View Full Version : Looking for practical advice on de-escalating outbursts


murmurme
01-05-14, 04:03 AM
Hi there,

I just joined the forum & have been reading some very helpful threads here. It's all a bit overwhelming tho, so I thought I'd dive in & ask for some advice... :)

I'm a non-ADHD partner and have been with my ADHD partner for about 6 months now. He's extraordinarily kind-hearted, but as with many people living with ADHD, he is often overly sensitive, and will react with disproportionate (and negative) emotion to certain situations, comments or stressors. You can see the escalation (into a full blown argument or outburst) coming a mile away... :( So I am looking for some specific methods, tips or tricks to steer the conversation into a) helping him recognize that the reaction is about to go overboard and recognize that it's the ADHD reaction to the situation. b) Steer away from the escalation and keep the conversation constructive & moving positively forward.

A brief note on my background, I used to teach therapeutic horseback riding, and had many ADHD clients (children and adults) over the years. I have studied ADHD, and understand the symptoms, manifestations, mechanisms, etc... I know when it's the ADHD talking, I understand, and can clearly see the way it can cause him to react. I don't take it personally. I understand that it has to do with the signals his brain is sending him, the way he processes, and that he can't 'help' those reactions. However I am looking to help him better *manage* those reactions *before* they escalate. I myself suffer from depression and anxiety issues. I can also over-react to situations, and have things that will trigger me. I do recognize when it's my depression or anxiety talking, and (after years of trial and error) am able to better 'manage' these reactions. So my having my own issues helps me to empathize with him. It's not 'my fault' that the depression or anxiety makes me feel or react in certain ways, but when I feel my own issues escalating, I can kind of view the situation objectively and give myself a time-out to acknowledge that it's the depression or anxiety talking. Obviously I by no means am saying that I can 'fix' my (involuntary!!) reactions. But by *recognizing* them, I can acknowledge what they are and work towards better dealing with them. I do know that in the moment we often can not think things thru that clearly, but I know there are ways that both of us can learn to help avoid some of the escalation of issues. He knows and acknowledges that the ADHD makes him 'go overboard' at times, overreact, etc. I don't want him to use that as an excuse tho. I need to make clear my boundaries and find a happy medium between understanding, and but making it known that some behaviors are just unacceptable. I do actively listen to what he is saying when he starts to get upset about something and acknowledge his feelings.

I hope I'm making sense... I'm pretty overwhelmed at the moment & hope I'm not rambling. I just wanted to make clear that I understand the ADHD park of it, and am looking for some advice and tips that I can put to work to head off the escalation of some of the outbursts or overreactions that often stem from his insecurities and/or stressors that tend to turn into a bigger deal than what they should be. What are some *specific* tips to help constructively work towards de-escalating a situation?

(Note: I just recently moved and am still searching for employment...soooo I currently have no insurance or income. :-( Therefore while I am a HUGE proponent of therapy, it is not currently an option. I am also unable to purchase any books at this time due to financial constraints. It's kind of a tough time overall right now. :-/ )

Thanks in advance for your suggestions & support!

-mel-

BrokenDreams
01-05-14, 03:04 PM
Hi Mel,

I am new to the forum also but I am a non-ADHD partner in a ten-year relationship. What you wrote in your post is a familiar situation for me and I would imagine many other people here.

You mentioned in your post that you have a fair knowledge about what ADHD is and that is a good start. To knowledge that he is not doing all this on purpose and not to take it personally are two big and hardest steps in an ADHD relationship. Not taking it personally is something I still struggle with even today.

You also mentioned that you are suffering from depression and anxiety issues and it is great progress that you realize this and are working on this. From experience I know these issues require constant work so that you can ‘manage’ them. I am also unemployed at this time and my best therapist is my journal. I actually have made my journal into a series of letters to friends and family. Of course I will never send out this letters, but when I am writing them I feel like I am talking to a person. Writing has helped me review my thought process and situations while helping me find different ways to handle that particular situation differentially. All I got to say about your personal issues is: keep up the good work. You have recognized the problem that is the first and hardest step.

Now about the ADHD, I do have a few suggestion I am not sure if you would call these specific tips. I am not a therapist and I am only stating these suggestions because these things helped me over the years. Also ADHA manifests differently in different people so there is a possibility that these suggestions might not even work. The best thing is trial and error; write down what worked and what did not.

