Cognitive issues, working in I.T.


I am really down at the moment due to struggling so badly with my concentration, particularly at work. I work in I.T. in a Systems Development Team.

Lately I feel like I’m doing a new job and every morning when we have our regular meeting to say what we’ve been doing I often have to say I haven’t finished my task, I spend most of my day fumbling around despite writing down detailed lists of what I need to achieve. We then have to demonstrate our new systems to the business and this fills me with dread and doesn’t help my nervous system!

My team are far quicker than me, even the newbies. My boss reckons he’ll support me, but when it comes to the crunch I’m just not delivering.

I don’t know whether to be totally honest. A few times I’ve felt like just giving-up but then pulled myself up again. I have a wife, children and a mortgage to pay.

I’ve had the cognitive testing and they did score me low in a few areas. I want to work! People think I’m making it up when I say I can’t concentrate, as I look ‘normal’.

Anyone else in the same situation out there??

I am in that same situation. I no longer work in IT, and instead have swapped for retail work while I study for my diploma. I now manage a book store and lately I’ve found myself really slipping. I forget to order things, keep lists for EVERY single task throughout the day (because I have to, not just because I’m being efficient), and my ability to cope with the stress of dealing with some very difficult customers is rapidly decreasing. The list goes on and on and on.

I’m also falling behind in my studying, and am producing work that I KNOW is far beneath my actual capability. I just don’t have the concentration span that I used to have, and it’s getting worse as the months go by. My ability to retain information is diminished. I also can’t seem to keep a proper schedule due to forgetfulness.

I haven’t told my boss about my possible diagnosis of MS yet (because technically I have not yet been diagnosed). If and when I do know for sure, I don’t think he’ll be sympathetic to it. He will “say” that he is willing to help, but I’m afraid he’ll find another way around it so I end up leaving anyway.

It’s such a tough situation to be in when you WANT to perform to the best of your ability, but no can due to no fault of your own. :frowning: I have no words of wisdom, but I do understand how it feels. It’s not nice, and I’m sorry you have to go through this.


Sorry to state the obvious but MS is different for everyone.

Got SPMS. With me 1st relsape in 79, diagnosed in 95 and only just given up working as a banking computer technical consultant, I was in computer business for 30 years. So I was lucky but could go back now cos I’m not allowed to drive and I don’t think energy levels are good enough and balance certainly isn’t Now I work at home, setup a website -

Some people its does hit very hard. My short term memory is awful so learnt to write things down + I’m not at all mobile. A 500 metre walk is a marathon distance for me if with out rollator or mobility scooter.

Yup life as an MSer is hard, try to think about the positives and build what you can do. Try to adapt to what you can do

Goog luck,



I retired on permanent health insurance due to cognitive deficits which were severe enough to prevent me from running my business.

BUT, if I’d known then what I know now, I should’ve walked away for six months to a year and got myself sorted out.

The way I’ve got myself sorted out after a long, hard slog is to:

  • have coping strategies for everyday tasks e.g. absolute rules about using the cooker on timer only

  • NOT to have lists, because they bedazzle me

  • to have an outline diary planner for every week, designed by a friend - it was too much for me - with no more than one task per day, aside from the normal get up, get dressed, eat breakfast (which I had to tick off else I’d forget them)

  • to do children’s puzzles, starting from very basic kindergarten stuff and working upwards very, very slowly and painfully

  • finally, having done all that, to study an academic subject and try really, really hard at it - I’m pants at it lol but the studying has helped hugely

Looking back, the worst thing for me was the guilt that I could’ve done a shedload of things wrong - and nobody else had spotted what was going on.

Can you speak to your boss and explain that you need “time out” to try and focus, and possibly have a single task at a time to complete, to help you?

Can you get Access to Work to fund someone to work with you for a time to check that you’re staying on track?

Forgive me for going anon due to the slight risk that these positive comments might jeopardise my income!

Hi Sboy,

I completely sympathise with you. I too work F/T in IT here in London. I have recently tried focussing more on information processing (via my occupational health therapist). I have had done some other tests but yet to hear back on results. I think that my main problem is that my type of work no longer suits me even though my ego says otherwise! I’m quite afraid of changing anything because my mortgage/CSA payments depend on me bringing in enough every month. One thing I found is that I too make the problem far worse by worrying about other peoples perception of me even when I know that I’m far slower than I used to be. I was recruited as a developer but due to some misunderstandings and embarrasements and disclosure of my illness after I was recruited I now work in 3rd line support.

I have now found that this role relies more on fixing problems/viewing other poeples code rather than trying to imagine a solution - turn it into a concrete idea and translate into code. Hence I can rely on past experience to help me through. I now accpet that this role is more suited to me.

Try to talking to your collegeus too (I have poor people skills!)- keep-up a social front during working hours. What will- be-will be. Unfortunately I do not have insurance to fall back on - I may even endup loosing my job or deciding enough is enough. But one thing is for sure - I’m trying my best - right here and right now and my kids see that.

I really wish you best Sboy and hope you will succeed in finding the right ‘balance’.

