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02 May 2005 @ 03:36 pm
So I came down with a cold. Enough said.

Turning to a different subject, I need help. I have forgotten how to work. Depending on perspective, this problem is either a few months or a few years old. A progressive sort of illness, probably. I can't focus. At all. I'm lucky if I can work for five minutes at a time. I can come up with all sorts of theories and debunk most of them.

* I have ADD - Wrong, ADD does not begin in late adulthood
* I have brain fog - I'm accomplishing many other things; this is the exception
* It's nutritional - If so, improved diet, exercise, and vitamins aren't making a dent
* This is signalling the need for a major life change - Oh, yeah, I'll be muuuuuch more motivated if I leave this job and lose my insurance and become a fry cook

This seems like a simple willpower thing. I should just be able to say: "Anna, focus!" and presto, problem solved. But that isn't working. Those of you who get writer's block can probably understand this. There's something *there*. In the way. Those of you who don't believe in writer's block are sighing in exasperation.

I don't especially need theories as to why this is happening, though brilliant ones are welcome. What I need is:

* Brilliant techniques for overcoming this, and
* anecdotes about people who have lost their jobs because of massive failures of performance, with many attendant humiliations, to scare me into an aroused state of intense and energized focus that I can use to finish all my projects.

Sally Struthers says: "And maybe, just maybe, these inspirational stories can help others in need."
twistedchick on May 2nd, 2005 10:44 pm (UTC)
I don't know how old you are, but if you're 35+ you may be having hormonal swings that include a bit of fuzzyness in terms of concentration. There are some ways to deal with this, and if it's so, contact me offlist and I'll tell you what I've done and where I looked for info.
Anna S.eliade on May 2nd, 2005 11:01 pm (UTC)
So far three out of four LJ doctors diagnose this. ;) I may need to visit my GP again soon.
ruthless1ruthless1 on May 2nd, 2005 10:52 pm (UTC)
I am getting fuzziness of thinking that seems to be coinciding with peri-menopause. My acupuncturist gave me some little black chinese herb pills(wait! aren't almost all chinese herbs little black pills?) that seem to help. And acupuncture as a whole helps. It is very good for motiviating me and clearing my head. And acupuncture doesn't hurt.
I am sorry I do not have a horror story about being fired for failing to finish many projects. I did get fired from a dry cleaners one time - and it was NOT for failing to finish multiple projects nor was it for sleeping in the dry-cleaning bins - which we all did frequently. It was because I called in sick to go to a Take back the night march.
go figure.
:::goes back to happily handwashing delicates:::
Anna S.eliade on May 2nd, 2005 11:00 pm (UTC)
Very interesting. So far this seems to be the dominant diagnosis. I must look into it more....
(no subject) - ruthless1 on May 3rd, 2005 04:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
sef1029 on May 2nd, 2005 10:52 pm (UTC)
Yup, I was gonna say menopause or, to be more accurate, "perimenopause." I used to think all that was bunk, but now I is bunked.
Anna S.eliade on May 2nd, 2005 11:00 pm (UTC)
Interesting. Thank you. :) Do you have any additional recommended course(s) of action?
(no subject) - sef1029 on May 4th, 2005 02:23 am (UTC) (Expand)
Trepkos: Nerd by Bliss_vtrepkos on May 2nd, 2005 10:56 pm (UTC)
"massive failures of performance,"

My main example of this is that having done teacher training, and passed with a distinction, I was then unable to pass my probationary year. This got extended, by 6 months, and I still failed to pass.
I was offered another extension, but decided I couldn't risk failing in another 6 months, so we had to sell the house, move back to Jersey, and get jobs in a photolab. Actually, I was quite happy there, but the failure was bad - hard to take.
I failed to fit into the particular school, as I was unable to adjust my teaching methods to the methods used by other teachers there, and consequently unable to keep the kids quiet enough. Basically, I didn't understand what was required, and insofar as I did come to understand it, I wasn't able to meet those standards of discipline.
The worst example is of a 12 year-old girl threatening to pee in the corner of the classroom, though being whacked on the arse by a 13-year-old girl, and then mistakenly blaming the boy sitting next to her, comes a close second.
Explicit Adult Content? You're soaking in it!: differentyin_again on May 2nd, 2005 11:08 pm (UTC)
* anecdotes about people who have lost their jobs because of massive failures of performance, with many attendant humiliations, to scare me into an aroused state of intense and energized focus that I can use to finish all my projects.

