View Full Version : When does it stop being an explanation and become an excuse

04-13-09, 04:19 AM
I personally do not have adhd but I joined this forum specifically because I need some serious perspective on my boyfriend who does have it. I realise this is a site specifically for people with adhd but I honestly need help with this situation that I may not find anywhere else.

Me and my boyfriend have been dating for a year and a half and I've known him for almost three years. We were good friends before dating and I already knew he had adhd, and it never really seemed to be a problem. I thought I had accepted that fact but within the last few months things have changed.

Occasionally my boyfriend forgets to take his meds or leaves off it for a day because he wants a good nights sleep (it keeps him awake while in effect) and I'll find him making rude comments and being insensitive, though not necessarily beyond his normal behaviour on meds. The point is that when I get frustrated or angry at him he tells me it's not his fault and that he has a hard time controlling himself if he's not medicated. Recently I called him out on it, saying he was using it as an excuse and that he can't simply blame adhd every time he says something rude or acts insensitively. He became incredibly angry at me not understanding and stormed off. While I realise that adhd does have these effects my question is at what point does this become him simply using adhd as an excuse? or is he not using it as a cop out at all? He often feels no need to apologize when he behaves this way off his meds and makes no apparent effort to restrain himself. He also seems to use his problem as an excuse for not getting his school work done and playing video games etc instead. He is always saying that it's incredibly hard to get motivated and has no drive to do his homework and feels he is incapable of pushing himself to do it, he also does not seem receptive to my suggestions about how to get motivated and make himself less likely to be tempted to procrastinate, saying I just can't understand his situation.

My take on the situation is that while adhd makes it harder he can't blame it completely for his actions and needs to admit that he's still the one saying inconsiderate things and ultimately the one not doing his work and should accept the consequences. I don't feel I should have to let every mean thing he says slide just because he forgot to take his pill. I have a severely mentally challenged younger sister and while I realise that when she acts out it isn't entirely within her control and that she doesn't completely know better it's still expected that she be reprimanded, told it's not ok, and asked to apologize, I have a similar take on the case of my boyfriend. However I really need the perspective of someone with adhd. Is this really beyond his control and should I try to be more understanding? Or is he using it as a cop out and if so how do I confront him without provoking him and seeming like an insensitive @$$? I want to be understanding of his situation but I have a hard time doing this when I feel I'm not allowed to be angry at rude comments because "it's not within his control."

Please help, he's an amazing guy and has always been a good friend and I would really like to know how to deal with this issue without becoming constantly frustrated and feeling like I'm hitting a dead end.

04-15-09, 05:11 PM
well if he is not taking his meds just so he can use excuses and do watever he wants, thats when you draw the line. other wise, just remind him often to take his meds or get him new meds that dont have this effect

04-16-09, 09:16 PM
I have ADHD. This means I have a tendency towards certain behaviours. I'd definitely appreciate some help, and understanding that my actions do not always have the same significance orintent as they may coming from another. I understand you (generic, not personal) have a different thought model to me, I'd like it if you acknowledged it too.

That said, it is still me behaving in that manner and I am responsible for all my actions and their consequences whatever the cause. ADHD may explain why I did it, but it is still me acting, and if it causes problems or friction then I need to deal with that.

My line for it becoming an excuse is if I ever were to hide behind it and demand a "get out of jail free" card. To me "blaming" the ADHD is hiding behind it because it is not the totality of me it is simply one aspect. If there isn't acceptance of the consequences of actions, and an effort from both parties to accommodate one another then it has become an excuse. (I say both parties because saying "you're just doing that because of your ADHD" is just as bad as "I'm doing this just because of my ADHD")

I cannot say whether he is using it as an excuse or not. One point of view is not the full picture and I know neither of you.

With that said, it may help to try and help you with a few concepts that you may not see in the same way he does.

The ideas you have of self regulation, of commenting selectively, of putting thoughts through a filter before they're shared with others, of "getting on with it", of dealing with the task at hand, of pushing oneself to do something, of dealing with procrastination. These are often entirely alien to us. These filters simply don't exist. When there are 5 things going on in a room, unmedicated I have to hanl every single one, in addition to a bunch of thought cascades. The option to turn that off is not there. Medication doesn't eliminate that, it just reduces the interference a little. If you want to experience something of what it's like, try the following exercise:

Turn on laptop/pc. Get browser running, games going, music going. Turn on TV, get channel going, then get a book. Switch focus from each, then concentrate on two simultaneously, then three. Imagine you're at 3, and can never turn it off. Then get some work to do ans see how it goes. Ask yourself if you can remember what was said in the film, the lyrics in the song, the words on the page. That is what it can be like.

On the procrastination/motivation: The issue is not that we're not trying. To you presumably, the effort is in performing the actual task. For us, the effort is in putting the task ahead of that noise, before the effort in the task can even take place. From watching others, procrastination would be knowing I have a task to do, but finding ways to delay it. I wish it were that for me. There is no pushing aside. A new stimulus comes, whether a thought or an external event, and the old task is gone, as if it were never there. How can I procrastinate if I'm doing what's in front of me? How can I actively avoid something I'm no longer aware of?

