Does Your ME/CFS Feel Like ADD At Times?

the-maze

There are days when my lack of concentration is so bad that I wonder if I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  The older I get, the worse I seem to get at times.  I am a very organized person for the most part, but when I am having concentration issues, I will jump from one thing to another.  I am like that with my thoughts as well.  If my body can’t jump from one thing to the next, my mind will work overtime.

Author Edward M. Hallowell, MD describes what ADD feels like.  See if this sounds like you with ME/CFS at times:

It’s like driving in the rain with bad windshield wipers. Everything is smudged and blurred and you’re speeding along, and it’s reeeeally frustrating not being able to see very well. Or, it’s like listening to a radio station with a lot of static and you have to strain to hear what’s going on. Or, it’s like trying to build a house of cards in a dust storm. You have to build a structure to protect yourself from the wind before you can even start on the cards.

In other ways it’s like being super-charged all the time. You get one idea and you have to act on it, and then, what do you know, but you’ve got another idea before you’ve finished up with the first one, and so you go for that one, but of course a third idea intercepts the second, and you just have to follow that one, and pretty soon people are calling you disorganized and impulsive and all sorts of impolite words that miss the point completely. Because you’re trying really hard. It’s just that you have all these invisible vectors pulling you this way and that which makes it really hard to stay on task.

It’s like being super-charged all the time”.  Isn’t this how a lot of us end up sick?  We are on overdrive and doing the work of two or three people. 

“It’s like driving in the rain with bad windshield wipers. Everything is smudged and blurred and you’re speeding along, and it’s reeeeally frustrating not being able to see very well. ”  The cognitive dysfunction, when it is bad, is very bad and nothing makes sense, you can’t figure out a simple math equation like 2 +2, and remembering your own phone number or address is a difficult task.

“You get one idea and you have to act on it, and then, what do you know, but you’ve got another idea before you’ve finished up with the first one, and so you go for that one, but of course a third idea intercepts the second.”  I will find that on a rare day when I have a lot of energy I will be like this.   I feel so good and my mind is working so well, I get excited and go from one thing to the next – trying to get it all done before the good feeling goes away.

I also find that when someone is talking to me, I can only listen and pay attention for so long.  I don’t do this on purpose because I really do want to listen fully to what someone is talking to me about.  My lack of concentration, however, does not allow me to listen well to someone for more than five minutes.  This can be a problem at times in my marriage because my husband is a talker – a BIG talker – and he is very detailed when he talks.  Before he has finished telling me about his day, I have done tuned out and he has lost me.  I try, but I just can’t focus.  I have always blamed this on my ME/CFS as well because before I became ill I never had this problem. 

I try to explain that I have limited concentration because after a few minutes my mind goes to something else and that when talking to me, keep it short, to the point and simple.  Anyone else experience any of this?  Do you find you have these issues with your ME/CFS?  Leave a comment and share with us!

If you would like to purchase Dr. Hallowell’s book on ADD, click the link below!

Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder

If you liked this article, please share.
Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Share on StumbleUpon0Email this to someone

Comments

  1. I feel the same way with my fibromyalgia. It’s so hard to stay on track with anything more than a few minutes at a time. I wonder if the ADD book has any tips that would deal with this as well.

  2. Oh yes, you are talking about me too, Sandy! Very frustrating.

  3. Great post – I think there’s really too little made of the overlap between ME/CFS and problems like ADD and too much focus on depression. This ‘rushing mind’ and inability to concentrate is a huge part of my disorder – in some ways its much more impactful than my inability to exercise. Thanks!

  4. Yes, yes, yes… This is so exactly how it goes for me. I have tens of windows open on my computer so I can switch among them all and do a thousand things at once. I have lost of little to-do lists and calendars everywhere to help me keep track of things. I also tend to just “space” while watching tv – thinking about other distractions, and missing the plot. 😛

    Thank you for articulating this.

  5. Sandy Robinson writes eloquently about the difficulties of participating in conversations and I can’t agree more.

    Apart from concentrating in conversations do others have trouble reading?

    After many years of ME/CFS my spells of fatigue have diminished but despite all my best efforts (crosswords, learning a foreign language etc)the cognitive effects if anything are getting worse.

    Reduced concentration span and short term memory loss make reading any serious literature very difficult.

    Any sentence that runs for more than two lines and has more than two or three subordinate clauses becomes a real challenge.

    I have to read and re-read such a sentence to grasp the writer’s point. By the time I get to the end of a paragraph I have lost the thread of the argument completely.

    As someone who enjoys (enjoyed?)reading complex philosophical material I find this exceedingly frustrating.

    My great fear now is that a colleague will ask me for details of what I have been reading and all that I can retrieve is one big blank. To avoid embarrassment I have developed so many strategies to escape having to answer direct questions.

    From once being a highly intelligent individual I feel that I am now not much brighter than a dodo.

    Does this scenario ring a bell with anyone? Am I alone in this?

  6. Hi Marc, Thanks for the compliment! I do have trouble reading. I too will have to read over and over the same sentences or paragraphs. You are not alone at all.

  7. So just what is happening in the brain to cause these cognitive effects? Are there any websites that address the pathologic causes of these memory and concentration symptoms of ME/CFS?

Join the Discussion.

We'd love to hear from you - leave a comment below

*