ADHD And Jobs

I am interested in the job histories of those of you with ADHD (or of your ADHD spouses). 

My Dh is 36. We married when he was 23, so soon after college. He is quite smart and had no problems (that I know of) making it through college. His degree is in economics with a minor in education. His first job was teaching econ/history at the high school level. He disliked it and after 3 years (completely hated it by then), he went back to school for a master's in accounting. I didn't think much of it, because a lot of people change career paths.  Again, he did really well and even earned a leadership award. 

He got a job as an intern at a tax firm and was hired on full-time. He was there 5 years. Towards the end, he had issues with some of the other staff and partners. He (stupidly) told the partners during tax season that this would be his last tax season there. In April, one of the partners asked if he had planned his last day. DH had not, so the partner set it for the end of April. I am pretty sure he would have been fired had he not already told them he planned to leave. 

He had no job lined up (did I mention I was primarily a stay-at-home mom and we relied heavily on his income?), but interviewed and got two job offers. We decided to go with one that was about an hour and 15 minutes away with the plan of moving to be closer to our families.  He commuted the first year, then we put our house up for sale the next summer. That fall, we stayed at his parents half the week so our son could go to preschool there to make the transition to moving easier. He was unexpectedly let go from that job at the end of Oct. (after a little over a year there...he also complained a lot about the partners) Thankfully, we had not sold our house yet.

He looked for jobs, collected unemployment, and I took a seasonal job at a retail store for extra income. He decided to start his own accounting business and work from home. I continued my retail job and we basically had opposite schedules to avoid paying for childcare. We never had time as a family together. We also had trouble making ends meet, even though we were both working like dogs. (Oh, I do have a degree in el. education, but could not find a job mid-year). 

In the fall of 2011, he decided on his own he that he was going to look for a job at a firm again. I was thrilled, because this meant a steady paycheck instead of billing clients and waiting for them to pay. He has been at this tax firm less than two years and is complaining about everyone, and how he is the only problem-solver working way more hours than anyone else. He is working a ton of hours, but does not have to worry about any house/kid issues. That all falls on me. (I am not complaining, b/c I know things would be worse if I worked full-time and had to do all of that, too.) Based on his attitude, the writing is on the wall that he will either get fired or will quit. 

I get he is working a ton of hours right now. But, I also know friends' husbands who work a lot, travel, etc. He acts like he is the only one.  I really just want to say "suck it up and be happy you have a job." I want him to be content, but it now appears that there will never be anything that will make him happy. We are still paying on his school loans, so going back is out of the question. He says he likes what he does (the actual work he does), but just can't work in a firm. He tried working for himself, but could not take on enough clients to make decent money (the work is out there, he just can't handle too much of it.) I really don't know what he plans to do, but I pray he does not up and quit without something else lined up. He thinks that will cure him of his misery, but does not think of how we will pay our bills, keep our house, etc. 

I work several part-time jobs right now to help out. My youngest starts school next year and I did not plan on going back to teaching full-time because I do all of the housework/afterschool activities, etc. (Dh doesn't want this either.) But, I am thinking I will have to so we can at least have one person with a steady job. 

Sorry this ended up being so long. I would love to compare other ADHDers to see how common job hopping is.

Trouble staying employed

When my husband and I met, he was working on a graduate degree and was working or got a stipend from the university.  We spent our first year of marriage overseas, where H had a high-paying contract job.  We returned to the United States, and he began working in his field doing research at the university, while I went to graduate school.  At some point, H gave up working on his graduate degree.  After we had been married 12 years (and when we had two young children), he was let go from the university because his research position was not renewed.  I had been working part-time and decided to quit because I wanted to spend more time with our children.  Even though my husband knew by the time I was making my decision to quit that his position was not going to be renewed and that he would be without a job, he didn't tell me until several months later.  

I don't know if I knew this at the time or figured it out later, but I'm pretty sure that if not for personality conflicts between H and his supervisors, they probably would have been willing and able to find another job for him.  

H was then unemployed for six years and never got unemployment benefits.

H finally applied for a job with the postal service.  It was difficult, stressful, physical work, but he stuck with it.  Until four years ago, when he was fired, because he left his postal service vehicle in the wrong gear while taking mail to someone's door and the vehicle rolled backwards and hit a tree (fortunately, it didn't hit another vehicle or a person).  

