Uncontrollable Rages/Meltdowns of ADD spouse

I would really like to hear from non-ADD spouses who experience what I call "meltdowns" from their ADD wives or husbands.  Actually, uncontrolled nuclear fission culminating in a nuclear explosion is the better analogy.  I've seen the phrase "walking on eggshells" throughout this site.  That's how I live.  Actually, it's more like walking through a minefield.  In talking with my wife, I know that at any moment she may take something I say the wrong way, or take it personally, or "mis hear" what I say ("hear" me say things I didn't actually say - scary!) and then fly into a rage.  The insults and yelling and screaming begin and it's like dealing with the Tasmanian Devil.  When this happens and I try to walk away, my wife follows me and keep on attacking.  Or she'll wait a little while and pick up right where she left off, oblivious to my efforts to defuse the situation.  Finally, I lose my temper and fight back.  Then, she attacks me for my own angry words, all the while ignoring what drove me over the edge in the first place, i.e., her meltdown!

This happened recently the week before the California Bar Exam.  Knowing that a meltdown was possible, (it always is with ADD), I told my wife, "No meltdowns this week.  I don't care if I'm unreasonable.  No meltdowns.  Please, not this week."  Incredibly, she did it anyway when I took a call from her son's father's wife, who called to say the dad, who lives in the UK, had been arrested.  I took the call because I thought my wife would want to know.  My wife considers this woman Satan incarnate, however, and she (my wife) flew into a rage because I had.  I spent the next three days defending myself against outrageous accusations of disloyalty for doing so.  She screamed, yelled, attacked my character, all at a time when I needed to be focused on the single most stressful event a person can go through.  To this day my wife still thinks she was entirely reasonable during all of this.

This type of rage has happened before.  It's like she turns from this sweet person into a MONSTER in a flash.  Later, she blames me for the meltdown, usually accusing me of "not listening" and that if I had, she wouldn't have t gotten so upset.  Does this sound familiar to anybody else out there?


I use the volcano erruption analogy

I understand completely what you mean about neclear explosions. With my husband it is stress that really sends him over the edge and all hell definitely breaks lose. His eyes take on a whole different personality and it is like talking to a stranger. It's like a vicious circle, it sounds like you know what i mean. My husband is the sweetest man I have ever known...that is, when the volcano is dormant. He tries really hard but he can't help it - he too hears things i didn't say and then doesn't remember things he said....it's a no win situation. So what I used to do was just to withdraw - that just made it worse. Now I am getting better and picking the beginning of the cylce as i call it - but it means that i have to be very in tune to how he is feeling and to his stress levels - when he starts to bounce of the walls (he also has obsessive compulsive disorder) is when it can easily go wrong. I have to in a careful way tell him that he seems a bit stressed, did he realise and is he feeling ok? SOmetimes i get it right and sometimes i dont. However, regardless of what happens if i lose my cool as well and get angry back (some might call it self-defense) it makes it a gazillion times worse. I just try to stay cool and say things like that hurt my feelings, I'll give you some space, or please try to explain what you are feeling. The key seems to be able to have a phrase that triggers them to look at how they talking/acting. The other thing that really works is if i get my husband to write down how he feels instead of yelling and being angry at me. That works because he can get how he expresses down without interruption, Sometimes what he writes is incomprehensible, but it makes sense to him. And when he reads it after he has cooled down he can use it to help me understand what he was feeling when he wrote it. Also, it's there in black and white so if he thought something that is not true and then reads it, he can see for himself that he was not in a good place when he read it. I hope sharing these things helps in some way.


Yes, unfortunately I see this as well.  Sometimes its a gradual "agitation" that may take days as it works its way into a full-on explosion followed by a visable "calm" -almost a release for him. Most of the time though its a quick change in mood with no really visible precursor.  I am quite a masterful observer at looking back to see what triggers him.  I've looked into food allergies, sleep patterns, everything I could think of.  With the assistance of counselors though, as far as we can tell there is often times no outward trigger and it may be something more organic in nature like a chemical imbalance.  As of yet there is no diagnosis although we all know there is much more going on than just ADHD.  I do see times when he is stressed due to lack of ability to clearly communicate what he wants or even when he doesn't understand what someone is telling him-thats the ADD part of him triggering a frustation explosion. I can understand those outbursts although inapproppriate as they are.   His explosions usually are filled with yelling, rants about weird things, inaccurate information and accusations, throwing things (mine) breaking things (mine) and when I do leave the room (I can't engage him in that state) he follows me and gets even more aggressive when he realizes that I will not take part in that behavior.  He blocks me from leaving etc.  He is 100% irrational in that state.  The scary ones are the ones that just seem to come out of nowhere.  We can be having a nice conversation, doing something fun or doing something benign and he just snaps!  And he's brutal!  He has spewed some of the most hurtful, venomous things while in this state.  I agree that his whole appearance changes-his eyes, his physical stance- as he morphs into this monster.  Afterwards, I am in a state of fear, shock, panic, and usually shaking and crying with my heart racing at a million miles an hour.  This can't be healthy for me!!!  HE on the other hand looks like he just had a one hour massage...all calm and actually sweet and acts like nothing happened.  That makes me feel like I am crazy and that there is something wrong with me!  He gets mad when I avoid him for a period of time after one of those episodes because I am trying to process it all and just plain afraid!   Oh, and of course, he blames me for "making" him get that way, for "making" him get mad and if I didn't piss him off he wouldn't have to be like that.   We are on our 4th counselor right now.  No one seems to be taking my concerns seriously and just seem ok with giving him refills for the same Ritalin prescription.  I am so frustrated, exhausted, scared...if it weren't for my own individual counselor I really don't know where I would be.



