View Full Version : Poor Working Memory


guffman44
07-04-14, 08:48 AM
How do people deal with the poor working memory that comes with ADD? 55 years old and I have been in the computer industry for over 25 years. I have not really progressed in my occupation since I started. My biggest problem is recall and problem solving. I don't even know why I am in this industry, other than there is always work out there, no matter how you perform. I just received a poor review in my latest job, and I think the only reason I keep the job is because they like me personally. I am doing technical support over the phone to customers. There are things I learn on the job that I just plain forget and need help with. That's what frustrates my manager so much. With my years of experience, I should know these things that I ask about, and I should remember what they have told me many times before. But I can't seem to do it.

What are the optimum careers for people with poor working memory? I have no idea what I am good at. I'm running out of hope and so sick of failure. I actually have thoughts about ending it all. It seems like eveything I do, I fail at. How do you people cope?

GRbiker
07-04-14, 09:20 AM
Hi Guffman, I can sympathize with you. I have trouble keeping up with technology just as a user, I can't imagine trying to know and understand it at a professional level.

I work in museum exhibit development and production, so I learn a lot about the subject of the exhibit, but ask me questions about it when I'm knee deep in the next exhibit and I won't remember much. I do, however, remember the mechanical/technical aspects of the components I've developed, which is what my job is really about. I can figure out how to make things, and work out complicated systems.

One continuous problem for me? Every now and then I have to weld steel or aluminum. Each time feels like my first time and I never quite get good at it, because just as I'm getting the hang of it I'm done and won't need to weld anything for months.

When I was in college, I worked as a salesperson in ski and bike shops and because these were special interests of mine, I knew so much about skis and bikes. I was good at my job, I could answer questions all day long about the smallest details. I still can. I wasn't able to transfer this skill to my course work in college though, and struggled mightily.

So maybe you could try a position in a special interest of yours.

stef
07-04-14, 09:44 AM
yikes I know!
there are some basic aspects of my job that I should really know, and I still forget. I do less things with client related work than others but I never remember for example, to scan the signed version of things and file it electronically. never remember how to open new client files, I just wing it (there is a procedure!)

maybe you could make some notes for yourself. Like in a word document you could update easily. ok that sounds super basic but this helps!

GRbiker
07-04-14, 10:07 AM
That is what I do. I have Word docs. up the wazoo to remember procedures. I also have notes pinned up to the wall above my computer desk and workbench. When programs or procedures change, I have trouble adapting, and need to develop a schematic of sorts. I would be lost without them. Having them in e-files has been a life saver for me, because I can't keep a filing system working otherwise.

My projects use a lot of electrical control systems and I cannot wrap my head around the normal way of developing schematics, I have to map things out in my own way first which gets really complicated and frustrating. Then I have to translate that into the real thing, usually with the help of one of my colleagues who know their sh**.

eclectic beagle
07-04-14, 05:37 PM
I was reading something recently that claimed the best predictor of occupational success was the proper functioning...of the executive functions. At my last major job, I never progressed anywhere because I don't think I wanted advancement. I received adequate reviews, and one "exceeds standards" review. But, I don't think advancement was a priority for me because there was too much struggling during day to day tasks that it wasn't something that was desirable at that point.

A manager asked me "why did you stay in an entry level position for the last 7 years". Sameness can be comforting.

OhLookABunny
07-05-14, 12:55 PM
Darn right sameness can be comforting. I have been all over the map with jobs (and am now on disability after 50 of them in 30 years). As for career, I attepted to start a handful of them.

I graduated summa cum laude from college, yet couldn't handle the people aspects, auditory processing aspects, and the working memory and executive function aspects of holding down any type of professional job. Also developed anxiety disorders from the stress along the way. My ADD wouldn't be diagnosed for another decade. Even after I knew about it, I still struggled.

My last attempt at white collar was as an administrative assistant, of all things, and my bosses - I split the time between two of them - had noticed how many different calendars and notes and reminders I was keeping and they said I spent more time organizing my work than doing my work. :eek: And they were absolutely correct. I was terrified of forgetting things - and there were plenty of things to forget in that position. Like making phone calls to agencies on behalf of clients and playing telephone tag. Ugh.

I ended up in retail the last decade of working, and for awhile thought I'd found a niche in a small gift store - but it was corporate owned, and it got to be too much with changing management, changing policies, and ever-increasing demands to be able to "multitask" - to attend to the clerical side and the customer side and the interruptions.

