Compartmentalized thinking – in a bad way.

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    • #113404

      Hi there, I am new to this board. I was diagnosed with ADHD many years ago and have been on various medications. Some incredibly helpful, and some not. The reason I am writing, is because of a particular quirk in my brain that definitely seems to get in the way, and I have not seen much research on the subject. I tend to unconsciously do what I call compartmentalized thinking. In the sense that my brain can be on two completely different tracks of thought, involving the same timeline, but neither seem to meet. For instance, I often wind up having two, completely different sets of plans for the same timeframe, with one never even considering the other, until it either gets too close or turns out to be too late. I need to colorcode things on my calendar, in order to keep my life straight sometimes! LOL. At work, I seem to be focused on a particular task for a particular reason, not considering any other ramifications of the task good or bad. Sometimes, this issue is small and unimportant, but a few times it has gotten me into unintentional trouble. Has anyone else out there ever had this kind of difficulty? I am very curious and would like to know that I am not the only one with this particular symptom. Thanks so much!

    • #113424

      I am a MASSIVE compartmentalized thinker. I would say I’m probably the queen of this ahahha. It is well known among those close to me as well.

      I definitely think it’s an ADHD thing, but I also found it worsened for me with some childhood trauma I went through starting at a young age. At the time it was highly beneficial as it allowed me to cope with the stress and abuse through escape. So I’ve never looked at is as a negative. I think I would have lost my mind if I hadn’t developed that skill. Do you think your compartmentalization could be due to some traumas from your past possibly? (You don’t have to tell me obviously, just thought it might be a good question for you to ask yourself.) Have you found any parts of your life that this skill has been useful? Personally, emotionally speaking, this has saved me through many sad points that a lot of people go through in life just in general. For example on the same day I had to put my dog down, I was still able to go to work (I had to work this day there was no way around it, I was very poor at the time) but this type of thought process is what made it possible for me to work with out losing my emotions. So again, I’ve found it to be more of a positive. I feel like it allows for a heavier mental stress load than the average person has as it creates mental balance.

      For the days it’s hindering more than helping I’ve found that visualization is a very helpful coping technique for me. This is what I find myself just doing naturally at this point: I picture my brain as a solar system or a house for example, and sometimes when I’m on the wrong task I literally have to think to myself “okay leave this room, leave this head space and try to walk down the hall” or “hey time to lift off of Pluto now, you need to be on earth”
      I know this sounds weird, but I’m definitely a very visual person and sometimes visualizing something like leaving one room and entering another (each representing what I need to be doing / not be doing) will help me get back on track. I think these kinds of coping mechanisms are popular in meditation? When you “visualize you are somewhere relaxing”. I’m not sure but I learned this as a child just through my own weirdness and I have found it to help. It’s probably also discussed somewhat in cognitive behavioral therapy. Not sure just a guess. I just know that it seems many people with ADHD have a very artistic/unique mental perspective and adding something like visualization techniques seem like a natural fit. For example you mentioned color coding your planner? I do this too! 🙂

      Anyway sorry this is so stupid long, I hope it doesn’t come off as a lecture or something, I don’t mean it that way. I still really struggle with this issue too, it was really nice to see your post as I relate to it so much, I definitely had that “OH me too” moment while reading.


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