And he's brutal!

Hi Steph - I understand 100% what you mean when you write "Afterwards, I am in a state of fear, shock, panic, and usually shaking and crying with my heart racing at a million miles an hour."  It's very scary. It would be great to have a hidden camera rolling for such moments. I am sure they would be horrified when they saw those meltdown moments replayed. The thing that i found exacerbating is that none of his friends see any of this behaviour at it's best (ie worst). He seems to save it for me only - i often think there is some subconsciouse trigger that tells him it's ok in front of me - in fact it's like sometimes he saves his frustration, which i also can often see building up over days, until he gets home. Almost like a child who has had an upsetting day at school and who waits until they get home where it's safe before they cry etc. Lately my husband has begun to accept that it might be him being completely incoherent and basically just out of control over nothing and not me causing it. However, after one of his horrific meltdowns in which i thought he was actually going to physically attack me - it took me saying that I was leaving (once he calmed down) because I couldn't take the emotion roller coaster anymore....and i was prepared to do it. Anyway, since then he seems to have improved a great deal and doesn't seem to be in denial about his add and obsessive compulsive disorder so much. It is still very very tricky and it is only my patients i think (and love for him) that keeps us together. There is only so much he can do.I worry that one day i will run out of patients and become worn down.

Keep searching for a counsellor/pshychologist who can help you both. We eventually did and it has made a great difference because the psych seems to be telling him the same things i am. He even had a look on this website yesterday, which up until now he has hated me refering to it. He found some stuff he could relate to. It's a long road. Take care of yourself - you're not alone. Sophi


I experienced the same situations.  It wasn't until I had more or less a mini-meltdown myself, where I said enough is enough, I'm not living like this anymore and boldly asked him if yelling, screaming, throwing things, punching holes in the walls, etc. wasn't anger or rage, then what did he think it was?  I believe it was a wake-up call to him that something "was" wrong.  He talked with his counselor and they worked on that first.  He had him watch a series of tapes on anger and they have helped tremendously. 

My husband would also let go in the comfort of our home, most of the time.  It's like they feel safe and can hide their issues from the outside world.   


Film on Anger

Do you remember the title/producer of the film?

Recording Rage

I like the watching films on anger if it's set up right.  Having a counselor suggest it is an excellent way to set it up.  I also wonder if a spouse who is in denial about his rage would mind if you set up a motion sensitive video camera in a location where fights often happen (kitchen???  Not the bedroom, obviously!)  You would absolutely need to ask permission first, since you wouldn't want to be sneaky about something like this, but I'm thinking the response might be something like "you wouldn't get anything meaningful..."  Eventually you would get something you could play back that might really make the point - or even better, several somethings, depending upon the frequency of his rages...and that could give a needed shock that this is not okay behavior.

Hi Steph, I've come out of a

Hi Steph, I've come out of a relationship with someone with ADHD. It was an extremely difficult situation. The love at the beginning was so fresh, revitalising and different to anything I'd experienced before. It opened me up to a side of me I didnt know existed. As time wore on I began noticing these uncontrollable outbursts - directed at me or other people - what was once this great bounding ball of energy that excited me, became this hyper critical and difficult person. I always got an apology after and I always felt I had to accept the apology - but the comments were really cutting. Occasionally he made sexual references to my father and I ignored it. It got to the stage where I didn't know when I was being misheard or misunderstood. I had to second guess what I was saying in case it was taken out of context or spat at. I eventually found my character receeding away. With regret its over, I feel a great lost. And now I hear he is lashing out at everyone more so than ever, if he doesnt like something he'll burst out with F*** Off to whoever he is dealing with. It saddens me but I totally relate. At some point you have to ask yourself - is this enough for me, can I tolerate it and work on it. I unfortunately had that taken away - but none of us every enter into a relationship with this kind of pre-training to know how to deal with it. We're humans with emotions, and if someones hurts us no matter what their state of mind - it hurts ten times more than normal. But if its because of this condition it becomes something else! I know how you feel, I often prefer dealing with problems by just talking it out - but I was left like you - in shock, went cold, retreated into myself because there's no great way of knowing how to react to these things. It's extremely painful, because the love you have is meant to be unconditional but the love you should have for yourself should be greater. You can't carry someone, they have to do it themselves and then you meet in the middle. I guess it all boils down to - when is enough enough? I dont know if I've helped but I certainly relate to you.

