Dr. Umesh Jain
is now exclusively responsible
for TotallyADD.com
and its content
Dr. Umesh Jain is now exclusively responsible for TotallyADD.com and its content

The Forums Forums Emotional Journey My Story ADHD, working memory, and words. A battleground.

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • Author
  • Anonymous
    #90010 |

    I struggle with recalling words and it’s infuriatingly difficult. Often, I shy away from conversations because I know inevitably I’ll hit that point when I want to express a thought- the thought is there as well as the specific word I want to use – but fail because I hit that familiar mental block. My mind will go totally blank and I can’t seem to recall anything: names, dates, titles to books, an author’s name, a specific word I’m sure I know, but can’t access…. This has been a source of depression for most of my teenage and all of my adult life. This inability to recall what I know is in my mind prevents me from creating meaningful relationships and I am insecure because of it. I fear my inability to keep up in conversations; I’m insecure and terrified by the fact that I can’t always contribute intelligently to a conversation or discussion because I won’t remember/recall the article/book/song/lesson/name/place/event/etc. I read about or learned somehow, not long ago.

    A feeling of anxiety and heat begins to travel down my body when I’m in these situations; I feel prickly all over. It’s as if my mind has been put on pause. Pressure builds in the space between my eyes, and I feel removed from myself slightly. Inside I’m praying something will give and magically click back into place, opening the mental dam again. It never happens that way, though.

    I’m sure what I’ve described are symptoms of social anxiety that are brought on by my trouble with working memory.

    I struggle in the area I love the most. Language.

    I want to write, but can’t. I look onto the page or screen and my mind goes blank. I begin a line and my mind goes blank. Somehow, against the odds, I’m off to a decent start– then my mind goes blank. I struggle accessing my vocabulary and allowing the words to emerge. Fluidity is an issue as well. Concerning writing, nothing feels fluid to me. My memory does not allow it. It is absolutely line-by-line and word-by-word; Love turns into resentment.

    I’ve put a lot of emphasis on words in particular, but my sentiment goes beyond words alone. This concerns every aspect of my working memory. From reading to remembering to storing to recalling and everything else. For me, however, words are important and near to my heart so I’ve given them the most attention here.

    I would like to know two things from this community:

    1. Does anyone struggle in this way, and if so, please share your thoughts.

    2. Has medication helped your working memory?




    i have the same problem almost and i cant wait to see the answers given by others ..

    its always when your talking and the work is there and BOOM its gone and you cant even describe it. no matter what you do or try the word is gone .

    Nathan the only thing i can think of but i know i have no attention span to try myself :) . is to read the dictionary pick a word a day or two words a day and wright them down and use them in conversation


    I am undiagnosed as of yet, but I do experience this loss of words. Writing seems to work ok for me for the most part – although I always proofread, and frequently rewrite, even when sending a text or email.

    The worst is in a meeting when I interrupt to get my point in, then halfway through a sentence I hit a stall. Mind goes blank, then I get hyper-aware of everyone looking at me and waiting for the next word, which makes it worse. Making little notes about what I want to say sometimes helps. Then once I get the floor, I know why I was so desperate to speak!

    I too would love to know if this is something that meds will help with, or if I just have to suck it up.


    I belileve that I am much better at writing than speaking. Although I am not fast at either. Writing allows me to reorganize my thoughts. I read and reread and reread what I have written almost to the point of being OCD. I figure about an hour per page (250-300 words) for things I want to get right. I’ll put it away and read it the next morning and then later in the afternoon and invariably find things to change. Evening is the best time for me to be creative. I’m sure its bad advice and I don’t recommend it, but if I have, say four to six oz. of 80 proof on board, I find that writing and speaking is so much easier. I don’t know if the spirits grease the neurons or silence the distracting voices. They do seem to allow me to have insights more readily and help with creativity. Words come fairly readily for writing, but with speech not enough so to consistently speak fluidly. When speaking, I often leave sentences unfinished after I think I have gotten most of the idea across. A year ago, I might have thought this was due to laziness, but now I believe its ADD.

    Just as a skilled artisan is able to create beautiful works of art from simple and mundane materials as stone and wood, so is it not necessary to have a genius IQ vocabulary to produce elegant prose. A simpler vocabulary allows for a broader audience and ease of understanding. Those that use big and “fancy” words do so because they want to show off or lack the creativity and skill to do otherwise.

    So although I know what you mean by not being able to recall a particular word on demand, I would say work with what you can remember and upon rereading what you have written, you may recall the word for which you were looking. As for speaking, I can’t help you there. We’re probably in the same boat. I try to keep it short and simple there.


    I have the same issue but perhaps not as intense as you do, Nathan. Quite often, in mid-sentence, a word that I *know* that I know just won’t come to me. Prior to getting medication for ADHD, this used to fluster me because it was so embarrassing. Now that I’m on meds, the problem still exists, but I’m more calm about it, and can usually find a substitute word (not nearly as satisfying as the word I *know* is there) that will effectively cover the problem so others don’t see it. I also can write much better than I speak – but only because there is unlimited time available to get the thought out accurately. Occasionally even then, there’s a word I struggle to find, and so I’ll stop writing long enough to let it come to me. Which, eventually (and maybe after as long as a half hour) it will. Frustrating, to say the least.


