And Then Upon Finding The Words, Another Problem Presents Itself….

I’m not really certain what word should be used to convey the idea of ‘common sequence’ in conversation.  I hesitate to use the phrase ‘logical order’ because in analyzing what other people say, there doesn’t appear to be traditional logic applied.  But whatever the word is, the order continues to be a mystery to me.  To be honest, I do feel like I’m being repetitive in approaching the communication topic again.  But I haven’t yet found the perspective that will reveal a solution.

I use the phrase “common sequence” to indicate a common order of presenting information and, by extension, the fact that such matters when attempting to get another person’s mind to naturally follow the information you present to arrive at your desired conclusion.  Communication, after all, seems to be an effort to direct another person’s perceptions to imitate your own, if only to produce a point of departure.

Chronological events that lead to commonly held opinions are simple to accurately convey.  Just reiterate the events in order and let the normal brain make its typical observations.  But what if you have a point to make that differs from the common opinion?  In what order are points interjected to effectively derail the preprogrammed train of thought of another, especially if instead of just disputing information you are introducing even more information? The age-old tactics of logic clearly don’t work as otherwise there wouldn’t exist any on-going debates.

It becomes an even more difficult matter when the point(s) or information you want to offer don’t have a chronological element to dictate what order to present them in.  The order has to be some kind of common sequence that another can follow.  But what is it and how does it work?

The fact that this is a common struggle for me probably indicates that my real problem might be that what I want to communicate aren’t common ideas.  When I pay attention, I very often see things quite differently or more intricately.  Rarely is anything simple to me.  I can make boiling water complicated.  [Don’t believe me?  Well, once you get past the concept of mass, shape of pot and boiling points pertaining to how much difference x amount of salt (or something like milk) added can alter the time frame as well as calculating how fast that the material the pot is made from conducts heat, you still have the concepts of selecting a thermal increase strategy, defining the point at which the water is properly boiling and deciding how long the water must remain boiling for an optimal outcome which is a variable dependent upon what you are trying to cook or if you are attempting to sanitize something.  So, yeah… not simple at all.]

Back to the topic of the mysteries of conversation, one obvious complication is that I don’t seem to think in the same order as other people so I really don’t know what sequence is going to accurately convey my point to normal people.  I don’t know what order they need things to be in to make sense.  Obviously the conclusion occurs at the end, but I end up presenting all the various points in a manner that makes sense to me but not likely to anyone else.

And then, of course, things get even more complicated when I often rely on concepts from a completely different topic where a fundamental system (or underlying process), although obscure, is relevant but the actual details are entirely unrelated.  It’s like an informational analogy that gets misunderstood as an irrelevant tangent.  And yes, sometimes it really is just an interesting tangent.

Today, it has occurred to me that maybe normal people don’t have a grasp on things like fundamental systems.  Which would probably be due to the fact that most people don’t analyze the crap out of everything like I am prone to doing.

I’m not pleased at the thought that I may actually be speaking an entirely different language.  The words are the same, but their intricate meanings are far more important to what I am saying and most of the fundamental understandings I consider as givens seem to be foreign concepts to most people.  Perhaps its a language all of my own.  But what use is that?

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Dissecting Anxiety

Anxiety is one of those things I aim not to think about, let alone talk about, lest it multiply.  Because having anxiety is one of those things that makes me worry its an indication of something potentially wrong with me (like an anxiety disorder).  So, yeah, I guess that might be anxiety about anxiety.

Its also one of the main reasons why various people have told me to grow up over the years.  (The other main reasons are when I shut down, refuse to do something because I actually can’t but for reasons no one is going to understand, and sometimes when I miscommunicate).

An example: the last time my mom told me to grow up was about 7 weeks before she died.  I had injured my foot (it was probably broken since it still pops right in the center) and I was overreacting to the thought that it might turn cancerous because a long time ago I read somewhere that a famous musician had once died from cancer that started from a toe injury.  Yes, that is a really unrealistic worry and I don’t even know if it was a true fact.  But that is the nature of anxiety.  It’s ridiculous, among other things.

