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another "do i have it" topic…

another "do i have it" topic…2010-11-29T13:27:47+00:00

The Forums Forums What is it? Do I Have it? another "do i have it" topic…

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  • #88650

    Post count: 14413


    i’m in the middle of a mid-phd crisis.

    Huge trouble writing down stuff, and reading scientific papers. I can’t keep my attention on these two for more than 10 mins if not very motivated, 30 mins when under pressure/positive stress.

    Field work consists of programming various calculations. That goes a lot better, even if i fail to do it in an ordered, methodical way, and this causes side-problems (my hard disk is as disordered as my desk, and i sometimes find out dumb mistakes weeks later…)

    my desk is a complete, embarassing mess. a disorganized pile of papers.

    while googling about it i found somewhere something about ADD.

    the more i read about it the more many things feel familiar : being messy, need for higher stimuli than the norm, the whole parts about bad conversation habits, some comments about “uncommon work places” (i’ve had some of my greatest productivity peaks in a train or a car, while the office seems to really kill me)

    It is much faster to say what doesn’t fit :

    -i did not have major school problems.

    Even if i’ve always been shifting between highs and lows. Even if until high school family pressure helped a lot to get the job done. Even if at college, most of my successes are due to the “adrenaline rush” that helped me to fully focus in the last days before a test, and during the test itself. My worst results are from “bigger” exams where day-to-day work was essential.

    -i am/was good at maths, logical thinking, abstraction. With the exception of one teacher @college who was very methodical and was anal on notation errors, details and such (and who told me: “mr. B., you should understand that you’re at university now. It’s time to start studying otherwise you won’t go very far”)

    -i can be very organized at times. E.g. i have a true obsession for rock climbing: if i schedule a rock climbing trip, i can be perfectly organized about transport, accomodation, clothing, climbing gear, costs…I usually schedule a specific training plan for the specific climbing objective of the trip and stick to it.

    In a few scary or emergency situations, i’ve kept more cool and organized and tidy about procedures than most of my buddies.

    This does not mean that i’m generally well organized, of course.

    By the way, the greatest pleasure this activity gives me is that of being in full control : control of my body, control of events, control of my will, etc…

    i am willing to investigate the subject further because right now i feel rather helpless and unable to deal with the short term objective of finishing my phd, and because i don’t want to make mistakes in career choices when i’m done with it.

    What drives me crazy is that i really want hard to do the work, but i can’t, and not because i am too stupid to read or write about abstract scientific concepts, but because some “external force” constantly drifts my attention away from it. Painfully frustrating.

    In the end:

    -if i turn out to be diagnosed as ADD, should i expect great short-term improvements?

    -if not, could i be disgnosed with something else and get effective help?


    Patte Rosebank
    Post count: 1517

    If you are diagnosed with ADHD, the first thing you’ll probably feel is, “Aha! So that explains it!”

    After that, there are some short-term benefits, but it’s really a lifelong journey.

    If you start on medication to help treat it, you’ll go through a period of trial-and-error to find the right med(s) and dose(s). Or, you may be lucky, and the first one you try (usually Ritalin, since it’s been around since the 1930s) will work for you. When you find the right one(s), you’ll be amazed at the clarity, focus, and calmness you’ll feel. It may only last a little while—so you may have to increase the dose, after a few weeks—but you’ll know it.

    The meds are just a start, to help you implement the necessary structural and behavioural changes, so you can function better. That’s the really hard part, since we have so much trouble with sticking to anything long enough to finish it. It takes time and effort.

    As for whether it could be something else, that’s why you need a proper diagnosis. ADHD is often diagnosed after a patient has been diagnosed with, and treated for, other conditions—particularly depression, anxiety, and/or bipolar. This is partly because many of the symptoms are the same, and partly because, if you’re always struggling to do things that others find so easy, and always worried that you’ll screw up again, you probably would be pretty anxious and depressed.

    That was my situation. Treated for depression & anxiety and mild bipolar for 12 years, before discovering that those were just symptoms of trying to function with ADHD. I was diagnosed this past spring, so I’m still learning how to work with it. And this website is a fantastic source of information and encouragement.

    If you haven’t done so already, talk to your Student Services department, and to your prof, about the difficulty you’re having with your PhD, and that you suspect it may be due to ADHD. Do the preliminary diagnostics in the “Tools” part of this website, print out the results, and bring them with you. Student Services should have a psychologist on-staff who can discuss the test results with you, and do further testing to make a proper diagnosis. If you do have ADHD, your university should have plenty of experience in what sort of supports are necessary to help you to successfully earn your degree.


    Post count: 173

    ghisino, a lot of what you are describing there, also describes me.

    I always did the last minute thing, because otherwise I couldn’t get motivated. Even so, I managed to do ok in school, getting a B.Sc and a B.Ed.

    When I went in for an assessment it turned out that I have ADHD and a Learning Disabilty. (Since you refer to Maths, I suspect you’re in the UK. If so, then by Learning Disability, I mean what you call Learning Difficulty. English speakers: Divided by a common language. ;) )

    In any case, if you get a diagnosis, then your University would need to look at accomodating your needs. If you do have ADHD, then you might also want to try meds to see if they help you.

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