****A) helping him recognize that the reaction is about to go overboard and recognize that it's the ADHD reaction to the situation.

This is hard to do because a person with ADHD has a hard time recognizing the reaction, there are so many thoughts running through their mind at one time. And when you add emotion to the mix is gets even more difficult. I honestly do not think you will get him to recognize that ADHD is causing the outburst. I really think the only person who can do make him recognize that ADHD is causing the outburst is a professional therapist.

You also have to be very careful about how you tell him that the conversation is about to go overboard. Many people with ADHD feel that if you constantly point out that ADHD is causing a problem, the ADHD partner will start getting defensive making things worse. Many people with ADHD have been told as children that they are lazy or stupid when it really is ADHD. His ADHD has probably caused him so much emotional pain over the years that he will be overly sensitive until he goes to a professional to realize those past emotions.

b) Steer away from the escalation and keep the conversation constructive & moving positively forward

As the non-ADHD partner you have the ability to analyze the situation and how to change it. One of the most important things to do when you sense that things are going ‘overboard’ is complement him. Tell him you appreciate the chance to sit and talk to him, say something positive to him. By changing the atmosphere to a more positive one you might have a chance to keep things from getting out of control. If you can sense that he more defensive, it is very important to not to say the word ‘YOU’. When your ADHD is defensive and you start saying ‘well you did this’ the word ‘you’ can be taken as you are blaming him.


Sometimes the best thing to do is just to walk away, say “I would like to continue this conversation some other time. I need to think.” (Notice the word ‘you’ is not in those sentences.) When someone with ADHD gets upset and things go ‘overboard’ - basically his/her brain is sending so many signals that it is just best to stop and wait for his/her brain to slow down.

If the conversation is really important I have found that actually writing my ADHD-partner is better than talking to him. The reason being when you are talk to your ADHD –partner he/she needs to think about what he/she is going to say and they can see you sitting right there next to them waiting for an answer. And if your ADHD-partner can’t concentrate on what to say back to you, they will start getting upset and the conversation can suddenly turn. I have found by writing him letters about important topics, works out best for him. This is because he can take all time he wants to think about how to answer my questions and concerns and does not feel pressured to answer me right away when I am sitting next to him.

I hope these suggestions give you an idea of what you can do to help the outburst and other situations you come across. Being in a relationship with someone who has ADHD can be really challenging but if you really care about the person you will find a way.

Best of luck to you.

Mittens
01-05-14, 03:23 PM
Welcome Mel :)
Is your partner doing anything for his add? Medications, or therapy, or other?

I am by no means an expert, and filly admit that I am still learning and definitely have a ways to go.

You mentioned you wanted to de-escalate and talk about things constructively... these 2 things can happen separately, but be prepared to know that they may never happen at the same time. or something that is effective 'most' of the time, may not be effective all of the time.

You can only control what you have control over - which is your own actions.

If you want to make sure a situation doesn't escalate - remove yourself from the situation.
Leave the house, go for a walk, go for a drive, etc.

Talking constructively is a far more intricate task and takes 100% involvement and effort from both sides. That, from what i've learned in practical experience, is highly individualized and more trial and error than 'one size fits all' answer.

I know that may sound frustrating :( you sound like you have a very problem-solving, analytical way of thinking and that can be especially frustrating in this situation. A + B does not always equal C, and sometimes you need to throw algebra and things that make sense out the window.

It shows a lot that you've reached out in a positive environment for advice.

Hope this helps a little :) i'm sure some of the veteran members have more usefulness to contribute - they are a great group here :)

Mittens

VeryTired
01-05-14, 05:02 PM
Hi, Mel, and welcome!

I find your post very interesting and look forward to reading the responses it gets as they come in. This is a topic that is relevant for many of us. Here's what I can contribute:

For my partner and I, couples therapy wasn't actually much use at all. We went for more than a year, and sincerely tried hard, but didn't ever seem to make lasting progress. Instead, what has helped us most is my partner's attending an adults-with-ADHD-therapy group and my spending a lot of time reading and some time posting right here. I mention this since you said therapy wasn't an option for you right now, given financial realities.

