Husband has ADHD, I want to scream sometimes! can anyone commiserate?

Stacey - posted on 05/28/2012 ( 22 moms have responded )

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My husband and I met when I was 19 and he was 21, we wed 2 years later and had children 4 years after that. At the time I had no clue he was ADHD, and neither did he..he never had a diagnosis. I can't believe he made it through highschool, and then techincal school, TBH. He started having a really hard time focusing at work, and started seeing a specialist about 5 years ago. They diagnosed him with severe ADHD and put him on Adderal. His work performance improved greatly and he felt so much better and focused. Yay, it worked, cool. Well, he's always had little things about him that are annoying or make me a little crazy, but once we had kids, it really tipped me over the edge. I looked up ADHD on wikipedia and the list of symptoms(not medicated) describes him to a T. He's impulsive with money, he talks over people, says things without thinking(rude comments), procrastinates badly, starts a hundred projects and takes years to finish them...completely doesn't see messes at all. I think once we had kids, I realized that dealing with him was just like dealing with another kid. He doesn't take his meds on the weekend to give his body a break, and because is hyper focused while he's taking them, which is great for work, but not so great at home trying to be patient and deal with kids. So he doesn't take them when we get to see him the most. Basically the weekend consists of procrastination with projects and multiple naps from working too hard during the week, and basically total chaos in the house. Between a preschooler, a toddler and my husband..I'm kind of at my wits end. When he gets home from work during the week, all I want him to do is spend time with the kids...take them for 30 minutes or so while I make dinner. but he's always got a list of things he needs to get done(household stuff mainly), like changing air filters, fixing a household problem, mowing the lawn, working on one of three hundred projects he's started. So he comes home from work right in the middle of the nighttime routine and gets started immeidately on work he has to do. He rarely spends more than 10 or 20 minutes with his kids per day during the week. I hate it, and I am more than happy to do all the housework as long as he just gives the time to his children that they need. I've talked to him before about going off meds and trying alternative approaches, but he won't even try. He went off gluten for 2 weeks(our whole family is gluten free besides him) to see if it helped with his digestive issues, and ADHD, but he didn't notice a difference. That's about as far as he has gone. He also has type 1 diabetes, and drinks diet soda all day...I just want him to be healthy and live to see his grandchildren...and put us as a priority. I know he loves us and wants to spend time with us, but I think he's addicted to projects(starting them, not finishing them) and doesn't like to not be busy. Can anyone commiserate? I guess I just need help trying to figure out what I should expect out of him with this illness, and what is asking to much. I feel like if I can just get to the point where I accept certain things about his personality, I'll feel much better about it all, knowing that he's not going to be perfect or exactly the person that I need him to be sometimes. I think it would take a major illness for him to change his diet, and maybe try a different route for the ADHD. I don't have ADHD so I obviously don't understand it that much.

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Carlie - posted on 06/01/2012

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You said it best: You don't have ADHD so obviously you don't understand it that much.

But I do. I am almost 38 years old. I was diagnosed with ADHD in December 2010. I currently take 4 Ritalin pills a day.

I admire your concern and care of your relationship towards your husband's condition and your frustrations regarding it as well.

Let me tell you....It's not easy. I don't know what it's like being on the receiving end....your end...but let me just say one VERY important thing: It's downright frustrating and depressing sometimes living with ADHD....and trying to COPE with it. So if I feel this way...I imagine it's twice as hard for those that love me..

I also admire your tenacity. It's not easy I'm sure. So....let me give you a list:

