Undiagnosed but HIGHLY-probable ADD husband walked out unexpectedly. How to get him to go for diagnosis & treatment?

Earlier this week, my husband of nearly four years left me. He's been saying for ages that he's miserable, but couldn't communicate anything in an understandable way. It was all very nebulous, and I could tell he was really suffering and really frustrated. So was I, but I knew why I was unhappy--I felt like I wasn't married to a husband.

He would joke that he probably had ADD, and his mother agreed. Neither one of them really took it seriously. But after doing research and speaking to a therapist myself, there's no doubt--he's textbook ADD, I reacted in a textbook non-ADD spouse way, and our marriage fell apart in a textbook ADD way.

Right now, I just want to get some help for him. I have no idea where he is and what he's doing. He just took off, and I'm worried that he's going to do something impulsive, or burn some major bridges, and not just with me.

How do I get this guy to go to a different therapist, get diagnosed with ADD or whatever his problem and get the proper therapy if he won't talk to me, or listen anyway?


Consider it a gift that he left. 


Well . . .

Maybe someday I'll feel the way you describe. Maybe. For now, I'm trying to mend my broken life and pray that he gets help.

arwen's picture

It may help to see a therapist together

BreadBaker, I'm so sorry for your situation.  With all the fights and going-for-drives-to-cool-off my husband and I went through, he never left me.  (Plenty of threats to, on both sides, but never actually happened.)  We separated for a while at my request, but that's not the same.  So I can't offer any insights from experience, I'm sorry!

But my husband *was* in denial about the seriousness of his problems before he was diagnosed.  In my husband's case he became very dangerous behind the wheel through his inattention.  For the last year before his diagnosis, I would make sure that he never drove our children anywhere.  Finally he totalled our car, and convinced himself it wasn't his fault when it very clearly was.  No amount of reasoning with him could open his eyes to reality.  I was terrified he would end up killing someone, so in desperation I finally took away his car keys when he wasn't aware, and hid all the keys (his, mine and the spares).  I told him that I wanted him to see a professional to find out whether he was really OK or not, and if the doctor said he was fine, I wouldn't raise the subject ever again, and as soon as he saw the doctor, I would give him back his keys.  I told him in the meantime I would be glad to drive him anywhere he needed to go.  Of course, he was very angry, but he knew from experience that I wasn't going to back down, and part of him also dimly realized that I just wouldn't do something so drastic if I wasn't really worried, so he agreed to humor me.  (Part of me even today feels like I didn't behave fairly quite, but I really felt that I had a moral responsibility to keep him from killing somebody on the road.)  We saw a neuropsychiatrist who was recommended by his counselor, *together*, so the doctor could hear *both* of our descriptions of his behavior.  He was completely shocked to hear the doctor say that he had a textbook case of ADD.

I understand you want your husband to see a different therapist, but maybe that's not the next step right now.  It seems to me that the key thing right now is to somehow get your husband to take this seriously enough to agree to see someone who is qualified to give a clinical diagnosis.  I don't know what you've tried previously, so I can't offer any specific suggestions.  All I can offer is that in my experience, it is typically counterproductive to be highly confrontational.  (Sometimes a tiny jolt of confrontation is useful to get his attention, but then I have to back away from any escalation.)  My husband loves me very much and it really upsets him to see me cry (which, ironically, I have a really hard time doing), and I must admit that once, in a similarly serious situation when I actually did feel like crying, I consciously let myself do it because I knew it would get his attention more than all the shouting in the world.  I'm not trying to tell you to manipulate your spouse!  But don't let him manipulate you, either.  You really are distressed -- all I'm advocating is finding a way that will actually get that *through* to him and activate his reason or consciousness.  Maybe take a hard look at which of your efforts have succeeded or failed to penetrate in the past, and build on that.

It may help to understand and keep in your mind that to your husband, his behavior is *normal*.  It's what he grew up with, it's what he's known all his life.  It's very hard for *anybody* to face that there's something abnormal about them, even more so when it doesn't manifest itself in a way that they themselves can perceive.  And when it's non-expert making the observation (particularly if accompanied by complaints), like yourself, it's even easier to discount.  So you have a lot of inertia to overcome, and it may take something shocking or drastic to move things in a different direction.

Good luck to you, I will keep you in my prayers!!!


Take care of yourself first

Im so sorry for your hurtful time....I feel for you as I read your post....I definitely can relate to the mixed emotions you are going through....I feel you need to focus on yourself and take care of YOUR needs right now.....In your post, I keep hearing that you are worried about him.... but YOU are the one I am most worried about....The waffling between feeling of guilt and despair....

The issue, is you cant force him to get help..you can only take care of yourself.  He has to see the problem and want to get help for himself, and as hard as it is to realize, You cant show him how...until he is ready to  listen..You cant drag him to therapy or treatment until he recognizes the problem, acknowledges it and wants to take steps to overcome. If he hasnt listened in 4 years, may be time and separation (as hard as that is) is the best option. I always try to FIX things,,,,, and its so hard to realize you cant control someone to do something they arent ready to see.

Sounds like he has a lot of issues by himself he needs to deal with...before even bringing them to a marriage....( Dont we all...)

Try to use this time to get help for yourself and to really figure out what YOU want most and need.

Read all the posts...you will find that you are not alone .... Hopefully you will find peace and comfort in the short term.....

I have to agree with ajr on

I have to agree with ajr on this one. My fiance, that I am in the process of leaving, even got to the point where he "acknowledges" his ADHD and is on meds, goes to support groups, etc but is still totally hard-headed and stubborn about it and doesn't truely make any visable progress. Even in his listening, he to some extent is pretending that he does not have ADHD.

They have to help themselves no matter how much we are standing there offering out a hand. You can't help someone who won't help themselves...and that is why I am leaving. For 2 years I have tried being a partner to my ADHDer, offering a helping hand and support he has never received before. I have given and given and he just started taking more and more.

I am truly sorry he abruptly walked out on you and I understand why you are worried, but I encourage you to right now look at his actions as another proof that he doesn't want to help himself and no matter what you do (especially if he is as hard headed and stubborn as my ADHDer) he will do what ever it is he wants to do.

I hope that one day he does realize what is going on and gets help but for now, you need to look out for yourself

Your post sounds like my

Your post sounds like my life. I've been married 10 years,been with him for 17 years. Have 2 boys together. My youngest who is 8 was recently diagnosed with ADHD. It has not been easy. We would joke and say he is just like his father. Now that I think about all the problems we've had throughout the years I've realized my husband has ADD. Be thankful you have not had children and you can get out while you can. I love my husband but I wouldn't wish this on anyone. Reading all these posts scare me. It's totally my life. Only my husband doesn't believe he has a problem. It was hard enough for him to accept our son did. It's still an argument. But what isn't. I've been reading about this love detachment. I just wish I could figure out how it worked. I feel better writing to women who understand what I'm going through. Thanks for listening. I'll take any advice myself!

you wouldn't believe

You wouldn't believe how much better it makes me feel to hear that I'm not crazy, and that other women have gone through the same thing. I'm in so much pain right now, but I don't feel alone.