H did collect unemployment benefits (the maximum possible) after that.  Major scare a year after the firing, when he received notice that the state was planning to seek repayment of $15,000 in benefits because of the circumstances that led to the firing.  H apparently did not plan to contest this; I insisted that he hire a lawyer and fight it and he was successful, so we were out only $1,000 or so for the lawyer.  

H went back to tech school for a certificate in his area.  He got it.  He has not applied for any jobs since getting fired four years ago.  He does work, as a tutor (at minimum wage) and for his parents.  His dad pays him to, essentially, be a companion to them and to make two meals a day.

I work part time for the same employer that I left in the late 1990s.  I was able to return after a few years and also eventually was hired to do work for another department within the same organization.  Basically, I work as many hours as they'll let me (although I'm not up to full-time yet).  I also do projects on an as-needed basis for another business and do freelance work from home, again as much as I can scrape together.  Currently, our children are grown and in college.  I do almost all the housework and other matters needed to keep a household and family going.  It has been and continues to be incredibly stressful.






While we all see similarities when coming here there are different presentation of the symptoms. I'm the ADHD spouse and my wife had to push me to start looking for better compensation. I can get comfortable in a good work environment, even when for my age and experience I am 40 grand below the average salary. Getting a new job took all of two weeks, but I would have taken much longer to make the same progress. Jumping around makes me uneasy.

I've been in this new role for about a month, but before then I had only ever worked for one company, at least within anything that could be considered a career. I'm very good at my job and I think the key to success for ADHD people is that the work remain stimulating. About a year ago I decided to start working from home almost 100% of the time, and that has presented some challenges. I tend to slack off and go for chunks of the day not working, but spend other chunks getting lots of tasks complete. When you work from home your only boundaries are scheduled conference calls, responding to instant messages/email, and answering your phone. I think it is ideal for certain typical ADHD symptoms, and not so great for others. I'm with a new company and if I were headed into the office I know I would be making a great impression. As it stands I am doing well, but it is a lot easier to focus when you are in a building that exists only for the work to be done. It takes some discipline and if I really wanted to be fair to my employer I would not have this computer in my office next to my corporate machines.



Hello.  ADHD people can be happily employed or successfully employed but it needs to be the right job for them.  Either it must be in a field that's interesting to them, and that can lead to hyperfocus and work-aholicism, or to work with the strengths of ADHD (or at least not fight the negative symptoms).  My husband did some job hopping before he became an electrician.  Electrician was a great career for him; blueprints and a schedule to follow, constantly varied tasks and projects, and often new foremen and co-workers to interact with.  Unfortunately he had to retire because his thumb cartelidge dissolved.  It's been 10 years since then and he still has no new career.  He went back to school for retraining, the struggles with that led to the ADHD diagnosis.  He's supposed to finish remodeling our house then do a new money making things, for which he has several ideas.  Fortunately I make enough to support us and don't really mind as long as he's happy.  Unfortunately that hasn't been the case.

Accountant has some ADHD friendly aspects; differing clients, task oriented, varied work.  Unfortunately ADHD people can have interpersonal issues with bosses and co-workers.  Especially in times of stress, like tax season.  Perhaps it's time for counseling.  Counseling helped my husband deal with some of the irrational response issues.  Otherwise he needs to manage stress and ADHD better.  Exercise, sleep, eat well. 

Good luck. 

ADDer and non-ADDer and jobs

My husband is eight years younger than me. We started talking when we worked at a crummy market research place. Part-time, no benefits, etc. Most of the employees were students or had day jobs. He lived with his mother. It took me a while to find out he had been there 7 years and had always lived with his mother. I had been there a long time too, but as a second job or while I was in school.

I said in order to get married, one of us had to have a full-time job with insurance. It happened to be him; he interviews well. It was a call-center job, which isn't very ADD-friendly. He never told me he was hanging up on customers and I began to feel comfortable. While I was in the middle of treatment for a medical issue, he got fired and we lost our insurance. I went two more years without treatment, during which he was diagnoses with depresssion and ADD. They told me it would take a year of ADD treatment before he would be able to look for a job again. I worked 2 jobs the whole time, or double shifts.

Eventually he went to apply at Wal-Mart, just to prove they wouldn't hire him, but they did. Then he got a job as a peer counselor with a mental health agency but he lost that job because of ADD symptoms he didn't seem able to control, like losing company cell phones. The last straw was when he lost his wallet and tried to borrow gas money from a co-worker. Not only did she not loan him the $10 he asked for, she told their boss. I would have brought him money if he'd asked me. He loved that job and hasn't even seriously tried to get a job since.