Part of how I try to deal with anxiety now is by trying to understand my experience of it.  I seem to experience two different forms. One seems to be a byproduct of my overly creative and analytical brain.  It is my nature to run “what if” scenarios in my mind regarding anything and everything.  Whether its simple mathematics or if I have to drive in the rain on a road that I know has poor drainage, I will run simulations in my mind for every possible outcome I can think of.  Both the good and the bad.  But not only do I run simulations, I also plan my reactions in case any of them were to occur.

That’s where anxiety takes root.  When I can’t come up with a plan where my actions can resolve an issue into an optimal outcome, I can get stuck.

I’ve mentioned before that anxiety, to me, feels like an irritating friction.  Like when someone files their fingernails nearby.  Though, I might be the only person who can’t stand that.  It might be the equivalent to when people say they can’t stand the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.  I find the chalkboard, while annoying, is far more tolerable.

So, for me, its encountering a theoretical problem I can’t figure out how to solve which also has an element of potential disaster to it (i.e. hydroplaning).

For a brain that functions to solve problems, it becomes overwhelmingly grating when one is unsolvable.  Not to mention that the element of fear it  is intertwined with actually prevents me from being able to find solutions.

The other form of anxiety I experience is low grade and often related to social situations I find stressful such as going to overwhelming places, having to interact or having to do something that historically I usually fail at.

Most often I have low grade anxiety pertaining to how what I said or wrote will be interpreted.   For example, I had anxiety about that last post I wrote revealing how I think.  I worried what it could mean or even just be interpreted to indicate.  These are very small things, but often the result is I make multiple edits to prevent such conclusions being drawn or I get stuck in a cycle of clarifications, and clarifying clarifications, and end up being annoying. I think this sort of anxiety is related to the other due to an element of not having a reliable solution to produce an optimal outcome. 

I’ve often been able to temporarily shut out anxiety by engaging in an activity that requires both creativity and logic.  Perhaps it works because I take those parts of my brain back and apply them elsewhere.  But that’s only a very short term solution.

Attempting to reason that the scenario is improbable does nothing to remedy the anxiety.  My brain isn’t interested in realistic, it demands predictability and security.  Only solving the problem (which by the time anxiety takes hold isn’t likely) or resorting to apathy, reinforced by pointing out that the situation doesn’t even exist, will work.  Sometimes, however, it can take a good while to reach an effective degree of apathy even though its concerning things that will likely never occur.

I’m talking about this because I never have a day without wrestling with anxiety.

Anxiety is one of those things that has a bit of a stigma to it, although I doubt anyone makes it all the way through life without experiencing some degree of it eventually.  The worst part, I think, is after the fact when I am no longer affected by whatever I was anxious about and I can fully see how ridiculous it was to even worry.

 

 

 

The Planet-Satellites Experience of Being Me

In my last post, the third analogy I dreamed up to explain how my brain + the environment influenced my responses was so interesting that I want to further develop the idea.

I call it: The Planet-Satellites Experience of Being Me.  And I explained it as:

“envisioning myself as a planet with a vast array of thoughts, perceptions and individual words orbiting myself (in fairly slow motion) and a giant net I could use to catch them.  Frequently, something will lose its orbit and crash into me.”

I like this idea for two reasons:

  1. It accurately conveys my experience and difficulty in obtaining the right words to use in spontaneous conversation.
  2. The constant motion of all the things in orbit and the occasional things that crash into me (perceptions of bright lights or loud noises, recalling related memories or not particularly helpful data, etc.) all do provide a tangle of hurdles that must be navigated constantly.

Those are things that other people can’t see but greatly affect how I act and respond, and sometimes with a long delay.

What I don’t like about the analogy is that it gives the impression of absolute chaos.  However, what is in orbit is dependent on what the topic is and where I want the conversation to go, so there really is some sort of general order.  If a different topic is introduced, then objects and words related to that one joins the others in orbit.  This makes finding correlations easy because you only have to notice things that appear twice thus giving a sense of “recent familiarity”.

The lack of organization is probably due to my chronic failure to rank information by value or according to some other bias.  Though, lack of organization at this level might also be my true source of creativity.

There is an added aspect that once a word, image or idea is “caught”, then it can be further examined to determine if it really is the best choice to use.

