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Hi, author here.

Since I wrote this article, I got professionally diagnosed and treated. Turns out, yeah, I'm doing a lot better now. On most days I don't have these symptoms, I can in fact study for classes and work, while also doing the things I love. I'm getting back into doodling, I've schedules all the appointments I need to, I have a great friend group, etc. etc. It's not perfect, I relapse sometimes, but I'm doing a lot better.

I'm not claiming everyone that procrastinates has ADHD. I'm claiming that it's a potential cause of chronic procrastination.

Also, I really can't afford to live in the woods for a few months. I still need to pay for rent and food and healthcare and such. I'm glad that's an option for you but I can't do that.




As I said in my main comment (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22127841#22133387):

Give up social media (all of it: Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, HN), porn, and TV (including Netflix) for a couple of months. Take up some form of exercise (lifting, running, even pilates or something), and re-evaluate your attention span.

I'm not being flippant. If your therapist hasn't recommended this as at least a starting point to better diagnose you, then you need a better therapist.

Whenever a friend tells me they're depressed, or anxious, or have attention difficulties or whatever, the first thing I ask is "what did you spend most of your time doing last week?". If the answer is "Oh, I found this cool new show and binged it", or "Oh not much, I wasn't motivated to do anything so mostly just scrolling the feed haha" - I immediately sit them down and suggest that maybe those things are the cause and not the symptoms. You aren't depressed, therefore you watch TV and observe other people's lives on Instagram. You are depressed because you do those things with the majority of your waking hours.

Sure, many people suffer from depression, anxiety, etc. for plenty of other reasons they cannot control. But the rates of this in Western countries are skyrocketing. There has to be a better reason for that than "it's just who I am".


I'll bite.

- I don't watch TV, and I don't have a Netflix account

- I'm asexual. I don't consume porn.

- I tried taking a social media break in the past. It didn't fix anything. I would just either nap or stare at the wall while my thoughts raced in circles.

- I bike and walk long distances on a regular basis.

I understand you're trying to help but I'm not you. My brain works differently than yours. Maybe the rates in Western countries are skyrocketing because more people are learning this is a thing they have.

Apologies if I'm being flippant, but it's very important to understand that not everyone is the same. Some people need therapy or medication or surgery or etc. to be at their best. That's not a bad thing. There's nothing wrong with treatments that are known and proven to resolve a set of symptoms that you have.


So much this. Honestly, there is a condescending tone in the parent comment, it's the usual "Do you feel depressed? How about we go to the movies? You'll feel better!" type of advice. My brain can't produce the appropriate neurochemicals that yours (parent comment) can, so in the past I've had the need to use antidepressants to supplement my brain.

Lots of people don't understand this.


> Whenever a friend tells me they're depressed, or anxious, or have attention difficulties or whatever, the first thing I ask is "what did you spend most of your time doing last week?". If the answer is "Oh, I found this cool new show and binged it", or "Oh not much, I wasn't motivated to do anything so mostly just scrolling the feed haha" - I immediately sit them down and suggest that maybe those things are the cause and not the symptoms. You aren't depressed, therefore you watch TV and observe other people's lives on Instagram. You are depressed because you do those things with the majority of your waking hours.

For me personally, having done all these things, even major lifestyle changes, diet, exercise, etc, causing extreme amounts of stress, there was VERY LITTLE benefit. I spend 99.9% of my energy to move my mood 10%, which reverted immediately upon anything knocking me out of the new routine for even a short amount of time. Being a couch potato will make a normative person a little more depressed or anxious. But thats like someone being depressed because of a life event, rather than something they deal with chronically.

There's something to people not being harmonious with their environment, and there's also something to environments not being harmonious to people. But most people have responsibilities and must go to work for a living, and don't have fully control over their environment. Western culture may be somewhat to blame, but for people who need help NOW just telling them to go on an information diet and exercise isn't going to help.


On the other hand though there also are people who are in a rut and get stuck in a negative cycle that affects them - I was there for the middle 4 years of my 20s and slowly have started to pull myself out with help from family and friends. Both options need to be explored of course but I think some people worry doctors go straight for the medicine cabinet. "When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" kind of thing.


Thats certainly true. For me who is medication-phobic it took years to systematically eliminate different causes until I settled on chemical imbalance as at least a major contributor. The cause of the imbalance is totally up in the air, but given I had trouble from an extremely young age there's gotta be some genetic factor there. Could I go live in a treehouse on a desert island and probably be a lot more naturally in tune and happy? Sure. But I choose to live in this society for now, so I need chemical help.


On the one hand, I directionally agree with you that much of modernity is addictive and maladaptive.

On the other hand, your comment is not unlike telling a depressed person to just exercise when having the wherewithal to exercise is galactically out of reach for them.

There is no blanket advice that works for everyone, no one-size-fits-all solution. It simply does not exist and never will, because humans are a quite diverse bunch.


I think rates may be skyrocketing because some of the stigma associated with the stuff you listed is finally started to recede. Now that people are being more open and honest with their doctors, more diagnoses are being made.


> Also, I really can't afford to live in the woods for a few months

Super ADHD dude chiming in. If I went to the woods without meds, I'd just be hyper in the woods.

