27 votes

Let's talk about attention

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my own attention lately, and I'm curious to hear others' thoughts. I don't want to prime the thread, but I'll probably type up some of my own considerations in a comment later.

Any and all comments/experiences are welcome, especially those from people with ADHD or other similar conditions that impact executive functioning.

  • Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus?
  • Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage?
  • Do you feel as if anything has changed over time?
  • How would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way from you?

Those are simply guiding questions to get the ball rolling, but I don't want to limit the conversation to just them. Really I'm interested in hearing anything anyone is wanting to share about their relationship with attention and focus.

35 comments

  1. [12]
    mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    I have severe ADHD. Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus? Absolutely not, even with therapy and medication. Concentrating even in the most mundane tasks requires...

    I have severe ADHD.

    • Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus?

    Absolutely not, even with therapy and medication. Concentrating even in the most mundane tasks requires enormous mental energy and I'm quickly exhausted.

    • Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage?

    No, and yes I must manage it every single moment of my life.

    • Do you feel as if anything has changed over time?

    The symptoms got much worse over time.

    • How would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way from you?

    Try to remember how you feel when you're feeling tipsy, in the process of getting drunk but not quite there yet. Now imagine that you must sit alone in a quiet room and fill a very long form about something that is both intricate and boring. You want to get back to your friends at the bar, but you can only do so after finishing filling the forms. Imagine that this happens to you every day, for several hours. Now you have a distant idea of what it feels like to have ADHD.

    19 votes
    1. callmedante
      Link Parent
      What a vivid, heartbreaking description. Thank you for sharing that, it gives me a renewed respect for the struggle of ADHD.

      What a vivid, heartbreaking description. Thank you for sharing that, it gives me a renewed respect for the struggle of ADHD.

      6 votes
    2. asoftbird
      Link Parent
      Seconding this. Also, when trying to focus, there's the sound of someone knocking on a door 3 or 4 floors above/below you, once, which completely throws you off & you need a few moments to regain...

      Seconding this. Also, when trying to focus, there's the sound of someone knocking on a door 3 or 4 floors above/below you, once, which completely throws you off & you need a few moments to regain focus. The tiniest noises piss me the fuck off due to this.

      l've got a boatload of mental/physical issues and the adhd is by far the worst.

      3 votes
    3. [9]
      tomf
      Link Parent
      Have you ever tried pink noise? If not, I’ll tell you about the therapy I went through for ADHD.

      Have you ever tried pink noise? If not, I’ll tell you about the therapy I went through for ADHD.

      2 votes
      1. [8]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        Yeah. I listen to white noise pretty much all day because of my tinnitus. I'd be happy to hear about your experience with therapy.

        Yeah. I listen to white noise pretty much all day because of my tinnitus. I'd be happy to hear about your experience with therapy.

        4 votes
        1. [7]
          tomf
          Link Parent
          White noise is good for background noise, but pink noise is good for focus. You can look up the reasoning behind this. It sounds flakey, but it worked well for me. long drawn out story about some...

          White noise is good for background noise, but pink noise is good for focus. You can look up the reasoning behind this. It sounds flakey, but it worked well for me.

          long drawn out story about some therapy I did I had really high ADHD and still do, but not nearly as bad as it was. I went to this doctor who was one of the folks who invented psychoneurophysiology -- or something along those lines. Anyway, while I waited for my sessions to start (the scheduling), he gave me a cassette of pink noise.

          Basically, I found that listening to pink noise at a level where I can barely hear it totally calmed my brain down and got me into 'the zone' (more on this soon).

          For the therapy side, it was super weird at first, but it was life-changing. The session would start with me wearing these glasses (like those big old people ones) with lights inside. I could sleep through this if I wanted, but the lights flashes and pulsed like crazy.

          The next step had sensors on my ears and the top of my head. I was sitting in front of a screen that had a silo in the middle and a hot air balloon on the left. The goal was to focus and move the hot air balloon up and over the silo. Once you get into the right rhythm, the balloon moves. This took me two or three sessions of 45m each -- then suddenly I got a little blip.

          Once I got into 'the zone' I could move the balloon with ease. Over a few sessions it was easier and easier to get into that zone -- and now I basically live in it, or at least can switch it on when I need to.

          This was all done through Dr Paul Swingle in Vancouver. On paper the thing sounds crazy, but it worked really well for me.

