Two days of A.D.D. Rage

T heoretically, being on Wellbutrin should have prevented this from happening. Nonetheless, I spent two days in an absolute rage and now, at day 3 (this is being written on Monday July 16), I still have some residual anger.

It started, as all A.D.D. rage episodes seem to do, with the smallest of triggers, the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back (do camel’s really eat straw?). This past Friday I got chewed out by both my business associate and my wife. In both cases, I’m the front-man who interacts with the public and the both of them remain in the background. That is, they let me do all the talking. Nonetheless, if I make a misstep, they are sure to let me know about it. In both cases, the issues were resolved.

On Saturday morning, I told my wife that I would do some gardening chores for about 1 hour (this occurred at 9:30am…my oldest daughter had to be somewhere at 11am so that meant these chores had to come to an end). Next Saturday we are having a large party here at the house so my wife said to me, “You’ll have to cut it again [i.e., the lawn] next week so why do it today?” I said back to her, in a somewhat snotty whiny voice, “When next week? I’ve got wall-to-wall meetings Wednesday and Thursday and Friday the tent is being delivered and set up.” My wife responded by saying something like “What’s with your tone?” At that remark, I snapped. I left the house for about 1 hour (I went to get some food…any excuse to do some eating works for me). When I passed by the house at the end of the hour I noticed my wife was gone. I went into the house, got a book, and left. I didn’t return home till about 4pm. Each time I thought about returning home the rage came back in full force. All I kept thinking about was all the things that I have to do, all the accomplishments I’ve made (I’m finally paying bills on time, etc.) and the ONLY thing she can thing of doing is telling me about my tone! What’s next? My punctuation? My use of the passive? Too much pluperfect?

Well…we didn’t speak for almost the entire weekend. I tried to channel the rage – and make it dissipate – by focusing on something that required physical activity. So, Saturday night I did what I wanted to do that morning…at 7pm I cut the lawn. Sunday morning I still had that rage. I decided that today would be the day to clean out the weeds around the shrubbery on one side of the house and put in some nice trim. Well, after 6 hours of pure labor, the rage finally started to subside (a bit) and, at least, there was nice clean and freshly mulched shrubs.

The length and intensity of the rage surprised me because I had thought that that kind of rage was behind me. (The amount of pure physical labor necessary to make the rage dissipate also surprised me.) All I kept hearing in my head was “My tone? My f**king tone? With all the things that need to be done, with all of the changes that I’ve made in my own behavior, my tone was a problem?” It was as if, no matter what, there would be something to pick on.

So, I’m not sure there is a happy ending here. My wife asked me this morning (it is now Monday), if we were going to talk this week. I said yes and said in a sarcastic manner “And I’ll watch my tone.” I think she got the hint. And I’m going to have to watch the rage.

Alternate Ending(?):

I think there might be a limit to how much “stuff” you can take before you explode. On Friday I got dumped on by both my business associate and my wife. In both cases I became angry but then I “ate it.” But the weekend of rage shows that I didn’t necessarily “eat it,” that that was an illusion. What I thought was resolved was resolved in the sense that I stopped being angry…but the anger just stayed inside and awaited an outlet.
I feel that what also contributed to my rage is that my older daughter’s 16th birthday is next week and I was working so hard to be that good Dad to make sure things are all prepared for the big day. The “watch your tone” comment just seemed like a way to undermine that. Even if that was not the intent that is certainly the way I took it and that certainly contributed to the rage. Finally, I worry about what both my girls see in terms of a dysfunctional marriage…what effect all of this will have on their own lives.

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  • Denim

    Oh yeah, I so get this, from YOUR perspective, not your wife’s!!! As for your girls, they will have choices to make, as did I. My father had and I have explosive tempers. My mother was what I call passive to his temper. It was not until after his death that I realized she was passive aggressive to his temper!!! Which is what I think your wife was, that day. She may not realize what she was saying or (the passive aggressive part) she did it to provoke your temper. Why? Cause if you are out of control, she is in control.

    I waited until late in life to chose a mate because I refused to have a relationship like my mother and father. GOT THE RELATIONSHIP I WAS LOOKING FOR! To the rest of the family (siblings and their families) I am the one with the problem. To my husband, I am the sane one. I passed through many relationships looking for Mr. Right for Me. I was content to never get married if I could not find him.