1. Don't tell him you understand-EVER. You don't. Say you can imagine, because you can right? Right.
2. Walk away when it gets frustrating. It's what he has to do for himself. And allow him to do so, without resorting to "Did you take your medicine today?" comments. We HATE those.
3. Correct people and strangers in your circle that say, "Oh, I'm a little ADHD too" and then they laugh. It's not a joke. We HATE that too. After all....Even though it's not Cancer....it's still a recognized disorder. I mean do you hear people saying, "Oh I'm feeling a little cancerous today?" No you do not. So don't allow them to say the same of your husband's disorder. If you speak up about it, instead of ignoring it, then he will respect you so much more for doing so.
4. When I am at the ATM, and I am figuring out the math...and my daughter is jibber jabbering in the backseat...I CANNOT concentrate. Matter of fact.....I usually SNARL at her.....so try not to get so upset with your husband for a similar offense....I always apologize, recognizing that this is a symptom of ADHD as well: easily irritated.
5. Be patient. We REALLY can't remember what you said two seconds ago.
6. We ARE listening. It's our BRAIN that isn't.
7. I forgot that dude's name again. I know you already told me 10 times....I can't remember....REMEMBER?
8. I don't know why I can't keep a job.....But I'm trying to save it. Recognize my effort please...because it DOES take A LOT of effort to pull employment off with this condition.
9. I don't mean to interrupt you every 5 seconds......Please keep in mind that my thoughts are racing and I feel like I have to get it out NOW NOW NOW NOW before.....I FORGET. I'm sorry.
10. I'm impulsive I know. I tell my brain this all the time....but it ISN'T LISTENING.

And finally...keep in mind this: Put two people next to each other. One has ADHD, one does not. You are the Manager at their place of employment. They are new hires. You start talking to both people, teaching them about their role in the company. They appear to be listening. The ADHD person starts out listening, working hard to catch everything. However, if the manager continues speaking for longer than 5 minutes, then I guarantee you, he has lost the attention of the ADHD employee, through no INTENTIONAL fault of his. But to outsiders, he appears to be listening. After the manager leaves you both to start your first day, the ADHD employee is a little lost and panicked. Oh crap...what did HE say again? The non-ADHD employee doesn't have that problem. Why?

People that have ADHD lack the proper tool necessary for receiving information. Meaning, a when a typical non-ADHD person receives old or new information, their brain IMMEDIATELY SOAKS up that information and HOLDS it....sorts it....and puts it away for memory purposes. A person with ADHD...does not. Nine times outta ten...the brain THROWS the information back out or REJECTS it. It does not STICK, therefore not allowing the ADHD person to remember. Keep that in mind. If you look at it this way.....you should be able to IMAGINE.

Again, I applaud you for your concern and patience so far. Your husband NEEDS, DESERVES, and CRAVES your ATTEMPT in understanding his disorder. In the same context, he should be a wee bit more forgiving of how utterly frustrating it is for you and others around him...but again.....ditto.

Good luck and I hope you both reach a level of....contentment. :)

Nichelle - posted on 05/31/2012

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I have this book and right now I can't seem to remember the rest of the title! Lol I do rememberpart of it was called walking on eggshells.....something something...but its dealing with people who adhd. Its a very insightful book. I too have to treat my dh like another child and quite frankly for me its getting old. I told him recently I gave birth to 6 not 7 and this has got to change. He don't want to take his meds but yet won't do other things to offset the disorder. I have 3 calendar dry erase boards one for bills, one for family and one for me.(I have 2 at home businesses) oh and these are the work office type huge boards! 2 Plain ones to write down last minute changes, messages/notes and grocery items. MY HUSBAND WILL NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THE DAMN BOARDS TO SAVE HIS LIFE!! >_< Its aggrivating to constantly keep explaining myself then I have to keep saying joe its on the board. Joe did you write it down? Joe. Joe joe.....his vice is the f'n video. Games and smoking. I hate cigs! I don't smoke nor do I drink. But dealing with him I'm surprise I haven't started! Bc of his health problems even more now I jump on him about the extra cirrcular stuff he does. He won't sleep and when he does its when I need him up soi can go to work. I use to do the letter thing but it takes forever than he'll misinterpit

Amanda - posted on 05/29/2012

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OMG sounds exactly like my hubby.
I honestly believe he has undiognosed ADHD, especially having done research for my son who has ADHD tendencies due to his sleep apenea.

