ADD husband has two different personalities?

My husband--the guy largely in denial about his condition, takes an ADD med but will not enter into any sort of ADD therapy, etc.--doesn't seem to have made a habit out of taking his medication. Before we separated, I would notice that when things would get stressful, he would have two very different personalities: one who was loving, sweet, honest, generous, and understanding, and another who was a stubborn, selfish, illogical, pathological liar.

At the time, I wondered if it was due to an antidepressant he had been on. I did *not* like his personality on that--nasty, surly, just a total full-of-himself jerk, and good luck to anyone who pointed any of that out to him, even carefully and kindly, because he'd only get nastier and throw lots of anger and blame back on you.

Now, it seems that he doesn't believe me, but I can *tell* when he shows up for some meeting or other and hasn't taken it. With the med he's an *entirely* different person than without, and is actually reasonable and pleasant to deal with. Without, not so much. The difference is much more marked than before he went on it. Now when he's kind, etc., he's very kind. When he's not, he's *VERY* not. Watching him switch between the personalities is really creepy. It's like a switch is flipped. ADD med wears off or ramps up, and you get an entirely different person in very short order.

I suspect that he's still on the Jekyll-and-Hyde antidepressant to which he's reacting very badly, and that the ADD med "counteracts" it to an extent. Has anyone ever noticed something like this before, or am I totally up a tree?

I'm asking not because I'm trying to put the marriage back together (gave up on that *months* ago and moved on). It's just that I've noticed that whenever we meet to discuss anything, when he doesn't take his ADD med, he's SO difficult and unreasonable that it's entirely counterproductive. I'm thinking that, from now on, to make the divorce go more smoothly, whenever I show up to a meeting and notice that he's forgotten to take his ADD med, I may just--as carefully and as kindly as I can--call that session to a halt and reschedule, even if I have to make up some stupid emergency that pulls me away instead of telling him the real reason. But I'm wondering if that's going to cause as many problems as it solves if he figures it out. He's so oppositional and reactionary when he's off that ADD med.

Does any of the above make any sense? It's difficult to convey, and I feel like I just can't win for losing.

I can relate to that

My partner of 18 yrs was just diagnosed and has been taking Ritalin. For about three glorious weeks he was the very best version of himself that I have experienced. He was kind, thoughtful, attentive, affectionate, interested, and he was logical, organised and proactive. I began to like him again. I also experienced a bittersweetness, a grief, because it highlighted even more acutely just how absent and disconnected he had felt for so long. But I was determined to embrace this revelation and find my own ability to love again.

Then something changed. In the last week or so, he began to seem remote and 'woolly'. He missed cues in conversation, he misplaced things, and avoided many avenues of conversation. He was 'sharp' - actually ended a conversation that didn't please him by saying "End of Conversation". I gently pointed out one or two such behaviours, feeling that we could look at this calmly because we had been on such a big journey and had worked together to seek a diagnosis and really look at the whole condition and its ramifications through his life. Because things were different now. But no. His resistance had returned. I felt lonely again. He had energy only for his projects (work); nothing left for genuine, interested conversation or a real line of enquiry. His resistance defied logic, again. Like he would anger if the conversation went beyond the surface, or in some unknowable way touched a nerve in him. I asked him about his medication once a day or less; I was given a slightly different story each time. I think what is happening is that he thinks he can pick and choose when to take the medication, for whatever reason. I would think that that might be an option only when one has fully explored the medication in the prescribed way for longer than three weeks.

Today I looked at what he's taken. He has taken only a third of what was prescribed. So he 'operating outside of the system' which he was so willing to embrace as his saviour.

I was interested to see you describe the sensation that your (ex) husband seems worse in his non-medication state than before medication was in the picture. I actually feel similarly, although it hasn't been very long that I know of. I do wonder if it's the contrast, and of course the disappointment - it brings a lot of stuff up. I have tried so hard to be patient, to be encouraging...but I can't live with who he is now - and I am less likely to live with it now that I know there is an alternative, and he has a choice in that.


Serotonin, dopamine. Look up rebound effect. Sometimes the long acting works better for this scenario. Speak to your pharmacist or doctor. If you have been running ok on the daily dose then stop for the evening which you need to the tank drops down to below normal before the body starts to produce enough to cope again all be it below what is needed, this stop start or 'rebound' effect is common to Ritalin users and tends once balanced to level out, but this may take a good three to six months of use before the mind and body are attuned to the changes in my experience.

