What do you do when ADD is in denial about ADD, unhappy, and taking it all out on spouse?

I've been reading posts on this site for a few days now and it's been so helpful seeing I'm not alone in what I'm dealing with... but I'm completely at a sticking point right now.

What do you do when your spouse denies that ADD is even real, let alone that he fits the description to a t?

A little bit of background... we've been together for 3 years (we dated for a little while ~17 years ago and remained friends since). We live in New Orleans, he was awhile coming back after the storm due to his father being ill. I knew he had a history of addiction, but he seemed to be very determined that was in his past and was excited for the future. We got together immediately with him moving in with me a couple of days after he got back to town. I didn't realize then that I was somewhat setting the course for our future of me supporting him.

In a nutshell, in the past three years he's had 5 jobs, not including a 3-4 month stint "running" our own small bar kitchen (he is a chef) - but it's hard to count that as "we" are in debt to a good friend of mine to the tune of ~$8,000 for that endeavor. Including that job, he has maybe worked 10 months out of the past three years - he has quit every single one except the last where he was fired for no reason or explanation (that I know of). The bar kitchen he completely dropped the ball on - largely due to alcohol issues, though he will give every reason in the book except that as to why it failed.

We've dealt with his addiction to alcohol (currently, hopefully, getting ready to deal with the 3rd? 4th? time quitting drinking... when it happens might last at best a month, and likely will still include some alcohol), several withdrawals from pain pills (currently just getting over that one... abusing MY prescriptions... I have multiple physical issues and now am in trouble with my doctor because it looks like I've been overusing my medication when the reality is he's been taking 3/4 of my prescriptions and buying drugs on the street... not can I afford to go back to the doctor for any foreseeable time in the future anyway), one 2 week heroin relapse and subsequent withdrawal...

When he does apply for jobs, I have to write most of his cover letters as "I'm so much better at it and it's easier for me and will look more professional." Actually, I've put an end to that this time around, so now there are no cover letters, just an outdated resume (well, it's not outdated, he just can't list the last 3 jobs he had as non lasted more than a month). 

In the meantime, I've been working at least three jobs - two bartending jobs and my freelance design business that I've been running for 15+ years. I barely make enough to support the both of us, especially as when he is out of work (most of the time) his depression sets in and he drinks, abuses pills, etc. more and more with no regard to our finances. I basically do all the housework, all the shopping, all the bill paying, etc. When he does do something he makes a huge deal about it all day long, and especially likes to point out how he did it for me. Mostly, though, he says he's going to do something and for me not to do it... until I finally do whatever it is - used to be several days later, but now I don't wait so long as I have a hard time working in a messy environment (not that I'm exactly a neat freak either).

Don't get me wrong, he is an incredible chef and his ADD characteristics make him great in a head chef type environment (I think... the last job he had he loved until he got fired for no reason... I hate to say it, but I have to suspect the no reason part at this point as otherwise things just don't add up... it is entirely possible they simply screwed him over, but unfortunately with his track record and his tendency to blame everything on anyone and everything but him I have my doubts). He is smart, funny, sarcastic, tells great stories (ok, way too many times, but at least they are good stories), loves me dearly, etc.

And I have been no angel as I get more and more stressed out - which is what actually led me to this site, trying to figure out how to deal with my own behavior. Unfortunately I've been "loosing it" a lot lately but he drives me to the point of utter frustration, coupled with my own increasing physical issues, anxiety, depression, etc. I do not want to be the crazy screaming throwing things lady. That's never been me. Or self loathing lady - have been resorting to self-destructive tendencies I haven't seen since high school and living with my manic depressive adopted mother. 

And my "loosing it" gives him yet another excuse to blame things on me. 

