ADHD, children, illness, myths

How You Should Respond to Special Needs Families

I couldn’t decide what to call this post: “Stop Shaming and Blaming Special Needs Families”? “She Said Coddling Causes Special Needs; This Was My Reply”? “How Not to Respond to Special Needs Families”? I settled on “How You Should Respond to Special Needs Families” after quite a bit of deliberation. I feel very strongly about this topic. Regardless of what we call this post, the fact remains that parents are being blamed for their children’s medical conditions.

This needs to stop.

{{FYI: This article contains snark. Consider yourself warned.}}

Last week, I found a comment on my Facebook page that was something like this:

“Children wouldn’t have special needs if you didn’t coddle them, and treat them like babies, and if you made them toughen up.”

Oh, really? That’s how it works, huh?

Okay then, let’s define what “special needs child” means –because that comment leads me to believe that maybe she really doesn’t know what it is.

“In the United States, ‘special needs’ is a term used in clinical diagnostic and functional development to describe individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological.” (from Wikipedia, italics are mine.)

According to the commenter, I guess that means that my friend’s daughter who has Type 1 Diabetes is only sick because she’s weak? The fact that she’s been poking herself to check her own blood sugar levels since she was three-and-a-half years old is not a sign of her strength and fortitude? I guess this child has a life-threatening autoimmune disease because she’s been hugged and held too often?

I guess that means my niece who has bipolar would automatically stop having manic and depressive episodes and suddenly start understanding the consequences of her actions if we were just harsh enough in our treatment of her? If we just forced her to be normal? Maybe if we pushed her around a bit? Or chased her with a baseball bat? Maybe if we locked her in a closet? That would cure it?

I guess that means that my friend’s son who is nonverbal with autism would suddenly start speaking if we stopped coddling him and treating him like a baby? He’s only struggling because we aren’t being hard enough on him? Maybe a little cruelty would cure him? Maybe we should scream at him and intimidate him into talking? You think that would work?

My son with ADHD, an anxiety disorder, and learning disabilities –maybe I could just beat the brain development problems, panic attacks, and handwriting struggles out of him, then? Pshaw. Why should we make sure children feel safe, secure, and loved by their families anyway? When he has pain in his hands from handwriting, maybe I should just tell him that if he doesn’t do his assignments I’ll really give him something to cry about? I’m sure that a good beating will solve his learning disabilities? And make his anxiety so much better too, right? You think so?

I guess my friend whose child has severe, life-threatening allergies would just keep breathing if we force fed her the thing she’s allergic to? After all, isn’t she just being weak? And we are just allowing the allergic reactions to happen by treating her like a baby? I’m sure she just made up the anaphylaxis –and that two-week hospitalization was the child manipulating the hospital staff? There’s no possibility that the medical doctors actually know what they’re talking about, right?

Here’s the reality:

Parents don’t willy-nilly decide their child is a little snowflake and label them “special needs” for the fun of it. No one does this for the kicks. Professionals —medical, mental health, or developmental professionals— they diagnose these conditions.

They diagnose these conditions because they’re REAL and because the child has an actual, factual, legitimate medical need that most other children don’t have.

We get a diagnosis to help our children. It is anything but fun and games. Don’t you think that if these conditions could be fixed with a little “tough love” we would have done that already?

Having a special needs child is hard, far harder than most parents could imagine. We try everything we can think of, often grasping at straws and faint hope, existing on a wing and prayer trying to find answers for our kids. No parent wants their child to be sick or to have an autoimmune disease or a mental health disorder or developmental disorder or a learning disability. Like every parent, we want healthy children, and often we mourn our children’s diagnosis and the struggles we know that they will face –not the least of which is cruel judgments from small-minded people.

We get the diagnoses because we are trying to help our struggling and hurting children.

Parents should never EVER be shamed for seeking medical treatment for their children’s legitimate medical conditions.

And, sorry, but no other person gets to decide what is a legitimate condition and what is not.

And, you know, reading an article online explaining some journalist’s opinion about a medical condition does not make you an expert in that condition.

We are experts in our children’s struggles because we live with it and study it every day as we try to help and care for them.

If you can’t be supportive, keep your mouth shut.

Our lives are stressful enough without the ongoing drama caused by people who have no idea what they’re even talking about.

These children are not being coddled or given crutches. We are treating children with legitimate medical conditions. We are guiding and loving them with dignity, kindness, and grace. The same way any human should be treated. We are choosing to believe them and to help them where they struggle –as any decent parent would, as any decent person would.

Shame on those who try to would belittle, shame, and bully parents into not getting the best medical care they possibly can for their child!

Shame on those who would try to make parents feel like failures because their children have medical conditions!

Shame on those who would disparage a parent for looking out for the best interest of their child!

A child with a broken leg needs a crutch. If he is denied a crutch when his leg is broken, that’s abuse. That’s traumatizing. That’s wrong.

The same is true of ANY child with ANY medical condition.

Unless you have a special needs child, you do not know the immense pain and struggle these families face. The parents learn to be hypervigilant –always watching for their child’s medical needs. Often, the parents develop PTSD from the ongoing stress of caring for these children. These kids fight harder every day to exist, and be, and function, and go on than you could imagine in your wildest dreams.

All the while, these parents are fighting against the cultural biases that their children’s medical needs are illegitimate.

They hear accusations that most people would never dream of saying to a parent of a child with leukemia, for example, because that’s generally thought of as a “real” diagnosis.

Frankly, the level of prejudice against special needs families in our culture never ceases to amaze me. It is getting better with time, but we have a long way to go toward cultural acceptance of children and families who do not fit nicely into a box.

Instead of criticizing, blaming, and belittling, you should be admiring these families.

Admire the child who doesn’t give up when faced with far harder circumstances than most adults will ever face.

Admire the mother who keeps on fighting for an accurate diagnosis and treatment for her struggling child and refuses to give up.

Admire the father who endures a manic episode or autistic meltdown with grace and calmness while keeping the child he loves more than his own life safe.

Admire the parents of a violent child with multiple mental health disorders who keep loving the child through the violence, through the struggles, who fight for that child’s health and mental health even if it means the hard decision of institutionalization.

Admire the siblings who sometimes get the short end of the stick because mom and dad put so much energy into their struggling sibling –but they keep loving their sibling anyway.

Admire the families who get up every day and fight the same battle they fought yesterday with the same tools that may well have not worked yesterday, but they still keep fighting.

Admire the adults with these diagnoses who lived through a generation that blamed these legitimate health conditions on the person suffering …and yet they came out the other side. They didn’t commit suicide when they felt abandoned by the world. They didn’t give up –or at least they didn’t give up forever. They turned around and decided that no other person should ever feel like they felt and made it their life’s goal that others shouldn’t suffer in silence as they did.

To the original poster: Why would you choose to turn a blind eye to the needs and suffering of those around you? If you choose to ignore, attack, and marginalize these amazing, strong, brave, resilient, noble, victorious, fighting special needs families all around you, maybe you’re the one who truly needs a doctor.

I suggest a psychiatrist.

Because mentally healthy and emotionally stable people don’t behave like that.

I pity you because you have missed the beauty that these special needs families bring to the world.

And, I’m sorry for whatever happened to you that makes you feel like it is okay to spread toxicity and hate when you could spread kindness and joy.

At the end of the day, let’s try to leave the world a little better than we found it. A little kindness could make a huge difference in our world.

A little kindness could make an already-horrible-day a little more bearable for a family struggling to keep their head above water in a world that doesn’t understand or appreciate their day-to-day battle.

To you who are wondering how best to respond to families of special needs children: listen to them, believe them, support and encourage them if you can.

And, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

To you who fight this battle every day for your children:

I see you.

I understand.

You are not alone.


Sarah Forbes

If you found this post helpful please consider sharing it. Thanks!



When ADHDers Count Sheep

On one of my Facebook groups for moms with ADHD, the topic of counting sheep came up. We collectively remain unsure if counting sheep works for neurotypical people or not, but we came to the conclusion that it doesn’t work for those of us with ADHD. So, for your amusement, I am listing here our account of what happens when we ADHDers count sheep.



“My sheep turn into other animals or forget all about the fence and go off doing other things.” –Bethany


“I always think, ‘Where are these sheep? Who do they belong to? Why are they jumping the fence? Should we stop them from jumping over the fence? Is that how sheep actually look when they jump? What is this fence made out of?’ etc., etc., etc.” –Jillian


“ Every time the sheep try to jump, they jump straight into the threshold head first. I can’t for the life of me get an imaginary lamb to successfully clear the jump! I never even get to count to two! They have always done this to me!” –Stephanie


“I have always wondered what was so relaxing about counting sheep, and how on earth anyone could fall asleep with such chaos and mayhem?” –Brandi


“Counting sheep has never made sense to me. I never get past five because they always wander off and get into trouble…” –Stacey


“I could never get past figuring out why the stupid sheep are jumping a fence. What’s the point of the fence if the sheep can jump over. And if they can jump the fence, why would they do it one at a time. Wouldn’t they as the mood led them? Why isn’t the shepherd paying attention to the fact his sheep are all escaping, one at a time? Nope. I think the sheep actually keep me up later.” –Jenn


“Mine jump faster than I can’t count. It’s all just a blur.” –Rachel


“My sheep float away into space.” –Sarah


“My sheep never do what they’re told either! They jump sideways, or run off!” –Jenny


“My sheep talk back.” –S


“When I was a kid….all the way through my high school years…. I always just told myself a story. That worked so well for me as a child. Almost too well…there were times that I couldn’t wait to get to bed because I wanted to continue my story! Never, ever did I finish them. I just changed to a new plot when I got bored of them.” –Tina


“My sheep don’t go over the fence because they start chatting with the other sheep and don’t notice a wolf sneaking up. The shepherding dog desperately tries to get their attention but they keep talking and all the sudden are running for their lives and then…” –Randie


“My sheep usually try hard to jump this fence but just can’t do it. Either they don’t have the skills or the fence grows as they are jumping. And then I get angry and give up trying to jump my sheep.” –J


“My sheep crash into things! Also I have a lot of anxiety about when I inevitably lose track of the sheep. Was that 4 sheep or 6?? (If I get that far.) How will I know if some of my sheep have wandered off if I lose track while I am counting them??” –Rebekah


“Mine stop and start asking questions like ‘Why do we have to jump? It’s exhausting!’ and ‘Who chooses the order in which we jump? Maybe I wanted to be number 62 not 3.’” –Jessica


“Are they going to be safe on the other side??” –Chelsea


“I can count sheep, but after like three, my mind forgets there are sheep and wanders to something else. They’re probably still jumping, I’m just not paying any attention to them!” –Stacy


This is a glimpse into the mind of a person with ADHD. Our brains work like this 24-7, and we greatly struggle to shut them off. I hope you found this entertaining and insightful. You’re welcome –I think.