So the things in orbit are like snippets of encyclopedia and dictionary entries, 3D objects that can be turned around and even taken apart, and short movies. Their details can be seen when the object is brought close enough. At this level, the data is strictly organized.

The sense of “recent familiarity” also makes finding patterns simple.  That, and the ability to manipulate objects and concepts, and disassemble them, makes creating alternative systems and designs quite fun.

The greatest disadvantage, aside from the various crashes, is that everything has to be organized in the moment.  I guess its like cooking everything from scratch using a pantry that is filled with as many ingredients as there are words and organized by most notable combinations.

Notable, but not necessarily common, combinations such as chocolate and bacon or chili and peanut butter…

Edit: after writing this I realize why I like to analyze and organize things so much. They’re more than a preference, they’re a requirement.

Taming the Mind: The Art I Never Mastered

Yesterday evening I was trying to think of what I should write about next.  I had reached a point of ‘Now What?’.  Given my circumstances, I wondered what I could do to make life more doable?  Is it possible to explain to people what odd things are problematic for you without any supporting proof or validation?  Would that be considered a matter of ‘disclosure of nothing’? (I know, that’s an odd thought.)

While I can’t claim I didn’t have any ideas, I can say I couldn’t make any real decisions.  It always interests me how different events or courses of action can lead to the same result.  So this morning, I decided I wanted to illustrate how too many ideas can produce nothing tangible (except an evening of personal entertainment).  Here is a recap of last night’s Evening of Thought:

I began with looking for an analogy to descriptively explain how my brain + the environment influences my often unusual reactions and responses to things.  I entertained various images including: 1) storms with lightning representing eureka moments amid a turmoil of ideas, 2) ocean waves full of the debris of thoughts that ever pummel and retreat, and 3) envisioning myself as a planet with a vast array of thoughts, perceptions and individual words orbiting myself (in fairly slow motion) and a giant net I could use to catch them.  Frequently, something would lose its orbit and crash into me.

Due to the idea of choosing which words to catch and recently wondering if using the word ‘quantify’ was accurate for what I’d been trying to say, I got slightly distracted with a seemingly unrelated pondering of trying to decide if the word “qualifying” as used in the context of games and competitions (as in, to qualify for the next round) is inaccurate and if the right word should actually be something from the root word “quantity” instead.  Because, in most situations its a matter of comparing an accumulation, or quantity, of points.

Following that tangent, I attempted to regroup and be productive and, for no particular reason, I started writing the following list of my more odd quirks.

1) I’ve never been a furniture sitter.  I usually sit on whatever my bed happens to be.  And I’ll reluctantly sit sort of properly at a table if I must.  But other than that, if I am around any person I prefer to remain standing and walk to various destinations in a room while thinking what to say.  (If I’m not speaking or being spoken to, I just wander off.  Sometimes I get bored and wander off anyway.)  For some reason, standing and walking about makes people nervous and they usually end up insisting that I sit down.  So, I do… on the floor.  Because I’ve always sat on the floor, its just what I do.


2) I cannot stand cold water or any cold liquid actually.  I drink everything at room temperature.  And I am not able to hose off my feet or hands outside with cold water from a garden hose, no matter how normal people may insist it is to do so.


3) When driving on an empty country road, I slam on the car brakes to avoid hitting butterflies.  Obviously, that isn’t an option if there are other cars around.


4) I can only tie my shoes using two loops.  I couldn’t actually do that until I was out of high school (I used to just tie the laces into a knot and cut off the excess strings.)  I’ve never been able to tie using just one loop.  I still can’t.


5) When in a busy environment, I function in a nearly brainless mode.  You know that ‘Oh, wow’ reaction when people see a huge Christmas lights display light up?  That’s how the grocery store parking lot and every other public place affects me.  It’s near impossible to think, focus or thoughtfully respond in those environments.






 

The list didn’t get far before I started imagining what a Complete Guide to Myself book might look like.  It’s cover and page layouts resembled an operator’s manual for a complex, high tech device (such as a robot or extreme smart car).  I decided on the title: “The Complete Guide to Human #A5073”.  And I worried for a while that the model number was too short and should be longer in order to represent something (what, I don’t know). I also fretted over including a letter in the number.  But then I realized that if I could choose any name in the world for myself, I like that one best.

