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Husband been diagnosed with ADHD

(47 Posts)
Exhaustedmumof4 Tue 30-May-17 21:48:28

As the title says, my husband has just been diagnosed with ADHD. At first I was so happy that there was an explanation for his bizarre, often selfish and sometimes dangerous behaviour. Our marriage has been in crisis for some time. We have very young children and no support at all. I could go on for hours about some of the things he's done; substance abuse, running up huge debts, speeding, losing job after job, being messy and chaotic, and just being wrapped up in his own little world, ignoring me and my needs.

Since the initial burst of happiness and hope I got with his diagnosis, I just feel like I've been plunged into this pit of despair because things will never get better. He'll be like this forever. He is resistant to taking medication, and his psychiatrist said he can't start therapy until he is on meds as his brain isn't calm enough. I just don't think I can cope with his behaviour for the rest of my life. I know it's not his fault but I am so stressed and angry about having to do everything, remember everything, organize everything. Even the tiny things I ask him to do he can't seem to manage. For instance, this morning I was taking the kids out for the day, I'd organized everyone, fed them, got them dressed, sorted the house out while he slept, then I asked him to watch the baby for a few minutes while I showered. Came out of the shower and the baby was in the cot screaming and my husband was in the garden on the phone. This kind of thing happens all the time. I know it isn't deliberate but how can I live like this? I can't trust him to do anything. We are fighting all the time, we've had a few big fights in front of the kids and I just feel so helpless. I'm on edge all the time. Is there anybody out there who can give me any advice? I don't want to break up my family but I'm really struggling to cope right now.

TeardropExplodes Tue 30-May-17 21:54:47

No advice but didn't want to read and run. My best friend was diagnosed with ADHD last year. We've been friends since we were toddlers. It explained a lot, but over the years it's been tough on our friendship, and that's just a best mates thing, with no shared responsibilities.
I hope you can find some support.
Does he recognise that through no fault of his own, he's letting you down? He needs to want to change things.
My friend has really started looking at herself and has been a lot more reliable since her diagnosis, but she takes the medication she's prescribed. It's been a bit of a turning point. I don't know how you deal with him being resistant to treatment.

Exhaustedmumof4 Tue 30-May-17 22:22:25

Thank you! I don't know if he really does want to change to be honest. He knows I'm desperately unhappy and stressed out, he's always made me feel like I'm the one with the problem, I'm controlling, I'm a nag, I'm trying to ruin his fun. When he was diagnosed for a minute it looked like he saw things differently, like he realized that actually no, it was him and not me. But since then I guess we've slipped into old habits but worse. The thing is that his family are all totally dysfunctional, his sister and mother almost certainly have undiagnosed ADHD too, so this behaviour is normal to him. He told me he mentioned to his dad we were fighting about housework, and his dad told him that's because I'm suburban I care about things like a tidy house! This is because I ask him not to throw his rubbish on the floor FFS. His family totally enable him, they're as messed up as he is.

TeardropExplodes Tue 30-May-17 22:39:21

That sounds really tough. My friend is very messy, like the opposite of tidy house/tidy mind, but since her diagnosis she's been trying to get on top of it. Sometimes it's better than others, and she still really struggles.
Sounds like your husband doesn't see it as his responsibility. Does he have to attend ADHD clinic, or anything?

Exhaustedmumof4 Tue 30-May-17 23:06:36

He only got the diagnosis a few weeks ago so other than the assessment he's not been to clinic. From what he was saying they won't do much until he starts meds. I emailed an ADHD therapist I found online and he also said that he wouldn't see my husband unless he was on meds. Getting him to do anything remotely medical is impossible! He doesn't even have a GP. He only went to the assessment because I booked it, paid for it and pretty much forced him.

WombOfOnesOwn Wed 31-May-17 00:58:45

To me, a lot of these behaviors sound nothing like ADHD. The massive risk-taking behaviors particularly sound a lot more like a Cluster B personality disorder. Have you considered a second opinion?

