Re: mood swings - the ups and downs

I'd like to ask: What the rest of you do when your adhd spouses are having extreme mood swings? and maybe those with adhd could tell me what they are feeling or thinking, etc. I would greatly appreciate ANY personal dealings with this. My adhd husband is on Concerta, but he can have some really "down" days, in which it seems that NOTHING can cheer him up, or change his mood, and I have always been at a loss as to what to do, or how to respond. I used to be really concerned and care very much about "what was bothering him", but he could never really tell me anything specific. He would always just say, "I just have too much on my mind, and I'm just really DOWN about everything". He would never confide in me about anything "specific", or let me in on his "secret sufferings". (that is what it seemed like) To me, when there is a down day, it feels like he is carrying around all these "worries" that I just wouldn't or couldn't understand. (that's what his body language and spoken or unspoken things feel like to me) I've learned over the years that there's not much I can do, but he really mopes around for a day or two and acts like the world is coming to an end.

     On the "good" days, he's upbeat, funny, lighthearted and is fun to be around. Are these mood swings part of the daily life of those with adhd? Do they have to learn to deal with this? Before we knew he had adhd, these "down" times made me feel very bad, and I didn't know what to do. There were occasional times where his down time would last several days to a week, and it was miserable in the house. I felt like a failure because there wasn't anything I could do to "cheer him up", and he let me FEEL like a failure, without telling me, "It's not you, it's me".

    On another note: He feels like a failure quite a bit of the time, regardless of the MANY accomplishments he has. He's earned a BA, MA, PhD, has been a VERY successful teacher with many awards and acknowledgements from colleagues and media. He is published and has started many different musical groups that are still going today. But, to him, none of this is "enough". He always tells me, "I always believed that I was supposed to do something GREAT with my life". But, he doesn't SEE anything good he has done as being ENOUGH. Nothing of what he has done is "enough" accomplishment. I know he wants "fame" and also the money that hopefully comes with that. Anyway, I've been dissapointed in the past because ME or OUR FAMILY isn't considered in his "list of accomplishments". This has been very hurtful. Does anyone else go through this? I've disconnected myself emotionally, but there are still occasions where it DOES get to me, that he doesn't recognize that our family is the GREATEST of accomplishments.

   Is this something that could also be changed with different medications, or stronger medications?

Thanks for listening.


down times and accomplishments

I'm not sure if this is the same, but my husband (also on Concerta) seems to have down times every day.  He says he crashing off the meds when he's in this mood.  He gets crabby and little things set him off.  He also looks very sad and angry and when I ask him what's wrong, he says, 'nothing.'  It usually happens at dinner time.  A crazy time in this house (we have three small children).  I used to walk on eggshells when he got like this.  Now I try to ignore it and work on making sure my kids are fed, bathed and put to bed with the least amount of craziness possible.  A lot of the time the craziness is due to him letting one of our kids get under his skin and blowing up over what seems to me to be something small.  

My husband also feels like a failure.  He's said that he's just not happy and wants to try to be happy again - he wants to find what makes him happy.  He's going to counseling for this.  He, too, has said that he feels like he's supposed to do something great with his life, and when he lists his accomplishments, and what makes him happy,  his family is not on the list.  It breaks my heart.  I just don't get that.  I don't really have an answer for that one - you're not alone there, though.  

Hi Ladies!

ADD woman here...  I too have the mood swings, crash, whatever you want to call it usually around dinner time.  I have two small children (2&4) so I cannot sit and mope.  I have to cook, get the kids fed, then get them bathed, in their pj's, teeth brushed, stories read and into bed, without letting on that i'm exhausted and annoyed...  My (non-ADHD) husband doesn't seem to be affected by my evening mood.  By the time the kids are in bed he is usually staring at his computer and doesn't know if I'm in a bad mood or not unless he wants sex and I don't.  Then he just shrugs and goes back to his computer, and I go to sleep.  Come to think of it, he still probably has no clue that i'm in a bad mood!

What are the mood swings about?  There is no secret worry.  There is no hidden agenda.  We just feel like shit.  mentally and physically. These drugs are powerful stimulants and the 'withdrawal' has a huge impact.  We are simply Cinderella home from the Ball.  We're tired.  We're hungry. We've only got one glass slipper on and we totally forgot where the other one fell off. 