Well, I once lost my job as a hooker for ridiculing men with small penises. I would say things like, "Hey, baby, gimme eight inches and make it hurt. Hmmmm, I guess you'll have to fuck me twice and run me over with your car!" or "As a matter of fact, it IS the size of the wave." My pimp got too many complaints, so he hit me in the mouth, and his excessively blinged-out jewelry ruined my face forever! I had to have eighty million dollars' worth of plastic surgery, all paid for by Medicaid. I then went to college on the GI Bill, and then I moved to California.

Tom Cruise

P.S. Now I'm dating Katie Holmes. (She only had forty million dollars' worth of plastic surgery!)
raqsraqs on May 2nd, 2005 11:09 pm (UTC)
it's really very unlikely that you're stupid enough to be fired. i've fired people, and they gave sphagnum moss a run for its money in the brains department.

on the other hand, i've also BEEN fired. so what the hell do i know.
Explicit Adult Content? You're soaking in it!yin_again on May 2nd, 2005 11:11 pm (UTC)
No, seriously. Get your thyroid checked. "Brain fog" is an actual symptom of hypothyroidism. Your GYN can run the tests. Feel better soon, hon.
yourlibrarian: Hmm : yourlibrarianyourlibrarian on May 2nd, 2005 11:23 pm (UTC)
Given that I can second Anna's posting and I just had that diagnosis recently, it's something to think about.
Kest: cowboy babykestrelsan on May 2nd, 2005 11:25 pm (UTC)
I knew a woman once who had a similar problem, and she *was* fired from her job for lack of sufficient motivation and productivity, and then six months later she was eaten by a turtle. :)

I would talk to your gyn, as others have suggested--mine actually put me back on the pill for hormonal issues. Also, I don't know what your sugar sensitivity is, but aside from other reasons I have to avoid sugar, it does tend to give me that coma-like brain fog.
Princess Strokenham: credit: raelalafiveandfour on May 2nd, 2005 11:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this. I've been experiencing the same thing for some months now and didn't know what to make of it. I'll be seeing my doctor tomorrow for something unrelated - in fact, I hadn't even planned on introducing this in the conversation - but now that I have some validation that perhaps there's more to it than me just feeling stupid and blah I'll make a point of mentioning it.
"Smokin' hot.": boys mickeymwithout_me on May 2nd, 2005 11:30 pm (UTC)
What does it say about you, or me, that when my eye slides over this post I read "... and become a fry cock"?
Anna S.: porny kangarooeliade on May 2nd, 2005 11:33 pm (UTC)
Because that was the subtext and you have a keen eye for subtext!

angelofmirangelofmir on May 3rd, 2005 12:01 am (UTC)
I find jabbing myself in the leg with a pencil works as a cure, the cause in my case, is that I was bored with what I was doing. If it extends to all or most of your life, I back up everyone else and suggest medical investigations.

Hope you feel better soon.
witlingwitling on May 3rd, 2005 12:01 am (UTC)
Actually, it seems like most people who massively underperform at work are promoted to management. So, go you.

