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On my learning differences

  1. Mar 12, 2013 #1
    The other day I started a thread on advice for self studying, and in it I discussed my learning differences and why normal methods do not work for me. All I got in response was being told that I'm wrong and egotistical and told how to do the right way to do it and it became one big argument that, being ADHD and very argumentative to boot, I naturally got caught up in.

    Anyway, to start... I am ADHD as I have mentioned, I take Adderall 5 mg in the morning once a day but it only helps a little bit, mostly moodwise - I had frequent mood swings and bouts of depression and hysterical crying before I started it half a year ago, it works better than the antidepressants I tried which stopped working after a while and made me too lazy and unmotivated to focus. But my mind still wanders, perhaps more than before since it makes my thoughts more active, which is why I don't think a higher dose would work, that and the side effects I have on this small dose sometimes make me wonder if even 5 mg is too much. It's great if I can focus all those active thoughts on what needs to be focused on though but medicine can't help with that; and thus I can get too focused on something unimportant.

    Also, I have Asperger's/high functioning autism of some sort, the main troubling symptom of that, I think, is that I can only focus on one thing at a time. If I attempt to multitask, I will either be stuck doing one of the two things and forget about the other, or wind up doing neither at al, usually retreating from reality to concentrate on something in my own head.

    This makes lectures difficult. That, and the social element behind it; recognizing the subtext that requires one to read what the professor is really intimating that you need to pick up. I am poor with social skills not because I don't understand them, but again because it requires concentratiom and focus away from other stuff. I would in fact prefer to stay at home and study it all out of the book instead of get too tired out to concentrate from the lecture.

    I also have trouble understanding things if they are written at too low a level. I will forget if the higher math used to explain it is omitted. I actually pick up how to understand it so quickly that I forget it just as quickly, though it will often be after an hour of fighting against wandering thoughts (a losing war, like trying to fight a burglar in your house while fast asleep, because your mind is just so out of it) that a sudden epiphany will happen.

    I have no short term memory. Everything has to go into long term memory. If I try to work out a math problem while the know-how is still in short term memory, I get confused. I need to read the book and run through the procedures in my head so I at least remember the order and consolidate it into long term memory where more connections can be made without burdening my conscious focus and then I can do the problems very easily.

    And there are other things that need to be explained but I can't remember them right now, again with the nonexistent short term memory. If anyone can relate or help...?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2013 #2
    Short term memory can be developed, and can "un-develope" too.

    I'm sure that is nothing new to you, more exercise.

    Note that post reads as though you define yourself by the "symptoms", self fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

    On a similar note, I've got "little legs". And as much as I enjoy basketball...categorically I suck at it. But if practiced and practiced surely I'd make up for that "short fall" (ha pun).

    But, I prefer to play something I am more categorically adapt too, the concept of specialization is win / win.
  4. Mar 12, 2013 #3
    I never let myself be defined by such symptoms, as a matter of fact I treated myself like I didn't have such disorders, until the day came I was getting Ds and Fs on the tests in basic classes at community college (after getting As in similar subjects at a four year) that something was clearly wrong. I pretty much observe myself and find out what's wrong.

    How does one develop short term memory? I do math problems in my head but that clearly doesn't help...
  5. Mar 12, 2013 #4
    So you have wandering thoughts and poor concentration? Have you seen a doctor or a psychologist lately and talked about that? The bad short-memory is probably also related to that. If the anti-depressants helped before and stopped working, you should speak to the doctor again. That's not easy to fight just psychologically, especially with the pressure to do things in time (study in time for exams, do assignments on time, etc...).
  6. Mar 12, 2013 #5
    I was first put on Wellbutrin, it made me feel so... Zen at first, but also creative, energetic and productive... but the happy effect wore off in about two weeks. Plus if I missed a day or two I would be crying uncontrollably from withdrawal. I wasn't on it steadily enough; I was unable to pick up my own pills at first and had nobody to do it for me. So I would take the pill every other day to make it last... No side effects, but still the occasional (blunted) mood swing... And then I went on Zoloft. First week I felt strange, like everything was bright and like I didn't have a care in the world and I didn't even mind the nausea I felt. I had strangely good concentration too, like I could sit on the bus and study a quantum mechanics book and my thoughts would not wander. But that wore off and I was more or less lazy all the time, too lazy to even take a shower or change into pajamas, and the sads were back, perhaps more than ever, and I was unable to get caffeine high despite being quite sensitive to it... So I quit after three months.

    I was on Strattera for the second month I was on Zoloft. It was horrible, like having mood swings by the minute, strange anxiety over nothing, bizarre emotions like one would feel in a dream... And then those went away... And came back... And again... My focus was certainly even worse than before.

    So I quit, after a month of being drug free I got on what I have been told I should have been taking all along - Adderall. I took it as a kid but I was eventually taken off, either because my foster parent was a ***** or because I refused to take the full dose when they raised it to 10 mg (that dose did, and likely still would, give me something similar to a panic attack).

    Adderall so far works better as an antidepressant than any of the reuptake inhibitors I was on. I feel more rational and I haven't had a tantrum in a good while. I think I just need somebody to beat my *** and make me study, since I was brought up being controlled and threatened with punishment. I was in fact scolded for checking out advanced math books from the library...so yeah I never learned self control.

    So I have been out of school for a year. I think I would be better off in more advanced classes where I would have some intrinsic motivation to do well, and also at a four year university where they often don't require homework or class attendance for a grade. Unfortunately the four year universities in this state don't permit those who have already lost their higher education virginity to apply to transfer unless they have earned at least 60 credits, and I had already been to two other schools in my last state the previous year. I did well enough in high school to go to a four year right away after all (for me doing badly means a B but it was mostly As, but never straight As. Never.). I didn't need to study in those classes, which was a good thing because there was no way I would have been able to concentrate at the time. However I got bored and depressed. I nearly dropped out of the four year I went to second semester and I wasn't doing bad at all (though I feared I was) I needed a challenge to motivate me, and so far all I have met is condescension and classes easier than what I had in high school (which wasn't even AP, such courses were unavailable at my high schools). I just studied with a questionable degree of success the past year and now I think I am almost ready for grad school. I am considering auditing a grad level course at the local four year or paying for it via extension if I can make enough. Also taking the GREs.

    All in all, I have plenty to be depressed about (I am 23 after all I feel like I'm getting old) but the Adderall seems to get rid of it.
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