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PTSD and Concentration

Discussion in 'General' started by piglet, Jul 22, 2006.

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  1. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

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    As usual, when I'm scrabbling around trying to stop myself sliding down the slippery slope, I have been thinking. I have a question, which I will also try to answer myself, but would appreciate some insight from you all (or maybe a couple of people, as the forum's getting quite big and I don't think I would have the concentration to read 167 replies!!! :eek:

    Why is it that I am able to concentrate and focus exceptionally well when thinking about how to deal with a work situation, yet I am unable to maintain that same level of concentration to do other stuff like watching a movie or reading a non-fiction book?

    This is something that has been commented on by people in my life: "you say ptsd stops you from concentrating, but you seem to be dealing with X or Y well enough".

    My feelings about this type of comment (other than immediate anger) is frustration, as I can see their point, but I am unable to explain it. These people then think that I am just being fraudulent because I can't give a logical explanation. Of course, these people could just ask my psychologist, but that would be far too easy and it might mean that they would have to do something inconvenient to them. :angry-fla

    OK. Short break to calm myself. :redface:

    Here's what I think.

    The particular work situation in question is explained on another part of this forum, so I won't go into detail here. However, I think the reason I can focus on it and stand up for myself is because it directly triggers the survival side of the ptsd. If I cannot work, I lose my home and job and income and cannot afford therapy. As a result, I think my brain is accepting that lots of effort is required to find a solution.

    In comparison, watching a movie is not exactly going to make a significant difference to my future (unless it's a REALLY good movie). Nor is doing piles of admin just so a box can be ticked on a piece of paper to say that I've done it, when actually doing it has no other value whatsoever (don't you just love red-tape?). Therefore, I think my brain just decides it has better things to deal with, so won't allow me to concentrate on these less significant tasks.

    By the way, I am aware that I have been talking about my brain like it has a mind of its own. Comment on that too if you wish -does anyone else feel like they have an internal battle between what the ptsd part of you needs and what the "here and now" part of you wants to do? Maybe I am just crazy....:crazy-eye

    Anyway, I'll shut up now. I look forward to your thoughts on this.
     
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  3. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Piglet, I am constantly at battle within myself, and I mean that. My mind is trying to do one thing, my body another, and then I stop it from occuring, and make up a new outcome for myself. Yes, I know what your saying.

    The concentration aspect, you are pretty much well right in what you think is going on. Your job as such, is cemented into your brain, thus it is something you know, and as you say, rely upon to continue living. A new book, movie, filling out forms, etc etc, they are all new to your brain, thus your brain now has trouble processing and storing the information, well more to the point, retrieving the information.

    I still do not handle filling out long winded forms, so Kerrie-Ann does them, because I get frustrated having to answer the same questions over and over, so I just don't put myself into that position to get frustrated. I think it maybe has to do with that, and the whole ability to store something new, where our brain capacity at the best of time is limited to even retrieve what day of the week it is sometimes.

    I do remember when my memory was basically non-existant, and that was an understatement. My memory and general function of my brain to now retrieve information is getting better as my recovery has improved. I think it is more that PTSD blocks and eliminated certain factors, though will allow us, or maybe has no choice, to block things that are more important too us, like work, our family, childrens birthdays, etc etc. I could still remember numbers, or anything in numerical form, as I have always been very good with them, though at times now, I sometimes still have to think a bit harder about my own phone number, but others I can remember it, along with numerous pin codes, access numbers for other security related matters, etc etc, without even thinking about it. Ask me what date my wifes birthday is though, and I honestly cannot remember, yet I remember my oldest sons birthday clearly (before PTSD), yet struggle to remember my little fellas birthday (during PTSD).

    Interesting ha? I think it has something to do with what we knew before PTSD jumped us, compared to what we take in during PTSD. I am hoping that my memory and retrieval become close to how I was before PTSD... which is looking promising, but most definately still not at that level yet.

    Its pretty hard to legitimately fake memory, in that our brain allows us to access what we want, but with PTSD in the way... well... lets just say it is cluttering some things, but not others.
     
  4. Nam

    Nam I'm a VIP

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    Piglet, I think you've got it right. Your brain is going through enough stuff right now and so the nonimportant stuff goes to the way side. It's kind of like when the body is sick the first thing that most people do is reject any food because digestion is at the end of the to do list. Fighting the illness is first at hand. I think for you, your brain is trying it's best but can't fulfill all aspects.

    Hell, my brain still shorts out once in a while. Like Anthony, I sometimes forget significant dates, like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. The short term memory is the worst. I can take frozen chicken and put it in the mircrowave and as soon as I shut the door, I forget what's in there. I stare at the numbers for a while and if nothing comes to me, I open the door to see what's there and then I quickly put the numbers in. Weird, insn't it? The thing that helps me the most is lists. I have to write everything down. It sucks, but I've learned to live with it. My husband is finally understanding my forgetfulness. He helps me remember things like appointments, trash day, etc.

    I really don't know if it gets better. I think somewhere on this forum it says that that part of the brain can regnerate so it is possible. Do exercises for memory maybe? A game of memory? Gosh, I wish we could play online with each other. I think that would be fun. A forgetful person playing with another forgetful person.....what a game that would be!:smile:
     
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  5. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

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    :rofl: I am giggling like a crazy person - thanks!

    My memory is different from day-to-day, and even hour to hour. Before I started having real problems I never had to write anything down. Deadlines are one of my major issues -it is the end of the world if I forget something.

