I mixed it up this morning and instead read a poem to myself. Find a relaxed rhythm and practice your deep breathing as you recite it. I find it helps when I feel disconnected and wordless.
I, you, he, she, we
In the garden of mystic lovers,
these are not true distinctions.
– attributed to rumi, but maybe it was shams of tabriz after all
Speaking is not an easy thing if you are me. I’m starting off with a thousand thoughts and most of them are totally inappropriate or irrelevant.
Why do we need to introduce ourselves so frequently?
Do I need to pee?
Penises are weird.
I really like corned beef hash.
When Justice reads magazines while on the toilet, is he understanding what is in them?
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
Regardless of whether I am on my potent drug cocktail of legalized methamphetamine and anti-psychotics or not, I am white-knuckle holding on to my overactive mind like a climber on a mountain whose face is constantly changing under his fingers. It can sometimes feel like my neurons race like cars in The Italian Job (Caine not Marky Mark) and I’m just barely maintaining some semblance of ordered thought. I get worried that I won’t be heard or, worse, misunderstood.
Misunderstood is a terrifying place because I’ve noticed that we are a society of people silently waiting for a course correction. That’s easy here in the safety of this medium. Sad sentences that need pep can be rewritten. Nervous tangents can be reordered into brilliant strategic lines or deleted if too ephemeral. You don’t even know it but I usually have five versions of the same post going at once in Drafts. Some of them would probably seem like (even crazier) rantings or bizarre non-sequitur listicles. (Haha my mind stumbled into “listicle and testicle don’t necessarily rhyme but they sure make me laugh” and now I’m giggling.)
But face-to-face? Or in a group setting? Misunderstood goes from “oops” to “man, that was fucked up” so fast. People are happy to turn a thing that you said into who you are without so much as a disgruntled grimace or polite smile sans eyes. Add to that my issue with overanalysis and obsessing and I may as well stay home. So I do, more often than not. I lose friends and make my poor extrovert wife uncomfortable.
Sometimes I wonder if my introversion can be both a natural, genetic thing that was just part of the package AND an outgrowth of this thing I’ve got going on. Am I what people sometimes say about me (behind my back?) Is there something else that I should be or could be doing? Seven years ago, I got fed up and decided to learn more.
The first thing that I found out was that this has a name: anomic aphasia. Also known as dysnomia or nominal aphasia, it is typically linked to people who have had brain damage but increasingly (with no small amount of controversy) it is being seen as a regular part of the cornucopia of delightful experiences that go along with ADHD and Bipolar. Word finding difficulties are usually linked to increased stress with us neurodiverse folks, so there is a tendency to avoid situations where it could manifest. Countless folks talk about it with pain and regret as a result, recalling times where the experience would spiral them into depression.
So what do you do?
There’s lots of helpful clinical advisors ready to mix in with suggestions. I personally like Marla Cummins for her pretty straightforward analysis, but find stuff that works for you. I’ve found that some suggestions, like sharing your difficulties, require Jedi-like emotional control as most people are judgemental shitheads about it… so maybe think hard about how you’ll handle this kind of thing at, say, your job. Calling Fletcher or Clarence a flaming turdburglar for laughing when you can’t remember a synonym might be out of line if he’s your boss.
On the macro, I have had to work hard at not letting the judgment and general douchbaggery make me bitter while balancing my constant battle with downshifting moods. Unlike most people, my emotional reserves start out closer to “E” and I can find myself either wounded or dangerously numb after these bouts with wordlessness. Part of the problem is with other people, so I should totally avoid putting the blame at my own feet. But I have a deeper responsibility to maintain perspective.
Despite the whispers calling me a moron as I walk away, I need to be mindful that life isn’t one long, continuous day. The word salad that comprises my mind is sometimes delicious, full of flavor and meaning and avocado, which is good for you and filled with vitamins.
What rhymes with avocado?
Looks like rain.
Penises. Still weird.