Welcome to the rabbit hole, this is what it is like inside of my head 75%of my waking life. Life and love with AD/HD.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I am and who you are.
By that, I mean the meat underneath — below our surface opinions, our mundane daily moments that make up life, our personal experiences.
During this navel-gazing, I’ve been thinking, in constant ongoing conversation with myself (which makes simultaneous conversation with others feel chaotic. I feel chaotic and loud in my head often), about how people experience life. How they process personal experiences, learn/acquire knowledge, how we decide to react/feel how we do. How do people remember their life. At the core of this thinking is wondering what AD/HD means in relation to those things and me. If how we experience and thus live life is in our cells and chemistry, is it possible to change it? Thinking about AD/HD, depression, anxiety, and memory — and how they have effected and affected my story.
Today I was mainly thinking about memory and how it has effected/affected my story. I’ve heard it said that we are our experiences — but is that true? Are we how we biologically experience our experiences? Is this just the rabbit hole and I shouldn’t care and I’m overthinking? There is no why, just do?
Please forgive me if much of what I write has been much researched or is ridiculously obvious to you, that’s sort of the whole point of what I’m writing; I think how we process experiences, stories, lessons, and facts is why I have to write out my thoughts just to have those, perhaps obvious to others, facts take root in my brain and become truth.
If I am who I am because of what I have learned, seen, felt, or experienced in my life — then the way in which I become me is dependent on how I have processed, or absorbed , my life.
I remember visually. This seems a weak description, though. I remember in memory. That is too vague. I remember in 3D; with sense/feeling, instinct, and narrative. I experience the things I remember. Even the things I haven’t experienced physically. I remember things as a story. I do not experience data, facts, information as stories if they are not presented so to me. I have to do what I am doing here — I have to turn my curiousity/questions into a narrative (were people to comment and answer my questions) so that I will remember the details that I learn. I need context.
There is probably a word for this sort of processing. Maybe there has been research, even — although that research would be a lot more complex than my fumbling thoughts. Maybe it’s actually really simple and they haven’t looked into it further than calling it ‘visual learners’. Were there something more complicated to it, the research would have been done by people who experience the world and life differently than I do. Or perhaps people who do experience the world as I do, but have learned tricks to change the way that experience becomes memory. However, if I were read any of that research, I would not remember any of the details 15 minutes later.
This means I am very curious about our minds and how they work, but I never look into it more. What is the point, if I won’t remember it. This is why I don’t read studies, research, or the articles about the studies and research, etc. And so I often feel woefully uninformed, until I learn things through social media or conversation. Sometimes, through social media, I will read an article about the research and it would at least impart a vague ‘gist’ of the research. Enough so that I would remember the outline.
I like to have discussions/conversations/arguments with people, but I don’t know how to have them well if anyone (and most people do) wants the source behind the beliefs/knowledge I am arguing. I argue in metaphor, anecdote, the ‘gist’ of research/articles I have read. When emotional, I admit to arguing in hyperbole.
I remember language because it is a part of stories. I read, and thus I see the spelling of words and the meaning of words in the context of many stories and I don’t forget those word definitions or spellings (well, the spellings are wrong more often now than when I was in my 20’s). Their inherent wordness. I also remember language because it is labels my life— it labels my actions, the things I eat, the things I feel. Words are just a part of being for me.
I vividly remember; the plots of stories I have seen (movies) even from childhood, everything about a book/story I have read (if it interested me) going back to childhood, and many of the stories I have heard from others. I sometimes forget whether I experienced those stories or read/saw/heard them. I’m pretty sure I have co-opted other people’s stories , completely unconsciously.
I also remember dreams and photos with just as much vividness, going back to childhood as well. I remember the story, the feelings, the general sense of the dream or look of the photo. All of it.
Remembering and reading are, for me, extremely personal. I remember what you tell me if it is a story; a story about me, a story about you, a story about people. I will remember it later it like I remember my own experiences; with feeling, instinct, narrative — but the details might be fuzzy if there were a lot of facts.
I find that I can remember descriptions quite well, the moment I have visualized the description — it is memory. I can also remember photographs this way. I translate photos into description and then into memory. My memory is strongest for my own experiences, written stories, or descriptions with corresponding photographs. Spoken stories and Film stories are not as strong, because somebody else is providing the visual for me. Is this how the idea of theoretical constructs work? All I know is that if my brain can’t turn it into a story, it dumps it.
As an aside; I just had to get up to go to the bathroom and I felt panicked the whole time. I knew I could possibly forget this post. I don’t mean forget that it exists or even what I was saying, I mean the heart of it. I could possibly leave for 3 minutes, come back, read what I’d written so far — and be completely unable to remember the heart of it. I still feel enough of the fog of it that I can pull it back around me.
This way that I remember and learn things is problematic. Problematic, that is, unless I can find ways to live in which this way of doing things is a strength. A job in which I utilize this skill, rather than a job where I am trying to shove my square self into the job’s round shape. I find it can be problematic as a partner, daughter, mom, and friend as well.
How do you remember and learn? I mean you the reader, not the general you. What does it look like inside your head? Do you remember a visual, such as the page of a textbook/article you once read? Do you remember in words and do you SEE those words? Or do you see the picture painted by those words?
Is the way you remember and learn the same as your ‘thinking self’? I speak and write words non-visually. I do not see words in my head, I do not read words and then see them as letters in my head before the story fleshes out, words just ARE. My thinking self is the self that is always aware and awake and observing (and making lots of comments). Language falls under that umbrella of self. All else I remember in a way that makes it easy for me to forget if I heard, read, or experienced the memory/knowledge in question.
Am I doomed to highlighting facts in books? Copy/pasting paragraphs that resonate with me into Evernote or some other digital file? Halting conversations until I can reference a document and then continue to do so during the rest of the conversation? Carrying notebooks with listed details to flesh out the whole so I can pull the visual memory of the page to the fore? Can I change the way I remember and learn?
So much of me comes from knowledge I have absorbed — my values, politics, beliefs, ethics, sense of self, etc; but when in a conversation about those things, I get flustered— I lose it. I can only fumble along with anecdotes, vague references to things I read, a few metaphors, and so on. I have a good vocabulary, sense of history, understanding of physics and how people work; because I read. A Lot. I have a certain sort of fuzzy intelligence. Emotional intelligence? Instinctual smarts? It is not book-smart, with details and data and results. It is memory smart.
So, I guess I want to know what memory is. How memory works. How the way it works ends up defining us. In writing all of this out, I have turned this into a story and have the potential to actually remember what I learn because I have added it to a narrative.
I get very frustrated when I try to tell somebody about something that has resonated with me — say an article about AD/HD — and when they ask me for details, I become flustered as I search my brain for actual details, facts, and statistics. All I know from that article is what I have absorbed as part of my story, and at that point it just feels like ‘knowing’. I absorb end results.
What is the nature of awareness vs. knowing vs. acting — and are they tied into this at all.
I think this is what they call ‘hyperfocus’. In a couple of hours it will be something completely different but also regarding how I work or how kids work or how my husband works.
It’s like a swarm of bees in my head — clarity is a peaceful sounding goal.
This all leads into the other thing that has been affecting/effecting my entire life — depression. I will save that segue for another time.