Sarah Forbes

P.S. All the quotes are used by permission. Thanks to the ladies from Homeschool Moms with ADHD Facebook group for their contribution to this post.

ADHD, hobbies

Is My ADHD Child Addicted to Media and Video Games?

To my ADHD friends

I apologize for the length of this post. I am warning you ahead of time that it is over 5,000 words –which is long even for me. As I have done in the past when I wrote extremely long and detailed posts, I have broken this article into sections with titles and italicized important information. If you just read the headings and the italics you should get the gist of the article. I did that just for you. Because I love you.


For the last few decades as the internet has become more a part of our lives, articles and news reports of the evils and dangers of media and video games have grown increasingly common. It is not lost on me that the media is hating on media. Unfortunately, often these articles and news reports are fraught with hype and hysteria and in many cases with nearly no source material to back it up. It is a sensational concept and makes great clickbait, but how valid are those claims and assertions?

That is what we are going to discuss in this blog post.

Media likes to sensationalize cultural fears

It is important to mention here that long before the internet was hooked up to every digital device in US homes, newspapers would report the evils of everything from board games to video games to television. Random fact: Scientific American says you’re drawn to watch more or less TV based on your genetics. I remember reading a biography based in the 1700s, and at that time many wealthy young women spent all their time reading (novels were a relatively new concept). These young women had their “heads in the clouds” and were so “lost in their imaginary world” that parents, religious leaders, and political leaders alike warned of the dangers of reading novels! Even as a young person, I remember being scolded for reading too much. And, yes, I once read an article saying board games were bad for you, but I have forgotten the reasons they gave; I think I filed it in my brain under “Asinine Articles” and forgot the details. Here is an article that gives some reasons that board games are bad if you are curious. The game Dungeons and Dragons even created a full-scale panic in the 1980s when it was erroneously associated with the deaths of multiple people. The TV show Forensic Files even attributed the death of a mom and her daughter to Dungeons and Dragons (and, strangely, to mosh pits) rather than simply acknowledging that the criminal was not mentally stable, but that wasn’t the only time the TV show made the ludacris accusation that the game was somehow to blame for a crime. Contributing to the panic over video games was the Columbine High School shooting when “Kids who immersed themselves in games of Dungeons & Dragons, who found solace in Goth music, and who played computer games were lumped together as potential enemies of public safety,” blaming the problem again on games instead of on the choices of mentally unstable people.

Humans fear new things

Everytime there is a new advancement –whether it is the printing press, the locomotive, space travel, or the internet– someone, somewhere will sound the alarm that these new things is evil and dangerous. As a group, we humans can be rather alarmist. There’s always a Chicken Little somewhere close by. When train travel became a thing, it was said that we were never intended go that fast. When airplane travel became common it was said that if we were supposed to fly we would have wings. At one time, even the telephone was considered dangerous. There is always someone in the crowd that resists the change. Apparently, there’s a few millennia of history to back up the idea that adults generally object to whatever is new and cutting-edge and that adults blame the younger generation and have since long before millennials were around. It has been going on for generations.

Let’s focus on facts not fear

Now, being cautious isn’t always a bad thing. Being aware of actual problems is prudent, but we need to be sure our information is based on fact and not internet drivel. Let’s face it, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet –as any parent of an ADHD child knows well. And, even those who say that media, video games, and TV are dangerous rarely actually stop using them. So, do they even really believe what they are preaching? Case in point: how often does someone post about how evil Facebook is while on Facebook?

This topic regularly comes up in my Facebook group for parents homeschooling ADHD children. Are TV, media, and video games dangerous for my child? Will my child become addicted to them by using them?

The answer is that it is complicated, but in most cases, the answer is no.

Media has educational benefits

First of all, it is important to point out the benefits of media. Educational apps, games, and videos have made it possible for visual-tactile learners to get information in a way that works better for their brains. Not all learning styles learn best by reading and lectures. Just because that is how it has always been done doesn’t mean that works best for everyone.

Since approximately 50% of ADHDers have learning disabilities, media can provide excellent resources for struggling children. Text-to-speech is a significant aid for those with dyslexia, for example. My son has dysgraphia and uses speech-to-text frequently. He also does best with online learning or any type of learning which doesn’t require handwriting as this is an area in which he struggles. I cannot imagine how challenging it would be to educate him if we lived 50 or 100 years ago! Newer research shows that game-based math (like online math, for example) work better for all children even those without learning disabilities. Online math programs also help children with learning disabilities by offering a more customized learning experience. Many children with these disorders were simply left behind in times past. In fact, I have an older relative with dyslexia who graduated from high school without knowing how to read or write. He was simply moved along to the next grade level because the school didn’t know what to do with him. Technology has made living with learning disabilities much simpler.

Multi-sensory learning provided by media is more effective

In general, involving all senses in learning is more effective anyway. Here is a study from the University of California which explains the value of multi-sensory education. Dave from Boy in a Band on YouTube also included information about multi-sensory education in his video about alternative school options. Media provides us with a vast array of options for education. Media makes learning far more enjoyable than a book. I mean, would you rather watch a reenacted documentary with decent acting to learn about the history of Rome or slodge through pages and pages in a textbook? Not only is the documentary (especially if it is well made) likely to be more enjoyable than the book, but you are likely to remember more of what you learn. Media has a very real and practical use especially when it comes to education.

Parents may be unnecessarily depriving their struggling learners of a viable learning method because of the false information that has been perpetuated about using media.

ADHD is not caused by watching too much TV (or any other media)

I feel it is important to mention here that —contrary to the myth passed around for decades– ADHD is not caused by watching too much TV. I think this is where part of the “Oh, no, screens are bad for ADHDers” idea came from. It is impossible for television to be the source of ADHD since ADHD was identified, accurately described, and documented in the 1700s by Scottish physician Sir Alexander Crichton (although it has changed names a few times since then). Television wouldn’t be invented for nearly two more centuries which means it is incapable of being the cause. In fact, we know the cause of ADHD. Dr. Russell Barkley, a leading ADHD researcher, mentions in his video series (located at the bottom of this blog post) that ADHD is caused by genetics in nearly all cases and toxins like lead in the remaining cases. Similar information can be seen in this article from NIHM.

Social media and screen time scare is not backed by science

“Frequent social media use and screen time have been portrayed as universally bad for our health. However, a lot of research on this phenomenon has been characterized by poorly done studies and bad science. The vast majority of evidence suggests that our smartphones are not uniformly harmful, and in some cases, they may be a force for good…The vast majority of the large and well-designed statistical studies on smartphones and the brain actually suggest these technologies are having little to no effect on our health and well-being. And in some cases, the availability of social media and phones may be a power for good.” from Erin Brodwin at Business Insider. I encourage you to follow the link and read the whole article. Erin has some great points.

Correlation is not causation

Please, when you are considering this issue, remember that correlation is not causation. Just because two things are happening at the same time doesn’t mean that they are connected or that one caused the other. Here is an entertaining, media-based explanation of correlation versus causation that is likely to help you understand and appreciate the concept better. Remember what I mentioned above that media makes learning more enjoyable and that it helps us retain the information? Just because a child has a bad attitude while playing video games doesn’t mean that the video games caused the bad attitude.

World Health Organization declares video game addiction legitimate

The WHO —the World Health Organization, not the 1970s rock band– recently (as of 2018) declared video game addiction a legitimate medical condition. Last fall, I did extensive research for a post on my Facebook page for ADHD Awareness Month in October and didn’t find anything reliable to support the idea that it was a medical condition. As of writing this blog post, it is still not a recognized condition in the USA. The DSM-5 says that more research needs to be done.

The debate about video game addiction’s legitimacy goes on

In fact, it appears that the many researchers are reluctant to declare it a condition. That is not surprising to me as my research into this issue revealed that there can be many causes for so-called gaming addiction. One concern is that these symptoms could be part of another diagnosis –a different issue than a mere addiction. Another concern is that the research is not based on consistent diagnostic criteria making the results less than reliable.

Professor Mark Griffith says the condition is rare

However, “Professor Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, and he was part of the WHO Working Group that provided input on the decision to add gaming disorder to ICD-11. He says that there is overwhelming evidence for gaming disorder:

‘Hundreds of studies that have shown that a small minority of people, when gaming to excess, have major problems in their life. I’ve published more papers on video game addiction than anybody else in the world. What we’ve got is country after country, study after study basically showing that a small but significant minority of people where gaming is something that completely takes over their lives – and we’re not talking about kids who play 3 or 4 hours a day, that is nothing to do with gaming disorder. We’re talking about something that completely compromises that person’s life. It’s something where people have withdrawal symptoms if they can’t engage in the behaviour, they’ve built up tolerance over time, needing more and more gaming to get those same mood-modifying effects. They are people that use the behaviour basically as a way of self-medicating: they use it either to get buzzed-up highs, aroused, excited, or they use it for the exact opposite, to tranquilise, to escape, to numb, to destress.’”

According to Mark Griffiths, only 1% to 4% of the gaming population are even at risk for gaming addictionand far fewer than that actually have it.

In order for it to be a legitimate gaming addiction, it must meet some pretty strict criteria. Most children —even most ADHD children– will not meet these criteria. I know a lot of people who love video games, but I have yet to meet anyone who actually has bonafide withdrawals from not playing video games as Griffith describes in the quote above. I have played games on and off for decades. I can go for months or years without playing a game with no problem.

The WHO’s definition of video gaming addiction

The WHO defines the symptoms of gaming addiction thus:“1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”

Gaming addiction is different than playing video games a lot

Professor Mark Griffiths “is keen to point out that gaming addiction is by no means the same as just playing games a lot. ‘It’s nothing to do with the amount of time you do something, it’s to do with the negative knock-on effects on that person’s life. I’ve published one case study where a guy was playing over ten hours a day but clearly wasn’t addicted.’” “‘I’m in no way anti-gaming,’ he cautions. ‘I do it, my kids do it. It’s a bit like drinking alcohol: there is no evidence that doing any of these things moderately has any negative effects whatsoever,’ adding that gaming can have great therapeutic benefits.

Griffiths has been dismayed by coverage of ‘gaming addiction’ in the mainstream media that is clearly not addiction at all. He points out that if there were reports of children watching TV for three hours a night, no one would care, but that playing games is seen as morally reprehensible, a waste of time. ‘My son is playing two or three hours of Fortnite a day at the moment,’ he notes. ‘It’s just something that’s life enhancing, life affirming, has no effect on his education, the chores around the house or his interaction with his friends, but the media have taken what is essentially a normal behaviour, and it’s been pathologized. This is nothing to do with gaming disorder whatsoever.'”

