Time “Dilation” Help?

So I’m not sure what the official term is for this but lots of online resources refer to something called “Time Blindness”. For me, I’m specifically concerned about the perceived lengthening of time. I’m calling it “Time Dilation” for lack of a better word.

I’m having a lot of trouble at work lately because I’ve been placed on a very boring task that does not look like it has an end. Recently I’ve noticed that time seems to be moving slower. Today has been the worst where I checked the time twice, thinking 30 minutes had passed, and in reality, it had been 5 minutes.

This is starting to really drag me down. I’m borderline ASD in that I display symptoms similar to what an autistic individual would under stress but I don’t have some of the other negative features such as impaired social development and understanding. Anyway, I think I’ve been getting close to a meltdown over the overwhelming sense that time is not moving. Symptoms include vigorously pacing back and forth, verbal outbursts/compulsively repeated phrases, flurries of arm/hand gestures, and banging my head on objects. Basically the “rumble stage” or pre-meltdown buildup. I’ve not allowed myself to go full nuclear yet as I usually ask to go home early if I hit the point where I start bashing my head into things. I feel really stupid and embarrassed in retrospect about these outbursts but I literally cannot figure out any other way to vent the stress that I am feeling without detonating and putting a screwdriver through the wall.

I would talk to my supervisor but I work construction. They’re not likely to have much understanding or sympathy for how my mind is currently torturing me. I also hate asking to be treated differently because it draws unwanted attention.

Is there anything I can do to try to work through this or fix my mind’s perception? I’m assuming my ADHD meds aren’t working correctly if I’m having this much trouble.

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Typically “time blindness” is when people with ADHD are unaware various aspects of time including appointments, how long things take to get done, and how slowly or quickly things progress. For example, a person with ADHD might think it only takes them 15 minutes to shower and get dressed in the morning but if they actually time it from start to finish it may take them 30-45 minutes in reality. The misperception or mis-expectation of time is common. So is not being aware of what time of day it is, how much time has elapsed, or even what day it is.

What you’re describing may be related or it may just be tied to the tasks at hand. Some things that might help:

  • Getting a visual clock that shows the time remaining in a certain time period. Something like this: Time Timer
  • Use an hourglass that you can put on your desk to see how much time you have left in a certain period of time (i.e. one hour)
  • Set reminders when you start an activity to have either breaks or a deadline when you need to stop; using something like a Google calendar on your phone can be a great way to do this
  • Work near a window or in an area where you can notice certain changes of time in the day, such as when people get up to go to lunch or when it starts to get brighter or darker outside
  • Take frequent breaks; this helps break up the monotony and can make boring tasks more tolerable. It usually doesn’t make them go by any faster, but at least it helps our brains recover.
  • Exercise briefly. A 5-10 minute walk or stretching can help reconnect you to your body, reconnect you to the moment, and also help recharge you so that you are more focused and productive.

It’s not an easy thing. Some tasks seem endless. For me, I find that listening to music helps break up the monotony and helps quiet my mind at times. I also find that getting up and walking around will help.

Whatever you choose to do, good luck!


Thanks for your suggestions.

I work in construction inside buildings that are unfinished so some of the ideas like having an hourglass wouldn’t work. I also don’t have much freedom to take breaks. We get one paid 15 minute break after 3 hours and an unpaid 30 minute lunch after another 3 hours before going home after the final 2 hours of the day.

As you can imagine, those 3-hour stretches are brutal especially when you are on a task that is completely braindead.

So far I’ve been trying to distract myself by playing music and eating sunflower seeds.
Unfortunately my mind knows that the average song is about 4 to 5 minutes in length and will sometimes fixate on how many songs have played and calculate how much time has passed rather than allowing the music to distract me.

The unshelled sunflower seeds work well enough to distract me but over the last two days I’ve eaten so many of them that it has caused the left side of my mouth to turn raw from the rough edges and high salt content. Maybe I’ll see about switching to chewing gum instead.

Honestly the one thing that seems the most promising is that time-remaining timer. I haven’t tried anything like that yet. Normally I have alarms set on my phone to tell me when breaks are so I don’t have to keep checking the time. But that doesn’t seem to be enough.

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Having limited breaks can be difficult. It’s the same setup at my job, though we get the liberty to decide when we take our lunch and breaks.

For me, I try to find excuses to incorporate getting up as part of my work. Maybe I can walk around while I make a phone call, or find a reason to go to another office to talk to someone directly versus on the phone. I also try to take brief stretch breaks. Maybe it’s cheating, but I sometime take 2-3 minute walks down the hallway to stretch and get a breather from the phone or being locked away in my office for extended periods of time.

I’ve also in the past made sort of mini games for myself. When listening to songs, I try to see how much I can get done in the course of a single song. Or, like you said, keeping track of how many songs have played. Sometimes I find that songs with lyrics can be too distracting so I’ve gone to instrumental music. I also find music like EDM or chillstep helps me pass the time better than some other types of music.

I wish I had better ideas or solutions for you. Hopefully other people have more suggestions. :slight_smile:


Oh, I forgot to add part of the update.

I did speak with my psychiatrist and he has increased my dose of Vyvanse from 20mg to 30mg. If that goes well enough for 10 days we will increase the dose again to 40mg.

So it seems like he also believes my medication is not working optimally.

Also makes me wonder just how severe my ADHD actually is. I’ve been on Adderall and Concerta before Vyvanse but each time we hit a point where I started having increased anxiety before the beneficial effects of concentration could take hold.

I’m really nervous that this is going to be another case of increasing the dose until I hit nervous breakdown territory. I know there is a land beyond my current scattered state. I’ve been there twice in my life. But actually getting there has been an impossible task so far.

Anyway, sorry for the ramble. All that to say, doc has increased my meds, so hopefully that helps.

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Have you been on non-stimulant medications in the past as well?

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You mean like, Strattera? No. I haven’t tried any non-stimulant meds yet.
I think I was started on the stimulant ones because I was having low energy due to dysthymia.

Was just reading on Strattera and was surprised to learn that it is similar to Wellbutrin. I used to be on Wellbutrin before I knew I had ADHD and it was one of the most effective meds I’ve taken for my depression. But I had to stop taking it because I started experiencing confusion when we cranked the dose too high.

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I was on Wellbutrin as well. I went off it due to other side effects. I thought my prescriber would try Strattera next but instead we went to the Vyvanse.

I ask because sometimes if you don’t have a good response to the stimulants you may have a good response to some of the alternative medications. So, if things don’t work out with your current meds, you still have options. :smiley:

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