ADHD and Processing, Part 1: Difficulty Answering Questions Quickly and Directly

My husband is a bottom-line kind of guy.  Highly logical in most matters, gets to the point, great executive functioning.  He understands some of my issues better than most as concerns my ADHD.  There are some issues, however, where he could not possibly understand me less.  My difficulty in answering questions directly when he asks a “simple Yes-or-No question” causes him great aggravation.  He considers my “refusal” to heed his request that I answer yes or no immediately as a sign of disrespect and that I don’t listen to him.  I understand that this circumlocution that I go through is annoying. Both my ADHD Mom and ADHD son do the same thing and I want them to get to the point, too.  I have made progress in a related area, which is answering when he speaks to me.  I used to have a great difficulty initiating a verbal response when he would ask a question, either when it was the first words of a conversation, or when my attention was elsewhere.   It would take me a long time to process, and it didn’t occur to me that I should perhaps not leave him hanging until he snapped at me for being rude, because at the moment I was engaged trying to formulate the thoughts to answer him.  I now answer more quickly, but truth be told, there are many times when I am simultaneously trying to process what the answer actually is WHILE I am trying to answer it.  This makes it difficult to answer yes or no because I have to navigate to the answer.  My short-term memory is poor, so recalling that type of information and ensuring that my memories are not just “memories” that my brain created, is not easy for me.  I am realizing while I write this that by curing one problem I have created another.   Now the process that used to take place quietly in my head is happening out loud.  Sigh. 

I’ve told both my husband and my therapist that when a question is asked and I am experiencing that difficulty, I can visualize a path I have to go through to get to the answer, sometimes even when I THINK I know what the answer is.  My therapist understands this, but my non-ADHD husband thinks I am refusing to take responsibility.  Part of it is that I’m trying to remember what happened, if, for example he asked me if I completed a task.  I want to be sure I am correct, so I talk it through to be sure.  Also, I might think I know what the answer is when I start to answer, but once I start meandering through that path, I might recall other things that affect my answer.  I won’t know unless I go through that process.

The above-mentioned therapist not only has great expertise in ADHD; she also really “gets” me.  She says this challenge is a processing issue for me.  I am working on it, but it is very difficult and I don’t know how much is controllable with practice.  Tonight, he asked me whether or not I knew where an invitation to a party was because he wanted the address.  I was trying to process whether or not I even knew where it was, whether I moved it, whether I might have accidentally thrown it out, whether it was in my office, on the coffee table, side of the fridge, and so on.  Essentially, my brain was searching while I was talking.  I answered “No” after 2 sentences of explanation.  That is not a lot for me.  It was an EFFORT to whittle it down to 2 sentences that quickly.  I’m not kidding.  I don’t even know how I did it.  He’s still mad at me and doesn’t want to hear my explanation. He thinks it’s an excuse.  Why would I continue to do this if it was easy to correct?  What am I possibly getting out of this???

 

Has anyone had similar experiences and/or successfully resolved this issue?  I do feel that part of this issue is my husband's own impatience, not just with me, but in general.  Still, it is important to him, and I want him to understand that for that alone, it is important to me.

 

 

Wow

This explanation has been very helpful to me (the non-ADD spouse).  I've always felt like the long wait for an answer to a question or comment was a) he thinks the question was "unnecessary" or "uninteresting"  (He has made both comments to me in the past but I think that was either unfiltered blurting, or an attempt to deflect the "problem" onto me.  I find it hart to believe that someone who loves me would believe most of my words were unnecessary or dull, but I guess it's possible...)  b) he doesn't know the answer, but refuses to say so.  I guess I will practice just "waiting and seeing" and hope our "conversations" will go better.  We've always struggled to make 'conversation'..... I sometimes feel like I'm in that old comedy routine where one person is talking about stuff several steps behind the other person... always at cross-purposes and never being in the same place at the same time.... and the "connection" part of conversation is what I enjoy most about being with people... more so than the substance.  This information has taught me a lot -- I just hope I can use it when the time comes.  