I don't know if i would include my family on a list of accomplishments because as a stay at home mom who works very part time, I am constantly made to feel like what I do has no value.  I need to constantly remind myself in job interviews to not admit to having kids. Once you admit you have small children, the interview is over.  You will not get the job. (if you're a woman... if you're a man, of course, it doesn't matter).  So, I guess if I was asked to list accomplishments I would assume it would be a list of things that OTHER people would find valuable.  But I DO believe I'm a great mom, even though I sometimes burn dinner and lose my keys.  My husband? I don't know if he would put family on a list of accomplishments... hold on... I'll ask him...

Ok, he thinks this is a 'guy' thing, not an ADD thing.  His immediate response was, "Huh?  Family as an accomplishment?  No...  I wouldn't list it as an accomplishment:  A family is ongoing.  An accomplishment is something you've done and it's over.  Like... I climbed mount Everest or I got the Nobel Prize."  then he said, "I guess I could list family as something I'm proud of... or something like, ok today I taught my kid to ride a bike and that's an accomplishment I guess?  but... ANYONE can have a family. So I dunno... maybe that's a guy thing to think?"

Does that help at all?

I'm no lady, but Family IS an accomplishment...

My wife and I come from a long line of divorces. We literally have no example of a successful marriage in our families. They either started as an affair, then became successful, or they are still married and miserable together or got divorced and never wanted to get married again. Marriages fail so often it is almost hard to believe anyone wants to try. We are a minority these days. My kids friends ask them what it is like to live with your parents.

Ellemenno... The chaos of running a household all day is a nightmare for me to think about as an ADDer. Please let me go to work and problem-solve and write code in a quiet environment. I used to joke about going to work to get some rest... It is really true, because I bust my hump all weekend trying to get "Everything" done and it never is... The mark keeps changing. I fix one thing and find 5 others to add to the list. So please take a bunch of credit for running your household. The Pay sucks and all you get to hear are complaints, right? Learning to ride a bike is something your child will remember forever. I remember like it was on video.

Take some Much deserved credit for being a Stay at home Mom. There is no harder job that I can think of...




Yeah, the pay for running a household really does suck.  I admit that when I go to my job, I feel as though I'm on vacation.  I can walk down the street by myself, without a heavy diaper bag, without pushing a stroller.  I can get on the subway and actually READ A BOOK!  I am not struggling to keep a 2 year old from screaming/throwing her sippy cup/snacks.  I am not fighting with a 4 year old to please stop poking her sister and making her screech and pissing everyone off.  I do not have to carry a stroller containing a 23 lb toddler up and down steep stairs (I would say on average, for every 30 times I do this ONE person will offer to help me.  Most of the time, people are just annoyed that i am taking too long to get up/down the stairs.)  I am a teacher, so when I get to my job, I am actually treated with respect, not disdain.  I feel great. I am wearing 'work clothes' that are not covered in food/stains/snot. I enjoy what i'm doing.  I can see the results of my work.  Housework is never done.  Everything you do in the home gets messed up again hours, or sometimes minutes or seconds right after.  I can get 99% of everything done but if ONE thing isn't done, I'll hear complaints.  There is so much pressure for women to have 'it all'... not just working but to have some amazing career that makes a ton of money too...  I live in a city where most women work and leave their kids in daycare or with nannies.  My husband's female colleagues are all accomplished academics, with published books and successful careers.  They work long hours and come home to release the nanny after dinner has been prepared and the kids are ready for bed. They are married to lawyers or doctors....  I am almost always the only mom at the park with her kids.  There are some great nannies, i'm sure, but for the most part the ones I see are ignoring the kids and talking to their friends on their cell phones.  One little girl was told by her nanny the other day:  "NO!  You ain't gonna go on the swings!  You always want me to push you and I ain't gonna push you!"  and then she went back to her phone conversation.  This is what I am supposed to strive for? 

Anyway - I also wanted to address that feeling of 'woulda, shoulda, coulda' that a lot of us ADDers have.  We feel like we could have done something REALLY GREAT with our lives.  We SHOULD have done something REALLY REALLY BIG!!  Well, here's the news:  99% of ALL HUMANS in middle age have the same feeling of regret.  it's the 'Mid-Life Crisis" and we are no exception.  I think perhaps we demonstrate the frustration more intensely because we've been told we're losers all our lives.  who knows?  I used to mourn what could have been.... now all I want is to be adequate.