“‘I’ve commented on story after story about people who are so-called “addicted” to Candy Crush, and it’s just people who are playing it far too much. That’s not an addiction, that’s not gaming disorder. When we’re talking about gaming disorder, we’re talking about an activity that clinically impairs somebody’s life to such an extent that they have to seek treatment for it, and the number of people who do that in this country are few and far between.’”

The WHO’s diagnostic criteria is still subject to change

“The current version of ICD-11 won’t be endorsed by the WHO members until a meeting in May 2019, and there is still a chance it might be amended before then. After that, national governments could still take years to formally adopt ICD-11, and they may well add their own amendments.”

Issues with the WHO’s diagnostic criteria

My problems with the WHO’s criteria and description of gaming addiction is that it looks an awful lot like ADHD hyperfocus or even autistic special interests. I wouldn’t have as much of an issue if the criteria specified that the condition should only be diagnosed if there wasn’t another condition that explained the symptoms (perhaps that is assumed?).

What if I was obsessed with painting? All I wanted to do was paint, and I ignored everything else in my life to paint. It started affecting my family, my school, my work because I was completely obsessed with painting. Is that an addiction? Or is it a passion? If I was a gifted painter, no one would think twice about me acting like this. Under the WHO’s approach, the Absent Minded Professor would have been diagnosed with addiction to science. Are we now going to put those with ADHD, autism or those who are gifted through a 12-step program because symptoms of their known conditions are being misdiagnosed as an addiction? I think this is a slippery slope and that the criteria for addiction need to be better defined.

Our culture views video games as evil

Also, what a way to spin a great thing and make it seem horrible. As an ADHD person, I find it outrageous and repugnant that my hyperfocus would be misconstrued as an addiction. But in our culture, it is generally considered okay to be obsessed with painting or anything that produces a tangible result –but not okay to be obsessed with anything on a screen. Remember: screens are evil, right? That was established as a cultural belief decades ago, but I have yet to see any science that says screens are actually evil.

Screens are not evil. They are amoral… neither right or wrong. What we do with them makes them right or wrong just like I can use a bat to play baseball or I can beat someone to death with it. It is not the bat’s fault that I used it for evil. The bat itself is not responsible for the evil that was done with it. That bat is not inherently evil. It didn’t cause the evil. The responsibility belongs to the human behind the bat –or in the case of video games the human in front of the screen.

Hyperfocus is my superpower (Can I trade it for flight? Or invisibility?)

In fact, this article you are reading is actually brought to you by ADHD hyperfocus. I heard about the WHO’s decision about 10am this morning, and it is almost midnight now. I spent nearly all day reading and working on this article because my brain is completely captivated by the topic (by the time I finished the post it was 3 days later). This is not a bad thing. I consider hyperfocus to be my superpower. I am thrilled that my brain works this way and refuse to let anyone say that it is okay to try to make ADHD people feel ashamed of their hyperfocus. 

Video game panic leads to bad conclusions

Calling this issue an addiction makes it simple. “Video games equal bad, so we get rid of video games” is a simple answer. We humans like simple answers. But, we aren’t simple creatures. The general objection to video games in the culture and media has created what some refer to as “the moral panic over video games.” Mark Coulson, Associate Professor in Psychology at Middlesex University, London, says that the “presence of a current moral panic regarding video games may cause the medical community to take ill-considered steps, despite ambiguous research evidence, that do more harm than good to the global community of video gamers through the pathologizing of normal behavior.

I wrote another post about my family being judged for our hobbies because we like watching movies and playing video games which are considered by many to be inferior hobbies. Reading is currently considered a “good” hobby, for example.

Alternate explanations for the symptoms of gaming addiction

So, how can you tell if your child’s behavior is normal? And, if it is not normal, what else could be going on?

From my research last year and the opinions of those who objected to the WHO’s decision, it seems that other conditions, diagnosed or undiagnosed, could be causing this behavior that is considered an addiction. Without a proper diagnosis, these children will not get the help they need and could be unnecessarily deprived of their phones, gaming devices, and online educational resources.

Sending your ADHD child to Alcoholics Anonymous?

There currently isn’t really a standard treatment plan for gaming addiction. The treatments I have seen recommended are similar to a 12-step plan –and in some cases, children are actually attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings because there’s no support available yet for gaming addiction. As of when I’m writing this, I know of a family whose child is going to AA for gaming addiction. The problem with sending an ADHD child to AA is this: ADHD is a regulation disorder, and AA is based on your ability to self-regulate. AA is self-willed and self-driven, but what if, by the very nature of your neurological condition you are not strong in the area of self-control? It is widely known that ADHDers struggle in this area of regulation. In his video series, Dr. Russell Barkley discusses that this regulation struggle can take many forms: physical (like hyperactivity), emotional (like outbursts), or mental (like hyperfocus). I’m not sure that a 12-step program is the best way to help an ADHD child regulate themselves better –especially when we have proven scientific, medical methods to do it.

What if gaming addiction is really part of a different disorder?

Many problems in an ADHDers life are caused by them trying to self-treat. Gaming is no different. Even the advocates of gaming addiction say that what they are calling gaming addiction is a person’s effort to self-medicate. Self-medicate for what? Why are we not diagnosing the condition that is causing the lack of control over gaming?  Even the doctors and researchers who objected to the WHO’s inclusion of gaming addiction as a disorder agree that some people have problems with gaming. “Their argument was simply that these problems should not be attributed to a new disorder.” What if this behavior was just part of the ADHD person’s failure to regulate well? Failure to regulate well has to do with low neurotransmitters as a result of ADHD, namely low dopamine. …nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, opiates, risky sex, pornography, gambling, physical risk-taking, reckless driving, and compulsive buying increase dopamine even more.” Almost all risky behavior that ADHDers participate in is an effort to increase their neurotransmitters.

Video games increase ADHDers low dopamine

ADHD…due to the typical symptoms of motor restlessness, poor concentration, and distractibility, it is thought at least in part to be caused by problems with dopamine levels or the efficiency of dopamine receptors in the brain.

One of the trademarks of ADHD is low levels of neurotransmitter dopamine –a chemical released by nerve cells into the brain. People with ADHD are ‘chemically wired’ to sneak dopamine, says John Ratey, M.D., professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston.” (See image 2 at this link)

We also know that video games increase dopamine.

Dopamine-seeking behavior

But, is trying to fill up your low neurotransmitters the same as an addiction? If you know the child has a disorder that includes low dopamine and other low neurotransmitters, and, as Dr. Russell Barkley says, ADHD medication increases those low neurotransmitters, is addiction really an accurate diagnosis? Or is the child not medicated when he needs medication? Or not properly medicated if he is medicated? Perhaps there are other activities that the child can do which will up his dopamine such as one of the activities listed here. According to Dr. Barkley, exercise is the most effective treatment for ADHD after medication. According to WebMD in this article explaining the benefits of exercise for those with ADHD, “When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which help with attention and clear thinking. People with ADHD often have less dopamine than usual in their brain.” Here is research about the effectiveness of ADHD and exercise in adults and children.

Properly medicating ADHDers reduces addiction problems

Another myth that is passed around the internet is that all ADHDers are addicts. I have been told that all ADHDers will get addicted to something because they just cannot help it. I have been told that we ADHDers are even addicted to our own medications and that those medications cause addiction, even though research doesn’t back that up.

The truth is that, when ADHDers are properly medicated, studies show that they are less likely to develop addictions. Addictions in the ADHDer is nearly always an attempt to self-medicate. If the person is well-medicated –meaning the medication is doing it job– then they will not look for ways to self-medicate.Stimulant treatment of ADHD appears to result in reduced alcohol and drug problems, not increased substance abuse.

My mental health nurse practitioner told me that her patients who are ADHDers and former drug addicts will not return to drugs if she can get them properly medicated for their ADHD. Why would they? Illegal drugs destroy their lives and are a poor substitute for being properly medicated. Overall, addictive behavior is reduced by proper ADHD medication. You can see more about ADHD medication and abuse rates if the patient has a history of drug abuse here.

What if the medication doesn’t work?

However, a for a small percent of ADHDers, medication doesn’t work. In his video series, Dr. Russell Barkley says that medication doesn’t work for about 10% of patients. CHADD says that medication works for about 80% of patients leaving 20% it doesn’t work for. When the medication doesn’t work it could be the wrong medication, the wrong dose, or even the wrong diagnosis. I am not a mental health professional (or a medical professional, for that matter), but I have worked with adults and children who have ADHD since 2012. In my observation (which I admit isn’t research), many times when medication doesn’t work it is because there is an undiagnosed psychiatric condition. According to this research, 50% of ADHD people also have a comorbidity like a mental health disorder. So, if the child is properly medicated and still exhibiting addictive tendencies, maybe there is another condition at play. This is why I recommend a full psychological evaluationnot just ADHD screening, because we cannot treat what we do not know about.

Although, as we mentioned above, the Columbine High Massacre in 1999 was blamed on video games, music, Dungeons and Dragons, and even bullying, further research has shown the true issue: the perpetrator, Eric Harris, had severe psychiatric disorders including “a disturbed personality with prominent antisocial, narcissistic, and sadistic traits.” This is not surprising, because mentally healthy, emotionally stable individuals do not go shoot up a school murdering a bunch of innocent people. A healthy person doesn’t see a movie or video game with a murder and say “Gee, I think I would like to do that” –not even if he was bullied. Lots of kids, including me, are and were bullied. It made me a more kind, more compassionate person –not violent.

What if your child is violent?

If your ADHD child exhibits this kind of violent behavior, this is not part of the ADHD. There is something else going on. Please get your child help! Many hospitals have psychiatric wards that will take in children who are exhibiting violent tendencies. Please, consider those hospitals an option if you need them. Please, seek treatment, and don’t try to handle this yourself.

If you are concerned that your child is going to exhibit these characteristics as a result of exposure to media, then look into the dark triad disorders and sadism and be aware of the symptoms –it is pretty obvious when a child is exhibiting these. Many ADHDers are highly sensitive and suffer from rejection sensitive dysphoria making it unlikely that they would engage in activities to intentionally hurt other people. Many ADHDers are extremely empathetic and the idea of hurting others would be too painful to handle.

I once read an article explaining that children with ODD, bipolar, and conduct disorder can get more violent when exposed to media and video games. These children are already experiencing a social disconnect, the writer explained. Media can increase that disconnect making the child more aggressive when he or she walks away from it. I cannot find the article I read, but here is a study that has some similar findings. If your ADHD child has one of these comorbid conditions (like ODD, BPD, or CD), you need to be aware that screen time could cause increased aggression. But, again, there is an explanation for it, and it is not addiction.