So I hope you will find that you've found a super-valuable and free resource here. I suggest you check in regularly to read the topics du jour. Use the search features to look for issues that are on your mind. Read backwards in time on this board to see conversions that took place before you arrived. There are many ways the Forums are helpful. I always find it encouraging to see my own feelings mirrored in the posts of people in comparable circumstances, but even more importantly, I get insight from reading what people with ADHD post about their experiences.

Back to your question: the escalation you described is very familiar to me. Some of the most miserable moments in my life were spent in those cycles of escalation in the past, before my partner was diagnosed and began treatment. The hard part for me then was being confused because sometimes my speaking more calmly, disengaging and walking away, or refusing to participate in conflict would actually trigger greater intensity from my partner. Not fighting would provoke more fighting, in short. It seemed surreal.

We never really found a way to de-escalate when things started to get out of hand, or for me to step away safely and reliably. Perhaps that was because we never really understood what was happening and why--until my partner was diagnosed. He began treatment immediately upon diagnosis (medication and his group therapy), and that is what finally allowed us to escape the old misery. I can't even imagine our ever solving those problems without the help that his medication and his group therapy have provided. Suddenly, it became possible to stop a conflict if I became calmer when it threatened, or if we took a time-out to talk about what is going on with us. All the things I used to do that didn't work, suddenly began to work.

The medication quieted the internal noise for my partner so that suddenly he could see what was happening with us in these situations, and hear what I was actually saying. And his group therapy has let him recognize the skills he needs to practice in order to handle them. For years I thought that I needed to work harder or try different things to make a difference. I was completely shocked when experience made it clear that there had been nothing I could do about it all along. The initial change had to come from my partner, and once it did, everything we'd tried doing all along began to work.

Of course everyone's experiences differ, but I am wondering if your partner is being treated. For us, no tricks or strategies were of the slightest use pre-medication and pre-ADHD-specific therapy. And years of distress were involved before we made it to the diagnosis and treatment, which have enabled us to do so much better. I wish so much that I had known much sooner about what ADHD can do to the lives of others as well as that of the person who has it. So feel good that you know what you know, and are here now.

all good wishes--

Nicksgonefishin
01-05-14, 05:18 PM
Welcome Mel!

You know how a horse won't let you ride it If it perceives you as a threat?

ADHDers are very similar. We mis perceive many things as threats that aren't as we often learn to live in fear. Our frontal cortex that regulates perceptions from the limbic system is broken.

Logic can be lost. If your anxious we pick up on this and toss it back verbally and a nasty cycle ensues.

naming your emotions and projecting positivity can be very helpful.

It's more about preventing the outburst than descalating or avoiding them.

The only thing you have control over is yourself. Compensating for him will just ****** him off.

Good luck.

murmurme
01-05-14, 06:47 PM
Thank you both for your replies so far. :) (and welcome to you as well BrokenDreams)

BrokenDreams- Yes, it certainly is NOT easy to not take things personally--there are times when he is pitching a fit about something that it irritates me sooooo much that I'll literally be shaking myself I'm so irritated. But I know that (at least in my personal situation) it's NOT about me, or because of me, or even directed AT me. So I just have to take a deep breath, hold my tongue (it's not easy, lol), let him chill out & then discuss it when he's calmer. It certainly does help when I am able to disconnect from his outbursts. I just turn off. I will say that I'm lucky that he's aware enough of his actions to usually apologize for his behavior later, once he's had time to calm down and think. But the the in-the-moment part of outbursts sure does suck. :-p Thanks also for the support re: my depression/anxiety. It is NOT an easy road, and I have plenty of my own issues that I struggle with. I'm trying tho, & I guess that's all we can do! :-/ Journaling/writing is certainly a great suggestion. I know it does help me immensely to *write* things out as well, to think thru & process.

As for dealing with the ADHD aspects, I really appreciated & understand your suggestions of things that have helped you in your situation. :) All made total sense. My partner can definitely very easily get defensive too, so the complimenting & being positive is a very good point, and something I need to work on more. I'm very supportive, but finding tangible things to give positive feedback on more often I'm sure would be helpful. I'll work more actively on that suggestion, esp. in the outburst situations. Also very true about not using the word 'YOU'. I do try to do that & it's good to remember.

