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  #1  
Old 06-25-10, 04:30 PM
TreadLightly TreadLightly is offline
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Suggestions for Responses to ADHD BF

Hi Everyone,

Really happy to find this forum and read about other people struggling with understanding their ADD partner. My bf and I have been together for over 5 years. We met when he was 21 and I was 27. We've lived together the last couple years and really enjoy being together. We're very similar in the things we enjoy and nobody's gets us like each other. The one thing we do struggle with is his ADHD. He was diagnosed as a child but hasn't taken meds since he was 12. From the stories I've heard, he had it really bad as a child. The school didn't know how to handle him and wanted to put him in Special Ed!! He's really smart and definitely wouldn't have belonged there. Thankfully his mom fought it and refused to let that happen. Apparently his struggles really helped future ADHD kids in the school system - his school was tiny and obviously didn't have a clue what was needed.

Most of the time we get along great, but then there are other times when he gets really annoyed at me - usually for things that are small and don't require a huge blow up (like we're in the kitchen and I'm standing in the place he wants to be. I'm supposed to know and get out of the way before he even asks). I see from reading here that getting annoyed by people easily is a pretty common ADHD symptom. He is trying to get better at it, but he gets annoyed and then gets this "tone" to his voice where he sounds really mad. I've tried telling him that even though he may not be "mad", he sounds mad.. and anyone listening to him would think he's mad. He doesn't just get annoyed by me, he's annoyed by the world at large a lot of the time. I try to tell him these things don't warrant getting upset because they will always be there, but I think because of his ADHD, he just can't help being annoyed. I tell him it's because with his ADHD he feels like he's a step ahead of everyone else and so we all seem like we're behind.

I would love some suggestions of how I can change my response when he gets annoyed like this. It's hard not to get upset, because I feel like he's attacking me. And he rarely admits that he's at fault.. he likes to turn things around so that the fact that I'm upset is now his reason for being upset and so I'm to blame. Even though the reason I'm upset to begin with is because he's annoyed about something little. I try to tell him neither one of us is perfect and I've tried to work on the things that really get to him. Like I used to cry really easily - one good thing is that he's toughened me up. But he has to work on his issues too. We've been bickering a LOT the past 6 months.. we really got into it last weekend and finally it seems like he's making a real effort to not get annoyed so easily. We've been getting along so much better this week, but this is typical. We'll bicker for a while. Then he makes an effort to stop being so critical and we get along for months. And then the cycle will start again. So to help stop my part in the cycle, I would love some suggestions of how to not continue the fight when he does this. I can be pretty stubborn when it comes to arguing.. because I need him to admit he has some responsibility in the fight.. but then this causes even more fighting because usually he won't and we're miserable by the end. So any help you guys have would be so greatly appreciated!
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Old 06-25-10, 04:45 PM
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Re: Suggestions for Responses to ADHD BF

A couple of things spring to mind.

ADHDers become VERY thin skinned around anything that sounds like blame. We've generally spent our lives in trouble for one thing or another and never knowing why. "EVERYTHING is ALWAYS my fault" is common ADHDer thinking whether we are aware of that or not. Hyper sensitivity results and fighting back ensues.

I only developed the awareness of that in me after many years of talk therapy. Don't expect him to get it without doing some footwork of his own.

The best thing I can toss out to you immediately is to never be afraid to just walk away. If he gets upset, just calmly tell him that you need to excuse yourself. Take a walk or busy yourself in another room but walk away and don't let him follow. Keep calm though. Don't give him anything that he can interpret as hostility.

When he is at those boiling points, he is trying to stimulate his brain. That's what anger does. Don't let him do it at your expense.

HE needs to be responsible to know what his needs are and ways that he can get them met without attacking you. That means that he may need to go back to medication. I don't like taking them either but know that when I am on them, life in my house works better. I am also responsible for knowing when I am at the breaking point and walking away if that is even remotely possible. I am responsible for knowing what things I can do to prevent meltdown and getting rid of the adrenaline rush that goes along with it.