I agree with you! I found

I agree with you! I found this VERY helpful. I wish more spouses with ADHD would post here. I like the support I get her from non-ADHD spouses, but the insight into the ADHD brain is priceless info. There are times I try to talk to my husband and his answers are down right bizarre! There seems to be no logic, no thoughtfulness involved. I guess I need to have more patience with him. 

Thank you.  This post was

Thank you.  This post was very interesting.  I (the non-ADHD spouse) also tend to be somewhat impatient but I've also found that sometimes I'll ask a question (I assume it's a question) and my husband just won't respond at all.  What I try to do now is wait, without saying anything, for his response, and after a reasonable amount of time (a couple of minutes?) ask him, politely, if he is going to respond.  This has worked OK. 

Wow.  You are patient.  A

Wow.  You are patient.  A couple of minutes?  I would have forgotten what the question was about, or even that it was asked.  I giggled when I read that.  Thanks for that. It's been a rough day.

Thanks for Bolding "The Question" ;)

I have been in your shoes a million times... Back in my ADD fog days my wife would ask a question or comment about something hoping for interaction with me. I would not hear the question, or miss the comment and she would wait for my response. After a while (Days, wee  ks, I'm not sure) I would get hit upside the head  about the topic an anger / attack mode. She would tell me it was the only way to get my attention. I was not ignoring or not hearing the question on purpose, so when the upside the head moment occurs several things would come    into play. 1 - First, it feels like an unprovoked attack. All I knew was everything was fine, then bam "Not Fine". 2 - Brain is now "Indexing" all thoughts, even including the problem, but also guilt, shame, anger (I just got attacked without warning, right) and most important "AGAIN"?!? as in this is a repeat cycle that I don't know I'm doing at the time and now there is only the "Yes/No, True/False" response to give. So with a thousand thoughts racing through my brain I'm supposed to give an answer to take the situation back to "Everything is fine". 

Now days, post diagnosis, therapy, reading and learning, I can pickup on The Question more easily and more importantly I can slow the spnning thoughts down enough and engage in the conversation. This is still a work in progress, of coarse, and I like the results because I don't have to sit there with the ADD sock stuffed in my mouth anymore. I can give back, something my DW always wished I could do, because where her mind can go with things to protect herself and my not countering these thoughts is a bad combination. 

The executive functioning deficit is hard to work with, but just being able to slow the thoughts down and feel confident in my selection breeds confidence and self-esteem, which is one of the key problems I had with communication in the first place.

Original post almost EXACT description of us

Have visited this site before a while back, but just came across your post... was looking for "tools" for BOTH my ADD and husband's NON-ADD to use for communication...

I am ADD and husband is logical/get to the point/extremely intelligent/fast processor (same as exec functioning?).

I can't count the number of times he has said "This is a yes or no question" and also "this is a simple memory question" and can't understand how it is REMOTELY possible that I have to process either the "Yes or no" or "did you do this" (memory) question.

I could have written your description of the invitation question because that kind of thing happens so often. When he asks me something like that, my brain starts running:

"DO I know where the invitation is I'm not sure let me think about that did I open it and put it on the table or where is the last place I saw it I think it was on green paper and is it still with the envelope or did I put that in the recycling box and I still haven't decided what I am going to take to the potluck maybe one of those recipes I just saw on Pinterest and oh crap we were supposed to RSVP by tomorrow ..."

Sometimes a few words come out of my mouth, sometimes several, sometimes I think out loud, sometimes I just stand there with an empty gaze and don't answer because the above stream of consciousness is otherwise occupying my ability to say ANYTHING at that moment. Usually when the words DO come I'm WAYYYYY past his initial question, like if he said "where is the invitation" I would say after a few seconds "I already wrote it down in the calendar and the RSVP said to call by tomorrow." Then he says, THAT'S NOT WHAT I ASKED! :(.