This is what I wonder about your situation - you're having to shift gears from the "database storage" part of your brain, to the attempt to retrieve the stored data in real-time, and you don't know what will be asked for or when, and where that will lead. Meanwhile, you're also trying to run the "deal with interacting with people" software and it sounds like you're overloading your brain's RAM.

My view is that there are so many jobs in today's society that force people, ADD or NT, into these difficult conundrums of having to do things that are their weaknesses instead of being able to capitalize on their strengths. When I started working, late 1970s and early 80s, the economy was better and things such as clerical work and customer service and technical knowledge didn't all have to be rolled into one job. There were receptionists to handle the calls, secretaries to route them to, and departments for the various functions - engineering, accounting, what have you. How I miss that world. :(

If I were you, I'd see if there were some way to work with what you know but do so behind the scenes and not have to interface with the customers - if such a job exists . . . I sure hope you can find something that works. :)

guffman44
07-06-14, 06:55 PM
Darn right sameness can be comforting. I have been all over the map with jobs (and am now on disability after 50 of them in 30 years). As for career, I attepted to start a handful of them.

I graduated summa cum laude from college, yet couldn't handle the people aspects, auditory processing aspects, and the working memory and executive function aspects of holding down any type of professional job. Also developed anxiety disorders from the stress along the way. My ADD wouldn't be diagnosed for another decade. Even after I knew about it, I still struggled.

My last attempt at white collar was as an administrative assistant, of all things, and my bosses - I split the time between two of them - had noticed how many different calendars and notes and reminders I was keeping and they said I spent more time organizing my work than doing my work. :eek: And they were absolutely correct. I was terrified of forgetting things - and there were plenty of things to forget in that position. Like making phone calls to agencies on behalf of clients and playing telephone tag. Ugh.

I ended up in retail the last decade of working, and for awhile thought I'd found a niche in a small gift store - but it was corporate owned, and it got to be too much with changing management, changing policies, and ever-increasing demands to be able to "multitask" - to attend to the clerical side and the customer side and the interruptions.

This is what I wonder about your situation - you're having to shift gears from the "database storage" part of your brain, to the attempt to retrieve the stored data in real-time, and you don't know what will be asked for or when, and where that will lead. Meanwhile, you're also trying to run the "deal with interacting with people" software and it sounds like you're overloading your brain's RAM.

My view is that there are so many jobs in today's society that force people, ADD or NT, into these difficult conundrums of having to do things that are their weaknesses instead of being able to capitalize on their strengths. When I started working, late 1970s and early 80s, the economy was better and things such as clerical work and customer service and technical knowledge didn't all have to be rolled into one job. There were receptionists to handle the calls, secretaries to route them to, and departments for the various functions - engineering, accounting, what have you. How I miss that world. :(

If I were you, I'd see if there were some way to work with what you know but do so behind the scenes and not have to interface with the customers - if such a job exists . . . I sure hope you can find something that works. :)

I really have no problems dealing with customers. Some will specifically ask for me. That is what the receptionist has told me, and she is not one to b.s. The last guy in my position is coming back to work for us after a stint in Las Vegas. I was told by the receptionist that there were people who specifically asked NOT to talk to him because he either was no help, or he did not call them back when he was supposed to. But he is buddies with the manager form some reason, so he got back in. I can't wait to see how he performs and what is done about it.

I have closed as many calls as anyone in my group. I have tracked the numbers. Because I need help with maybe 3 more calls a week than anyone else, I don't get a raise? My review was actually worse in the beginning, as he actually had me on the low end when it came to customer service, which is patently ridiculous. If anything, that is my strong point!

But maybe you are correct. Maybe I need a position where I only work with internal people, and not outside customers. I have had 3 positions like this, and I haven't really done well at any of them. The positions I did the best at were jobs where I was able to move around and do things. I'm not good at being a desk jockey. But the thing is, I am not hyper active. My mind is but certainly not my body. In fact, my ex-wife and a couple of ex girlfriends would probably refer to me as lazy. But being chained to a desk spaces me out, especially if I have down time where there is not much to do.

The best review I got was a contract position I had for two months. I was always up and going to different departments fixing printers and PC's. It was high stress, but I did well, and the person that was my supervisor said I was the best person they ever had in the position, and there were quite a few that had been in it before.

