a perfectionist like me and is starting to show more signs of having OCD himself has been the greatest reason to try hard at not letting it get a strong hold and control me again.

Both are horrible to have and I know my hubby and I wouldn’t wish either of them on anyone, and while my OCD is not as bad and immobilizing as it is for some people, it still occasionally makes it difficult to sleep: is the door locked? Is the dishwasher running? Are the leftovers in the fridge?  Did I clean the counter enough? What about the table? I know I didn’t use the stove or oven today but is there a chance it’s on?  And with each of these things I must go down stairs and check, each and every single time.  Mind you 3:30 am comes really early.

With patience, lots of love, teamwork, constant attempts at improving our communication and lots and lots of notes, we are making it work.  I hope this is able to help you.  If you can relate to this, what have you found that helps your marriage, or daily life work?

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