Memo at midnight: Unable to…

…focus.

Staying focused should be easy. Just focus. Direct attention to something and keep your attention there.

Why then should focusing be so difficult when it should be so simple? Why is focusing on everything else so much easier than focusing on what really needs to be focused on?

Am I lazy?

Am I stupid?

Am I afraid?

If I’m lazy, why am I being lazy? Laziness hurts me more in the long run doesn’t it?

If I’m stupid, why then do I not educate myself further?

If I’m afraid, what am I afraid of and why am I afraid of it?

I’m afraid of nothing… yet I’m afraid of everything. How can both be true at the same time?

Why am I stuck here where I don’t want to be stuck and unable to focus?

Why do I have so many unanswered questions? Why can’t I answer them? What is wrong with me?

Why can’t I just step outside myself and stop being so self-involved?

Does this all not mean that I’m insane?

Why do I lack the power to not be insane? And why can’t I stop eating junk… that might help things a lot!

More in the Memo at Midnight series

27 comments

  1. JoAnn,You are just normal. Humans use two separate cognitive systems for processing information: one that is fast, emotional and intuitive, and another that is slower and more analytical. The analytical side for me….causes me to be distracted and I can’t focus. The emotional and intuitive side is when I can play my piano at great lengths of time and do my writing. The brain is very complicated and writing is very hard. You most definitely have to be inspired.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh thank you so much for that! I love to play the piano also but haven’t been lately because of various reasons. I need to take it up again. I find playing is so cathartic on so many levels. I’m sure you feel the same. My mother was a great piano player too, so much better than me. She always said it helped keep her sane. 🙃

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Despite our countess differences, JoAnn, one thing unifies us all – an inability to concentrate when bidden. For what it’s worth, the opposite – Don’t Think About It! – is equally impossible.

    Our minds are wonderfully inventive, adaptable tools, but they refuse to stay in one place.

    Recalls my own childhood, when my parents made me turn off the television, music, etc. when studying or doing homework. Egad! Nothing beats silence for being utterly distracting.

    Sorry, my thoughts require a soundtrack. A theme song would be pretty awesome too..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha, yes if we could walk around with our own theme music that would be something wouldn’t it?

      It’s strange how silence can be can be oddly uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s nice to have a few moments of silence but unless I’m reading a really great book or something it can’t last for too long 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Just generally: if one’s focus drifts away from the matter at hand, is that not, because it is deadly boring? Our problem as adults in general is that we must – or believe that we must – do so many things that are boring or that we don’t like, just to be able to feed ourselves.

    I can feel your frustration, but there is no other way but try again, maybe have a kitten at hand to stroke in between … that lifts the mood enormously. I am not in a position to give any advice, as I don’t have the same problems, but we need to be patient and loving with ourselves, otherwise the situation will get worse and worse. Sending you lots of loving vibes from Denmark!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. Perhaps I’ve just lost the motivation to push myself like I once had when I was younger. Need to work and get it back!

      Kittens do help, as well as beautiful nature photos!

      Like

  4. When I was in my second year of my Biochem degree I found it quite simply impossible to memorize and regurgitate the text book as required for passing the court. Further the course was required for continuing my studies so not just passing but earning a C+ was critically important. However no matter how hard I tried or how long I worked at it, no matter what happened I could not correctly place the OH groups on the skeleton diagrams I had to produce. Meanwhile, I had gotten permission to take a course in nitrogen fixation. This course was taught in an entirely different manner. Instead of memories and regurgitate diagrams, we had to actually understand how the system worked. The exam question was “Enzyme A undergoes a mutation and now functions at only 20% of normal. What happens?” Anyway at the end of the two courses I had an A in nitrogen fixation and a C in biochem. My career was over. At the suggestion of my advisor I went to see the department head and he looked at my marks and said “How can you get an A in Nitrogen Fixation which is a notoriously difficult course with a high failure rate, and yet only get a C in Biochem? He then gave me special permission to continue to my studies based on that A. For the rest of my undergraduate career I had to go see the department head to get permission to continue every registration.

    So what was the problem? Well the same fellow who taught Nitrogen Fixation had a daughter with dyslexia. He recognized my struggle as a variant of hers. He arranged for me to go to the student counselling department get tested. Lo and behold I had an information processing deficit where stuff moves from one side of a diagram to the other. I can’t tell left and right apart. Here I am a PhD published scientist and I still can’t tell left and right, something most children (including all three of my own) learn when they are about five. There are some other peculiar little items I screw up on like arrows and tape measures. My overall testing was in the high average range because on two of the tests I scored 30/200 whereas the other test scores were up at 120/200. Further testing revealed I had already developed strong compensatory mechanisms but these were time consuming and in the standard testing mode I never had enough time. And so for certain specific courses I was given 30% extra time to allow me to employ my personal compensatory tactics. My marks went from a mix of D to A averaging out at Cs to and average of B+s just by that one simple compensation.

    So the problem was not that I was lazy, stupid, careless or any other such negative label. The problem was I was different for certain aspects of life and I had to tackle things differently from the standard way in order to solve certain problems. I also had to seek out a bit of help sometimes to get that new way of tackling things.

    My advice is stop using self-pejoratives and start looking at the specific compensatory tactics that will allow you to fix the problem. I was never able to help myself when I got a low mark and said things like “How could I have been so stupid? Why am I so careless? Why didn’t I do that?” Instead I try to think, “Hm, I have a goal but that approach didn’t work. What can I do differently this time?” I won’t say I am success all the time. For example I am still carrying 30 pounds more than I would like to be. But it sure makes me feel better about being me.

    Like

    • Wow that’s quite a story. Thank you so much and I’m glad to hear of your success!
      Dyslexia is learning disability, which makes it quite a bit different than mental illness though so I’m sorry but the correlation really doesn’t work for me, to be honest.

      There’s nothing wrong with expressing negativety. In fact, I believe it’s just as important as expressing any other emotion we may experience. There should always be a balance, to be sure, however, being able to freely express emotions is part of achieving true mental health awareness. Suppressing it or trying too hard to be happy and positive just to please those around you is really a recipe for disaster.

      The true inention of my post, and most of my other posts, is to send a message to other people that it’s ok not to be ok. We can talk about it. In keeping with that intention I shy away from giving people advice. Who am I to be doing so? Rather, I listen to them and understand their pain. I offer what works for me in hopes that it will work for them too.

      All the best!

      Like

      • Sorry. I did not mean to invalidate you with toxic positivity. You just sounded so down. I got the message. My post was to say being “okay” means sometimes fitting into a mold you just can’t fit, because of something you are, be that a mental health issue or a learning disability. Getting down on yourself because you can’t fit your peg into someone else idea of what the shape of hole should be is never going to work.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Please don’t be harsh to yourself or blame yourself for not being able to do things the way you want to. It’s okay to not be okay! Anxiety and depression usually go hand in hand but don’t let them make you doubt your own productivity. Hugs ❤

    Liked by 3 people

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