There are so many ways your mind can betray you when you’re just trying to live your dang life. Some can be managed via intervention, with therapy, little hacks, or medication. But the first step to changing how you function in life is recognizing that something is wrong. Not everyone is able to do that, or they blame themselves for not have “willpower” or “focus” or whatever and don’t realize they need some help. That’s why this Twitter thread from handle @a_silent_child is so helpful.
They write about what it means to have “executive dysfunction,” a condition that can be caused by any number of things: brain injuries are one of the more extreme issues, but it can also come about when people have ADHD, depression, autism, dementia, or schizophrenia.
Executive dysfunction makes it very hard to focus on one task at a time or make decisions about what should happen first…or second. This thread really nails what that can feel like for people:
I unload three dishes, then notice dust on the floor. I sweep the entire floor. I notice the clean clothes hamper. I put away a pair of socks. While I'm putting away the socks I see my medication and remember I need to take it. I need food to do that. My toast is now cold.— Lilo the Autistic Queer (@A_Silent_Child) November 20, 2019
So another important aspect of executive dysfunction is the bit where you realize all these things need to be done, but can't figure out which is most important or where to start, so you have an anxiety attack and do none of them instead.— Lilo the Autistic Queer (@A_Silent_Child) November 21, 2019
“I sit down to do my homework. I decide I need water first. I go get water. While I’m drinking water I realize I haven’t had breakfast. I stick toast in the toaster. I go to the restroom. I decide the dishwasher needs to be unloaded,” they write.
They continue, “I unload three dishes, then notice dust on the floor. I sweep the entire floor. I notice the clean clothes hamper. I put away a pair of socks. While I’m putting away the socks I see my medication and remember I need to take it. I need food to do that. My toast is now cold.”
This all sounds exhausting but probably pretty recognizable. We probably all know someone who can’t seem to manage tasks—or are that someone. They continue to say that sometimes instead of going through these motions, they just have an anxiety attack and do nothing. There are a number of other ways that executive dysfunction manifests as well:
- adherence to routines/ difficulty changing routines— Lilo the Autistic Queer (@A_Silent_Child) November 21, 2019
- forgetting verbal instructions unless given one step at a time
- losing objects frequently
- needing things repeated frequently
- interrupts others
- impulsive behaviour
- disruptive behaviour
- ****disorganization*****— Lilo the Autistic Queer (@A_Silent_Child) November 21, 2019
- of notes
- of bedroom
- of house
- of desk
- difficulty determining if one's efforts are quality or not (i.e. not having any idea if you did well on a test you just took)
- poor time management
This doesn’t mean everyone who is having a tough time getting their morning started has executive dysfunction, but if it really does feel as though your life is becoming unmanageable on these basic levels, it might be time to talk to someone about it and see what’s going on. Everyone deserves to have these issues addressed to they can be excited about planning for the day. Though there may never be a time when you’re going to be excited about doing homework.