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ADD or Simply Concentration Problem?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From India: I’m aged 24.

1) I have lot of problem in organizing & meeting datelines. If a task/exam is due a month/a week, i cant comprehend the meaning of scheduling or sticking to the schedule. i cant grasp the meaning & fulfillment of “completing”. Same for exam prep, which leads to chronic last moment rush. Wrapping up the final details of a project/anything seems impossible. Sometimes, I also switch from one activity to another without completing one.

2) in lectures/friend says something long & informative, i cant listen fully to the total version. Its “gapped” with several missing portions. when i read, sometimes i have to re-read 1 simple line many times.

3)i dont like & avoid to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort. I do for 2mins, then distracted, again do for 2 min, so on.

4)forgetfulness is moment to moment issue. i often have my hands, arms filled with scribbles to remind me of stuffs to buy/bring/do/appointments etc.

5) I am very very distracted by activity or noise around me.Cant focus at all with people around/talking.

6)i keep losing pen/ pencil when i sit to study. i also leave things behind, like umbrella/calculator/mobile in class.

7)I tend to fidget a lot even when talking to someone, and often speak fast so as not to forget or miss out any point.

Issues have been there from childhood.

Last few months, i tried taking this seriously, and changing myself,tried to set small goals,to “complete”, to organize, but i failed badly, no matter how hard i tried. This make me realize that these are intrinsic part of me, and has always been my defining points.

I’m NOT BAD in studies, I’m physics grad,and when it comes to understanding topics that interests me, i can concentrate better and i have high level of understanding (provided i’m studying alone at night when distraction is minimum).

Also, my long term memory is not as bad.

are these simply lack of mindfulness, procrastination, laziness and should i simply try to focus more or is it something more gross & points at ADHD/ADD?

i’m from rural India and though you can find few qualified depression therapist, but finding therapist with experience with ADD is rare. I’d be glad if you could tell me primarily which will help me take the next step.Thank you.

I doubt very much you are lazy or simply procrastinating. You do well in school in spite of a struggle to stay on task. Before deciding there are no therapists who can help, do talk to your school counselor or administrator to find out if they can refer you to a qualified counselor for an evaluation. You want to be sure to rule out depression before developing a self-help plan.

If the problem is ADD or ADHD, please take comfort in the fact that many, many brilliant people struggle with it. There is no magic formula or magic pill to deal with it. It takes determination. It takes being willing to learn how to work around it. But you can do it. Many of my most gifted students when I was teaching at University confided that they had ADD. But they learned to make it work for them.

If counselors are rare in your country, you will need to teach yourself. Do an internet search of “Working around ADHD”. I looked. There are a number of excellent articles online. In addition, search something like “Helping students with ADD”. There are a number of sites that provide teachers with ways to help their students. You can be your own “teacher” and use the tips you find on those sites.

You can also go to the “Find Help” tab on the LifeHelper homepage. Click on “Forums”. There you will find an online support group for those with ADHD.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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