          Back to pink noise...

          Pink noise worked really well for me. I still use it from time to time. White noise is good for drowning stuff out, but pink noise really dials me in.

          Pink noise sounds nicer than white noise because its an overall lower frequency. You should be able to find a good FLAC online somewhere.

          As for tinnitus, have you ever tried this? https://generalfuzz.net/acrn/

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            mrbig
            Link Parent
            In my case the priority is masking the tinnitus which is really loud. White noise is best for that. I tend to use apps for noise, the one I currently use has all color noises. I'll check the...

            In my case the priority is masking the tinnitus which is really loud. White noise is best for that.

            I tend to use apps for noise, the one I currently use has all color noises.

            I'll check the website, thanks.

            3 votes
            1. tomf
              Link Parent
              yeah, give the pink noise and also that site a go -- let me know if either helps out :)

              yeah, give the pink noise and also that site a go -- let me know if either helps out :)

              3 votes
          2. [4]
            mrbig
            Link Parent
            The therapy you got seems awesome. It is also not something I'd easily encounter in Brazil. Maybe in some reference center in São Paulo. Around here psychotherapy is synonym with talk therapy. But...

            The therapy you got seems awesome. It is also not something I'd easily encounter in Brazil. Maybe in some reference center in São Paulo. Around here psychotherapy is synonym with talk therapy.

            But it doesn't hurt to look. How could I search for it?

            3 votes
            1. [3]
              tomf
              Link Parent
              There are some results for psychoneurophysiology brazil -- but it looks like one is more related to language -- but they might be worth reaching out to, if they're in that scene. I did all of this...

              There are some results for psychoneurophysiology brazil -- but it looks like one is more related to language -- but they might be worth reaching out to, if they're in that scene.

              I did all of this about 20 years ago and a lot of people in the waiting room were from all over North America. I can only assume that there are others practicing this in other countries by now.

              2 votes
              1. [2]
                mrbig
                Link Parent
                The only thing I found was research, nothing I can really participate in. But I'll keep an eye open.

                The only thing I found was research, nothing I can really participate in. But I'll keep an eye open.

                1 vote
                1. tomf
                  Link Parent
                  as a last ditch effort, you could always contact the place I went to to ask if they know of anybody in the field in your area. :)

                  as a last ditch effort, you could always contact the place I went to to ask if they know of anybody in the field in your area. :)

                  1 vote
  2. joplin
    Link
    I have no problems focusing and maintaining focus most of the time. My biggest problem is the constant interruptions in my life. The dog needs walking, dinner needs to be made, etc. I can't sit...

    I have no problems focusing and maintaining focus most of the time. My biggest problem is the constant interruptions in my life. The dog needs walking, dinner needs to be made, etc. I can't sit down for a solid 30 minute block and do anything because there's always some other thing that pops up and needs to be done immediately.

    As far as how it's changed over time, I think I'm better able to stay focused now than when I was younger, but it may just be that I'm more capable at most of the things I want to focus on, so it's more interesting, and moves along faster. For example, I'm a better programmer than I used to be, so when I sit down to work on a project, I see results sooner and more frequently than I did before. (And it doesn't hurt that the machines are so much faster, too!)

    I don't know why I'm able to focus so well, but I'm grateful. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to deal with ADHD or similar conditions. I have a relative with it, and while she's gotten help for it, it still leaves her struggling to support herself.

    7 votes
  3. [2]
    suspended
    Link
    Simply put, if I'm incredibly interested or passionate about something, then it gets a tremendous amount of my attention. That's why I choose, years ago (I became a stay-at-home dad in 2008), to...

    Simply put, if I'm incredibly interested or passionate about something, then it gets a tremendous amount of my attention. That's why I choose, years ago (I became a stay-at-home dad in 2008), to work in web programming even though I didn't make a ton of money doing it.

    An example of something that I have to exert a lot of effort to pay attention is thus. In the summer our boys want to go swimming and need me to be there for their safety. On top of that, I've lost interest in swimming so it ends up being me watching them swim. This gets very old quickly. All those hours of sitting there watching them swim is so boring and I'd rather be doing something else. It is exhausting but I do it because I love my children and I want them to be happy whenever possible.

    5 votes
    1. Micycle_the_Bichael
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Watching people swim is just fucking boring. I was a lifeguard for a decade. Everyone loves to talk about how physically easy of a job it is but if you’re actually concerned about making sure...