Our communication issues are rarely, if ever, ABOUT anything (money, parenting, where to eat dinner etc.) it is the COMMUNICATION ITSELF. That coupled with the fact that I'm pretty sure I have some narcissistic tendencies too make for a VERY FRUSTRATING

Virtual Twins :)

"DO I know where the invitation is I'm not sure let me think about that did I open it and put it on the table or where is the last place I saw it I think it was on green paper and is it still with the envelope or did I put that in the recycling box and I still haven't decided what I am going to take to the potluck maybe one of those recipes I just saw on Pinterest and oh crap we were supposed to RSVP by tomorrow ..." 

Oh, my God, thank you.  It's so nice to know I'm not alone.  I am very amused by the fact that your thought process is uh...just like mine.  It's one thing to hear or read about the difficulties people like us experience.  It's another thing to take a virtual trip inside someone else's brain, and to have someone articulate their thoughts, which could just as easily be mine.  Maybe this wasn't your intent, but it made me smile.  I feel chronically misunderstood at home, so it's nice to be understood somewhere.  :)

I answer the wrong question,

I answer the wrong question, too.  I completely understand and can imagine myself giving an identical answer to the invitation question, even though, in this particular case, I did answer the question.  I think it's because of the distracting nature of having to navigate to the answer coupled with my tendency to ask myself, "What is the point of his question?"  In that case, when he asked "Where is the invitation?" I might also INTERPRET the question like you did:  A)  Did you LOSE it (always being doubted does that to you)???  and B) Don't worry:  Even if I did lose it, I was responsible and wrote it down in my calendar and was planning on taking care of it...  In my ADHD brain, that WAS the point...even if it wasn't...  Ugh

HAHA That is SOO annoying to me

when i ask a very simple question......frequently with a yes or no answer.......and I get a response that is NOTHING like I asked.   I really appreciate this insight into the ADD brain also :)

So here is a brief insight into my brain for what it is worth......

I get a strange response and either kindly ask him to explain or look at him like an alien with three heads and ask "What did that have to do with my question?" depending on how the rest of our interaction has been going...

What he usually tells me is what you posted above........"I was answering what I figured you meant by the question". 

This is a hot button issue for me, so it is hard not to immediately have anger come up...it just smacks of a suggestion by a poor communicator that I speak so confusingly that he has to interpret for me....depending on how high my frustration levels are with him at the time of this statement it may actually make me immediately see red in a blinding fury.  I try to be patient and to temper my reaction, but I have a hard time as seeing it as any issue other than.....how arrogant does a person have to be to change someone's question around to what they think the person REALLY meant rather than give them the answer they ASKED for?  How stupid to you have to think they are to believe they have no idea what THEY really meant to ask?  Or to have the attitude that what was asked was so unimportant that no human would waste actual words on it, so what was REALLY mean but be X......yep INFURIATING to me.

I am thinking things like ...........Do you think I don't know my own mind?  That I don't know what I MEANT to ask?  If one of the two of us is likely to ask one question really meaning something else, which one of us is that likely to be??   I try not to say any of that and just let it happen mentally......only escalating if other interaction has been going poorly.

Sometimes I just say mildly, "And how is your track record with interpreting what I *really mean* to ask?"  He has to admit it is poor and that he'll try not to do it in the future.

To me this is a hot button issue because it just smacks of "you are such an incompetent communicator that I have to interpret your words into something that makes sense".  As a really good communicator who really only has ever had communication issues with him (not a good natural communicator) it sounds like he is being condescending, when the common denominator in his communication confusion is HIM.  I resent anything that appears to being put back on me when he is the one not understanding.  Before you give me a answer to an entirely different question, wouldn't it make sense to ask me if I really meant X?  I mean just popping the answer out........it really comes out of left field to the other person.

Naturally though, if everything else has been going well and I get an off the wall answer to something nothing like what I asked.......I just look at him with raised eyebrows and a smile on my face until he says......OOPS lets try again.  What did you ask me?

Happily the latter is how most of our interaction goes.......but during early treatment when we both had hurt feelings over so many things we didn't understand.......the seeing red was a fairly common reaction to this problem--which was sad for both of us.

I can understand your

I can understand your frustration, Aspen.  I have to tell you, I wish my brain didn't filter questions like it does.  I despise our interactions because he thinks I have far more control over this than I do.  I spend most of my time trying to come up with new ways to overcome my symptoms by figuring out their origin and what strengths I have that could help me bypass my many issues...  Even then, my efforts are not valued.  It's no way to live...