Real Parents

My DW and I have always worked full time with good jobs, but never had "Nanny or Housekeeper" money... Not even close. I am proud to be a dad who always did late night feedings, changed diapers, took to kids to the park and even pushed the swing. Most guys I work with have a nanny or their wives handle it. These guys don't have a clue of what their lack of investment has cost them. Two children was enough for me as I always knew I would not do well with adding more oranges to my juggling act :)

Mid-Life Crisis... Yep, but at the same time as the ADD discovery made it worse. I could have finished college being more focused and not floundered through all my 20's, but there is nothing to do about the past and I am excited that the future will be better because I'm more focused now when it's really important to be focused. I have a daughter starting high school this year. (Good Grief)

I believe that we can be "More than Adequate" as the ADD treatment continues.



interesting perspective

"So, I guess if I was asked to list accomplishments I would assume it would be a list of things that OTHER people would find valuable."  <--  And interesting perspective for me to hear.  I hadn't thought of it that way.  

" . . .I wouldn't list it as an accomplishment:  A family is ongoing.  An accomplishment is something you've done and it's over.  Like... I climbed mount Everest or I got the Nobel Prize."  then he said, "I guess I could list family as something I'm proud of... or something like, ok today I taught my kid to ride a bike and that's an accomplishment I guess?  but... ANYONE can have a family. So I dunno... maybe that's a guy thing to think?""   < -- That is another interesting perspective on accomplishments and family.  I had not thought of it that way either - an accomplishment is something you've done and it's over.  Thanks for sharing both ideas.   I do know that he's proud of his family.  He's said so.  

I guess I had thought that he'd think of our family as an accomplishment because he had 'never wanted to get married' because he didn't want to have kids that 'were just like him' (his words, not mine -- he wasn't diagnosed with ADHD until he was 25, so he isn't so fond of his childhood and being misunderstood).  I've pointed out to him that I stuck around for SEVEN years waiting for him to propose (we've been married now for 10 -- after that initial 7).  If I didn't think he were wonderful, I wouldn't have stuck around.  And we do now have kids that are like him, and like me - and they're great!  

I too am a stay at home mom.  It's hard.  It's lonely at timed.  It's demanding.  It's thankless.  And it's the most wonderful job I've ever had!  And I'm proud of what I do!  You should be too!

Mr. ADD Consistant Here...

I have always been pretty stable emotionally. My ups and downs for the last two years seem to be more related to how I felt my marriage was going. I don't feel any real swings with my Adderall. I think the swings I've experienced have been in the learning process of learning how to deal with things I used to be oblivious to, like reading facial expressions and learning to react in real time to a situation as it unfolds. Dealing with all the realizations of what could have been if I could have been treated long ago and knowing about my inattentive ADD's affects on those around me. It is a lot to process, especially when all this has lead to a real crisis in my marriage. Talk about learning "On the fly". Time has helped. I am beginning to feel a new normal for me. Pretty stable most of the time, like before, but not quite as laid-back due to being oblivious of my surroundings. I am definitely the "Even Keel" in this household, even with my ADD.



If you're talking about him

If you're talking about him having a tough time in the evenings when his meds wear off, that is one thing. A constant cycling of moods might be another.

I never know from day to day what kind of mood my husband will be in. He is usually consistently nice in the mornings...and while at work..but when he comes home it could go either way. As you described, if he's going to be irritable and crabby it usually is something that last for more than just a day and more than just your average "I had a bad day" crabbiness. On the flip side, he can be upbeat and in a good mood the very next day and stay that way for a day...a week..or more. It never dawned on me until we went to see his doctor today that this could be a sign of something other than ADHD. I just assumed it was ADHD related, but from what I can tell...mood swings such as these are more common with bipolar disorder. The depressive states you describe are indicative of bipolar too. :-(

I know my husband has ADHD. Maybe they are just part of it. He (inconsistenly) abuses legal (but unhealthy) substances as a means of self-medication (such as energy drinks, energy shots, pills, and other things I won't mention) and I wonder how much this influences his moods as well. Does your husband 'self medicate' in any way that could be contributing to his mood swings? I know that if my husband drinks (very rarley does), I can pretty much bet that the next day he will be irritable and mean.

Might be worth considering, especially since he's taking ADHD meds and still doesn't appear to be 'stable'.

