An ADHD FC

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Reuben
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Joined: 05 Nov 2016, 10:04

An ADHD FC

Post by Reuben » 05 Nov 2016, 17:53

Before I start with the actual introduction, I want to offer thanks. Through my FC so far, this forum has been an anchor. Thank you, Brian, Ray, hawkgrrrl, Shawn, DarkJedi, mom3, Roy, Heber13, SilentDawning and so many others. Especially Shawn.

Shortly, my direct experience with God suggests a highly noninterventionist god, which is incompatible with Mormonism as it's taught and practiced. I can't even say with any certainty anymore that he's there. But I want to stay LDS for my family's sake, and I suspect it's good for me as well.

It's both comforting and disappointing to find out that what started my faith crisis is so utterly typical. After a particularly difficult time in which I felt no help came from above, I allowed myself to notice that help had never come in any way I could distinguish from good luck, good people, or good science. I tried to place this new observation on my shelf, along with the neat little sealed jars containing church history quandaries, historicity questions, doubts about church leaders, concerns about church policies past and present, and knowledge of how human bias and psychology can inflate belief. "I've never witnessed God intervene for me" was too much for my shelf, and it broke.

The long version of my FC goes back 15 years. My account will be quick compared to actually living it, I promise. :)

I have ADHD. (Actually, this is going back to birth, but whatever. Fast-forward.) 15 years ago, I didn't know I had it, and for reasons not pertinent to my FC, I began to really struggle with impure thoughts. Looking back, I understand it was just my misconfigured brain seeking stimulation. But back then, I saw it all in purely moral terms. It turns out that "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (and the like) and thinking of sexual sin as second only to murder together are a potent guilt generator. I begged and pleaded with God to turn my heart back to my wife, to help me control my thoughts and desires, and for deliverance from this awful misery. Nothing changed.

(FWIW, I now think the "second only to murder" thing is a harmful misreading of Alma 39. That was yet another failing of church leadership I had to put on my shelf.)

7 years later, I was descending into what I now recognize as depression, ready to give up. For other reasons I won't go into, my wonderful wife encouraged me to see a doctor about the possibility of ADHD. I did, and got a diagnosis and medication. The depressive fog lifted, I could concentrate, and best of all, I could control my thoughts. It was like flipping a switch. It was a miracle.

Everything was... well, not exactly fine over the next 8 years. It was great at first, but untreated sleep apnea (BYU, your health insurance sucks so badly) and a bad reaction to medication for a sleep disorder sent me into depression that lasted a few years. I finally emerged about the same time that I landed an awesome job in another country. That brings us to April of this year.

I found out after we arrived that this country's health care system is willfully regressive with respect to ADHD. I went essentially untreated for five months. All the problems came back, along with depression, and a new source of distress: the possibility of losing my job and our family being deported. Even though I knew none of it was my fault, I still felt just as guilty. I still prayed just as hard for help. I still got no help, and I didn't know when it would end.

When it did end - I got the treatment I needed, with large continuing expenses - my reaction was so different. The first time it ended, I praised God for the miracle of modern medicine. This time, I was angry. I don't know why this time is different. (I would actually appreciate speculation on this.) Here's what I do know.

I want to believe in a God that is stronger than a pill, and is willing to exercise his power on my behalf. If I can't believe that, then how can I trust him to have the power and the will to resurrect and exalt me?

I want to believe in a God that provides the means as well as the motivation. I don't want 1 Nephi 3:7 to be just a pleasant fiction we repeat to reassure ourselves.

I want to believe in a God of miracles, but with the evidence at hand, I can't.

So I missed church three weeks ago after a sleepless night of rummaging through the broken remains of all the jars I had put on my shelf before it finally gave way. While my family was at church, I read recent conference talks encouraging those with doubts to stay in the church. I felt like yelling at Elder Ballard - it was a fine attempt, but he really doesn't get it - and I broke down sobbing when I finished. I felt like someone very close to me had died.

I told DW that afternoon that I didn't think anyone was listening when I prayed. This amazing, wonderful woman held me in her arms and just listened.

