Prep. Reading. Results.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be me stressing out about my lack of potential experience etc, as I’ve kind of decided to kick back and relax about that for a while. I mean, I have plans, I’ve applied to 2 different jobs that I do have experience in and would love to do, so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed at the moment with those, but in reality I realised that I was being so obsessive about looking for jobs, and trying to work out the future that I was not actually concentrating on the present. I would be looking for grad jobs whilst ignoring my deadlines, so for now I’m just doing the deadlines instead. I mean, if I don’t actually get the grades then I won’t be able to get grad jobs anyway… so in this case I think the egg really needs to come before the chicken, or something like that xD

Anyway, so as I’ve probably said this about a million times, but I only have one semester left, so I’ve decided to give it all I have. For my first semester this year I got four good 2:1s and a first, so if I just put in as much effort (if not even more) into my dissertation and final essay I will definitely be able to get the 2:1 which I have been aiming for since the beginning of this year. I’m really happy with myself as well, because it was the first time since starting uni that I managed to actually successfully complete my essays without my depression/anxiety flaring up and me having to apply for extenuating circumstances. For me, this year has really just been a brand new chapter in a book. I’ve come off my tablets, I’ve sorted out/come up with a plan for the ridiculous amount of money I spend on food, and I can finally go out by myself and not feel as if people are going to kill me. It’s just been brilliant.

But anyway, that’s not what I originally set out to do. What I actually wanted to do was talk about how I’ve actually been reading the books for my course in my break, and how I’ve managed to make myself sit down for hours reading books which I wouldn’t necessarily ever want to look at outside of uni. Again, proud Sarah here, really proud Sarah – look at me actually being able to do my work xD

So I’d like to start by saying that I probably haven’t read as much as other people, because I’ve only read 3/9 essential texts, but I’ve done a lot of reading around my dissertation and the writing in residence programme which I’ve been accepted on to, so still altogether thats about 7 books in 4 weeks, so an amazing triumph for me. The crazy thing is that I’ve actually been enjoying it, so here’s a small list of what I’ve done to kind of help myself get through the hundreds and hundreds of pages that I have read in the past month. I mean, in most regards it’s here so that I can look back and be like ‘oh yeah, that works, I’ll try that again,’ but you never know you might find something useful!

  1. I’ve been locking myself away from everyone.So yeah, I have become a hermit. By that I don’t mean I haven’t seen anybody else, but when I’m reading I lock myself away from everybody else, and I don’t even let them in the room. It is physically the only way I can concentrate, so it’s just a necessary thing that I’ve had to do.
  2. I’ve dedicated entire days to reading, and doing nothing elseSo for me this was the craziest thing that I worked out. I can’t concentrate on books if I have anything else planned for the day, so I planned nothing but reading for pretty much the entire month and just got on with it. Yes, it got a bit boring sometimes, but i’d just force myself on with it, and eventually I’d get to a point where I was enjoying it again. I originally tried the whole ‘work for a bit, then have fun for a bit’ but it didn’t work, as the ‘fun for a bit’ quickly just turned into me not reading for ages. Anyway, it worked for me, so I guess it should go here.
  3. Reading bits and pieces from different booksAnother thing that I found really worked was that if I was finding a specific bit of one book boring, I would then flick to another book, and pick that up until I felt like I wanted to go back to the other. I always thought that this was something that I would never be able to do, as I felt that the plots would all get mangled together into one super book which was basically one massive soap opera of all the different books, but that didn’t happen, and it really helped me to get through the list that I have to cover before going back next week. I mean, right now I’m also reading another two books, so I alternate them as I feel, and it leaves me not feeling bored of one specific writing style.

Again, I have no idea what this post was about. Basically I can read, and I’m happy with my first semester results.

Until next time,

 

Sarah xx

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Coping Methods: ADD and Uni

So, in my first post I mentioned that I would probably end up speaking about how my own personal ‘mental health’ has affected my time at uni, and so I thought I would explain a little bit more about exactly what I ‘have’, or rather one of things which I ‘have.’

I have no way to word it other than ‘have,’ but really I wish I did, as it’s not so much something I have, but a part of me.  If anything, it’s something that I own, that each and everyday I think I might have paid a little bit too much for, but still couldn’t imagine living without, as its so intrinsically a part of me. I love it and hate it at the same time. It’s always been there, and although it apparently makes my life harder than the ‘neurotypical person’ I honestly wouldn’t wish to be ‘normal.’ I mean, what does normal even mean?? This is me we’re talking about, so why would I wish to change the person I know and love the most in the world.

Btw, sorry for the repetition of ‘have’ in that last section. It’s ridiculously early and my brain just isn’t working yet!

I’ve just realised that I’m yet to mention exactly what I’m talking about, so here we go. I have (and have had for the whole of my life) Attention Deficit Disorder. If you’re not quite sure what it is imagine ADHD but a little bit calmer. I know that most people associate it with ‘naughty’ children, but really it’s way more than that. I’m not a scientist so I can’t explain exactly why it happens but my brain just can’t seem to concentrate on many things as much as other people can.