You can't do this all by yourself, hon. You just can't. If he isn't willing to step up, I would suggest that you both discuss what you are and are not willing to put up with to have the relationship continue. If the lists are out of balance, there may be an even bigger issue.
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  #3  
Old 06-25-10, 04:54 PM
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Re: Suggestions for Responses to ADHD BF

Thank you so much for responding! I totally agree I can't do this on my own. I try to make him aware of this behavior, without being critical about it. And he is receptive to it, like when we see somebody behaving badly on TV. He'll say we're not like that are we? And I'll say well sometimes you do those things too. And he feels bad, but it's almost like he doesn't have the ability to not do it. He also dealt with a lot as a kid.. alcoholic verbally abusive father and checked-out mother. I've told him he needs to get some counseling to help him figure out why he gets so angry. He stopped the medication because it made him feel like a zombie.. like he just didn't have any emotions at all. He switched to marijuana, which helps, but only so much. Are there better drugs out now than Ritalin? That maybe don't make you zombie-ish? Cuz he'll never go on that drug again. He has a lot of personality, is very funny and does awesome impersonations. He doesn't want to lose that again.
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Old 06-25-10, 05:34 PM
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Re: Suggestions for Responses to ADHD BF

There is a wide variety of ADHD medication now. Ritalin is not the only game in town. Adderall, Dex, Vyvanse, all good places to start. He might even have the same situation I have- Ritalin as a kid tuned me totally out. As an adult, I don't have that problem. Another thing to think on is that not all methylphenidate is created equal. I know people who do badly on Ritalin but well on Concerta (long acting methylphenidate).

Marijuana is actually not the greatest thing for an ADHDer to use. Our problem is that we need additional stimulation of areas of our brains that manage executive functioning. Marijuana impedes executive functioning.

Something that may help for you to know is that ADHD is not "not knowing", it's not being able to USE what you know. It is possible that your BFs irritation is frustration with himself.

I can also give you this tip. Praise is music to an ADHDer's ear. When you catch him doing the right things, praise him. Tell him he did good. Believe me, if you do that and you are consistent, he will move heaven and earth to keep doing that thing.

If there is anything I can do to help, just PM me.
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Old 06-25-10, 06:10 PM
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Re: Suggestions for Responses to ADHD BF

Great information.. thank you! I think I'll show your responses to my bf and see what he thinks. He has told me those same things.. about praise.. and about feeling everything was his fault as a kid.. everything you say makes sense. I don't know if he'll even consider the drugs, but I definitely want to let him know that he could be helped without the fog.
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Old 06-26-10, 03:43 AM
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Re: Suggestions for Responses to ADHD BF

Acting like a lovey-dovey couple helped me and my husband, and another couple we
know where the guy is totally ADHD.

Basically, if one person is frustrated or feeling angry, the other person goes"

"Aww...poor baby. It's okay.." and pats the other person. *pat pat*

Or say I say something and my hubby gets offended. He starts to get mad. I stop him,
look at him, and say, "Are you getting mad?"

He lies and says, "No."

I say, "Oh, no..I hurt your feelings! Aww...I'm sorry, baby, I didn't mean to hurt your
feelings! I was just frustrated that I haven't had time to clean lately, I wasn't saying
that you don't clean enough!
" And give him a kiss on the cheek.

Even though what I was originally trying to say WAS that he doesn't clean enough.

>.<

Because my mission is accomplished. He's thinking about cleaning now. So I don't
need to admit to actually trying to say that...cuz he'll get mad/sad/bad.



You know, I've done a lot of research in my life, and way too few professionals
understand the immense benefits of learning to tease, cajole, or seduce a person
out of a bad mood! Much cheaper and more fun than medication! =P
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Old 06-26-10, 04:34 AM
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Re: Suggestions for Responses to ADHD BF

Can you kindly NOT post in a haze?