      Watching people swim is just fucking boring. I was a lifeguard for a decade. Everyone loves to talk about how physically easy of a job it is but if you’re actually concerned about making sure children are safe it is really mentally taxing to pay attention virtually non stop for hours, even more so when the sun and heat are draining the energy out of you making it even harder to focus.

      Edit: I realized that I never finished this thought. I brought this up to stress how hard it is in general and not to be hard on yourself that you find it boring or exhausting because it is.

      12 votes
  4. Flashynuff
    Link
    Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus? no Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage? without medication or a ridiculous...
    • Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus?

    no

    • Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage?

    without medication or a ridiculous amount of pressure, i definitely do not have control of my attention. it's a massive effort to get myself to do anything

    • Do you feel as if anything has changed over time?

    yes.. my responsibilities / things I need to focus on have increased and it's become more difficult for my coping mechanisms to keep up. However, I've also figured out some better coping strategies.

    • How would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way from you?

    It's like a task / thing I need to focus on) is a boulder I need to roll up a hill and balance at the summit to stay focused. For things that aren't stimulating, the boulder is really big, the hill is really steep, and the summit doesn't have a lot of room to move around. It takes either a wild amount of effort or tons of pressure to get that boulder up the hill, and if I lose focus for even a little bit the boulder rolls all the way back down. After a while I don't even want to start things that I know aren't stimulating because I know how much effort it's going to take just to stay focused.

    5 votes
  5. [3]
    vektor
    (edited )
    Link
    I think this thread is lacking answers from more neurotypical(?) people to the question "how would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way." Anyone...

    I think this thread is lacking answers from more neurotypical(?) people to the question "how would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way." Anyone got anything?

    E: To clarify, this is such that people who lack the context or terminology to share their own views have a bit better starting point. I'd really like to hear how neurotypical people would describe theirs, because I don't quite know where I fit in here. (And I have a hard enough time verbalizing this anyway.)

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      I answered with my neurotypical answers, but it felt a little weird. I felt like I might make people angry for saying I have good focus when others are talking about how debilitating it is to not...

      I answered with my neurotypical answers, but it felt a little weird. I felt like I might make people angry for saying I have good focus when others are talking about how debilitating it is to not have good focus. I can understand others' hesitation in answering.

      6 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        To add to this, I had some difficulty when crafting the topic because I didn’t want to appear judgmental to people who struggle with focus nor uphold sustained focus as a unilateral good. I...

        To add to this, I had some difficulty when crafting the topic because I didn’t want to appear judgmental to people who struggle with focus nor uphold sustained focus as a unilateral good. I thought a lot about how to make the questions aim at personal experience rather than any sort of valuation regarding attention/focus in general, because I wanted it to be open and inviting to everyone.

        I think if we only hear from one type of perspective then we don’t get as broad a summary on the topic, so I do think it is valuable to hear from neurotypical people, as well as those who have positive relationships with their attention. Rather than having answers of those types be off-putting, I think it's actually a good thing for some of us to know that there are people out there for whom that's a reality. Commiserating on difficulties is valuable, but if it's not counterbalanced it can feel kind of hopeless, you know?

        2 votes
  6. balooga
    Link
    No. No, I'm not in control of it. Yes, I try to manage it. Yes, I had a great attention span 15+ years ago, but it's gone now. Since the internet became ubiquitous, it has monopolized my...
    • No.
    • No, I'm not in control of it. Yes, I try to manage it.
    • Yes, I had a great attention span 15+ years ago, but it's gone now.
    • Since the internet became ubiquitous, it has monopolized my attention, and I'm no longer able to retain focus on other things for very long before I get distracted by it again.
    4 votes
  7. [6]
    whispersilk
    Link
    Some of these turned into rambles, and I'm sorry if they don't make much sense or stray away from the questions asked. My inability to focus on things has been making me unhappy for a while now,...

    Some of these turned into rambles, and I'm sorry if they don't make much sense or stray away from the questions asked. My inability to focus on things has been making me unhappy for a while now, and I guess this is as much me venting as anything else. Thank you for posting this. I needed to hear what other people in the thread have said.


    I don't have ADHD to the best of my knowledge, but I had enough symptoms when I was a child that my parents felt it worth having me tested for it, and subjectively I feel as if my ability to focus has gotten worse as I've grown older. So I'm neurotypical, I guess, but maybe not pristinely neurotypical.

    Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus?

    No, I'm not. I have a hard time concentrating on one thing for more than a few minutes at a time. I can do physical tasks that don't require thought without issue (chores, for example) but it's really, really hard for me to focus on a single mental task for long periods of time. I can get into a "flow state" sometimes, but I don't feel at all in control of that and it seems to happen more and more rarely as time goes on.

    Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage?

    I don't feel like I'm in control of my attention. Managing it is a struggle, and not one I feel particularly victorious in. One of my biggest problems is that I get very easily caught up in daydreams and the like, and once I start thinking about something other than what I'm doing it's very difficult for me to take back control. The other is that I get audio snippets stuck in my head incredibly easily and once something is in my head it can stay there, repeating the same 10–15 seconds of song or conversation or whatever it happens to be for hours or until something else gets stuck in its place. This can make it really difficult to pay attention to and remember conversations, because while I'm talking to someone I'm also looping "Son of Man" over and over and over again and I guess the bits of my brain involved in processing language gets stuck on that instead of on what the person I'm talking to is saying. It's devastating when I'm trying to have a serious conversation with someone I care about. I've been told it feels like I don't care about people, and I think this inability to keep my focus on what's in front of me is a huge part of the issue.

    Do you feel as if anything has changed over time?

    My attention has gotten worse, for sure. I used to be able to at least focus on things I really enjoyed—get sucked into a good book and that sort of thing—but now I can't even sit down and do something fun for more than a few minutes at a time. I don't know how much of that is down to intrinsic attention issues and how much is down to internet use as I've grown older conditioning me to switch tasks frequently.

    How would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way from you?

    Imagine living your entire life sitting in the TV section of some big electronics store. There are a hundred TVs all playing different things around you, and everything they're playing is interesting and new, and you're tasked with doing something difficult and boring: filing your taxes; going through emails; whatever, just something you have to do but don't enjoy. And you're wearing headphones that randomly switch from one TV to the next, and when they do you don't have a choice but to look at the TV they're connected to. Your work is interrupted every five minutes and you really don't want to do it in the first place, so every time it's interrupted you have to work up the willpower to dive back into it all over again.

    I don't know how clear or helpful that is, but I tried to get it out stream-of-consciousness style before getting distracted and losing the thread. I've already tabbed away five or ten times in the process of writing this. In addition to what I wrote, I can say that I resonate with mrbig's description here. Probably not as badly, though; again, I have not been diagnosed with ADHD of any form.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Yeah... you may want to get checked again. Or maybe not. ADHD medications take a toll on our brains, this is not something to seek irresponsibly. There must be a strong need to justify those. One...

      Yeah... you may want to get checked again. Or maybe not. ADHD medications take a toll on our brains, this is not something to seek irresponsibly. There must be a strong need to justify those.

      One important factor in many psychiatric diagnostics is how much the symptoms affect you. For example, do your difficulties with attention prevent you from succeeding in your profession or studies? If you're already able to live a balanced life, in general no amount of symptoms should justify treatment.

      4 votes
      1. whispersilk
        Link Parent
        I'm doing fine professionally; I have the good fortune to work in software, where very little is required of me in terms of social interaction and where the computer is effectively my memory,...

        I'm doing fine professionally; I have the good fortune to work in software, where very little is required of me in terms of social interaction and where the computer is effectively my memory, making it very easy to get started again on threads of work where I left them. It's mostly an issue in my personal life.

        I'm planning to start going to therapy soon for issues that I previously considered unrelated but are probably intertwined with my difficulty paying attention, and I'll definitely at least bring up that hey, I have a really hard time giving things my sustained active attention. I think I have some kind of auditory processing issue, too, and if that's the case it certainly isn't helping things any and may be easier to overcome for at least some of the same benefit.

        One way or another I'll get things figured out and find ways to cope better than I'm coping now. I appreciate you engaging with me. It feels good to talk about it.

        3 votes
    2. [3]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      You've said so much here that is directly resonant with my own experiences. Thank you for putting it into words. You are not alone! I literally wake up with a snippet of a song in my head almost...

      You've said so much here that is directly resonant with my own experiences. Thank you for putting it into words.

