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Forums » Smalltalk » My Brain Lies (An experience with anxiety)

Hey there! I message I recently received got me thinking about how my (relatively mild) anxiety makes me perceive things, specifically in how I've gotten better at recognizing when my brain is trying to lie to me. Take this as you will: a statement that you're not alone (I know a lot of out members have various mental illnesses and neurodivergences), maybe some insight if it's not something you experience, whatever. Just keep in mind that what I share here is my personal experience and that I am not a trained mental health professional.


So real quick, to clarify the terms around how I experience things. I already mentioned anxiety, but I actually have 4 mental health diagnoses. I describe my anxiety as "mild" because compared to others I know, it's pretty inconsequential. It mostly makes me shy and extra nervous in new situations and, well, makes my brain lie to me, but I am still able to function in daily life pretty well most of the time. I was also diagnosed with Major Depression, though "major" is more about how long it has lasted and certain key symptoms than how bad it is; once again, I consider it to be mild, and it's been becoming clear that it was at least partly caused by hypothyroidism that I was only discovered to have since my general baseline has improved since I've been on thyroid meds. (Srsly, get your thyroid and potassium checked, those things can mess you up mentally and physically.) The first thing I was actually diagnosed with was ADD, now referred to as ADHD (inattentive type) (which I think is dumb, but that's beside the point), and I'm still working on getting over the stigma of "just not trying hard enough" with that one. Finally, I was recently diagnosed with a super vague "Mathmatics processing disorder" that was just the best way they could say I'm abnormally slow at processing numbers and equations. I am also being considered for Borderline personality disorder, but it's looking like that mess might actually be something common in those with ADHD: RSD or "Rejection Sensitive Disphoria."

I mention all of these things because they do affect each other and are all pieces. What I describe in this post I believe to be mostly a mix of anxiety and RSD, encouraged by the depression.

I mentioned that me thinking about this presently was brought on by a message I received. That message was actually an expression of appreciation from a mod for reporting things. It is not the first message of its kind that I've gotten, and I've gotten similar ones from Kim for reporting bugs or potential bugs.

First: I immensely appreciate those thank-yous. They are reminders that what I am doing is not only okay, but helpful, because one of my most obsessive thoughts is that I am annoying. I worry so much about being annoying that often, the cooler I think a person is, the more I will go out of my way to not seem like a creep who's too excited to talk or hang out with them. When it comes to reporting things, I have had to consciously train myself with the ideas that:
  • If I found a problem, someone else will find it too, and who knows how many have already shrugged this off?
  • This problem might be easy for me to circumvent, but there is bound to be someone unable to do that.
  • Kim and the mods have been very clear over and over that reporting things is good, and the worst I've gotten back is a friendly "That's actually okay." (Well, actually, the worst was "Is it really that easy to miss x?" and even that was made clear to be an earnest question, without attitude, because I was one of many people missing the same thing.)

But here's the flip side: I also had to train myself to accept those thank-yous as honest. Even now, when I get one, my brain will try launching into this, "They're just thanking you to make you feel better, they wouldn't feel the need to say anything if they thought you were a reasonable person who doesn't have to be coddled. (Or they're just required to say that regardless how they feel.) Maybe they're only even thanking you as a way to bring your attention to how much you send stuff in, because it's really too much, and they have better things to do with their time."

No, seriously, that's the kind of logic my brain tries jumping to all the time, for pretty much everything. It's easy to point out that it wouldn't make sense, for example, for someone to use a thank-you to try to discourage something, but that's part of the issue: I know that I sometimes miss and misinterpret social cues. In particular, I have trouble knowing when to shut up or what topics shouldn't be discussed. (But again, I know people who have more trouble with those things than me, and I have occasionally wondered how they missed something that I thought was obvious; plus, when I'm actually paying attention, I tend to err to the side of keeping quiet and out of the way.) It's one of the reasons for my anxiety, that idea that social cues are some foreign language that doesn't really follow logic, but that most people seem to just know.

