Is this ADD/ADHD or something else?

I have been reading the posts on this site for several days with great interest. I think that my husband of almost 23 years may have undiagnosed ADD/ADHD . I can relate very closely to many of the comments posted by non-ADHD spouses.
Some of the signs have been present for a long time: difficulty holding a job (never got fired, but always quit because he wasn’t being treated right, conditions were unbearable), angry outbursts/yelling over minor things, being very sensitive to any type of perceived criticism – even a look that a total stranger might give him could set him off. I learned very quickly to not react to his outbursts as that would only escalate things. It was clear that he was the only one allowed to get angry and there was no way he was going to be married to a b*tch. In the rare event that I did express anger or frustration about something, he would get extremely defensive and hold onto that for YEARS. One small example is that I was sleeping early one morning (sun wasn’t up yet) and he came into the bedroom for something and just flipped on the lights. It woke me up, of course, and I’m sure that I didn’t use a nice tone of voice when I asked that he turn the lights off. This happened at least 5 years ago – and he still dwells on it. Brings it up whenever a similar situation arises and a light needs to be turned on. It’s as if I was being completely unreasonable to be annoyed that he did that.
As a result, I have tried very hard to turn away, not react, keep the peace over the years. This has worked fairly well, but I’m realizing now that it has come at a high price to me. He’s been on increasing doses of Prozac for the past 8 years or so which has helped some with the outbursts, but I’m wondering if he might also be dealing with ADD/ADHD and need some additional intervention. I’d like to list some of his characteristics here to see if someone with more knowledge of the condition might let me know if I’m on the right track:
- Time management. He hasn’t worked in 15 years – happily took on the role of Mr. Mom when our first child was born and did a great job. We have two kids, the youngest is 13 and the plan was for him to go back to work once the youngest started school. Didn’t happen. It’s not a concern financially as I have a good paying job, so I didn’t really push it and he kept busy with various projects. But time seems to slip away from him. It takes him a long time to do things – I think because he’s unfocused. The other night we were getting ready to go out and he wanted to brush his teeth first. In the time it took him to do that, I had the dishes done, kitchen cleaned up, coffee made for the morning, cooler packed…you get the idea. We go through this frequently. He’s always the last one ready although he likes to comment on how long it takes the rest of us – but we’ll be waiting in the car while he checks the doors for the 3rd time to be sure they are locked.
- Memory. He has a very clear recollection of any time anyone has ever done him wrong in any way (real or not) but he cannot remember a conversation he had with me yesterday. And it’s not just me. Conversations can be taking place that he appears to be engaged in, but his mind is obviously elsewhere. He gets defensive when this is brought to his attention (will say that I never told him), or else he will pretend that he does remember the conversation (I can tell when he’s covering up)
- Obsessive about some things. He is not messy or unorganized like others I’ve read about on this site. He likes things to be picked up and put away. He gets angry when they are not. Just the other day one of the kids’ shoes were on the floor and he kicked them as hard as he could (like a 12 year old) and glared at me. He will also finish projects. He takes great pride in being tidy and finishing things – I think this is because his father is a complete slob and his entire world is filled with unfinished projects. My husband and his father have a difficult relationship and I think that he takes extra care to be the opposite of his father in this way because it bothers him so much. He’ll get something in his mind and just let it continue to eat away at him. Two examples: he was feeling a little congested in the chest and became convinced that the carpet in the house (less than a year old) was the cause. He was sure that the carpet fibers were coming loose and wanted to rip it all out and get new. He had a Dr appointment coming up which he asked me to go to with him (he has a hard time remembering things if he goes by himself) and he brought it up to the Dr – who is a great guy. He figured out right away that there was no problem with the carpet – and that’s the day he wrote the first prescription for Prozac. Second example: he was looking for a stack of DVD’s we had and couldn’t find it anywhere. Became very agitated about it and decided that one of the teenagers that was at our house over the weekend took them. He was absolutely convinced of it – talked of it daily. Until I finally had enough and found the DVDs and handed them to him.
- Hates anything repetitive. It doesn’t matter what it is. He can’t stand it if I play a song I love more than once. If the kids are playing a video game with background music that is repetitive it will drive him crazy. Anything like that.
- Very odd sleep habits. He will go to bed between 8 and 9pm and be up by 2 or 3 am. He will go out to his shop to work on a car and come in by about 7am. Then he’ll eat breakfast and nap till around 10:30 or so. After lunch he will nap again till 2:30 or 3:00. He says that his meds make him very tired and I don’t have any reason to doubt that. I do think, however, that he prefers this schedule. I think he enjoys having this time to himself in the middle of the night. I’ve noticed him isolating himself more and more over the past couple of years. He doesn’t like to go to social events with me, so I go by myself. People usually don’t even ask anymore where he is. They know he’s home sleeping.
