Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thinking about how I'm thinking

I had a strange experience yesterday. I've had it before, but I've never taken time to analyze it. However, since my diagnosis and all the reading I've been doing on the subject, I've been stepping back and thinking about the way I think. One thing I've discovered is that I think visually, and that not everyone else does. My counselor says he's noticed a pause in my responses, because I'm having to take the time to process it. And indeed, I'm watching a movie in my head. I hadn't noticed that I take longer than anyone else to respond.

What happened yesterday was that my son and I were running errands all over town. I was high on frustration and low on blood sugar (they seem to go together), but I hadn't realized how that was affecting my thinking, other than it always makes it hard. My son started describing the location of the copy shop we needed to go to. I couldn't comprehend what he was saying. Because of the way I was feeling, my brain didn't make the pictures I usually get. So, when he was saying "the bank with the red roof..." he might as well have been speaking Turkish.

"Red" as a word is meaningless to me unless I visualize the color red. On top of that, he was giving a series of locations, and I've discovered I can't visualize the map well enough for it to make sense. I have to see it drawn or written down. Somehow, by the time someone gets to the end of a series of directions, I've lost track of some of the steps along the way, so it doesn't make sense. Maybe that's why math is so hard for me, too, and I can't begin to do calculations in my head, especially if someone is waiting on me to do it, as at a counter where I'm trying to figure out how much is 15% for a tip to write on the receipt. Add pressure and the game is off! Maybe my 'picture maker' in my brain can't get it all together.

I also tend to grab the least likely interpretation (a picture in my head) of what someone is saying, and after a second of confusion, maybe correct it. I've had awkward situations where I'm operating on the wrong interpretation and don't realize it until it becomes embarrassingly obvious. It seems I'm more of a literal thinker than I thought I was. Being aware of this helps, but in a normal conversation, with distractions all around and the need for quick thinking, I often stumble.

This tends to be isolating. At least I know now it's not because I'm not trying hard enough.

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