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My lack of attention is killing me
May 18, 2000
10:55 pm
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Somewhat Healed
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I'm a young man of 17 years old and I have a problem : I'm ALWAYS in the moon. I can't drive, I can't work, I can't study and sometimes I can't socialise because of it.

I don't want to sound pretentious but I am proud to say that I am a very intelligent person. But when I'm in the moon, I pass for a retard...

It's really starting to eat my self-esteem because I did have a summer job last year as a wrapper in a grocery store but I had to leave it. I was incompetent. Everyone was hating (or laughting at) me because they
thought that I was on drug while working or a total idiot 🙁

Now I have to get a driver's license, I forgot to make my stops, drive in the wrong way or too fast (I don't notice the counter). My teacher told me that I shouldn't even try to past the test, it would be waste of time and money.

It's always been like that, when I was young my mom had to tell me : "What did I say? Repeat after me... You weren't listening" and I was like "You were talking? Sorry I was thinking...". I just can't stop thinking! In my job, I was thinking about complex things like "How could I improve democracy", "What are the advantages of Perl over C++ (these are programming langage)" and "Why both Marx and capitalist are wrong" while trying to wrap a damn piece of meat!! (remember i'm only 17).

Another exemple, today I was in the car with my sister, she told me to keep her pager in my hand, no prob. After a while, she asked for it, I didn't knew where it was. In fact, IT WAS STILL IN MY HAND! Why can't I be on same planet like everyone else???

I didn't notice it when I was young but the more I grow the more I realize that nobody wants a philosopher.

My question is : How can I overcome this HUGE imperfection ?? I want to go to college but I need a job first (my family is kind of poor). To get a job, I need a driver's license but even if I get a job, I know I won't be able to keep it 🙁

PLEASE HELP!

May 19, 2000
2:51 am
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hazza
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HI there somewhat!
okay, bear with me! it is early in the morning hear and I am not quite with it myself!
so, firstly, I can really relate to what youa re saying! I have all my life had a very similar problem although I must admit, I seldom worry about C++ versus Perl! (surely it is obvious that C++ wins outright!) but I need to say 2 things to you first off.

1. YOu are only 17! not many 17 year olds have focus anyway!
2. You are obviously an intellectual, and a lot of the time, this is classic behaviour for intellectuals! remember the cliche of the nutty proffessors in the movies, with their dinner going cold while they work on quantum physics on the board!!!

My brother used to be SO the same as you describe also, it drove the family nuts! and now it is driving his girlfriend nuts too! but that is just the way he is. He makes an effort to live on the same planet as us, but quite often we do have to send him a postcard and remind him what the weather is like here on planet earth!

I bet half the problem, is that when people are talking to you about the more mundane things in life, that you are not really listening. Sure you hear them, but you are really thinking about something else so it is easy to forget what just went on.

Try to practice paying attention to the little stuff, like if your mum tells you what she wants from the store, stop and really listen to what she is saying, that is half the battle! You can make that part of your brain a bit more developed, but you need to practice it!

Now, what are you doing with this over thinking mind of yours? because it is a hungry mind and it really needs feeding! are you studying? you need to always be learning something, this is what your mind craves and you will feel happier when it is being educated, so don't neglect your schooling.

it is so hard to find people you will be able to relate to at your age, the simple fact is most people don't think that deeply all the time. But as you get older you will find more and more people you can relate to and it will get easier. You will also learn to relate to other types of people too, so the chasm won't seem so big.

When I was your age, friends and boyfriends where always telling me " you think too much!" but they couldn't understand that that is who I am, if i try not to question everything, it doesn't work and I am not being ME! But as I have got older, I have found people on the same wavelength and I can used up that philosophical energy. Once you are perging yourself of all this "thought juice" you find thatat the end of he day you can be quite happy to do the sort of things that you find difficult right now, like watch dire sitcoms on tv and follow the plot!

You need to nuture this abilitie of yours, but when the times are there when you need to stay on planet earth, like when you are at your summer job or whatever, you must make a CONCIOUS CHOICE that youa re going to focus on the job in hand. tell yourself that for the next X hours, packing the groceries, or listening to your sister talk or whatever, is what you are going to do and when you find your mind wandering, then tell it "stop", join in with your surroundings, ask your sister questions about her pager, ask the customers or work collegues about their day, but so something INTERACTIVE to practice reacting with them, rather than retreating into a world of your own. You only do this because it is easier for you, so at first it may be hard to dot he opposite,but if you keep trying it will get easier.

So if you use up this amazing energy you have by study and finding other people you can relate to intellectually, and at other times practice putting it on hold in situations where it is not appropriate, you will learn yourself to find the balance.

Youc an never lose this totally, it would drive you crazy to live in the mundane all the time, but make sure you USE that brain with hard study, then it will be less likely to spill over into other times.

YOu can learn to become a more rounded person, so tire that intellect out somedays and practice having the mundane conversations too! it is all about getting the right balance!

SOmetimes, now my brother is working with his own computer business, he finds that he goes so into working that he physically cannot relax! he comes over to us on a sunday practically bouncing with nervous energy! We sit him down and we remind him how important it is to keep the balance, we make him play badmington in the garden, we make him talk about dumb stuff! we ban him from going near any of our computers for the whole afternoon! we do whatever just so that he can switch his brain down a gear and chill out! He has not yo#et learned to be able to do that for himself.
But you can learn that yoruself, you jsut need to remind yoruself that learning how to relax is very important.

