So I have a question. Can the non-ADHD partners among us tell when our ADHD person is fully present vs. when they are checked out? Here's what I mean: there are stretches of time where DH is in a normal mood, not prickly or sullen, acting normally, retaining things I say and then for no reason I can point to there will be periods of time where he is just out to lunch. Right now he is out to lunch and has been for a few weeks. The inconsistency of his moods is for me one of the hardest parts of living with an unmedicated ADHD adult. I can tell when he asks me things I already told him or that he asked me recently and didn't remember that I told him before. I can tell when I ask his opinion on something and I get either silence or "I don't know". I can tell he is checked out when I get one word answers to texts or no answer at all. I can tell when I text him three questions in one text and he only answers one so I have to retext the other two separately and even then may not get an answer. I can tell when I ask him to clarify something he says that is close to undecipherable and the second answer is worse than the first and I have no idea what he is talking about AND he doesn't notice that I don't get it. I can tell when he is especially surly or belligerent about things I ask of him. When he is checked out he will either not do them at all or do them with maximum huffing and puffing and sarcasm or backhanded comments. He is currently living in Houston for business, comes home every other weekend, so I put his mail on his desk. While it's true that most of it is junk and I could probably throw it out, he often does not go through it. If he is fully present (not out to lunch) he will. Ditto with messages on his work phone (which is in our house). The message light can be blinking for weeks and he does not check the messages. Now, granted, he may have heard from the people who left messages some other way, but wouldn't you want to make the phone stop blinking?? Instead he puts a towel over it.
I am not explaining this very well, just that as soon as I see that he is not really HERE I have to kind of shut down my expectations because they just aren't going to be met. I suspect the checked out-ness happens when there are too many demands on his time and too much being asked of him (in his opinion, not in reality). Last time he was home over Thanksgiving, he didn't come to bed before midnight once in the 6 days he was here and was still up around 5am every single day. I am a sleeper-inner so by the time I got up he had been on his iPad for several hours already, playing solitaire, online poker, watching you tube--not stuff I would think a man of 49 would be interested in. I know enough about the ADHD brain to know that 4 hours on a screen is probably NOT the best start to a day and is probably contributing to the checked-outness but there is nothing I can do about that. What's funny to me is I wonder what all is in his head that makes it so hard for him to pay attention to his actual life. It's not our finances because I handle those. It's not discipline because he is not here most of the time and I handle that even when he is. It's not the fact that we have to move by June because I am already making those arrangements. It's not how the 16 year old is doing in high school because he doesn't know or check. The things I just listed-those are the things that swirl around in my head and literally wake me at 4:30am. For two weeks at a time, he literally only has to worry about himself, living in a one bedroom apartment paid for by his company in another state. I know his job is stressful; all grown ups have job stress so that is a wash. Take that off the table and I really cannot figure out what else he has to worry about.
I don't think I was very clear in this post. It is on my mind a lot with him. Being fully present is something that is important and I work on it a lot. I teach 6th grade and 8th grade and I am the Assistant Principal of my school and BE HERE NOW is one of the norms we use in every staff meeting and we have introduced it to the junior high students as well, the idea that you will retain more and be more efficient and effective if you are fully present. That does not apply to ADHD people I know, but it's on my mind.
anyway...sorry if this doesn't make a lot of sense...