      The other is that I get audio snippets stuck in my head incredibly easily and once something is in my head it can stay there, repeating the same 10–15 seconds of song or conversation or whatever it happens to be for hours or until something else gets stuck in its place.

      You are not alone! I literally wake up with a snippet of a song in my head almost every single day of my life. If it's not a song, it's a quotable quote or something that has a sort of definable rhythm or melody to it. And the snippet sticks around for hours.

      It's not always just in my head either. When I first started dating my now-husband, I learned just how often I would sing/hum whatever was stuck on repeat for me without even realizing I was doing it.

      I used to be able to at least focus on things I really enjoyed—get sucked into a good book and that sort of thing—but now I can't even sit down and do something fun for more than a few minutes at a time.

      Reading was part of what inspired me to make this thread. Years ago I used to spend entire Saturdays on the couch, chain reading books literally all day. I remember finishing the entirety of Gone Girl in effectively one sitting, getting up only for very brief bathroom and food breaks. It was magnetic. Glued to my hands. I literally couldn't put it down until I had seen it through to the end. I remember another Saturday where I woke up, went to a bookstore, came home with three random choices, and then read all of them that same day.

      Now, I'm finding that I can't get into a book. Not just that I can't sit down and read it, but that I simply... don't. It's not so much attention as intention? But the lack of intention feels like it's a product of attention? I haven't figured it out all yet, I just know that I feel like I'm in a weird space where it feels like I'm not spending time right now but time is spending me, and even though I'm aware of it I also don't do anything to counteract it?

      2 votes
      1. whispersilk
        Link Parent
        Thank you! This is almost the same for me. I don't always wake up with something already in my head, but once I'm awake it's never more than a few minutes before I have something stuck there. And...

        I literally wake up with a snippet of a song in my head almost every single day of my life. [...] It's not always just in my head either. When I first started dating my now-husband, I learned just how often I would sing/hum whatever was stuck on repeat for me without even realizing I was doing it.

        Thank you! This is almost the same for me. I don't always wake up with something already in my head, but once I'm awake it's never more than a few minutes before I have something stuck there. And I do the humming thing, too! The worst part is that I'm really bad at identifying songs and singers, so my partner will sometimes ask me what I'm singing and despite having had a snippet looping in my head for hours I actually have no idea what the answer to that question is, so I'm reduced to humming the few bars that are stuck and hoping they can figure it out. And then half the time it turns out to be a song that a) is super famous and b) I love and should definitely know, which is embarrassing.

        Years ago I used to spend entire Saturdays on the couch, chain reading books literally all day. [...] Now, I'm finding that I can't get into a book. Not just that I can't sit down and read it, but that I simply... don't.

        I really relate to this. In middle and high school I read, probably without exaggeration, a book every day of the school year. I would check a series out from the school library on Friday and return the whole thing, read, on Monday morning. Now I just. Can't? Don't? My to-read list is only getting longer, so it's not like I'm short of options that appeal to me, but it's so hard to work up the willpower anymore and I don't know why. I'm trying to figure it out, too, because I want to be that person again, or at least closer to them. If I have a eureka moment I'll let you know.

        I feel like I'm in a weird space where it feels like I'm not spending time right now but time is spending me, and even though I'm aware of it I also don't do anything to counteract it?

        I think this is the larger issue, and "time is spending me" is a spot-on way to put it. It's not just reading, it's everything. There are a thousand things I want to do and achieve, and rather than doing them I sit and sometimes worry that my life is going to pass me by and I'm never going to do them. It's not an issue of desire—I never say to myself "yes, I'd like not to achieve any of my goals today"—nor is it one of energy, because most days I have plenty of that. The desire and energy are just... lost, somewhere between thought and action. Or there's some huge inertia somewhere that I'm failing to overcome and so I'm stuck in the default state. I don't know.

        2 votes
      2. mrbig
        Link Parent
        With me it's not songs but a collection of memories. My brain triggers random memories (mostly phrases) ranging from my childhood to a few months ago. Those are frequently not important events,...

        With me it's not songs but a collection of memories. My brain triggers random memories (mostly phrases) ranging from my childhood to a few months ago. Those are frequently not important events, but rather mundane memories that for one reason or another keep floating from my unconscious mind. Things like a silly argument I had back when I was in college, a joke I told someone 10 years ago, or the day I ate hot dogs with my friends.

        1 vote
  8. [3]
    NoApollonia
    Link
    My attention span has definitely weakened with age.