    This is what my therapy has so helped me with. I think it is called “cognitive behavior”. It has taken about a year, but I have the best handle on my temper than I have had all my life. Retraining the brain is possible. Oh so much to say. But I will leave it there, for now.

    • Jeff

      Denim, my father also had an explosive temper as did his father. This particular event was, for me…the last time I had a true explosion. Nowadays I know when my anger is building, I find a way to let it out. Sometimes I’ll just yell about something and then say, “Sorry about that…it really upset me…blah blah blah.” By not holding it in, by not denying the existence of the anger, the anger is no longer explosive.

      • Denim

        Jeff: My fraternal grandfather was a semi-functioning alcoholic with whom my father had no relationship. My father’s brother died as a result of alcoholism around the age of 50. He and my father were very close. My father although not known to be an alcoholic, drank every evening. My mother’s side of the family had more than its share of alcoholism. She did not drink. She preprogrammed us all to watch for signs of heading in the direction of alcoholism and I heeded her warning. I stopped consuming alcohol when I thought I was headed toward potential problems. I have heard of genetic propensity toward alcoholism, do you know if there is a genetic propensity toward ADHD. Could they be the same genetic propensity?

        With the wealth of knowledge you have on your website, the answer is probably here. I just don’t have the time to find it. Forgive me for taking a short cut.

        • Jeff

          Denim, I don’t know of any alcoholism/ADHD connection. However ADHD is HIGHLY INHERITABLE, that is, you are more likely to inherit the genes for ADHD than you are to inherit the genes for height.

          • Denim

            Jeff. In your opinion, would an undiagnosed ADHDer get along better or worse with another undiagnosed ADHDer?

    • Jeff

      Denim, keeping in mind that this is ONLY my opinion and NOT based on any data, I would think that two undiagnosed ADHDers would probably kill each other. Could you imagine if they both went into a rage at the same time? I don’t think that would be pretty. At least if they were diagnosed, they could explain their behaviors and have a chance to control it.

      • Denim

        Jeff. It is my opinion your whole website is your opinion, except where you direct to other people’s or institution’s opinion. I am not sure how long this website has been active, but I know that this original post is from 2007 (of course this was AFTER you posted to my first comment) so I am assuming you have been accumulating a wealth of information since at least then. That said…

        Born in 1920 it is quite possible my father had ADHD or something akin to it. Born into the baby boomer generation, I probably have ADHD or something akin to it. Not denying it, just seeing how it fits. If it fits, it does not look exactly like people who use it as an excuse and just treat themselves as a victim. I STRONGLY believe ADHD is a spectrum disorder. But as I learn more about how my brain works, my husband says he thinks he may have a form of it. As for my husband and I, we so get each other. He did not want me to get help because he did not want me to become drugged up. Zombie like, whatever that is. But now, he is glad I did because my moods are more stable. The most help has come from the current therapist who has helped me learn how my brain works with very little concentration on ADHD.

        Back to my father. ADHD could explain why we loved each other so deeply but could have some nasty confrontations. Of course those confrontations were never discussed because that was his way. I would have talked it through had I been allowed.

        Thanks for this website. Thanks for your dedication to educating ADHDers.

        My father was never famous. At age 56 he accidentally stumbled on the business that would make him the financial success he wanted his whole life. At age 70 with mission accomplished he said, it was much more fun striving for the goal than attaining it. But most telling, he asked his children and nephew to spend less time striving for money and more time enjoying the people in their lives. I don’t know why for sure but I think he found out money makes life easier but feeling accepted and loved is what make you feel rich.

        • Jeff

          Denim, I apologize for taking so long to reply to you. I got sidetracked with other things (hmmm…I must have ADHD!).

          Your relationship with your father is similar to the one I had. There were times when we had some nasty fights but, in between fights, we had a great relationship. We worked together on the house (doing repairs) and, because of the nature of his business, I would work with him on his delivery truck every summer and whenever I had vacation from school. I consider that to be a very unique experience. Not many children get to work with one of their parents (at least not nowadays).

          Hopefully my financial success will come before I hit age 56 but…it better happen soon…I’m only a few years away.