As I said, I have been getting better at recognizing when my brain is lying to me. That doesn't mean the thoughts go away, but it does make them much easier to manage. I also do my best to believe that people mean what they say, and assure myself that if it is otherwise, I am not the one at fault. Part of it has been trying to unlearn a lot of nasty things culture (and bad life experiences) teaches. From what I have observed, these things have come easier to me than to many others, but if it's something you struggle with, I do believe that you can get there, too. If it's not something you've experienced, then I hope you leave this with a little more understanding why we get so stuck on negativity sometimes. This is only a fragment of the experience, of course, and it varies from person to person.

Thiiiis got longer than intended, and I'm much too lazy to bother trimming it down at this point. ^^;

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I really did enjoy reading this!

I know I personally deal with a lot of my own issues, one of that has ever been diagnosed to me which is ADHD but I can relate to some feelings.

I don't know if many suffer with this but I think its more along the lines of a type of Seasonal or Situational depression. Which doesn't really sound that bad but let me put it into perspective. Normally I see myself as a decently happy person, I don't really get upset that easily but I have a bad habit of bottling things up, more so stress and emotional problems. So when I go too far and bottle it all up for so long, I don't pop my top like some do. I get extremely depressed, to a point that very little makes me happy anymore. More recently, my worse recent battle has caused me to lack the desire to paint or draw and working as much as I do doesnt help either but I am a super creative person. I've made most of the artwork for my characters and it makes me sad that I don't wanna make more because I go right back to thinking how I use to do it and then is spirals downward form there. I still struggle to manage form time to time, mostly because I am still young and have very few things that are certain in my life so everything is scary.

I can also relate with the worry of being annoying, I use to get called it a lot by friends in middle school and early high school because I was too clingy. So now making new friends is hard. Like, with my coworkers right now, I get along with them all great and sometimes get invited to go out to eat with them after a late shift. Problem is that I feel like if I start talking, I won't stop to explain something in way too much detail and annoy them. I know one of my coworkers hates that I over explain things but I've worked with him a lot more recently so its helping me learn to condense what I am trying to convey. Its not linked to any mental health issues, its more so linked to my family because of my ADHD, I was my stepmothers escape goat. Blame things on me so I had to over explained to prove my innocence and more often than not, no one wanted to listen to me. Though that's one thing I am slowly starting to learn how to deal with better and I am sure over time I will get better at wording things in a way that keeps it short but understandable in my mind.

I just wanted to share that information to help also make anyone who deals with these things know they aren't alone. There is SO MUCH more I could say but I am sure that is more than enough and I do hope things get better for you.
Reading this has, in a way, lifted a lot of pressures I have placed on myself. At least, momentarily. All in all, it is something I am thankful to have read and seen that there are others who relate with issues that I have.

I just want to add a context warning; this involves talking about anorexia, suicidal thoughts, depression, anger, and insomnia.

I was diagnosed with ADHD back at the early ages of my life. I was medicated for this until I turned 15. The medications available at the time were not working for me and exacerbated my symptoms. I developed anorexia, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and had a complete lack of personality. I am not saying, and never will say, that medications don't work. They WORK, but the ones I was taking were not right for me. I ended up self-disciplining myself when it came to time management or getting tasks done so that I could spend more time doing other tasks that I liked. I spent time disciplining myself to sleep or stay calmer when I might have felt over-stimulated or hyper. My anxiety is still a big struggle.

I ran into a lot of issues with people making jokes that ADHD meant you got distracted by squirrels, pretty colours, or just couldn't focus on anything. It got turned socially into this cutesy quirk and it has always bothered me a bit when I see jokes online about it, because that's just not what it is. It has never been human beings being as excited and distractible as a dog.

When I came into this topic to see people talking seriously about ADHD it made me feel good, because I often feel nervous about mentioning my diagnoses with it. I have friends who are professionally diagnosed with ADD and use it as a crutch to not go to work on time, to not do anything on time, or to shirk themselves out of responsibilities because "well, I have ADD! My ADD made me do it!" If it wasn't someone using ADD or ADHD as their crutch for not being responsible for themselves, it was the aforementioned cutesy quirk that everyone wanted to have. At least, in the environments I was growing up in.

My family had a hard time dealing with it due to the fact I was pointed out as the "problem child" because I would have episodes of jitters and hyperactivity that made me become far more impulsive with my actions and words. If something did happen that was bad, I would have to explain my innocence in the situation. More often than not I still do this. I become extremely defensive and hyperfocused on making sure that I proclaim every aspect of my innocence or perspective on a situation to make sure that I am not misunderstood or taken in the wrong way. If at all I feel that I am in trouble, I will talk until the sun comes up about what I feel I am in trouble for because I can't deal with the fact that I am potentially in trouble for something I didn't mean.

