I keep saying things without meaning to!
October 13, 2012 9:44 AM   Subscribe

What is wrong with me? YANMD but freaking out.

Basically this has been happening for a little while (I've only noticed recently.) and it's really giving me major anxiety. I know you're not my doctor/therapist/etc (I don't have one at the moment, but working towards insurance as soon as possible. I'm not in the US.) but looking for some advice.

Whenever I listen to music with headphones on (meaning I can't hear myself speak and, for the most part, anything but the music itself) I tend to hum under my breath. This has always happened and never been much of an issue. However, lately, I've noticed that I will actually hum/whisper out words when I type. Say, if I type 'yup, nice to see you too' (random example), I might mutter the whole sentence, or just the 'nice' or something. My partner has told me he noticed it and friends have as well. (I.e I just wrote "And okay" to someone in an IM conversation and found myself repeating those words out loud/under my breath, without actually noticing I was doing it.) I do repeat everything I say in my mind (or maybe I write what I'm thinking? Not sure, but the saying it out loud is really freaking me out.

It might not be nothing, but does it happen to anyone else? Should I just keep my mouth shut and force myself to not do it? Tully distressed at the moment.
posted by Trexsock to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As a datapoint, I do this sometimes and have for a long time. I just tried to become more conscious of it and that seems to have stopped me doing it at work etc. I doubt it's a symptom of anything much (although IANAD of course)
posted by crocomancer at 9:49 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Happens to me too. And I also find myself mouthing recent conversations with others to myself and making the facial expressions to go along with it. IANAD, but I don't give it a second thought.
posted by michellenoel at 9:54 AM on October 13, 2012

Are you sure you haven't done this your whole life and are just now noticing it since people have pointed it out to you? Like the whole "don't think of the elephant" turns into you thinking of an elephant more and since you think about it more you are noticing it more and it's causing you to get anxious because "why can't I can't stop thinking about that damn elephant??!".

Ask your parents if they have noticed you doing this when you were a kid.

And honestly the talking under your breath doesn't sound like a huge deal (just maybe a minor annoyance to others). If you normally have anxiety/ocd it might be a symptom of that and probably should that checked out anyways.
posted by littlesq at 9:58 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Complex phonic tics. Could be a slight obsessive-compulsive disorder thing, but probably nothing to worry about. I do it when I'm a little stressed out or when I'm concentrating really hard about what I'm writing or saying.
posted by Houstonian at 9:59 AM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

My six year old son whispers a lot of the things he says, right after he says them. Most of the time he doesn't notice. When I asked him about it, he said 'I just want to hear what it sounded like'.

I think this sort of thing is part of a whole spectrum of behaviour. Sometimes I find myself repeating someone's name over and over in my head (particularly with unusual names), or engaging in silent monologues about certain things, rather than just thinking about them - sometimes I have to stop and check that I'm not whispering.

What you're doing is very normal. If you don't like it, you can try to learn to watch yourself for this behaviour and do something about it.
posted by pipeski at 9:59 AM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

A lot of people make all sorts of random noises all the time. I do, and have asked various professionals about it, and they all say it's not anything to be particularly worried about, unless you can't stop it when you have to. If it's compulsive — you can't stop it even when you think about it — you might want to see someone about it.
posted by ubiquity at 10:00 AM on October 13, 2012

A lot of people do exactly the same thing. It can be any number of things, but honestly none of them bad, and while I'd hesitate to say you don't need to talk to a doctor about it (because that is medical advice and IANAD), but lets just say I never have and rarely think about it.

So what can it be that is not "pathological" or obsessive in nature?

Two things pop to mind.

It can be a form of memorization, a lot of people encode/remember things much better if they hear them and/or repeat them back. For instance, one of the tools of active listening is actually repeating back to the person you are talking to (usually slightly rephrased) what you heard them say.

In the case of writing, it can be a form of trying the sentences out to hear how they may actually sound to others (I am spot doing this right now, sub-vocally, as I write this).

You may have done this your entire life, or it may be that as you are getting older there is party of you that is loosening up a bit.

My unofficial, totally free and worth what you paid for it advice at the end of the day is; Don't sweat it, and if people tease you about it either tell them to go to hell, or say it helps you remember things.
posted by edgeways at 10:15 AM on October 13, 2012

If I am dealing with several inputs at one time (in my case, it's usually listening to one thing and typing another), I will often say fragments of what I'm typing. It almost never happens if I'm listening to someone talking nearby or over a speakerphone, but is almost guaranteed to happen if I am wearing my phone headset or earbuds. I've always assumed it has something to do with auditory processing when the sound source is not "normal" (coming from a specific identifiable direction). It's the same reason I won't use my phone in my car, even handsfree, even just listening to a conference call, because I can tell that my focus is in an odd place.

It never occurred to me to be anxious about it. I minimize the amount of time I spend not-alone with earbuds in, so that I don't get annoying, but that's the extent of my worrying about it.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:49 AM on October 13, 2012

A previous thread, asking specifically about kids, but consensus: there's nothing to freak out about!
posted by estlin at 11:31 AM on October 13, 2012

Have you been stressed out or concentrating a lot lately? I find I sometimes whisper something again after I say it out loud, or have to whisper words to myself as I'm reading, if I'm having trouble concentrating or I'm stressed out in general.
posted by limeonaire at 11:36 AM on October 13, 2012

I have also recently (to my knowledge) developed this same problem! And, if it makes you feel any better, I am sort of freaked out by it too. Well, I was more freaked out when I first noticed it than I am now. The difference is that I mouth and whisper things as I am typing them as opposed to after. As a data point, I am also a pretty anxious/obsessive person.