    I was told to try reducing my stress levels by being more organised. Not possible unless I develop psychic powers. I actually have to work at being less organised that I am comfortable with, as it get me badly having to wait on other peeople so I can get my work done.

    These days I flag all my important e-mails, have a to do list (which I regularly forget to take with me), set reminders on my phone, put post-its everywhere. I also try to have a routine so that I am more likely to realise if I have missed something - like feeding the dog, for example - she gets most put-out if her meals are late!
     
  6. wildfirewildone

    wildfirewildone Well-Known Member

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    Piglet,
    I have this theory: We're all crazy[all humans]....just some of us get caught!!!
     
  7. kimG

    kimG Well-Known Member

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    Wow...I'm so glad to see that I'm not the only one with the memory problems. I've been thinking for the past decade that I'm going into early Alzheimers...:eek:

    There are parts of me that are extremely organized and others that aren't. Perhaps it has something to do with what my brain interprets as being important. When it comes to remembering things, I, too, makes lists (and forget where I put them) and leave stickies all over the house. But if I really don't want to forget something, I either tell my husband, my girls (they are 11 and 13 and, of course, know it all!), or my good friend. Caution, though: I only do this if I really don't want to forget it, cause they will bug the heck out of me until I acknowledge them and do whatever it is that I've asked them to remind me of. But it beats forgetting it!

    I'm hoping my memory (or some part of it) will come back because honestly, I miss it!:crazy-eye: But, when it does, how will I know? Will I remember it? :tongue:

    Take care, all, and have a great big beautiful day!

    Kim
     
  8. Nam

    Nam I'm a VIP

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    Here is that little bit about regeneration of the neurons where memory is involved in the brain.

    You can find more [DLMURL]http://www.ptsdforum.org/thread292.html?highlight=memory+regeneration[/DLMURL]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2015
  9. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    I would forget my husbands birthday every year. My youngest daughter I have to sit and really think to remember hers...

    My husbands being the smart ass he is took full advantage and pissed me off. I finally remembered this year and kept reminding myself as his was July 23. I said something about not forgetting this year about a week before. He pops back off baby, sorry but you did it again... HUH??? He said it is JUNE not JULY, I was almost in tears and he was laughing and said just kidding. I asked loudly what in the **** makes you think ****ing with me when you know I can't remember **** is funny???? And nailed him in the arm, he just kept laughing. I was so mad, but I guess with what I put him through he is entitled to a few giggles even at my expense. It gets so bad I will ask the same question 2 or 3 times in a row not knowing I just asked and got an answer. Or ask my kids to do something, and go in and ask them why are you doing that? MOM, just asked me to... OK

    BTW kids are so bad at taking advantage of that one!!!! Do something I know damn good and well they would not have gotten permission to do claiming I said it was OK. Husband has busted them on that.
     
  10. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

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    Enterprising kids you have there! The memry thing can be very funny at times though. I've asked someone the same thing 3 times in the space of 10 minutes. This someone was a work colleague, so I looked like a real idiot. Fortunately it was someone nice!
     
  11. reallydown

    reallydown I'm a VIP

    Piglet, thanks for posting that. I can totally relate to the concentration thing. I'm a student and often find it difficult to focus on my work...it sometimes takes me several times just to read one page of text...naturally, it takes a very long time for me then to get stuff done and I really feel embarrassed when I have to ask profs for extensions because, even though most have been nice about it, I have a feeling that sometimes they think I'm just trying to get extra time for whatever reasons...even some of my friends seem to think that...I also catch myself having internal battles and constantly telling myself to snap out of it...even though I know I can't...
     
  12. Nam

    Nam I'm a VIP

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    Oh my! I've done this to. Makes me feel like a total idiot. Most of the time, though, it's the ridicule that my husband puts me through that hurts the most. He still has bad habits about him like putting his finger next to his head and twirling it (the universal sign of brain not all there...) Makes me feel like I'm stupid.

    Names are the worst though....I can't remember them for the life of me. Or I'll call them a different name....and people look a bit puzzled when I do that. So, I don't say names at all sometimes....A bit impersonable, but I'm not humiliated then.
     
  13. kimG

    kimG Well-Known Member

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    Oh my gosh, Nam. I'm with you there. Trouble is, I am a teacher and each year I teach almost 150 kids. Sometimes (well, more than sometimes) I call one student by another student's name. At first the kids laugh at it, but I ask them if their mother has ever called them by their sibling's name. Inevitably, they've had it happen to them at home. After that I just make a joke of it, laughing at myself or sometimes calling a kid "Whatsyourname" or even telling them that they know who I am talking to. There are also times when I'm looking at a kid, meaning to call on them, and end up calling someone who is completely across the room - without looking at them. It's actually funny cause right after it happens, my mind will snap back to where it's supposed to be (in a split second), alerting me that I've called on the wrong person. The kids, though, are so surprised and they think it's really cool that I do that because they say that they never know who I am going to call on; it keeps them on their toes!

    The worst, though, is when a kid from a previous year (I'm going into my 12th year of teaching, 7 of which are in the same school) comes back to visit. Inevitably they see me and call me by name, but I can't for the life of me remember theirs. Their face is familiar but the name escapes my brain; I just react as if I remember them and know who they are!

    So much of teaching is acting. :claps: It would be nice to have an category in the Academy Awards; I'd just like to get that fabulous gift bag that's given out!

    Take care all. Remember to BREATHE! (Who sings that song? "Just breathe...")

    Kim
     
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