I also agree whole-heartedly with the walk away/"I need to think" and writing to him about important topics. I do practice both of these methods regularly. Plus, with my *own* issues, if it's something major, and important, I can also get flustered in the moment & not express myself properly, so there are definitely times when writing works better for me as well in expressing myself to him.


Mittens- Thanks to you as well for your response!

To give a little more background, my partner is 28, and he was diagnosed as a child (I'm not sure what age, but fairly young), and his ADHD is pretty severe. His mom is a great support system, and says that he is actually WAY better now than he used to be. He had a great deal of trouble when he was in school. I know that he has been to therapy when he was younger, and has tried various medications in the past but didn't like the side-effects. I don't know specifically what he has tried or at what age. I'm actually curious to know those details myself, but haven't pushed the subject too much yet because he can get sensitive about it. But I do want to discuss it more with him & find out more details of what he has tried, and why he didn't like what he's tried in the past.

He's currently back in a college program (which of course creates MUCH added stress for him as you can imagine, and is the root of a lot of frustration lately!!). So unfortunately with that and not being currently employed, he doesn't have insurance at the moment so he's not in therapy or on any medication. Maybe with some of the health care reforms we can find a plan that works for him soon. We've also discussed diet (he definitely drinks WAY too much caffeine & that does affect his mood/reactions to things). It's hard to get him to ease up on the caffeine tho. (not that I can blame him too much...I've had to cut almost all caffeine out of my own diet because of the anxiety & insomnia issues, and it freakin' SUCKS! Lol) ;)

Anyway, I agree that all I can control is my actions/response. There are some things that I feel I'm very good at in this aspect, and others that I can absolutely improve upon. Good point as well that the 2 things I mentioned (de-escalate, proceed constructively) are not necessarily things that will happen *together* all the time. Which is fine... And again, I agree with both you & BrokenDreams that often it is just better to remove yourself from the outburst & re-approach when they have calmed down.

Thanks for the suggestions thus far... looking forward to reading more on here & getting some much needed support & tips!

janiew
01-05-14, 06:48 PM
Hi Mel,

I've had ADHD my whole life and find that medication and awareness have totally improved my experience, as well as the experience of those around me.

It's not perfect, but it's better.

janiew
01-05-14, 06:55 PM
Validation of the other's emotional experience can help too.

dvdnvwls
01-05-14, 07:12 PM
Nick neatly said some things that I many many times tried unsuccessfully to get across to a partner without ADHD.

From my experience, I think it's necessary to add something on to Nick's comments though - and that is "ADHD is really weird". People without ADHD tend, I think, to take Nick's metaphor about the horse and normalize/humanize/relativize it, thinking "Oh, so it's a little bit like the horse idea then".

No. It's not a little bit like the horse idea. It's really EXACTLY like the horse, with the complete & utter inability to understand and the wild terrified eyes and the bucking and the bolting into the distance. We've just learned how to control our bodies enough so you don't think we're crazy.

As with the horse, it doesn't matter how many times we're told about something being not a threat; it's a fear reaction that isn't changed by words.

murmurme
01-05-14, 07:46 PM
Hi to VeryTired, Nicksgonefishin, Janiew and dvdnvwls...

Thank you all for your responses as well.

Unfortunately therapy and medication are not options at this point, due to financial constraints & lack of insurance, but hopefully those will be more feasible in the near future. Everyone is obviously different, but hopefully we will be able to find some solutions that help. Both he and I have gone to therapy in the past (not as a couple-but him for ADHD, me for depression/anxiety), and I think we each have a good grasp on the nature of our issues, it's just a matter of constantly striving to improve upon what we know and have learned, and have yet to learn...