Had this issue

Just my 2 cents here, as an ADHDr I had this problem with Ritalin right away and needed to switch.  Don't forget the side effects (severe stomach ache for me).  It took me a few weeks just to connect the 2 pieces together and even figure out that there are other medications out there.

I would also like to add how emotional a process it is to even start a medication.  Just diagnosed in the last few months, telling me that I need to take medication to be "normal" is really a lot to process.  The guilt of knowing that I was hurting my spouse without even realizing what I was doing was almost unbearable.  Add previous family / friends, etc. unknowing that most of the people I was in contact with could have been hurt, my 1st reaction admittedly was to say "screw it" and go hide somewhere.  I completely understand why he stopped.

Something else -

We have reached an impasse for the time being. The sure sign of this was a statement that he employed just before I looked into ADHD and he responded and 'everything began to change' ;)

The statement was, and is :

But this is who I am.

More interesting and complex than it might appear.

He's right, of course.

And when we were in our wonderful three weeks, we were even able to discuss that we might yet face a dilemma; the dilemma about the medicated him vs the non-medicated him.  I suspect that he might be unconsciously rebelling against a medicated happiness (even though he felt the happiness too!) because he fears that it's not the real him who can loved or be loved, or just because he doesn't trust a sort of altered state of being. After all, he's been the other version for his whole life until now.

Then, too, there may be a distrust of sensing that he might be being controlled - by medication, by the world.

I asked him: But you are you on medication too, and yet you are so different. So positive and engaged and happy.

He answered that he was himself in both states. But it was not well considered, meaning he hasn't really thought about that. It wasn't the response of someone who was 'part' of something, but who is being defensive, and feels cornered.

Perhaps it was naive of me to assume that, once the door of medication was open and seeing as it has proved to be potentially life-changing for the better when taken, there would be no turning back. Now I feel deeply upset and that I have lost something, and worried about how destabilising it may be to endlessly respond to a changed state of being in my husband, and not be quite sure how to attribute things.


I can relate to both of you. 

I can relate to both of you.  My ADD husband has recently stopped his meds as well.  I also see that contrast of behavior that almost makes him seem worse now than he was before starting meds.  I don't know if that's the case, but seeing him off the meds has shown me, surprisingly, how much the meds really helped him.  My husband has also made comments like "this is just me, not the ADD" and things to that affect.  I can tell he doesn't like the idea of meds and keeps claiming he will try another med (he was on adderrol and didn't like the fact that it was a stimulant).  I have one again become a [more] depressed, lonely, hurt wife.  And he's once again constantly in his own little world, being impulsive and unrealistic and insensitive and hurtful.  So, I never saw 2 personalities WHILE he was on meds, but definitely a difference now that he's off meds.  Once his pill would wear off for the day, he would definitely "regress" a little bit and his body had kind of a crash once the stimulant got out of his system.  That wasn't terribly fun.  But Nicole, what you have said sounds just like how my husband feels.  It's sad they have to feel that way.  I try hard to not make all this help and healing a BAD experience b/c I know how delicate the situation is.  I can't see myself getting divorced but I can't get through to him.  We have a 4yo, 2yo and 6 week old baby.  We have time to work through this, but until then i hate being so lonely.  I have no one I can really talk to, you know, have that role that a spouse has.  Not having that is so stifling.  How do I relieve that?  I don't know.  I want him to be happy, too.  Good luck to you guys.

Someone to talk to

Yes, it's awful to have and then lose a companion to the other side of the membrane again. It must be difficult with such young children, Cathryn. It sounds like you are kind and patient.

I find, too, that life is pretty socially isolated overall with my ADHD husband - not much new contact occurs. I have certain friends of my own that I seldom see because I don't really want to share them with him, because it's not likely he'll be 'here', and to tell the truth, I often feel that I risk being embarassed by his disconnectedness. Unless on medication it seems to me, or in hyperfocus, he doesn't often bring anything real to a conversation. In fact, he'll often take it backwards. I realised a few years ago when I really looked at how he communicates socially that he tends to 'report' something, rather than explore a topic...he'll adopt an authoritative if not weighty tone and earnestly 'report' some piece of news. But it stops there, when the 'item' is delivered. I think it's an unconscious social tactic that gives him a 'method' that might cast him in an 'informed' light, because underneath that he's really seriously at sea.