Video games do not cause increased violence

In general, though, video games don’t cause an increase in violence: “…the latest statistics show youth violence at a 40-year low despite the popularity of video games… something that has to be considered, especially with media psychologists insisting that game violence is directly responsible for shooting rampages….

It could be an emotional regulation problem

ADHD children are 30% behind their peers in their ability to regulate according to Dr Russell Barkley. There’s a nifty chart explaining this concept in this post. Due to this problem with regulation, ADHD children, especially young children, often react with extreme emotions to being taken away from the television. My children were this way with TV and video games –among other things. As a result, we had certain times of the day we watched TV and one day a week when we played video games. Having a schedule made it predictable, and my children knew that at a certain time, the TV or video games would be turned off. It didn’t remove all the drama, but it certainly minimized it. We were able to do away with this as my children got older.

Why do ADHD children react this way? They have big feelings and lack the ability to regulate those feelings due to the underdeveloped parts of their brains. It is not that they are addicted to TV or video games. Every child experiences disappointment when mom turns off the TV or says they cannot play video games anymore. But, an ADHD child may be unable to contain his disappointment due to his poor regulation which results in a meltdown. Many parents –like me back when my kids were young– freak out that their child is addicted to screen time without knowing that the real cause is the ADHD. After we all got diagnosed with ADHD, their reaction to screen time started to make so much more sense.

A friend of mine pointed out that parents often refer to this as “an addiction” for lack of a better way to describe it. A more accurate description would be, “My ADHD child is failing to regulate their emotions regarding media and video games.”

While addiction to games is possible, it is not likely

We should approach this topic informed. We should be aware that the possibility exists that gaming addiction could be a problem, but that it is exceptionally rare. We should not call the symptoms ADHD or other psychiatric conditions “an addiction” when we know there are other explanations.

We can use video games to our advantage

Video games can actually be used to our advantage, too. Dr. Barkley says that video games work in a way that helps the ADHD brain. Gamification can be a wonderful tool in the arsenal of teachers and parents if they can get out of the mindset that screens are evil and understand the way that the ADHD brain works.

Gamification is “the process of integrating game mechanics into a system that already exists to motivate participation, engagement, & loyalty.Wikipedia defines gamification as “the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems.” It was first used in business to engage employees, but many ADHDers have found it a very helpful method to motivate themselves. There are even benefits to using gamification in learning environments.

I wrote a post about using motivation tactics similar to gamification to help my son completed his chores. Although I received a lot of online hate for giving my child half a dozen mini M&Ms (which is just silly since that is hardly any sugar), it worked really well! I know now that rewarding him with a small piece of chocolate after each task was motivating just like he might receive a small reward for a quest in a video game. This worked so well that after a while he didn’t even need the chocolate anymore. He is now able to complete his chores without it, but at the beginning, it really made a difference in his motivation level.

I haven’t even addressed how useful media and video games can be in helping calm ADHD children with comorbidities like sensory processing disorder, autism or anxiety disorders.

Gamification is a fabulous tool

So, not only is gaming not evil and most likely not the source of the ADHD child’s problems, but it could be a huge answer for many parents who ask how they can motivate their child. Make a game out of it! Every parent knows that children –whether ADHD or not– do better when you can make the tasks fun. That is even more true for ADHD children. Don’t believe me? Listen to Jessica from How to ADHD explain how gamification has helped her.


So back to our original questions: Are TV, media, and video games dangerous for my child? No, they can even be useful tools. Will my child become addicted to them by using them? According to what I have read, probably not, unless they have symptoms not already explained by their developmental disorders or psychiatric conditions. But, due to their ADHD, they may need help regulating themselves. Dr. Barkley calls this scaffolding.

Of the thousands of parents I have worked with over the last six years, more than half of them were incredibly concerned about the effect that media, social media, TV, video games, and even internet-based or computer-based education were having on their ADHD children. It seems important to mention before I end that even those doctors and researchers who support the WHO’s decision to include gaming addiction as a medical diagnosis admit that the condition is exceptionally rare. “Gaming is not being classified as a ‘disorder’ – a disorder is being recognised that affects a tiny fraction of gamers.

It is unlikely that the gaming addiction condition is as common as the parents who are concerned their children have it.

I hope you found this post helpful. There are many links in the post to follow if you are interested in learning more about this topic and if you want to know where I got my information. Let’s learn the facts and stop hating on video games and media. Instead, let’s use them as a force for good!

And, let’s not give into the uproar created by the media.

Sarah Forbes

faith, myths

Am I Violating the Bible for Speaking out Against Sinful Men?

I have been quiet on the blog for a number of months. There is more than one reason for this.

First of all, I’ve had some serious health complications over the last few months and took a break from blogging at the advice of my doctor.

And, second, I also have been thinking about the future of the blog, because I have been frustrated over one specific issue I’ve experienced.

I can talk about my chronic health problems, ADHD, homeschooling, or mental health, but as soon as I start talking about the most important thing to me, my faith, other Christians –particularly Christian women– start screaming that I am teaching men and in violation of scripture.

I even took a few of my posts off the blog until I could review scripture and reread the posts. I heard the objections, but I need clarity of mind to address this issue, clarity of mind that I did not have in the middle of my health complications. This post is my answer to those accusations. The short story is that I’ll be putting those previously-removed posts back up soon.

In this blog post, I am going to answer three primary questions: Does the Bible command women to always be silent? Does the Bible forbid women from speaking negatively about men? Do my posts on this blog qualify as teaching men and therefore they’re in violation of Bible commands?

Now, I actually agree with the objectors that women should not teach men. The scripture is very clear that within the context of the church women are not to be pastors and in authority positions. I am fine with that and have no plans to ever become a pastor. I have made that clear more than once and even put that in my bio …which seems to have disappeared after I updated the blog. I’m off to find my missing bio after I finish writing this.

“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” 1 Timothy 2:11-14

The entire book of Timothy was written from Paul to Timothy about how a church should be run. This passage is written specifically about how women within a church service should behave.

It doesn’t even make rational sense that this passage would apply to women everywhere and in every situation. If it applied to women in every situation, then a women would not even be able to teach her husband to fold a sheet, teach her teenage boys anything since biologically they’re men even if they’re not adults according to the laws of the local government, and even women who have male employees or hired services like a gardener or plumber would be wrong to tell them what to do.

That’s ridiculous.

I know people who believe that women should never have any authority over a man. I even know men who quit their jobs when a female got hired in a position over them. This is not what the Bible is talking about –and it is frankly misogynistic. The Lord has a specific reason for putting men in authority in the church and that reason goes back to Eve being deceived by Satan as referenced in the passage above. I know some women view it as an unfair punishment, but the fact is that the command is there and those of us who love Jesus choose to follow His commands.

But, nowhere does it say that women are not allowed to have opinions and not allowed to voice those opinions. It does not say we have to be silent everywhere. It only specifies where those opinions cannot be expressed: during the church service. The Bible doesn’t censor what women say –only where they say it.

I reject the notion that godly women are supposed to quiet, timid, silent little mice who have no opinions and no voice. I actually have opinions that differ from my husband. I’m very open with him about those opinions. He doesn’t have a problem with me having my own opinions and being my own person. As I’ve mentioned before, if we disagree on an issue, I defer to his judgment. This idea that women are supposed to be timid little mice comes from a misunderstanding of scripture which I will address at another time.

It is a foolish man who doesn’t at least consider his wife’s opinion and perspective. God gave the husband a built-in advisor in a wife.

“Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

Why would you marry someone you couldn’t trust? And, if you have a trustworthy partner, why would you ignore their counsel?

“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:11-12

There’s no indication in scripture that women are to always be silent. Those who say such things are taking passages that are specifically talking about a church service and removing it from its context. The context is quite clearly within the church service. By removing it from the context, they strip away the mean, stealing the truth. Do they really think they know what God intended to say better than God himself? There is a reason that we interpret scripture literally and within its context –it helps us avoid abusing passages in the Bible or twisting them to mean whatever we want them to mean.

I know women who will not tell others about Jesus but instead leave the job of witnessing only to the men so that they don’t accidentally tell a man about Jesus and be guilty of teaching something to a man.

First of all, our lives and lifestyles speak far louder than our words ever will. I guarantee you can’t keep your life from teaching others even if your life is just a cautionary tale. Secondly, there’s no indication in the Bible that a woman giving an answer when asked why she has hope in Jesus would be a sin if she were speaking to a man.

“…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15

Nothing in that passage in 1 Peter 3 says, “except not the women.”

I know of women in abusive situations who went to their local church and simply asked for prayer. These churches were not fringe churches or cult churches; they were mainstream, evangelical churches. These women were told that they were not even allowed to ask for prayer, because that would be disrespectful to their husbands and indicate that they were being unsubmissive by speaking negatively about men.

I have not only spoken negatively about men, I have called them out for sinful behavior.

And, I do not believe I’m wrong to do so.

Incidentally, neither does my husband.

It is not wrong for me to have opinions that align with scripture and voice those opinions. That is not exercising ecclesiastical authority over men or teaching men in a church service. It’s just me, having opinions and saying what I believe.

Let me explain what I mean. Let’s say that my husband and I have a couple over for dinner. After dinner, we are sitting in the living room discussing current events, and the visiting husband compares a recent news story to something in the book of Revelations. I mention that the parallel isn’t biblical because the current event does not match up with prophecy in Revelations, and I explain why. The husband thinks about it for a second and decides that what I said is right. Guess what? He just learned something. So technically, I just taught him something even though we’re just having a conversation in my living room.

Did I just break the command not to teach a man or have authority over him? No, because we are not in a church service. I’m not exercising ecclesiastical authority over him. I don’t have any authority over him at all. I’m just stating my understanding of the Bible.

The Bible actually instructs women to not ask questions during the church service but says that she should ask at home indicating that it is fine to have Biblical discussions at home. This command is specifically telling her not to interrupt the service. It doesn’t say that she cannot have opinions and voice those opinions. It only specifies where she cannot voice them and why. It also never says she’s only allowed to discuss the Bible with her husband. It only tells what to do if a woman is thinking about interrupting a church service to ask questions.

“As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” 1 Corinthians 14:33-35

In the above passage, Paul was addressing a problem of complete chaos in the Corinthian church service. Women interrupting the service was only one of many issues that were causing problems in the service which you can see if you go back and read all of Corinthians 14. The women were not the only ones causing problems in the services, either. Instead of interrupting, which apparently had become a significant issue in the service, Paul says that the women should discuss it with their husbands when they get home (i.e. outside of the service).

I’m totally onboard with that. Imagine that I’m in church service, and the pastor is preaching along. I stand up and interrupt his sermon to ask him to clarify one of his points –or, worse yet, argue with him. That would be incredibly rude and disrespectful. This is the kind of thing that was happening in Corinth. If my husband is sitting beside me in church then I can easily ask him to clarify when we get home. If I was not married or if my husband wasn’t at the service, I could ask the pastor or a friend after the service as long as I’m not interrupting the service which is what this passage is specifically about. To say it is broader than that it to take it out of its context and to abuse the passage.