She's taking it much better than I thought she would, but she can only take so much at a time without falling to pieces entirely. (And she's doing an admirable job.) That's why I'm here.

At this point, I'm most concerned about two things.

First, I need some guidance on how to be the young men's president in this state. I can teach good principles with confidence, and I can perform administrative duties, but I feel like I can't testify of anything.

Second, how do I pray now? The prayers I've been able to honestly be happy with are like this: "Heav - actually, I have no idea if you're anything like a father. You don't seem to have acted much like one." Sometimes I have to stop here. But if I keep going: "If you're there, and capable of listening, and actually care, then thank you for... what? I don't really even know. There are many wonderful things in my life, but I don't know if you had a hand in any of them. Thank you for putting it all in motion? I guess?" And it continues that way.

I feel stuck, lost, confused, sad, angry... I'm sure most of you understand. But I feel much less of all of this since finding StayLDS.com. Thank you for being here.
My intro

Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

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DarkJedi
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Re: An ADHD FC

Post by DarkJedi » 05 Nov 2016, 18:43

Welcome. You've apparently lurked and read and anybody is more than welcome to do that. But it's also nice when lurkers chime in and let us know who you are. And flattery will get you everywhere! :D

I relate to so much of what you have said, and likewise do not believe there's anyone on the other end of the prayers. And, I'd also like to go back to believing in that loving God who is so interested in the trivia of our lives that he works daily miracles.

You are fortunate to have such a loving wife. Really fortunate. Hold on to her and never let go! And let her know how much you love her.
First, I need some guidance on how to be the young men's president in this state. I can teach good principles with confidence, and I can perform administrative duties, but I feel like I can't testify of anything.
That was hard for me too and it's why I asked to be released from my calling as gospel doctrine teacher in the depths of my crisis. I could do GD now, though. Testimonies don't have to be "I know this" and "I know that." Mine are always "I hope" and "I believe." And I do what I call "statement testimonies" saying things like "Jesus is the Christ" (which I do believe) or "Jesus' primary teaching was to love one another" (or similarly "The second great commandment is to love our neighbors"). I can say "It is my prayer we can each be more loving to others" as a testimony. And if it's something I don't believe, like God hearing and answering prayers, I leave it alone and don't say anything about it.
Second, how do I pray now? The prayers I've been able to honestly be happy with are like this: "Heav - actually, I have no idea if you're anything like a father. You don't seem to have acted much like one." Sometimes I have to stop here. But if I keep going: "If you're there, and capable of listening, and actually care, then thank you for... what? I don't really even know. There are many wonderful things in my life, but I don't know if you had a hand in any of them. Thank you for putting it all in motion? I guess?" And it continues that way.
This is still a very sticky one for me and I now exactly what you're saying. I've been trying lately to do better at prayer, but not at all like the old way I prayed. I've taken a tip from Mom3 and just sort of tried telling God (as if He were listening) about my day, things I'd like, how much I love my wife and children. I don't ask for anything (except sometimes I ask forgiveness) and don't expect any answer. If I manage to get caught to do a public prayer (I am adept at avoiding it), I stay very general. And I still sometimes don't get past the "Heav - actually, I have no idea if you're anything like a father."
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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ydeve
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Re: An ADHD FC

Post by ydeve » 05 Nov 2016, 19:56

I've found that pretty much all of what people call "revelation" can be explained away as normal decision making, emotional responses, being observant, etc. To me, this doesn't mean that "revelation" isn't meaningful, but that it isn't useful for proving the existence of God. Or rather, I stopped worrying about "knowing" if the things we are taught in church are true (I think that we can't really "know") and just focused on living my life in accordance to gospel principles.

The God I see basically hopes we use all the resources we have and make the best out of life, but doesn't really intervene much. And then if there is intervention, there's really no way to tell it apart from luck or other people being nice. I've come to the conclusion that if there's no way to tell, then the question is academic and it shouldn't affect how I act. Whether or not a blessing is good luck or from God, I can still be grateful. Whether or not it's helping me get to heaven, the gospel helps me live a more fulfilling life.