Everything is possible again

Encouraged by the experiences and advice suggested on this forum, I began a big discussion with my husband this morning. I laid it on the line, in the sense that his denials etc were quite typical of the condition itself, reinforcing that he is who he is both on and off medication but that the way that he is, the impenetrability of him, when off it - now that I have felt an alternative - leads me to feel that it is our relationship on the line here. And that he hasn't given the medication a long enough trial, or a consistent trial. We agreed that there are 'reverberations' going on, reactions from me that feed back into him and so on, but ultimately he could see that it really begins with the question of the ADHD. He was a bit surprised at first because I guess it is pretty confronting, and described that he is realising that finding out about the ADHD is only the beginning; then it has to be managed. I am feeling good again because this was a difficult at times but positive conversation and he has firmly and consciously undertaken to commit to the medication, to be consistent with it, and to have a follow up appointment with the psychiatrist. Because, he says, he wants to be happy, and he wants us all to be happy. I also suggested to him that, although I am only human and not always reasonable or right!, I am probably his best barometer of what's happening with the ADHD, since I am so accustomed to its manifestations in him and I'm in a position to communicate about it. He agreed. Isn't this fantastic?

Thankyou all so much; you have helped me to find a strong position in this situation and to shift something. Now I feel once more that everything is possible.

That's great, Nicole!  I hope

That's great, Nicole!  I hope he keeps his word.  It's always relieving when you feel something has clicked in their head.  I have even found that discussing the ADD itself is more difficult when he's off the meds rather than on.  In fact talking to him at all is more difficult!  Anyway, I hope your husband will stick with his meds and seek more help.  Has he seen that psychiatrist you're talking about?  Is s/he experienced in ADHD?  I think I'm going to email a woman I only sort of know, to ask if she knows any therapists/psychiatrists that are known to be good with ADHD, as she's a psychologist herself.  The counselor we saw last year was nice and all but wasn't counseling us with an ADD approach he/we needed.  She did say he has it, though. 

Good luck!

Hey! I know those two!

Very well actually. What a difference Concerta made in his life, and right away! He described it as a miracle! There was (and still is) a big difference especially in that it removed the unprovoked angry remarks. It was also evident that he was able to complete his thoughts. But then came a time when he decided that he no longer needed the medication. I don't recall the exact incident other than I could actually sense he was different and I just burst out crying. He quickly called the doctor for an appointment.

At another time while we were on a cruise, the busy schedule made it difficult to remember to take his pills. While walking down a long pier, he continued to ask everyone we passed by the same question (one I had already answered a number of times) I believe it was about the hour a certain vendor nearby might close. He was very pleasant about it but, seemed to be caught in a loop somehow. I asked him why he kept asking the question repeatedly and he said something like, "What do you mean?" I was so frightened. He noticed the look on my face and asked me "what's that look on your face?". I had to ask him if he had taken his meds and he admitted he hadn't. I'm getting teary thinking about it, we were in another country, what else could go wrong with him? I really felt all alone. 

Thankfully, the meds have been very effective when he is on them consistently but, the dose needs to be tweaked now and then and I can tell because he gets edgy and short tempered. Maybe stress does play a part in that because he still behaves badly at times. Even before the meds on our wedding day, after our vows, I could sense a change in him. (I mean, where's my husband and what did you do with him?) He became distant and disregarded my requests or suggestions. He became angry about nothing and accused me of being a hateful person. I was frightened but at 21 naive enough to believe him and started to look for self help books on how to improve myself while he started spending every penny he could get though he wanted me to live within my means. Creepy? Yes. Jekyll and Hyde? Yes. Evil? I'm thinking yes. Deceptive at least. So, yeah, I know those two guys. Funny how they've never met.

I wish I could be in court too BreadBaker but, I'm stuck for now. He put us in so much debt, I might never get out. Gosh! I'd want court to be cut and dry and over with! Being unreasonable and counterproductive is a waste of time, I guess I'd check with my attorney about that and find a way to make the process easier. It's just not worth the grief anymore.

I hope you're taking care of yourself. Best of luck!