writing out your anger

Both of your tips are very helpful, thanks!  I particularly like the writing down your angry feelings.  A non-ADD spouse could do this, too.  I always found that keeping a journal was a great way to keep in touch with what was real and what wasn't.  As you say, sometimes the b.s. meter goes off when you read it later...which can provide good insight.

Have you looked up "Borderline Personality Disorder?"

Stopinterrupting, have you checked the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder?  The unpredictable rages (especially coming on the heels of such an important time in your life) and the inability to see YOUR needs screams BPD to me.  My mother was BPD, so I've lived with those rages most of my life.  In fact, avoiding and dissociating during those rages may have contributed to my ADD symptoms.  (I may have PTSD, not ADD, but the coping strategies for ADD really help me.)

See? I'm losing focuS!! Anyway, back to you....

BPD symptoms can be found here: http://www.bpdcentral.com/resources/basics/indicators.shtml

I just don't think manipulating other people is a part of ADD, but it is *integral* to BPD.  Good luck, and God bless you.

constant level of rage

I seem to notice a constant level of rage.  The kids and I constantly walk on eggshells around the house knowing my wife can "snap" at any moment.  Any discussion can turn into an eruption of screaming, swearing and name calling.  There seems to be no boundary that she will not cross.  Last week she called our 15 year old son a "ni**er" because he was "lazy".  Our 9 year old used to cower in his bedroom when fights erupted but now he seems to take them in stride.  I don't know what worries me more..  She seems to either completely love someone or really hate them, no middle ground.  It doesn't seem to be confined to our home though.  She will yell at any one of us in public also.  I did get her to counseling a few years ago but that stopped because "she was not on her side".  She will scream at me to tell her how I feel but then interrupt when I try to do so.  There is no verbal argument that I can come up with to fight the illogical (mostly senseless) points that she comes up with.  I see so many more of her traits in here...inability to finish a project, piling junk in obscure corners of the house, low sex drive, etc. 

I do notice things get exponentially worse during her monthly cycle but I don't know if she uses it as her ticket to explode or if her hormones trigger a greater reaction.  Sometimes it helps just to write things down.

hint; brain chemical imbalance

find ADHD specialist because they can help her understand what is going on without taking sides. Yes hormones disrupt already volatile imbalances. Try chocolate, dark, 80% coco, cant do too much harm. If you notice her mood improve, it has to do with endorphins. There is lots about that stuff on the net.

WOW - me too!

For as hopeless as I feel about my marriage right now, I see so much of my life in these replies.  My wife was dx'd with ADHD last November.  Before then it was always a struggle to figure out what I did wrong.  Counselors commented on how they saw me as walking on eggshells.  One time all I did was sit down while I waited for her to get ready.  I was beat and just wanted to rest for 2 seconds if that's all I had.  The volcano immediately erupted with a flow of hurtful comments.  Staying cool helps b/c on the few times I ever replied with anger, I received the same response of focusing on my reaction and not what happened to get me there.  She still remembers those times and brings them up.  I agree, a video of it would be nice, I thought that MANY times!!

Yes, she also accuses me of not listening, so I'm completely there.  I've become very good at summarizing and repeating what I hear during entire conversations. 

Stress DEFINITELY plays a major role in her moods.  She's a teacher so the begining of the school year, end of the quarters, November and December, and the end of the school year are all TOUGH times.

She's on meds and will go back for that appt, but she will not go to counseling - marriage or for herself.  She told me last night she does not want to be married.  She tied that in with going to counseling b/c she does not 'want to be told what to do.'  I'm a please and thank you guy, so I'm trying to think of how many times I've ever told her what to do; marriage is a partnership.

Maybe I'll spend more time on this site and help myself while hopefully providing 'something' to everyone else as well.  Maybe I can at least learn to be a better friend to her in the end...

I have so much more to say, but I need to get a few things done.  I wish somehow our shared pain could help erase it or at least make it better.  ...something...




