Dear Annie: My wife and I have been together for four years, married for one. She's always been a little absent-minded. At first, it was cute, but then it started to become more of an issue. After we got married and moved in together, I noticed it more. For example, I came home a few times to find the stove on with nothing on it. This concerned me because her faulty short-term memory seemed to be becoming a safety issue.
I encouraged her to talk to her doctor about her forgetfulness, thinking it could be caused by a vitamin deficiency. I had no idea that the doctor would end up prescribing her an amphetamine medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
It's helped immensely with the space cadet-like behavior. She is far more efficient and organized. The medication pretty much transformed her into a Type A overnight. But in addition to all these "positive" effects, there are a slew of negative ones. Her personality has changed. No longer is she the sweet, funny and relaxed person I fell in love with. Now she is always laser-focused on her work around the clock and acts cold toward me. Often she stays up all night working. She works from home as a graphic designer, which allows her to get away with the erratic hours.
This has been going on for six months. I'm worried about her health. Two weeks ago, she did mention to me that she might like to try cutting back on taking the medication, but then she was right back to the all-nighters.
On the days she doesn't take it, she's her sweet old self, but she also sleeps and eats a lot, almost as if she were hibernating. I know it can backfire if you try to force someone to get help that she doesn't think she needs. What should I do? -- Missing My Space Cadet
Dear Missing: From the sound of things, your wife may be abusing her medication. Signs of amphetamine addiction include decreased appetite, disturbed sleep patterns, rapid rate of speech, irritability, paranoia and withdrawal from friends and family, among many other undesirable symptoms.
It's crucial that you talk to her as soon as there's an opportunity to do so while she isn't on the medication. She made comments about wanting to cut back, so you can use that as a starting point. Ask how you can support her. Stress that you're not coming from a place of judgment but rather concerned for her health. The less accusatory your tone the less defensive she's likely to be. You might go to her next doctor's appointment with her so the three of you can talk about the situation and develop a better, more sustainable plan. For more help, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's help line, at 800-662-HELP.
Dear Annie: Could you put something in your wonderful column urging children of all ages to call their parents? I know they don't realize how important hearing from them is to old parents. (I know I didn't either when I was younger.)
My husband and I are in our 80s and housebound. About the only thing we have going each day is anticipating hearing from our kids. If you use this, please don't print a name. Then every person reading this can think it came from his mom! -- Anonymous
Dear Anonymous: On behalf of parents everywhere: Children, please call your parents. One day, you won't be able to, and you'll wish you'd done so more often while you still could.
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