Turns out I have already tried a lot of suggestions I've read on these forums about separating myself, trying to set boundries, giving him love and support because I know he needs it. Problem is, I end up bouncing back and forth between all of the above - I kind of know what I need to be doing, for both of us, but it's really hard when not knowing what I'm going to be dealing with at any moment - nice husband, depressed husband, drunk husband, sad husband, withdrawal husband, trying to be nice to me husband, pushing every button I have husband, making me the bad guy husband....

Last fall he ended up spending a month in jail as his drinking had gotten out of hand (he was several months out of work that time around) and he was doing nothing but giving me shit all the time. Ironically, he sent himself to jail - I came home from work and needed to go to sleep as I had a very early day the next day, was sleeping in my upstairs studio at that point due to his crazy sleep hours, which he hates (both his crazy sleep hours and my sleeping upstairs) - he had called me at work screaming at me and I told him when I got home he needed to leave me alone so I could go upstairs and sleep - the night before we'd had a bad fight as he was very drunk - he picked that fight - fell down the stairs, dragging me with him (not intentional). Told him I was going to deal with any nonesense... all of it said very calmly. When I got home he was in the back patio (and entrance to our apartment) with our neighbor who had bought him a bottle of vodka and had plans to keep him occupied on the patio so that my neighbor's girlfriend and their infant (they live next to and underneath us, so fights affect the whole building) and myself could get some sleep. When I walked in he immediately followed me upstairs yelling at me, so I held up my phone with 911 pulled up, purely to get my point across - not with any intention of calling the cops whatsoever... he grabbed the phone, ran downstairs and threw it across the street, where it apparently landed on the call button and dialed 911. By the time I found my phone the cops had called back several times, and at that point I answered it and told them to come as by then I was afraid. Tried to get him taken in for a psych evaluation instead of jail, but the head of the psych team that came out insisted that she was either going to take both of us in (she told me I didn't look right either... duh...) or neither or us. So I had no choice but let the cops take him - as he absolutely hates the police and thought at that point I had called them and I was afraid of what he would do if he stayed.

So we did get back together after he got out of jail and managed to talk our landlord into letting him stay here again. It took awhile for him to find work again, partly due to the fact that he severely severed two tendons in his fingers when we had our bar kitchen, and then busted his ankle the night before he went to jail when he took us both tumbling down the stairs. At least those were the excuses.

Anyway, I digress... as I said, I have been no angel, nor have I been helpful by enabling his vices and inability to work. But he badgers me so much over money for alcohol, pain pills, etc. that I eventually give in or there will be no peace and I won't be able to get work done to pay the bills. I have talked to him calmly and rationally, I have yelled at him, I have loved him... nothing stops the cycle and at this point I really question if things will ever change or if we will be stuck in this cycle for ever - until I completely break down, physically and emotionally.

As of the last couple of days I've been sleeping upstairs again. We were fighting a lot for a few days - largely due to my being so completely over it and not handling things well at all when he lost the job he said he wouldn't loose, the job he said he loved and would stick with so he could take care of me (which I told him was wonderful - and I didn't mean it sarcastically - but that mostly I was happy that he finally had a job that he loved at the level he should be at and that made him feel good and proud of himself). And yes I was glad to have more money coming in, and even starting to allow myself to hope that sometime in the next few months I might actually be able to quit one of my bartending jobs and have a little bit of time to pursue my artwork as he - his suggestion - promised me was long overdue.

So much for that. I'm back to working around the clock again trying to make ends meet, picking up extra shifts at one of my jobs 'cause I have no choice even though it means I will be pulling 15-20 hour days trying to also keep on top of my design work (have a lot of that to do at the moment, but can't always rely on exactly when I will get paid for freelance jobs, so if extra bar shifts are offered to me I take them as it is guaranteed money)... and I'm sure I will still be taking care of every other aspect of our lives.