It has just recently occurred to me that my husband has ADD/some OCD. I have spent years alternating between blaming myself and blaming him for what seemed liked totally irrational behavior on his part. He is just beginning to explore the possibility that he has ADD but thinks I view it as another reason to make our problems "his fault". Quite the contrary - I view it as an avenue to help me be more sympathetic to his situation and realize he's not just being an a**. Our biggest biggest problem is his feeling I am interrupting him when he's talking. This feeling of interruption can vary in intensity depending on his stress levels/concentration etc. I try so so hard to anticipate when he is stressed and quietly listen as he is talking. However, sometimes even a small comment on my part can elicit a firestorm of anger at my interruption. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. The pattern changes. When I talk with other non-ADD folks this is never a problem. Sometimes people are talking over each other as part of conversation interaction. I find myself frustrated at trying to find the perfect balance between not talking at all and occassionally interjecting a comment of affirmation that I understand. I definitely am in the "walking on eggshells" point as well as feeling I am under a microscope. Not sure how much more I can take although I love my husband very much. Until he gets some serious help on this I am left feeling battle-scarred. I'm exhausted from worrying about when the next shell will be lobbed my way. I'm worn out.

For Kathleen

Read "Fighting for Your Marriage" to learn about the "speaker/listener" communication pattern.  Should help you a lot.  You won't use it for all conversations, but knowing how to do it will get you both more tuned in to when you might need it and how to manage the smaller conversations, too.

I hope this helps someone out there

At least by sharing our experiences here we know we have some explanation of what is going on - that it is not just us - there are others in similar situations. I have found the only way the situation improves is when my ADD spouse recognises that he is the problem (mostly)....and i have learned to keep my mouth shut to make sure i don't make it worse. I find that what really seems to work is to be positive no matter what happens. I used to try and get out of the way during his rages. However, I have found that only makes it worse - if i can do something to snap him out of it then that makes a really big difference. It's like Dale said in his post that when you do say something that has upset them even if it's only because you just couldn't take the abuse any longer they remember it always, but not necessarily what got 'us' there.

So, if it is of any help to anyone...what i have been doing the last month is no matter what he says of does I am my normal self. That is, i don't get nasty back....I don't escalate the situation. I am true to myself (not easy to do because sometimes i just want to hit him over the head with a pot), but anyway, it does seem to make a difference. Several times i have had to pick my moment and say something like 'i have noticed that you haven't been yourself lately, you don't need to explain, but i was just wondering if there is anything i can do for you'  ...it seems to snap him out of his mood - not necessarily right away, not sure why it works. I think it somehow makes him stop and thing, 'yeh i do feel crap, and why is that?' and when he can't actually think of a reason why he feels crap he must feel everything is ok --- i'm not qualified to explain the ins and outs of it all. All i know is that it seems to work. Of course, this means i have to be very patient and aware of his every mood - i hate to say it, but it's much the same way as I would keep an eye on how my kids are feeling. It's a big effort but well worth it. It's like he needs a little help every now and again to get back on track. He is on meds, and the day's he is not are more difficult.

As an example, he had been in a bit of a distant mood (this means generally not very nice) for a couple of days, so when he came into the kitchen in the morning i had packed up a morning snack he could take to work him (i usually do this sort of stuff) - he instantly felt happy and so at that point is when i said i had noticed he had something on his mind. The key seems to be not to ask what it is or details, as often he doesn't know himself. I got this idea from reading Dr Phils - Relationship Rescue.

My husband says he likes it when i point out to him that he hasn't been himself because it snaps him out of wherever it is he goes in his mind when he gets difficult to live with - aka errupting volcano.

Of course everyones situation and partner is different. And what is working for us (at the present moment) may not work for everyone.

Every day brings something new.

I hope this post helps someone.




That's very interesting

That's very interesting information Sophi! YOu have so much patience! How long did it take you to figure that out with your husband? I can relate to this WHOLE trail of emails as my husband has meltdowns too and our reactions towards them are exactly as everyone describes. At least I know I'm not crazy! For the longest time I just couldn't figure out what the heck was happening because I've always been a mild manner person and just don't engage in fights with people. But boy i sure did with my husband. Its like he always drug me into them and wouldn't leave me alone until we "hashed" them out. And the fights or as he calls it discussions would go on for hours! OMG! Wore me out! We are on our third doctor and third counselor because the last two jsut didn't take us seriously when i told them what was happening. I just hope this 3rd and hopefully last counselor can. She seems good so far and is repeating back to him alot of what i have said to my husband. See i'm not crazy!! But he's not on a stimuant yet and i'm hoping to get him switched to that to see how he does. But like all of you i'm wore out and can only take it so much longer! You try so many things and when you see some baby steps then you manage to hang in there....somehow...Good luck to all of you!!