Very few people can truly manage ADHD without medication. Some say they do but are completely delusional. Psychotherapy is also essential since it helps to cope with the emotional and existential toll of the disorder. But, at least in my experience, it has negligible effects on the actual symptoms.


> "Also, I really can't afford to live in the woods for a few months. I still need to pay for rent and food and healthcare and such. I'm glad that's an option for you but I can't do that."

That's exactly a big part of the problem; the way current society makes it impossible for most people to unwind, decouple and truly relax.

I'm struggling with my attention span and motivation, so I've been considering getting out of the tech business and greatly reducing stress levels in my life. I've already gotten out of the mindset of always needing to have the latest new thing and the mindset of trying to keep up with the Joneses, but my IT job keeps stressing me out. It's just pointless corporate busywork and dysfunctional processes and workflows all the way down.

I want something more straightforward, more beneficial to the world or even just to my local environment. It's never too late to make a change.


Thanks for the reply!

Let me elaborate on my point. Consider a thought experiment: If you would spend 3 months in the woods, do you think it is plausible your symptoms would disappear? If you don’t think this as being plausible (likely even) then we have to agree to disagree and that’s it. Not enough data. If you do agree that might cure you then what does it mean about your ADHD diagnosis? It means that you have ADHD in the context of the demands society puts on you and not you have ADHD, period. That should give you some perspective on what is really going on here. To pile up on the diagnosis: in the article you linked a doctor was quoted saying "You're an engineer, that's not a field that people with ADHD have any success like you in.". That’s my point. If I have an ambition to be in the top ~1% of most performing population and sometimes (even often!) I cannot keep up, I won’t conclude I need to take medications, make it become part of my identity, and accept as an excuse. Not being in top 1% all the time is not the same as requiring diagnosis and treatment.


Would my symptoms disappear? Unlikely. They've been with me my whole life.

Would my symptoms be an issue? Possibly not, depending on how brutal the camping experience is.

I will concede that this semester I've reduced my workload and it's helping me avoid burnout and stress. Stress makes my symptoms significantly worse. I'd bet most people don't do well under sustained pressure, though.

That said, my problems aren't just limited to classwork and such. Doing laundry and cooking and other stuff I'd always have to do can be a genuine struggle for me. Even on the weekend, even on holiday break. Even with no pressure, I have these symptoms.

I only went on the ADHD route after exhausting all other alternatives. As I gain more responsibilities in life it's becoming obvious that I need treatment. And it works for me. Maybe something else is better for you. IDK. But don't write off ADHD. Nobody would go through these tests and take these medications if it wasn't genuinely helpful.


Cool. Perhaps I didn't understand how severe were your symptoms based on your article. Thanks for the clarification. I'm glad you found something that actually works well. I know the struggle is real. Hopefully you will be able to keep on keeping on without too much pharmacological medications and won't let that part of life define you. :)


My symptoms definitely wouldn't disappear but they wouldn't matter anymore. My inability to do anything before being right up against the deadline wasn't an issue for me until after highschool, and my inability to make myself focus on stuff like chores wasn't as much of a problem when I was living at home and didn't have as many chores to do.

If I lived alone in the woods and had supplies regularly brought to me I'd probably be mostly fine. I might sometimes run out of clean towels because I put off doing the washing or something, but in the woods I can afford to skip showering for a while.

When I got diagnosed I argued with my doctor at first, how could I have ADHD - I got good grades in school, I don't fidget noticeably, etc. My doctor then pointed out that even if I wasn't fidgeting in class I had told him that I often just read novels during class instead of giving my full attention to the teacher. He also asked if I did anything that is fidgeting but that people tend not to notice such as biting my nails (yes), or drawing patterns on my teeth (yes!).

He then pointed out that intelligence can compensate for issues with attention, but only so far.

Another thing to be aware of is that I had started to lose my capacity to enjoy hobbies of mine, because despite wanting to do them I'd end up just sitting around, or constantly bouncing between 8 different things.

Back when this was becoming an issue I didn't have social media at all, not even something like a HN account so you can't blame that


>If you do agree that might cure you then what does it mean about your ADHD diagnosis? It means that you have ADHD in the context of the demands society puts on you and not you have ADHD, period.

But that is exactly what ADHD is about. People with ADHD can't do future-oriented behavior very well. This makes it much more difficult for them to do well at work and in relationships. A person with ADHD would probably manage fine in the woods, but that would mean a life where they are alone and have no income. It's not about not hitting the top 1%, it's about not ending up homeless[0] or addicted to drugs.

[0] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5533180/


> It means that you have ADHD in the context of the demands society puts on you and not you have ADHD, period.

I tend to agree with this to an extent. But, for me, even in a situation with unlimited resources and time, I simply can't get done things that I actually (truly truly) want to get done.


[flagged]


> It's an invented problem created for a drug that didn't work out in the 80s

Discovered and written about before WW1, decades before a drug not working out in the 1980s. How very peculiar.

There are multiple studies, brain scans and what have you showing the treatment is not placebo effect.


"stimulants are a placebo" is a pretty wild take


Clearly you’ve never struggled to the extent someone has where they finally HAD to reach for help.

I love that a large group of people that are well and don’t have ADHD seem to think they can tell people with ADHD that they’re full of shit and really don’t have it.




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