VeryTired- I do think that I will find a very valuable (and free!!) ;) resource/ support system here, so I do look forward to diving in & reading many of the topics, threads, links, etc. There is definitely a LOT of info & tons of topics & posts here to look over! Lol As to your comment re: 'not fighting provoking more fighting'...I totally get that! It's very true that that does happen at times. I just try to make it clear if I am the one that steps away, that I need a 'time out' to think, as a poster above mentioned. And if he storms off, that's fine...I let him go and cool down until we can discuss things more calmly. That's so awesome that the combo of the right therapy & the right medication was so helpful for your husband. As someone who suffers from depression & anxiety, I TOTALLY understand what you were saying. When I found the right combination that worked for me, it made a world of difference in quieting my own internal noise enough to let me move forward more effectively, just like you mentioned with your husband. Sadly I just recently moved & am currently without employment or insurance...and had to go off of my medications (which I tapered off gradually). And the past several months have NOT been easy. Hopefully I am able to find a job soon & get back on track financially & with my health. And my partner is back in school at the moment and also without employment & insurance, so that makes it doubly difficult... I know he has been on medication in the the past, but didn't like the side effects. I'm not too sure on the specifics & details tho of what he tried and when, and what specifically he didn't like about what he's tried. I'm hoping that as we move forward we can both look into options for ourselves again soon. (him for his adhd & me getting back to what worked for me for the depression/anxiety) In the meantime, we're each just trying to hang in there & keep working on ourselves as best we can! He is very aware of how his ADHD affects him, and tries very hard...but those in the moment outbursts are tough. (on him, on me, and on us!)

And Nicksgonefishin and dvdmvwls, yes... I totally understand what you guys are saying about those with ADHD misperceiving threats and reacting out of fear. It might manifest in a different way, but my depression and especially anxiety do the same thing to me. It is a very, very visceral reaction. So I understand the bodily reaction and inability of our systems to control these reactions. It is absolutely true that for my part, all I can do is focus on my responses. I can not, and definitely don't try to or want to, try to control his actions or reactions. My goal is simply to let him know that I understand and am here to support him. And I also definitely don't try to compensate for him either. I own my actions & reactions (for better or worse), as does he, which is important.

I think we're both very self-aware...it's just a matter of learning what coping mechanisms work for us individually when we are struggling. (again, him with his ADHD, me with depression/anxiety) I know we just have to keep working on finding out what helps us as a couple.

janiew
01-06-14, 12:02 AM
For me as the ADHD person, I try to understand where my partner/kids/whoever are coming from. And I try to anticipate and meet their needs.

Not always easy because they don't always verbalize what they need...

And I try, but can't always tell.

janiew
01-06-14, 12:08 AM
No meds, no counseling but you both have awareness.

For the ADHD person - coffee, Sudafed-dm (behind the counter), and the willingness to improve can help a lot.

Wishing you well...

murmurme
01-06-14, 01:01 AM
Janiew,

That's great that you also are aware & try to understand where your partner/etc. is coming from & see things from their point of view. That's key for both sides, for sure. :)

My partner really does have a willingness to work on his issues and understand me, fortunately. (and vice versa, I am totally willing to work on my issues & want to understand him) He & I are still fairly 'new', only having been together for 6 months, and he's quite a bit younger than me, so it's a learning curve... And he hasn't really had many adult long term relationships prior to me, so that adds yet another learning curve to things. You make another good point (again, valid for both sides) that you first need to know what the other person needs are, so it is essential for each side to find a way to communicate those needs so that their partner isn't completely in the dark.

Mittens
01-06-14, 03:08 AM
Janiew,

That's great that you also are aware & try to understand where your partner/etc. is coming from & see things from their point of view. That's key for both sides, for sure. :)

My partner really does have a willingness to work on his issues and understand me, fortunately. (and vice versa, I am totally willing to work on my issues & want to understand him) He & I are still fairly 'new', only having been together for 6 months, and he's quite a bit younger than me, so it's a learning curve... And he hasn't really had many adult long term relationships prior to me, so that adds yet another learning curve to things. You make another good point (again, valid for both sides) that you first need to know what the other person needs are, so it is essential for each side to find a way to communicate those needs so that their partner isn't completely in the dark.

Awareness and willingness is half the battle :)
Cudo's to you for being so supportive and proactive.
And cudo's to him for being so self aware as well.

I have the opposite dynamic - my partner is substantially older than me, but in a strange way that doesn't seem to matter as it would in maybe more traditional relationships. If that makes sense

I would strongly recommend finding Melissa Orlov's book.
If finances are a big factor, maybe ask around here if you could borrow someone's or they could lend you an e-book?
It's an amazing insight and has a ton of great resources - for each partner.

