Gen Z mourns time blindness: Is delay a real medical condition?

Mental health

July 21, 2023 | 2:51 pm


Being chronically late isn’t just rude or inconvenient, it’s now considered a medical condition.

A number of medical experts have labeled the condition time blindness and associated it with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or other mental health issues.

And while there are strategies and therapies that can help, some people who say they have the condition insist they be taken in.

Now, a young woman on TikTok has been ridiculed for asking during a job interview, are there any accommodations for people who struggle with time blindness and are punctual?

Do the world a favor and give them this information with every interview you do, replied one TikTok user.

I have real blindness and am always on time, noted another.

So if you’re supposed to get paid on the 1st but the company struggles with time blindness, does it pay you on the 30th? All right???? asked a third.

The young woman, identified as Sarah Trefren by news.com.au, attributed the teasing to political polarisation, adding, I think a culture where workers are simply left out because they struggle to be punctual that culture needs to be dismantled.

Refusing to give in to accusations of entitlement, a teary-eyed Trefren said, “No, if people think it’s okay to treat others this way, that’s entitlement.”

While the comments it has received are almost uniformly negative, psychologists and other experts acknowledge that time blindness is a real condition and for people who suffer from it, daily activities can be an uphill battle.

A TikTok user has been ridiculed for requesting accommodations for people like her who struggle with time blindness.

Time blindness is a difficulty with perceiving time, how much time has passed, how long it will take to do something, and it can be quite disabling for people, Stephanie Sarkis, a psychotherapist specializing in ADHD, told USA Today.

It’s a real thing that has been studied, Sarkis added.

Although the conditions are related to ADHD, time blindness can occur in anyone with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, or other mental health conditions. It’s not exclusive to ADHD, but it has a major impact on ADHD, Sarkis said.

Everyone has time blindness at times, said Dr. Michael Manos, a pediatric behavioral health specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.

We can all get involved in something and get into the zone,” Manos added. Some people with ADHD, however, are more prone to having difficulty judging how long it will take to do something or losing track of time.

And when people with ADHD are doing something they enjoy, they can go deeper into hyperfocus more easily, Manos said.

Psychologists and other mental health experts, even TikTok users who also have time blindness, have offered a number of strategies for dealing with the problems caused by time blindness.

Some experts suggest using a clock or analog clock, instead of a digital watch, may help people with time blindness.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

I have the same problem, but we need to make our own accommodations for it, like frequent alarms or beeping clocks, said one TikTok user.

Putting reminders in the physical world can bring your mind back to the present moment and keep you focused, Manos suggested.

Take advantage of the technology we have, advised Sarkis. Apps are really useful, so use your timers as much as possible. Use apps that help you plan and prioritize. Change the tone of your timer if your brain is getting used to it.

Other experts have noted that analog clocks may be better than digital clocks at showing how time has passed and how much time is left before an appointment.

Sleep deprivation can exacerbate time blindness. If you’re having a lack of sleep and have a lot of life changes going on, it’s really important to talk to someone about it, Sarkis said.

And if those strategies aren’t enough, consider seeking professional help, because some therapies and medications can help people if they’re struggling with ADHD, Sarkis added.





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