I am a 22 year old female in nursing school. For the first time in my life I have reached the point in which I must study in order to pass school, but I've figured out that when I try to study I have such a hard time focusing on the wording that I get nothing out of it. It takes so much energy just to make it through a paragraph in a textbook that it's exhausting. I know that ADD presents itself in the young and I was wondering if I may have always had ADD and was able to succeed despite it (for the most part) until I was put in a high-stress, study-dependent environment.
Here are some symptoms that I have experienced all my life:
1. I am not overly hyper but I always have to be doing something with my hands (like typing interesting words in the air) or my feet. I change positions very frequently while sitting.
2. Cleaning is very nearly impossible for me. My bedroom growing up was a constant disaster zone and it would take me 4 hours to clean my room when any other person could have finished it in 30 minutes.
3. I blurt out things without thinking. Often these are things that are best left to myself.
4. While trying to write this post I have stopped at least half a dozen times already from being distracted.
5. My grades in school were pretty good, which is amazing because I spent most of school staring out windows or at walls.
6. I lose focus during a conversation with a person and wind up staring at their nose, etc. or interrupting them by suddenly changing the subject to something completely irrelevant (because my brain goes into warp speed relating random facts and stringing them together.)
7. Time management for me is impossible. I'm nearly always late and totally misjudge the time I need to do various tasks.
8. I forget to do things almost as soon I'm told they need to be done. I've been very forgetful all my life and it has caused great stress between myself and my family.
9. This is all I can think of right now. I'm spending more time staring into space or through the TV than writing this.
1. I can read a book (for fun) and not even notice if a tornado came through.
2. I did make good grades in school, but I never tried for them, I just did.
I went to a psychologist, but he blew me off and said it was anxiety. But these are things that have always been wrong with me but have just gotten worse while i've been in nursing school. I'm beginning to feel like i'm coming apart at the seams if I can't fix this.
Last edited by emlp2011; 11-29-2009 at 10:43 PM.
Reason: Forgot some things.
I can't say for a certainty that you have ADHD but certainly it is a good possibility. Why did the psychologist blow you off? Because you didn't have attention troubles before nursing school?
Not all tasks require the same level of concentration. Your studies take a lot of focus. Fun reading takes much less attention. Same applies to lower level grades.
Insufficient intelligence is not the problem. Insufficient attention is. We can't keep bits of information in working memory long enough to string them into a coherent conclusion. College level courses are data dense. A fun book may have one or two bytes of relevant ideas per paragraph. Misunderstanding the fun book is not a problem. A technical book may have two or more relevant thought bytes in each sentence. Each byte takes more mental focus when learning new things. New terms, concepts, words, etc. turn easy reading into concentration intensive study. When we get to the last-in bytes in the technical paragraph we've lost the first-in bytes hence can't run the comprehension algorithm so to speak. We expend more energy trying to compensate. We get exhausted, still aren't getting it, and lose the little attention we do have.
I coined the term "excessively volatile working memory" to describe this attention deficit facet of ADHD. Dr. Russel Barkley identified the problem. Is Dr. Barkley on target? Yes. "Excessively volatile working memory" is synonymous with "my brain goes into warp speed relating random facts and stringing them together." Computers use RAM for volatile memory. RAM is corrupted when it begins losing bits prematurely. It happened to one of my computers. The computer acted ADHD. No kidding.
Writing things down adds persistence and stability to our leaky working memory. Writing down long lists enable me to keep info on the stack as well as anyone. Everyone, ADHD or not, has limits on the size that can be managed without a written list. But I have to write down (very) short lists that those without ADHD can easily keep in mind. Read Dr. Barkley. He's the psychologist in the know.
Try the following. It works for me. Outline each paragraph in a "hard" note book. Old fashion note books keep more info in view and make finding topics easier than computers until the volume of info gets pretty large. Then computers blow the hard note books to smithereens. Want to use computer? Do it. Personal preference really. Start at the first paragraph in your study session and stop at the last for current session. Try not to interrupt your note taking with other tasks. Don't get OCD over your notes either. The act of writing forces focus so no more than brief notes are needed. We got it. Just need a little additional help to keep it until we reach the goal of comprehension. Comprehension snaps in near session end when we have enough detail stored in our PAM (Paper Assisted working Memory). In some cases more study sessions are needed for overall comprehension. Again, comprehension depends on keeping detail on the stack long enough for our CPU to complete the processing and hand over our coveted revelation.
