I Think My Husband Has ADHD, Should I Tell Him?

I think my man has ADD, should I tell him?

In my continued efforts to change the way folks view ADHD, I have had some interesting conversations.There was this discussion I had with a friend about her husband that I feel is important enough to revisit. She suspects that her husband’s issues and their overall marital problems could be a result of undiagnosed ADD. It can be rough coming to someone with an assumption about the state of their mental health. It’s even more difficult to confront a friend or loved one about something as stigmatizing as ADHD. I’m not sure how it turned out for her, I believe it’s a work in progress. However, there’s no need to delve too deeply into their marital affairs, because I’m sure their story is similar to many of us when addressing mental health in a social context. Here are a few thoughts that I shared with her:

Come Correct

Is it ADHD? Are you sure? The common use of phrases like  “I’m so ADD today!” And all of the buzz about whether ADHD/ADD is now OVERdiagnosed, make it clear that society tends to view the condition as a collection of minor social slip-ups. We tend to use ADHD and ADD as umbrella terms for symptoms, habits and actions that could have little to no baring on an individual’s potential diagnosis!

❗️Before you even bring your thoughts to your friend or loved one, do your homework! There is easy access to accurate Information from sources like additudemag.com or adultadhdblog.com, that give first hand experience and expert advice about the signs and symptoms and appropriate next steps when someone suspects a diagnosis may be necessary. Try taking a quiz or two or skimming a checklist yourself. This may help you further your understanding of ADHD and its broad spectrum of symptoms. Make sure you do your homework. You will be more of a use to your friend or loved one if you aren’t confronting them with stereotypes and blanket assumptions.

Be a Friend Not a Clinician

Just because you believe the signs are there, and you’ve done your homework, doesn’t mean you can diagnose and become your friend’s ADD coach. The symptoms differ for each individual, and sometimes they differ for that same person over time. The best thing to do is offer your information along with any next steps that would benefit someone who suspects that they may have ADHD, and keep it moving. There are way too many variables to diagnosing ADHD. Too much speculation from you may cause unnecessary apprehension and defeat your purpose.

Affirm Appreciate Accept

Attention deficit/hyperactivity Disorder can be a gift and a curse. It can seem like more of a curse if you are undiagnosed, and/unaware of what is going on. It’s difficult to accept a difference that others may not be able to see or relate to. Those who are undiagnosed often tend to identify themselves based on the symptoms that present themselves, because they don’t know or understand the essence of the problem. Being a knowledgable source and helping a friend understand that the traits or actions that you are basing your assumption on, is only a small part of who they are, can make a huge difference.

❗️Before bringing your thoughts to your friend you should ask yourself a few questions about your feelings and beliefs when it comes to ADHD. If you are like many others who continue to hold negative views and ideas about this condition, maybe it’s best to keep a lid on it.

Give It Time

For me, the acceptance of my diagnosis was a huge weight off my shoulders, however, it took years and a lot of figurative head-banging before getting to that place. It is easy to walk in the dark in your own home. You may bump around a bit, but eventually you find your way. The same goes for the undiagnosis of ADHD. You find your way in life, despite the bumps and the extra work; you figure out a way to survive and get by. BUT OH, how much easier and what a difference it makes to flip that switch! You definitely are more efficient and more productive. Figuring out why you keep forgetting those appointments/deadlines/birthdays; understanding why you are more/less overwhelmed after that “time of the month”; understanding the origin of those quirky things that you must work around to get things done; can feel like turning on a figurative light switch on your existence.
I believe it’s beneficial and super important to share your knowledge with your friend or loved one, because I know first hand, the difference it makes. However, once you share it, set it free.

❗️Be there when your friend needs an open-mind and heart; but remember, it’s his or her decision to act on it or not.

Don’t Be An Enabler

My friend was very convinced that her husband could be the poster child for ADHD. During our conversation, I was concerned by the stories about some of his actions and behaviors. Throughout the conversation I kept thinking to myself, why has this gone on so long without even a trip to a family physician? sometimes it doesn’t matter what the dysfunction is dressed up as, Whether it be ADHD or some other mental health issue, if you find that you aren’t able to function the way you’d like no matter how hard you try, reaching outward for a fresh perspective may be necessary for change.

Some folks are so deep in their dysfunction that it seems ok to them; all the while, we watch the whirlwind of trouble building as it threatens to whisk us up too. In these instances you have a right and a responsibility to yourself and your own mental health well-being to step up and say something.

You can’t control what a person does, only your interactions with them.

Walking on eggshells in what you consider to be your own element is a no-no. I am not saying that you need to read your loved one the riot act, or sneak quietly out the back door, when you notice something isn’t quite right. However, if you have taken on a parent role in the relationship, or you find yourself defending unacceptable behaviors or actions while that person continues to walk around in a fog or worse- has you believing that you are the problem, is enabling! It hurts you both in the long run.

