Hi there. A preface – ADHD is kinda like this:
The love of my life has ADHD.
That means that he can’t pay attention to what he wants to when he wants to.
That means that he can’t think through what will happen if he says what he’s thinking sometimes.
That means that he can’t sit still and listen to one voice for hours.
That means that he can’t always calm down his anxiety, because he can’t see clearly enough.
That means that for years he was treated poorly.
That means he thinks much less of himself than he should.
That means that he’s a brilliant man, who hasn’t always been able to live freely in that.
That means that he’s a person. A wonderful, wonderful, incredible person, with an illness.
ADHD is hard. Anyone who says that it isn’t or that it’s just a great benefit to their persona has probably not been treated, or hasn’t been stopped to be shown what their lives could be. I am not inferring that people cannot live life and be happy with ADHD. I am just saying that I stand in the position that a person with ADHD can’t know they need help because they don’t know how much better they could use their gifts if they actively treated their ADHD. Without being shown, that is. Jesus helped the sick. As we all should.
I used to be incredibly annoyed by people with ADHD. Like most people, I had no idea what it really was. I’ve made plenty of jokes about not being able to pay attention, and calling that ADHD. I used to think people with it were tactless, weren’t raised right, or had parents who just didn’t know how to discipline them. Or that they just talked more than I could handle. Of course, that can also be the case, but most of the time, it isn’t. It’s just being human with a brain with ADHD, and me wanting my life to be more comfortable.
Then I met this man.
He totally annoyed me. In fact, I knew that he had untreated ADHD, and I didn’t want to date him because of that. (I know, look at me thinking only inside the box.) I had had a few intimate relationships that didn’t go well and the other in those relationships blamed ADHD. I just didn’t really want to walk down that path again. But then I never went away, and he never went away, and it became something “we” faced rather than something just “he” faced.
I know what ADHD is now. And it’s not his fault. Nor is it his choice. Had I gone away, I wouldn’t have grown in my faith (the whole point of life) the way I have. And I would have missed the most fun, challenging, crazy, awesome, beautiful adventure of the past couple years. So I’m really glad I didn’t. And I’m glad I’ve learned these things:
1) Jesus is patient. I thought I was a lot more patient than I inherently am.
Myyyy goooooodness, don’t pray for patience unless you want to learn how to be patient. And don’t expect to be able to handle medication trials and irrational anxiety really well if you’re not Jesus. Because I’m not Jesus, and handling those things are (were) really difficult. I definitely thought I was a patient person. And in some ways I was. Namely, when I fully understood situations, I was waiting in line or looking cool on a summer day. But when it comes to MY personal time, I wasn’t the best at that. Jesus is working on it. Thanks, ADHD!
2) I definitely apparently really don’t have a clue what is best for me. Jesus does.
This fits well with the patience lesson as well. I didn’t exactly plan on having ADHD in my life forever. I was going to have a perfectly calm household where we ate nice popcorn in our perfectly clean living room each night. Where we each have 5 best friends and no tears. Nice ironed clothes and lots of perfect energy. Haha. That’s a little dramatic. But I wasn’t envisioning that we’d get to come up with awesome ways to work around forgetfulness for all of our life. But I also didn’t imagine having someone who wants to dance with me in the kitchen like a fool all the time either. See, Jesus knows better than me. And being organized is really actually super fun. Color coated post-it notes anyone?
3) Jesus makes people awesome. And as Christians in America, we’re bad at seeing that sometimes.
One of the most challenging pieces for someone with mental illness of any kind is social interaction. I find that Christians (Sorry for saying this outright if it offends you.) are definitely cool with you being around as long as you’re working to “overcome” your issues by “letting Jesus have it.” When every issue is a spiritual one and they can just read the Bible and it should go away. And as long as we can all meet over coffee and they don’t have to deal with you crying, or being anxious, or fidgeting while you’re talking to them. But that’s not what Jesus did with the lady who touched his robe. He knelt down and talked with her. Just something I’ve learned that we can all do better – stop thinking that people are how they act. And sometimes we need medical care. That’s Jesus too. It’s just my job to show up and love. Not say how people need to be outright.
4) Jesus is LOTS of fun.
Seriously. If you want to know that Jesus is fun, just try to get your brain to do something that it can’t. Usually it won’t work. But there’s always room to laugh. Everything doesn’t have to be straight laced and “perfect” to be absolutely wonderful. And sometimes the sheer unexpectedness of ADHD makes life lots of fun. I definitely see Jesus in new ways I wouldn’t have been able to before.
5) I cannot rely on my significant other to be my strength. But I can rely on Jesus.
There have been lots of times when Ray wasn’t able to give me the attention that I needed because he just couldn’t. He didn’t try to be that way. He wasn’t a man that was just zoning out. He just couldn’t because his brain didn’t let him. And that was almost more annoying than just being able to blame someone. So I had to just go sit down with Jesus and let Him be who He was. And you know what? I’ve learned a lot about grace and Jesus’ love for me. And I’m so thankful for that.
6) Praying needs to always happen.
ADHD has taught me to pray. And then pray some more. And some more. And some more. And to keep praying. And I’ll continue. Cuz it changes everything and makes the impossible possible. I prayed for healing for Ray. God sent me and taught me to be supportive and kind. Healing is happening.
I’ve learned tons, as we both have, but there’s a short version of what’s on the plate these days. We’ve been blessed to find some meds that work, and have been able to work through a lot of healing because of that medication slowing things down for us. And life is a lot less crazy. But I promise, there are going to be more crazy days. And those are going to teach me about Jesus, and love too.
I’m excited for that.
…because love wins.