The introductory paragraph began: “Congratulations on acquiring your new friend/coworker/relative, Human #A5073!  When fully assembled with all apps installed, this particular model is optimal for organizing objects, some household repairs, occasional innovation and generating creative ideas…”  But, of course, I started to worry that comparing myself to a robot could be offensive (though I’m not quite sure if I can actually offend myself) so I decided the introductory paragraph will have to be later edited.

[Note: I should clarify that I’m not saying I nor anyone else is actually comparable to a robot.  The focus here is on the concept of a guidebook and, well, using an example of an operator’s manual for a toaster oven doesn’t make sense.]

I spent the rest of the evening (imagining) thumbing through the imaginary book and inspecting the various charts and oddly colored illustrations explaining sensory complications due to improperly calibrated sensors and uneven motor skills specifically designed to excel at certain tasks but not others.  The rest of the book featured tips, recommended settings (literally) and instructions including those for optimization.

And then I finally fell asleep.

 

I awoke this morning to the half list of quirks I had written down (and noted above) which is the only thing to show for hours and hours (approximately eight hours, actually) of thinking last night.

After having written down and read all this, I notice that none of my thinking was what I think would be expected from me.  There aren’t any perspectives or indications of my actual age or that I’m female or of my education or notable life events.  Its entirely ambiguous and existing in some sort of limbo, but yet its not.  I wonder how common or uncommon that is?

 

 

 

 

 

Invisible

I am the voice of an invisible female. I am, one of many, whom the system fails. Though perhaps it fails each of us for different reasons.

For me, my own ‘traits’ impede me from even getting on a path to getting a diagnosis.  From earning a wage that could pay for it (or housing, for that matter). From having the ability to navigate the social hoops such as appointment setting and communicating information.  From being able to manage through mysteriously ordered steps, each of which requires a worldly stamina, or endurance skill, I don’t have.  The system is structured so that only fairly functional people can access it. It’s further complicated by the fact that when I need it most, my voice goes ‘invisible’.

Despite my best intentions, my residence remains in my head. Its one of my core oddities. My thinking tumbles me past wondrous views. Ponderings capture my imagination, I get caught up entertaining an idea and, the next thing I know, the day has passed and I have accomplished nothing other than being a little further from normal. 

Not only am I invisible, but so are my differences . None of which are apparent by just looking at me. I look normal and therefore am expected to be normal. I am expected to be well able to function like everyone else. To the world, the only apparent reason I don’t is blatant refusal.

I didn’t think I had a mask. But I do. It’s not a typical one that would enable me to fit into the world and function socially. My mask is different because it only hides what I lack so others don’t know the depth of what makes me different and fail to function.

My mask is designed to help people keep their assumptions of me for as long as possible. Rather than adding parts or suggestions to my image, or assisting in living up to expectations, it just hides the bigger proofs of great differences.

Unfortunately, my mask also helps perpetuate my invisibility. Well, that and the fact that I am who I am.

 

 

 

Self-knowledge and Communication Problems (The Idea of a General Interaction Profile)

This morning, in a moment of vague inspiration, I created for myself the following chart:


processing

It is a brief qualitative/quantitative look at my strengths and weaknesses in how I respond to certain intellectual stimulus.

I then spent about 40 minutes deciding how best to interpret and/or represent the data.  The result is this graphic:

interpretationJust in case it isn’t obvious, T stands for thought, S stands for sight, and H stands for hearing In both interpretations, input data is on the left and output data is on the right.  Interpretation 1 gives a vertical hierarchal view.  Interpretation 2 gives a horizontal hierarchal view.

I have since, spent the last eleven hours or so attempting to find the perfect words to talk about the data.  (To be honest, I am very curious what results other people would get and how insightful or helpful it may be.)

But the first problem I’ve run into (which is quite ironic) is that I’m not entirely certain what term(s) would concisely describe exactly what I’m analyzing.  It’s more than cognitive function.  It’s more than communication prompts, styles and failures.  And it considers common communication forms as represented by their related senses (potentially giving insight into the role of sensory processing).  It also provides insight in the difference (lag) between physical response time and verbal response time.

