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Getting stuck, common with ADHD?

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Ever since I can remember, I've had this problem where I'll get snagged on something small and it will prevent me from progressing entirely. For instance, when I was in school I determined that I would not be able to get myself to do my English homework, so I wouldn't pass the class, and since it was a required class I ended up dropping out of school. This has happened with any type of work I try to do, and I don't know how to push through that wall.


My current problem is that I'm intending to make a video game (and my plans for it are way ambitious and unrealistic), but I get stuck on things like the main character's hair. I will be making a 3D model of a character and I find that I for some reason have no idea how to model the hair, which shouldn't be any more difficult than any other part. I will just hit a wall and think "If I never finish the head of this character, I will never be able to make this game", and the whole project is put on pause. I can't really argue with that thought because it's sort of true, this part will need to be finished at some point if the game is to be complete.


It's not the hair or the English homework that's the problem though, it's just that my brain turns to sludge at certain times and I don't know how to push through that. I also don't understand what the big difference is between the things I can easily accomplish and the things that are a giant pain to even think about attempting.


Is this an ADHD thing? Any ideas on how to handle it?

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You are hyperfocusing on issues that don't matter, and this could be also termed as an obsession and could potentially fall under OCD, but again having OCD tendencies doesn't mean you have OCD. If lack of motivation to finish projects, and constant distraction from your video game is what the problem is that is something entirely different. If lack of motivation is your main issue, you could benefit from ADHD medication or psychotherapy. I should warn you that if you are obsessive and neurotic psychostimulants such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and so on tend to increase such behaviors. Look at both OCD and ADHD to make a better self-diagnosis (although you would eventually need to consult a doctor if you wanted to treat such a condition). You could be a perfectionist, and this isn't too out of the ordinary, and have an all or nothing type of mentality, which are other things you could look into. I'm just concerned with your unrealistic goals, and don't know what to recommend, but I think you should pursue something realistic such as college, GED program, or a part-time job, along with your passion of designing games. Usually successful games are designed by companies that specialize in this, although don't get me wrong certain people have gotten wealthy off of certain apps, or games designed for cellphones, but you need to ask yourself if this fits your profile. Are you someone who has extensive knowledge of game design and such, I don't but I am recommending you do something on the side so you aren't stuck. If you add more details I will eventually elaborate. Good luck! 

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Forbidden, we discourage people from self-diagnosing here, because it only leads to confusion and worrying, among other things. 


To the OP, I am not sure if this is ADHD related, hopefully someone else will chime in. But to me, it sounds sort of like you are a perfectionist. 


And now, I'm going to say something which you might not like. 


Is it possible you are self-sabotaging? People tend to self-sabotage when they are afraid of success or failure. In this case, it sounds to me like you are afraid of failure, but correct me if I'm WAY off base. 


Maybe you were determined you weren't going to do your English homework because you were afraid that if you DID do your English homework, you might do badly and get a bad grade. Ultimately, you avoided the English class entirely. Is that maybe what you were hoping for? As well, maybe by focusing on the character's hair, you are stalling out of fear that your game will never get finished or be successful. 


This is just my wild speculation, but I have seen many people do this. I myself have done it. Just a thought. 


On how to handle it... Well, I am a perfectionist. I usually get caught up in one little thing and start freaking out that it isn't perfect and then suddenly it feels like I'll never be successful at anything and I may as well quit. Does that sound familiar?


I handle it by using some self-soothing talk, and by using my CBT skills. I identify it as a cognitive distortion, meaning I identify it as a distorted thought. Then, I come up with more reasonable answers to the thought. Such as "Not doing well on one thing does not make you a failure, Para." Imagine what you would say to someone else in your position, and that will help you think of things to say to yourself. 

Edited by Parapluie
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Yeah I think it's partially self-sabotage, I'm sort of afraid that once I actually do start making something I'm not going to like what I made very much. But even when I challenge that thought by realizing that I do like most of what I make, I still can't push through it.


I don't think I'm a perfectionist though, that's the route my psychiatrist has been exploring and I'm starting to realize it doesn't fit me. I don't need the hair to be really good, I just need to get something finished but my brain fights me. My brain is actually like a stubborn child in this situation, I'll think "okay I just need to put something down" and then I will make something intentionally terrible and go "there, satisfied?"


Also I should note that the idea of making a game is not super unrealistic for me, I have been able to develop small games before. The size of the one I'm planning is a bit ridiculous considering how infrequently I finish things but it would be very possible for an indie developer to achieve.

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It turns out that my problem is ADHD. It seems that when working on something I would be unable to focus on it which would cause me to get frustrated and make a lot of mistakes. I didn't know that what was happening was a loss of focus, I figured I was just doing the work wrong, that I was getting stuck because I didn't have the skills I needed. When I start something new, the novelty of it keeps me interested enough to get some work done, but at some point the focus will always go away. I saw this as a lack of interest, I thought I was unable to work on anything because I was just too bored of my dumb ideas. So the negativity all came from the frustration of not being able to continue my work.


I went on Adderall a few days ago and the difference was night and day. I wasn't negative about my work because I wasn't getting stuck, which was all caused by an inability to focus. Unfortunately the Adderall stopped working today so I might need to up the dose or something.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think like you said, it's self-sabotage but also ADHD. I'm guilty of it too when it comes to writing. I have stopped in the middle of a whole novel because I can't decide on the perfect name for a throw-away character. And then I just quit.


It can also give us a one track mind sometimes, which many times we don't think about it in that way because the stereotype is that we're flutterbugs when it comes to attention. It can also be a problem when we focus too much attention to a singular entity and can't stop when we are supposed to. Like when we're distracted by the computer and can't seem to get off of it, for instance.


As for the Adderall feeling like it wore off - you are still going to have off days. It's not a magic cure all. I would still give it some time and chart how you are doing so that you have a visual representation of how often the drug is working for you vs. how often it doesn't seem to be working for you. That way you'll have a more defined idea if you need to up the dosage or not.

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