Executive dysfunction? Depression/AS/ADD?

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wewillfall
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06 Nov 2012, 6:38 am

So I'm a bit confused about a problem I'm having. I've been suspected of having things such as AS and/or ADD but I have no official diagnoses yet (still queueing to get assessed). However, I'll be receiving my diagnoses of Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder any day now (my psychologist has said I'm depressed and have general anxiety for sure). Anyway, I wanted to ask you something about executive dysfunction. I think it's very hard to start projects.

Example 1: I haven't cleaned in 2,5 weeks. I really need to hoover and things like that and I've been meaning to do so for 1,5 weeks. Even at this very moment I feel like I really should hoover (and I do have time to do so) but I keep procrastinating and I keep doing other things instead. Not even "meaningful" things. I just sit here and feel depressed while listening to one song on repeat over and over and over again and pressing "reload" repeatedly to see if someone's written something new here at WP.

Example 2: I can't seem to study on my own. I procrastinate and even just opening my books is extremely difficult.

Example 3: I never cook. It takes too long time and I don't want to be around people for that long (I live in a student dorm so I share the kitchen with other people). I don't even cook if I'm home alone. So I mostly eat food I can just heat in the microwave (usually the same sort of food over and over again) or sandwiches/fruit/sweets.

It's like my mind runs away from things I really have to do. Why is that? I'm not lazy. This does not feel like laziness. This is something else. Is this caused by my Depression and anxiety, by possible AS, by possible ADD or all/none of them?

Thanks.



hurtloam
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06 Nov 2012, 6:47 am

Sounds like depression. When I am suffering badly from depression I get like that. I feel low at the moment and trying to do housework is just so hard to do. It's the getting started, picking up that vacuum cleaner and plugging it in is such an uphill struggle. My brain just won't clear through the fog to do it.

I go through phases of not being so depressed and find it easier to make myself do things that need doing. At the moment I just want to snuggle up under a blanket and watch tv.



Withdrawal
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06 Nov 2012, 6:49 am

I think I remember reading once that Executive Dysfunction is usually the result of a severe neurological disorder - that's it's found in people with brain injuries or progressive brain diseases. Though I'm sure it has symptoms that occur in different levels of severity and for various reasons. A lot of these things seem to be on a "spectrum"!

Is this a new problem for you, and has it corresponded with other symptoms of the conditions you mention?

I'm not sure the lack of motivation you decide is typical of AS. Do you feel like all these things are just too boring or not worthwhile?I have heard that can be part of depression. Do you feel anxious about doing these tasks? E.g. are you worried that if you do some work it won't be good enough or you'll mess it up? That would make it more anxiety related. ADHD can make it difficult to concentrate, but it doesn't sound like that's the case for you except where you said your "mind runs away with you."

Maybe it would be better to think about how to counteract this rather than what disorder is causing it? I know it's useful to be able to explain to ourselves why we are the way we are, but if you're in the process of getting officially diagnosed you'll hopefully be able to work all that out in time. It seems the more immediate problem is addressing the procrastination and feeling a bit better about things?

Can you try setting aside one small cleaning task, or a short period to study, and beginning from there? Sometimes it's better to make a plan than to just be left with all these things to do and no set idea of which to do when - that can be overwhelming. Sometimes breaking the cycle is the hardest bit, once you've done it once you can do it again, and eventually establish routines for cleaning, studying, etc. that you may find you can stick to.



wewillfall
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06 Nov 2012, 7:01 am

Withdrawal wrote:
Is this a new problem for you, and has it corresponded with other symptoms of the conditions you mention?


I guess that depends on how you define "new". I feel like it's been getting worse as my depression has gotten worse but I've had these problems since I moved away from home.

Withdrawal wrote:
I'm not sure the lack of motivation you decide is typical of AS. Do you feel like all these things are just too boring or not worthwhile?I have heard that can be part of depression. Do you feel anxious about doing these tasks? E.g. are you worried that if you do some work it won't be good enough or you'll mess it up? That would make it more anxiety related. ADHD can make it difficult to concentrate, but it doesn't sound like that's the case for you except where you said your "mind runs away with you."


I have a lot of trouble focusing and concentrating (at uni, when having conversations with people etc) but I don't know when that started. I don't feel anxious about doing these tasks. I'm not afraid I'll mess it up or anything. I just can't start.

Withdrawal wrote:
Maybe it would be better to think about how to counteract this rather than what disorder is causing it? I know it's useful to be able to explain to ourselves why we are the way we are, but if you're in the process of getting officially diagnosed you'll hopefully be able to work all that out in time. It seems the more immediate problem is addressing the procrastination and feeling a bit better about things?

Can you try setting aside one small cleaning task, or a short period to study, and beginning from there? Sometimes it's better to make a plan than to just be left with all these things to do and no set idea of which to do when - that can be overwhelming. Sometimes breaking the cycle is the hardest bit, once you've done it once you can do it again, and eventually establish routines for cleaning, studying, etc. that you may find you can stick to.


