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Sure! As an example, a friend asks "Do you want to grab a drink tonight?". My day is free, and it's morning when I receive the message. I reply "Sure! Where and when?". They don't reply.

I am now paralyzed for the rest of the day. My brain can't snap my schedule into place, so everything I do is a possible conflict with this promise I just made. Even if it's morning, something may happen -- another invitation to do something in the afternoon, maybe -- that I can't resolve because I don't have the necessary information to. This causes overwhelming anxiety.

My entire brain is blocked on resolving this ambiguity. I can't do hard tasks like programming. I can't pay enough attention to my favorite shows to watch them. If I do, I'll end up rewatching them later because I didn't retain anything. Reading a book is out of the question; I'll just end up rereading the same paragraph 20 times in a row then giving up.

The whole day, zapped out of existence.

To others I will appear distracted, hard to hold in conversation, irritable, and in a hurry. Internally, I'd equate it to the feeling you get on a once-in-a-lifetime special day, like your wedding day or a test that could decide your entire career. It's just that I get it from really small things, and all the time.




That is awesome

What I've learned from working with transactional databases is how to deal with things like this.

You have a time in the evening, now that time is blocked by your friend (they didn't commit nor rollback). You can't process further because of that lock on your time. The lock is unspecific (there is no start nor end of time).

So you become anxious, because you need to route things, but you can't do this because of the undefined commitment.

There are several strategies that can work:

  1. kill the undefined commitment (you can tell them that something came up, so you can be there no longer)
  2. specify the bounds of the lock, so that it won't take everything (ask them again for the time and place, if they won't reply do the 1.) 
  3. Guess it. If it is a drink, then it is after work. Then how much it usually takes me to get there, do it + some padding in case something goes wrong. Basically you do the work on your side. 
  4. Discard all conflicts. (Tell everyone that you have an important meeting, so you will interact with them tomorrow). Now your whole day is waiting for that meeting and nothing else. In some circumstances it is the right way to go. 
  5. Optimistic scheduling. Schedule everything to the best of your ability. If something conflicts, kill or reschedule the less important thing. (I am sorry,  but something came up, so I can't be there today, maybe tomorrow?)
  6. Simply wait. As the day progresses you will get more information to make the  right choice
P.S. I apologize for my English (I am severely out of practice with my writing skills)


You're right, but note for onlookers that even realizing that this variety of strategies exists can be the work of years, and learning to apply them years more. Whereas it always seems that the "other people" apply them instinctually.


My favorite is when people suggest you behave based on context such as the person's emotional state, voice inflection, etc. It's like, "If I could do that, I wouldn't have this insane matrix of rules."


Would you consider this a rare example, or are you dealing with things like this ~20 times a day? Do you think people can be most helpful by not being ambiguous? Or by understanding once you've reached that state?


Now that I'm on meds, I only get a day like this maybe once a month. If someone is kind enough to want to help, I definitely ask they first and foremost try not to be ambiguous, or at least to be patient with me when I rapid-fire questions at them to try to resolve the ambiguity. But sometimes ambiguous things just happen, so understanding is also appreciated.




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