ADHD and Church

Something I've said more than once.
Something I’ve said more than once.

Those of us who have ADHD often hear some version of “In my day we didn’t have ADHD. We had parents who weren’t afraid to discipline, and kids who were sent outside to play until the lights came on.” Yes, because ADHD isn’t an actual disorder and can be dealt with by letting your kids play outside. Oh, and don’t forget to beat the shit out of them. Because that always works.

Here’s the problem with that line of thought: I grew up in the era it references; I played outside, even after the lights came on (what kind of wuss goes in just because it’s dark?) and I was “disciplined” (and by “disciplined”, I mean “got my ass beat”) on an almost daily basis. And, guess what? I still have a rockin’ case of ADHD. So much for that theory.

While I can’t say I suffer from ADHD, I’m not going to lie and say I enjoy every minute of it, either. Between the fact that society isn’t set up for people with attention deficit and the maroons who try to tell you that it isn’t real, having this condition can be a real pain in the ass. That’s because most things in life cater to “normal” people, not whimsical souls like me. (And by “whimsical souls”, I mean “people with the attention span of a Cocker Spaniel puppy”)

One place that can prove challenging for people with ADHD is church. I know that sounds weird because church is supposed to a refuge, a place where everyone is welcome. And, in general, we are. The challenge comes in long, drawn out prayers and sermons, especially ones that don’t have much going on. Those things? They’re like a slow death for someone with ADHD.

Prayer time is the worst. I bow my head and close my eyes and it’s off to the races. It does not matter how hard I try to concentrate, my mind will take a random phrase from the prayer and go off on some weird free-association spree that defies description. Eventually, if the prayer goes on long enough, I’ll try and pull myself back to reality, only to spin off on another tangent seconds later. This stream-of-consciousness rampage is only halted by the word, “Amen”. Hell, I even do this when I’m praying to myself. The only way to prevent it is to write the prayer down and read it out loud. I’m sure that violates some rule about praying, but I’m past caring.

Sermons are a little better because I can take notes, which helps me focus. Of course, I still miss a few things, but at least it’s because I’m trying to get something worth remembering down on paper and not off in the ozone, daydreaming about traveling the galaxy on Serenity with Mal and his crew. Sadly, I’m not making that up; I’ve actually done it…, as an adult…, during church. Sorry, Michael.

Lest you think I’m whining about how my church isn’t meeting my needs, I’m not. The truth is, College Park does an excellent job at keeping me engaged and I’ve developed coping skills to deal with any problems that I might encounter. No, if I’m whining about anything, it’s living in a society that’s not set up for me and forces me to use those coping skills even in church, something that supposed to be a respite from the stress the world puts on us. I realize that whining is not a very grown up thing to do. But, then, no one has ever accused me of being a grown-up.