I treat my hubby the same way as my son. If I want him to do something I give him short precise instructions or directions.
Only give him one thing to do at a time.
I give my hubby/son a list of what I am doing with times I am doing them and if possible times I will be fininshed - They don't handle change or disruption to plans well so I try to stick to my routine as much as possible.
Both hubby and son are very impulsive, whether it's with something they want or what they say or do (both can be very rude or just do stupid things without thinking of the consequences) I tell them both I don't like the way they are behaving and to come back and talk to me when they can behave in an appropriate manner.

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I don't know if I'll be any help or not, but maybe I can help you with seeing his perspective?
I was diagnosed with severe ADD (not hyperactive) shortly after J was born. I'd always had it, I just didn't know it was an actual problem--I just thought I was ditzy.

Anyway, I can totally understand him wanting the break from meds on the weekends. That said, he needs measures in place to keep him focused if he is going off the meds. I'll list some things that help me.
1) limit projects. Don't let him start a new project until he's finished with the last one. Here's what happens: He gets to a point in the project where he has to think about the next step, but he can't make his mind go in that direction (especially if it's a complicated or long, drawn out step) so he starts a new project--starting a project is easy, because there is no forced thought. So when he gets to the point in the project where he wants to start a new one and abandon the old one, help him figure out the next step and take action. Break the task down into the smallest possible steps, WRITE them down, and give him the list (help if you can, but that might be difficult with your little ones about). Having the list will keep his mind focused and give him the sense of accomplishment he's looking for.

2) Make lists. I touched on this above, but try to make a list for his whole day. Don't put times on it, because if he falls behind he won't be able to get back on task, but list it all out and let him tackle it. Include activities with the kids, meals, chores--everything.

3) Plan activities with endings. If I don't know when an activity will be over, I am very likely not to start it--I don't need an exact time, I just need a way to know it's finished. So projects like "make a flower collage" work much better than "play with blocks" because I can tell when my collage is finished. If I plan something that doesn't have a "finish" I will set a time limit. If I don't, I'll make up excuses not to start all day long.

4) Ditch the soda. Caffeine is HORRID for ADHD. If he switches to water, Gatorade, or any other caffeine free beverage, he will notice a world of difference after about 2 weeks. (He will have headaches and be VERY irritable and unfocused during the first 2 weeks, bear with him).

I could probably write on this subject all day, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I'm actually pretty passionate about educating people on how to deal with people who have ADHD. We tend to frustrate the people we love until they give up and leave, which we hate, but we just can't always help ourselves because we're too scatter brained to help those we love understand us....vicious cycle and all that.

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Stacey - posted on 07/29/2012

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I need to clarify..he had settled for not having enough sex, but was not happy about it..he was frustrated all the time, and took it out on us and the kids..hence the additude and never being helpful or interested in me and the kids. Now that he is getting his needs met, I am too, and so are the kids. It's been awesome! And, now that I'm getting my needs met, I'm actually interested and looking forward to sex more..What a viscious cycle!

Stacey - posted on 07/29/2012

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Well, things have improved greatly. DH and I had a long talk..we got to the point of talking about separation, and once we really got to the root of the issues, we realized that we just need to learn to communicate better, and that has already helped a ton. I bought a book called The ADHD Effect on Marriage and it has been a lifesaver. Also, we had a 2 hour conversation one night and it brought to light one of the causes of his behavior. I had always thought that ignoring me and the kids and never wanting to go anywhere or do anything with us or help out when I asked him to was because of the ADHD, but it turns out that years ago, before we even had kids, he had settled for the fact that we wouldn't have sex as often as he would like, and stopped asking. After we had kids we went through a rough patch(sex kept being brought up by him, but it only made me angry).. I was tired from being up with the baby half the night and sex was the last thing on my mind. I was completely ignoring his needs and in turn he was ignoring mine. Once we finally figured this out, things changed. For the first time since we had kids, and even before that, I finally feel like I have a partner. He has been helping with the kids(not even with me nagging..he'll change a diaper the first time I ask him without additude), and he's been better about picking up after himself..he seems genuinely interested in my day and the kids..it's crazy. I wish we had talked about this earlier. The sex issue has come up in the past but I never took it seriously until now. He still zones out on the weekend and takes naps, but it's not nearly as annoying now since he will also stay with the kids so I can go out by myself, and actually helps out around here, and acts interested in us for once. It's been night and day around here! Just thought I'd share!

