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Alkan's Journal


Alkan
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Today I go to a therapist to discuss ADHD and depression issues that I have had and have continued to have in lesser degrees since I started working on them two years ago. I did make a mess of things academically, and the difference between myself now and then is insane, but it's because I have a mountain of work between now and then. And, I still suffer from these issues. I still have trouble concentrating - it's been one of the hardest things for me to change. I still get depressed, but I have developed an intuition for how to stave it off, or if it does grow, how to effectively ignore it enough to function. It still hurts when it happens, however.

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Feeling inspired by Chris Gardner. Whenever I think about what he went through, it makes my challenges seem so trivial, internal challenges included.

He commits to "Plan A," his passion, saying "Plan B sucks."

His mindset is "do what it takes."

"The cavalry isn't coming" is an idea drives him to do what it takes himself.

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The more I am looking back, the more it's becoming patently obvious that I suffer from ADHD. 

My struggles have been immense, to be quite honest. With a crapload of effort put into myself, I got to a point where I can manage. But, even after all I've worked on and learned, it's like it doesn't improve past a certain point.

Today, after caffeine and meditating, I still couldn't just focus. I couldn't make my mind do anything I wanted it to without some other thought randomly popping up out of nowhere.

I used to be a complete wreck when it came to school and grades. I hear about people who have been diagnosed ADHD, then they talk about how they did bad by their standards, but actually did pretty well overall. I can't relate. I'm good at what I do when I'm focused, but it used to be that I was ever rarely focused.

Then I see the people who can just play video games, but then focus on their stuff. I don't even comprehend how that can work.

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I had always a problem with focus when learning/studying. What I found working, was studying for a short amount of time, like 15 minutes, than switching activity. Doing this regularly, gave me better results, than studying for hour straight. Beside that, when I feel momentum on doing something, I don't stop till this momentum burns out. 

I hope that this tips will help. 

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Today, after caffeine and meditating, I still couldn't just focus. I couldn't make my mind do anything I wanted it to without some other thought randomly popping up out of nowhere.

Exercise?

I went on a 1.5 hour bike ride too, which is actually short by my standards.

Edited by Alkan
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I think my problem was a bit of emotional turmoil. I've been struggling with some feelings of envy and insecurity about other people and their work ethic. I'm in physics, so there are some seriously high functioning people around me.

I decided to start letting go of certain outcomes that are out of my control, like getting good grades on some homework assignments - it just creates a forceful way of doing things, which takes too much effort, which burns out throughout the day.

Instead, I decided to harken back to the times that I just decided to do some physics/math on my own, for fun, remembering how enjoyable it was. What I realized is that I'm not doing as much as I should because I am stressed out by deadlines and feelings of frustration with my past that I end up confronting that I sit down every time I work.

So, tonight I decided to try something different. I just decided I'm going to let go of the grade I get and decide to just have fun doing the physics. It INCREASES my productivity and makes me less stressed out. I'm not going to give myself a goal for a GPA this semester. I'm not going to pressure myself. I am going to manage what I do around deadlines, but I'm going to enjoy the fuck out of it because physics is actually really fucking cool.

I love being able to look at things and understand how they work, understand how to make predictions about things, and in general be very good at being able to solve problems.

This is perhaps one of my biggest changes, to the point that today, for the first time in a long time, I just felt this sense of ease and happiness. I can circumvent the need for prefrontal cortex/willpower by finding things interesting.

My most disproportionate performance in any of my classes was in vector calc with this horrible, awful teacher. I got a B in the course. More than half the class dropped the course, and of the remaining ones, most of them got Ds and Fs. I worked with a group of people on that class.

I think I was partially traumatized from that semester, because the emotional things I hadn't dealt with that semester were still tormenting me, and kind of precipitated my bad semesters. I had come to associate working hard with being stressed out and depressed.

Right now I feel this uncanny sense of freedom and relief.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwvIFO9srUw

Bullet ants are known to have the most painful sting of any insect. This tribe, as a ritual, has the men put on gloves with bullet ants with stingers pointed inward towards the hands.