Happy Monday :)

Mittens

murmurme
01-06-14, 04:04 AM
Mittens...

It does make sense. But age is just a number anyway. I know I don't act mine. Lol ;)

Anyway, I did end up getting "Is it you, Me, or Adult ADD" for now. I have heard of Melissa Orlov's books, & they are saved on my 'wish list' too. I was also very interested in the book it looks like she has coming out in April- "The Couples Guide to Thriving with ADHD". The description specifically mentions strategies, communication techniques and dealing with anger and frustration...all of which about sum up what I'm looking for! So that looks like a good one to pick up when it comes out in a couple months.


On a slightly separate note... today was a rather interesting example of how things go with the outburst/anger/frustration issues. The day started off awfully stress-y with about 3 pretty huugggely explosive outbursts in as many hours. As I mentioned, my partner is currently back in school (a vet tech program), which is a major source of stress. School is not easy for him, and when he gets overwhelmed it gets taken out on everyone around him. Things got to him, frustration escalated into a huge blow-up with me and his mom getting yelled at in the midst of it. We listened to what he was saying, showed that we understand his concerns, but offers of support turned into a why-bother-this-whole-program-is-ridiculous exclamations. Twice he removed himself from the 'conversation' (via stomping and door slamming) and went into his room to stew.

But then later tonite he brought up out of the blue what had happened earlier today. He expressed that he doesn't want to have blow-ups like that. That it makes him feel bad, and that he doesn't like acting like that, or snapping at me the way he did. He doesn't want to do that. He realized that his actions were out of proportion to what triggered it. We talked for a while about some different things, including the medication issue. He's still largely opposed because he's had some bad experiences with having been put on medications that either didn't work for him or had side effects he didn't like. (tho I still haven't gotten the info of what exactly he's tried & how long ago it was, but I don't think he's taken anything in probably about 8 years, and I know quite a bit has changed in that time.) Plus we still have the issue of insurance, cost, etc. etc... HOWEVER--I was just happy to have the conversation. He brought up EXACTLY the concerns that I've been voicing, and a willingness to look at things. So that itself was quite the encouraging note to end the day on. :)

Thanks to you guys for listening! ;)

RedHairedWitch
01-06-14, 12:44 PM
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murmurme
01-07-14, 01:20 AM
Great explanation of the how and why of the ADHD brain regarding this issue. I'm definitely going to show it to his mom. She is awesome with him, but he definitely can 'push her buttons' sometimes, and I think this will give her a greater understanding of the mechanisms going on. (plus she's a nurse so the scientific explanation will be great for her to see-while she understands a lot about ADHD, I don't know that she's seen a clip like this before that pretty concisely sums up what happens with his brain in a situation that might trigger the impulsivity.)

Anyway, What I have been on such a hunt for lately is more specific information on some methods of coping with and managing this aspect. I understand the science of the brain's reaction, and that the ADHD brain is not able to regulate these impulses, but when they *do* occur, what are some methods that are helpful for the ADHD person to deal with this reaction?

For example, I have anxiety and have had panic attacks. I can't 'stop' or 'turn off' the reaction that I am having. Once it's been triggered, I can't help having the panic attack. Of course I don't *want* to have a panic attack. Just as with impulsivity reaction the person doesn't *want* to have that reaction. And they can't help the signals their brain is sending to cause it. However, when I have a panic attack, there are coping methods that I can use to help me through the episode. Breathing, grounding, perhaps removing myself from the situation. If there is a person with me when I'm having a panic attack, there are actions that the person can take that may either help or exacerbate the attack. The coping mechanisms I may use vary by situation and cause, and some times they work better than others. But, point being, there are things I can do to help myself thru an attack, and I can also teach people close to me so that they know what will help or make the situation worse. This actually did in fact happen the other week. I had a panic attack while with my partner for the first time. Let's just say it did not go well. Of course I didn't 'know' it was going to happen...it just happened. And both my reaction and his reaction were not the best. But later, I talked about it with him. I explained what it's like when I have a panic attack, and how he can help me thru it, and what is likely to exacerbate it. I also sent him a great article about "What not to say to a person having a panic attack." Lol. It also explained a lot about what it's like for the person having the attack. I think all of this really opened his eyes, and he has a lot more understanding as to what I go thru when this occurs.