- Smokes a lot of pot. Every day. Seems like he needs this to get through his day. Never around the kids – he goes out in the shop for this. My guess is that he’s high pretty much all of the time that he’s awake. I can’t really tell a difference in his personality – maybe because he’s always high. I don’t smoke it, so I don’t really know.
- Selfish. Interestingly, he cannot stand selfishness in others and will point it out in a heartbeat. But, truth be told, he’s selfish. Not with things necessarily, but with his time. He wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it. I learned very early to never make any type of plans that involved him without first talking to him….and when I do talk to him he will typically not commit to anything that is more than a few days away. More often than not, the kids and I do things without him because he’s either sleeping or out in the shop and doesn’t want to go with us. Thankfully, he doesn’t mind that I/we do things without him. I do mind it sometimes, though. Sometimes I would like to have someone to go places with. Another illustration of selfishness – or maybe it’s time management – is that when he first decided to quit his job and stay home, it was determined that he would take care of things around the house: laundry, cleaning, cooking, shopping, etc. Over time that has dwindled away. We now have a housekeeper that comes in weekly, I do most of the cooking and shopping (well, until a recent blow up when I finally called him on it – he’s now doing about half of it). When he mows the lawn he complains about it every time. When he cleans up the kitchen he wants me to recognize and praise him for it. Very frustrating. I feel like I kept up my end of the bargain and he should too. I don’t ask to be praised every time my paycheck hits the bank.
- I don’t know what to label this one, but he’s very into controversy. He watches FOX news constantly, listens to Rush Limbaugh faithfully, loves to listen to this radio program in the middle of the night that talks about UFO’s and other supernatural things. Then he wants to talk about it – stir things up a little. He once got into such an argument with his brother about politics that I thought it was going to come to blows. Most of our friends know to change the subject now or he will continue to badger them about a topic for hours. It’s like he’s looking for a fight sometimes. I think that some of this is also making him a bit paranoid. He will cover up the windows of his shop with pieces of cardboard at night so no one can see in. The other day he commented to me that he thinks we should start stockpiling canned goods. When I asked why, he talked about the turmoil going on in Egypt and when I asked what that had to do with it, he changed the topic to the rising food prices. There’s more going on there than he’s talking to me about.
- He relates better to children and animals than to people. I’ve always said that dogs and kids love him, and it’s true. We have 3 dogs and there is one in particular that he is very attached to. This dog we got from the animal shelter and it appears that he was abused before we got him. He’s temperamental and will snap or bite at you for no good reason. My husband absolutely loves this dog. He carries him around like a baby, spoils him rotten, and treats him like a person. I’ve heard him say before that this dog is just misunderstood like he is.
Like all of us, he does have many good qualities as well. He can be funny and fun to be around. He’s a good Dad – he attends the kids’ school and sporting events and supports them in that way. He does his share of running them here and there. He is kind to people and generally gets along pretty well in social situations – although he’s been doing less and less of that lately. He doesn’t seem as comfortable socially as he used to.
I found myself over the past year feeling more and more unhappy in this relationship. Nothing really dramatic has happened. I’m just lonely and tired. I’ve kept the peace and taken on the load of so much for so long always thinking that if I tried a little harder, did a little more, was a little stronger, made a little more money things would get better. And so, I built this world for him in which he has very little responsibility. I take care of anything major – all the bills, banking, taxes, medical stuff. And, as I said, I’ve also taken on some of what he agreed to do. There are lots of reasons why I do this. To keep the peace and avoid an outburst, because I feel some crazy sense of guilt or responsibility, because on some level I know he’s not capable. But as a result, I’ve put myself last and I’m resentful of that. We don’t really have a marriage. We have a convenient living arrangement for him. I watch other relationships that are different than ours with sadness. I remember feeling profoundly sad last year when I was watching a young couple and thought to myself “I’ll never be loved the way he loves her”. And I believe that as long as I’m in this relationship that’s true. I really don’t think he’s capable of giving the type of love that I want. This really hit me a couple of weeks ago in church when the lesson was about unconditional love and I realized that when the pastor was describing what love isn’t – he was describing my husband. Talk about a wake up call. I wish he had been there to hear it – but he won’t go. Says he’s not into that kind of “pack mentality” (that hurt, by the way, when he said that – but of course I didn’t say anything).
I’m starting to wake up and to realize that if I want more out of my life, I’m going to have to make some changes. I often think about what it will be like when my kids are grown and gone – and I’m not looking forward to that at all. I’m already lonely and I can’t imagine what it will be like when they are gone.
So that’s a rather lengthy description of what I’m dealing with. Does this sound like ADD/ADHD, or something else? Does Prozac help with ADD/ADHD?

