Mental Health Awareness

It’s easy as do re mi, ADD/ADHD, 123…

I’ve never actually been diagnosed with either but I’ve always thought I must be afflicted by one of them, given that I’ve never been able to sit still and no matter what I do cannot focus on anything for more than a few seconds at a time. Don’t even get me started on short-term memory. Whether or not I do have one of these disorders, I definitely sympathize with anyone dealing with them.

It is extremely frustrating trying to get through school when you can’t settle your mind long enough to read your assigned chapters. It is also discouraging when you’re in a team trying to work on a project and you have no idea what is going on because you keep spacing out or have forgotten what your current task requires. After a while, it starts to take a toll on your self-esteem. You start asking yourself if there is something wrong with you. You feel like a failure because for whatever reason everyone is working hard and knows exactly what they have to do and your mind is a blank slate. Well… not so much blank as much as it is pre-occupied with other things. It’s just that none of those things are helpful in that moment.

Here’s some light at the end of the distracting tunnel – I’ve recently stumbled upon ADHD lectures by Dr. Russel Barkley, thanks to the good folks at https://www.reddit.com/r/ADHD/. Not only does he explain what is really happening inside the brain of someone with the disorder but explains how to treat it.

I noticed while watching one particular video that some of the things he mentioned regarding habits and the best ways to handle them matched pretty closely to my experiences. He suggests a modified Pomodoro Technique, the 25:5 rule, and says people with ADHD benefit more from shorter bursts like 10:3. If you’re unfamiliar with the Pomodoro Technique I suggest looking it up if you are in school or tend to have a heavy workload. Essentially it’s about working in chunks and taking breaks in between. This keeps your mind fresh so you stay motivated. He said something about our “Executive Function” tank, which is our motivation to complete tasks, and how you’ll notice someone with ADHD can play video games for hours and yet can’t sit down and complete homework for more than a few minutes. It has to do with immediate rewards. It made sense, at least from my standpoint. My whole life I’ve loved video games and could sometimes play them for hours at a time and yet when it came to homework, even if the content was not exceptionally difficult, I could not complete it unless I did it little by little. I just never felt motivated to do it all in one shot.

I highly recommend looking up lectures from Dr. Barkley. You might learn a lot about yourself and hear suggestions about how to work more effectively. If you’re not currently getting professional help, after watching his lectures you may want to consider it. I know I am!

And as always, if you aren’t the one experiencing problems but have someone in your life who is, please do your best to be understanding of them. It helps their self-esteem and is really important for mental health awareness. People tend to feel alienated when they have mental health issues because of the negative connotation it has always held so let’s try to stifle that, shall we?

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