Honestly I think that is the solution

for both halves of the couple.  Trying to come up with new ways to deal with our reactions to things and to support eachother as we each make the attempt.

We are married couples......all of us will have some kind of communication issues by virtue of being different genders and having different backgrounds.  I guess the ADD just adds an extra layer to keep things interesting and to keep us all working on ourselves, right?

Keep up the good work.......and again I really appreciate the peek into the ADD brain.  Very useful to me!

Will give this some more thought...

Hi Aspen - I soooo relate based on what my husband says and how he responds (not that I know how you feel, but I know that's how HE feels). Your reactions are very similar to his. I want to take some time to process and will try to respond to some of the specifics with more insight soon :).

Hang in there :)... Does your husband see that he does this? I think the fact that I at least see it helps (even though most of the time I don't "see" it until AFTER the fact.)

Look forward to the insights!

To answer your question, yes he is aware that he does this and we have really learned to diffuse a LOT of these situations with humor.  But if I have PMS or he has been particularly distracted, well then lets just say that is where the instant anger can come up.

He is really good and owning his part of that problem even when I am frustrated and angry (rather than avoid avoid avoid which is what he would naturally do except that he knows that makes it all more frustrating for me to deal with) and those things really help a lot.

I think on his side, he can't understand how I get from his reinterpreting of my words (almost always badly I must add) to him being disrespectful or condescending with his attitude.  That has helped me see he is NOT coming from that place with what he is saying, so that does help.

But think about it........a person asks you a question and you determine they really meant to ask you a different question, so you answer something else.  Regardless of intent, the result of that can come across pretty disrespectful.

Again as long as we are each working on it, I guess that is the truly important part!

Questions are sometimes like Fireworks

The question comes out of the tube from the barge on the lake (or wherever the fuse is lit), and then it goes up in the air and EXPLODES into dozens of possible options! I see them all instantaneously and (this is where the empty gaze occurs) consider about a dozen possible places that the conversation could go (even though it was JUST ONE QUESTION) until I settle on the one he PROBABLY wanted to know the answer to and I answer it... So, "what color should we paint the bedroom" turns into "I really liked that one gal we met at the networking thing who does upholstery... " This is a far-fetched example and usually the potential answers aren't quite THAT divergent... I don't know, it's like we are already past the answer he wanted and on to the implications, and the implications of that...

I know this is infuriating for him and not healthy.

Well written analogy :)

Hi szgrrl,

The fireworks analogy is genius on so many levels...Questions seem to come out of nowhere to distracted minds (What's that noise? Huh? It's the 4th of July?  Ooooooooooo... The sky is sparkling...That reminds me of glitter...I need to go to the crafting store;)) The possible answers to one "simple" question are not so simple.  I see all the possibilities at simultaneously, too, szgrrl... And like an actual firework, it's only a brief matter of time before the ideas fade, the smoky haze starts to spread, and I start to forget what the actual question was and am befuddled as to why he's getting increasingly pissed that I have answered everything in the universe but his "simple" question.

I see this in myself, my son, my Mom, my students.  My husband once wanted to know whether I would do a simple chore for him (we were trying to divide a task).  I jokingly responded, "Simplicity is for the simple.  That's why I leave that to you!"  

 

Ok here is where you start to lose me...

 you said....

 The possible answers to one "simple" question are not so simple.

Do you generally believe this to be true?  Because the way I am seeing the problem most of the time, is that the possible answers to the actual question are actual pretty few and often quite simple.

The whirling, fireworks, chain of consciousness thing frequently takes the AD/HD mate on an entirely different ride or a poor coping mechanism might lead you to try to infer WHY the question is being asked so that you answer that instead--those things might make answering it more difficult for the ADD mate, but it doesn't really change the fact that you weren't ASKED anything with a complicated answer, does it?  I see it like Gardner in that it appears to be more a poor coping mechanisms or AD/HD itself running amok than any problem with the actual question.