It also doesn’t make sense that women cannot ever ask questions except to her husband. What if she’s not married? What if her husband is an unbeliever? If she is not allowed to ask questions, then she is stunted in her understanding of scripture with no one to ask? That also doesn’t make sense. It makes sense when you understand that this passage is talking specifically about asking questions in a church service.

Now, imagine that I have a brother who is abusing his wife. (To clarify, my brother is a very sweet guy who doesn’t abuse his wife, so this is just an example.) I find out about the abuse, and I know that my brother professes to be a Christian. I decide to write my brother a letter explaining why he is in sin for how he treats his wife and calling him to repent.

Am I in sin for doing this? No.

That letter to my brother would not be teaching. It is not ecclesiastical authority or church service preaching. It is a rebuke. Rebuke is completely different from teaching. Galatians 6:1 instructions all members of the church –brothers and sisters, male and female Christians– to work to restore those who have fallen away. You can see the Strong’s definitions and uses of the words, particularly how the word for “brothers” can be used to mean all believers in Galatians 6:1 at this link. This command was not given only to men in the church –it applies to all believers. I did a fair amount of searching on Google and couldn’t find any Christian groups claiming that women were excluded from this command.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

According to Merriam-Webster, to rebuke is “to reprove, implies an often kindly intent to correct a fault, gently reproved.”

While in-the-church-service teaching was given to men, nowhere in scripture does it say that rebuke is only given to men. Nowhere are women forbidden from rebuking. I know some people will probably disagree with me, but it cannot be backed up with scripture. You only come to that conclusion if you jump through hoops and try to make the Bible say what it doesn’t.

The key to the passage in Galatians is not male or female but maturity. Those who are mature are to do the rebuking because rebuking needs to be done in gentleness, and those rebuking need to be founded firmly in Jesus so they aren’t tempted by the rebukee’s sin.

Now, in the culture that was prevalent in New Testament times, a woman probably couldn’t have gotten away with rebuking a man. But, the Bible is not dependent upon the culture. It transcends the culture. We can look at the culture’s history to better understand the Bible and what’s happening in a passage, but we are not bound by that history or culture. Culture is created by sinful man, and we are in error if we idolize it. We are not commanded to imitate it. We’re even more in error if we try to say that a certain culture (that of first-century Israel, for example) is Biblical truth.

We do not live today in a culture where women are expected to not have opinions, and scripture certainly doesn’t say we cannot have opinions or voice them.

The same commands are given to women as are given to men regarding opinions and voicing rebuke. In Ephesians 4, Paul lists spiritual gifts (which, again, are not limited to just men) and instructs Christians to “Speak the truth in love.” I would be in sin if my above-mentioned theoretical letter to my brother was not written in a loving way. But, just because it is a woman rebuking a man doesn’t make it a sin.

“He gave the apostles… the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ….” Ephesians 4:11-15

I know a lot of people who believe that any woman speaking negatively to or about men is in sin, but it simply cannot be backed by scripture. Just because something is repeated over and over doesn’t make it true. Unfortunately, when it is repeated over and over people start believing it –even if it is false teaching.

By holding to the idea that all negativity about men is a sin, Christians perpetuate abuse. I have watched women who hold this view ignore the cries of their fellow sisters for too long. I have even spoken out against women who perpetrate abuse.

This blog is not a church. A lot of people read my blog –people from all backgrounds and beliefs. The church is specifically a gathering of Christians in one location, and a Biblical church according to scripture always has a leader, a male leader to be specific.

I’ve always compared my blog to a journal. Basically, I write about things I care about and let others read it. It is kind of like you coming and sitting in my living room while I discuss whatever is on my mind over a cup of tea.

Honestly, in some ways, blogging is more like standing on your front porch yelling about whatever you’re fired up about… but, I digress.

What perplexes me so much is that many of the same women who would have no problem discussing these issues with me in my own home will freak out as soon as I write it down. That doesn’t even make sense. As long as I’m writing about things that are temporal, these women don’t care. But as soon as I write about eternal things, the things I really care deeply about, I’m accused of being a false teacher because somehow by posting online I’m suddenly “teaching men.”

If I’m going to spend the little time and energy I have on this earth before I succumb to these diseases in my body doing something, I would like to spend it making an eternal difference in other people’s lives.

And, Christian women trying to silence other Christian women just infuriates me.

It is so wrong –on so many levels.

I’m all for living our lives according to the Bible. What astounds me is women who perpetuate abuse –especially spiritual abuse– by trying to silence women who are crying out for help or by trying to silence those who are coming to the aid of those crying out for help.

The command to help others doesn’t go away just because the woman who is hurting happens to be married. Woe to us when we ignore the cries of the hurting because it is inconvenient to realign our beliefs with scripture and defend those who needed help.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

Too many Christians are quick to try to help unbelievers in need but notoriously ignore the hurting in their own churches –or worse yet refuse to even allow the hurting in their midst while embracing the abuser instead. I wish I could say that never happens, but it does. Way too much.

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

Do they really think we are supposed to help each other and bear each other’s burdens except for when it is a married woman asking for help against her abuser? Then, we can ignore it because we cannot speak out against any men?

How can we call ourselves Christians while ignoring our hurting brothers and sisters? I challenge those who believe such things to reread their Bibles, particularly the epistles of the New Testament.

Heaven forbid that we abandon those who come to us for help and defend their abusers!

I will not stop speaking the truth.

I will not stop defending the hurting people in our churches –and wherever I see them.

And, above all, I will not be silenced.

Sarah Forbes


Adhd and Self-identity: Read This Before You Comment

From time to time, I receive criticism for the phrasing that I use to describe ADHD people.

I use “people with ADHD” and “ADHD people” interchangeably. But, honestly, I prefer to describe myself as “an ADHD person,” not as “a person having ADHD” or “a person with ADHD.” I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis –it is a disease that is attacking my body, but it is not who I am. I don’t really “have” ADHD because it is not a disease. It is part of who I am, part of my genetics –just like green eyes and brown hair are part of my genetics. It is not a disease that needs to be eradicated. It is just a different way that my brain developed.

But, regardless of whether or not you agree with my reasoning, basically it comes down to this:

As an ADHD person, I get to decide how I prefer to describe myself.

There are various terms used to describe ADHD people: ADHDers, shiny, squirrels, and many others, I am sure. These are all terms we use to describe ourselves. For every label, you will probably find an ADHD person who objects to it. So, that is why it falls to the person who has the ADHD to decide how they want to be described or addressed.

It may surprise non-ADHDers to find that there are actually many people on both sides of the “ADHD people” versus “people with ADHD” debate. This blog is not the place to debate such things.

It is unreasonable for those who do not have ADHD to try to dictate to me how I should describe myself. It is doubly unreasonable for those who are not ADHD to be offended by how I choose to describe myself or to tell me that I should be offended by how I choose to describe myself. I will describe myself and my community of ADHD people how I see fit. Other ADHD people are –of course– welcome to their own opinions and preferences, but since this isn’t their blog, they don’t get to dictate to me how I describe myself or my community of ADHD people here on the blog.

And, honestly, there are so many bigger problems in this world than how we describe ADHD! Let’s not make a mountain out of a molehill.

Let’s focus on things that are really, truly important:

• getting proper diagnosis and treatments for those who need it.
• educating parents of ADHD kids and ADHD adults about the disorder.
• curbing the misinformation that permeates our culture, media, and the internet.

If you want to be an internet social justice warrior, there is plenty to fight against in the list above!

Thank you for handling this topic in a reasonable and rational manner. A mature person scrolls past something they disagree with on the internet instead of attacking the person they disagree with. When in doubt, be kind. It doesn’t cost you anything to just be nice. Don’t be one of the people who spreads ugliness when they could spread beauty, joy, and sunshine.

Sarah Forbes


43 Reasons I Don’t Feel Like a Failure (with Scripture)

I’ve been absent from the blog for nearly two months after over a year of posting either daily or weekly. At first, my health issues took over, and I was just too overwhelmed to post. Then, I started thinking about the direction this blog should take. While I’ll likely still post about ADHD from time to time, for now, I’ve decided to return to the original topic of my blog: my Christian faith. I thought it was only reasonable to be upfront about this for those who may have followed my blog for information about ADHD.

43 Reasons I Don’t Feel Like a Failure

A few weeks ago, there was a discussion on one of my Facebook groups about the fact that many of us feel like a failure on an ongoing, daily basis. I mentioned that I used to feel like a failure all the time but had experienced some victory in my life in this area recently. I promised to share more about that victory. It has taken me a few weeks to compile this list of verses and explanation why I don’t feel like a failure.

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: I’m a huge failure. I’m a failure because of my sin –a failure who is in desperate need of a Savior because I was dead in my trespasses and sins until Jesus saved me. Everyone on this entire planet is. This failure is the leveling of the playing field. Everyone is a failure in need of a Savior.

When other people make us feel like failures by pointing out our failure-ness, they’re either

1) not saved and don’t know that everyone including themselves is failures


2) unsaved religious people who think that their works will save them


3) saved people who think that their works make them better than other people or make them closer to God.

(Another option is that we actually have sin in our lives.  I’ll address that in a minute.)

Even Paul, who was a pretty amazingly awesome Christian and actually talked to Jesus called himself “the chief among sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Anyone going around making other Christians feel inferior does not have a godly attitude or the mind of Christ which would first and foremost include humility.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

The following are 43 verses (in a somewhat random order) that help me when I’m tempted to feel like I’m failing at life. I’m not a failure, because… well, you’ll have to read the list for yourself:

1. Everything will work out for my good if I’m actually saved. He has a plan and a purpose for those who are His. That plan is that we become like Christ, and that plan has been in place since the beginning of time.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30

2. I’m surrendered to God’s will on earth whatever it may be.

“In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Matthew 6:9-13

3. Like Mary, Jesus’ mother, I’m surrendered to God’s will even if it makes me look bad. When, by God’s Spirit, Mary was found to be miraculously pregnant while still a virgin, she declared that she would surrender herself to God’s will even though in her culture and under Hebrew law she faced possible stoning for what others would see as her failing and falling into sin (because she was pregnant out of wedlock). You can read the whole story in Luke 1.

“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38

4. No matter what goes wrong, God knows, and He’s taking care of me.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

5. God knows exactly what’s going to happen. He’s in control.

“[Man’s] days are determined, and the number of his months is with You, and You have appointed his limits that he cannot pass.” Job 14:5

6. God has given us everything we need for true, godly success. If I don’t have it, I don’t need it. If it seems that I need something for success that I don’t have, I am probably judging myself by human standards and not Biblical or eternal standards.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3

7. God knows my thoughts, my heart, and my intentions. He knows what’s going to happen before it even happens. Any struggle of mine is no surprise to Him.