Infantilizing an adult does not get anyone closer to a solution. Understanding what is going on DOES.

Just sayin.
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Old 07-02-10, 10:51 AM
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Re: Suggestions for Responses to ADHD BF

Quote:
Originally Posted by TreadLightly View Post

Most of the time we get along great, but then there are other times when he gets really annoyed at me - usually for things that are small and don't require a huge blow up (like we're in the kitchen and I'm standing in the place he wants to be. I'm supposed to know and get out of the way before he even asks). I see from reading here that getting annoyed by people easily is a pretty common ADHD symptom. He is trying to get better at it, but he gets annoyed and then gets this "tone" to his voice where he sounds really mad. I've tried telling him that even though he may not be "mad", he sounds mad.. and anyone listening to him would think he's mad. He doesn't just get annoyed by me, he's annoyed by the world at large a lot of the time.
Thoughts:

My partner did the same thing for a while, where I was supposed to read his mind or something. This was NOT reasonable and we had to both agree that he could not get mad at me personally for not being a mind reader. He could be frustrated at the resulting communication failure but it was not ok to blame me for it.

Now, the next step was working on communication and him agreeing to communicate clearly. If you google "the couple's dialogue" - that is what our therapist taught us. It allows people with different communication styles and experiences of the same event to understand each others perspective non-judgementally.

The third thing was that he had to learn to identify and process his emotions. Everything was getting translated as frustration, because he didn't really know any other emotion. This was from years of being emotionally detached. Being on medication helped because he could no longer distract himself from his feelings. It was hard and overwhelming for him at first to sort through so many new feelings but got easier with time, and now he can explain how he is feeling, which helps a lot.

Also, the "zombifying" excuse is just that, an excuse. There are many medications out there and most people can find something that helps without side effects. My partner takes Concerta and then supplements with Ritalin for days he needs to be "on" for more than 10 hours. He still has the exact same personality and even some ADHD quirks like tripping over his words when he gets excited, but is far more even keeled in just about everything. It has been a huge help in our relationship and makes it easier for him to do the things he wants to do, like successfully pursue hobbies or manage his finances better.
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Old 07-12-10, 07:06 AM
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Re: Suggestions for Responses to ADHD BF

Quote:
Originally Posted by NightOwl2 View Post
Also, the "zombifying" excuse is just that, an excuse.

Why are you calling it an excuse?


Everyone reacts to medications differently. Not all people with ADHD know that different meds for adhd react differently. Don't assume he's well versed in pharmaceuticals or even that he should be. Medication doesn't work for everyone is contraindicated for others and some people get no results or such horrendous side effects that meds are intolerable.



Some people do get a zombie effect from adhd meds and I can assure you it's extremely unpleasant. It's unpleasant enough for someone to say, not going to do that again!


NOR does any adult need an excuse over whether they will or will not take medication. An adult has the right to consent to treatment or to withold consent. There is no excuse for coercion.
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Old 07-13-10, 02:04 AM
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Re: Suggestions for Responses to ADHD BF

The best thing to do is to talk to him about it when he's actually calm and/or happy. He'll still be thin-skinned about it, but if he's in a funky, sensitive mood to begin with, there's very little chance he'll be able to hear you and remain positive enough to make changes.

When you do talk to him about it, positive framing is a great, great tool.

Positive:
"it would make me feel really great if you could try to stay calm, even when you're irritated with me. I know it's hard, but that would make me feel cared for"

he will probably think "that's something I could do, if it would make her feel good"

vs

negative:
"when you snapped at me, it made me feel bad, and it was scary. I don't think I deserved that"

he may think "great, now I'm scary and I make people feel bad. Great job, way to screw up again"

It's always a good idea to tell him what you want him to do, not just focus on what you don't want him to do. That said, I think you're totally in your rights to expect him not to snap at you for no reason. And you're right to bring it up instead of just living with it. Perseverance and patience will help here. It will take time for him to change. I wish you the best.
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