Yes there are things that the gospel won't solve. I also had undiagnosed ADHD until a year ago, and "pray and try harder" had been completely useless as a solution, nor did it take away the depression that came from feeling worthless and being unable to perform well in classes. Just because it isn't a silver bullet doesn't make it useless, but it means we need to learn where it applies. This is actually a good thing to teach the youth, that prayer doesn't fix everything. Seek outside help when trying to fix problems.

Personally, I chose to believe, partly because things seem slightly nicer that way, and partly because I've found meaning in the ritualistic things we do in the church, like prayer, priesthood ordinances, etc. (Funny that, finding God to be non-intervening and being unable to prove to myself of his existence, yet finding power in rituals.) But I'm not sure that that matters much in my ability to bear an authentic testimony. I can testify of gospel teachings that have a positive effect. I can testify of being non-judgmental and loving others. Take away all the mysticism of deity, and the gospel itself as a way of life is still valuable. And it's really the non-mystical side of the gospel that will help the youth live a fulfilling life.

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Reuben
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Re: An ADHD FC

Post by Reuben » 06 Nov 2016, 09:27

DarkJedi wrote:You are fortunate to have such a loving wife. Really fortunate. Hold on to her and never let go! And let her know how much you love her.
Yes! This!

Sunday afternoon is turning into our time to talk about my FC and other Difficult Things. Today I asked how she is doing. I now highly recommend this.

Thanks for your suggestions on bearing testimony. I'll try it.

I'll be honest, this dredged up some sadness:
DarkJedi wrote:This [prayer] is still a very sticky one for me and I now exactly what you're saying. I've been trying lately to do better at prayer, but not at all like the old way I prayed. I've taken a tip from Mom3 and just sort of tried telling God (as if He were listening) about my day, things I'd like, how much I love my wife and children. I don't ask for anything (except sometimes I ask forgiveness) and don't expect any answer. If I manage to get caught to do a public prayer (I am adept at avoiding it), I stay very general. And I still sometimes don't get past the "Heav - actually, I have no idea if you're anything like a father."
I suppose I was hoping someone would tell me it always gets better. I suppose it's nice to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this.
My intro

Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

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Reuben
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Re: An ADHD FC

Post by Reuben » 06 Nov 2016, 09:42

ydeve wrote:I've found that pretty much all of what people call "revelation" can be explained away as normal decision making, emotional responses, being observant, etc. To me, this doesn't mean that "revelation" isn't meaningful, but that it isn't useful for proving the existence of God. Or rather, I stopped worrying about "knowing" if the things we are taught in church are true (I think that we can't really "know") and just focused on living my life in accordance to gospel principles.
I've been very close to thinking this way for years. I don't like claiming to know what I don't know, especially in the hope that claiming it hard enough will make me feel like I know it. That works for some people, but it makes me feel dishonest. There were a few things that I felt I could say "I know" about; the rest were derived facts or things I had weak evidence for. There were tons of things I could say I knew were good. Now I feel like that's all that's left: knowing what's good.

I'll take the rest of your comments into consideration; I just don't have anything concrete to say yet. Thanks for being part of the warm welcome. Are there enough ADHDers here to start a club? :D
My intro

Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

Roy
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Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: An ADHD FC

Post by Roy » 07 Nov 2016, 10:56

Welcome Reuben,

First I want you to know that we are no substitute for professional help (that it sounds like you are already receiving). What we do offer is a listening ear, validation for your lived experiences, and some ideas for what has worked for us.
Reuben wrote:Shortly, my direct experience with God suggests a highly noninterventionist god, which is incompatible with Mormonism as it's taught and practiced.
Yup. The catalyst for my faith crisis was the stillbirth of our third child. I was struggling with fundamental questions such as - Does God favor the righteous? Does God bless those he favors? Did I somehow fail to be righteous enough? My wife called a former bishop that is a history buff (gave me my first copy of RSR so long ago) and asked for him to talk with me. All my questions had to do with God and whether he intervenes.

FWIW I eventually settled on a God that loves all of his children but is constrained from intervening other than to sometimes send little impressions that they are loved.