In the meantime, tho he has stopped doing opiates again (after having spent a couple hundred dollars on them the last week he was working 'cause he just couldn't get through his job without them, and then another hundred after he lost his job because it was mardi gras and we had houseguests and no way could he deal with going cold turkey... and there wasn't much I could do when he had his pay in his hand), he is again drinking more and more despite my repeatedly telling him we absolutely can not afford it... and he even buys whiskey on the pretext that it is for me... and then drinks it himself... complaining that he needs xanax so he can stop drinking (another thing I am prescribed, but now have to deal without myself, which means extreme panic attacks on a daily basis, often lasting for hours at a time), complaining that "he can't afford to go to a doctor" (implying that it's not fair that I have been able to go to the doctor... absolutely necessary for me and at the expense of other things we could use... ok, mostly things I could use as he gets pretty much everything he needs - and, often - wants, tho, as I said, I can't afford to go to the doctor now either and have to work extra hours in rather extreme physical pain)... so we stopped fighting - I realized I needed to take a very deep breath and calm down for multiple reasons and have been doing my best to go back to being calm, rational, as loving as I can be but also firm about what I need to do... well, due to his sleep schedule being completely whacked again, I've had to go back to sleeping upstairs. Which he hates. At times he understands that the reality is I need my sleep and/or some space - he sees I am at my breaking point and I have talked to him about my own depression and the things that lead me to be out of control - as much as is possible, because every single thing is a competition to him (however, that is his favorite phrase to say to me... he will go on for hours, days, weeks about every single thing that hurts him, bothers him, etc., and when I say something about how I feel I get told I always make it a competition)... but then he is also angry I am not downstairs next to him. And then things start going even more downhill... I purposely set the tone for this morning as positive, loving, giving him hugs, allowing him a chance to do some household chores without jumping in to do them myself (no, they aren't done)... have worked all day, now he's mad at the cat for, um, being a cat, which somehow made him mad at me when I questioned why he was so mad at the cat... and then, after making off with the whiskey he supposedly bought for me, told me I needed to at least leave him some money for beer... I tried to gently remind him (while handing him a few bucks) that rent is due in a few days and we can not afford for him to be drinking even more... that pissed him off, so he went in the bedroom, which is two feet from my desk (after the jail episode, I moved my office downstairs from the studio, thinking that it might be helpful if we had less separation of space as he seemed to perceive my working upstairs as deliberately not wanting to be around him... he loves me having my office downstairs, and I rather like it for the most part as well... yes, I get interrupted A LOT - bless his heart, the harder he tries not to bother me when I am working, the more he does, one way or another... but at this point I am really very tolerant of that as I realize he is trying!) - ok, so he went in the bedroom and put on loud music, and then turned it up even more. 

Got the point - he is pissed at me now and I've got a serious deadline for this website I am working on and I know him so he's not going to leave it alone. After he's done playing loud music, he'll be back out to push my buttons. So I moved my work stuff back upstairs. Sure enough, he just came up and gave me his evil glare and stated "oh, so we are back to this. I see how it's going to be." Again, very calmly, explained that I absolutely have to get this work done and that it really has nothing to do with avoiding him - ok, well, obviously I am upstairs because of him - but not because I am mad, I made that very clear.

So now instead of working on this website, I'm having to take a break to post here and at least get this off my chest, maybe get some advice. I'm only going to be able to stay calm for so long if he keeps pushing every button I have, taking his anger and unhappiness out on me and making me the bad guy by putting me in the position of having to tell him we can not afford certain things (and no, giving him an allowance won't work, and yes I have broken down the budget for him so he is aware of how much bills are and when they are due and how little money we have... his typical response is "well, we are already f**ed so what does it matter"). A large part of the reason I am so deliberately being calm is because I am seriously coming to the end of my rope and I have to stop resorting to the self-destructive patterns I used to have - and I know that yelling at him and loosing control helps nothing (and gives him more reason to make things my fault).