Cleaver - posted on 07/08/2012

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i have ADHD and i stop taking my meds when i get pregnant and the things going on in my head is enough to drive most people insane ill be doing dishes one minute then sweeping the living room floor. i snap at people by accident (i got mad at my sisters friends husband because the baby was fine and he was forcing a pacifier in the poor babies mouth until he started to cry) i tend to talk really fast when its bad. it gets really annoying not being on it. ill decide i am going to make my kitchen spotless and it never gets done. my place is alot messier when i am not medicated which makes me frustrated but being all over the place its very hard to do. when i was working i was a hairdresser and it was perfect i was busy with my hands, mouth, and feet that i didn't have time for my ADHD to act up. now its hard to get focused on anything. this is how it feels to have ADHD usually frustrated and non stop.

Jamie - posted on 07/08/2012

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Actually, caffine is recommended for people with ADHD, especially when not medicated. People suffering from ADHD need a stimulant, caffine works opposite for someone with ADHD then for someone without it. My daughter's doctor has us give caffinated beverages to her on the weekends when she is not on her meds. Also, while researching alternatives to medication, we found that a large amount of people are starting to turn to coffee (even for kids) instead of meds, because of the side effects.



I do agree with Carlie too. I feel this way when people comment on my issues with Bipolar Disorder.

Stacey - posted on 06/02/2012

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I have to say, I ran across a website that really helped me change my additude towards my husband. Talking to other spouses that can commiserate and learning that a lot of his behavior is truly ADHD-related and not a personal attack against me is extremely helpful. Not saying this will fix anything, but it certainly is helping me learn how to relate to him better. I started using post-it notes around the house to help him remember things, and basically being a little more selfish. I was so used to putting my needs and wants on the back burner to support his constant needs and wants, without realizing that he doesn't realize he's being selfish about things...so in the last few days, if I have needed some time alone, I've taken it. Thanks for all your posts. It truly has helped a lot!

Carlie - posted on 06/01/2012

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Yes we are continually labeled as being "air headed." How irritating and frustrating to be mistaken all the time. I would speak up and tell them that having ADHD does not make me ditzy. For them to assume so.....implies....ditziness...or a lack of intelligence and respect...from them. :)

Rita - posted on 05/30/2012

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Wow, we could trade husbands and not even know it. LOL. I married my husband young, too, and it was a little bumpy before kids but not bad, but then after kids, wow, I couldn't believe the difference. He had so many issues. He was finally dx with ADHD correctly last year, after being misdiagnosed with a bunch of other things, so he didn't get on the right meds for a long time. He's on Adderall, too, and it works really well, except that it wears off by the evening time.

It's REALLY important for someone with severe ADHD to take meds. Eating better, getting more sleep, exercising, supplements, etc. are helpful but only if taking a supportive role to medication. My husband used to have a hard time taking his meds, too, but eventually, after telling him over and over, plus him seeing the difference himself, he's fairly reliable. His doctor also got on his case. I have celiac and am gluten-free, as well; if I eat gluten, I get a trip to the ER. So, I use that as an analogy when he's wanting to go off meds -- ADHD is treatable, just like celiac. Him going off his meds/lifestyle changes is like me deciding to eat gluten over and over and draining our money -- including his money for all his projects he wants to do -- with trips to the ER that are completely avoidable.

I've also learned to be a little selfish when it comes to my husband. After a long day at work, I used to insist on him taking some time for himself right away when he came home. Inevitably, he would take the whole evening so I wouldn't get any time for myself. I learned to insist on getting my me time first, or asking him to take out the trash or do another chore first, and then be ok with him taking his me time second. Work before play, b/c if left to their own devices, those with ADHD with choose play all night and leave the work to the wife. Ugh.

