Ever thought I had ADHD?
Recently I became aware that I have suffered from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) since childhood. My wife and children could have told you this years before I realized it. As a child, I was never diagnosed with ADHD probably because I was a good student, self-disciplined, a leader among my peers, lettered in swimming and in adulthood, had a good marriage and enjoyed success in my vocation. This misdiagnosis is very common and many people suffer from it for years without ever being treated. Yes, my family knew and the staff and church leaders that serve closely with me have seen glimpses of it in my personality. So, I am now reading up on this syndrome and seeking medical care and coaching. This is turning into Good News for me. I believe God is blessing me through this diagnosis and will use this experience for me to minister to people who suffer from ADHD and the families of children and adults with it.
Here is an excerpt from my sermon on January 26 when I shared my story of ADHD with my church. I was preaching on the theme: "We Are Called to Be Loved By God."
How deep is God’s love? It’s deep enough to handle anything. No matter what pain you’re going through, what problems you’re going through, or what hurt you’ve experienced, God’s love is deeper still. Have you ever experienced something that you thought was hopeless or made you feel powerless to ever overcome it?
All of my life I have struggled with my attention span and staying focused. Maybe you have experienced this when you have tried to talk with me. When I am working on a task, I have to keep notes, lists and be intensely focused in order to hear the instructions and follow through on the job or assignment. As a child, I was constantly losing my coat or leaving my lunch or band uniform at home. I could not remember everyday things or keep up with my schedule. I struggled to manage many things that my peers found natural to remember or to organize. I was labeled by teachers and family members as a day-dreamer and my family often said, “Earth to Richard!” to get my attention when they were trying to complete a conversation or keep me focused on a task.
As I matured in years, I developed habits to manage distractions and I worked extra hard to stay focused in school and be successful. I was an honor student and excelled in music, swimming and was elected to leadership positions in high school and college. So I was never diagnosed as having a learning disability or as Attention Deficit. These same challenges followed me into adulthood and often they have been a concern in my relationships with family and members of my churches and fellow staff.
At times, I have felt like I had a wall in front of me I could not climb over. I have wanted to be more focused, more attentive and more present with people. It grieves me and breaks my heart when my wife, children or church members tell me that I seem distracted or disinterested. Recently I discussed this with my family and a pastor that often counsels me. All the signs point to a diagnosis of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
ADHD often goes undiagnosed in people like me who seem to be self-disciplined, that excel in school and do well in their vocation. Yet the challenges and problems that ADHD creates are real and painful, for children and adults. Often I have had low self-esteem because of this and I have frustrated my family and friends who felt I was not interested or ignored their conversations and needs.
This week I will see a psychologist who specializes in ADHD treatments. I expect her to treat me with medicine and coaching. And really, this is good news for me. I have been relieved over the last 2 months to read about the symptoms and see myself on the pages. I now know there is a medical reason, a physiological cause for many of the frustrations and problems I have often experienced due to distractions and anxiety associated with ADHD.
I ask for your prayers and support as I accept this diagnosis and seek to manage it through medicine and coaching. I need your love, feedback and encouragement as we interact as pastor and congregation. I also want to be an advocate and supporter for children and adults with ADHD and for the parents and family members who hurt with their love ones who suffer from this same physiological challenge.
You see, I know that God made me like this for some reason. God’s love is present all around me, deep enough to strengthen me through this and that love never runs out on me. God’s love has led me to counselors and doctors who can help me and to people who will coach me and love me through this. I am so glad that I am a part of a loving, caring church like this one, which is known as a place of healing and hope for so many people.