Towards the end, the chief says "If you live your life without suffering anything, or without any kind of effort, it won't be worth anything to you."

I've decided to make an effort to get tougher, taking the hard way through things, not feeling sorry for myself.

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Towards the end, the chief says "If you live your life without suffering anything, or without any kind of effort, it won't be worth anything to you."

Yep. Our suffering is what allows us to relate to other people and what makes our life more meaningful. We've actually experienced life. :)

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Jesus today was something else, in a very good way.

I added a few crucial ingredients to my productivity cocktail.

For one, I realized that when I wasn't able to direct my attention, I wasn't properly nourished. I drank a spinach and berry smoothie with rice protein powder in it. That must've been what I was missing, because I didn't even sleep particularly well last night and I had energy all day. FFS, I've been working on and off (mostly on) since 8:50 this morning and I still have energy.

I drank a bit more coffee than usual as well, but I could feel an a slightly more immediate and lasting change with the actual nutrients entering my body. I also put in an effort to energize myself. So... I've turned away from the usual classical music and started listening to metal... Particularly things like Metallica, Megadeth, that sort of subgenre - very, very high energy.

I also combined that with this learning to enjoy exerting my willpower over discomfort. I think the whole willpower depletion thing is a bit unfounded: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego_depletion#Criticism

I am able to push infinitely long like this. I think people confuse ego depletion for an increase in pain. Take the cookie resisting experiment, for instance. It's almost silly. If I had to just resist a delicious snack and then I had to work on something, I'm still in pain from resisting the snack. I still feel deprived. It's not that my willpower was depleted - it's that I'm in pain. So, if you provide me with an arbitrary task that has no value after you tell me to resist eating a snack, I'm going to spend less time on it.

Don't just think "I have to tolerate pain." Learn to love pain, learn to love the feeling of personal power it gives you to be able to defeat pain. That old saying is effectively true: "pain is weakness leaving the body." Learn to crave productive pain.

I think I'll need to make a new post "how to be productive as hell," because I was today.

I'll sum up the contributions:

-Nutrition

-Good enough sleep

-Caffeine

-Meditation

-Masochism (the irony is it's literally enjoying the process of saying "fuck you" to pain, so it's like you're getting more done, feeling good about it and you get the rewards, win-win-win)

-Metal (any music that gets you amped up helps)

I was in class today and I was laser focused. People around me who seemed like they were more ahead of me were suddenly saying things where I was thinking "wait, what? No, that's not how that works, don't you remember how relatively works?"

Edited by Alkan
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This morning I woke up and I noticed that even as I was just waking up, I was still able to direct my focus.

I hit what I would call "peak" meditation in about 2 minutes. It somehow felt like 3-4 minutes at 1:47 in, like time had slowed down and I can think about more at once.

It feels like I've developed a new superpower. There's no telling what I could change using this. It really does feel like time has slowed down. It's 8:57 right now and it feels like it should be 9:01. This is so bizarre and awesome at all at once.

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Next goal: cut out distraction.

1. I'm imagining that every time that I got distracted, instead of being a perfectionist about the spilt milk effect of losing out on that time, that instead I just decided to keep going from there and stop being distracted. That's a lot of work that would have gotten done. Probably 10+ hours a week of work, perhaps even 20, to be quite honest, which ends up being a rather grotesque amount of work lost.

So, my resolution is to just keep the flowchart in mind:

Working? Keep working.

Distracted? Get back to work.

Nothing else is really relevant when there's something to do.

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Next goal: cut out distraction.

1. I'm imagining that every time that I got distracted, instead of being a perfectionist about the spilt milk effect of losing out on that time, that instead I just decided to keep going from there and stop being distracted. That's a lot of work that would have gotten done. Probably 10+ hours a week of work, perhaps even 20, to be quite honest, which ends up being a rather grotesque amount of work lost.