Just to use one of Gardner's examples:

Do you know what time it is? 

Possible answers:  "No, sorry I don't" "Yep it is 3:30"  

I suppose there is always the butt headed comment ppl like my dad might offer because they think it is funny.........."yep" but then he doesn't TELL you the time because you didn't actually ask that part.  :eyeroll: an ADDer living with my dad would have a breakdown inside a week as he can't stand anything except the exact answer to only the exact question he asked.

But really that question isn't complicated until ADD takes it for a whirl,is it?

I mean that I understand how you might get the answer " It won't take us that long to get there"  but that is only because one person is, possibly mistakenly, answering the question they think you might really want to know.  Not because that is really the answer to what you were asked.

 

Did you pay the phone bill?

Possible answers: "Yes" or "Yes I dropped it off yesterday"  or "No"/ "Sorry, I forgot it, I will do it tomorrow"

 

I think that is really where most of my frustration with this comes from.  If he took a deep breath to try to silence or tune out whirling thoughts or the desire to judge what I really want to know, and listened to the question, I am generally asking something with a very simple answer.

I am definitely with needing the answers to Gardner's questions mentioned at the end of her comment:

What should we do?  Make a joke of the weird answer?  Ignore it?  Act like it makes sense?  I will admit there are times when I choose not to say something to my guy, because I anticipate the answer I might get, and decide it's just not worth it. 

I never want to cut off or not begin communication with my husband because it just isn't worth it, but I belive we've all been there at times.

I guess what I was trying to

I guess what I was trying to say was that navigating to the answer, answering promptly, answering the ACTUAL question, and being sure I'm accurate are not so simple TO ME because I have ADHD.  That's what makes some questions, which would be easy to answer without memory, distraction, and executive functioning issues difficult for us.  We CAN see the question is objectively simple (especially AFTER the fact/AFTER the fight), and yet it is difficult for us.  If my husband asks me the time, I can tell him quickly.  That type of question doesn't require any type of recall, my watch tells me an accurate answer, and unless he says it with an edge to his voice, I'm not going think about the implication to the question.  

What would help me is if my husband PATIENTLY said, "Honey, I'm going to ask the question I just asked again, and this time, could you please try not to filter the question?"

This would work for me because if I am ready to address my issues.  I would appreciate his patience with me and if I knew he actually loved me...well, it would make this a lot easier just to feel accepted.  After all we've been through, I would actually appreciate his efforts to understand me.  I am sure I would not have given him my full appreciation or would not have had the awareness to even fully realize this pre-treatment.  This might not work with someone who is in denial about his or her symptoms.  I also recognize that our behavior is so maddening, you might not be able to muster up that level of patience each time.  I am not in denial, but I can be defensive at times with my husband because of his lack of feelings for me.  If this was said to me lovingly (HA!), patiently (HA!), and my attention was politely (HA!) alerted to the fact that I didn't answer the question (because I probably thought I had), I could eventually learn to relax enough to concentrate better and answer the question.  I get very anxious when we interact, because it always feels like getting along with him hangs in the balance if I answer wrong, or do or say something wrong.  So perhaps Gardner is right, I probably do have some bad coping mechanisms on top of the genuine issues I brought up here.  I am stressed all the time because my marriage has been in shambles for the past two years, I have two young children whom I love more than my own life, and I am just sad, sad, sad. I do all of the things I have detailed here in regard to difficulty answering questions with everyone, not just my husband, but the emotional baggage does cause us more issues.

I would not suggest pretending what my partner said made sense if it did not.  We are known for being "poor self-perceivers" (DSM IV), so if you ever changed your mind and just lost it one day, your ADHDer would be (even more) confused.  If the question is important enough to ask, it should be repeated with the caveat that this time, remove the filter (not so easy at times, but necessary).  But both parties have to be willing to do what they have to communicate.

I UNDERSTAND!!!!