These are the things your boyfriend may be experiencing. I'm sure you mean well when you offer the advice, but if I were hearing it, it would say to me that you had no understanding of where the "block" is. The words "ignore the distractions", "motivate yourself" simply do not compute. That isn't your fault - you aren't in his head.

I feel I'm not allowed to be angry at rude comments because "it's not within his control."That is something that your boyfriend does need to deal with. He shouldn't be telling you how you should feel, or ignoring the fact that his actions have that effect on you. Denying feelings is to diminish another person's importance. Rudeness/hurtful comments are what they are, no matter the cause. He should acknowledge that, which I have a feeling would go a long way. At the same time, try and remember that what he says isn't necessarily what he thinks when off meds, and take them with a pinch of salt (hard to do at the best of times, but it will mean a lot to him).

The hitting a brick wall feeling: as long as you assume his thought model is the same as yours, that will not go away. Imagine if he treated you as if you had adhd, and assumed you think as he does. How would you react?

04-20-09, 04:05 AM
It starts becoming an excuse when his "ADHD" is so bad that you need to register on a forum just to ask if it's possible that it's actually his ADHD and not just him.

C'mon sweetheart, be smarter than that.

04-20-09, 05:15 AM
Blurting things out and interrupting, or sayng things that might not be appropriate to the topic, are ADD things.

Being mean is not.

Saint Valentine
06-04-09, 06:46 PM
Blurting things out and interrupting, or sayng things that might not be appropriate to the topic, are ADD things.

Being mean is not.
Au contrare, my friend. First of all, ADHD can make him act like that, in some cases. This is assuming that all of this is actually caused by his ADHD, which is entirely possible.

And as for ADHD not being able to force you to do things, I beg to differ. At least in my case, and with everybody I've asked, you're wrong. A lot of people say that, and it's irritating. ADHD is a diagnosed mental condition, just like Tourette's Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, and Jehovah's Complex. It's not some sort of outside force, it's a part of who you are. Even medication doesn't "turn it off," it simply covers the symptoms up. Please, just try to remember that. However, if it becomes too much, just tell him exactly how you feel about it. Tell him that you don't like that he's been skipping his medication, and that you want him to try and take his medication more regularly. If he has trouble remembering to take them, he can ask his parents to remind him to take it. However, don't let him use your understanding against you. If he still acts like that, break up with him. Don't let him manipulate you.

06-04-09, 07:17 PM
I will say this. Since I realized I do have this condition, I have been an emotional wreck - at least for me. I have always been very emotionally stable and self controlled (but the ADHD gets out in other ways).

Since learning what this is all about, I have had several rollercoaster rides and I feel fairly depressed and edgy and and disoriented and a lot of other things. I think it is all part of the process of coming to terms but I have been a bit edgier and more prone to snap at my family a bit.

I honestly think that my self control mechanism is relaxing control a bit which makes me remember "ADHD is not my fault" and I feel less in control, which makes me more on the depressed side and around we go again.

I think I will have some equilibrium soon, but it is very unpleasant and difficult.

I think at the end of the day, this is what I believe:

1. ADHD is not my fault.
2. I am accountable for what I say and what I do.
3. Sometimes it sucks, but I am still accountable.

06-05-09, 07:32 PM
Personally I think the line of 'ADHD' vs. 'excuse' is crossed when there is no ownership of the poor behaviour.

Pay attention to what he does; not what he says. This is his condition, not yours. If he truly valued you and your well being, than he needs to show more control over his symptoms should he chose to be off the medications. That also goes with the motivational speeches. He has to be the one to take initative.

As wonderful as he is, my suggestion is to really consider how well he is managing his ADHD and what impact that will have on your long term future. It may be that he cannot be the best partner right now. You may have to give him the space to figure this out. Leaving may not seem like a loving act, but if you're doing it for his well being than it is a loving gesture.

06-10-09, 04:41 AM
Personally I think the line of 'ADHD' vs. 'excuse' is crossed when there is no ownership of the poor behaviour.
Three cheers for that!

Especially the fact that there is no apology or ownership of the behavior is a red flag.

I understand how the line can be very vague, though. I'm trying to come to grips with it myself right now - what is partially because of my ADD and what is not. In the end, though, it doesn't matter. I may struggle with keeping things clean or meeting deadlines, but I know I have some ownership in that even though ADD can contribute immensely. But when it comes to saying hurtful things to others, it doesn't matter if it's the ADHD or not. You have to own that behavior in order to make it right. Sometimes things are said in haste...yeah, you can't stuff the words back in your mouth, but you can damn well give an apology. And certainly not get huffy if there's a rebuttal.

06-10-09, 06:45 AM
I think the limit would be, "I have ADD, so I don't have to bother trying anymore".
But it would be very difficult for the other person to know when it's actually the limit. It LOOKS like you're not trying....