Is this ADD or something else?

You're having a conversation with someone who has ADD and supposedly loves you.  You're telling them you're going through a very hard time in your life.  They say a few words, but sound bored, detached and show no emotion or interest.  A few minutes later they ask how someone is doing they barely know.  When they ask about this person they sound very interested and concerned, even sweet.  What is up with that? 

Same here.  The worse I am

Same here.  The worse I am doing the further away DH seems to need to be.  He cannot handle anything other than his habit of diversions, his delusions and his business (which I don't believe he is handling very well because he does not make a living wage in his business and still has is 25 year old business loan to pay).  When I remind him I am going through a difficult time, he looks like I am bothering him.  He said to me the other day after I said I am going crazy and depressed (my mom died recently), "Happiness is an inside job." It's all he had to say or give to me.  He forgot ALL that I did for him when HE was majorly depressed 25 years ago. He forgot that I picked up the financially responsibility when he lost 2 jobs in 2 years.  Now I realize that he MUST forget all the things where he was not a responsible adult in the past because he must live with himself and delude himself into thinking things were different than they were. He MUST demonize me so that he can hold his head up in his own mind to live with himself.  He was not able to be the person he thinks he is in his mind.  We didn't know any better at the time. But now I know not to magically think he is something he is not for me.  But he is magically off being the gregarious goofball and interested pal to others, not wearing a wedding band he lost 15 years ago and flirting with waitresses and receptionists which is his salesman mode. Sorry for the self-pity rant.  This entry hit an old chord for me.  Two steps forward one step back.  This is my step back I realize but this is where I am.  I am still angry and have not let go yet and this is the only place I feel safe to dump my garbage.  sorry and thanks.

It's ADD...

I'm an ADDer as most know around here, diagnosed about 3 years ago at age 43. In the situation you describe there are a couple things at play. Preparation and Expectations are very different in the two conversations. When you go to your ADDer to tell him about the hard times you are going through, he would be trying to react (In Real Time) to a subject he was not expecting and not prepared for. I been there a "Few" times... So it can be a little stressful to an ADDer because, since you are close, he wants to listen and give helpful thoughts to you. The problem is it is hard when you are unprepared for a topic, you know you have tendencies to blurt something out before you capture the Right thought, you know you can be distracted by the squirrel in the window and you Don't want to come across as uncaring like the 1,000 other times before. ADDer's are also poor at seeing body language and reading facial expressions, so I have felt like I have to "Think" about my expressions to keep them right. My face can just go blank when I'm in deep thought or trying to Ad-Lib a topic with someone. What is even worse, is when you are oblivious to the fact that the person you are talking to is a tad upset or Really upset. This is often the first miscommunication.

The second conversation is way easier, because you are not that close to the person you are saying "How are you?" and can are prepared because you are starting a topic you are prepared to discuss or can do the generic conversation with easily. ADDer's often can "Appear" comfortable and sweet when little is on the line. 

Does my ramble make any sense?

Yes, this is happening.  He

Yes, this is happening.  He takes an eternally uncomfortable long time to answer the simplest question to the point where we can hardly talk about anything of any significance - except jokes (the stupider the better).  It feels to me like he is plotting how to phrase something to his best angle.  ie:  "How can I say this so that I look good and that she doesn't get too much information out of me?"  Our conversations feel like a warring game of chess - he who can wait the longest and plot ahead will win.  What it does is stop the momentum of a conversation because what should be a 2 second pause becomes 30 and 60 second pauses from him sometimes resulting in his total separation from the conversation. I have waited for 5 minutes (because he gets so upset if I don't give him time to process and respond) and when I ask him, well?  He will say angrily, "I am still thinking, don't rush me". What were we talking about?  If I try to help the conversation along with prompts or just chime in with more of my thoughts to fill in what is to me tortuous silence while he stands mute, he is angry at me.  A natural conversation to me has a smooth amicable rythmn with sometimes mistakes that can be corrected back and forth but forthright and a bit vulnerable.  The attempts to just be face to face with our true selves seems impossible with him. It makes me feel like he is hiding something and must fabricate to accommodate me.  I want to scream, just say what is in your mind, you don't have to edit it first! 

