Bipolar and Why I Can’t Focus

Bipolar and Why I Can’t Focus

April 30, 2014 Bipolar blog bipolar disorder

My bipolar brain and mind are interesting places to live. Pleasurable, no, but interesting, yes. At the beginning of the day my mind seems to start out like a blank chalkboard and then my bipolar brain screams at it as soon as I wake. And little by little the chalkboard fills up. Each scream takes up a line. Until eventually there is no room for working thought or working memory or anything all and all I can hear is my brain screaming, “I can’t do this.” It’s a feeling of stress and anxiety and it’s inescapable.

I’m not sure why my brain chooses to yell this particular phrase at me, but I can tell you, it’s impossible to focus through all the yelling.

My Bipolar Brain Prevents Focus

It’s like this: my bipolar brain has no interest at all in focus. It only has interest in chaos and yelling. Somehow, though, my coping-skill-laden mind manages to take all that chaos and handle it – for a while. And then it’s like the chaos reaches a critical mass and my mind can no longer deal with it. Then the thing that was keeping me sane and lucid – my mind – just seizes like a rock and all I can hear is the constant bipolar screaming. And I can’t focus through all the screaming. I just can’t.

All the screaming does is stress me out to an extreme level to the point where I’m overwhelmed and I can’t move, let alone function.

Focus can be tough for people with bipolar disorder. My bipolar brain seems to scream at me making focus impossible.Focusing the Bipolar Brain

Sometimes I like distraction while I work – it keeps me upright and working. But when the bipolar brain screaming gets too much, I think that removing external stimuli is the most helpful thing. I seem to be able to better handle the screaming when there aren’t other things like sound and light also encroaching on my consciousness.

I also think micro-chunking of tasks also creates functionality. I’ve mentioned before how I break tasks into tiny pieces so as not to be overwhelmed and to facilitate task completion. Well, when I can’t focus I break the task parts into parts and try to do those. Like I might only write a sentence of an article before permitting myself to rest again. Quiet down again. Attempt focus again. Granted this makes achieving almost anything unbelievably time-consuming, tedious and annoying but it’s better than getting nothing accomplished at all.

Bipolar Screaming and Focus

And, in the end, I just know that I’m unlikely to accomplish much past noon. I know that when I wake up things will be clearer and by the time noon gets here things will be horrible. That’s just my day. My focus decrease as the time increases. That’s just how I roll. It’s exceedingly difficult and painful but it’s just the way I live – all bipolar-y and whatnot.

And I try not to beat myself up for not being able to focus. Because feeling bad about it sure doesn’t make the obsessive screaming any quieter.


About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.


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