Soon after he lost his job, I got a job working from home in commissioned sales, I eventually was working 80-90 hours a week, but I was still home so he didn't see it as work. He felt that my begging him to do dishes, etc. (because I worked from getting up until going to bed) was expecting him to be my slave and we fought about it a lot. That job eventually ended, and I left him and moved in with my daughter. Somebody in a house has to work! Now his mother pays his rent and electricity. He had no heat last winter. A man with at least 10 years of retail experience claimed her couldn't get a Christmas-season retail job.

I'm moving on with my own life. I left him in August, got a temporary job for September and have been working at a full-time job since November. It will soon be 2 years since he lost his lost his last job. I am endlessly sad for him but I have to move on. I am almost 60, and being married to someone who will neither take care of his household nor work is more than I can bear. Wearing a baby in a Snugli is cute, wearing a 50+ year old college graduate around your neck is not.



I am pretty sure that my husband claims to have had up to 12 jobs or more from 16 to 21. I brought it up again when we were discussing his ADD, and he didn't correct's possible he didn't hear me though.

His usual complaints were about unfair bosses and how he hates being told what to do. Now he is in the military and he hates that too, but claims to stay in for the welfare of us. He gets out next year and I have decided that our next move will be to my home. It was going to be staying here or going to his home, but with a separation most likely coming up, I wanted the security of my home and friends. I plan on finishing my degree and working full time at night. I guess we'll see if he can keep a job down there.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

Spouses employment and ADHD

When I met my spouse in 1982, he was starting his own business in the construction field.  He did not like being told what to do and when to do it and how to do it, thus started his road to self-employment.

He lived at home with his parents.

I had a full time job in an accounting department, with full benefits.  I had my own apartment, and a brand new car that I bought myself.

My spouse's dream was to own his own business which would support his family.  My dream was to be a stay-at-home Mom.  

In 1984 we married.  I allowed him to convince me to quit me job - I had a tough time with an angry controlling boss - I was compliant and did not have the people skills to confront, and I was fairly miserable in the position.  Plus, my spouse convinced me I deserved a break.  Who wouldn't want to hear that?!?!?!

So I quit.

Then, I started to realize how 'not so fun' life would be.  My spouse decided I had had a vacation long enough and had to get back to work.  The job I got was full time, but did not pay well, so off started the power-struggle of "I make more than you, so even though we work equal time, I am more valuable than you - so you do all the house work."

My business skills were a threat to him.  It was 'his business' so my input was rejected.  He never did make enough money to support us, and thus started the snowball to falling into deeper and deeper debt each month.  Borrow here, get a credit card, get another credit card, consolidate, dig deeper into debt, have a child, and then a second, buy a house, build an addition, buy an RV, deeper, deeper, deeper into debt. Pay off most of the debt with an inheritance.  Keep on rolling into debt.  Deeper and deeper and deeper.

Now the children are out of school, I am back in college, and I am feeling angry at the thought of fixing the mess all by myself. 

Why did I never say, "Hey you are not supporting us.  Get a job.  Let go of self-employment."  No.  I enabled us to where we are today.

How do I get out of this mess?



And it happened again

Yep, DH was fired today. He told me yesterday that one of the partners asked him to be in his office at a certain time, so he warned me it was coming. They said it wasn't the right fit. His main issue seems to be getting things done in a timely matter. He takes Adderall, but maybe hyperfocuses on each task? I don't know. He claims that the other accountants there rush through stuff and he has to clean up their mistakes. Mmhmm. I know me being a bitch to him won't help, but I am finding it hard to be supportive. Any advice?

So, he plans on taking the clients he brought in with him. Again, he can get clients to build a business, but cannot take on the load he needs to make a decent living at it. I know lots of CPAs have their own practice, but his ADHD seems to be prohibiting his success. He said, "Well, maybe this is not the career for me if I can't work fast enough." 

There goes my plans to start couple counseling this summer. I am embarrassed by this, too. I have had a multitude of jobs and have never been fired. How do I tell people that we are AGAIN in this situation?????

Just praying we can make it through and I am also looking for jobs for myself. Maybe now he can take down the Christmas lights that are still on our house. 

I'm so sorry

I do so wish there was a better outcome.  It does seem to take some people with ADHD longer to complete tasks, that's why schools give them extra time on tests. Too bad this doesn't happen on the job too.  Of course then he would just have really long hours. Just sucks. I was watching the ADHD and Mastering It show and Thom Hartmann had a blip where he said their former accountant was ADHD and couldn't get it all done, so made a career switch that better suited the ADHD. I believe it was business development for a CPA firm, basically a position where he would bring in new clients but the accountants actually did the work. Perhaps your husband could look into something like that. Or consulting. Maybe a career counselor could help generate ideas. 