When talking, DH seems like the guilty convict that I so foolishly want to believe and trust.  " isn't what you think, yeah, that's it.  You have it wrong.. got it wrong... I ah...wel....a... let me think a minute...ah"  I guess this is where my DH starts using his unacceptable coping tools.  Like getting angry, calling names, walking away, blaming me, denying, distracting ignoring.  It is very frustrating.

Yeah, I know there are things I can do to accommodate the ADD happening in the conversations.  But when I use them and pretend not to be irritated, I feel like I am STUFFING THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF MYSELF. And I AM! And not being real myself.  If I am always stuffing frustration and anger when I am with him, what kind of a life is that for me? Or him?

yyz, I am starting to GET what you are saying, that in real time, he CANNOT articulate.  This is so sad. How does one with ADD have an effective meaningful, comfortable conversation about something important without it becoming volatile?  

For Me...

My inability to have a conversation of Any Significance was the one major sticking point my DW and I had to go over before she decided to marry me. She just asked if I would try to improve in this one area. I tried, and we struggled through most things with her pulling the info out of me, she got angry, I shut down, she calmed down and we would work through things. What a beating for both of us, but she could not understand why I could not talk under pressure. I did not understand why I had 500 answers to the question in my head, but could not slow the thoughts down and spit one out. My communication is steadily improving and it is the Adderall that lets me react/think/speak more in Real Time. I know all too well about being "Stuck in the Mud" with 60 second pauses and those days are pretty much gone. I'm far from being "Normal" in this way, but greatly improved. It takes A Lot of work to push down the urge to clam up, especially if she is angry. We both have work to do, because I can communicate better when she is not furious. One new communication dynamic we are dealing with is my Real Time responses. I used to feel so bad when I saw how upset/mad she was. I can get fairly mad myself these days during a heated discussion and we need to figure out how to tap the brakes. I don't do well with snide comments, they are a waste of time, I'd rather get to the meat of the issues and resolve it, move on. I hope this process improves... I believe there is a middle ground we can get to if we keep working on it.

Does this happen in all

Does this happen in all conversations or just ones that are 'tough' (i.e. deal with feelings, the relationship, something you feel he's done wrong)? I cannot imagine not being able to talk to my DH...this seems like such an extreme situation, where there are never any conversations to be had. :-( We can drive in the car and talk for hours. Phases come and go (mostly come when he's really struggling to keep himself on track) where the subject tends to be all about him, but for the most part not. I guess, as bad as his case is, I am thankful he doesn't have this issue.

Can your DH converse with other people without any stammering and 60 second pausing?


jennalemon, that was a great choice of words there. still working through a lot for myself. i am coming to the conclusion, though, that much of the time i am using every ounce of my energy to "stuff" or hold back things that feel real to me. he is happiest when he can just move on, even after the most angry, awful display, and that is just so not me, pretending that nothing happened. it feels so foreign, as do many of the conversations and encounters that grow more and more distant and make less sense to me. just agreeing with you, today. what kind of life is that? today it just feels like: sure, marriage and relationships take tending and work to grow and thrive, but i don't think they are supposed to take every ounce of your energy and be this much work. 

A question for ADDers.  Do

There is a "je ne sais quoi" that feels not quite right about DH's attempts at emotion/feelings. Anger feels like his only true emotion other than being sentimental for his childhood.  Is this just him or could this be an ADD thing? 


