Reply To: How to best help my husband with his ADD

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As a wife of an “ADD/ADHDer,” a mother to ADD/ADHDers, and as a person who has ADHD I understand your frustrations, but I also understand your husband’s frustration. My first advice is to try to be more understanding, and if you can, look at this from your husband’s position. Dealing with the symptoms of ADD/ADHD can take a toll on your self-esteem, especially if you are a man. As a man you are “supposed to be” the provider of the family and yet you are not, or at the very minimum you are struggling. You feel like a failure because you can’t seem to keep a job and you know why, but don’t know why at the same time. Keep in mind he is frustrated just as much as you are. As a side note, ADHD doesn’t mean you lack intelligence. Quite frankly, it’s usually the opposite. You can sport a 4.0 in school, and yet still struggle with loosing your keys, and lack organizational skills. ADD/ADHDers excel in areas that are interesting to them. This means that if we are working a job that does not interest us or does not use our natural gifts, we are bound to fail. But put us in a job or career that we love using our innate skills, and we are phenomenal. Encourage him, and help him find a job or career that uses his natural gifts and talents. It can make a huge difference.

Next, understand that medication is not the “end all be all.” It is one method of treatment, but it certainly should not be the only one. ADD/ADHD requires behavioral interventions as well. Medication is helpful only to an extent. He may just be telling you the truth; Adderall is working just fine for him and he is wary of switching ( He does have a 4.0 in school, so is he focusing). Besides that, switching medication is not easy and quite frankly is frustrating because now you have to deal with new side effects. Try seeing it from his perspective. He may be thinking “I am now finally getting used to this medicine and can tolerate the side effects, and now you want me to switch to another one.” Most people are quick to say, just try another medication since this one doesn’t seem to be working without thinking about how it is physiologically affecting the person taking it. Not all medications are the same. The symptoms can range from increased anger & aggression, a lack of sleep, being “emotionless,” (as my teenage daughter puts it), to the inability to eat and enjoy food, nausea and other physiological symptoms. Sometimes, it’s not always easy to switch medications.

The problem with ADD/ADHDers is that we shine in some areas, but severely lack in other areas. We are an enigma not only to you, but to ourselves as well. We need our loved ones to love us, be patient, push us and yet accept us for who we are. We know it’s a tall order. We are just as frustrated as you are, and feel like we are failing you when you complain that we are not meeting your expectations. We know that you are “suffering” as well, and feel even more frustrated that we are the ones causing you to “suffer.”

Finally, my suggestion is understand that “treating” ADHD is not as simple as taking a pill. As I stated earlier, behavioral interventions are needed as well. An ADHD coach can be very helpful in this situation. If this is not an option or something your husband is willing to consider just yet, then maybe you can find a way to “coach him.” With my husband I found that when I complained and communicated my frustration it only made things worse. (Yes, the ADHDer had the nerve to complain about someone else’s ADD/ADHD behavior..sigh…) But, when I started accepting him for who he is, and decided I was going to help him things begin to change. I started saying things like “boy was that an ADHD moment,” and we learned to laugh during those moments. Was it easy at first? No, but ultimately he became more open to coaching/ suggestions because he realized that I was on his team. I asked questions and let him explain to me what he was thinking and why he did what he did (or didn’t do). I not only learned a lot about him and how I could help him, but I learned a lot about myself as well. I truly wish you and hubby well!!