This perspective is not the dominant narrative shared at church. Unfortunately, many people seem to act as if I only had enough faith then the dominant narrative would work for me too.
Reuben wrote:When it did end - I got the treatment I needed, with large continuing expenses - my reaction was so different. The first time it ended, I praised God for the miracle of modern medicine. This time, I was angry. I don't know why this time is different. (I would actually appreciate speculation on this.)
I too have wondered about my reaction. I am not the first Mormon to have lost a child. In fact, I know that sometimes losing children can make people cling to the doctrine of the church even tighter for the assurance that the family will be together again someday. I imagine that there might have been preceding moments that led me up to the point where I was primed to react the way that I did (with an assumptive world collapse). Perhaps I too had a shelf that stored stuff that did not quite fit with my present worldview. I also wonder if I might have reacted differently if I was surrounded by orthodox Mormon support services. I was living in Iowa and visiting with a non-Mormon Employee Assistance Program counselor and attending a non-Mormon grief support group (Compassionate Friends). These support resources allowed me to observe other people of different religious persuasions going through similar hardship and also granted me the freedom to explore my thoughts outside of a traditional Mormon framework.

In general I would speculate that your different reactions were just reflective of the different places that you were at in these different times of your life.

I know that is not the most helpful answer. :?

Again welcome!
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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LDS_Scoutmaster
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Re: An ADHD FC

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 07 Nov 2016, 16:40

Hello and welcome fellow traveler, I also realized as an adult about my Add, I didn't realize that things might be different if I had ever taken medicine for it (I've just been stumbling through life without it, but looking back things would have been certainly easier). I get your conundrum with an all powerful god who can miraculously heal, . I can agree with Roy on the god that is constrained in interactions.
You have an amazing spouse and it seems like you are in a good place there with understanding and support.
"When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all." God, according to Futurama

We are all imperfect beings, dealing with other imperfect beings, and we're doing it imperfectly.

Greyair00
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Re: An ADHD FC

Post by Greyair00 » 28 Nov 2016, 22:56

I like the old scientific theorem that says the simplest answers are usually the most accurate. When it comes to how much god intervenes in this world, I have found the theorem which has the least work arounds, and that is he does very little, if anything. At church I hear personal faith promoting stories every week, how god found my keys or cured me from an illness. But while I'm listening I think about the countless times he ignores the pleading of a child who is getting beat, or a christian city getting slaughtered. History is full of examples of god not helping his servants, Christ, the apostles, countless saints, Joseph Smith etc. So why would he find my keys and forget the real issues?

I feel he doesn't, the person prayed to find their keys and then found them, gave god the credit, and had a self induced spiritual experience, to be shared in church.

So the question is, what does he do? I'm not sure. I believe he created this world, turned it on and sits back. It's the only explanation that works in all cases. It explains why my 21 year old daughter has leukemia, why kids are still born, why people have ADHD. We like to believe it all has some higher purpose, gods in charge so take comfort. But what if that is just some thing humans made up to deal with the chaos of the world? Does god make the suffering to merely teach us a lesson? What about the people who get off so easily in this life? And if he doesn't cause suffering or prevents it, just what does he do?

I've stopped praying for the simple reason I don't believe he takes any action. Sorry, this may not be the answer you were looking for, I'm not trying to be negative, I'm just want a unifying answer.

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Reuben
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Re: An ADHD FC