Difficult subject to quantify. I was an emotional kid and was easily upset by things people said to me. I had a stepdad who was very verbally abusive to me for ten years. I wanted to be a good son to him, but I was emotional, smart and was terrible at sports. I was not the the kind of son he wanted and he humiliated me at will. At age 13, I had pretty much had enough. I beat him at strategy games, he hated to lose. I knew I was smarter than he was and he did too. He made me cry one last time when I was 13 and I became so mad at myself for letting that Asshole get to me. I knew my new strategy was to Never let this happen again. I vowed to never show emotional weakness again. I now had Coping Skill #1. I have no problem displaying most emotions other than anger, I suppress it most of the time. Sadness is a real tough one that I have held inside for so long that I just have a hard time expressing. I have a real hard time displaying empathy to people. I want to, but I never could grab the words from my head to help. I feel the feelings but struggle displaying the tough ones. My facial expressions are often misread, probably because I never them correctly in the first place. I definitely try to Display the emotions that I am feeling, but they can appear off to people. I sure an ADDer can look like they are faking emotions, because these are just another poor communication skill we have. When it comes to many emotions, I feel like I'm 13 trying to keep up with the adults.    

Is this person being

Is this person being treated? I think YYZ has some really good points about this...and the sudden overwhelm might be what is going on here...but for me, I would have to take the opportunity to say "it really feels to me like, when you react with no emotion or interest, that you don't have any real concern or compassion for what I am going through or feeling...could you help me understand why?" I 'took' this kind of non-reaction (not to me being upset, or going through a hard DH is pretty good about lending a shoulder or a hug) for a while and then I started calling him on it. "I was just talking about something and you completely changed the subject. It feels you just don't care at all about my school/friends/etc" Not sure if this is why, but he has stopped doing it. He might even reply with "I don't care about hearing about your friend" and be ugly and which I would reply "that is no excuse to totally blow me off...can't you just hear me out?".

It would scare me for someone to be so emotionally unavailable that they couldn't even bring themselves to engage in a conversation if I went to them and said "I am depressed and feeling really down..I'm having a really hard time". I'm not sure if that is ADHD or something more. During his worst times, when his ADHD had consumed his life (mostly due to drinking and substance abuse...drug induced mood disorder, if you will), is the only time my DH was unavailable about 2 1/2 years of our 15 year marriage. 


I can agree with Sherri's suggestion here. My DH got upset with me once, for assuming that his not listening meant that he didn't care. He told me just to ASK him. Calmly. "Do you not care that I had a problem with my boss at work today?" When he would answer, "of course I care," I did feel better. This is so far outside the pattern of what I was used to, it took a while, but it did work some of the time. 

sounds familier

lily1, all I know is that my spouse has ADHD and this sounds pretty familiar to me. And jennalemon's assertion below that the worse she is doing, the more distant he becomes. My DH cannot handle, at all, me being upset or angry or anxious. And I don't know why but it sets him off like nothing else. The most hurt I have ever been was listening to him talk to a female colleague on the phone once. There wasn't anything going on (honestly, we have a lot of problems but infidelity hasn't been one), but his voice was kind, and open, and patient with her. He hadn't spoken that way with me in so long, it just stabbed me in the heart.    I have seen him in long periods of disinterest and disengagement like that, as well. How can he not care that I had such a problem at work but care so much about a stupid crime show on tv? 

Once he started taking medication, he was better for a while. And I learned that interrupting him and making too much of a "big deal" about conversations didn't work very well, either (no melodrama, no heavy sigh, with "can we talk?") Just calm, straightforward, "Wow, my boss was awful to me today."  

Reading books about ADHD and being in therapy myself definitely helped in terms of seeing that often it was the disorder, not how much he cared about me. Best of luck to you. 

So Confusing

He's not being treated, but he does control his ADHD very well in a lot of areas.  Lack of interest and emotion are where we have most of our problems.  He doesn't seem to have a problem with knowing what to say, he's very articulate.  He says the right things (most of the time) but it seems like those words are forced.  He just seems uninterested and cold.  Most of the time I only see emotion and interest in him when's he's talking about himself or occasionally someone else.  But now that I think about it, I do see that coldness in him in other areas and with other people.  And yes YYZ, your ramble makes sense,  I just don't know if that's what's going on here.