Welcome to my brain

I have ADD Inattentive Type. My goodness, it takes me forever to get things done. Join me in my visualization here. Take two large magnets, one in each palm. Let them connect (watch your pinky!). Now pry them apart and turn them both over. Try to connect them,,,do that for mmmmm, 50 years. Here are a few things to note: ADD/ADHD is not, I repeat, Not a character flaw. We dance around things, we don't avoid, after awhile we are just too exhausted, feel misunderstood, and lonely. When we are free to let our creative minds wander, we can see things from 10 different angles. I have the most created ideas when I am doing tthe dishes or taking a shower. (Notice how I am changing my topics?). Here's the good news, "People with ADD/ADHD actually feel younger the older they get! Why? because we have learned some great coping skills and some of our dreams are starting to come true. Right now I should be completing two essays for my Masters of Social Work (clinical). These magnets are justa' bouncing around! We can accomplish great things. In the last month I have helped people of all ages find relief through psychotherapy. Know what the hardest part is in going to school? The misreadings people give me from their cubicaly -*newly created word- fearful lives. Early in life I was not afraid to look silly trying something new. I sing karaoke now once in a while just to get past feeling shame, and I must admit, I do quite well. In one past course, 4-5 students huddled together to give presentations - no one wanted me in their group, so I gave one heck of a presentation on my own (now they'll never let me in their group). My work output is higher, I have more skills, but I made the mistake of disclosing my non-visible disability. Yeah I do miss things, but guess what, so do my cohorts but nothing is mentioned when they forget something. By the way, I have had five children (the same father- sorry to blow away assumptions) and have eight grandchildren. Here is a question for who ever reads this, "Why does our learning and "just being" style have to be like yours? The people I most admire in life aren't huddlers. I've had more interesting and down to earth conversations with street people than those who think the "norm" must be upheld at all costs, phooey....life's too short..... Switch (try to keep up please) A big help to me was to officially declare that I will not allow the word "Shame" in my self thoughts (how can one be truly happy without embracing their challenges?) I do a lot of self talk and visualizations. People get a bit snarky around me if I don't play the sick and stupid role around them. Once they know I am "blessed "with "ADD-IN", some sit back and smirk and then I shoot right past them like the rabbit smokin' by the turtle. Watch out, they don't like to lose face to someone who is disabled. Now if you have a spouse like mine who thinks I'm cool no matter what I do (we have a lot of fun together), it's good. Celebrate the good each day. Like I said, I do a lot of self-talk and visualizations, keep my self-concept in healthy mode and learn how to communicate with good skills. You can really channel that vessel to find its destination (notice the visualization again?!). Without those insights, you are actually choosing to drop your sails and take out your rudder. I don't care how bad your ADD/ADHD is you have a choice to use skills, be accountable to those around you and apologize for your misteps. If not, that's when it becomres a character flaw. Switch topic again. My husband isn't perfect either - the only time I do lose it (not-abusive) is when I am expected to take the lead in areas which I should be able to hand over to him. Once I start explaining, I do it about 10 times, just to make sure he gets it. I must admit when I add emotion to my overfocusing, those magnets are stuck- and hard. My husband and I have been together for over 10 years. In all that time, I have never called him by a name which is beneath him. Why would I want him to feel the way I did my whole life? ADD is not an excuse or an entitledment to be abusive. Get some therapy to learn those cog/beh skills. If your spouse will not seek help because it appears okay to her/him to treat you disrespectfuly, well, maybe it's time you stopped collaborating to allow it to occurr. You are telling them it is okay!!!! ADD/ADHD persons need frameworks-if a spouse or parents do not have boundaries for themselves, then ADD/ADHD people get more anxious. Hope this helps. This is the first time I have explained this ever. I think I did quite well, it's not five pages! (Maybe I could use this in my paper?mmmmm)

You've got it together

You sound like you've got it together, better than most ADHD or not.  The only thing that gave pause was the term you used disabled.  As someone who spent a great deal of their time working with "people with disabilities" I have to say that there isn't one person on this planet who isn't disabled in some way shape or form.  From the President down.  Don't even sweat those folks who want to act superior because you're facing your issues in ways that they probably aren't.  Most people who set themselves up to judge others do it out of fear of someone finding out about their differences.

My concern with how you are

My concern with how you are getting along is your focus on you...how well you are doing..you are the best...everyone else doesn't know what they are doing...everyone else is bad. ADHD is good, wonderful, challenging, creative. Non-ADHD is bad, narrow-minded. If a spouse is being abused by an ADHD person, it is "their'" fault...they collaborated to make it occur. Therefore, it is surely not the ADHD person's fault. To me, this is the sign you do have ADHD and a misconception of your life and how it relates to others. I also see no empathy for others, just a self-focus. It isn't you if people don't want to be around you, it is them. I'm glad you are happy with your place in life. But don't underestimate your impact on those around you and please stop blaming them. Try learning from others instead. It just might be that occasionally they are right and you are wrong. And there is nothing wrong with being wrong once in a while..we all are.


