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In case anyone wonders, I have a previously undiagnosed adult adhd disorder. While I used to be great at chess, once I went to college I noticed that I gradually lost the ability to play well, and I simply started losing games all the time and couldn't "think". It was like there was a fog inside my brain. Everything was cloudy.
Based off another post, a chess.com member sent me a message and asked me to expand on my experiences with adhd, for he felt that he might also be undiagnosed and hence is why he (or she) loses so many games.
I felt that my response might also help someone else, so I have included my response to the message in this thread. If anyone has anything to add or any questions, and if you want to recount your own experiences, please do so!
Without further adieu:
"My apologies for my delayed response to your message.
Adhd is a spectrum disorder; in other words, what symptoms one person may exhibit are completely absent in another. However, there is also much in common.
When playing chess, I do not get distracted from the game like many others with adhd. Rather, I simply lose the ability to calculate 1-2 moves ahead. I just stare at the board, eyes glazed over, waiting for my opponent to move. It is almost like playing chess while you are extremely tired. This inability to "focus" is a type of adhd that does not manifest itself with the classic "ooh, look, a butterfly!" type of focus problem, but it is adhd nonetheless, and this type is more commonly associated with adults. Adhd also manifests itself in my life by causing me to abandon many projects prematurely, thus I have many things that I have started but few that I have finished. Also, starting anything can feel like I'm taking on the world, as it takes so much effort. I can be innattentive at times. I get bored with video games relatively quickly compared to how long I used to play them, but putting in a new game can take a lot of "mental" effort. Many times I will simply stand in place for a few minutes mulling over ideas on what to do and dismissing them as requiring too much effort almost as soon as I think of them.
The easiest way to explain my innattentiveness in chess is to think of the classic adhd. You play a move, you begin to calculate a tactical sequence, and then you see a butterfly which breaks your concentration. You then have difficulty refocusing on the game. The only difference with me is that there is no butterfly and hence nothing to focus on. I simply lose the focus to "nothing", giving the feeling of glazing over. It is a problem with adreneline in my brain.
Many times I can play 1 really great game, but by the 2nd game I have lost my ability to focus. So if you find yourself playing well only to consistently go on losing streaks with dumb blunders, and the amount of games you win before the losing streaks remains fairly constant, then you might be in the same boat as me. Or perhaps you can't even focus for one game. That is another possibility.
What I have noticed that helps:
Play until you feel yourself slipping away mentally. Then, make that your last game, otherwise you will only get frustrated on the next game. Over time you will learn to tell when you are having adrenaline issues. It is a very specific feeling.
If you lose because of some dumb mistakes, you should probably quit for awhile, if not for the rest of the day. You are not losing because you suck at chess, but rather because of adrenaline problems. Take a break.
Don't play chess after you eat. Eating can cause the adrenaline problems to worsen. You probably already notice that you get a bit tired after eating.
Get a good amount of sleep. I play better in the morning than at night when I am tired. But you may be different.
Talk to a doctor about medication, and also ask him or her about possibly seeing a behavior therapist. Both of these can help tremendously, although some of the medications can be extremely addictive. Personally, I have just started strattera, which is not addictive, and my chess playing has improved. Although it is not anywhere near where it was before college when my adhd got so much worse. However, strattera takes forever to work at peak proficiency and I am on a low dosage, so only time will tell.
I hope this helps. While I won't list your name, I am going to create a new thread in the hopes that this will help someone else."
too long didn't read lets go ride bikes
You typed a really long post. Your adult ADHD can't be THAT bad!
I also found this post to be informative and helpful. I too have adult ADD/ADHD (undiagnosed as of yet). Thank you for the post, and yes the ADD/ADHD can be "THAT" bad...it's the most frustrating thing I've ever dealt with and I have a two year old sooo...lol. :)
You should get it diagnosed. It sounds more like depression and lack of motivation then AD/HD. I don't really believe any people who say they have "undiagnosed adhd".
Also getting tired after eating is common for EVERYONE, it just lowers your energy levels for awhile while you're digesting the food. If you find this energy drop paralizing, then it may be depression.
I know very little about ad/hd, but just off a guess I can say that it has nothing to do with adrenaline, so you should probably drop that word from your vocabulary or look up what it actually is. It has to do with fight or flight and nervousness.
Is there any sort of "post of the year" type thing that chess.com has? If so I'd like to nominate this for the best. Such an informative and passionate rebuttal, I'd never seen such a logical and thought provoking post in my entire life.