So, my resolution is to just keep the flowchart in mind:

Working? Keep working.

Distracted? Get back to work.

Nothing else is really relevant when there's something to do.

Exactly. You can only start from where you are. Ignore sunk costs!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just had a eureka moment.

You need to be okay with failure from an egoistic perspective, but not from a success perspective.

I just realized that I had a hard time making this distinction. So, the trick is to learn to be very pissed off about the fact that you experienced a sort of failure, but not to internalize it as some reflection of yourself or your maximum potential.

I'm finding it amazing how many new things I end up having to learn when I feel like I've already figured out a lot.

I think this key, core principle can go a long ways.

Edited by Alkan
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Starting a time log for each of my classes to ensure that I am spending an adequate time per week on each one.

I've made a stronger internal commitment to make discipline the foundation of my life. Without discipline, I won't get the things I want. With it, my limits are unknown.

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Great job! You're definitely on the path to success.

Remember discipline comes first by making the right decisions. Once you consciously choose the the better decisions each time you make a decision you'll eventually make it a habit and it will become effortless.

Let's improve ourselves for the better each day - Robin <3

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just had a eureka moment.

You need to be okay with failure from an egoistic perspective, but not from a success perspective.

I just realized that I had a hard time making this distinction. So, the trick is to learn to be very pissed off about the fact that you experienced a sort of failure, but not to internalize it as some reflection of yourself or your maximum potential.

I'm finding it amazing how many new things I end up having to learn when I feel like I've already figured out a lot.

I think this key, core principle can go a long ways.

YEP.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Holy crap. I've been here for almost a year now. Jesus.

Anyways... Realizing that ADHD is a near certainty. I have to do several things to get my mind into a state that isn't zig-zagging all over the place. It's like I can feel that there's this lack of drive, like I'm craving focus but just cannot attain it without caffeine, sleep, nutrition and meditation. I literally cannot focus most of the time without all of those things combined.

So, over this winter break, I intend to actually get a diagnosis. I'm starting to see how insidious this problem has been, and why my struggles with school have appeared to be exceptionally worse than others', especially given my intellectual capabilities (i.e. I've scored very highly on exams in upper division physics classes, while simultaneously having done poorly in high school).

It makes too much sense for me in particular.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Grateful that you've been a part of the community this past year. Onwards!

It's something amazing you've built, Cam, and it's been an invaluable tool for me.

Thank you.

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  • 1 month later...

Well I'm returning here after a bout of severe depression. I learned a lot about not taking on more than you can handle if you're not willing to face the consequences of failure.

I learned a lot about self-acceptance and not caring about the opinions of others. I feel freer than I ever have.

I've returned to my insanely healthy diet. I've been vegan for nearly four years now, but I returned to this ultra clean variant without wheat, low on soy, and high in non or minimally processed foods (non being beans, vegetables, etc, minimally being things like hummus).

I forgot how amazingly clean it feels. It also helped with the depression.

Todays thoughts:

There's an addictive feeling that goes along with succumbing to an urge. I liken it to a sugar rush, and I am going to call this feeling "The Sugar Rush," because it encapsulates the sense that you get when you want to indulge in anything that is unhealthy, be it games, internet, unhealthy food, etc.

 

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I fell into internet addiction after this depressive episode without really realizing it. I'm hereby instating a 1 week break from the internet, and I'm going to start implementing breaks from the internet since you cannot really "fully unplug." So, if I notice I'm doing frivolous activities outside of times set aside for that, I'm going to cut myself off for a week to interrupt the habit loops and keep healthier ones in place.

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I fell into internet addiction after this depressive episode without really realizing it. I'm hereby instating a 1 week break from the internet, and I'm going to start implementing breaks from the internet since you cannot really "fully unplug." So, if I notice I'm doing frivolous activities outside of times set aside for that, I'm going to cut myself off for a week to interrupt the habit loops and keep healthier ones in place.

Good job catching yourself when you did. 

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