C’mon let’s go, let’s go! Move dammit!

I wish to start this post by confessing that I may have been slightly off in my previous posts concerning Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Upon closer examination, I think that I might actually have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), instead of just ADD. I say this because, as I will soon explain in further detail, I not only have trouble paying attention and focusing on my current task, but also with being mentally and physically still when I need to. After doing a little bit of “research”, I’ve discovered that this tendency is often a symptom of ADHD, which makes sense to me since “hyperactivity” does indicate a sense of restlessness and impatience. Therefore I wish to apologize for not realizing this much earlier and constantly saying that I am diagnosed with ADD, not ADHD (I am unable to officially verify that I have either disorder, but I will assume that I have ADHD simply because it seems extremely likely).

With that out of the way, let’s discuss my problems with staying still and waiting placidly (probably caused by ADHD). Indeed, a lot of times I find it difficult to be calm and comfortable when I’m forced to wait for something to progress or when something is not proceeding as quickly as I’d like it to.  In other words, if things aren’t moving along at a nice, ongoing pace or if I have to deal with several delays, then I can easily become slightly irritated and “on edge”. This is especially the case when I have to remain seated in a chair or keep standing for a long time, and it’s almost unbearable when I have absolutely nothing to do. On some occasions, it will cause me to complain out loud to others or put me in a grumpy mood.

In my earlier years, this issue with hyperactivity and impatience was much more troublesome, and it led to quite a few temper tantrums and arguments with my parents. I would frequently become very upset if I was told to wait and be patient in a place that was extremely boring and uninteresting for me. I can remember a couple of instances where I made a bit of a scene in public, whining and yelling to parents that we leave a store or restaurant or museum right away. Yeah, my parents put up with a great deal of annoyance and frustration on my part, and I’m immensely grateful that they hardly ever lost their temper with me. They seriously deserve a lot of credit for how patient and understanding they were with me, even when I was driving them insane and would not shut up.

Like with many other problems related to my Aspergers, the issue has gotten much better over time, but has not gone away completely. There are plenty of instances in my current life where I get incredibly anxious because I have to wait for things to move along. A perfect example to point to would be when I’m driving. As you probably expect, I like to drive as fast as the speed limit allows (which I like to think is about 8-10 miles above the limit, depending on road conditions), and I take every opportunity to do so. I am very easily annoyed, therefore, when I am forced to drive slower than I’d like due to the speed of the car in front of me. I will say to myself “Oh, COME ON!” and let out a soft groan, begrudgingly staying behind the other driver and matching their speed. I might keep hoping that the car will eventually make a turn, and sometimes I will consider passing them if I have the chance. Unfortunately, I never feel confident enough to pass a car on a one-lane road, and I will usually have no choice but to just wait until I am able to drive at my preferred speed. Yes, I know that this sort of thing can annoy just about anyone, but I get particularly annoyed by the idea of being forced to wait and spend more time driving.

Now there may be some of you who are a little confused by all of this, after I mentioned in my earlier post “All the time in the world…” that I tend to take more time to complete certain tasks than others do. It may seem logical to assume that I would be perfectly ok with things going slowly so that I am able to keep up. The thing is, actually, that my sluggish, time-consuming pace also irritates me much of the time. I am regularly frustrated by my failure to accomplish tasks in a speedy fashion and to be more productive throughout the day. It’s one of the reasons why I often have  slightly low self-esteem, as I will frequently put myself down for not meeting my own desires for productivity.

Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, I am gradually getting better at being patient and accepting the fact that things don’t always go as quickly as I’d like them to. At the very least, I don’t whine or complain as much as I did when I was a child, and I’ve learned that demanding that other people pick up the pace doesn’t resolve anything. I still have some progress to make, though, especially since I will eventually be living on my own and have to deal with situations that require a huge amount of patience. With the help of meditation, exercise, and other resources, it is my hope that I will be able to maintain good posture when it is needed the most (e.g. going to the DMV, talking to employers, getting loans from the bank, and attending special events for loved ones).

“Tim, please… keep it to yourself.”

Who here has ever asked themselves these sorts of questions:

“When exactly am I supposed to talk?”

“When am I supposed to be quiet and listen?”