I have ADD combined type....My non-ADD spouse says the EXACT thing to me when I try to express to her WHY I'm behaving like I do....It isn't that I'm trying to make it an excuse "Oh I have ADD so I'm superior and your needs don't mean squat"...Its just I'm trying to let my spouse know how I am for the sake of understanding. But she always confuses me expressing my needs (some of them different than hers because of the ADD) as me being selfish, self-centered, and trying to say everything is her fault whenever I just want her to try to help me find a solution to the problem that will meet me halfway. About the previous poster with Inattentive ADD: I don't think he/she meant it like that..Every book I've ever read about having ADD always focus on the positive aspects because of the low self-esteem issues present with constantly having our negative behaviors labeled us early on and try to provide understanding of what it is like to have ADD. Unless I completely misunderstood his/her post I think the poster might have been just conveying the ADD side of the story. I don't think the previous poster (the one to which you are replying) meant to say that Non-ADHD is bad, narrow-minded, or to blame...(Unless I missed something---It WAS kinda long so I might've skimmed it LOL) BUT also I think that you, Anonymous poster of "My Concern with how you are", have a great point as well from the non-ADD side of things that it is OUR (the ADDer) responsibility to make positive changes to correct bad behaviors and learn from others to know what those behaviors are instead of ever placing blame. I think it goes both ways...Non-ADDers could be more understanding of what we're going thru, and we ADDers need to learn from our mistakes.

Great Description of ADD - Thanks, Patch!

Thank you so much for sharing this!  It's great to have someone elaborate so well the positives of ADD - yes, you CAN take control when not enabled.  Yes, you can develop a healthy self-image even if you've had people around you snicker and dismiss you.  Yes, it IS great to have a spouse who loves you for who you are.  Yes, being open to different ways of doing things is one of the tricks of being successfully married to a person with ADD.

These are the things I'm trying to get across here.  Thanks for backing me up with your insight!

Avoiding Meltdowns

Amen to Sophi!!! I'm a 30 year old woman with ADHD and what Sophi does with her spouse (as well as some of the previous posters) totally helps me from reaching my meltdowns....Preventative measures. And yes it does take alot of patience I'm sure. I think it helps to have a partner who really knows, and understands, that my frustration tolerance is limited and can help me realise that I'm about to have a "meltdown" BEFORE it happens. These posts fit me to a "T"....I am constantly accusing my spouse of not listening (I think it is because I don't see how she can be listening to me and looking around or doing other things, because I CAN'T...if I'm doing other things while you are talking, it means I'm not listening). I get REALLY frustrated and annoyed when she interrupts or talks over me (ONLY because I have to get out my whole thought or else I'll lose it entirely) but then because of my impulsivity I am always interrupting her. Once again I've asked her to point it out when I do interrupt her so I can recognise it and learn to stop. I've also expressed this to my partner and so she knows my triggers and can tell if I'm getting frustrated and usually has a way of preventing an outburst (by staying CALM) by waiting on me to get finished with what I'm trying to say and then putting in her two cents. I accuse her of "mis-hearing" things all the time too because she can't recall the conversation back to me word for word and so I assume she is either not listening or mis-hearing. Oh and because of my impatience I also get frustrated whenever she takes FOREVER to formulate an answer to a simple question, the time lapse makes me think she wasn't paying attention. She came up with her own solution on this and now when she needs time to formulate her answer she says "I heard you...I'm just thinking of an answer..." and this is these words are GOLDEN...totally fixed one of our major issues. Now whenever she takes more than a few seconds to answer I don't fly off the handle. I'm 10x worse if I'm not medicated or the meds are wearing down. I can relate to your stories from the ADHD side of the issue. Hope maybe this gave you some kind of insight of WHY the ADD spouse acts the way they do about these issues...Then again everyone is different. But your posts certainly gave me insight to what its like on the opposite side of the fence. Thanks! Crissy
StopInterrupting's picture

Different concept of time than the rest of us

It does NOT take "FOREVER" for us (non-ADD spouses) to say what we have to say.
It just seems that way to the ADD spouse. 

Of course if we were permitted to say what we have to say without being interrupted at least two or three times PER SENTENCE it would take a lot less time to say it.




ADHD Spouse in Denial

Hello everyone, this is my first post.  So glad to know that I am not the only person going this situation. My husband is ADHD (in denial) and BPD (undiagnosed). I have been seeing a councelor to help me cope.  I am married now for 20 years, ADHD husband, and one ADD child, who is not in denial. He has meltdown, it seems that anything can set him off. It is always my fault or one of the kids or someone else, never him.  After our son was diagnosed with ADD, I would go to see a counselor with him to help me learn how to motivate him. I learned that his was hereditary and so is BPD. The weekends are the worst, there is always a lot of tension and usually arguments the whole weekend or parties or both.  Though he has never hit me, he has driven at excessive speeds with the whole family in the vehicle.  My husband uses the kids to make me do what he wants. He takes he youngest one somewhere without me knowing or he finds a reason to punish him. All where no one else can see. It helps to know, that I'm not alone in this, even though no one in our neighborhood know what he is like in the privacy of our house.  I wish I could show him what he is like during his meltdowns.   

bwg, It is very sad that your


It is very sad that your husband is in denial about his ADHD but there is one thing that you must understand. ADHD is no excuse for his behavior of using and  putting his family in danger. I am no Dr. but something else is going on here that must be addressed.

