hey, I would like some help with my mental health, advice – really. I recently (8 months ago or so) have been very distracted and I have not been able to concentrate on anything, whether it be school work or personal activities. I can't stay still, I can't even focus on a movie, I can even freaking focus on something for more than 10 minutes. even when someone is talking to me I tend to drift away and think about something else, like when my sister was talking to me, I got distracted by my necklace then by food and cut her halfway to state that I was hungry. this has never happened to me before, I am suspecting adult ADHD but I'm not sure, I am going to try to seek professional help but idk. I have been having a hard time with school because of this and this has also severely made me more depressed, stressed and more prone to anxiety attacks. not only is my mental health a problem, but I am also getting pressured by my parents to get back on track with my studies as I used to get good marks when I wasn't so distracted and although my marks aren't bad now, they want me to go back to straight a's. But I just can't focus. no matter what. I have also had a fall out with my friends, well they were toxic and I removed them from my life but then they started spreading rumours about me and kinda destroyed many of the relationships I have with other students as well as teachers. I have been super depressed that I am thinking of smoking or doing something that takes away this pain that I am feeling but I am unable to share as my parents don't understand. it is just getting super overwhelming.
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I'm addressing this to both Max and Sandy... Distraction is a huge problem in this society (the U.S.A.). It's not just a subjective problem for individual human beings. Distraction is so much a part of this society that it impacts all aspects of living here in the U.S.A. There were much fewer distractions when I was growing up. I hope that whatever help Sandy gets, maybe she thinks about -- say -- ways not to use social media as much as she has in the past and even, somehow, cut down on accessing the internet. When I write non-fiction, I am usually writing about movies in general or about a specific movie and I have learned over the years that I need to have as few distractions as possible when I watch a movie -- whether it's in a movie theater or where I live...
Thank you for reaching out to Asking Jude. I’m so sorry you’ve been unable to focus lately and that it is manifesting so many stressors in your life. I am not a specialist, so I cannot diagnose you, but I highly recommend you seek out a therapist to talk to. I also recommend you schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor about your symptoms and ask to be tested or referred to a specialist. Your symptoms match up to adult ADHD. To be diagnosed doctors require symptoms to have been occurring before the age of 12 and to be present for at least 6 months.
Since I cannot give you a formal answer on whether you have ADHD, I will discuss possible underlying factors for your change in behavior and then I’ll give you some tips on how to manage your symptoms in the meantime. Overall, I hope you receive formal testing so you can start your journey to living an enjoyable life again. Therapy would also be beneficial, as if you have ADHD or not, you will still have to take steps to manage your current mental health.
There is a possibility you have ADHD, but I would also like you to consider if underlying factors are contributing to your inability to focus. If you find there are some underlying factors, I would recommend still carrying through your process of getting tested, as a doctor would be able to help determine this as well. You mention that you had a recent falling out with friends. I’m wondering if maybe that has created a drastic shift in your life, upping anxiety or sadness. Having rumors spread about you is awful, and it may be affecting you in ways you do not fully realize. Our emotions are not always surface level. They can be subconscious and show up in new behaviors, thought processes, and even physical symptoms. Your recent falling out with friends could be contributing to your unrest and inattentiveness.
I want you to also consider if any other factors in your life could be keeping you unfocused. If there has been something painful that happened recently, it might be making it difficult to focus as well. Other mental health situations also contribute to the inability to focus such as anxiety, depression, autism, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse.
Here are some more references about mental health and life factors that create ADHD like symptoms:
Here are some links to the symptoms of ADHD. I do not recommend self-diagnosis or treatment. Please speak to your doctor when possible.
Here are some short videos as well.
To help you manage your attention deficit in the meantime, I have some tips you can try. For keeping yourself on task while doing homework, I recommend the Pomodoro technique, limiting immediate distractions in your workspace, and trying out fidget toys. The Pomodoro technique involves setting a timer for 35 minutes and doing solely one task for that amount of time for the reward of having a break when the timer ends. There are google extensions for this like Tide (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tide-focus-timer-white-no/lmbegcmkonokdjbhbamhpmkihpachdbk) or there are apps such as Plantie (https://plantie.app/). You should also try to attain limited distractions in your workspace. By this I mean keeping your sketchbook off your desk if you want to focus on math problems, clicking out of tabs that are off-topic, and putting your phone across the room while you work. Fidget toys are also good for keeping focus if they can keep your hands busy without taking your attention away from your task. My favorite fidget toy at the moment is play-doh, and I find it calming to toss around in my hand while keeping me focused at work. (Here is a video with other ideas for fidget toys (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgbTssOYoiw).
A big issue for people with ADHD is also putting off tasks due to inattentiveness. For this, I recommend you try the Pomodoro technique but for small incriminates like 1 to 10 minutes. I also suggest trying this a day or two before you want to work on your task, as it will make it easier for you to jump into your work later knowing you’ve already broken into it.
For keeping yourself focused during conversations, I recommend asking questions, repeating to yourself what they say, eliminating distractions, and fidgeting. If you find you’ve gone off track, ask them to repeat themselves. It is better to have them repeat themselves than to have them realize you weren't listening or to forget what they said immediately after. You could also ask questions about what they are saying to keep yourself engaged in the conversation. While they are speaking, you can repeat important bits that you want to remember later under your breath. To maintain your attention, you can also eliminate distractions by closing a door if people are being loud outside, asking to grab food if you’re hungry, or telling yourself you’ll deal with a passing thought later. You could also use a fidget toy from earlier.
Here are some other resources with tips on how to focus with ADHD:
No matter if you are diagnosed with ADHD or are experiencing symptoms as a result of other mental health occurrences, I want you to know that none of this is your fault. You have time to work on your grades. Your mental health is more important. The sooner you are kind to yourself and forgiving of any downfalls your distinctiveness has caused, the easier it will be to take steps towards getting help. I hope that you refrain from turning to substance abuse as I believe it will create even more issues for you. I do not think it will help with your focus at all, and it will be even more difficult for you to start feeling better again.
Best of luck!
Hey, Sandy! I am not a mental health professional. The staff will give you some specific information to help you. From what you state in your 'ask,' you are on good terms with your parents. So that's good. You definitely should seek professional help. Good luck to you!