All I know is that I am frustrated. Frustrated to the point of giving up. Nothing goes right, no matter how hard I try. I have no money in savings, barely any in 401k, and am close to 6 figures in debt. Why am I so in debt? I invested in a business with a person I thought knew what she was doing. But nope, she didn't know, plus she is an alcoholic. The business failed because of her incompetence and alcoholism, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The money was already spent. So now I have creditors after me night and day. Meanwhile, friends and relatives go on vacations that I can only dream of having enough money for. My big vacation was going back to Wisconsin in May to see friends and relatives, which is all fine, but I haven't been on a real vacation since 2007, and that was San Diego, which I LOVED!!

Sorry for the negativism, but I have to vent. I'm so sick of having such a non functional brain. My IQ was once tested at 115. Not brilliant, but higher than average. You would think I would have accomplished more by now. But here I sit, dead broke and a job on the edge. Good times.

guffman44
07-06-14, 06:58 PM
I have tried notes on my wall and Word documents, but in true ADD fashion, I never keep up with them. It's always the same: one or two weeks of following my new great idea for keeping organized and having information at hand, only to go back to the same bad habits.

GRbiker
07-07-14, 11:47 AM
I have followed all those "great ideas" for a few weeks only to drift back as well. Can't say that I am much better at keeping up, but I just cut myself some slack and get back to trying. I guess I'm finally giving myself a break and not beating myself up for every little mistake and screw up. For me, it has been that change that has made a big difference, recognizing how the anxiety, frustration and fear was blocking me from being at all effective.

Sounds like you have a lot of pressure and stress in your life, and that sucks. I have a lot of big messes I'm trying to clean up and move through so I know where you're coming from. Talking about it and reading and sharing here at the forum have really helped keep me on track.

Wish you the best.

Crosswired
07-07-14, 06:22 PM
My first job out of college was at a brokerage firm. I entered trading instructions/customer service for clients I was speaking to on the phone. Many of my peers that started with me started moving up into management while I only made lateral moves. I was terribly organized and poor time-management. Mediocre employee reviews. I was there six years and had not moved up. I knew I would never move up cuz the job wasn't suited for me. I was surfing the net half the time instead of working.

I eventually quit cuz i developed a serious drinking problem. I went to rehab where I was finally officially diagnosed with ADD. 3 years I am back in a crappy menial job with people 10 years younger.

Guffman, I wonder too if there is any hope to be successful in any career. I have no motivation to achieve at anything. I guess I do not belong in the corporate world. That is obvious. I am searching out careers that suit my brain.

guffman44
07-08-14, 08:42 AM
Have any of you tried drugs to help with the ADD? I have taken Ritalin, Dexedrine (made me crazy), Focalin, and one other I can't think of. The Ritalin helped for a wek or so, and then I went into some kind of zone out. Is there anything for people like us?

GRbiker
07-08-14, 12:59 PM
I take 80mg. Strattera, I'm ADD-PI. It has a subtle effect on focus, mainly quiets my mind from all the internal dialog I am prone to, and has curbed excessive daydreaming.

I don't tolerate stimulants well, so I haven't tried them.

guffman44
07-08-14, 04:10 PM
I take 80mg. Strattera, I'm ADD-PI. It has a subtle effect on focus, mainly quiets my mind from all the internal dialog I am prone to, and has curbed excessive daydreaming.

I don't tolerate stimulants well, so I haven't tried them.

I tried Strattera too. It gave me heart palpitations.

finallyfound10
07-08-14, 05:31 PM
There are so many of us here who are in the same boat. I am on Concerta and Zoloft everyday and they do help. Our brain isn't going to ever be normal and I'm not sure that there are perfect jobs for us so figuring out how to deal with our situations with meds and therapy seems to be the best that we have so far.

I actually have thoughts about ending it all.

This concerns me a great deal! This is not the answer to your problems but your frustrations are very valid and need to be talked out in safe place. There are really good therapists out there who help us deal with the issues that we have in work/personal situations. It has made a big difference in my life!

Keep us posted!!

TXanimal
07-08-14, 07:09 PM
I am exactly the same way. I am also in IT support, and can't remember anything. I think it's partly because it's not all that interesting. We ADDers have a built-in boredom filter that works a little too well. I stay because I actually have learned quite a bit and the money is excellent. Plus I love my work environment. I think it comes down to a fundamental choice: does your job need to define you, or is it merely a means to an end?

For me, the things I love to do don't pay squat, so I opt for the latter. And I learned to be OK with that because my schedule & pay allow me to live the life I want to live outside of the office.

