Reply To: Outbursts of Anger



I can appreciate the situations OP and all respondents have described. I am a partner of someone with undiagnosed ADHD. We have a blended family, two children each from former relationships and a toddler from our relationship together. I believe one of my stepsons also suffers from ADHD in nearly the exact same ways as his father, and he has begun therapy but has yet to receive a formal diagnosis. Their birthdays are four days apart (to me that makes their personalities extremely similar), and while their rage behaviors are nearly predictably identical, I also feel as if the rest of us are walking on eggshells and cannot see their roller coaster rage coming all the time. What I mean is that we can all “see the signs” of their anger rising (at least 75% of the time) but what triggers them is most often unexpected. It is exhausting! With my stepson, it is most often sibling dynamics or father/son dynamics. My stepson seems to feel a lot of internalized shame and often preempts our reactions with defensiveness expressed as anger and offense, quite strongly. With my partner, it can be seeming innocuous dinner table conversation, or it can be parenting/life stressors, or anything really, anything that other people find stressful or not. What results is a screaming match between the two of them, or either or both raging and screaming at any or all of us, slamming fists and doors, stomping, growling – literally like an animal – and pacing, sulking (sometimes for hours), and sarcasm designed to hurt and incite more anger. It’s a ridiculous display, a destructive cycle that changes the mood for everyone in the room or just in the house. Many days it feels dark and gloomy though we live in such a sunny paradise. Most days lately.

For me, to deal with things that make me want to protect our children and end the relationship, I do research. I have been researching so many things because I have not been successful at convincing my partner to seek help but I believe there is still time for him, though that belief is a super dim light in the darkness at this moment. Since my stepson is in therapy I’d like to ensure the correct things are given attention and accurate treatment is put in place – misdiagnosis is unfortunately common, as is lack of diagnosis, especially in children. Professionals seem to be hesitant to give a person a diagnosis that will “follow them” through their school career and other areas of life, but I feel like early intervention is extremely helpful – my stepson can understand and forgive his self rather than continue on with these negative coping skills and defensive but destructive strategies. Unfortunately I don’t think my partner was given the same opportunity, and things are much more difficult for him (and the rest of us!) than they need to be.

OP, I want to suggest that maybe your wife is suffering from co-occurring disorders. I’ve read up on Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD), Emotional Distress Syndrome, Emotional Hyper-arousal, and Executive Function Deficit. Since you mentioned your wife’s outbursts are usually in relation to something you’ve said, it made me think of my situation and how my guys’ blowups usually happen. I think almost all the literature on ADHD and ADD (which I guess is now called ADHD inattentive type) talks about co-occurring disorders. My thoughts are that these co-occurring disorders are (at least some of the time) learned and develop as coping skills for the person with ADHD or ADD. That means they can be un-learned, right? With conscious effort many changes are possible. The disorders other respondents have suggested are definitely worth looking into as well. We often have to be our own advocates in health care, and psychiatric care is definitely an area where there are many possibilities and variables. If you attend sessions with your wife, bring your research with you and discuss it openly to explore as many possibilities as possible.

All of the treatment everyone keeps mentioning is ideal, but as someone mentioned as well, the struggle for partners of those with ADHD and related disorders is that treatment can’t be forced and the person can only benefit from it if they believe in it and truly and realistically implement it. Maybe you can “make sure” your child takes their meds, but can you “make sure” an adult does? Can you enforce mindfulness? Does the person think there’s anything wrong or even want to change? Which brings me to another concern, and I’d like to thank ex-wife2ADHD for calling this behavior what it is – abuse. Straight up. Yes, our loved ones may have a condition they are not in control of and we’d like to believe they don’t mean to do what they are doing. However, they ARE in control of addressing that condition and need to be held accountable for doing so. Like eford90 said, the shame and embarrassment felt after treating loved ones so poorly is enormous. Unless our partners are narcissists or sociopaths (I’m so sorry you went through that peninagrama712), they feel some remorse and that remorse can be a powerful tool for change. If they’re willing to own it. In any case, it needs to stop.

The children! Not enough of us are talking about the children… OP you didn’t mention it, but I have no doubt they are not only witnesses to the inappropriate treatment you receive but that they are also recipients. It’s not healthy, it’s not necessary, and it needs to stop. What a confusing message for the kids, but beryl said it best, always know they love you and explain everything to children in the house. The kids will benefit from seeing the conflict resolution, but ONLY if they see the RESOLUTION. You are demonstrating for them what standards and boundaries to put in place for their selves, and what behaviors equal love.

In my case, love and fear for my kids are the driving motivators for me to leave the situation. I am currently making plans to move to a safe location and give my partner an ultimatum to get the help he needs or our relationship is over. It’s so sad. It’s so much to deal with. But the bad is outweighing the good and if the scales don’t tip the other way soon it will be too much for us to continue as a family unit.

I hope you and your families get the help you need to make the changes that need to be made. I hope all of us do.

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by keliemm. Reason: remembered another co-occurring disorder