My suggested system may sound too time consuming. It isn't. With a little practice, you should be able to study faster and with greater comprehension than those without ADHD and with intelligence equal to yours.
The other ADHD issues you listed have work-arounds. I've read a lot of "how to study" guides. I can recall one instance where outlining was suggested. All other methods, suggestions, and proven study methods do not work for me. Effective ADHD strategies are specific to the problems caused by ADHD. Point: Choose info sources/consultants carefully. Many psychologists haven't a clue. I've successfully used a psychologist who understands effective ADHD problem mitigation. Many rave about ADHD coaches so look there too. You may need meds too. Medication does not negate the need for work-arounds. Lack of good ADHD stategies can negate the medication.
The term "working memory" suggests that we have a memory problem. We don't. Working memory and short term memory are not the same. IQ tests return normal short term memory in the ADHD. Slow processing speed that runs 15 to 40 or more points below other parameters is the IQ test return indicating working memory problems. All other parameters are well above processing speed and tend to be within a few points of each other. Most but not all with ADHD display the low processing speed signature. A current IQ test report may prove to be a helpful diagnostic tool. There are other helpful tests for ADHD that should be used with the IQ results. TOVA and similar tests measure variables closely associated with attention, focus and concentration. The IQ and the TOVA return somewhat more objective results than doctor interpreted patient symptom complaints. Did your guy do any thing other than the interview as basis for the anxiety dx?
I suspect your psychologist's anxiety dx is incorrect for another reason. I don't "see" anxiety in your report but see lots of ADHD. Be warned by my usual black box, skull and cross bones: "I am not a doctor of medicine or of psychology." See another psych for a second opinion, preferably one that shingles ADHD as part of their practice.
If it is a simple case of ADHD, your GP can prescribe ADHD meds without blowing you up. By simple I mean ADHD is your one and only disorder with no depression, anxiety disorders, bi-polar or any other brain bug complicating things. Come to think of it, no environmental issues either. There is no way to know whether simple or complicated without an accurate diagnosis from an psychologist.
A respected authority said, "ADHD rarely travels alone." ADHD's usual travel companions exponentially complicate prescribing medication. See a shrink if more is at work than ADHD. Go straight to shrink right after seeing your GP to rule out physical factors. The brain is part of the CNS. The brain/central nervous system wraps around and controls our bodies essentially making body and brain one big system. A bug anywhere in our bodies can disrupt mental processes. The visa-versa is true too.
An RN friend of mine has been most helpful. She had more to do with helping me with major mental health problems than any doctor I consulted. I congratulate you for pursuing nursing. Doctors would be lost without you. Too bad they get more than the lion's share of the dough.
Last edited by addprogrammer; 11-30-2009 at 05:35 PM.
Reason: corrected spelling of Dr. Barkley's name - was mispelled as Barclay
HI,my name is larry and I do believe that I have the same thing,and the DR put me on adderall 20mg 2 a day and it seamed to work for awhile,but now its not working for me,but everyone's body is different and it might work for you..I am now trying to get my GED so I can become a nurse too some day hopefully soon,that has been my dream for a long time,but I have problems concen. in school and just signed up on here and was hopeing to find answers,maybe we can help each other.thanks,hope to hear from you.bye
You can take some of the online questionnaires. They are really pretty good.
You sound like a classic ADHD case (officially they no longer use the term ADD, it's all ADHD now).
You may present ADHD with or without any hyperactivity symptoms.
Some people successfully address ADHD by eliminating certain foods from their diet. Other people take medication. In my case, I take Strattera.
My take is that you are likely very bright, and so didn't need to cope that well with your ADHD symptoms in order to succeed. Now you find yourself in a more challenging environment and you suddenly need to find a way to cope. It is particularly tough for you because you are so bright you didn't ever develop any coping skills and are now totally unprepared to deal with this.
You need to see a dr. who will actually test you for ADD and prescribe something to help you focus. If you don't want to do that, you may want to research alternative medicine approaches. I have decided to test out colloidal gold, since it sounds so promising, but I can't say it works or doesn't until I've tried it. I like the part where it doesn't have unintended side effects, since it is not a drug, but rather a trace mineral. Should only take a week or two to figure out whether this is what I've been looking for all my life or not.
My oldest daughter, by the way, has ADD. She has been on Concerta for it and this has really helped her manage her symptoms and has made life much easier for her. She is now very organized and is well underway in her PhD program. There is hope!
Last edited by mod-anon; 12-22-2009 at 08:31 AM.
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