Hyper-focus is one of the symptoms of PTSD for some people. This is the ability to devout 100% of your attention on one thing. It is considered a negative thing because a person may block out the rest of the world so completely they don’t notice their house is on fire. So why would I say this is a coping tool? PTSD is a series of reactions to trauma. Hyper-focus is an extreme coping tool. Learning to back off and take breaks is beneficial. Changing symptoms to advantages is key to taking the extreme coping mechanism designed for life and death situations, taming them down to coping tool in less dramatic situations. The past few days I was preparing a box to ship to my daughter. I knew what I needed to do in a short time. I used my ability to hyper-focus and charged through the list I wanted to complete. How I brought this to a more reasonable level, I took breaks. I listened to music. I gave my self permission to celebrate each completed item without making myself wait till everything was done. How hyper-focus helps me? I can focus and complete a project amidst a noise environment. I can accomplish a lot in a short period of time. I am able to clear my mind of everything except what I am doing right then. I stop pain, fear, or any other emotion. How is it negative? I tend to ignore people that are trying to talk to me. I am likely to burn dinner because I am so focused on the other thing I am doing. It takes a long time to wind down from hyper-focus. I allow extra time for Facebook or a few video games to release myself from the hyper-focus state. I didn’t use it for a while thinking it was a bad thing. I discovered that I am easily distracted, took so many detours I would forget where I was heading. Taking symptoms and turning them to my advantage is one of the skills I learned from my first counselor. He taught me that my PTSD symptoms helped me to survive terror, toning down the symptoms gives me a wider set of tools that some people don’t realize are available. Kind of an ultimate survivor bonus tool kit.
One thought on “Hyper-Focus”
This is a really good post, Ruth. I will have to think about how I can apply this to my own recovery.