Also, your husband has to make his own mistakes, if he isn't. This is hard, b/c it can spell trouble for the family, but ADHDers have a tendency to develop "learned helplessness." Certainly, you don't want to endanger the family, but -- taking a page from my story -- if you find yourself waking him up every morning b/c he just cannot remember to set his alarm clock the night before, he has to learn the hard way that you're not going to do that anymore and he needs to make that a priority.

Finally, and this is really hard sometimes, try to be a happy wife. I have to detach emotionally a little from my husband at times, but he reacts badly to my sour moods (even if they're b/c of him), so I have had to learn how to resolve conflict differently. I try to be thankful for any little thing he does, and while I don't want to be his doormat, I try to let him know firmly and patiently, but also pick my battles.

Amanda - posted on 05/29/2012

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We have been doing abit of a budget too, it does help abit.

When it comes to what I plan to do in a day the list helps.
If I write it down it gives him something to keep referring to and I don't have to repeat myself 1000 times, I can tell him to read the list.
As long as I keep it simple like, mow the lawn, put bins out. Don't over complicate things.

My husband asked me one day why I treat him like my 4 yr old, I said not only does he behave like him but it's the only way he seems to understand and actually occassionally listen to what I say.

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This is how I manage my money.
We each get an "allowance" each week to spend anyway we see fit. We figured out the amount by subtracting the highest possible bill amount from his monthly income, dividing that by 5 (5 weeks in a month), and splitting it between the two of us. I could never budget a whole month with my ADD--I would do great the first week or so, then I'd buy something impulsively, then not be able to buy anything for like 2 weeks, so when the new month rolled around I'd spend like crazy and it would all be gone by the 2nd week creating a vicious cycle.
So, say after you pay your bills for the month, you have $1500 left over (just for the sake of easy math). By bills I mean only monthly bills, like utilities, mortgage if you have one, insurance, car loans if you have those, stuff that has a set monthly payment due on the same day every month. $1500 divided by 5 is $300 per week. The way we do it, I get more because I buy groceries, so if this was our household, I would take $200 a week, and dh would take $100 a week. That amount would cover auto gas or transportation, meals out for lunch and such, clothing, etc. If I want something expensive, I can roll any unused amount over to the next week. So I could curb my lunches with friends and buy cheap groceries on week so that I would have more to spend the next. To keep track, I keep a small moleskin in my purse (this would fit in your guy's wallet or back pocket) and each week, I put my budget at the top of the page. Below that, I write the day or date and by it I note each and every purchase I make--I round up to the nearest dollar to make it quick. I can easily see my progress toward my budget, so I can cut back mid week if I'm going too fast, or feel good about myself if I'm going slow. At the end of the week, I add any unused amount to the next week and start over.

This allowed me to see my progress in saving money. Before, it seemed like I was ALWAYS having to scrimp and save, so after a while, I'd loose it and go out and make a big impulsive purchase (then be ate up in guilt), whereas now, I can see that my efforts scrimping actually make a difference and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I buy something I want. This way, he still maintains full control over how he spends his money, he just has a very controlled amount to spend.


Also, the sit down conversation won't work too well with him because his mind is either going to lock on to one of the first things you say and not get any further or wander off completely, and you are going to get emotional, which he'll just tune out. The letter is better because while it may take him a while to read it, he will have it to go back and refer to. Just be sure to organize the letter into small succinct points. Try bullets! I LOVE bullets!!! They break it down so I can find the point I'm looking for, and if I can't read the whole thing at once, they give me small areas to focus on. My husband have been arguing via email for years now. It works wonders for me because I can go back and see exactly what was said, whereas if we are just talking, if my mind was wondering while he was saying something important, it's gone forever.