Oneggshellsallthetime Wed 31-May-17 06:59:08

I think the problem is he didn't feel the need to get a diagnosis himself. His behaviours, based on the info provided, sound like ADHD with a massive dose of selfishness and, what some might politely call, 'a relaxed upbringing' in relation to the home environment. Impulsivity and / or the inertia that may be present with ADHD do not absolve you of your parental or partner responsibilities, nor the kindnesses, courtesy and consideration due to your partner.

This is the view of an adult diagnosed with ADHD living with another one. We may fail on all counts at times but we both do our best and I love and appreciate him for all the brilliant things he does do. I'm no picnic to live with.

Oneggshellsallthetime Wed 31-May-17 07:03:03

Meant to add, based on info given it sounds like ADHD behaviours I've known and heard of, including the risk taking.

AddToBasket Wed 31-May-17 07:05:22

I think you need to get him to the GP. The diagnosis needs to be discussed with the GP.

Oneggshellsallthetime Wed 31-May-17 07:07:16

It is also possible that for that minute when he saw the light he also saw a 'get out' clause and that might be why things have got worse and not improved.

Oneggshellsallthetime Wed 31-May-17 07:10:07

Addtothebasket - I am not sure how getting him to a GP to discuss the diagnosis will help if he's not on board with the agenda smile

AddToBasket Wed 31-May-17 07:12:25

Addressing it as a health issue might help.

Oneggshellsallthetime Wed 31-May-17 07:14:43

Apologies also to Exhausted if I have misunderstood and assumed massive selfishness alongside ADHD ... it is just my view.

FallenSky Wed 31-May-17 07:19:24

My DH has ADHD. He sounds a lot like your DH. Our marriage nearly ended before his diagnosis. He was also reluctant to get the diagnosis and start medication and whilst I didn't force him to, I did make it clear that if he wasn't willing to help himself then I could no longer be with him. Thankfully he did want to get help in the end. But it took a long time.

Have you asked your DH why he doesn't want to take medication? Does he have a proper understanding of ADHD? DH told me that he felt like I was trying to change who he was, that he was scared the medication would make him different. Which was silly really as our DS has been diagnosed and medicated for a few years and he's the same child, just able to focus more.

Once DH trialled the tablets he himself realised how helpful they are. He's the same person. Still acts like a bloody child sometimes! But he says it helps him think. Helps him stop and think about the consequences of what he's about to do before he does it and then he can make better choices.

He's had therapy, that helped a lot. He grew up thinking that he was stupid and "naughty" but he's more at peace now that he knows there was a reason for it. Whilst his behaviours, and your DH's can not be blamed solely on the ADHD it does give a better insight in to how they ended up making those choices.

It's hard, but you need to make the decision on whether you're willing to live like this forever. Only your DH can change himself.

Feel free to PM me if you want to chat.

Fairylea Wed 31-May-17 07:20:52

My son has ADHD and I know a fair bit about it and whilst it's true that no two people with adhd are the same I have to say a lot of his behaviours just sound selfish to me, not adhd, especially the part about leaving the baby crying to take a phone call! I'm not saying he doesn't have adhd but people with ADHD are also capable of being as selfish and inconsiderate as anyone else! You don't have to live like this if you don't want to, you don't have to stay with someone just because they've been diagnosed with something.

JoJoSM2 Wed 31-May-17 07:23:05

Frankly, it sounds like you're an enabler and making a lot of excuses for him. You're also treating him like an SN child. Personally, no way would I stay in this relationship unless he's on meds + in therapy + he stops being a selfish tosser dismissive of your needs (it doesn't sound very likely, though). I think you'd also benefit from therapy so that you stop enabling and get a better understanding of what is normal in relationships.

lovelygreysky Wed 31-May-17 07:57:56

Another adult diagnosed with ADHD here and I completely agree with Oneggshells. Yes, it does sound like ADHD, but on top of that he is selfish and inconsiderate and I'm afraid no amount of medication will change that. Does he have any redeeming qualities? Why won't he take medication? I'm sure he wouldn't refuse insulin if he was a diabetic!

Exhaustedmumof4 Wed 31-May-17 10:52:43

Hi thank you all so much for your replies.