But with ADHD, there is TONS of information on WHY the impulsivity happens, etc, but I have not been able to find very much useful in dealing with it when it DOES happen, you know? I want to know more about what *I* can do to help my partner better thru an episode, and he also wants to know more about what *he* can do in these situations as well. He had a rough day yesterday, and after the fact felt really bad about it. We ended up having a great talk at the end of the day about it all, but then it's like ok...that sucked. But what can we do to help in the future when it happens?? (both what he can do & also what his mom and I can do)

I do want to reiterate too that I'm not looking for some magic solution...just methods to cope with the outbursts when they happen. :)

There are things that we do currently that are helpful-yesterday he recognized when he was getting worked up and removed himself, and went to his room to 'chill out'. And there have been other times when *I* have removed myself from the situation to chill out & let him calm down. I am also aware of things to say and not to say when he gets worked up. (Such as discussed earlier-I certainly don't blame or berate him; I use neutral statements as opposed to 'YOU' statements, and it's good to find positive things to add to the discussion, instead of focusing on the negative).

So I'm just on a quest to learn more options to *add* to this list of things that each of us can do to improve the situations when they occur. :)

Thanks again to everyone who's joined the discussion...it's great to hear the other points of view and what helps others!

Modafinilguy
01-07-14, 01:47 PM
How significant are his problems controlling his emotional reactions, and how far does his emotional behavior go?

Even though I blood damn ADHD, and have had severe emotional issues, I have generally managed to keep it away from most people.

However being in an intimate relationship, that's beyond me the dynamics :)

(1) When a person is overly emotional and potentially ranting you do NOT try to rationally disprove their emotional point of view!

(2) Even if they are full of it, acknowledge that you understand they are feeling upset or angry, and try to make their feelings feel validated.

Thats basically what I do in similar situations. I am calm and reassuring.

In relation to panic attacks, if these are frequent, in almost all cases some sort of treatment will work.

What is your fear when your panicing? Fear of a heart attack? General non-specific death fear? Fear of losing control?

Clonidine can be useful often in controlling panic attacks. It certainly has the opposite sort of effect on the nervous system.

murmurme
01-07-14, 03:04 PM
Hi Modafinalguy,

Thanks for the reply. :) The outbursts are pretty severe for him. He never gets physical, but very emotional-lots of panicked or angry yelling. Some days/situations are worse than others. He does manage to keep it from most people too, but his mom & I are closest to him, and see the most emotional reactions. He has also had problems at times with his schooling-reacting inappropriately (no filter!) to teachers/authority figures. (school being one of the things that can definitely trigger a fear/stress reaction. Fortunately those aren't the full on screaming fits or anything tho.)

In regards to when he's having an outburst I most certainly would NEVER try to 'disprove' his point of view, or invalidate it. I don't EVER try to talk him out of it, explain him out of it, or try to make him 'stop' or anything. What I'm saying is that I DO understand what is happening with him. He's most certainly not 'full of it'. It's a bodily reaction, just the way a pounding heart or breathing difficulty is with a panic attack. So as I've said, I do remain calm, and acknowledge his feelings or fears, etc.

In regards to the panic attacks, when I had one the other day it was actually the first one I'd had in a very long time. There's no specific health fears when I'm having a panic attack (I know it's 'just a panic attack' and that I'm not going to die or have a heart attack or anything.) I have taken medication that's effective, however I'm not currently employed & don't have insurance so I am unable to refill any prescriptions at this point in time. But like I said, I have coping methods and things I can do to help me get thru a panic attack. I was only using it as an example in saying that I can empathize and understand what it's like for your body to be having a reaction that you can't control. :)

RedHairedWitch
01-07-14, 07:57 PM
Anyway, What I have been on such a hunt for lately is more specific information on some methods of coping with and managing this aspect. I understand the science of the brain's reaction, and that the ADHD brain is not able to regulate these impulses, but when they *do* occur, what are some methods that are helpful for the ADHD person to deal with this reaction?