The closest I can come up with so far is a General Interaction Profile.  Because it outlines to what general degree types of information prompt me to think, as well as how productive each type is for me as determined by to what extent I am able to respond thoughtfully.

There are a few concepts that should be mentioned.

First, I am considering reading as pertaining to sight because that’s how my brain processes it but that may not always be the case for others.  So the concept of verbal is intentionally divided between spoken/hearing and written/sight.

Second, for both interpretations I determine rank by overall productivity rather than any kind of time-efficiency.

Third, as for the verbal aspect of hearing, I’m only considering exchange of information rather than instructions since the latter doesn’t require processing or response until the information is to be applied.

And, of course, my descriptive ratings leave potential for further analyzing at a later date.

 

So What Does It All Mean?

My results have been particularly insightful to me.  The suggestion that my strongest input prompt  (thought) is also my weakest prompt for producing productive response (i.e. share information or epiphanies) seems to explain why I’m not terribly talkative.

The suggestion that the prompt I’m most apt to respond to (hearing) is also the one that I’m least able to process and respond quickly to, also explains my history of communication difficulties.

It seems that sight would be the best prompt for me, but it isn’t, due to my limited registering of perceptions (i.e. face blindness, failure to note obvious details, etc.).

Clearly, my results are symmetrical and seem to indicate that my strengths and weaknesses are misaligned.

I have no way of knowing if that is true or not.  I’m assuming that parallel results (such as H S T / H S T) would be preferential.

So, I don’t really know what it means in the big scope of things.  But I can see what it means to me, even if I can’t name it yet…

Perhaps it should be called an Intellectual Stimulus Profile?

 

Edit:  The concepts discussed above are only theoretical and are merely a product of my overactive mind today and its relentless efforts to find viable solutions.  They obviously aren’t science based as I don’t even know what the proper terms should be.  But they are useful for things such as inspiring self awareness.

This post also beautifully presents how my brain works.  Tackling things from the inside out and not in a verbal or linear fashion.  (The words in the graphics are actually representative of images that I can’t really convey otherwise.) And yes, it is yet another topic I’ve gotten temporarily stuck on.

Pondering Senses

(Yes, I am still thinking about sensory processing.  But its an important topic.)

The other day I opened a newly purchased bale of timothy hay and as soon as I touched a flake I knew it was alfalfa.  It felt like alfalfa.  Then I noticed it had that sort of peppery smell, like alfalfa.  But even with looking close I couldn’t see that it actually was alfalfa despite that alfalfa usually has a distinct appearance.  It looked like timothy to both myself and others who were standing nearby.  (I know because I actually asked.)

It turned out it, that when held under a brighter light, it could be seen that the timothy actually had alfalfa mixed in with it.

I find this interesting, and not just because I seem to be able to identify a species of dried grass by touch, but because my sense of sight was of absolutely no use at all.

It reminded me of how I often recognize people by their voice and smell and where I expect to find them rather than their appearance.  I do this even though I know I have good vision (I know this because I’m able to make hyper-realistic drawings and, not to mention, I’ve never had a problem with vision tests). I’ve recently learned that it’s called face blindness and it isn’t exactly unheard of.  But I find it baffling and wonder if it’s possibly related to my inability to recall most details unless I make a point to consciously observe each individual thing.  Otherwise, what details I’m likely to recall, if I remember much at all, are usually far from what most people would.

It is also interesting to note that during the summer I once had only a second or two to observe a broken part of something. Then a couple hours later, in order to find out the name of the broken part, I drew the entire assembly three dimensionally for someone only to realize I had drawn the entire thing accurately but upside down.  That was a little odd.

So now I’m pondering why?  It seems like sight would be one of the most important senses to be able to navigate the world.  To what extent do I actually rely on it?  To what extent does anyone?

I wonder if it has to anything to do with being oversensitive to light in my youth.  Perhaps my brain has learned to intentionally limit the amount of visual information it receives.

Or maybe its due to visual thinking.  I have read that both visualizing and vision processing occur in the same part of the brain.

I understand that our perception of the world is the sum of all our senses.  But I’ve always interpreted that as meaning what we hear of the world we do so with our sense of hearing and what we see the world we do so with our sense of sight, etc.  But can perception of what is seen be partially constructed with the sense of hearing or smell or touch?