Reply To: What unfocused feels like?

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That sounds exactly like the adhd I know and hate! My main symptom is that I cannot get the balance between hyperfocus and totally vacancy; it’s all or nothing…. For example (it’s a necessarily long example, so skip the next paragraph for tldr):

I spent all day today half asleep because I had nothing to do, but now – for the last 3 HOURS, actually – I’ve been on my ridiculous pattern of obsessive over-interest in everything at once.. I started learning German, but then I heard something interesting about genetic markers on tv so I had to research that, but that splintered off into researching 10 other things so my non-biology commuting brain could understand the first thing, oh but also I think I’ll take the dog for a walk; man, these new streetlights are horrible, I’m gonna research if they affect the circadian rhythm of wildlife….oh no I can’t, because I left my phone somewhere while I was looking for my boots.. I’d like some new boots, I’ll write that on my hand so I remember to get some when I get home so-no WAIT A MINUTEEEEE…why have I never considered becoming an animal behaviorist? Let’s read everything until my phone dies and finally stops me.

It’s exhausting… I’ve learnt that adhd people are only motivated by urgency or interest (see: becoming so absorbed in curiosity research or leaving bills until the last panic inducing reminder), which I reckon is the main tell of the disorder. I’ve always procrastinated on deadlines until I’ve left it so late it’s like having a rocket up my arse – urgency is just necessary for me to do something. Dopamine is a bit weird in adhd brains, too….studies mention it a doesn’t work in the same way as a normie feeling pleased about achieving something… When I’m really involved in something and it pays off, it’s like a massive high that I’ve been competent and productive(!!) but my superhuman feeling is almost always a result of hyperfocus….feeling like you’re riding a wave because interest and urgency power you through, which is great until the ‘what goes up must come down’ thing…

I’ve also learnt that this weird, flitty hyperfocus you’re talking about is almost ALWAYS followed by a crash that totally resembles the lethargy and absent minded nature of depression, from the sheer amount of energy you don’t realise it uses. I’ve honestly never had a time when I thought I was ‘happy and competent’ (which I realise, now, is just riding the hyperfocus wave) that hasn’t been followed by a crash that’s like having the wind knocked out of you.

One thing I will say…. I hope this whole post hasn’t come off as know it all bossiness, because I’m new to it myself and just happened to find an exceptional psychiatrist…is to try and describe behaviour more than feelings to your doctor…feelings tend to be a bit negated by doctors because they’re so subjective, but behaviour tends to be more objectively described – like describing how you’ve been flitting between tasks for 2 hours punctuated by running off to have a stress cry for 20 minutes (no? Just me?) instead of trying to explain that you feel sad or a bit scattered.

I don’t know where you live, but I reckons it would be worth you asking to be referred to a psychiatric specialist…they’re not as scary as they sound, and here in England at least they are the only ones with a real understanding of mental problems… I will always remember seeing my gp complaining that I couldn’t concentrate at uni and my head felt like a pressure cooker, and his response was simply: ‘….mmm…do you have a sore throat..?’ 😂

Lots of luck to you. You sound very clever and intuitive, so I’m sure you will get things sorted quickly 🙂