But with ADHD, there is TONS of information on WHY the impulsivity happens, etc, but I have not been able to find very much useful in dealing with it when it DOES happen, you know? I want to know more about what *I* can do to help my partner better thru an episode, and he also wants to know more about what *he* can do in these situations as well. He had a rough day yesterday, and after the fact felt really bad about it. We ended up having a great talk at the end of the day about it all, but then it's like ok...that sucked. But what can we do to help in the future when it happens?? (both what he can do & also what his mom and I can do)

I do want to reiterate too that I'm not looking for some magic solution...just methods to cope with the outbursts when they happen. :)



Therapy. I spent most of my twenties in CBT.

First just learning to understand and accept how ADHD affects my emotional life.
Then learning to recognize it when it happens. "It's perfectly okay to feel the way I do right now. But the ADHD is blowing out of proportion."
Then learning how to actually put a step between a feeling and an action. "Wait, WAIT. Deep breath. Tone it down."
Doesn't always work. Nothing ever will work all the time. But with years of practice it's a big help.
Also yoga and meditation and regular prayer and learning relaxation techniques.

But when I say it took years, I mean it. And I had the advantage of being young enough that my brain was still developing (being in my early twenties) and not having a lifetime of bad habits to break.

There's really nothing that I expect anyone to DO for me. Other than respect it when I say something like "Give me a minute." or "Can I get back to you about this later?"

As someone with anxiety problems as well, a lot of the things that help anxiety can also be a help for the emotional regulation issues of ADHD.

murmurme
01-10-14, 04:41 PM
Therapy. I spent most of my twenties in CBT.

First just learning to understand and accept how ADHD affects my emotional life.
Then learning to recognize it when it happens. "It's perfectly okay to feel the way I do right now. But the ADHD is blowing out of proportion."
Then learning how to actually put a step between a feeling and an action. "Wait, WAIT. Deep breath. Tone it down."
Doesn't always work. Nothing ever will work all the time. But with years of practice it's a big help.
Also yoga and meditation and regular prayer and learning relaxation techniques.

But when I say it took years, I mean it. And I had the advantage of being young enough that my brain was still developing (being in my early twenties) and not having a lifetime of bad habits to break.

There's really nothing that I expect anyone to DO for me. Other than respect it when I say something like "Give me a minute." or "Can I get back to you about this later?"

As someone with anxiety problems as well, a lot of the things that help anxiety can also be a help for the emotional regulation issues of ADHD.


Sorry for the delay in replying! Thanks again for the input...it's much appreciated! :) It really helps to have the input & your point of view. I'll also have to bring up the meditation--he's very spiritual minded, and that is something that *both* he & I could benefit from practicing more regularly. As you said, a lot of things that can help with ADHD can help with anxiety as well.

Dreamer's Wife
01-17-14, 12:44 PM
When my husband and I were first together, he had a lot of blow ups. And I could never figure out what they were all about. I would simply ask him to pick up his socks, he would say I was treating him like a child, and stomp off. Finally, one day I decided that I would simply ask him, "what am I doing to make you so angry all the time?"

He said two things.
1. He told me that he was aware that his outbursts were totally and completely over the top. He just couldn't control it.
2. He said that in many cases, I was condescending to him. He said I was talking down to him, and even if the words themselves weren't condescending, my tone was.

We figured out part of the reason why he had such an outburst was because, when I asked him these things, he was usually in the middle of something (aren't people with AD/HD always in the middle of something?) Too much going on all at once=mind overload. So now, when I need to talk to him about something, or ask him to do something, I just simply say "Hey, I need to talk to you. When you get a moment can you take a break from what you are doing?" And it really helped.

Also, I was talking down to him. I didn't realize it until he said it though. I really did feel like a parent talking to a child, and many people with AD/HD are hyper sensitive. He picked up on this, and resented it. I had to actually change the way I thought about him. I would get upset that he didn't take the trash out AGAIN, but instead of making a big deal about it I would have a conversation in my head. I would tell myself "He isn't a child, he is your husband. The trash isn't a big deal, just go get his attention and ask him politely to take the trash out. Yes, I know you already asked him 20 times yesterday, but just do it again. It will get done. Don't worry".

And like BrokenDreams said, absolutely don't accuse, and don't say "you" if you can help it.

BTW, I notice you are from Northern Cali. My husband and I lived in Eureka for 2 years, went to College of the Redwoods :-)