I have been suffering from concentration problems for years. I was never diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) so I was never treated specifically for it.
But as I have said several times in this blog, I am very skeptical about the effectiveness of medications for mental problems: not for anxiety (anxiolytics), not for depression (antidepressants), nor for insomnia (sleeping pills). And I would have probably also be disappointed by the king of anti-ADHD drugs: Ritalin. In this case, my psychiatrist agreed with me that this drug was not effective, at least not in my case.
So, what does help in my opinion in treating mental problems: common sense! In this post, I will review the situations I find difficult to deal with, due to lack of concentration, the damage my lack of concentration causes me and my past failed attempts to deal with these situations. I will finally describe the simple method that works best for me to deal with this disorder.
The situations I find difficult to deal with due to lack of concentration:
- What is the disorder?
I cannot keep track of conversations, when I'm not at the center of things. I mean, I have no problem talking face to face with another person. But when I sit in the company of several people talking to each other, I really do not follow.
- What damage is it causing me?
I have talked about the damage extensively in this blog: Because I do not participate in conversations, I have become unsociable, causing many people to mock me, and even abuse me. Out of a desire to minimize my contacts with society, I became shy. The loneliness, shyness (fear of people) and social stigma made me sad and consequently depressed with all the consequences of depression: insomnia, distorted vision of the world, suicidal thoughts.
- How did I try to deal with the disorder?
I have talked about this topic extensively in this blog. I will try to say here things that I have not already said, regarding myths and misconceptions that I have drawn about myself, that only exacerbated the problem: People have told me that I was not sociable or not communicative. When I say people, I mean non-professionals but also professionals like psychologists.
- How do I explain my being "non-communicative" today, when the situation has improved a lot?
Well, being communicative, contrary to what many people think, is not something you are born with, that you have or do not have, but something you learn. This learning can sometimes be improved in with books, but essentially one learns it in life. Nowadays when I recreate what I would hear from what people talk say to each other, they would constantly talk to each other about communication problems:
_ Did you hear what Tzila said to Yoram?
_ She did not mean to hurt him!
_ How do I explain it to her without hurting her?
and so on.
The trouble is that because of my shyness, and the label that was put on me and as a result I let rule myself that I was "not sociable", then I would not take an active part in conversations.
Now that I have learned that society is made up of people who are just like me with the same strengths and weaknesses, I am no longer ashamed to ask questions and take an active part in such conversations, and it became clear to me that I can definitely be considered as "super-social".
- Watching movies.
- Reading books
- Listening to lessons and lectures.
· What is the disorder?
When I watch a movie, read a book, listen to a lesson or lecture, I very quickly lose the thread, and do not understand anything.
· What damage is it causing me?
If it is a movie or a book, I lose opportunities to enjoy and educate. If it is a lesson or a lecture, I fail my tests. If it is as part of the job, I cannot do my job properly later. How many times have I lost my job just because of it?
· How did I try to deal with the disorder?
While listening to a lecture for example, I was tense and tried to listen to each word of what the lecturer said, and in the process getting upset about these facts:
- That as I try to understand, I understand less and less.
- When time passes, that I have lost the beginning because of my lack of concentration, and that as a result I have lost necessary information for hearing the sequel, and that now there is no chance that I will understand.
- In very simple words: that compared to everyone else, I am a complete idiot!
The solution I found to ADHD:
As with many topics I have discussed in this blog, the solution came in that I realized that many of my thoughts were completely wrong. And after I broke the myths, I will discuss below one by one, the solution was very simple.
1) I suffer from ADHD
No way?! Who said so?! The fact that under certain circumstances, when I was engaged in something that interested me, I had no problem concentrating. It also happened that people, who I concluded were much smarter than me because they manage to concentrate while I fail. Well, these people would say to me, "Yossi? How do you manage to understand that and concentrate so beautifully when I don't?"
Example: In high school, I would not follow history and literature classes unlike others, while in math classes, the situation was the opposite: I would actually "drink" the teacher's words.
So how do I explain this? Simply, the humanities did not interest me, while mathematics did interest me! Nowadays, I am more interested in topics like history and literature, hence it is easier for me to concentrate when I hear a lecture on these topics.
Ask me, then, how to make a particular subject interest us? Really, I have no answer! But to the question: "How to listen better?", I have an answer, and if you will be patient and read a few more lines, I will also tell you it!
The problem, then, is not that I am not focused, but that I am actually focused, very focused, but not in the right thing! I'm focused ... on not being focused! In my anxiety that turns into panic and despair.
2) I would as mentioned try to be alert and absorb every word from the lecturer.
This is precisely the mistake I made!!! No one is able to absorb every word! The human mind needs to strive and rest, to strive again and rest again.
So, what's the solution? First of all, relax! You don't have to make an effort and you can't listen to every word. There are important words and sentences, and some that do not have the same importance. If a lecturer, especially if he is a good lecturer says for example: "Now, let's talk about this subject:", then you prick up your ears. Let us not strive, however, when we hear the following sentences. Let them flow! Let us not worry! We will remember them! Also, we need to listen up when the lecturer tells us some point which is new to us, at a particular time.
We must listen actively!
What does it mean? Always keep in mind: what's the subject? And within the framework of the subject, what is the sub-subject.
Have you noticed that in a TV report, there are always two lines at the bottom of the screen that mention what the subject and sub-subject are?
If we have lost the thread for a moment, instead of panicking, we must ask ourselves: what is the subject and what is the sub-subject?
3) Another myth I broke for myself: that time passes, that I lost the beginning because of my lack of concentration, and that I therefore lost necessary information to hear the sequel, and that now there is no chance that I will understand.
This may sound logical, but it's just not true! Fact: Try to get into a movie in the middle, and listen to the method described above (what are they talking about? Try to guess what you did not see. What is the subject and sub-subject?). You will see that it is definitely possible to listen to any movie / lecture you caught in the middle!
Tips for listening to Zoom lectures:
If possible, don't listen to the lecture live but on the recording:
- Listen in 45-minute portions
- If you did not understand the lecture. Just, hear it one more time!
I would love to read your comments:
- Do you also find it difficult to concentrate?
- How do you cope with this?
- Do the methods I described help you?
- Do you have any more ideas?