Responding to mood swings

My partner who has ADD (I do not) also has mood swings. I used to get sucked into them, trying to be sympathetic, and ended up getting depressed myself when he was down. I've since learned a couple of things. (1) He used the word "depressed" to describe every negative emotion. I could help by asking him if he was truly depressed or "frustrated," "exhausted," "sad," etc. That helped him analyze what he was feeling and then he usually felt better. (2) As with a lot of things, my ADD partner often hyperfocused on his feelings. The more he talked about them, the worse he felt! So if after some conversation, I saw that he wasn't thinking of something constructive to do to lift his mood, I'd express sympathy and then move on to something else. (3) I've learned over the years that because my partner's mood does swing back and forth, it's not wise for me to swing with it. I stay on an even keel and then wait for tomorrow.

Great responses everyone. I

Great responses everyone. I love to hear all your input and the similarities really help in dealing with my husband. Also, in response to not listing family as an accomplishment was very interesting to read. I come from a family of divorces and those that did stay together had pretty awful marriages. So, I totally see marriage and family as an accomplishment. I know it's not the same as having a "career" related accomplishment, but to me it's still quite an accomplishment.

     I DO stay further back from my husband's DOWN days. I've asked him to describe what he is feeling down about, and all he says is that "I'm worried about things", and he never tell me what those things ARE. He even says things like "You wouldn't understand anyway", which feels very demeaning. I've tried to be understanding, but if he doesn't think I'll understand, what can I do? It is a vicious cycle, so now I emotionally back away from it.

     I haven't liked what I FEEL in this emotional detachment, because it feels strange and numb, but it has helped in other ways. I think it will balance out eventually.

  I DO stay further back from

  I DO stay further back from my husband's DOWN days. I've asked him to describe what he is feeling down about, and all he says is that "I'm worried about things", and he never tell me what those things ARE. He even says things like "You wouldn't understand anyway", which feels very demeaning. I've tried to be understanding, but if he doesn't think I'll understand, what can I do? It is a vicious cycle, so now I emotionally back away from it.

It is vital for your own survival that you remove yourself safely, but kindly, from his 'down' times. Asking someone with ADHD to 'describe' what they are feeling is probably asking the impossible, at least it seems that way for me and my husband. I have also learned that it is best if I don't ASK and just let him talk when/if he's ready. The more I WANT to talk about it, the less he does. The more I give him his space, the more he comes around and talks. Even if not about what he's feeling, he at least engages in life. I think they truly do feel that there is no way we can understand what they go through...and in a sense, this is 100% correct. However, just like I told my husband the other day..I do not know what it is like to have ADHD, but he cannot hold that against me..what he does need to appreciate is that I CARE enough to TRY and understand so that I can have sympathy for him regardless. I have found also that my husband does not (most of the time) need me to understand...he just needs me to be here. Period. Just physically here. He tends to work things out on his own, in his own time, and my trying to 'understand' or asking questions just seems to prolong that process. I think, too, the truth of the matter is...if I were to be able to get inside of his head sometimes, it would scare me to death.

I am smack dab in the middle of emotionally detaching myself as well...and I have found that there is a certain 'sadness' to it for me. Part of it, for the longest time, felt like giving up. I didn't want to give up on him. I didn't want to not be 'attached' to him. Then it dawned on me...although I see some resistance from him (manifested in the way he is treating me), .in the long run it is for the best for both of us. He needs to stand alone in this world for once in his life...and realize his obligations (to get healthy) to those who love him. He will never get healthy as long as I am clinging to him like an overbearing parent trying to 'fix' everything about him..and like a needy child, depending on him to make me happy. Also, my sense of compassion for him is greater now than it has ever that I am stepping away from the pain, the past, the frustration, the 'vicious cycle' and it is much easier for me to see what he's struggling with and although I still care and want to help him...I don't do it at the expense of myself. I DO see this as a win-win, although it isn't easy in the beginning. (((HUGS)))

Oh..and about the family thing..that would merely be an opinion based on how someone was raised and how much value they put on family. To me, keeping my family together, happy, healhty, fed, clothed, clean, and safe is something that never leaves my mind. It isn't a job, it is a way of life. It is of extreme importance to me. Anyone who isn't responsible for seeing that all of this is accomplished, cannot fathom the amount of emotional and physical energy that goes into it. In one of his passive aggressive attempts to bring me down recently, my husband went on this big 'joking' schpeel about how when I graduate school he is going to quit work and stay home and he would do things 'right'..he would have my supper ready when I got home everyday, keep the laundry up, keep the house clean, etc. Although I was hurt by his implications, I had to laugh on the inside. He literally wouldn't last a day.