Yes, probably. It just bothers me that I don't know what's causing it. Also, I'm interested in what could cause it since I'm trying to figure out if I've got AS and/or ADD for example (I won't get assessed for a long time).

I've tried to set aside a short period of time for studying for example. Never works out. And even if I manage to start my mind "wanders away" after a while. I start thinking about things that worry me or I start thinking about other things in general. Also, I start feeling like I'm stupid if I don't understand things immediately.



Withdrawal
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06 Nov 2012, 9:40 am

It sounds like it might be a combination of things.

Is there any way you can get treatment whilst you're going through the process of getting a diagnosis? Is your psychologist helpful and have you told him about these problems?

Maybe you could get help with school work from your school/university? Most institutions have resources for students with these kind of problems, though I'm sure they vary hugely in the quality of help they provide. You're probably entitled to things like extra time on deadlines, maybe tutoring or a mentor to help you plan your study time - things like that. If you're seeing a psychologist already you should qualify even without an official diagnosis. It might be worth looking into if you haven't already.



wewillfall
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06 Nov 2012, 12:20 pm

Withdrawal wrote:
It sounds like it might be a combination of things.

Is there any way you can get treatment whilst you're going through the process of getting a diagnosis? Is your psychologist helpful and have you told him about these problems?


I've only seen the psychologist twice and I don't think she's the one I'll be seeing regularly. I haven't really told her about these problems. I've told the specialists who are going to decide whether or not I'll get assessed for AS and ADD though.

Withdrawal wrote:
Maybe you could get help with school work from your school/university? Most institutions have resources for students with these kind of problems, though I'm sure they vary hugely in the quality of help they provide. You're probably entitled to things like extra time on deadlines, maybe tutoring or a mentor to help you plan your study time - things like that. If you're seeing a psychologist already you should qualify even without an official diagnosis. It might be worth looking into if you haven't already.


I'm getting some help already. I'm getting help with taking notes (so I only have to focus on what's being said) and I've got a mentor who I meet one hour every week. Her task is to help me prioritise and plan my studies. It's alright but planning isn't my problem. I plan everything. It's sticking to the plans and actually start studying (for example) that's my problem. Do you know what I mean?



Withdrawal
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06 Nov 2012, 12:34 pm

Yeah, a lot of the help offered focuses on planning. I suppose there's no substitute for actually doing it, and they can't do the work for you so they just help you plan....

I don't know what else to suggest other than my experience is it feels so much better when you've done whatever it is you have to do. If you can get some work done once, and feel the pay off of having it done/out the way, it can make it easier the next time because you know what it feels like and it works as an incentive. Procrastination becomes a cycle, once it's broken it should be easier to keep going.



riot_gun
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08 Nov 2012, 12:42 pm

I have had that exact problem basically my entire life. I've discovered that it seems to be caused at least in part by anxiety, even if you don't feel physically anxious. My doctor just put me on anxiety meds for general anxiety and they have helped a lot.



gretchyn
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08 Nov 2012, 2:52 pm

Withdrawal, you have posted some good advice and explanations, and I wanted to thank you. :-)



antifeministfrills
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08 Nov 2012, 2:57 pm

An inability to concentrate is a symptom of depression.



Sanctus
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08 Nov 2012, 4:12 pm

The OP could be me, with the exception that I usually cook because for me it's a hobby. But other than that, I know exactly what you mean.

Though, to be honest, that doesn't seem to be AS-exclusive. Two of the three guys I live next to in my dorm are worse than me. They live only on pizza and usually sleep the entire day. :D



Withdrawal
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09 Nov 2012, 4:32 am

gretchyn wrote:
Withdrawal, you have posted some good advice and explanations, and I wanted to thank you. :-)


You're very welcome. I'm glad it helped, because I did wonder if much of what I'm writing is a bit useless - that it basically comes down to, stop procrastinating, lol.

I know that it helps me enormously to just get on and get the unpleasant thing I have to do done out the way as soon as possible. Preferably when I first get up in the morning, and then I feel so much better the rest of the day. I only do a set amount, set aside what's to be done that day, and then make sure I get it all done. The comparison to the days I put off what I have to do and have it hanging over me all day is amazing. Took me a while to learn that lesson, but now I use it all the time and am much better at getting things done, on time, without unnecessary stress.

I suspect it may not be that easy or have the same effect for others, but it may help some!



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09 Nov 2012, 3:21 pm

Executive dysfunction is not really tied to procrastination, the way I understand it. (I am no expert, I just read a great deal).

Here is an example of executive dysfunction:

Imagine your brain is a big office with 100 cubicles, each with a phone. Your brain works everything that it needs in this office and each cubicle is assigned a worker to take in calls, make notes of the information and execute tasks according to these calls.

Now Imagine that your 100 cubicle office has only 37 workers in it. They are responsible for all 100 phones and all the tasks that come with it. What happens? The office misses calls, signals, messages, tasks to do etc.

Thus you may need to answer a question while looking at the listener, while you are walking down the hallway while paying attention to not trip on furniture but you can't handle it all at once. Therefore you miss something they said, trip on your walk, forget what you where going to respond, misread something etc.