There was a time when I recommended to people with ADHD that they consider the structure of the armed forces as a possible career that would benefit them.
The way our brains work benefits greatly from that structure in so many ways.
The endless questions we ask ourselves about what to do next, how to prioritize what needs doing, how to deal with things that pop up suddenly, many of these are taken away from us in the structure of a military life.
And that’s not all …
Getting paid in civilian life means figuring out how to disperse that money to cover utilities and needed services, how to pay for food and health care, clothing, etc. and how much to set aside as savings for the future.
And as civilians with this task at hand, we, the people with ADHD, often struggle. There’s no training for that, well, little training, and accessing it means first finding it and then opting in to it.
But in the service, your meals and healthcare are taken care of, your pension is provided, clothing is not only handed to you, there’s no having to decide what to wear, you’re told, there’s a schedule or a posting that indicates uniform of the day. And the balance of your paycheck goes into your account.
It’s a solid life
For people with ADHD, people with wavering abilities in the areas of organization and life management, armed services structure is the solution to the problem that is life with ADHD.
It is almost perfect.
There are several small problems.
The fact that people with ADHD are susceptible to trauma, are often empathic and sensitive people means that PTSD is a likely result of being deployed in aggressive situations.
The fact that people with ADHD are highly likely to have comorbid conditions that are not conducive to performing the duties of a soldier in hostile situations makes it worse.
The fact that one aspect of ADHD is an inability to stop replaying traumatic situations means that people with ADHD may well be unable to leave the stress far enough behind to be able to get past the damaging aspects of their duties.
I’m sorry …
I’m not trying to cast aspersions on the services, and I’m especially not trying to generate negative sentiment toward them at this time. But I am revising my recommendation to people with ADHD regarding my suggestion that the army was the only life for us. Yes, or the navy, or the air force.
I’m revising my recommendation not just because of these things mentioned, the impacts of which, on persons with ADHD, are not yet fully understood, but also because in recent years it has become more and more apparent that if war and police actions do have negative effects on the participants, they end up having to deal with those negative impacts on their own and with little or no help.
People with ADHD are already a poorly understood group, placing them in a situation where even those without ADHD are struggling with the effects and those effects are poorly understood and under supported seems foolhardy at best, and dangerous at worst.
I’m not saying …
I’m not telling anyone not to engage in service, but I’m no longer saying it is an idea that might benefit you if you have ADHD.
And if you’ve already joined up, do yourself a favor and look after yourself as best you can.
Take good care of yourself, and I hope you benefit from it more than you suffer.
And I offer that same hope to everyone in the service.