Best regards


Hi Sboy,

I too work in IT - though not as a developer - but have been struggling more lately.

I was recently placed at risk of redundancy, which came as a great shock, as I had thought health, rather than anything else, would spell the end.

At first I felt greatly concerned, and even guilty, that my deteriorating performance had led to my predicament. But my neuro says he cannot prove cognitive impairment (and therefore discrimination on that basis) unless it were “quite severe”.

But it has since become apparent it’s unlikely to be specific to me, as they’re looking to shed about 8% of the workforce anyway. :frowning:

I’m not really sure what the moral of my story is, or even if there is one. I suppose it’s just that you can worry about health, and “performance issues” at work, and then something comes along that’s totally unrelated, and knocks everything for six anyway.

I know this doesn’t sound exactly positive, but sometimes we worry about stuff that turns out to be academic anyway, in the broader scheme of things.

I still don’t know for sure whether I’ll lose my job. We’ve been told nobody’s going before July, but I expect things to be pretty swift after that.

I still don’t know whether to be terrified, or to embrace it. I haven’t been happy workwise for some years, and things, as with you, have been slipping, I feel.

I feel I wouldn’t regret loss of the job at all, but would regret loss of the standard of living it brings.

I’m a long way from “natural retirement”, and a bit young to be resigned to living only on savings… Don’t know what I shall do, but maybe some kind of change is needed?

I don’t think things are that great as they stand.


Hi Sboy,

You are not alone in this. I am undiagnosed as yet and had to give up working as a Systems Engineer (designing but not writing sw) 3 years ago when I was finally diagnosed with ME/CFS and realised I just couldn’t cope anymore. I’m now being tested for MS.

I found that I would forget how to do things I had been doing for years and would make silly mistakes (which was very embarassing) and found it increasingly difficult to multitask and swap between tasks. Everything seemed to take me ages as I was constantly checking that I hadn’t made a mistake. I didn’t have a diagnosis and it really knocked my self confidence as I could see that others on my team were starting to question my abilities.

I have found that fatigue has a huge impact on my cognitive ability so it may be worth seeing if you can schedule a couple of short periods of rest into your day where you can put your feet up (literally). You can test it out at home first to see if it works for you.

I also take Modifinil for fatigue (prescribed by neuro) and whilst it isn’t brilliant for the physical aspect, it really does help cognitively.

Mags xx

I don’t quite have the same problem as others writing in this thread. I had hit full-time retirement before the onset and Dx, and was doing 2-3 days per week right up to the time when I figured it was time to quit altogether.

A lot of the things that anonymous listed above match what I found.
NO detailed lists of things to do each day.
Use a wallplanner to mark up the future events that are not flexible.
Put medium-term goals onto a spreadsheet, print it in A2 (yes, we had a suitable printer), and update it by hand.
Put the short term stuff onto a whiteboard.
Keep the intellectual activity going.

This could sound pretty general, but we were doing development on several items of software for task analysis and psychological survey work. Doing research into military Command and Control. Writing a fair few scientific papers, editing them, and presenting them at International conferences. Lecturing. Running training courses. Not quite the same as Sboy, but still quite hectic at times.

I look at this sort of stuff as mental juggling - when all the balls are inside your head, and you cannot keep track of all of them, then you know that you need some other sort of strategy. There are enough versions of suitable strategies above to fit almost anyone.

So 2-1/2 years back I finally stopped. Having already lost the ability to keep all the balls in the air, I now found that I could only keep just a few in the air. I am not going to decline without a fight. I agreed to give a presentation to my Camera Club (roughly equivalent to a 2 hour lecture at Masters level) and I only have six months to finish it. I am sure that I could not prepare 3 or 4 at the same time like i used to - but just one is enough of an intellectual challenge to hold back the decline. The wall planner is a permanent fixture, and in real terms it defines some of my future.

I never quite got on with a PDA, but now I am trying to make myself use the calendar in a well-known office software suite, match that to the wall planner, and then synchronise the calendar with a PDA. It may help to keep the brain active, it may ensure that I do not miss a critical appointment, it may just be the fact that I came from a “Use it - or lose it” environment.

I am not going to lose it!


Hello everyone,

Either we are all working in IT or else been forced to retire from IT and the following problems do seem to be common to all of us. All 3 issues contributed to my stopping work but there were others as well.

  1. Loss of confidence/stress

  2. Loss of short term memory

  3. Struggle to cope with the work and associated pressures. This in turn leads to loss of self confidence and this becomes stress.

I think IT work in an office is stressful. You have to get it right, its a young persons’s job, The technology changes incredibly fast. Its not often you get to have a second bite at the apple and the consequences of fowling up are horrific.

I’m very pleased to be away from the hurly-burly of IT and an office job.



ps - hope my typing is better this time round

Blimey, what a massive response I’ve had. Unfortunately I can’t respond to each post but just want to thank you all sooo much for taking the time to reply. It makes me feel better knowing that I’m not alone in this. Sometimes you end up feeling alone with MS but this forum really does help. Thanks again everyone!!