Religion and ADHD
Loaded Topic? Sure. I’m hoping to get some discussion going with this either on Google+ and/or Facebook. Notice I said religion, and not spirituality. What’s the difference? I suppose it depends on who you ask. For the sake of discussion, lets say Spirituality is your belief of a higher power. It is not provided to you; you already have it. This could be your Higher Power in NA/AA, God, Allah, Thor, Superman, AOL… it is yours to have and understand as you will. For some, there is no higher power per se, just life to live how one chooses. All of these are acceptable and work for this discussion. Religion, on the other hand, while still being your will, is more organized, and we’ll consider it to be a provided method, in a somewhat controlled environment, with which you learn about your higher power, get support, and practice your beliefs. I know this may be a bit unorthodox (no pun intended…) given our definition of higher power, but work with me.
I have heard many (And certainly not all) arguments for and against “organized religion.” “It’s too controlling,” “it’s not controlling enough.” “It’s not completely in line with my beliefs.” “There’s nothing out there that I agree with 100%.” “I don’t believe in God.” “Religion is too commercialized…” There are a lot of reasons to challenge the idea of Church, Tent, Prayer, and anything organized. How is someone with ADD or ADHD affected by organized religion? Similarly to anything else in life… Hyper focused or not interested. Maybe some rollercoaster between the two. Some with ADHD need a congregational support system with a leader and a system of practice (we’ll call this church). Others need only their religious texts (if applicable) and time to study. Others need none of this, and choose simply to believe in themselves, and that’s okay too.
Here’s why someone with ADHD might not need religion. We can research on our own anything we question in the history of what we believe, especially with today’s technological developments. It’s so much easier to learn and practice on our own time, when we know ourselves and our capacity to retain knowledge and focus. We can read the histories of Islam, Judaism, Hindu, Christianity… the debates, the news, the wars. For someone with ADHD, it is often easier to learn on our own, as we see fit, then to absorb what is set in front of us by a support group, priest, minister, etc. There are also those who are atheists, and are free from the burden of judgment and compliance, aside from that of mankind. The media, law, and public forum are enough to guide them.
Here’s why someone with ADHD might Need religion. We can’t always give up our bad habits, vices, and sins on our own. It’s too easy to give in. It’s too easy to stick with what’s familiar and feels good. I will give my own example here: I have long recognized personal habits which, I feel, are ugly and undesirable. I eat whatever and whenever I can. I procrastinate. A lot. I’m more than happy to just sit and do nothing, literally, since it’s easier than doing something; to the point that I will watch TV or play video games or peruse Facebook when I know I have housework or homework or other responsibilities. However, I have come to identify these as Sloth and Gluttony. Of course these are my own opinions, and you’re welcome to disagree. The point is this: I cannot overcome them alone. I need support. I need a regular practice which strengthens my spirituality and reminds me to endeavor to be a better person. Most importantly, I need the structure which organized religion or support often provides.
I was born into a Catholic family, baptized, but not more. I was not regularly taken to church. I have never received communion, nor do I fully understand what it even is. It is my lack of understanding that leads to my fear to dive in and pursue joining a parish or congregation at any church. So I am stuck. I know I want more, but don’t have the courage to get it, or the knowledge of where to begin. so that’s where I am, and have been for quite some time. I know that there are a lot of people out there who don’t care to read things like this, or feel uncomfortable talking about speaking about faith or religion. I know others who might say I am seeking, or lost. All I can say, for sure, is that it is ok and sometimes even necessary to rely on a higher power provide guidance in overcoming our barriers. I know that I need guidance, and I am ready for it.