There is never an excuse for putting you children in danger or in a situation where they are being used as pawns. If your husband is unwilling to accept his erratic behavior and the ADHD that may amplify it, then you have to figure out what would be best for your children.

If you want to show him what he is like during a "meltdown" I would suggest attempting to videorecord it in any way you can successfully videorecord it. Then show it to him when he is in an open and understanding mood.

thank u all u will see the light at the end of the tunnel

hi i have not posted for about 5 weeks ive been hospitalised with a mental illness and i have an adhd spouse which is an inspiration to all of us and we have three children with adhd and we are all medicated.

we all are working out what triggers each one of us and yes its difficult and it wears as all down BUT we are here together and when meltdowns happen we are all learning how to deal with the triggers and the situation at that time.


with or without adhd and mental illnesses and non adhd family their is always situation out of our hands but THERE is a light at the end of the tunnel my family is growing stronger and i beleive we r an inspirational crazy family we will not give up on each other.

POINT without my husband i wouldn't be the person iam today he is a wonderful caring person.

PLEASE dont give up it does workout inthe end

im not saying its easy because its damn well not but u have to grow together and live your lives to the fullest and learn from mistakes and u we'll know u have done the right thing.



I'm at my wit's end

I had convinced myself that my husband was the crazy one, not me. On the aftermath of another meltdown, the thought entered my head for first time ever (quite sadly) what if he's right and I'm the crazy one. The latest blow up was over another conversation we both recall totally different. He says I misinterpret & occasionally he'll come right out with "you are out of your mind" and "you need serious help". How can I recall a conversation that occurred last night entirely different than he recalls it? Yet he swears that he told me he was inviting people over to dinner & I do not recall that at all. I recall him mentioning that after we went to the store, we'd cook on the grill. How could I "mis hear" that? I definitely need to look into this further as I'm ready to commit myself.

ADD anger and rages

I was wondering if there is any information or statistics about ADD rages and older men? My husband (62) and I have been married over thirty years, and in that period of time I'd say he's only had real rages 3-4 times. However, in the past two months, with all the stresses of the economy, etc., he's flown into a rage twice. Both times were very scary for me, and as one or two have mentioned, it was a volcano of rage, and the thing that others have also mentioned was his eyes changed. It was like my husband left for a moment, and some monster took over that I did not know. I still get disturbed now just thinking of it. Honestly, my "normal" husband is very passive, so it seemed incredibly out of character. I could use some advice as to how to prevent such rages, and what is the best and safest way for a spouse to react under those conditions to help them calm down.

Nettie's picture


I don't have those stats about which you asked. Concerning "the best and safest way for a spouse to react under those conditions to help them calm down," I recommend that you don't try to help calm him down as such attempts can sometimes worsen the situation. I suggest, when you are both at problem-solving ease, that you negotiate a strategy such as giving each other space and time for self-calming. Please search the communication section of this forum for more information on how to negotiate communication strategies; a lot of good information is already on the board.


ok im going to try this. after reading some of your letters, I would like to say something from the other side of the coin.