    I have this too and it drives me bonkers. I have a large vocabulary that I love to use accurately. Communication is really important to me and I love literature, so creative use of language is, to me, a bit like watching a really good sports game. It’s satisfying.

    But no. I have to make do with whatever I can force out of my brain, or just standing with a blank expression while Nothing is happening in my head!

    But the worst part isn’t the reduced vocab I’m stuck with. It’s that people’s names just fall out of my head. Even if I know them well. As a teacher this is not a good trait. I want the kids to feel important and that I care about them and know them well. Even if all that is true, it’s hard for a child to believe that if their teacher tries to say their name and nothing happens!

    My kids and pets are frequently called each other’s name too.


    Some info here on working memory and attention/focus in ADHD:



    I found out Friday about the “working memory” and ADHD, etc.

    First, I also do better at writing – email for example, than speaking. Whensomeone asks a question in a meeting, I’m at a loss for words, forget what I was going to say, etc. – but if I reply “I’ll get back to you in an email”, I can deal with it just fine, and for the reasons others here mentioned.

    Now for last Friday – I was 4 hours in testing. Some of the tests involved letters, some letters and numbers, some numbers. The tech spoke a string of 4 numbers out of order, I had to repeat them back in order. Then it was 5, then 6, then 7 – when I got to 6 I started to struggle, when it hit 7, forget it (hmmmm, trouble with phone numbers????)

    Then it was a mix of numbers and letters – a mix of 5, then 6 and so on (such as 3b8f1d – now speak them back to me in order, numbers first)

    WOW, was fine with short strings, then struggled with longer ones, and at 7, I was lost. After a few minutes of this, I found I couldn’t even do the 5 or 6 long strings, it was as if not only longer strings caused problems, but doing it for longer times did as well. The longer I worked at it, the harder it got. It was like I was running Windows, running out of resources and working memory and needed a reboot. (and that is actually what it’s like)

    The testing was amazing, and it’s impossible to cover all 4+ hours of it here, but suffice it to say, its’ why I have trouble documenting things at work, or when someone says “go call Joe, his number is 555-253-7940 – I’ll recall the 555 and probably the 253, but most likely will not even catch the 7940 part at all – at best I might get part of it.

    That’s ADHD. That’s what the neuro-psychologist said anyway………

    Frankly, I’ve got that genius IQ – it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be – and for words, keep it simple! I want to appeal to the masses, not the elite few with 20 years of college vocabulary. To me the eloquent words are a waste if I can say it simply and be understood by most.

    It’s a waste of brain cells getting the fancy long big words – I’d more important stuff I’d rather store up there – things that will matter more to me when i’m older – things that will matter to friends and family. If they are friends simply because of your huge fancy vocabulary, well….


    I find that I can actually express meaning in phenomenally greater proportions when writing than when speaking. Heck, I don’t even like talking because more often than not, I will lose every thought of my conversation in the middle of it. I will speak and then lose my thought before I even get it out. I mean, I have to speak very quickly or my thought will get lost somewhere in between my brain and my mouth. And creating things to talk about, even in casual conversation? You can forget it! You’d get more decent conversation with a brick wall. I have been this way since sixth grade. I can write and hold a thought, but speaking? No. And I have not even gotten started on my ability – rather, lack thereof- to take in information presented to me, grasp it throughout any learning session, and apply it quickly and efficiently. Chances are, I’m fully paying attention, but my brain is running on 64MB of RAM in a world where most other peoples’ are running on 4 Gigs. If I can hold a thought? Great! But – oh dear, it seems I’ve completely let my brain abandon the dictation I was attempting to make because, let’s see, my brain also forgot the primary word I was going to use in the sentence.


    I used to have terrible trouble writing, especially big 2,000 word essays. This was in the old days when you had to write assignments out by hand without computers, so arguments a had to be coherent, with no grammatical or spelling mistakes. It would take me about five times as long as my peers to write and rewrite essays. I suffered so much stress trying to meet deadlines and facing those blank pages. Worse, I used to be a perfectionist and just getting started was a real struggle. In my warped brain I had to get the introduction perfect before anything else.

    Bless the invention of computers. Now I just spew out all my thought, write to my hearts content and then, cut, paste, reorganise, edit, delete like crazy so my essays are more logical and structured. Also, now I meet deadlines no matter what. I’m no longer a perfectionist – being good enough is just fine.


    This happens to me quite often. I forget words, names, places etc and then look stupid because whoever I was talking to just stares at me (well that’s what it feels like anyway!). I also get half way through sentences and forget what I was talking about – that’s even more embarrassing 😳 . At one stage I worried I was getting early onset dementia. But alas, it looks more like adhd instead when added to all the other symptoms I have (still waiting for the psych appointment to confirm my self diagnosis). Now I know why I hated, and still do to a point, public speaking at school and uni- especially on the spot, unprepared talks they liked to throw in every now and then.

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.