<<<I get very anxious when we interact, because it always feels like getting along with him hangs in the balance if I answer wrong, or do or say something wrong.  So perhaps Gardner is right, I probably do have some bad coping mechanisms on top of the genuine issues I brought up here.  I am stressed all the time because my marriage has been in shambles for the past two years, I have two young children whom I love more than my own life, and I am just sad, sad, sad.>>>

***** This is exactly how I feel. I also feel very anxious about communicating with my husband for the same reasons you mentioned. We get on these vicious cycles and I think I blame him more than I should because even though I want to learn to communicate better, I put a lot of the burden on him to be "patient" and for HIM to make most of the changes because I have this diagnosis.

The worst part is, I ask him to "lead" and "help" me and he makes adjustments, and then I FIGHT him on it! E.g., Honey, you know that I can't process things quickly, but I am going to go ahead and quickly reply and then get totally in my stuck thinking and fight him and argue, and act like I DON'T have ADD... basically I try to have it both ways - Help me honey, but do it in exactly the way that I need even though you don't have ESP and only when I think I need help. (Which is NEVER in the moment.)

Honestly, until I read some of the replies from Aspen and Waterfall, I thought MY HUSBAND WAS THE UNIQUE A-HOLE WHO is just so anal that he was DEMANDING that I communicate with him a certain way even though I am clearly not equipped to do so. I KNOW I have ADD, and HE doesn't accommodate me, so HE'S the jerk. When I read Aspen & Waterfall's replies I realize that is not true. There are certainly variations and degrees of the non-ADD & ADD people and their communication dynamics, but I feel some relief and even a new-found sense of responsibility(?) that if HE isn't the singular A-hole who is so unusual, then maybe I need to eat a little humble pie and look at things differently.

I am digressing a bit, but mainly ADHDMomof2 - I REALLY UNDERSTAND HOW YOU FEEL. That said, I have to truly believe that God put us with our husbands for a reason. It has helped for me to learn more about ADD, and even more to hear from other people who experience the same things because sometimes I feel like I am CRAZY.

So what next? It would be helpful if my husband could phrase or ask things in exactly the way I "need" him to every time. But that is probably not going to happen. Beyond that, I TRY TRY TRY to remain humble.

Last week in counseling, our counselors (husband & wife team) told us a story of touring this beautiful garden, and they were just in awe of the flowers and beauty. Towards the end of their walk, this guy working in the garden popped his head up and they told him what a beautiful garden it was. The gardener replied, "what are you talking about? look at all these weeds!!" That sounds sort of cheesy, but if my husband wasn't a good man and a good father, it would have been easier to give up a long time ago. I HATE HATE HATE the way I feel when we communicate because I always feel crappy, defeated, deflated, etc. BUT he also feels disrespected, ignored, unloved by how I interact with him. We both have our perceptions, and we can choose to focus on the weeds or the flowers.

 

 

Me too! Me too!

I know this was not your intention, but thank you for making me laugh.  My empty gazes are so extreme sometimes, I don't come out of them until the next program is on TV.  My husband just gives up and moves on and 30 minutes later, I'll answer his question.  That really confuses him.  Poor guy!

Wow

I really enjoyed this thread and learned a lot.  I have experienced the non-responsive answer thousands of times.  Do you know what time it is?  It won't take us that long to get there.  Have you seen my slippers?  I cleaned out my truck yesterday.  What should we have for dinner?  You know I hate grocery shopping.   My responses have ranged over the years from laughter to despair to frustration to anger.  How these responses feel to me (the nonADD spouse) ranges from "He didn't hear the question"  Can't he say, could you repeat that, instead of making up a semi-related answer?  OR He doesn't listen to me.  OR he thinks he knows better than I what I really want to know.  I once asked "Honey, why don't you answer the question I ask?" and he said "I answer the question you should have asked."  The arrogance of this blew my mind.  But now that I know about ADD, and now that I've read the thought process as described above that he may be going through, it's very helpful.  So I have talked to him about the idea that my question can be taken at face value... and if he whirls on ahead through a whole range of thoughts before arriving at some other, sometimes not related answer, he will have to accept that I might ask the same question again.  Again, the non-responsive answer is a probably a coping mechanism for the ADD thoughts, rather than the ADD itself which causes the whirling.  And it's always the crappy coping mechanisms that are hardest for me.  The example above was Deflect at work...  He jumps from my question to assuming it's an accusation of some sort, or to what my next comment might be, or to something he might have to do as a result of this question... and all of that is what he responds to.   I'm trying to learn to just say "Okay, thanks. (to whatever his answer is.)  Do you know what time it is?"  I just wonder if this makes him angry, to ask again.  To the ADDers:  What should we do?  Make a joke of the weird answer?  Ignore it?  Act like it makes sense?  I will admit there are times when I choose not to say something to my guy, because I anticipate the answer I might get, and decide it's just not worth it.  And that is a sad state of affairs.  