I think edgeways is onto something with the memory thing. This habit began after I'd been working as a file clerk for many months. My theory is that it started because I would repeat chart numbers in my head as I was looking for them, and it was always much easier to remember them if I physically mouthed or whispered the number.

It feels like an inclination. Like maybe I was already a "mouther" and the chart numbers thing just flipped the switch. It definitely seems like something I would have to work hard to train myself out of--like it is more comfortable to do than not to do, if that makes sense.

My point is just to tell you that you're not alone, and that I don't think it is anything to worry about. It is embarrassing to me personally, but I don't think it's something to see a doctor over.

**side note**
I just remembered a video we shot in my 5th grade class about "TV Turn-Off Week," in which I starred alongside a classmate of mine in a key scene. We watched it a few years ago with my family and realized, hilariously, that I was mouthing all of my co-star's lines. So maybe this isn't such a recent development.
posted by a.steele at 12:03 PM on October 13, 2012

This is pretty unexceptional. Don't worry about it. Yes, it might be a "tic." But it doesn't sound like something that impedes your ability to function in personal or professional realms. I'd file this in the category of quirk as opposed to disorder. I doubt it's even something a doctor would treat as the medications they would use for this have troubling side effects that outweigh the benefit you'd get from taking them.

I'm much more concerned with the fact that you're "freaking out" about this than I am about the fact that you repeat/whisper words unintentionally.

If you do access therapy, make sure the therapist knows that you have worried so extensively over this issue.

In the meantime, try to distract yourself from these worries. Take my word for it: You're not weird or crazy. And whispering/repeating things you think or write is not all that strange.
posted by dchrssyr at 12:42 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not sure anything is "wrong" with you, and if it is, it's wrong with me, too.

I am alone a lot. I talk to my dog, my cat, my late wife, old bosses, imaginary people. It's practice, to some degree, for actually DOING the trick of connecting my mouth to my brain. I make up poems, raps, songs, sentences. I ask myself questions. If no one is around, no big deal.

......every now and then, the habit sneaks into the open before I think to stop it. Once in a great while, it makes me look like a total dingbat. Usually, people are too wrapped up in themselves to notice.

Regardless, even if I look like a dingbat all the time, who cares? This is who I am. Deal. With all the other interesting things I am/do/want/think/feel, a little mumble here and there is a small price to pay.

My hardest task is not INTENTIONALLY saying/writing things I would be better off leaving quiet. Much more troublesome and often the genesis of an internet shit storm. Jeez.
posted by FauxScot at 2:10 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I do this ALL the time, but never thought it was something to worry about.
posted by emeiji at 2:14 PM on October 13, 2012

This might be related to Blurting.
posted by Lorc at 2:19 PM on October 13, 2012

Me too, more or less. So does RedBud.

I'm pretty sure it hasn't caused me any problems, and I've yet to do it in places where it could be troublesome, for example, while I'm waiting for the traffic policeman to write up the ticket. I did have moment of anxiety a few weeks ago during a pinochle game with my in-laws, but I don't think I said anything I wouldn't have said out loud on purpose, so nothing really bad came of it. When RedBud does it I believe she's communing with some internal dialogue, and I find it sort of endearing.

If my friends commented about this to me, I might be tempted to ask them if I'd said anything interesting that perhaps they'd like to share with me. Anyhow I'm not going to worry about it unless I start whistling and shouting obscenities without realizing it (I'm pretty sure someone will give me a heads up).

If you are really worried about this, by all means, take it up with a counselor. If you don't have any metaphorical little demons trying to crawl out from under rocks, it will probably wait until you get your fiscal situation squared away.
posted by mule98J at 3:23 PM on October 13, 2012

Not everyone does that at times? I'm conscious of it right now, so I'm not doing it, but I often speak the words as I type. It helps me present my thoughts more coherently by giving me a chance to realize that what I'm writing "sounds" weird.

Of course, I also talk to myself a lot. I often have difficulty not thinking in language, unfortunately.
posted by wierdo at 3:45 PM on October 13, 2012

I do this, too. I didn't know it was a weird thing to do! (In fact, as I typed this, I whispered, "I do this, too" to myself.)
posted by Aquifer at 4:02 PM on October 13, 2012

This sounds totally normal to me. Lots of people need to say what they write/ read. It's a focus thing.
posted by windykites at 4:05 PM on October 13, 2012

I totally do this. I just chalk it up to being so immersed in what I'm thinking/listening to/writing that I end up also saying it or singing along. Because I do get totally sucked in sometimes if I'm really concentrating.

I wouldn't worry about it unless it actually affects your ability to function, and right now it doesn't sound like it is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:30 PM on October 13, 2012

I would not freak out about this. I do this kind of thing (not exactly what you describe, but quite similar) all the time and it's never caused a problem so I don't worry about it. Remember that the most important criteria for whether or not a behavior is disordered is whether or not it is having a negative impact on your life. Right now the only negative impact this is having for you is that you are freaking out about it. The behavior itself is nothing that you need to worry about, just focus on not losing your shit over this fairly trivial and common behavior.
posted by Scientist at 8:55 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Funnily enough, I do the total opposite. I touch type pretty well, and often after a conversation or watching something on TV, I realise I'm repeatedly typing the last thing that was said with tiny finger movements (or maybe they don't even move, I'm not sure. I feel like I'm typing it anyway).

To paraphrase Alan Bennett: Everybody has a secret, and the secret is that they're not like other people.
posted by penguin pie at 3:25 AM on October 14, 2012

« Older What did you wish you'd known before renting a...   |   Forget Westlaw Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.