Intelligence, Irresponsibility, and ADHD?

I have read clinical descriptions of ADHD symptoms and never considered that my husband could actually have ADHD until I read some of the descriptions in this forum. He has a remarkable ability to both consume and retain everything he reads. He has an advanced degree and until recently, an executive title. He has worked in the same industry for decades with a stable employment record. I attributed his behavior to the stress of his position, and other factors in our lives, but since he lost his job - nearly a year ago now - his behavior has become more aberrant. When he is awake, he occupies his time reading internet blogs, watching television, and perhaps the most productive, reading books. I come home to a messy house, sinkful of dishes, piles of unread mail, hungry kids and pets that he is completely oblivious to. I recently discovered unpaid debts he had secreted, totaling up to six figures. He stays up late, downloading music obsessively to his IPOD. I finally gave him a set of earplugs so he would not keep the rest of us awake. At first I thought he was depressed, but after nearly a year, he's seems to have adopted a posture of semi-retirement. He becomes hostile if I ask how his day was or if he read anything interesting. If I say nothing, he thinks I am scheming against him. I tried to gently suggest options to him and put him in touch with industry professionals. I have taken extra care to not put any additional burden on him, but after reading other reader's descriptions, I'm wondering if he might have adult ADHD or if he's just having a midlife crisis? I know he has turned down offers that he deemed be inadequate. Since we were married, I noticed a change in his behavior, most markedly the inability to plan or follow through on our personal goals, arguments over silly things like movies I declined to watch because the subject matter was offensive to me, and gross financial irresponsibility. He has constantly criticized me as being too closed minded, too serious, ignorant, insensitive, and slow. My company recently selected me to lead a key new project. I had hoped he would be proud of me and instead he implied that it was only because of my physical attraction. I have tried to be patient and understanding, since I know I must maintain my income, and stability for my family, but the stress has resulted in near constant migraines and profound despair.
Is it possible for someone to be highly intelligent and what appears to be highly functional and successful in professional life with ADHD? Does maintaining that appearance take all their strength and leave nothing to their personal lives? If he is suffering from ADHD, then at least I could rationalize his callous and manic behavior, and possibly seek help.  It could also explain why he's become like a rudderless ship without the professional anchor.  

Sharing successes (or not)

This comment really hit home for me: "My company recently selected me to lead a key new project. I had hoped he would be proud of me and instead he implied that it was only because of my physical attraction."

I my ADHD significant other does not seem to have the capacity to be proud of my successes.  A few years ago, when I opened a dance studio, he completely blew off my grand opening weekend.  When I've gotten good jobs, he keeps second guessing if it is the right thing to do.  Any time I am making more income than he (which is most of the time) he swings from ridiculously unmotivated to overly accommodating - the latter is usually when he wants something.  When he is making more income, you'd think I was the scum of the earth!  Any debt or hardship I may have is magnified 1000 times.

If I start telling a story about my day, or trying to process through some situation, it is not long before he interrupts me to start talking about himself.  I honestly think he does not know how to be a support to another person.  He sees other people do it, and he'll put on a Hallmark-card version of what he thinks support is, but it usually comes back to being about him.

a moment

SH, This is a rare moment for me when I swear someone has been reading my mind. Your second paragraph describes what I haven't even written in my journals because my own thoughts seemed a bit whiny to myself. You have validated my observations. I have listened to my DH talk about himself and how great people think he is at work, literally for HOURS. Silly me for letting it go on so long but I want to be encouraging and after a while I do try to change the subject altogether. I have to say he does give me kudos when something good happens, but as you say, the subject quickly turns back to him. I suspect it is because he wants me to think well of him. Just once I would love for him to ask me how my day was and be interested. Instead anything good or funny I might share ends up being offensive in some way. Perhaps even my small successes intimidate him? Maybe he is jealous becuase wants to be the one to make me laugh? Anyway Im glad you posted; its not just me being overly needy. :)

Hi, I have just been


I have just been diagnosed with adhd at the age of 29. My mum would say exactly the same as you

with regards to me not showing any interest in others achievements.