It’s like a switch just turns off in my brain. It could be 15 minutes into a lecture, or even a minute into a conversation, but after that switch has gone I just can’t pay attention – no matter how much I try. It can be so frustrating, and it only seems to have gotten marginally better since growing up. My brain literally seems to just have the attention levels of a young child.

It can be so frustrating, but since my formal diagnosis last year I’ve found it so much easier. The uni is aware and I have been provided with a dictaphone, which records all lectures, so that if I zone out I can listen back at a later date.

Even better is that it has helped me fully understand why I acted in certain ways, as before I just thought that I was ‘stupid’ or ‘lazy’ or just plain annoying. If you have ADD or ADHD you might recognize the kind of things I’m saying, so for me my formal diagnosis didn’t mean that I was being labelled, it just meant that I had the explanations for certain behaviours in my earlier years. By that I mean I was that child that you just wouldn’t be friends with. When explaining what I was like at school my housemates have actually told me that in so many words 😉 But anyway, I suddenly understood why I had been so disruptive – put simply I couldn’t concentrate. This would lead to me getting bored and ‘playing up.’ I’ve also been told extra things about ‘high intelligence’ and the work being to easy for me, but I’m not going to blow my own trumpet 😉 haha. That’s just not the type of person I am.

I said at the beginning of this post that I had come up with coping methods for uni, so I thought that I might share them, in a hope that it might help somebody else. Be aware though that everybody works differently, so although they work for me, they might not work for you. That’s one of the great things about life: our minds all work in different ways. (Sorry for the cliche!)

Coping Methods:

  1. Dictaphone

I mentioned it earlier, but I was given a dictaphone by my uni to help, and this has been a wonderful tool. I mean, another way that my ADD effects me is that I’m totally disorganised, and I keep on forgetting it, but for the lectures I have recorded this has helped me soooo much. I mean, I might not have actually listened back to them, but the fact that my lectures are recorded if I feel the need to go back over them really helps.

2. Detailed Essay Plans

My brain gets distracted easily, so although I understand what I need to write I always find this so hard to do. When I got to uni it became clear to me that my essays would always start off okay, but then end up going off on tangents (much  like my brain.) I found that the easiest way to deal with this was to write the most detailed essay plans ever. Like, they start out by me just bullet pointing 3 things that I want to include, and then I add the sources which I want to use.

It means that when I actually go to write the real essay that I have a clear and quite rigid structure which I need to stay within, so means that I don’t just go off on a tangent that has nothing to do with the essay question. My grades at uni went up from a 3rd in first year to a 2:1 in my second year when I started doing this.

3. Explaining to Friends and Course Mates

Now, I’m at a point in my life where I feel comfortable with telling people that I have ADD, but if you are not at that point thats okay. It’s not so much of a warning, but I kind of put it across as one (apparently…) but anyway, I’ve found that explaining my ‘condition’ to my friends has really helped them understand why I can’t concentrate on a whole lecture. It has meant that they don’t get offended when I suddenly switch topics in conversation, because they understand why I do it. It also means that they are more likely to let me borrow their notes, as they know I am not just being lazy. Being able to borrow notes for lessons I’ve zoned out in helps a lot.

4. Timetable of Work Hand-Ins and Reading

So I mentioned my lack of organisation earlier, so last year I found that writing up a massive weekly timetable of all work set for the semester help me immensely. I have these really brightly coloured pieces of paper, which list all the books and sources I need to read from Week One – Week Ten, so that I can double check on this when I feel like I’ve finished my reading for the week ahead. It also has deadlines on it, so I know when everything is due in. Again this has really helped me, as I often ended up forgetting what I was supposed to read, and then spend ages trying to work out exactly what it was that I was supposed to be doing, and then giving up and going on BuzzFeed or something…

5. Doing the Work I Feel Like Doing When I Feel Like It

So this is kind of a really important thing for me. I don’t know how to explain it really, but there will be times when one piece for uni seems so much more important/interesting for me than other things. I’ll obsess about these things, and can spend hours and hours on that one thing. It’s like that switch I was talking about has been stuck down with sticky tape. When I’m obsessed about a certain task I can’t concentrate on anything other than that task, and I even get annoyed if my boyfriend speaks to me in the middle of it. That is what I am doing right now, and nothing can get in the way. It literally feels like my whole life depends on that one task.

I’ve found that the only way to deal with this is to just get on with it. The task will end at some point, or I will eventually get bored of it, so there’s no point even trying to do something else, as I won’t really do that other thing anyway. I mean, at least I’m doing work, so I don’t think it really matters that I’m obsessing over this one thing way more than I obsessed about that other piece. Of course this is just personal opinion, when explaining this to other people they quite often can be like ‘but why. Can’t you just do something else?’ I’m like no, I honestly can’t.

Anyway, so I know this has been a really long post, which is kind of ironic as I’m talking about my ADD, but right now I am obsessing about this blog post. It’s kind of funny really, because when reading other peoples posts I normally switch off within the first couple of minutes unless it’s really interesting. Anyway, I hope this clears up a little bit about myself, and that it might eve help somebody out there.

Sarah