Replying "en masse" to a few different threads... Part 1

Hope you guys don't mind, but I was having a hard time following the sequence and replies, so instead I posted to the original post to put this at the bottom ... Plus, there are a few posts I'll comment on here.

(1) Gardener447 said in reply to the original post... : I've always felt like the long wait for an answer to a question or comment was a) he thinks the question was "unnecessary" or "uninteresting"  (He has made both comments to me in the past but I think that was either unfiltered blurting, or an attempt to deflect the "problem" onto me.  I find it hart to believe that someone who loves me would believe most of my words were unnecessary or dull, but I guess it's possible...)  b) he doesn't know the answer, but refuses to say so.  I guess I will practice just "waiting and seeing" and hope our "conversations" will go better.

And then recently in response to some of our ADD-brain comments:


ADHDMomof2 said: The possible answers to one "simple" question are not so simple.

(2) Aspen replied: Do you generally believe this to be true?  Because the way I am seeing the problem most of the time, is that the possible answers to the actual question are actual pretty few and often quite simple. I am definitely with needing the answers to Gardner's questions mentioned at the end of her comment:

(3) (gardener447 on 3/17) What should we do?  Make a joke of the weird answer?  Ignore it?  Act like it makes sense?  I will admit there are times when I choose not to say something to my guy, because I anticipate the answer I might get, and decide it's just not worth it.

Numbered answers/comments below correspond to numbered comments/questions above

(1a) I really feel for you here. From my ADD perspective, I rarely if EVER think my husband is an idiot, his questions are dull, unnecessary, or consciously think at the time that "Oh, he REALLY MEANS THIS..." But I realize that no matter how much I try to convince him that I care what he says, THIS IS WHAT HE HEARS/THINKS.

Further, it is really the only "reasonable" conclusion based on my words/actions. We go around and around with the whole "intention" vs. "action" thing. I am what I do, not what I think. The horribly difficult thing for me is that 90% of the time, the words I "say" (due to the unfiltered blurting) are not what I MEANT. But, is he supposed to have ESP and KNOW that I didn't MEAN to treat him like an idiot??? Of course not.

1b) Unfiltered blurting - A LOT LOT LOT of the time, I am thinking out loud. Our counselors differentiate the way we speak in that "I say what I think" and my husband "says what he means." However, this can still be examined in the context of "yeah, but those blurts, even if they are impulsive, aren't they reflecting what you REALLY THINK/MEAN? - like when you are drunk and say things because you aren't inhibited...). I don't know. That is possibly true sometimes. In fact, maybe a lot. BUT, EVERYONE has things they say that they don't mean on occasion. I think that maybe ADD people have that inability to filter their thoughts and go ahead and say inappropriate things way more than average because we DO have SOOO many things going on in our brains at the same time. We are criticized sometimes for not having feelings/empathy, but actually there are about a million feelings going on... we just feel them all at once. Like in a different post, I can feel absolute unconditional love for my husband one minute and want to punch him the next (literally, I visualize myself doing this). For the most part, when I'm not feeling pressured or under duress I feel the love ;)... but in certain emotional situations the GRRRRR. comes out, wrongly, inappropriately, and I say stuff I don't mean...

Yikes - the day has got away from me... Have to shower, cut the brownies, and take my daughter to the parade. I'll follow up on 2 & 3 later :)!!!

SZGrrl

 

Simple questions? SZGrrl's en masse comments PART II :).

(2) ADHDMomof2 said: The possible answers to one "simple" question are not so simple.