Firstly I'm fairly sure that he doesn't have any co existing mental conditions, however it is very difficult to say what is the ADHD and what is him being a selfish twat. Certainly all these years I have assumed it was just him being a selfish twat and he just needed to 'try harder' and 'grow up'. I definitely do not pretend to be an expert on ADHD, far from it but in my frantic researching of recent weeks, I understand that adult symptoms, particularly when undiagnosed and unmanaged, manifest very differently than child symptoms, and that getting distracted in the middle of tasks, and other behaviour that can be seen as selfish or lazy is definitely symptomatic of the disorder.

I completely accept my part in our dysfunctional dynamic, certainly I have a lot of anger and resentment towards him. This again seems to be a common theme of a non-ADHD partner where the condition is unmanaged. Maybe I am enabling him and treating him like a child but the thing is that he acts like a child but one that can do significant damage to our family. For instance, he is constantly running up parking fines. The first thing I'd know of it is when the bailiffs showed up at the door and we owed thousands! This happened multiple times. So I bought him an intray (this is before the diagnosis) and told him if he got a ticket put it in the in tray and I would pay it from the joint account. He has not done this even once. I had to start opening his post to catch them before they escalated. I find them screwed up in his pockets, go online to pay them and there's another 4 on there. What can I do in this situation? Of course I'm enabling him but the alternative is enormous debt. It's so frustrating and sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind.

I think about leaving him constantly. Of course he has redeeming features, and that's why this situation is so isolating because our friends see this charismatic, energetic, slightly eccentric but utterly charming guy, the guy I fell head over heels for, but only I see the chaos behind the scenes. I just wish I'd known about this before having so many kids with the guy. I don't want to dox myself, but the situation has become unsustainable because we now have 4 kids including infant twins. This would put pressure on the most stable of relationships, let alone one as shaky and one sided as ours. I am a practical person who kind of coped with everything before the twins were born without even realizing I was doing it, but now I literally cannot cope with everything that needs to be done. I'm crumbling and the only support I have is my husband. As hopeless as he is, he's better than nothing.

I am actually going to see a therapist myself to help me deal with the anxiety and stress I feel and hopefully help me come to terms with the diagnosis. I really hope he changes his mind about the medication. I think part of the problem is that I'm the only one who cannot deal with him, so it's easy for him to think that I'm the one with the problem and not him. He's pretty deep in denial.

Exhaustedmumof4 Wed 31-May-17 10:53:39

Fallensky thank you. I would love to PM you but not sure how??

Divorcingjack Wed 31-May-17 11:21:20

One half of an ADHD couple here, probable ADHD DS as well. He is definitely in denial, when I got diagnosed, my feeling was just one of massive relief. I couldn't wait to start the medication, as I didn't WANT to be acting the way that I do. However, my husband did have worries about it "changing" him. Critically though, because he is not selfish and realised the impact that his behaviours had on our whole family, he educated himself, sought help and therapy and took the bloody medication. To help himself and our family. As did I. Living with ADHD is hard enough, selfish behaviours on top of that would be a deal breaker for me.

Aquamarine1029 Wed 31-May-17 13:48:58

I've thought about your situation, and if I were you, I would tell him it's either take the medication or it's over.

FallenSky Sat 03-Jun-17 18:12:43

Sorry for taking so long to reply op, I've just got back from holiday. Will PM you now.

Newtothis11 Sat 03-Jun-17 18:46:53

Sounds so tough for you OP, give him some time for the new diagnosis to sink in. It doesn't sound like he's ready for therapy but he does need to start to understand his condition especially as it's having such an impact on his family. Of he's unable to take responsibility to do this perhaps it is time to consider your options together.

whitehandledkitchenknife Sat 03-Jun-17 22:28:19

Have a look at Melissa Orlov's website on adult ADHD OP (can't do links - sorry). Lots of support and understanding there.

Vole3 Sun 04-Jun-17 06:40:34

Whereabouts are you?
ADDNorfolk has a FB page and group for partners of ADHD people and also has monthly evening drop-in sessions in Postwick and Aylsham. The next Postwick meeting is Wednesday 7th from 6pm to 8 pm at the village hall.

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