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar.You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:1-6

8. Before I was even born, God knew what was going to happen.

“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:14-16

9. Everything, even our trials and troubles –even evil people we encounter– have a purpose in God’s plan.

“The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Proverbs 16:4

10. God uses that which seems useless to mortal, sinful man in His plan. So, what may seem to be failings to those around us can still be used of God. Often times, we don’t even understand what God is doing so that we can’t boast.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:25-29

11. Those around us who are not saved will not understand what God is doing in our lives because God’s ways are beneath man to understand.

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

12. God is doing greater things than we can even imagine through His power at work in us. How can I allow myself to be discouraged by feelings of failure when Scripture says that He is working in me?

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:21

13. I’m not big enough or strong enough to upset God plans.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

14. Even if I fail, God will sustain me.

“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” Proverbs 24:16a

15. God is directing my path and leading my way. How can I be a failure if God is leading me?

“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

16. Even great men like Paul struggled with their own shortcomings. It didn’t keep God from using them in mighty and incredible ways.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:15, 24-25

17. If I’m Christ’s, God doesn’t condemn me. He looks at me and sees the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ covering my sin. If God doesn’t condemn me, why do I let myself or anyone else condemn me or make me feel like a failure? The only opinion that matters is His.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

18. God allows weakness, and shortcomings in our lives to keep us humble and dependent upon Him. So that if anything good happens, we will give praise to God and not ourselves.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

19. Even when I physically can’t do anymore and am at my end, God is my strength and He is my eternal reward which is far more important than this physical life now. I can comfort myself with this fact.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 37:26

20. I have only truly failed if I fail to remain faithful to Christ until the end.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

21. Oftentimes I feel like a failure because those who have the world’s values are judging me by their value system. If they hated Jesus and the things He stood for, they aren’t going to appreciate me when I hold to the same values He had. Unfortunately, even many who claim to be Christians also have values that are not in line with Christ.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” John 15:18

22. Our Christian lives are based upon grace –God’s favor that we can’t earn and don’t deserve. We aren’t good enough: but God loves us anyway! We shouldn’t feel like we are beneath everyone else. We should live in the grace. If there is real, actual, Bible-verse-to-back-it-up sin, we should absolutely address it. But, most of the time, when we feel like a failure and that we are not good enough, it is because we fail to understand that we were never meant to be good enough. We were meant to throw ourselves, our not-goodness, onto His mercy and grace. If I was good enough, I wouldn’t need Him, I would get the glory, and He wouldn’t be glorified in my life.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:4-8

23. God is continually giving me mercy in spite of my struggles.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 2:22-23

24. God knows we are human, fallible, and sinful. He is compassionate and atones for us (ie: makes reparation for our failings).

“Their heart was not steadfast toward Him; they were not faithful to His covenant. Yet He, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; He restrained His anger often and did not stir up all His wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.” Psalm 78:37-39

25. In the Parable of the Talents about the master and his servants, the only servant who was a failure was the one who hid his talents (his faith and spiritual gifts) and didn’t use them for the master (God). Unless you are hiding your talents and not living your faith, you are not a failure. You can read the whole parable in Matthew 25:14-30.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25:21

26. This earthly life is meant to be a battle with struggles –Paul calls it a fight. There is no reward mentioned for those who never struggle and have smooth sailing. Struggling isn’t failing. Struggling is fighting! The goal is to stay true to Jesus through the struggle. The only way not to struggle is to give up. For the Christian, that is not an option.

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8

27. Even great Bible men could have felt like failures– if they had let themselves if they didn’t understand that everything that happens is God working in our lives. To many people, Paul’s description in the following passage would seem like failure. It certainly wasn’t living a great life by human standards

“Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” 2 Corinthians 11:24-31

28. Whatever is happening in my life serves God’s greater and higher purpose that He can understand, but I cannot.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

29. Even if the Lord allows me to be a failure by human standards, I should be content with whatever use He has for me. He created me for a purpose that I do not understand, but what I do know is that I don’t have the right to ask the Almighty God why He has chosen to make me a certain way.

“But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” Romans 9:20-21

30. I shouldn’t resent how the Lord is using me or question Him, because –as the Maker– He has the right to do with my life as He pleases even if my life looks like a failure to those who judge me by human standards.

“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?” Isaiah 45:9

31. We are all failures at life because of sin. It is only by God’s grace that we have life and victory over sin. We were dead in our trespasses and sins until Jesus found us. Now, everything we do is because of Him because He made us alive.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-6

32. Everything we do is because He is in us, sustaining us. How can I feel like a failure when He is living in me?

“For ‘In Him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed His offspring.’” Acts 17:28

33. The life I am leading is actually Christ living in me. Would I actually call Christ a failure? Of course not.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

34. If my failure is actually a sin (i.e. if I can find a properly applied chapter and verse in the Bible that says it is sin –not just someone’s opinion), then I can ask for forgiveness and He is faithful to forgive.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

35. God’s word comforts us when we are down. When I feel like a failure, I can turn to Scripture for comfort and understanding.

“Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me. How proud I am to bear Your name, O Lord.” Jeremiah 15:16

36. Feeling like a failure is not a feeling of peace. God gives us peace. Trust Him, His timing, and His ways.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” Colossians 3:15

37. In Joseph’s life, there was difficulty after difficulty, but even things that others did to intentionally try to harm him (such as his brothers selling him into slavery) God used for good. This tells us that God is able to use even the difficult, frustrating, overwhelming, and horrible situations in our lives. While He may not make us assistant rulers of a kingdom like He did Joseph, He can still make some good come from it. You can read the whole story of Joseph and how God worked in his life in Genesis 37-47.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20

38. If God is sovereign even over the rulers of the nations of the earth, He is definitely sovereign over my life, and nothing that happens is out of His control. I don’t need to fear that my failings will upset His plans. You can read the whole story about Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar that this verse is taken from in Daniel 4.

“The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will and sets over it the lowliest of men.” Daniel 4:17

39. Because of God’s grace and justification, no one can condemn me. There is nothing anyone can do or say to take away God’s love from me. Regardless of who accuses me, I’m victorious in Christ.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39

40. The command to us as believers in Christ is to gather for ourselves eternal treasures. That means that we will seem poor –and seem to be making poor choices– to those around us who are not saved because they do not have eternal goals like we do. We will seem like failures to them, but that is because they do not live in light of eternity.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

41. This next passage is talking to believers about how they live their lives. We know it’s to believers because verse 15 says “he will be saved.” Basically, the things that we do with our lives with be tested one day to see if they have eternal value. Anything that’s eternal (influencing souls, developing my own character, encouraging other believers, witnessing, etc) will last, but anything that is temporal (how clean I kept my house, how nice of a car I had, if my hair was done, how much schoolwork my kids did, etc) is all temporal and will burn because it doesn’t have lasting value beyond this life.

“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

42. This prayer of the Psalmist has been my prayer for many years: that God would help me to continually see that my time here on this earth is short and that I should be grateful for the years I have even if during those years I’m afflicted by illness and see evil in this world. I have prayed that I would use the time I have wisely, focusing on eternity and what has eternal value, because there are no do-overs in Heaven.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on Your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.” Psalm 90:12-17

43. In any areas in which we do fail, the Spirit helps us, interceding for us.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27

These scriptures and many more help me keep my focus on eternal things, on God’s values. I feel the worst about myself when I start to judge myself by the world’s values or values that falsely claim to be the Bible (but are not really). With God’s values, I’m wrapped in His grace and His love if I’m saved. If I am focused on eternal things and living for Jesus, I am not a failure.

If you’re not saved, or not sure that you’re saved, please follow this link. The Gospel was written so that we may know we have eternal life. It isn’t enough to whisper some prayer, but if you’re actually saved the proof of that salvation is that you will become progressively more like Jesus Christ. For instance, the fruit of the Holy Spirit as listed in Galations 5:22-23 will become part of who you are. If you are not exhibiting fruits of the Spirit, you need to reevaluate if you are really saved.

It is my prayer that this list will encourage and strengthen my sisters in Christ who are being made to feel like failures for not living up to the world’s standard. You, my friends, have a higher calling, an eternal calling in Jesus!

If you’re struggling with yourself worth in Christ or feeling like a failure, please comment (make sure your name is included) and I’ll pray for you. I would be honored to lift you up to the Lord. I also covet your prayers as my health issues are significant.

If the Lord used this post to encouraged you, please consider sharing the post and subscribing to my blog.


Sarah Forbes

ADHD, faith

The Shoulds of Life Can Destroy You

Should is a messy word.

It’s a messy word that messes with my mind.

I should do this.

I should be able to do that.

Should is like an arrow that shoots guilt into the heart of the receiver and drags them down to the bottom of the Pit of Despair.

With one word, I can make someone else feel like a total loser.

With one thought, I can make myself feel like a total loser.

As my children get older, should takes on a new approach: I should have done this or I should not have done that.

Should doesn’t just destroy me: it can destroy my kids.

How many times have I said, “Well, you should be able to do that!”

I have kids with special needs and should isn’t a fair gauge.

I have ADHD and some massive health problems. Should isn’t a fair gauge for me either.

Should doesn’t have realistic goals.

It looks at the ideal.

Should is a perfectionist who doesn’t want to face reality.

It asks “What would happen if no one had any roadblocks?” and measures everything by that ruler.

The problem with this? We don’t live in an ideal world.

We don’t live in a world free of roadblocks.

We live in this world.

Everyone –no matter who they are– has some impediment ….mental illness, chronic health issues, learning disabilities, childhood trauma –just to name a few.

Should criticizes and tears down the confidence we have and ignores the progress we’ve made.

It changes around our thought process from being content with what is working to being dissatisfied with life.

This is what I have learned about should:

  1. It’s a liar. A lot of times, the things I tell myself I should be able to do aren’t true, or at least they aren’t true for me. “I should be able to do calculus.” Really? I have dyscalculia, a math-based learning disability. I need to change the should to something rational. Something like, “I might be able to do calculus if I get a tutor who specializes in learning disabilities.” Here’s another, “I should be able to keep my house clean.” That pang of guilt from the should kills me, but it’s also not based in reality. I have over 20 medical diagnoses. Some days, I can barely walk. Would I expect a friend in that condition to keep her house immaculately clean, the standard I hold myself to? No. A more reasonable thing to say to myself is: “I might be able to keep the house clean if I get help.”
  2. It’s destructive. If I allow the shoulds of life to take over my heart and mind it destroys every bit of joy I have. There’s only so much that I can control. What is in my power, I can reasonably expect myself to do. What’s outside my control –my health, my children’s disorders, my friend’s attitudes– those I should not guilt myself about and should not second-, third-, and fourth-guess myself. One thing that’s in my power: how I use my words and what thoughts I entertain and encourage. Every little bit of joy, happiness, and confidence can be destroyed by that little word should if I let it have control over me.
  3. There are many versions of should. For example: “If you really loved her, you would have put her in Karate so she’d be able to protect herself.” What is that statement really other than a veiled should intended to bring shame and heartache? How many times have I hidden a guilt-inducing should in a sentence that stung someone like a dagger?