Maybe that's just academe?
Trepkos: Working by catvampcrazinestrepkos on May 3rd, 2005 06:58 am (UTC)
No, it's everywhere.
Malkin Greymalkingrey on May 3rd, 2005 12:22 am (UTC)
I wouldn't exactly call them horror stories, but this thread and its attendant commentary --http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/006230.html -- at Teresa Nielsen Hayden's blog Making Light contains much discussion of various "brain fog" type problems. TNH is a narcopleptic, and one of her symptoms is cataplexy triggered by humor -- if something funny hits her just the right way, she literally falls over laughing. This, however, is not her problem; "brain fog", on the other hand, as she explains it, is:

Integration is the one that’s hard to explain. I don’t lose my faculties evenly. Mathematics, navigation, multitasking, large-scale organization, and a sense of duration fade out first, in approximately that order. Words, text, pictures, and music are more durable; but when you lose your larger road map, you tend to stumble from one still-available neighborhood to another, with undiminished appreciation but not enough volition.

(Furthermore, if I were better medicated, that last paragraph would have less Greco-Latinate vocabulary in it. I can feel the presence of better sentences lurking nearby. I just can’t reach out and grab them. Perhaps another day.)

Integration is important. Way back when I was a literary criticism reference series editor, and was losing my ability to do the kind of large-scale synthesis the job required, I had a neurologist reply to my plea for readjusted meds by saying, “There’s no test we could devise that would show you as being anything other than a very intelligent woman.”

I mark that as the moment when I really started loathing him. Someone who’s hung out his shingle as a neurologist has to know that there’s more to the mind than can be measured by standard IQ tests. Someone who’s decided to specialize in sleep disorders ought not be snotty about anecdotal data, especially when it’s coming from someone who’s been his patient for years and has never lied to him.

“Right now,” I said, speaking rather more slowly and clearly than I had before, “I can’t parse anything more complicated than a Georgette Heyer novel. If I can’t read complex texts, I can’t keep my job as a litcrit editor. If I lose my job, I’ll have neither the income nor the medical coverage to pay for appointments with you.”

There's a lot of other good stuff in the thread, both from TNH and from various contributors, and more to be found on other subjects in her blog elsewhere. Even if nothing there is specifically helpful, some of it is bound to be at least entertaining.
Malkin Greymalkingrey on May 3rd, 2005 12:24 am (UTC)
argh. "narcoleptic," not "narcopleptic."

I can spell just fine. But I can't type worth a damn.
This Space Intentionally Left Blankbarkley on May 3rd, 2005 12:58 am (UTC)
Again with my life! Give it back! I've contemplated cutting back on, oh, the large mug of tea, the three diet cokes and the five hours of sleep I get daily, but that plan never seems to last, so I can't test that hypothesis. I'm thinking of hiring someone to move in with me to force me to go to sleep at a reasonable hour in order to break the cycle.
The Spike: brain power - beckyspike21 on May 3rd, 2005 01:15 am (UTC)
my sekrit weapon against various disabling head-states (and body-states) is to track the phenomenon. I make up whatever kind of scale works best

For example, for depression I've used a graph with -10/0/+10 vertical line with -10=utter despair, 0=neutral, +10=ecstatic and then just map my mood for a period of time (a day or a month usually). I've also used just a verbal record -- I'll usually buy a lined notebook at the dollar store and then every day I'll describe my mood in a couple of words along with things like weather, my cycle, any particularly mood affecting events, and any changes in mood I noticed so an entry would look like:

May 2, 2005
mood: crabby, sad
weather: sunny
cycle: still fucking ovulating
ate chocolate
felt better

Basically something simple that I could manage to do no matter how depressed I felt. I've done this to deal with depression, excessive sleepiness, compulsive eating, brain fogginess and while it's not a miracle cure, it's been a pretty useful tool.

Usually what happens is that at some point something starts to make sense. I've discovered among other things that no, I am not utterly despairing all the time, just about once every couple of months and yes, just before my period I have a period of a couple of days when my IQ drops into double digits and that coffee will sort of help that.

Just knowing, a lot of the time helps me cope and figure out what I need to do to either fix the problem or be nice to myself if I have to just ride it out. Anyway, that's my 2c. Hope it helps.