I love my wife, very much. she is in every way my better half. I cannot imagine life without her. she is patient, understanding, kind.. almost too much.  I fairly frequently find myself blowing up at her. well, its not just her, its alot of people. I cant even hold down a job because of what i call "black rages". its like a demon possesses me, and I have NO control over what i say. I guess I and my wife are somewhat luckier than most. I was raised in a household w 3 sisters and no brothers, so it never gets violent, ever.  unless I am in a situation where I am physically attacked and i have no alternative ..which seems to happen to me a bit. i get people mad.. and sometimes they want to fight me. i can be very stubborn, inquisitive.  there are some triggers, like lack of sleep. .but despite a year of begging and pleading with her and trying to make her understand, she dont get it through her head.  I am still amost daily being woken up one way or another without any reason.  we just had a baby a month ago. i moved out onto the couch one night cause she insisted on getting a bed to let him sleep close to her, called a  cosleeper. whats she do? gets up in the middle of the night and places the hungry baby on his carrier right by my head so she could make him a bottle.  and that brought on one of the rages. that kind of stuff happens somewhat frequently.  but its not just sleep. sometimes its just a persons attitude.. i can TELL sometimes it might come.. and when i get that "feeling" it almost always does. maybe they sense my negativity towards them. .but if they are jerks ...they are jerks.  sometimes i am able to avoid confrontation if its not too personal.. but if it gets personal..I black out. its like a freight train is coming.. and I am powerless to stop it. some of the worst things you can imagine come out of my mouth.  sometimes i can stop it if im left alone to think about things..but thats the problem. its impossible to be left alone really.. my wife wont do it. she insists on following me around and pushing things. she will not give me time to think. neither will many other people, and you cant tell a boss, hey your pissing me off, I need some alone time. ive tried it.  I'm at the point i have tried leaving my wife multiple times , and we havent been married but 3 months.  anyways, when ive had a chance to think things over, i always come down back in a regular mood. from zero to jerk back to zero again in 10 minutes.  because I love my wife, I dont want to treat her like that. she in no way deserves the abuse i utter so often.  but she wont let me leave. I guess she has a few problems herself.. and honestly she deserves alot better than what ive given her. and at this point in her life.. she just had a very difficult pregnancy and now shes facing brain surgery.. but even her family is not there for her emotionally.  so i feel trapped. i cant leave and i dont want to stay. this may amplify it, because i find myself doing it with her more than others.   but its been so bad, and so devastating to my life ive tried suicide.  twice. once i was so close my heart was at 30% capacity.  I took 200 sleeping pills.  (over the counter..not as powerful, but very deadly in that amount..if they had found me a bit later i wouldnt be here) I wouldn't try it now.  even at my worse, I will not deprive my son of a loving caring father.  so its a cycle of peace, unexplained unwanted rage, peace. i think she probably feels like shes walking on eggshells often, though she wont admit it.  its like a fight or flight response.  a defensive mechanism. an adrenaline overload. and the worst thing is 99% of the time i mean NOTHING LIKE what comes out of my mouth. like i will call her stupid. shes not. at all. shes pretty smart actually. she got a diploma, which is more than I did, and she often can figure things out i cant! so i dont mean it at all.. but feeling trapped in drama or a confrontation i don't  want..i utter it to get her away from me. i cant keep the words from coming out of my mouth.  ive tried therapy, and meds helped for a bit, seroquel specifically.. but the therapy was doing nothing and thats weeks of 5 day a week intensive group and 1 on 1 stuff.  and the drs didnt want to keep giving me meds w/o me in therapy to "see if i really need it".   I can spend my life in therapy and watched many come in and go. even got in a confrontation with someone in the group. she was telling a father he was right to hit his son. in the nose.  literally, saying he should "knock his ass out" because the guy was angry. i said something to her about not encouraging violence and she flipped on me, put me on the defensive, so i yelled.  and sometimes i provoke confrontation unknowingly. apparently my voice rises when im trying to make a point or something, and people say i yell when im not even close to it.. but it sure triggers it.  its been witnessed many times... peep think im getting mad at them cause my voice is "raising" but i feel no anger or anything... but i do sense them getting angry at me.. and that triggers it.  how can i help raising my voice if i dont know im doing it?  so what can i do?

I have a similar problem to

I have a similar problem to Tony when I don't seem to realise when I'm shouting.  I also don't know when I'm standing too close to someone and making them feel threatened.  Before now I've thought I was just saying 'will you please stop doing that' calmly and apparently I looked as if I was about to punch her in the nose.  I appeared so frightening it reduced her to tears which I still can't get over nearly two years later.  I don't have any answers but to stop and think about what to say next, also if I'd stayed sitting where I was that day and later on to confront her by asking her why she's done what she did.  At the time of the confrontation asking a question like that would provoke her anger and mine but when you're calm you can be more aware of your own voice and body.  Has anyone got any other ideas?  I'm scared of my own temper and have always asked my father who answers 'just don't get angry'.  He gets angry regularly so it doesn't work but he doesn't lose it the way I can.  There's got to be a better way of managing a conflict.  Has anyone got

any other suggestions?

by StopInterrupting - 05/28/2009 - 23:55

It does NOT take "FOREVER" for us (non-ADD spouses) to say what we have to say.
It just seems that way to the ADD spouse.

Of course if we were permitted to say what we have to say without being interrupted at least two or three times PER SENTENCE it would take a lot less time to say it.

And Crissy permits her, and he admits to his own impatience and has been working on it because he appreciates the way his partner takes the time to find a tactful answer.  He. knows she doesn't really take forever and is just describing how it feels when he becomes irrationally angry

"I heard you...I'm just thinking of an answer..." and this is these words are GOLDEN...totally fixed one of our major issues. Now whenever she takes more than a few seconds to answer I don't fly off the handle.

It's an almost supernaturally calm response if you're kicking off and yelling, personally I don't expect that from anyone as it wouldn't be fair to.