Should is just a helping verb.

Am I really going to let a little verb have this much power over my life and my family’s life when I have the power to change the narrative, power to change my own outlook and happiness, not to mention that of those around me?

Words are very powerful.

Although we liked to reject the power of words as kids (Remember “I’m rubber –you’re glue….”?), the truth is that words have the power to build up, to tear down, to sustain us through the hard times, or compel us to give up. Words can even make us believe there is no hope.

Worse yet, if we say something often enough or loud enough, we start to believe it no matter how far from the truth it may be.

So, I’ve started intentionally changing my narrative. I am trying to rethink my shoulds.

For instance, when I’m panged with guilt and say to myself, “You should have had him in piano years ago!” I change it to, “I could have had him in piano years ago, but we didn’t have the money. I had to make the best decision for the whole family.”

This is truth.

Truth sets me free.

And, poof, the guilt is gone.

Should has lost its power.

When I’m frustrated and think “He should be able to write this” about one of my kids, I change the words I’m using to “could.” “He could write this if he didn’t have this learning disability. I’ve worked really really hard to get him to the place where he is. He may not be where other kids are, but he’s actually doing really well.”

I’m truth-checking my own statements so they do the least damage possible to me and to those around me.

I know should is a liar and that his lies are destructive. So, I’m not letting his lies –no matter what form they take — settle in my heart and mind and contaminate my joy and peace.

Check your shoulds at the door.

Don’t let them ruin you –or those you care about.

You have the power over your inner voice and over the words you speak to others.

Speak truth.


Sarah Forbes

If you found this helpful, you might find these posts about seeking peace and about giving yourself and your kids grace helpful, too.

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You If He Could

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Tank

How Do I Do It All?


What I Wish I Had Known When I Started Blogging

I was recently asked what I wish I had known when I started blogging or what I would tell others who were starting to blog. Apparently, I have inspired some friends to start blogs of their own. This is the advice I passed on to them:

  1. Do it because you love it. Writing is hard. If you are doing it for accolades, to make other people happy or to impress others, you will give up. You need to do it because you are driven to do it for yourself, because you want to help others, and because you desire to make a difference. When I started out blogging the first time back in 2008ish, I was trying to look like all the perfect type-A blog moms –and I failed miserably. I wanted to look perfect, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t. It wasn’t honest. Now, I write because I love to write and because I love to help people. I write what I write even if people don’t like it because I am not trying to make anyone happy. I am trying to do what I think is right. I am okay being me.

  2. People will disagree with you. Sometimes in very unkind ways. That’s okay. Expect it. If you don’t have any haters, you’re probably not doing it right. The good news is that WordPress, as well as most forms of social media, have ways of blocking people who threaten, spam, or otherwise harass you. If you start off expecting it to happen, you won’t be quite as shocked as I was. I am a nice person, and I expect everyone else to be nice. That is not the reality of the world –or especially of the internet.

  3. Be honest. But not too honest. You want to write about things that you know about and that are near and dear to you. But, what you don’t want to do is come across as whiny or complaining. There are some topics that I wish to write about, but which I have refrained from addressing simply because the issue isn’t resolved enough in my life and in my own mind to be able to write it in a positive way. There are some topics I won’t address because they are too personal or it would air my family’s dirty laundry. Establish boundaries and respect those around you. This is important. For instance, I never discuss my husband or children without their permission. Too much honesty in that area could be a breach of trust. My relationships are not worth a few more views.

  4. WordPress is better than Blogger. WordPress wins in the blogging category for a number of reasons, but especially because they have excellent customer service. Unfortunately, Google products are lacking in the help category. For example, I am still trying to figure out why Adsense (a different Google product) has blocked my blog, and I can’t get a clear answer from anyone there about it! I actually like Google and Google products but I haven’t been impressed with their customer service. I have, however, been incredibly impressed with the quality and speed of the help I receive from WordPress. I have used both Blogger and WordPress, but in the end decided on WordPress.

  5. Self-host if you can. Hosting has to do with where your blog’s files are stored. You can store your files with WordPress for free with conditions, but what I learned the hard way is that when you decide that you want to upgrade (so you can make money), you have two choices: a WordPress upgrade which is expensive or another service which is less expensive. The problem is that WordPress makes it hard to transfer your blog files to another service. The transfer was so fraught with troubles that I ended up transferring back to WordPress and paying the higher prices just because the issues on the other server were so great it wasn’t worth the time to fix them –even if I had known how to fix them. You can resolve this problem altogether by starting out using WordPress’ program but not storing your files with them. If you start out hosting in a different site than WordPress, you never have to transfer your files and never have to potentially lose hundreds of dollars and thousands of readers when your blog is down and unreadable. Alternatively, if you want excellent service from a really great company, you could host with WordPress and pay their higher prices for their excellent services. It is worth it, in my opinion, but we all have budgets. I didn’t plan to pay this much, but I do think it is worth what I pay now that I know that many other hosting companies Have really horrendous customer service.

  6. It is best to start out with a little capital. It is best but not necessary. It takes money to make money. If you want to make money from your blog, you are probably going to have to invest some money. The first money I spent (about 6 months after I started the blog) was about $100 that upgraded my blog to a better WordPress package allowing advertising (the free package doesn’t allow advertising). In all, I have spent hundreds of dollars in the last year. I made my first bit of money this last month from advertising. It accumulated over the course of the year until it was large enough for me to receive a check. However, I am still in the hole compared to how much I have spent on the blog. Some of that was the amounts I spent on the other hosting service that didn’t work out. Some of that money I was unable to get back. Experience tax, I guess.

  7. Utilize social media. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. What you are writing can be totally awesome, but if no one is reading it, it won’t matter. Share it –but don’t be obnoxious about it. I haven’t invested in ads yet, but I read that Facebook Ads are actually pretty successful. Most of my views come from Facebook. I share my posts on my groups and hope others will share it if they find it useful. My plan is work on Pinterest next.

  8. It is a lot of work. It has taken daily work for 18 months –sometimes multiple people hours upon hours– to make only a hundred dollars. I didn’t go into it wanting to make money. There are better ways to make money, honestly. This is a passion for me –not a job. Very few people get rich quickly by blogging. It is a long and arduous process. If you don’t love writing, it might not be worth it to you.

  9. Take a break when you need it. After October when I posted daily on social media for nearly 3 weeks, I took a 2-week break and changed my posting schedule. I was beat –and it was affecting my health. All the attention on social media was affecting my health so much so that my labs came back all askew. My doctor said that I needed to regulate myself and set healthier boundaries for myself, or she would dictate what I could do to preserve my health. Know your limits and back off before you make yourself sick. Don’t do what I did.

  10. Educate yourself. There is a ton of information online about running a blog, online business, ect. If you aren’t writing, I recommend that you learn about how to run a blog. It is confusing, and there is a long learning curve, honestly, but it is worth it. Knowing that I have helped others and made a difference in people’s lives makes the threats, spammers, and stress worth it.

  11. Don’t compare. Measure your success against yourself, not others. If I compare myself to someone who has been blogging for years or caught a break when I didn’t, I will get discouraged and stop. If I measure myself against where I was before and where I want to go, I will have a better and more realistic view of my blog.

  12. Stay true to yourself. Your most popular most might not be your favorite posts. I love writing about my faith and chronic illness, but my readers love reading about homeschooling and ADHD. My most viewed posts are not the ones that I poured my heart and soul into. Honestly, many of the posts that have gotten the most views are the ones that I wrote on an impulse because I thought it was useful information. Apparently, I am pretty good at writing about homeschooling and ADHD, because people enjoy reading it. However, I can still write about things that are really dear to me, like my faith, while also writing about things that are more popular. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. I have read that you’re supposed to pick a niche topic and stick to that. But, that isn’t true to who I am. I decided to write about what I am good at writing about (ADHD and homeschooling) while also staying true to my passion (my faith and illness).

    I hope this helps some inspiring bloggers. It has been a long journey but definitely a rewarding one!

    Sarah Forbes

    Like what you see? Share it!


Posts You Might Have Missed

With the recent changes on the blog, there seems to have been some hiccups. For some reason, it seems that many of my followers were not receiving emails notifying them of new posts. I hopefully have the issue resolved, and so I decided to do an update post in case you missed some of my recent posts.

I created a much needed ADHD Clinician Database. Do you know an awesome clinician? Please, share it with our members in the comments of this post. It is such a great need. It is so hard to find good doctors!

ADHD Clinician Database


My family has a history of hoarding. When you have ADHD, mental health issues, or chronic health problems, you can easily fall into hoarding. This post is an honest, plain look at the multi-generational effect that hoarding has on families and my endeavor to break the hold the possessions have over our lives.

Overcoming Hoarding


What do you do if you think that you or your child has ADHD? Where do you start? How do you know if the doctor you are seeing is a good doctor to treat ADHD? This an more is discussed in this pose about getting an ADHD diagnosis. It is especially important to have a full phycological evaluation to rule out other conditions. 50% of ADHDers have additional psychiatric conditions and these conditions can significantly complicate ADHD and its treatment.

How to Get an ADHD Diagnosis


Hopefully, the glitching is over, but thank you for your patience as we work on upgrading and improving the blog.

Sarah Forbes

ADHD, hoarding, illness

Overcoming Hoarding

Many people with mental health conditions, ADHD, and chronic illness deal with hoarding tendencies. Our relationship with stuff can be incredibly complicated and overwhelming.

This is the story of my family and my struggle with hoarding.

Do you know the difference between hoarding and collecting? A collection that is not actually valuable, useful, organized, and accessible is likely hoarding because if you can’t manage your things, you will easily fall into hoarding.

Now, before I get started, let me apologize to my family for any of the details that I may have gotten wrong. My intent in writing this post is to help other people who are struggling with hoarding. My writing is only as accurate as my memory. Since many of the things described in this post happened when I was a child or even before I was born, I am doing my best to accurately convey them to the best of my recollection. Please forgive me if I am less than totally accurate about some of the details. Please know that I am not disparaging anyone’s character in this post, but rather giving commentary on the effects of mental and physical illnesses.

This is the story of four Sarahs. Four girls, all named Sarah, spanning nearly a century.

