What unfocused feels like?

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  • This topic has 13 replies, 13 voices, and was last updated 4 years ago by nw.
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    • #72147

      I’m trying to explicitly define what symptoms I have that are bothering me before I go talk to a doctor and I’m wondering if the following is symptomatic of ADHD.

      When I don’t have anything I need to do my brain can be calm. Sometimes it might race, like last night at 4am, but it’s usually okay. But stress is another thing altogether. A perfect example is when I’m working on a mental problem. It could be reading or writing software. I seem to have a limit as to how much I can do at one time. When I write software and I have a big task to handle I can solve a sub task that felt good to complete, maybe something that took 10 or 20 minutes, and then, rather than jump back in and work on the next part there’s a part of my brain screaming at me to go do something else. Check the mail, check the news, pretty much do anything that’s away from the job at hand. Five minutes later I can jump back in but it’s a constant distraction. This causes me to waste a lot of time.

      If dopamine is what I’m seeking then when I get some shouldn’t I want more and keep going? It’s like I’m really pleased that I completed something but I just walk away. Or is this a mini version of dopamine after sex, a big initial boost and then grumpy afterwards until things balance out?

      I also don’t handle multiple tasks at the same time because that’s when my brain starts to race. While I’m trying to do task A tasks B, C, and D keep jumping up in the back of my mind and it’s really hard to stay on A. One thing I do well at is any problem that requires multiple views of how to solve it. Soft ware is one thing amenable to this. I can bounce around to different aspects. A crossword puzzle is also a good example. If I get stuck on 1 down, move on to 2 down, ….

    • #72149

      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 lot..it 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 🙂

    • #72152

      liasamturn, not bossiness at all. I suspect everyone on this forum is writing from their hearts. It’s just nice to know that I’m not alone.

      Thanks for the tip about behavior vs feelings.

    • #72333

      Amen on the hyperfocus I know a lot of basically useless information I can’t apply to my real life (which lies in wait for me to take action on it and actually plan set goals carry through) I spent the entire afternoon and evening yesterday googling about bear attacks on people how to survive one and lists of people killed by bears in last few decades. How to tell the three main types of bears and all their habits and behaviours – fascinating and terrifying also So random and annoying but had me intrigued. Why oh why can’t I sum up that level of interest for the stuff the stuff for life I actually really need to do?! I find my Dexedrine activates me to “do” rather than just sit and “think” (gets me out of my head and makes me stop ruminating about everything and analyzing) but honestly it takes a lot of stimulant meds to get me activated and I wonder if that much of it is really bad for my body.

    • #72334

      Thank you so much for your descriptions, you are describing my husband! I think he would be sooo much more productive if he would just TRY a medication. I research so much on my kids(while I skip from here to there and a commercial and a pop-up ad, and laundry and why is the dog barking …yeah me too..) but haven’t seen an adult description like this yet. Thank you all for sharing this, and I hope this helps other adults who are not sure or not ready to accept or admit or even medicate. Good luck!

      • This reply was modified 4 years ago by Rivergirl.
    • #72975

      it feels like everyone on the room stares at you and their face said, “what stupid you are! It’s so easy. why u can’t focus to little thing like this?”

    • #73311

      Sounds like it my friend. It’s tough and exhausting. By the time I get home, my energy to play with my son is limited. Simply because I’m mentally burned out. Between my job and all
      Of the random racing thoughts, “research”, walking around talking, scrolling through my phone, etc. You just don’t have it in you after awhile. Like Lia said, you get really high up but when you come down, you crash if you had an entire pot of coffee hour before. I am medicated but even so I still find my focus somewhere else other than my job. I am like the person above, it takes a lot to get my brain from wondering and just doing what needs to get done.

    • #73336

      Listen to the webinar from today, 1/11/18 if you have not yet. One of the best ones I’ve heard from ADDitude… Seriously!
      Then tell yourself, “Squirrel!”

    • #73367

      I totally agree with everything everyone has said on this topic. Having a Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes can be very difficult. Things have been so much better however since I was diagnosed with ADHD and started medication. I grew up feeling that I was full of talent and great invention ideas, but I could never seem to get started on any real path to Realizing my potential. In fact that word “potential” is like a four letter word to me. That’s all I ever seem to hear from people. She has so much potential! But I could rarely get organized enough to complete any invention, or story, or song, or movie idea, or painting, that I ever started. Or if I did complete it, I could never get the courage to take the next step and try to Really do anything to put it out in the world. It was like ADHD was my superpower, and my curse all at the same time!

    • #73377

      Totally agree with that. That’s me too – without a doubt. Have to break off and do another thing to keep focus on the first thing. One thing leads to another until I’m like a train lost on the system running down sidetracks and byways.

      But then – isn’t that a marker for creativity?

      Does ADHD = Creativity?

      Though maybe not necessarily productivity. It’s a conundrum.

      Comiz Matt. We’re all with you.

    • #73390

      hi i was going to put a long post on here but liasamtum. took the words right out of my
      mouth it was like i wrot that post my self
      i would add to this that ive been treated
      unsuccessfullu treated for bipolar for 8
      years sheets and sheets of writing about my moods emotions and behaviors it wasnt until i happened to
      say that ive been like this since childhood
      that my pyschiatrists ears pricked up and sent me to
      the adhd clinic 8 wastes years of different
      medications that dont work so i would say tell them about behaviors as mentioned above but most importantly when it all started especially if
      childhood thanks for listening .dave

    • #73625

      Since finding this site several months ago, I continue to be amazed by the number of stories that describe my own. For years I thought I was going insane.

      I was fortunate to be put on a waiting list for a psychiatric evaluation that slotted me in to an appointment someone else decided not to attend. I’ve been living with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder for decades and have suspected the existence of ADD for some time. There were mixed emotions when the psychiatrist confirmed it to be so several months ago at my second lengthy appointment.

      The anxiety associated with my constant stop-and-go, on-and-off behaviour has diminished somewhat with the knowledge that I’m not going out of my mind, but because I take antidepressants, I’m reluctant to add ADD medication to the mix.

      Anyone out there have experience with this combination of meds? Does ADD medication really help with focus and linear thought?

      • #73674
        Penny Williams

        A great number of people take both an antidepressant and ADHD medication, because those with ADHD commonly have more than one condition co-existing.

        Try posting your question about taking two types of medication together on the Treating My ADHD forum here: https://www.additudemag.com/forums/forum/manage-your-life/treating-adult-adhd/.

        ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #73673

      Hi all, I have ADHD and to top this I am also Dyslexic.

      In 2012 I decided to write an autobiography about my life, The Answer is Yes Now What is the Question – How I turned 37p into 100 million pounds. It took me 3½ years to write, anyone else probably would have taken only 6 months. I’m not trying to promote the book it’s just an example of not being able to concentrate on one thing at a time.

      I have always thought ADHD has had its advantages in my business of retail and building, always flitting about getting distracted but finding at the same time opportunities that would be passed over by other people

      Please don’t suppress this great aspect of your life with medication, live your ADHA life to the full and let people know that you have this wonderful gift.

      All the very best, Neville Wright.

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