    My attention span has definitely weakened with age.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      Random question for you - is it better if you get better sleep? I've found in recent years that getting a good full night's sleep solves a bunch of minor daily issues that add together as I've...

      Random question for you - is it better if you get better sleep? I've found in recent years that getting a good full night's sleep solves a bunch of minor daily issues that add together as I've aged. It wasn't nearly as important when I was younger, but now it seems to be. My overall executive functioning seems worse without the right amount of sleep. But it's subtle because it gets only slightly worse each year. It's not until I suddenly get a good night's sleep after a stretch of mediocre or bad sleep that I realize how far things have degenerated.

      2 votes
      1. NoApollonia
        Link Parent
        I'm not sure I've ever gotten a full night's sleep, at least not without waking up multiple times. I am probably the world's lightest sleeper - to the point my husband has joked a mouse could fart...

        I'm not sure I've ever gotten a full night's sleep, at least not without waking up multiple times. I am probably the world's lightest sleeper - to the point my husband has joked a mouse could fart two blocks away and I'd wake up like "what was that?" So I can't really answer that question.

        Most of my issues are my past and the effects it causes well into my 30's.

        3 votes
  9. knocklessmonster
    Link
    No. I wish I could more easily focus on a task that doesn't require me to be sucked into it. I have a tendency to focus on the wrong thing. When I'm trying to sleep early, I'll focus on a voice in...

    Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus?

    No. I wish I could more easily focus on a task that doesn't require me to be sucked into it.

    Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage?

    I have a tendency to focus on the wrong thing. When I'm trying to sleep early, I'll focus on a voice in the living room or the weird, barely audible hum I hear in my hotel room. If I'm listening to loud music, I'll focus on the thing I hear through the music. I've learned to ignore it by not giving it any room in my mind, but this still messes up often enough where it'll punch through.

    Another technique I've discovered is to discover the source of the noise. If it's my neighbor's speaker system, or my other neighbor's TV, I'll identify it, and leave it alone unless it's clearly audible through my entire apartment.

    Do you feel as if anything has changed over time?

    I think so? I've always been noise-sensitive, according to my parents, but I'm learning to manage it, like my neighbor's speaker system. I've knocked on their door twice when I could clearly hear what they're playing through their floor.

    I think I'm becoming better to handle this imbalanced focus.

    How would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way from you?

    I need time to gain momentum on a task, and it often has to be the right task. Even if I don't want to do it initially, it is far easier to do compelling tasks, than ones that I don't want to do, or feel are unnecessary. I don't think this first part is at all abnormal, we want to do what we want, and not do what we don't want, or we find something interesting in what we're doing. The major issue I have is my tendency to fixate on small unrelated things and, despite my best efforts and practices, still wind up extremely distracted or agitated by them.

    3 votes
  10. Micycle_the_Bichael
    (edited )
    Link
    This is 50% a joke but... I don’t have time to write out all my feelings right now, let’s play the “will I remember this in 20 minutes” game. Magic 8 ball says..... Unlikely. Edit: Alright only...

    This is 50% a joke but... I don’t have time to write out all my feelings right now, let’s play the “will I remember this in 20 minutes” game. Magic 8 ball says..... Unlikely.

    Edit: Alright only took me 15 hours to make my way back here. Not too shabby given my usual :P Alright, lets answer some questions:

    I have ADHD and was diagnosed 1.5 years ago as an adult.

    • Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus?

    Absolutely not. My attention issues are at the root of most of my frustrations and self-loathing. I struggle with almost every task in my day-to-day work at my job. I always feel like I'm not doing enough at work because I spend hours a day doing not my job (hello Tildes during the workday). I get distracted and fuck up all the time because my attention to detail is terrible. I've caused so many issues at work because of really minor syntax errors that I should have caught before deploying or because I rushed debugging and testing because I couldn't get my attention to stay focused on it. Same goes with chores at home. I regularly get distracted in the middle of chores and just... never finish them. I end up editing my Tildes posts dozens of times because I cannot focus on what I want to say long enough to proofread to see if it makes sense. Even when I do proofread I end up skimming and definitely missing something.

    There are a lot more aspects of ADHD that make all this worse, but I'm going to limit myself to the focus aspects since that was what was asked about.

    • Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage?

    I never feel like I am in control of my attention. Even when I am focused it feels more like my attention has decided we are going to focus on this than it does I have decided to focus on something.