Stacey - posted on 05/29/2012

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I don't want him to necessarily stop the Adderal, but I would love for him to explore alternative therapies to see if they help him before succumbing to a life of amphetamines in his system. It can't be healthy to be on drugs for the rest of your life, and I worry about his life expectancy...How can it not affect your heart negatively? etc. I also hate that his personality is one way during the week and completely different on the weekend. And honestly, aside from all the shopping, project starting, etc I prefer him off of Adderal because he's more patient, and fun and actually spends time with his kids, even though the house is like a cyclone hit it when he's home. Anyone have tips on managing money with someone with ADHD? I manage all the money, but he has a debit card to the account and I can never trust him to run to the store to grab a few things, because he'll come back with twice as much..and normally it's things we need, but when I haven't budgeted for it, that takes away from the bills that need to be paid. He acts like if there's not an endless supply of money in the account that he needs to be working more to make up for it. I try and explain to him that if he just sticks to a budget, and plans ahead to save for larger purchases, that NO he doesn't need to work more(he's on commission). That and we've had a running credit card debt the entire time we've been married. We've paid off the credit card once, and it already has a couple thousand back on it after only 4 months. It's not small purchases, it's 1 large purchase, and he's pretty good about not just slapping a ton of little things on the card, but I swear, there's absolutely no reason that we should have credit card debt. We get a large sum of inheritance money each year, and yet we still have debt. We've always spent it. I feel like if I step in too much and try to take complete control over the money that he will feel like a prisoner...making money then handing it over. I'm afraid he'll resent me for that. But it has to change or our children won't have a future. How can I gently take control? If I don't we're in for a lifetime of ongoing debt!!

Stacey - posted on 05/29/2012

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wow, Thanks for the responses. I wasn't sure if I'd get any responses. This diagnosis seems so real and common. I think I'm most frustrated now because after 8 years of marriage I'm realizing that this behavior is just who he is with the ADHD and I'll have to deal with it somehow for the rest of our lives. I just need ways to help cope with it I guess. Do your hubby's respond to the list making, short detailed instructions? I feel like he'll think I'm acting like his parent...And I'm really awful at communicating which makes matters worse. I just would like to sit down with him and tell him exactly what I need from him, and have a constructive converstaion, and hope that he will respond well..But I always let the emotions get the best of me and end up in tears before I can finish talking. In the past writing him a letter has helped me get out all my thoughts but with the ADHD, it takes him forever to read it, and even then he doesn't quite absorb everything I'm trying to get across. Ideas? Our biggest issues that I want to try and address is the impulsive spending, not finishing projects and spending time with the kids when he could be doing other things(there's always things for me to do at home, but I take breaks to give attention to the kids..he doesn't do that unless he's off his meds)

Tina - posted on 05/29/2012

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lol sorry but that's my partner all over and I have 2 kids going on 1 and 2 in about 3-4 weeks. Reading this post does explain alot of other behaviour of his.

Nichelle - posted on 05/29/2012

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Stacy. I can't express to you how much I feel your pain!! My husband has severe .a.d.h.d and was on both meds...he has a high tolerance for meds(long story) so they didn't last long in his system to work. We've got together when I was 18 & he was 19. 10yrs & 6kids later its been nothing but bloody hell!! I would filled this damn thing up. But if you want to talk you can email me at nichellej2006@yahoo.com

Katherine - posted on 05/28/2012

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Hmmm, sometimes I'm pretty ditzy......someone can tell me something and then I "forget."

Katherine - posted on 05/28/2012

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Sounds EXACTLY like my ex! He was that way too. But never diagnosed. I think he needed to be. Until this moment it didn't even occur to me that could have been his problem.

Alison - posted on 05/28/2012

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Wow Stacey, I think I have found a kindred spirit! My husband was diagnosed when our first daughter was born (almost 6 years ago). He takes Concerta and although his doctor wanted him to take week-ends off, I fought against it. He is so irritable, impatient, self-centered and unreasonable when he doesn't medicate. So he tries to skip one day during the week instead. He/you could talk to his doctor about alternative options.

Why do you want him to stop the Adderall?

My challenges are slightly different. My husband is great with the kids and does spend quite a lot of time with them, but when he is focused on a project, he doesn't stop for anyone. He works on construction and is frequently unemployed. He has good days and bad days. And of course, his bad days are my bad days.

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