How To Catch Up With Syllabus When You Have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Last updated 16 Mar 2017 . 6 min read

This is a matter very close to my heart. I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or its acronym, ADHD and dysgraphia as a result of the ADHD. There aren’t many resources out there about studying with mental illnesses so I figured I would compile a huge list of tips for myself and share the same with you! I hope for all of you struggling, this can help or at least remind you that mental health is more important than college sometimes. Take care of yourself in any way you can. let’s get started:


Studying with Mental Illness


  • Take things slowly.

    Don’t be afraid to take a week doing one assignment. Making sure that you can focus on assignments can be draining so breaking them down day by day can truly help you. Make a task list with each portion of an assignment mapped out so that you can see exactly what you need to do. I know that I get overwhelmed very easily and seeing smaller things is less daunting than having a list full of HUGE things like research papers and midterms. Seeing it as “write paragraph one” or “review unit one vocab” makes everything less scary.


  • Nothing has to be pretty.

    Notes and papers don’t have to be perfect, study guides don’t need to be colorful and cute. What really matters is getting things done. My partner always tells me “even an F is better than a zero” which is so true. Turning things in late is not shameful because you are still turning it in. You still did it and that is something to be proud of.


  • Study somewhere other than your room or your house.

    Make sure there are people there. Surrounding yourself with others will allow you to feel less isolated and sometimes more motivated to do things. You can’t take naps when you’re at a Cafe Coffee Day or Starbucks either. People can be motivating, they can remind you that you are not alone, they can hold you accountable for what you have to do. Get out of your bed where you can sit and stare at the wall and go to a coffee shop or the library where other people are doing work. This always helps me get on track.


  • Study in short bursts.

    Don’t wear yourself out with work. Find out when your concentration peaks and go with that. I usually work the best around 2pm so I have to make sure that I have eaten and showered before then so that I can capture that time to focus on my studies.


  • Don’t beat yourself up.

    Studying just takes a lot more effort other days when depression hits you the worst. There might be days when you can barely get yourself out of bed but know that you do have the ability to succeed and that depression just has to suck sometimes.


  • Get yourself out of bed.

    Shower. Change your clothes. Read a single page. Look at only one thing you have to do so you aren’t overwhelmed. That is something to be proud of and know that I am proud of what you did!


  • Study in a routine style.

    Let yourself have a routine that you can fall into. Try pomodoros or study games, Create a routine that you can stick to. 
    If you don’t feel like doing anything, work for 5 minutes. You may feel more motivated or up, or you will at least be able to say that you have done something.


  • Hydrate

    I’m really awful at drinking a lot of water, but it helps so much with both anxiety and depression. Water keeps you moving and awake. SO drink that H2O guys


Studying Math in particular with a learning disability


  • Nothing about mathematics is actually difficult. I’m serious. Once you get down to it, pretty much everything that you do in math can be reduced to a series of really quite simple logical-reasoning steps. It’s just that math can seem overwhelming because these steps build upon one another.


  • Think about this way; other subjects that you learn at a college level are like old, episodic TV series. You can sit down and watch any given episode and be reasonably confident that the plot will make sense, regardless of its relative position in the season or the season’s relative position in the series. So if you can, for example, read a history of the middle ages without necessarily needing to know anything about Ancient India; you can study human physiology without knowing anything at all about the mitochondria. The order in which these subjects are presented, at least at a high-school level, is somewhat arbitrary.


  • Math is like a modern, prestige format TV series full of story arcs and ongoing plotlines; each episode builds upon the one before it, to the extent that if you just put on a random episode, the odds are good that you will have only the faintest idea of what the fuck is going on. You cannot, for example, just plunk yourself down to learn about trigonometry. You need to learn about geometry, algebra, arithmetic, and even, ultimately basic counting before you understand the plot. And if you have not been paying attention, or if you have had poor teachers in the past, you may find it (temporarily) incomprehensible and be put off of the subject, but it’s important to remember that, fundamentally, it’s not any more difficult than any other subject. It’s just that sometimes, you may need to review previous plot points in order to understand what’s going on.


< She Learns As She Goes > 20-something Mumbaikar | Psychologist | Writer | Imperfect | Feminist | Bibliophile | Adventurer | Tea Snob | Mum to two dogs I blog under this pen name. Thanks for dropping by. Maybe you’ll stay and get to know me (and even like the place!) even though I don’t have a face.

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