          • Denim

            Wow such manners!!! Did not even think about it. I am not paying you for this information am I? I can only be grateful that you are interacting with me. I am digging for what ADHD looks like when it rears it nasty head. Especially the rage.

            Were you the fall guy for all of the family’s emotional eruptions? Meaning if anything happened that caused tempers to flare it was it because Jeff started it. Again to visualize, were you the canary in house when things were dysfunctional? Like you saw the dysfunction coming, you started protecting youself from the freight train you could see but not avoid being blamed when it detrailed, and when you pointed out the train wa coming nobody could see it but you. The emotional battle ensued. Is this a trait of ADHD. This did occur in my childhood home.

            Probably to late to write this, so tell me if it does not make sense.

  • Jeff

    Things were a bit different for me. I was that canary in the coal mine but my younger brother bore the brunt of the anger that came from my father. I have this post ( that mentions a Cassandra-like ability to see into the future. I don’t think this is an ADHD-only trait. However, it may be possible that we are a bit more sensitive to certain bits of information that most others would ignore. As a result we may sense things things that others don’t do not. (This does require a degree of intelligence and self-reflection to do anything with this extra information.) Sometimes this is seen as the source of our “supposed” entrepreneurial capabilities. However, the existence of such magical abilities, like entrepreneurship, are only backed up by anecdotes, not science. A few exceptions to the rule, a few statistical outliers, and suddenly ADHDers are natural entrepreneurs. Yeah…right…maybe if they could finish a damned project on time. ;)

  • Scott Hutson

    Keeping my rage under control was something that I forced myself to do before I even knew I had ADHD. But there were those times when I just blew my lid off and said things that hurt the people I loved the most. Now that I know that the things I hear people say to me, are not what they are realy saying to me. That may sound wierd to most people(what I just wrote). It’s a little hard to explain, but I will try.

    My mind is on a subject that I am talking to someone about, and then they will say something that is not related to the subject I am talking about. But I think they are on my subject, and I will take it the wrong way, and be defensive, assuming they are insulting my Intelligence or the accuracy of my knowledge on the subject. I am learning to not reply abrutly with a tone of hostility. It is a struggle for me to be patient and decipher what is being said to me.

    • Jeff

      I wish I could say “That never happens to me” but…er…it does. I don’t really go into a rage anymore since I know when it is starting to happen…that’s when I can intervene and slow myself down. But I can tell you that “rage” has been a special gift in my family. My father had it. His father had it. (That’s as far back as my family tree goes. The remainder are buried somewhere in Europe.)

      And you don’t have to be ADHD to hurt the ones you love the most. That’s a universal trait. ;)

  • Jenifreddie

    Ok, I googled ADHD w/o medicine and I stumbled upon your blog. Let me begin with THANK YOU for this blog…..With tears I write this….this is me….my parents…my husband and children……The Rage you speak of I thought was just my husband being an a- -. I NEVER could understand why he would FLIP OUT/be unable to have a convo w/o totallly wandering off/make RANDOM comments/create AWKWARD public situations. So, thanks for putting that type of situation into words….. he has gotten “better” after 20 years….but now my 14 y.o. son has all the same behaviors and after years of trying behavior mods,……he asked to go on Ritalin. My mom was a nurse, but I am a no meds kind of gal unless the need is extreme. Well…we are going tomorrow to the Dr.

    • Jeff

      Jeni (I’m assuming you’re not “freddie”…did i guess correctly?), I know how important it
      is to have some confirmation that your ordeal is not unique…that others have gone down
      that path and survived. So I’m glad my post played that particular role for you.

      I’m also glad your son was brave enough to ask for the meds and that you were willing to explore that option. There is just so much evidence to show that meds can play such an important, and essential, role in dealing with ADHD. I’ve heard numerous stories of parents who insisted on going the “natural” route only to find that, after a year (or a few years) of frustration, they reluctantly use meds and see a new child (or adult!!) emerge.

      The most important thing to keep in mind is that ADHD meds are not akin to antibiotics. You
      won’t see drastic changes within a few days (though you may see some changes) and the
      changes aren’t permanent. But, over time, the changes can become solidified in your son’s
      daily routines which will help to make them as permanent as possible (at least for an ADHDer).

      Please visit in the future and let us know how things turned out.

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