I love him very much and have made it very clear I am not going anywhere and neither is he, especially as I know perceived abandonment is a huge issue for him. Last night before I came upstairs to sleep I left him a note telling him how much I loved him and also that we really needed to make some more changes - both of us - I took probably more than my fair share of blame for things in that note - and gently brought up the ADD thing. His step mom had suggested he has it, and he fits the description perfectly. In all reality, we are both ADD, but him to a much larger extent than I am, plus my own childhood experiences have forced me to always be the one to take care of others and I have had little support systems in my life to fall back on so there never has been much choice but to try to keep on top of things.. which, admittedly, I am also not the best at or I'd be making a lot more money and at least that owuldn't be an issue... between my own ADD and depression and exhaustion trying to keep up with our lives, I have a number of my own phobias, etc. Anyway, he believes ADD is a made up disease created by pharmaceutical companies to make more money. So he pretty much laughed at my suggestion this morning - and then pointed out that if it was true, that's what makes him capable of being so great in a kitchen environment (and yes, I kept my mouth shut and did not say a word about how much more his ADD contributes to his inability to get/keep a job). In other words, he's not willing to be even remotely open to that idea. All the problems are pretty much due to the world being such a shitty place or me being crazy - except when he is being full of self loathing and self pity (and nothing I can do or say to reassure him then helps).

So how does one start dealing with the issues of ADD in a person's life and marriage when someone is in complete denial? I was so relieved to find this website and read so many posts that made complete sense to me and so much mirrored our own situation... it made me feel a lot better and reminded me to keep trying harder to do what I need to do and to stay calm... but I need to figure out how to get him to see that there is possibly an issue here that could make our lives so much better if it was recognized and dealt with? I am willing to put in the work and completely understand it's going to take time, but I don't know how to handle feeling like nothing is ever going to change.

Apologies for the super long post and thanks for listening...

The hardest part of my

The hardest part of my condition is knowing that I hurt my wife so much when it was undiagnosed.  Especially the part about blaming her for everything.  Looking back now, it is so obvious to me that I was deflecting the blame, because I didn't truly see any problems.  I think the most important thing you can do right now, since he is in such denial, is to let him know that you will always stand for his success.  I know that when I was in denial, I had no issue with getting criticism from my wife.  The problem was that I had no clue why she was so angry.  It felt like I was constantly being unloaded on.  It seemed to come from left field, too.

Let your husband know that you are looking out for him.  If you think that he fits the condition to a T, then let him know that you think you may have found out why he always loses his keys and can't sleep or relax at night.  Focus on a quick win and he will be onboard to checking things out.  I know in my situation, my wife just left me because she was so fed up.  She just thought I was an ass.  She lives out of state now and could care less that I was given a diagnosis after she left.  I wasn't onboard with anything she was telling me because it seemed to be so mean at the time.

Focus on the things he acknowledges he would like to fix that you know are because of ADD.  There has got to be something!  Once he puts these puzzle pieces together, you can start to layer in the other things that have been so stressful and it will make sense to him.  I know you probably feel like you need to give him ultimatums and to be heavy handed, but at this point, it will only cause him to want to take it out on you more.  He just doesn't get it yet, but he can!  Just start with some quick wins for him.

nomorebadhead's picture

Adhd denial it aint easy!

no need to apologize for the long post, non -adhd spouseslike us usually have a lot to say. :-} I can tell you this, although my wife (of 10 years) and I have been through very turbulent times, we now are doing much better. Its starts with the acceptance of adhd. Acceptance is being able to talk openly and even laugh sometimes about the ADHD tendencies. I can tell you this IT AIN'T EASY!!! I am a very talented salesperson and its taken a couple of years since diagnosis to convince my wife that ADHD plays a huge role in our lives. The best advice I can give you is let them know that you love everything about them and you just want to make a happier relationship for both of you. This hashelped my wife let down her defensiveness. once you get acceptance the only way to go is usually up! but what you have to watch out for is the nosedives and CRASHES. They happen.  Try to minimize downtime in communication and things can get better. GOOD LUCK! YOU ARE NOT ALone!!!!!!!