Post by Reuben » 30 Nov 2016, 05:44

I haven't been tending my intro thread very well. Fortunately, I believe in repentance. :thumbup:
LDS_Scoutmaster wrote:I didn't realize that things might be different if I had ever taken medicine for it (I've just been stumbling through life without it, but looking back things would have been certainly easier).
Things are different but not always better. For example, I'm less extroverted on it, which I think of as a negative because it changes my personality. Medication is a net positive for me, though.
LDS_Scoutmaster wrote:You have an amazing spouse and it seems like you are in a good place there with understanding and support.
So much YES. She is awesome, and I'm not just saying that because she reads my posts here. (Hi, Beautiful!)
Greyair00 wrote:I like the old scientific theorem that says the simplest answers are usually the most accurate.
I also subscribe to Occam's Razor. My inner math nerd geeks out about Bayesian formulations of it, which are in terms of conservation of probability rather than explanation length. Recently, though, I've thought of Occam's Razor in terms of the amount of mental gymnastics necessary to maintain a belief. This is subjective and very human-centric, but more important than the other formulations right now.
Greyair00 wrote:So the question is, what does he do? I'm not sure. I believe he created this world, turned it on and sits back. It's the only explanation that works in all cases. It explains why my 21 year old daughter has leukemia, why kids are still born, why people have ADHD. We like to believe it all has some higher purpose, gods in charge so take comfort. But what if that is just some thing humans made up to deal with the chaos of the world? Does god make the suffering to merely teach us a lesson? What about the people who get off so easily in this life? And if he doesn't cause suffering or prevents it, just what does he do?

I've stopped praying for the simple reason I don't believe he takes any action.
I feel for you, and I hope you and your family can find healing and peace.

I'd like to find other reasons to pray. I think I want a way to pray that can change me for the better, and which doesn't require me to believe in things I can't believe in, set me up for disappointment, or force me into making excuses for God's inaction. The old thank/ask protocol won't cut it.
My intro

Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

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Reuben
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Re: An ADHD FC

Post by Reuben » 23 Jan 2017, 11:51

Recap: I've recovered from depression twice by getting treated for ADHD: once 8 years ago, and once at the end of last year. The second time precipitated my faith crisis. Self quote:
Reuben wrote:When it did end - I got the treatment I needed, with large continuing expenses - my reaction was so different. The first time it ended, I praised God for the miracle of modern medicine. This time, I was angry. I don't know why this time is different. (I would actually appreciate speculation on this.)
I think I finally figured out why I was grateful the first time and angry the second time.

Today, I came across a handout (that I had coincidentally been given as a seminary student decades ago) about how to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost. (The source is the April 1986 General Conference talk Investing for Eternity.) It turns out that the "When You Do Not Have the Spirit" column could for the most part, but especially the first 10 items, be used as a self-reporting checklist for depression.

In and of itself, this is a greatly harmful thing to teach as doctrine. I can hardly think of anything worse than "you're not worthy of the Spirit" to tell someone struggling with depression, but this idiotic bilge keeps getting taught. I'm certain this handout alone has lengthened and worsened many depressive episodes, and even contributed to suicide.

My point here, though, is that my internalization of lessons like this (not just this one), along with lessons that imply absolute agency and personal control, is a large part of why I was grateful the first time I was treated for ADHD. Knowing what depression is like, and my rejection of absolute agency and personal control, are a large part of why I was angry the second time.

The first time I went through ADHD-fueled depression, I blamed myself for everything: my effective inability to work, my impure thoughts, my "attitude," and my souring relationships with my family. Finding out that none of it was my fault was so freeing that it was exhilarating. Giving the cause a name (ADHD) felt empowering. In this state, it was easy to be grateful.

The second time I went through ADHD-fueled depression, though it took a while to recognize, I knew exactly what was happening, and why. I knew it wasn't my fault and that I was helpless to fix it, and somehow, knowing these things wasn't enough to absolve me of guilt. I grew increasingly frustrated with myself, the health care system, and especially God, who I counted on to help when I was helpless but, as far as I could tell, did nothing.

After treatment for ADHD, as depression subsided, there was no exhilaration and no empowerment. Just relief, some residual powerlessness, and leftover frustration with the health care system and especially with God. In my frustration, I shot some hard questions at him that I normally wouldn't have even considered.

What kind of father abandons his child when his child needs him most?

What kind of creator would create humanity in a way that cuts so many of them off from him entirely?

What kind of miracle-worker helps people do their callings with inspiration and can alleviate mild anxiety and mild depression, but can't or won't work any greater miracles?

I couldn't make any sense of it. At some point - maybe when the faith crisis proper started - frustration turned to anger.
Last edited by Reuben on 23 Jan 2017, 17:16, edited 1 time in total.
My intro

Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

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