I can relate SO much to having to explain myself and every possible thing I am doing.

I also have to battle with depression, season depression is definitely a massive issue, and it can drain me of wanting to move, eat, be around people, or get anything done. It zaps out all of my energy and I become a deflated zombie just doing only what is absolutely necessary to be physically alive.

I can also relate to feeling as though you annoy people, worry that you're burdening someone, or worry that you're not liked as much as you want to be liked by someone. Making friends becomes taxing enough that I have avoided it to a great degree. I am, and though not proud, an anti-social pessimist. I do try my hardest to see positive things, be optimistic, or dig for the silver lining in most things. I do try, but I chalk things up to being realistic as well.

What I've done for myself is focused on finding my moral grounds, standing up for myself, and defenestrating any thoughts that tell me something negative about myself that just aren't true.

I am smart, I am creative, I am a good person, I am worth loving, and I AM loved by myself and others.

A lesson I have taken from my late father-in-law and my husband is to tell your negative thoughts that you do not have any vacancy for them. There just isn't room in your brain or your life for them to be there because the positive thoughts are there first. Those thoughts pay rent, because those thoughts are the ones that help get you through the real problems and strive for your own greatness. It does take a lot of work to help yourself forget that those negative thoughts and lies about yourself aren't actually true. It is HARD work. They are heavy, so lifting them up and getting them out the window is a struggle. Sometimes it does take a second pair of hands to do the lifting, but we have to remember that most of the work is done on our own.

I have found a great support system to help me through the times when my own mind can't do the whole battle on its own and sometimes I have allowed myself to lose for a little while and cry. I will let my bad days happen and cry them out at the end of the day. Sleep, gather myself up when I wake, and continue walking forward with my own person progress.

I also wanted to share this to show that people with ADHD that causes a myriad symptoms are definitely not alone. We come from all walks of life and have still experienced similar battles and wars with our own minds. You're not alone and you can definitely make progress and take more ground in the battle. I hope that my relating is helpful and I hope that I did not ramble on too much.
This is a great post.

I can totally relate. I definitely get that seeming-overly-excited-to-talk-to-people issue. And I definitely get the feeling like social cues are like a foreign language that other people just naturally "know." Aaaaaand...I get the thinking there's a problem when there's not. It can be very stressful, thinking that you're annoying someone, and then later you find out that all that stress and insecurity was unnecessary, because in fact they weren't annoyed at all. It is all so confusing sometimes. And then there's the issue of not knowing when to stop talking about a topic. I'm right there with ya, girl. My fixations are politics, religion... and anything science related. Once I get on one of those topics, it's very hard to get me off of them, even when social cues are blaring everywhere that say "let someone else talk," or "these people are tired of hearing about this particular topic." And then, there's the awkwardness created when I try to apologise or ask probing questions just to find out if I'm annoying someone. Which then annoys them (or at least I think it does). When, really, it was okay in the first place. Talk about your brain playing tricks on you. Anyway, yes I think a lot of us experience some of the same things, and have things in common, and it's nice to know that. And yes, sometimes we have to realise that anxiety is distorting our view of the world and give people the benefit of the doubt that they're being honest when they tell us that everything is ok. How Kim and others created this safe atmosphere with so many people that are kind and willing to be open and honest with one another, I'll never know. It's really quite an amazing thing. <3

It's the artistic mind...maybe that's why many of us have some "similar differences."
Zelphyr Topic Starter

I'm glad that this has been helpful! I definitely see some further familiar things in what others have posted here.

On the note of ADHD, I recently came across a video that attempts to show what it's like. I don't find it to be a perfect match for me. but I think it did pretty well for its simplicity and short length. The repeating stood out in particular to me, and... honestly, it still is surprising me that that apparently isn't something that everyone experiences. I am curious what others think of it, whether you also have ADHD or not.

A warning if you are going to watch the video: it is shot in first-person and features people being highly critical of "you" for not paying attention the way they want "you" to.

The video: A Day in the Life with ADHD

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