Good luck finding a position and holding it all together. I feel for you. Take care.


I kind of knew it was coming, so it is not such a shock like last time. He does like the work, but can't seem to get it done in a timely matter. And, the sad part is, he was working a bazillion hours, staying way later than I am sure anyone else did, not sleeping nearly enough, and it still ended up like this. I feel sorry for him in a way, because I am sure it is frustrating to put that much into something and have this outcome. We'll have to discuss his options, I guess. Thanks for the good ideas. 

carathrace's picture

Ahhh, so sorry, boilergirl. 

Ahhh, so sorry, boilergirl.  I guess you saw it coming though, didn't you?  I'm sorry you're going through this. 

I half expect the same thing to happen to my husband all the time.  "Getting things done in a timely manner" is not how he rolls.  He is trying really, really hard to stay on task, with timers and forbidding himself from opening emails until 11:30 and 4:00, letting the phone go to voice mail....and it works for a while but then his ADHD brain slips him back into default mode.  You've had this happen before so I understand why you're finding it hard to be supportive.  I know if it was my hubby, he would be feeling a HUNDRED times worse than me right now, and doesn't need me to add to it.  I guess I would probably ask him how he feels and let him vent for awhile.  Then I would ask him if he would like to hear how I feel?  And tell him that he doesn't have to DO anything about my feelings, but I would like him to know about them.  Then offer to help him make a list of "things to do next", or "our options from here".

I often think my guy would do great if he had a really good office manager.  He needs somebody to take care of the timely things, the detail things.  Maybe your guy would really do better with his own practice, but I would suggest he first hire an excellent office mgr/assistant.


Yes, I kind of had a feeling this was coming. He said he feels like a weight was lifted and doesn't feel stressed, except for the financial part. He claims we are in a better position now than we were a few years ago when this happened, which is somewhat true. My youngest will start school this fall, so that gives me more opportunity to contribute financially, I have a part time job that brings in about $450 a month, and he already has clients (who will hopefully stay with him.) But, I like the list idea. A big conversation is definitely in order. 

You are absolutely right about the office manager. He was used to having that when he worked for firms, so  he had to do all the billing, etc. himself when he started working from home. Of course, who does he think would make a great office manager? Me, of course.  I told him that I did not sign on for this and was already working 40 hours a week at a retail job to help out and doing all the household chores. But, he couldn't afford to hire anyone. I am willing to help some, but we all know what happens when we give in to the ADHD...more and more would be put on my shoulders. 

I am not as upset like I was last time since I feel I could look into different options for myself. I just hate the instability of it all. 

ADHD and work

I have worked as an accountant in Australia for the last 30 years. I have also been diagnosed with ADHD and an anxiety disorder. It has been a really tough journey. the last 7 years in tax have left me drained of energy and very anxious. 

I have had to face the truth that working in tax compliance as an accountant is extremely difficult for anyone with ADHD. I have heard of accountants with ADHD working with some success in management accounting or cost accounting. Maybe there is another area where your spouse can leverage his skills, knowledge and experience i  accounting.




Job Histories....

I don't know if my boyfriend of 2 years is the exception to the rule, but he has ADD and has a stable work history.  Since we've only been together 2 years, it would be impossible to list every job he has had....

When he was growing up, his Mom and Stepdad moved alot.  He left home at 17 because of his Stepfathers physical abuse.  One job he had after that was working for a circus.  While in his early 20's he worked as a DJ.  He Dj'd for parties and in bars.  Then thru his cousin he found a gig as a DJ in a strip club.  He worked at one strip club for a while, and made tons of money.  That was until he tried to break up a bar fight and ended up with a broken jaw.  His coworker introduced him to cocaine to manage the pain and he became an addict.  He ended up quitting the cocaine and the bar, because the environment was not healthy for a person in recovery to work in.  He has worked in restaurants, from busboy when he was a kid to cooking in the kitchen and managing a kitchen.  He worked in a factory, with steel for many years, but it was hard on him physically.  He has always loved computers, and got a job part time repairing them.  He now has an Associates degree in Computer Science and has been employed for over 5 years with a IT security company.  He is close to getting his Bachelors degree. my boyfriend's case he hasn't hopped jobs in a while.  He is enjoying the financial security his current position provides and doesn't plan on making any moves.