You're husband's struggle

You're husband's struggle sound very much like mine. I would suggest seeking additional medical advice. It may help, but it certainly wouldn't cause any damage.

@Awakening: I'm not sure if

@Awakening: I'm not sure if your husband has ADD -- though his symptoms do seem very consistent with it -- you'd need to have a professional diagnose him.  I did just want to respond and let you know HOW MUCH I empathize with you.  So many of the things you listed are consistent with my ADD husband.  I admire you for trying to accommodate it as much as you have, and I was really struck by how sad and lonely it has left you.  I have been married for 7 years, and I, too, am trying to change my own reactions to my husband's behavior, though I don't see much improvement in how he treats me except that our fights don't escalate as much and we fight less overall.  I think this is a good change to make, something that will serve me well in other areas of life, and potentially future relationships, but in your post I saw where I might be in another ten or fifteen years if I stay in my marriage.

The parts that really resonated with me are the selfishness, the somewhat abnormal need to be alone, and the lack of ability to commit to a plan.  With regard to the selfishness, my husband absolutely does not want to do anything he does not feel like doing, even in the interest of accommodating another person (me).  Over the years, I have found myself pretty much dragging him out of the house on dates, to movies, out to dinner...always hoping until the last minute that something won't come up (work, not feeling like it, feels bad that the au pair has to babysit and thinks she needs a break, etc.) that makes him cancel.  I hadn't realized until a let go of planning things for the both of us how much the anxiety of wondering whether the plan was actually going to go through caused me.  I, too, have started just to do things on my own --join a mom's group, out to dinner with friends, work out, etc.  As you said, if I bring up that I would really like him to spend more time with me, pay more attention to me, etc., I am accused of being selfish and narcissistic.  This used to throw me for a loop for a long time, until I read the book CoDependent No More, when I realized I'm not selfish or narcissistic for having my own needs and wants, and that it's OK to have them, to have dreams, and to want to share them with someone else.

My husband easily spends 20-25 hours a week -- in addition to working full-time (thankfully he has a job) -- programming on his computer (the hobby du jour, it has also been painting, playing the guitar, playing video games, writing his novel, etc.).  He claims that he loves being alone.  When I press him on what he wants out of a marriage, what the purpose is, what value I add to his life, etc., he cannot answer.  Sometimes he will vaguely say he wants "companionship," though he cannot define what that means with any specificity.  For the last three months he has been sleeping on the couch.  Like you, I've built a pretty comfortable life for him -- I manage ALL of the finances, do his laundry, cook meals, schedule kids' doctor's appointments and activities, etc. etc.  The only thing that has been uncomfortable for him has been my anger, because I have often been so frustrated, but as I said I am looking at the root of my frustrations now and turning in to calm and respectful requests (LOL one of them was if he would please not open the door so loudly in the morning, he go very angry at that).  I've realized that whether or not he will consider and honor my requests are out of my control, and it does me no good to be resentful and angry, but taking anger out of the equation does leave me room to evaluate my situation with much more clarity than I have before.

I am a very social person, but my husband is extremely uncomfortable socially and hates being around other people as he feels like they are judging him (very unlike when we first met and dated, he really went out of his way to meet my friends, be social, etc.).  Apart from my individual social life, we are completely isolated, we have no couples friends that we do things with, have over for dinner, etc.  

I won't go on about my situation except that it is similar to yours.  I've finally found some peace in realizing that I am a human being -- imperfect as a I am -- who deserves to be loved unconditionally, forgiven for my faults, and reassured and comforted and cherished.  I started going to church recently (I'm not even Christian, I'm Hindu, but need to start injecting my life with some positive messages) and I, too, am often moved to tears by sermons that talk about love.  I don't think my husband is capable of loving me the way I want and deserve to be loved, even after I have acknowledged to him that I am not perfect, that if he can tell me how I can love HIM more, I am willing to do it.  I just continue to get vague accusations and criticisms that I am impossible to please, I am selfish, I have no compassion, etc.  They now go SPLAT SPLAT SPLAT on my "love bubble" that I've built around myself, except when he says something that rings true to me, in which case I try to accept it, own it, and look for ways I can do better (though these rarely seem to change anything).    

I've pretty much decided that this marriage is over -- my goal is to find peace with myself, to be a good person, to not carry any hatred or regret or anger out of this relationship.  I feel like we are exactly where we need to be, to learn  he things we need to learn about ourselves, so my marriage can't be a mistake as long as I do learn from it and own my role in it getting to this point, and change the best I can.  Plus I have two beautiful kids form it.  I suppose there's a possibility that at some point my husband will get "on board" and join me to create a better marriage, but if not, I am prepared to move forward and look forward to what the future holds for me.  I feel bad that the kids will be affected by this, but in my opinion they are already affected because they do not see, in their home, a model of what it means to love fully and affectionately and with forgiveness and compassion.  I grew up in a cold, unloving house, and I don't want that for them.  I would rather get divorced and have the option of finding someone with whom I can create that model for them.  

The entry in my datebook for today read, "A new door cannot open until the old one closes.  Unfortunately, many of us are too busy staring wistfully at the old door that we cannot see when the new one opens."

Take care of yourself.  You sound like a good woman.  You deserve to be loved fully.  Go with your gut and don't ever feel guilty for wanting more, and going after it.