    • Do you feel as if anything has changed over time?

    It's almost certainly gotten worse. Partially because I use to be an athlete and was burning off so much extra energy it was easier to focus (easier, not easy), but also college courses are a lot better for the way my brain is wired. Homework was weirdly way better for me than work because at least I was in control of when I did my homework (for better or worse). With my job its just "did I focus today", with homework it was easy to walk away and do something else and come back to homework later if I knew it was a fruitless effort.

    • How would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way from you?

    This is not helpful at all: Imagine you're juggling a bunch of balls. Each of those balls is a task you need to complete. Now imagine there is chaotic noises coming from all around you making it really hard to get a rhythm going so you constantly feel like you are on the cusp of dropping everything. Now imagine that sometimes balls will just split into two balls mid-air and you've now need to keep both up. That's basically how I feel all the time. I've got all this shit I need to get done and I'm never able to feel like I've got a handle on what I need to do. Its impossible for me to focus on one task for too long because my brain will panic that we aren't paying attention to any of the other balls! Then I'll be in the middle of one task, find a new task that needs to be done, and I just cannot finish what I was doing until this new thing is done. So every day more and more balls need to be juggled and it feels like if I let even one of them drop then I'm going to die.

    6 votes
  11. FishFingus
    (edited )
    Link
    I now suspect I have some form of ADHD, or at least hope I do because the alternative makes me sad.

    I now suspect I have some form of ADHD, or at least hope I do because the alternative makes me sad.

    Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus?
    Only on exceedingly rare occasions, outside of a handful of leisure activities - gaming, reading, watching films and browsing.

    Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage?
    No, it must constantly be managed. That is impossible, so I can only do it irregularly outside of leisure activities.

    Do you feel as if anything has changed over time?
    This feels like it's gotten worse since roughly the beginning of secondary school (2002), and I've noticed the list of things I still derive pleasure from has shrunk. Most activities involving memorizing large amounts of dry text, or problem solving, can be boring to a painful degree - my brain seems to give itself migraines like some sort of defense mechanism. My seeming inability to retain useful information has made me very depressed about the prospect of a career, and often had me questioning my worth as a human being.

    How would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way from you?
    Intense focus must be constantly maintained. Once it's broken, it's hard to regain without having to restart progress. You can't be interrupted while you're focusing. Sometimes you need to be listening to music to drown out the background sound, and at other times there has to be total background silence.

    3 votes
  12. Kuromantis
    Link
    Not really, but most of the time I'm content enough with it. Fortunately it isn't too bad, I can still sit down and do stuff like the stuff from school, but I couldn't really say I really...

    Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus?

    Not really, but most of the time I'm content enough with it. Fortunately it isn't too bad, I can still sit down and do stuff like the stuff from school, but I couldn't really say I really meaningfully held a lot of that stuff in my memory if it wasn't about something I cared about or found cool/interesting. Also sometimes my parents will tell me to do something menial like going to the grocery store and that will make me not really pay any attention to listen, prompting me to forget what they said immediately. Also, if I have nothing to do, like when waiting at a supermarket I will need to rotate between basically anything around me to look at. I'm not sure if that's just a normal reaction to boredom or something actually worth noting though.

    A bigger problem I have is occasionally not paying attention if my parents are doing something and sometimes that'll extend to them doing something important for me, where I very likely should pay attention, but don't unless I'm doing something at the moment rather than my parents. I'm not sure if this is subconscious or not, I only realize it happened when my parents are pissed off I didn't notice (facepalm)

    Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage?

    Sometimes I have to stop and actively pay attention to something, or don't pay attention when I should, but otherwise no. I credit this to the fact that most of my time is spent doing things that don't require much attention however, rather than crediting myself.

    Do you feel as if anything has changed over time?

    I don't think I remember that aspect of my childhood well enough to answer.

    How would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way from you?

    Imagine your focus and attention span work like mine. Usually, you're focusing on your phone. You've looked at screens since you've learned to speak, so this is as good as natural to you.

    Sometimes however, you will be takes with doing something else like classes. Usually you will focus fine on the moment, but if you aren't interested, you probably won't recall the answers to the questions in your material nor the questions you answered.

    Sometimes, your parents ask you to do something menial, like buying groceries or esfihas. Usually, you will stop and focus, but sometimes you won't and you will either ask your parents that they wanted again or hope whatever you understood was actually what they asked.

