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Problems concentrating

GT, I’m not trying to armchair diagnose myself with ADHD or anything. Frankly, I don’t want to suspect that I have anything diagnosable, because I can’t afford any kind of formal evaluation or treatment anyway. But this is really starting to eat away at me.

Okay, so I never paid much attention to how I learn, but when I’m forced to reflect on that now (while musing about problems I’ll shortly explain), I definitely realize that I’ve always learned best by self-teaching. My idea of a good time is a bottle of wine, a complicated pile of IKEA parts, an instruction manual. In church growing up, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t follow an entire sermon. In school classes, I couldn’t follow long explanations, but I could quickly digest the same information myself with whatever reading material was provided. In college, I loved lectures but also completely spaced out during them (unless I was taking notes). I always made good grades. I want to be clear that this isn’t just when subjects bore me. It has occurred to me in the past year or so that I can’t even follow a friend when she/he is talking at length.

Once I became aware of this, I would consciously try—”Okay, I’m not going to space out while E is talking”—and I’d fail horribly, every time, and I feel like a rude, bad friend, but I can’t help it. And that alarms me. That I apparently either have no control over this problem, or am too weak-willed and shitty to control it.


It’s not only the short attention span when someone is talking. It’s other things, too. I used to be SO ORGANIZED, for instance. I once had 19 credit hours, five part-time jobs, two campus organizations under my partial administration, and a relationship. And I loved it, I loved always being busy. And I still do. But now, with only a part-time job to pay the bills followed by the rest of the day free to work at home on my own projects (which take a lot of focus but don’t pay the bills), I can’t seem to be able to structure my days in any meaningful way. Or stick to any sort of schedule other than the one I’m required to show up for (the day job). I’ll sit down to work, and then just wander on to other things, no matter how sternly I tell myself I won’t, no matter how many times I say, “Okay, you’re going to work on this for the next hour, nothing else.” This terrifies me, because I know how hugely fortunate I am to be in a position where I have ample time to work on my passions and still keep a roof over my head, and I feel like I’m squandering it. And I feel doubly so now that I no longer live alone. My boyfriend lives with me. No many how many times he assured me otherwise, I feel like he started a relationship with a cool author and now sees the truth: a hack who never finishes anything (fwiw, I have finished books, and published them, to moderate but thrilling success, he just hasn’t been around long enough to see the completion of one, and so I’m definitely projecting this fear onto him myself, but yeah).

Other maybe related tidbits: I need silence to work. In general I’m extremely sensitive to noise. It’s impossible for me to carry on a conversation in a room with a person if there’s a TV on (not so much in a crowded bar, just in like a living room or something). Oh, and I cannot read something on a website if there is a moving ad visible anywhere on the page. I literally have to adjust my window on the screen to hide the moving object before I can read the page’s content.

So, in short I guess:
- I’ve always found it impossible to listen at length
- I used to be really good at self-organizing, now I can’t seem to stick to any reasonable schedule I make for myself.
- I can’t focus when there is noise or peripheral movement
- I can’t seem to focus on the work I sincerely want to do, and enjoy, even when my environment is quiet

I really hate this. Mostly because I feel like I should have control over it, and yet I fail to overcome it like a sad, unmotivated little blob. I don’t know what to do. I want some metaphorical ice-water dumped over my head, a slap in the face. I want to get my shit together. I’m not looking for a diagnosis or a magic bullet. But I did buy some gingko biloba pills. Even if they just give me a placebo effect boost, I’ll take it at this point.

Thoughts? Commiseration? Suggestions? Cat gifs?

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