I hope you don't end it all. I hope you have things & people in your life that make it worth fighting for :)

KrazyKat4Ya
07-08-14, 09:12 PM
What are the optimum careers for people with poor working memory? I have no idea what I am good at. I'm running out of hope and so sick of failure. I actually have thoughts about ending it all. It seems like eveything I do, I fail at. How do you people cope?

Hi guffman44, I too feel like a complete failure even though I'd like to think I'm good at the job I do as an administrative assistant. Yes, there are days when I screw up and forget to do something really important which makes me feel like an *ss but I tell myself that I'm only human and that I'm going to make mistakes. Even people without ADD/ADHD make mistakes, can't remember things and feel like failures. Don't be so hard on yourself!! Try to think outside the box..or rather outside your head where all those negative feelings about yourself exist. I still battle with this on a day-to-day basis but some days are better than others. Embrace the good days. Surely you don't fail every single day right?

Despite how you feel, you are here for a reason. You may touch people's lives and not even know it! You have a reason to live.

guffman44
07-10-14, 01:25 AM
My first job out of college was at a brokerage firm. I entered trading instructions/customer service for clients I was speaking to on the phone. Many of my peers that started with me started moving up into management while I only made lateral moves. I was terribly organized and poor time-management. Mediocre employee reviews. I was there six years and had not moved up. I knew I would never move up cuz the job wasn't suited for me. I was surfing the net half the time instead of working.

I eventually quit cuz i developed a serious drinking problem. I went to rehab where I was finally officially diagnosed with ADD. 3 years I am back in a crappy menial job with people 10 years younger.

Guffman, I wonder too if there is any hope to be successful in any career. I have no motivation to achieve at anything. I guess I do not belong in the corporate world. That is obvious. I am searching out careers that suit my brain.

I feel your pain. One thing I changed this week was my intake of caffeine. I am a true addict. I was having 32 ounces of Pepsi in the morning, 1/2 cup of coffee at about 10 am and a Coke in the afternoon. Then I quit drinking the Pepsi and switched to Red Bull. I started with 8 ounces and went to 12 ounces, with maybe an 8 ouncer in the afternoon. Sometimes in the afternoon my mind would be so scrambled I couldn't think. Now I only have a half a cup of coffee in the morning, and things seem to be somewhat better and I'm not as spacey in the afternoon. I sure do miss that buzz though.

I'm 55 and still looking for that career that suits me. Maybe there isn't one, and I just have to make the best of what I have. But then again, maybe you and I will find our calling one day.

MarkAfterDark
07-11-14, 06:26 PM
Hey, Guffman, don't give it all up yet. I believe you made a wise choice backing off the caffeine. Do you try to exercise regularly? a brisk 30 minute walk 3 - 4 times a week can help improve blood flow into the brain and that can help improve memory. Memory-related games can help.

There are websites that specialize in memory/brain boosting games and puzzles. If you work your brain, like a muscle, it will get stronger over time.

On top of that, I have been taking a cocktail of supplements and it has made a difference. But I would make sure to get that 30 minute walk in because it's the least expensive way to improve blood flow.

As a habitual daydreamer, I rely on Podrunner (podrunner.com) to keep me on pace. Even if you hate the music, it does keep a steady tempo and it's easier than trying to remember all of my marching cadences from basic training in 1986. I suggest mixes with tempo rates between 120 and 130 for a good walking pace.

Understand that the change will be gradual, but I have noticed a definite improvement in focus and recall.

MarkAfterDark
07-11-14, 06:41 PM
I almost forgot to say omega 3 fats. I am told 3 to 1 EPA to DHA supplements (although I haven't actually found such a mix.) Free-range vegetarian-fed chicken eggs are also high in omega 3's. I also use a nutribullet and add flaxseed to everything.

Flaxseed is high in fiber and can cause rancid gas :eek: so start small and add up to two tablespoons per day. Try not to kill off your co-workers that way. ;)

immago
07-19-14, 06:56 PM
I have tried notes on my wall and Word documents, but in true ADD fashion, I never keep up with them. It's always the same: one or two weeks of following my new great idea for keeping organized and having information at hand, only to go back to the same bad habits.

One, or two weeks? That's pretty good. I last a couple days. haha :p

Ronelh
09-16-17, 04:09 AM
This thread is old but I'm going to comment anyway. I use an iPad app called Todoist to keep track of tasks. It works well for me because notes on paper get lost or I forget to look at them, etc. With Todoist I can keep all my tasks in one place, make an attempt at prioritizing and dating them, and I always know where the list is! There are other apps that do much the same thing. Todoist is just what works for me.