On a serious note, I have a hard time focusing too, its part of your genetics. You can either work harder, or you can complain about it. I'm not saying ADHD isn't real, but isn't on the scale that everyone portrays it as. If you wish to improve in chess, you need to focus hard, and try hard. Its the nature of the game.
If you have a hard time focusing, lay off the corn syrup and caffeine. It takes work to be a zen master. It doesn't mean there is something wrong with you if you can't focus. Most likely it just means you are to lazy to meditate and cultivate the ability to focus. Drink some chamomile tea and start some yoga.
Or get some grade B pharamcuticals from your doktor.
I'm curious. You say "previously undiagnosed." Does that mean you have now been diagnosed, or that you suspect you have ADD? If you aren't sure, you should be tested. I was finally tested about 10 years ago (in my mid 30s) and it was nice to know for sure. I am now on medication that helps me a lot with focus.
It's interesting how differently it can manifest itself. I sometimes have trouble focusing, but I sometimes go into a intensely deep focus as well. In any case, I think the stigma is finally waning, so I have no problem discussing it openly, if you want to have a conversation about it. I also highly recommend the book The Edison Gene by Hartmann and Palladino. They talk about the positive sides of ADD (and there are many).
Good luck to you and your chess game!
could you name some of the benefits of having adhd?
Take a look at the book description and a couple of reviews here: http://www.amazon.com/Edison-Gene-ADHD-Hunter-Child/dp/1594770492/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342830659&sr=1-1&keywords=edison+gene
They say it much better than I could.
I know this is a cold topic, but in finding it while doing a search, I wanted to address several misunderstandings present in the comments.
BTW- loved the article.
"You typed a really long post. Your adult ADHD can't be THAT bad!"
Actually, part of the problem with ADHD is not a lack of attention, but difficulty in regulating it. Sometimes that leaves one scattered, othertimes with an intensity of focus that is hard to break, known as "hyperfocus." which is why one will loose themselves in an activity that stimulates them, sports, video games, chess, Wikipedia. So the classic "He can focus on video games, why not his homework?" is due to the irregular attention and focus. It can be trained, or aided by medication, but it's not as simple a matter as some may make it.
Now I do think there is still much work to be done in diagnosing ADHD, and there are too many with too little knowledge who jump to conclusions, seeing ADHD where there is none, or where there is a different problem. But there are also many out there who have gone undiagnosed (never been identified by a medical practitioner and received treatment, even if it is obvious to themselves or others), and have struggled as a result.
"I have a hard time focusing too, its part of your genetics. You can either work harder, or you can complain about it. I'm not saying ADHD isn't real, but isn't on the scale that everyone portrays it as."
ADHD is genetic. Yes, everybody has trouble focusing from time to time. But when it is disruptive to your life across the board. Then it is classifiable as a disorder. As for "trying harder", brain imaging shows that, in normal brain wiring, trying harder brings an increase of glucose to the brain, allowing for increased performance. In the ADHD brain, however, there is a drop in glucose. A different approach is needed for those with this disorder.
"If you have a hard time focusing, lay off the corn syrup and caffeine. It takes work to be a zen master. It doesn't mean there is something wrong with you if you can't focus. Most likely it just means you are to lazy to meditate and cultivate the ability to focus. Drink some chamomile tea and start some yoga."
While it is true that caffeine and sugar are problematic, in that they give a spike and then sharp dip of energy, these are not the issue. In fact, ADHD is commonly treated with stimulants. The biochemical nature of ADHD is that certain neurotransmitters are underproduced, or irregularly produced. The stimulants increase the production of these chemicals. It isn't true across the board, but it is common that folks with ADHD find that coffee and the like settle them, rather than hype them up.
" I know very little about ad/hd"
Then don't guess, do your homework.
"but just off a guess I can say that it has nothing to do with adrenaline"
Norepinephrine is one of the neurotransmitters that is irregularly produced with ADHD. Norepinephrine is also known as noradrenalin, and is among other things involved in the fight or flight response. Irregular norepinephrine production can also cause depression. A good psychiatrist will verify whether or not depression is present alongside ADHD, or if depressive symptoms are being misinterpreted as ADHD.
As with chess, a little bit of study is useful before making claims such as others have made. ADHD in all forms (there are 3 main categories recognized by the APA at present) has much research to back its legitimacy. I would encourage you to study more. Http://additudemag.com would be a great place to start.
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