❗️Before you confront your friend, remember: Offering support in a time of trouble doesn’t mean Sacrificing your safety and sanity. Relationships of any sort require work on both ends.
How do you feel about confronting a friend when you suspect they have mental health issue they aren’t addressing? Should people mind their own business? What would make you change your opinion? Leave a comment! I would love to chat about it. 🙂

2 thoughts on “I Think My Husband Has ADHD, Should I Tell Him?

  1. I have so much to say about this that I’m not sure where to begin. I’m a 38 year-old female who was diagnosed with ADHD-primarily inattentive in 2006 at the age of 31. My diagnosis was liberating and freeing and helped me in numerous ways. So much of my past life came into focus and began to actually make sense. I dived in and did my best to learn everything I could about ADHD — read books, went to therapy, tried different medications, and while it was not an especially easy formula, as in diagnosis + treatment = solution, everything I did helped me to live a better life. The more I learned the more I began to suspect that my husband also had ADHD. In all my enthusiasm, I immediately shared my suspicion with him. While I saw myself coming from a place of love and wanting him to feel as relieved as I felt following my own diagnosis, I failed to recognize that people are different and they have very different thoughts about the term ADHD. My husband was not at all open to the idea that he might have some “mental disorder.” He attached a huge stigma to the term and wanted nothing to do with it and was not interested in being evaluated. Long story short, I had to let a lot of it go. I continued to focus on myself and my own treatment, but I was still frustrated. As my symptoms improved I was resentful that he wasn’t even’t trying to do anything differently. He would argue that he was trying, and I know that he was trying but I could see that he was doing a lot of the same things I had done prior to my own ADHD diagnosis — he was trying in ways that were ineffective considering the way that his brain worked. His methods of trying weren’t the best for someone with ADHD. In other words I saw him making many of the mistakes that I had made repeatedly before my diagnosis. Somewhere along the way, he reluctantly agreed to be evaluated. I’m guessing he was around 35 years old. His results also showed that he had ADHD – primarily innatentive. He did not have the positive reaction that I had and still viewed it as more of a character flaw. He doesn’t like labels and wanted more of a quick fix. This was a disaster. He skipped doctor’s appointments, mismanaged his medication, and would schedule appointments with the therapist and just not show up. Looking back, I think i pushed too hard. I would encourage anyone who suspects that their significant other or friend has ADHD, to mention it in very vague terms at first. Like maybe even ease into it by saying you suspect that another “friend” has this and you’ve been researching it for him/her and see what kind of reaction you get just to test the water. I wish I had done this. Here’s where we are now: I still actively participate in treating my ADHD symptoms. I don’t always take meds, but currently I do. I’m at a place where I know what works for me and what doesn’t, but I also try to remain open and understand that stress affects my symptoms. I’m more patient with myself than I was pre-diagnosis and I’m also able to see that although ADHD is hard, there are many positives as well. My husband does not take meds and does not go to therapy. He has changed jobs and is finally in a position that works with his ADHD — he’s able to use his creativity and he’s not especially hindered by disorganization. His coworkers “get” him and he’s allowed to use his strengths and delegate other tasks that are more difficult. So in this way, he manages. I would recommend that if you’re dealing with anyone who is resistant to treatment that you focus on staying healthy yourself. I did read a few books that helped me since my partner was uncooperative in this realm. The ones I’m listing are primarily about ADHD within relationships. I read these after I already had a good understanding of ADHD, but all of these give overviews and the basics of the condition.

    Married to Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell, MD., Sue George Hallowell, LICSW, with Melissa Orlov
    The ADHD Effect on Marriage by Melissa Orlov
    Is it You, Me, or Adult ADD by Gina Pera

    The three books above helped me interact better with my husband.

    Sorry, this was not short, but I hope some of it might help those dealing with ADHD in their relationships. I really like your blog and look forward to reading more. I’ve only had time to scan it a bit but will certainly take time to read more.

    • First off Thank you so much for sharing your story. And for sharing the resources as well. The diversity in ages, stages, effects and affects of ADD/ADHD is amazing to me. It is never the same for two people yet we can all relate to each other still!

      I have a family member who I feel 98% certain has ADHD. I continue to offer insight without labels and encourage him and have passed along all I could throughout my years of study. The more I learned about mental health the more I would offer subtle advice hints etc. during that whole time, I either couldn’t or wouldn’t see it in myself. Isn’t that something?

      My own understanding of the condition and the past misunderstandings (stigmas) that we all grew up with, still resurface for me at times. It is an everyday struggle thus far to be able to accept all aspects of my ADHD as part of me; not good not bad just part of who I am. I feel your husband’s pain in that story. I haven’t acted out my frustrations in that way, but I’ve had my moments. I also know how it feels to be liberated from that feeling of not knowing what the heck is going on with my brain. Labels are a two edged sword. Accepting my diagnosis outside of my own consciousness; seeing it on paper flipped a switch and is helping me make some amazing changes. However I still get low sometimes and harp on the “what if” questions that adults with ADD/ADHD (especially late diagnosis) have.

      Thanks again for reading. Hopefully the stigmas will change over time. My husband and I are still working at the communication thing. I have read the others, but not the Melissa orlov book! 🙂

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