Studying online with AD(H)D? Well…

I am drowning. I’m drowning in an ocean full of meetings, events and offers – and I don’t even need to leave the house for all of them. They are taking place online. And this can be a huge problem for people like me.

 

Hello, it is Kim again; Kim the ADHDer. I wrote an article once about all the things running through my head, which are outcomes of my symptoms (unfortunately in German). Today I am here again. I am here again to introduce you to my ADHD World.

But first, I have to (re)introduce myself: I am Kim, a woman who got diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago. I grew up not knowing why I am like this. Like this means a lot of things: procrastination (including ‘fun things’), being too loud and too embarrassing amongst people, forgetting and losing things, having to read a page in a book several times (happens every second page)… I grew up thinking that I’m just stupid and lazy, and also with being ashamed of all my thoughts and actions and actually my whole self. This lead to a depression, I have been fighting since I was 16 (and searching for help for my ongoing depressive episodes lead to my diagnosis; an ADHD story which is often experienced by women – for further information read this very recommendable article).

From the moment I got diagnosed, things got better. I’m now in a process of understanding myself and treating my symptoms in the right way. It is hard work and full of setbacks. And this semester I had a really hard one.

Unsurprisingly, it has to do with the Corona Crisis.

Social Distancing and Cancelling tried its best to get me into another depressive episode. The Lockdown hit me harder, than I thought it would. But the thing I was most afraid of wasn’t the unplanned entering of my dark side – it is Online-University.

Putting a person with AD(H)D in an online class and demanding concentration and interest can be compared to putting an alcoholic in a liquor store and saying “only one bottle a week!”. So many possibilities, to get distracted. And I promise you: most of the time, I will get distracted, I have no chance against my brain.  But let me explain this a bit more neuroscientific:

My brain has very low levels of norepinephrine, which is linked with dopamine. Norepinphine is responsible for alertness, arousal and readiness for action; dopamine helps control the reward and pleasure center. This is impairing activity in four functional regions in my brain: The frontal cortex (which controls functions like motivation), the limbic system (which regulates emotions and attention), the Basal Ganglia and the Reticular Activating System (which leads to impulsivity, inattention and hyperactivity). For further information you can have a look at this section in the ADDitudemag.

Long story short: My ADHD means a lot of irregulated stuff in my head, which makes paying attention, being organised and following only one task pretty hard sometimes.

I had pretty good working strategies, which were built around my symptoms and made coping with University a lot easier. But online, these strategies don’t work anymore. I even forgot to attend classes, because I don’t have to change the location. The way to University calmed my symptoms down a bit, so I could follow the classes way better, but this is not possible anymore. My procrastination, which I was controlling better and better, reported itself back.

I’m trying to find out new strategies, but when they will finally work, University will not take place online anymore (hopefully). I’m trying my best with studying. I’m trying my best to learn and not only chase ECTS, just because I’m afraid of leaving University without a bachelor’s degree. But sometimes my dark side asks me: Why don’t you just do it like last semester? Why are you like this? C’mon! You know it way better!

And I have to remind myself that it’s just ADHD (and depression) and I’m not that lazy little woman, like I was told so many times.

For people like me, an optional semester would have been a huge relief. But that didn’t happen. Luckily, I have the privilege of still being able to work and having, more or less, financial safety. But that’s only my situation. There are a lot of people with AD(H)D out there, who are struggling way more. I think about them every day.

 

By Anonymous

 

We hope you understand the struggles of  your fellow students with AD(H)D a bit better now and we wanted to add a little wish from Kim: If you’re an AD(H)Der and you want to share your experiences with studying (online), you can send us an e-Mail or a message via Facebook or Instagram. Of course Kim and all other members of the editing team will be carefully with your information and you can be 100 % sure we won’t judge you!