“Why do people seem to hate it whenever I talk?”

“How come hardly anyone seems really interested in what I have to say?”

“How come I can never find the right time to raise my thoughts during a conversation?”

“Why do I keep going on some tangent whenever I start speaking?”

“Why do I have so much trouble with shutting myself up and listening?”

“Should I even enter this conversation at all, or should I leave it alone?”

“How can I possibly contribute to a conversation I have no interest in to begin with?”

“Why does it have to be such a chore for me verbally interact with other people?”

If these questions seem at all familiar to you, then you are definitely not alone. It’s always been tough for me to understand exactly when I should open my mouth, and when I should just stay silent. Aspergers Syndrome often makes it difficult for people to communicate fluently with others, and so the appropriate time to provide verbal input isn’t always clear to them. As a result, engaging in a productive, two-sided dialogue does not usually work out for me like it does for most people.

This is not to say that I can never a good, meaningful conversation with anyone; very far from it! I have had the pleasure of enjoying countless discussions that were fun, amusing, informative, friendly, comforting, and thoughtful. I mean, I actually really enjoy chatting with people whenever I can, preferably those I know fairly well. It’s just that I need to learn how to be a more responsible, self-restrained speaker.

For one thing, I have very frequently found myself going off on a tangent as I discuss a certain topic of interest with others. What happens is that once I perceive an opportunity for me to speak out, I immediately take it and then quickly end up talking endlessly about what’s on my mind. Without thinking at all, I get carried away and establish myself as the center of the conversation, inadvertently failing to give the other person their chance to speak. This usually leaves people a little agitated at me and completely unengaged in what I’m saying. They anxiously wait for me to be done with my monologue, occasionally trying to find a polite way of telling to be shut up and let them speak. Unfortunately, I won’t realize I was dominating the discussion until it’s too late, feeling regretful for being so inconsiderate to the other person.

Meanwhile, when trying to have conversation with others, I tend to talk about things that only I want to explore- regardless of how everyone else feels about the topic. Sometimes I might begin a conversation, usually out of complete nowhere, concerning a subject matter that I desperately feel like sharing, simply for the sake of “getting it out there.” Alternatively, I might find a way to bring this subject into an already active conversation when it is not the least bit relevant. In most cases, this dissolves into the one-sided rant that I mentioned earlier, meaning that people have to listen to me jabbering on and on about something they really don’t care about. Even though I may have gotten better at this, I still find myself committing the same mistake rather frequently, mostly unaware of what I’m doing wrong until later.

This brings me to one of my more regrettable habits, which is constantly interrupting people in the middle of talking so that I can give my thoughts. Despite my efforts to try and give other people their space to talk, it remains somewhat of a challenge to keep my mouth shut and pay attention while others are talking. If I feel like I really have get my thoughts out, then I may not be able to wait my turn and save what I have to say till the other person is done.

This is especially prevalent when there is some disagreement between me and the other person. If I really do not want to hear what someone is communicating to me, I may try to block it out by simply cutting them off and abruptly offering a counter argument. A good example of this is when I used to talk to my parents about schoolwork or my behavior. Whenever they would try to say something that I didn’t like or made me somewhat bad, I would instinctively try to shut them up and say something like, “Y-yeah, buuut…” or “I know, I know. Just lemme talk now.”

What makes this even more interesting is the fact that I seriously hate being interrupted myself. Indeed, if someone tries to correct or disrupt me before I finish speaking (which, as you remember, will often take a while), I often react irritated and insist that I be allowed to finish.

Similarly, I often have trouble identifying when I may contribute to a conversation with several people. In many cases, I desperately want to join in on a discussion that apparently isn’t allowing me any room to talk, which makes me feel irritated. I keep trying to find an opportunity to share my thoughts, typically when it seems that someone else is done talking, and unfortunately I can’t find the right moment. This is because either the other person continues to talk, or someone else jumps in to speak instead. Of course, I may eventually grow very impatient and just decide to interrupt someone else so that I may express what I wish to get out. I basically get tired of waiting my turn, so I sort of “take my turn.” In other cases, I may simply give up on trying to contribute at all to the conversation and either stay completely silent, or possibly walk away and leave the discussion altogether.

Does this all sound familiar to anyone?