Stop Moralizing ADD and Mental Illness

Hey everyone, I’m Angela, my passion is to break the stigma of mental health issues among fellow Christians. I’m here to help you live a life of purpose—in your relationship with God and with one another.

Today I’m going to be a little directive and ask you to stop moralizing about ADD and mental illness. What do I mean by this? We’ve all experienced someone moralizing. It’s when someone gets up on their soap box, commenting on what you should and shouldn’t be doing to treat your mental illness or disorder. It’s usually done with that sense that they are 100% right and you couldn’t possibly have done your research at all. It’s never particularly helpful or uplifting, and is usually leans in the direction of shame and pride. So why is it so important not to moralize about mental illness specifically?

Let me offer a little personal background.

When my husband Michael and I first discovered that he struggled with some kind of mental illness, the obvious culprit was ADD because he had been diagnosed with this as a child. Prior to learning about this disorder, I had all kinds of “moralizing” thoughts about Michael.

He’s so smart, if he would only try harder he could be successful.

Why can’t he be a grown up and simply sit still in church.

It’s pretty embarrassing, but I was uneducated about ADD. After reading some great books, which I’ll reference in the notes below, I realized how condescending and unsupportive I was being. The truth was Michael was very persistent and fighting a biological battle that I knew nothing about. It wasn’t a matter of willpower. Maybe I need to repeat that: It wasn’t a matter of willpower!

We’re learning more and more all the time about how our brains work. As this science is developing, we have the capacity to scan the brain and discover amazing information. Psychology today  reports that “fMRI research conducted with children who have ADHD reinforces that “lazy” is simply an ADHD myth.”

“In a presentation to the Society for Neuroscience, biologist Tudor Puiu suggested that in children with ADHD an important mental control area of the brain (the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex), works much harder and, perhaps, less efficiently than for those without ADHD. “These networks are disrupted. The ADHD brain has to work harder than the normal brain,” he said.

My husband describes it like this:

“In my brain I think about things in an orderly fashion. It’s like a group of scientists who have all the details together in organized files, labeled, annotated, indexed, cross referenced, and peer reviewed. It’s perfect. Then it’s time for the handoff and in walks a disheveled bike messenger who shoves the folders carelessly into his bag, papers falling out everywhere. He then heads off to the mouth to make the presentation. Once he gets there, it all falls apart, disarray ensues and everyone is looking at me like: Didn’t you think this through at all?

What does this mean for those of us who are not struggling with ADD or another mental illness that’s effecting our executive functioning?

We Can Be a Part of the Solution

#1 Stop reinforcing the idea that the struggle is a moral one. It’s clearly been proven to be a biological issue.

#2 Stop criticizing and extend grace for differences. Your loved one processes and executes their life in their own unique way.

#3 Ask your loved one what would be helpful. They don’t think the same way that you do, so offering solutions that work for you doesn’t solve their problem. Brainstorming with them, instead of for them is much more empowering in the long term.

Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. Romans 12:6 (MSG)

Question and Action Steps:

How have you heard people moralizing about ADD or other mental illnesses? Comment below, I’d love to hear some of your stories.

Please subscribe for more videos on our Youtube Channel and check out our Mental Health Monthly subscription so you won’t miss out on any of our amazing resources. I’ll be sharing great tips and encouragement for whatever your facing—whether you’re fighting mental illness or have a loved one who is.


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