I could never be this honest with her because it would sound rude, and maybe hurtful. However the

reason I find it hard to listen is mainly because we are so close, you see...because she is my mum I don't

have to use my precious energy to pretend to be interested. At work, with some friends....I do! And it's REALLY EXHAUSTING

By the time I'm home I just don't have the energy. You see my attention span is so low I just become able to block some people, the people that are closest too me.

I've just started treatment it will be interesting to see the results. Im not horrible, self obsessed or stupid....I just don't have the energy to fake it all the time.

I hope this helps

What I have observed is an

What I have observed is an inability to display compassion.  It is as if feeling or even acknowledging the suffering of another will cause them to experience the same ill fate or at minimum distract attention away from the self.  When my husband is ill, I will dote on him even when I myself am not well.  However, when I am ill, he will avoid me as if he might succumb to the same illness.  He will also complain of sudden unexplained symptoms that are always greater than those I may be experiencing.  What I have also observed is that no amount of rationale or logic will resolve the disconnects.  Regardless of being faced with facts of not taking responsibility, he may acknowledge the fact, but seems incapable to correct the behavior.  He has hidden bills and other financial indiscretions from me.  When he lost his job, I did not find out until a week later, and then I found out through a customer who called me to express concern.  I suppose there is an element of shame associated with the lack of self control.  I used to believe he was just cavalier and somewhat reckless, but I believe that he not only lacks self discipline, he lacks the ability to modify his behavior until forced to by some external event e.g. pending lawsuit, home foreclosure.    

I have also observed acute episodes of anxiety, often followed by sudden and unexplained anger when the anxiety is prolonged.  I look for the signs of anxiety to try to preempt the escalation.  Recently we went to my company's annual picnic.  I tried to time it so we would only be there within a timespan comfortable for him.  We were almost ready to leave when a long time friend who had coordinated the event was short on help.   I offered to assist with the cleanup which apparently upset him.   Surprisingly, he did offer to help after about 15 minutes but the gesture soon soured into shouting.  I offered him the keys and pleaded with him to go sit in the car for just a few more minutes while I finished.  I was mortified that he would act this way in front of the people I have to work with.  He walked away while I finished the task.   When I headed out to leave, he was nowhere to be found.  I went to the car, drove around the area, searched a nearby building and drove up and down the road home calling his phone to no response.  I finally drove back to the picnic site, and found him walking around the parking lot.  He offered no explanation, not for why he disappeared at the time we were minutes from leaving, or why he refused to answer my calls.  Sadly, this was actually a 'good' day. 

I desperately want to help him, but I simply don't know how anymore.  He is not the man I married, instead a shallow imposter.  Even my children are losing respect for him and to some degree me as well for my tolerance for the lies, irresponsibility, seeming laziness, and unwillingness to follow through on his promises.  I could expect this behavior from a child, but not from an adult who has fathered his own children.  


Oh yes, this is my DH as well. I thought I was the least compassionate one of the two of us, having grew up in a small town culture of "make your bed and lie in it." I think as I have slowly shed that worldview and have become more compassionate myself, the contrast between us is much more stark. I hear harsh criticism from my DH about everyone within eyeshot who did "something stupid" or looks a certain way or whatever, even for doing things that I know for a fact he himself does regularly. Even though it's just the two of us present when he says something supercritical, I am still embarressed and sad for him. I often wonder what he thinks about me when I do something forgetful or absent-mindedly. This symptom has caused us difficulty in reconciling as well, because he can't understand that I am hurting and stressed as much as he is. He just sort of ignores my comment as if he doesn't care or cannot/will not quite believe that I am experiencing pain too. It occurred to me just now that it may tie into that "apparent selfishness" that seems to be a symptom of so many ADHDers. Im sorry for your humiliation; on not so good days I sometimes liken myself being married to an adolescent. He needs chores assigned, an allowance, and emotes all of the wild ups and downs with somewhat reckless abandon. If you haven't read Melissa's book and a bunch of other references mentioned it it, I encourage you to do so. Learning everything I could about ADHD has helped me see it as the condition it is, rather than letting it beat me up by seeing it as laziness and all of the things you mentioned. I still have bad days when I can't quite shove my mind into that perspective, but thanks to self education, most days I can. And that allows me to focus on dealing with related things in a more positive way.