Aspen replied: Do you generally believe this to be true?  Because the way I am seeing the problem most of the time, is that the possible answers to the actual question are actual pretty few and often quite simple.

Answer/Comment from me/ADDer:

This is hard for me to even understand/explain as the person with ADD, but I think a better way to say it is that THE QUESTION ITSELF IS SIMPLE, and we as ADD people really can't argue that point if we're honest.

BUT, when we HEAR that simple question the process of comprehending the question and the route it takes to our mouth to answer is not point A to B, but point A to C to F to 9 to X to B if we even ever MAKE it back to B (the simple answer) before we forget. One VERY common scenario is that my husband will say "did you do xyz" and I'll start providing a ton on contextual implied extra information, at which time he usually stops me and says... "so... Yes." And I say, "Oh, Yeah, Yes."

I think ADHDMomof2 said something about how we start to think of the implications of that question and then our brains whirl and I think the biggest issue is that we can't easy "quiet" our brain whirrings enough to say to the brain whirrings "QUIET!! The rest of you!!! Let me just answer the question!"

MOMENTS after an awkward exchange like this (which are very common), my husband will say, "do you see how you just said xwyzlekeielkjxlielekjblks, when I just wanted to know YES or NO." At that point, it's totally obvious because I can see it from the "outside" and I'm not in the middle of it.

szgrrl responses/comments Part III

Realized I didn't respond to #3 - What should the NON-ADD spouse do?

(3) (gardener447 on 3/17) What should we do?  Make a joke of the weird answer?  Ignore it?  Act like it makes sense?  I will admit there are times when I choose not to say something to my guy, because I anticipate the answer I might get, and decide it's just not worth it.

***

What helps me if my husband asks a question and I do my habitual ADD response is if he says "can you take a few minutes to process that." Sometimes I feel defensive when he says this, but it is better than starting the volley of blah vs. blah vs. blah vs. blah that always results if we continue right then.

What would also help me enormously, but it doesn't happen often enough is that when we start "getting into it" in a circular, irrational discussion because I am in my "stuck mode," if he would stop speaking, put his hand on my shoulder (lovingly, not accusingly - and I realize this is a BIG perception deal, because he might MEAN it lovingly, but I still take it as an accusation)... so he puts his hand lovingly on my shoulder as if to say "let's pause this, babe." and then turn and walks away.

Rarely, if ever can I "recover" on the spot, and the more he DEMANDS that I be rational, go slow, etc (even if it is the RIGHT thing to do). the MORE I fly out of control. A lot of this is my ego/pride that I need to let go. But it seems like if the non-ADD spouse can recognize that right there, in the heat of the moment, they aren't going to get anywhere, or it's going to take a long time, or if things are getting heated, that the BEST THEY CAN DO (speaking for myself at least) is STOP THE CONVERSATION and let us ADDers regroup.

I used to say to my husband that asking me to NOT answer impulsively, or do other ADD behavior was like asking me to fly. It was never going to happen. I realize that this is a fatalist attitude.

What I say now, is that asking me to not do my ADD behavior is like asking me to ride a skateboard. I can NOT ride a skateboard now. And even with a LOT of work and practice, I'm not likely to be a GOOD skateboarder. BUT, I can probably get proficient at it enough to ride down the sidewalk. But I will need help. I will need my husband to be kind and help me and let me lean on him, and hopefully not demand that I ride down the sidewalk until I'm ready, but learn a little at a time, and get better at it. If he is patient and doesn't get angry when I fall down and get scraped up and demand that I get back on and ride, eventually we'll get to the point where we'll BOTH feel safe, respected, loved and validated.

thank you for your valuable perspective

In reading your suggestions, I realize (to my relief) that I rarely "push" for an answer -- unless it's really necessary (according to me--like, did you make the car payment?).  I have "turned and walked away" many, many, many times in 36 years.  But I wish my guy understood the price I sometimes pay for doing so, so often, for so long.  While it is better than the alternative (arguing about who said what, who's right, who's answering the right question, who's asking the right question) it is not without cost.  

Thanks again and best wishes.