You want to be able to control this great mind of yours, not be controlled BY it! it is just a case of practice!

Oh, and change driving teacher too! the man is a fool! I too dislike driving because I fear that i will retreat into a world of my own, I find car journeys dangerously hypnotic! but after failing my first test because of this, when I was on my second test, I determined myself that I COULD do this, and I just went for it! this is the trouble we have, we over think these types of things!! it is better to just think about how you CAN do it and let your body take over! now I bet you are just doing the automatic test! you try driving a manual car like we have to here!!! it really isn't that hard, you jsut need to spend that mind on what you are doing. Commentate to yourself! say in your mind "okay there is a stop sign in 100 yrds, I will slow down, I will check my mirrors now, the is a child on the pavement...." and so on, that way yor mind won't be wondering about the atoms inner mysteries when you are waiting to turn left!

This isn't a huge problem! once you learn how to apply this mind of yours, you will grow to love it, but it needs to be you in the driving seat!

The older you get the easier it will be, but start to practice now, it wont come instantly, but you will be able to train yourself to be able to switch that part off when you need to.
Peace
Hazza

May 19, 2000
7:09 am
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janes
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There are many reson why you could be tuning out the world. Reread Hazza's post...print it and save it for reference.

What may be the problem is ATTENTIOn DEFEICIT DISORDER. Regardless of what the media says it can be real. It can also be over diagnosed and over medicated. And sometimes it isn't just LACK OF ATTENTION but to much attention to the worng thing at the wrong time. Issues of FOCUS of attention also come into the equation....foucsing on something other than the task at hand-staying focused on boring things is hard for all of us and more difficult for some.

You need to find a competent therapist to help you with this problem. If it isn't ADD/ADHD then perhaps they can help you discover what it is and make an action plan of how to get your life on track. They could also help you with self esteem problems too.

There are lots of ways to deal with the little issues of forgetfulness, tuning out and so forth.

It used to be thought that kids would outgrow ADD...they don't. Many stimulant meds work for ADDD/ADHD and some herbals and vitamin combinations are being found to help. (Pycnogenol for instnace) Same adults who find they have ADD still go on to become successful - very successful!!!

Regardless of how intelligent you are if you can't get things done, can't stay "with the program", and feel like a failure you will feel like you cannot succeed. BUT YOU CAN.

But NOW is the time to do the research, study, learn to make lists, find ways to refocus -- (a pager with an alarm that buzzes you every 15 minutes...)
Use a daily planner etc. etc. etc. Find a special ed teacher and tell themyou are researching ADD and other focus issues. They deal with it DAILY and a good teacher will not mind helping you out. If you are in school in the USA if your parents request a Pscyhological test (IQ< school Acheivement) the District has to do it by law...for free. The WISC-III (IQ test used mainly ) gives some indication of focus and attention on some subtests. At 47 years of age my 47 year old Husband is finally finishing his degree in teaching...he is a great guy with lots to offer..but wow has it been tough . My 18 yearold has finished High school (almost) through the alternative program becuase regular school just couldn't meet his needs attention wise and he is no dummy. My 14 year old daughter is mildly ADD and it would be easier for her if she were missing a limb...then the handicap would be obvious. BUT THERE IS HOPE!!!! Your post shows that you ar intelligent and caring and that you want to succeed. With internet you can study this disorder as well as others..You can find things to try. Enlist your family and friends. See if there is a CHADD group in your area (Children and Adults with Att. Deficit) Let us know what is going on!!!!

May 19, 2000
9:31 am
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Cici
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My fiance and a good friend of mine both have adult ADHD. All the things you're describing are EXACTLY how they are. My fiance is not taking meds and is working on behavioral stuff while my friend is on Adderall, which is similar to Ritalin, but stronger.

I can see the differences inbehavior. I usually have to repeat myself to my fiance often and he'll forget things A LOT. He'll drive all the way to his house to pick up a textbook I left there and come back with groceries and no textbook because once he got into the car he forgot where he was going!

I have seen it's effects on self-esteem, too. He gets so frustrated forgetting things and making mistakes, but he ismaking some progress. I have to help him a lot, but I don't mind really.

Anyways, there is a method of evaluation by which they can tell you whether you have ADD. You take some cognitive skills tests, talk about your life, get an MRI. Bipolar mood disorder is often misdiagnosed as ADD, so they want to make sure to not treat you for the wrong disorder.

Talk to any local hospitals or private psychiatrists about being ADD evaluated.

May 19, 2000
5:20 pm
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vositor
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Somewhat Healed, perhaps your brain has a proclivity for processing everything in the frontal lobes. Brains that do that often hold more information and process it more quickly and easily than brains that process in the sensory areas.

People who process in their frontal lobes are called introverts. The common misconception is that they're shy and retiring. It's probably more nearly accurate to say they're just not "out" most of the time. If they're startled out of their internal mechanations when they don't want to pay attention to the outside world, they get cranky or even violent. A mild example is the absent-minded professor.

It's a social handicap, no doubt about it. What's really good is that you seem to have recognized it and maybe you can train yourself to pay attention to your surroundings when the situation demands it.

To find out if this is the case for you, you get a battery of brain scans while you engage in various activities. A psychiatrist of brain surgeon in a university would probably be able to direct you to a research program that would be thrilled to get their hands on you.

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