    Sometimes, your parents will take you along when they're doing stuff. This happened a lot more when you were younger, but to you that's a cue to focus on whatever is around you rather than what they're doing (as I said, I have no idea if this is subconscious or not. This can sometimes happen when they do something important for you, which will piss them off.

    Sometimes you will be waiting, with nothing to focus at, for you're not at home, where your Wi-Fi is. These times, you will probably briefly focus on various small things around you a few times over until you stop because that's a poor method of killing time. Also, the first hour or 2 of sleep feels just like that, except a song is playing on your head unless you focus on the noise of the fan (assuming it's on for the night), fap or actively try to focus on what little background noise there is or actively try to not have a song playing on your head. This means that, for you, there is a very clear distinction between laying in your bed late at night with your eyes closed and actually sleeping.

    2 votes
  13. wedgel
    Link
    Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus? Nope. Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage? Not really. Yes. Do you feel as...
    • Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus?
      Nope.
    • Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage?
      Not really. Yes.
    • Do you feel as if anything has changed over time?
      It seems to have gotten worse now that I spend more time online. But it's always been pretty bad.
    • How would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way from you?
      I struggle to focus on most things and have to make it race to see how fast I can finish shit, sometimes that doesn't help. But on the other hand, sometimes something will suck me in. And I lose track of everything else, including time, it's kind of like I'm hypnotized. Anywhere from six to eighteen hours can pass and it seems like minutes. It's pretty crazy how much I get done when I'm in that state. I wish I could choose when that would happen and I could focus better without it.
    2 votes
  14. cardigan
    Link
    I think I do a passable and maybe even good job, considering my circumstances. I have narcolepsy with cataplexy. Yes, in my normal state I really would fall asleep anywhere, anytime, and...

    Are you happy with your ability to manage your attention and focus?

    I think I do a passable and maybe even good job, considering my circumstances.

    Do you feel like you're in control of your attention? Is it something you have to manage?

    I have narcolepsy with cataplexy. Yes, in my normal state I really would fall asleep anywhere, anytime, and repeatedly. I'm on a high dose of stimulants just in order to seem and behave like a normal, excessively sleepy person. Since there's a lot of overlap between these drugs and those used for ADHD, I'm sure those affect my attention in some way, but I wouldn't want to go without them long enough to really test the theory.

    Distraction isn't a problem for me. I often go without checking my phone for several days at a time, and am not on any addictive social media platforms. If anything, I'm too excessively focused, which may be the medication. If I get too interested in something, which is fairly often, I will forget to eat until around midnight.

    My biggest problem is that the sleepiness will often make it through even my bulwark of amphetamines. When that happens, I can't focus on anything at all, but I don't think that's the same as a distraction. If I'm in a setting where I can't go to sleep, I'll be unable to think about anything but how tired I am. Tiredness isn't just an annoyance to me. I go straight from alertness to feeling physically ill, particularly in all of my muscles, with no in between state.

    Although it doesn't seem like I experience distraction in the same way as other people -- e.g. having dozens of browser tabs open and watching videos when I should be doing something else -- the effect probably ends up being the same, because I have a very difficult time motivating myself to do something that I don't want to do. I'm like a toddler in that respect, especially since my energy is so limited.

    Do you feel as if anything has changed over time?

    Not really. When I'm not tired, I'm able to focus on things just as well as I could as a kid. I didn't have a cell phone until I was about 16, so may have learned good habits early -- or rather, never learned overly bad ones.

    How would you describe your attention/focus to someone who experiences theirs in a different way from you?

    It's a lot like temptation.

    When I'm medicated but still tired, I become fixated on how tired I am, and how much I want to go to sleep. I'm "tempted" by the prospect, unable to think about anything else until I just give in and do it.

    At times when I don't feel tired, the "temptation" of an interesting task can easily pull me from basic things I need to do to take care of myself like eat or drink.

    If I'm not medicated, the temptation becomes much too difficult to bear. I might try and resist for a few minutes, but it's almost entirely pointless. I'm going to fall asleep no matter what I do.

    It might be helpful to provide a description of how I wrote this comment. It's about 500 words, and I wrote it without once looking or reading something else. But I was only able to do this because I felt alert. But having written this now, I just want to go to sleep.

    2 votes