This is the story of how hoarding has affected our lives and the story of my pursuit to break the generational hold that stuff –possessions– has on our lives.

Sarah Number One

My great grandmother’s name was Sarah. I never had the pleasure of knowing my great-grandmother as she died before I was born. I know that she was a very caring, loving lady who had only one child: my grandmother, also named Sarah. While my grandmother described my great grandmother as loving, she also described her as controlling and obsessive. If she were alive today, I have no doubt that she would be diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She required everything to be meticulously clean all the time. She held my grandmother –who was not naturally meticulous– to her standard. My grandmother was not allowed to save treasures or things that were important to her. Everything always had to be perfect in their house –and if it was not, then my grandmother was not even allowed to have friends over. Once, my great grandmother decided that her curtains were not right, therefore my grandmother was not allowed to have company. Listening to my grandmother describe her relationship with her mother, it was quite obvious that –while she loved her mother very much– she did not agree with how her mother chose to interact. Her mother put a huge emphasis on things, on perfection, and on tidiness at the expense of all else. This attitude would greatly influence her daughter.

Sarah Number Two and Three

My grandmother is Sarah number two. She grew up, got married, and had children. From what I have heard, she didn’t really start having problems with hoarding until after her fourth pregnancy. There were complications, she was hospitalized, and the baby –named Sarah Jane– died. Sarah Jane is Sarah number three. Sarah Jane was one of eight babies my grandmother lost. My grandmother’s health –physical and mental (which often go hand-in-hand)– declined from there. From what I understand, it was sometime around then the time of Sarah Jane’s death that my grandmother started hoarding. My father describes a memory of being so happy once when the living room was cleaned out that he has his siblings danced around happily because there was finally enough room to play.

Grandma probably had many of the same conditions that I have. Unfortunately for her, in the 1950s and 1960s, doctors were less likely to diagnose and treat conditions in women, and many of the conditions I have were unknown –undiagnosable– at the time. If I had to guess I would diagnose her with a thyroid problem, estrogen dominance, ADHD (maybe even a form of autism?), OCD hoarding –just from the limited knowledge I have. Since I spent very little time with her as an adult, this is mostly based on my memories of her as a child. Even in the 2000s when my mother was taking care of my grandmother, her doctors dismissed her symptoms and didn’t take it seriously. If they had taken it seriously, we may have discovered her cancer in time to save her life –but that is another story for another time.

Before Great Grandma died in the 1970s (when I was yet to be a gleam in my daddy’s eye), she bought Grandma a beautiful Civil War era house with a wrap around porch on a hill. It was certainly large enough to house my grandmother’s family of (by then) seven children.

In 1976, my mother visited my father, her then boyfriend, at this house. During the visit, their freezer died, and my mother assumed it would be dealt with.

But like many things, it was not.

By the time I knew Grandma, her house was full to the brim with stuff. So full of stuff that I don’t know what her house really looked like. All I could see was goat trails through piles. Even the outside of the house was cluttered and obscured with stuff.

In the 1990s, something got too close to the coal burning furnace in the basement, and that beautiful house burned to the ground nearly killing my grandfather who was sleeping on the fourth floor. That same fridge was still where it had died in December of 1976. It had never been cleaned out –never even opened I was told.

My grandmother moved a trailer onto the property with the intent of sorting through the rubble of the fire for her “treasures” that were in the fire. Due to her mental health issues or the physical health issues which restricted her movements, this sorting didn’t happen. She wouldn’t let people clean out the property. Even years later she complained about the things she hadn’t been able to save. What she did save was often ruined by water or smoke damage but it was still vital to her –absolutely essential to her that she had these things.

Eventually, the county forced them to sell the property and the debris from the house was cleaned up. What she had saved was moved into one of her children’s houses merely transferring her hoarding to a new location.

Unfortunately, the actual issue was not addressed.

What follows is my opinion based on conversations with my Grandmother when I was in high school (some of my family may or may not agree): My grandmother’s mother was an OCD clean-freak, critical of my unknown-then-probably ADHD (among other things) grandmother. My grandmother never learned to view possessions in a healthy way. She was forced to never keep anything –even special things– as a child, and she reacted as an adult by keeping everything.

This has been passed on to her kids, grandkids, and now great grandkids. It’s like our brains are wired to see possibilities and struggle to get rid of them. We make emotional connections to and plans for the things we possess. We can see the possibilities and struggle to look beyond that to the problems those possessions are causing in our lives.

I’ve read about epigenetic and how researchers believe that certain traumas in your family history can trigger a switch in your ancestors genetic make-up inclining you toward certain behavior or certain conditions.

Sarah Number Four

Hi, I am Sarah number four. Actually, I am Sarah number seven in our family according to my grandmother, but I am only including four of the Sarahs for the purpose of our story.

I am very much like my grandmother in many ways. I am gifted, artistic, and not naturally organized –totally ADHD. I look like her, even down to the same weight problems she had. I love dresses and long hair, just like she did. My aunt likes to remind me how much I look like Grandma. We have many of the same health problems, likely a result of shared genetics.

I recognized this struggle with possessions in myself in my early twenties.

I didn’t want to copy the same mistakes that my grandmother had made. I wanted to make wiser, better choices about my possessions.

I don’t want my possessions to rule my life.

So, I started actively working on my own view of possessions until I could get rid of things. More than once, I cleaned everything surplus out of my house –then I would relapse due to my illness. So, I would clean it all out again. At one time, I hauled 3 truckloads of craft and art supplies out of my garage to the local thrift store.

It took a few years of forcing myself to face this issue and my approach to possessions before I saw real progress.

The first few times, I will be honest –it was really hard. I had plans for those things when I bought them. But, my ideas are always greater than my time and my energy. Learning to accept reality was very important to my ability to part with my stuff and not bring more stuff into my home –as was dealing with my health and mental health issues (an option that was not available in my grandmother’s time).

Here is the reality: I will always have more ideas and plans than I have time and energy for. Once I accepted that as a fact, it made getting rid of things so much easier. Knowing that my ideas were greater than my ability to fulfill my ideas meant that I could put a priority on the things that were really important and get rid of the other things.

It was then that I started noticing this same hoarding tendency in my children.

I am fighting a multigenerational battle.

This battle –as far as I know– started with my great-grandmother and how she interacted with my grandmother and has been passed down from generation to generation.

Now, it’s passed to my children.

I am now fighting for my future grandchildren.

I am fighting to break a pattern of behavior that is neither healthy nor ideal. It is not what I want for my children and grandchildren.

Although sometimes due to my health and my inability to clean my house still resembles that of a hoarder, it is not because I cannot get rid of things.

I have learned to get rid of things.

At one point, a group of ladies came to help me clean out my house. In one day, we overhauled and cleaned out the whole house. I was getting rid of things hand-over-fist as fast as they could bring them to me.

For me, overcoming this need to have things just in case or because they were special, unique, or important to me came down to a few factors:

1) I’m a Christian. If I believe God will provide what I need then I don’t need to keep every little thing just in case. We need far fewer things than we think we need. Most of what we think of as needs are actually wants. I should be storing (hoarding) treasures in heaven not here on this earth.

2) There are very few things that are truly unique, and nearly everything I own could be bought again on Amazon or eBay if I truly and actually needed it. The toll of the possessions on my life is not worth keeping things just so I feel like I have been frugal.

3) Our things must fit in our space. If they don’t, we are not good stewards of our space. Our space –such as our homes– is also something God has given us. If things don’t fit in our space, it makes everyone miserable.

4) Even if I saved it for later, if I can’t manage my stuff, then even when I need it, I will not be able to find it, in which case I have wasted the storage space and my time.

5) I decided that people were more important than things. If I am choosing to fill up my home with things, to make my home unsafe for my children, to force my children and husband to work around my possessions that I refuse to get rid of, I have prioritized things over people –over my own family. I cannot do this in good conscience.

6) I decided I was not bringing new things into our house unless they were necessary. If I have the mindset that I am not bringing new things into the house, it saves me a lot of hassle. My first answer is “No new things.” If we actually need new things, I can adjust. But, assuming I will not bring new things into the home helps keep me from the mindset of always collecting new things. It was a change in the way that I think about possessions.

With the intent of teaching my children to not cling to possessions too tightly, I have begun to embrace minimalism. Not entirely –because I still have way too much stuff, but I have found the idea of not having more than we need very helpful.

I have worked really hard with my children on this issue. We have discussed at length –with kindness and understanding as well as honesty– about my grandmother’s issues.

I remember how traumatic it was when I came home from school at age five and many of my favorite things were gone. I know my mother meant to help, however, it made me cling to things more tightly. I do not force my children to get rid of things. Instead, we discuss what’s needed, why we keep things, the nature of possessions and how they can possess us if we aren’t careful. I’m trying to teach them how to get rid of things. How to be rational about possessions.

They have a drawer in their dresser that they can keep special things in and a box on their school shelf for special papers. When the box is full, they have to choose what to keep. Sometimes, we photograph special items and save the photo if we have to get rid of the item. I try to treat them –and their feelings– with respect. As an adult, their things may not seem important to me, but it is very important to them. If I want them to value what I value, I need to be willing to value what is important to them.

I’m not going to lie and say that this is an easy topic. It’s not. I’m fighting generations of genetics that incline us to certain behaviors.

I don’t get rid of everything. For instance, I have never gotten rid of one piece of my art. Somethings are important to keep.

With my children, I have decided to pick my battles, to be more concerned about if they’re learning to be discerning than if they get rid of every little thing.

It’s a journey.

One that I’m still on.

But I know there’s hope because I can see how much I’ve improved. I can see how much my children have improved.

I have learned to be thankful for what I have and thankful to have just what I need instead of clinging to everything for the one-day-plans that I had. Being thankful has greatly improved my outlook on things! If I’m thankful for what I have I’m less likely to feel the need to acquire more.

I posted a version of this article on one of my facebook groups and inspired a self-proclaimed hoarder to start cleaning her house. So, I am posting it here, honestly and plainly, in hopes that it will help and inspire others.

I do not claim to have conquered this area — on the contrary, it may be something I struggle with for my whole life.

But, if you struggle with it, you are not alone. There is hope. There is progress. It can get better. The first step, in my experience, is to get a proper diagnosis. A lot of hoarding is a result of unaddressed anxiety. You can’t help what you don’t understand. Thankfully, unlike in my grandmother’s day, there are doctors who will listen to women and treat them.

Be your own advocate.

Fight for yourself, for your family, for your future.

Your choices now don’t just affect you: they affect the generations to come.


Sarah Forbes

P.S. To any of my family who reads this, please give me grace as I tried to deal with this topic as graciously and honestly as I could.

If you found this post helpful, I would be honored if you would share it.