Help me! Something feels wrong with my brain!
October 23, 2006 4:39 PM   Subscribe

I don't think correctly.

I just recently graduated from college and is moving into the real world. I guess it was college and I had the freedom to choose how I want to live my life so I never saw it as a big problem. But now that I graduated and needs to move into the real world I'm beginning to be worried about this problem. The problem is that I cannot control my brain. My mind always seems to operate in a wacky out of control mode. I can never focus my mind to process in a step by step manner. I can't even follow driving directions inside my head. By the third turn I would lose orientation. I have hard time remember what I did two days ago and rememberingthings in general is just difficult sometimes. Alot of times my brain would freeze when I try to comprehend something. It's like my mind can only operate when its let loose. My communication skill is poor because my mind doesnt operate in a way that allows me to clearly express myself.

I managed to cruise through college at a pretty prestigious school because I am able to accomodate my studying style and schedule according to how my brain works. And I know that if given enough personal space and time I can excel.
I've had internships before and I know corporations do not accomodate well with people like me. I feel that there is no way I can be successful and am becoming less and less confident in myself and beginning to alienate people around me.

I just graduated from college and is looking for a job now. I know I can handle the work part but I don't think I can handle the constant communication that is required of me in a corporation. I feel that I will hate my job because I like to work independently and no one will like a guy that doesn't talk much. I don't understand how some people can talk and talk about anything they want and words just flow out of the mouth while I can't even express the thoughts in my head and finding the right words to say. I'm beginning to regret studying business in college because it is such a communication and people oriented field.

Any advice would help. I know this is a common problem but I'm feeling really isolated and don't know what to do.
posted by herbiehancock00 to Human Relations (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Don't take this the wrong way, but did you smoke pot in college? If so, do you still?
posted by crabintheocean at 4:51 PM on October 23, 2006

I'm beginning to regret studying business in college because it is such a communication and people oriented field.

Use that knowledge to start your own business. If you succeed, you'll be far better off than if you manage to integrate yourself into almost any job.
posted by knave at 4:59 PM on October 23, 2006

Response by poster: I did alot actually. But it's been a year since I've touched it.
posted by herbiehancock00 at 4:59 PM on October 23, 2006

What about starting your own business? If you did that, then you could build it around your preferred work and communication style.
posted by willnot at 5:03 PM on October 23, 2006

Have you talked to a psychaistrist or doctor about this? Sounds like attention deficit disorder . . .? I think a lot of people feel that medication for this is overprescribed (and it probably is), but there's no shame in seeking medication if you really do have a disorder.

If you don't think it's bad enough to talk to a professional, have you tried writing out your thoughts, as you think them, in order to help keep track of them? A written record would give you something to reference & the act of writing would probably help your short term memory.

What about cutting out distractions, e.g., by wearing ear plugs? I had an awful time concentrating in an office environment due to the constant conversation -- sometimes I had to resort to ear plugs in order to get anything done.

Also, these symptoms also sound a lot like what people who do a lot of E experience . . . if you happen to do E frequently (and I'm not implying that you do -- just thinking out possibilities), perhaps this is the cause.
posted by treepour at 5:05 PM on October 23, 2006

I was going to suggest you stop, so now I guess my only suggestion is to keep not smoking pot for a while. It worked for "my friend." Sorry I don't have anything more useful to add.
posted by crabintheocean at 5:07 PM on October 23, 2006

Unless he was really high when he wrote that question, I wouldn't think that pot has anything to do with it.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:10 PM on October 23, 2006

Response by poster: I'm not ashamed of seeking medication. I'm just afraid that it might make my life worse in the long term. I've heard alot of bad stories. Can someone clarity to risk behind ADD medication?
posted by herbiehancock00 at 5:13 PM on October 23, 2006

Starting your own business requires a lot of things, including an ability to communicate with people. It's extremely stressful and requires start up funds. It's probably an impractical idea.

I have only a couple of suggestions
can never focus my mind to process in a step by step manner.
Take lots of notes when told how to do something. Take the time to write a plan of how to do a task.

no one will like a guy that doesn't talk much
A lot of people really like employees who work and don't natter. It really depends on your field, not so good in sales, pretty great in accounting.

I feel that there is no way I can be successful Lots of really weird people have been successful. Pick up a couple of books like David Burns Feeling Good (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and maybe Carnegie's How to win friends and influence people. Then fake it. Use a set of rules to deal with social situations eg, if X asks "How y'doin?", answer, "Fine, how are you?" as this is not actually an invitation to discuss medical issues. Not saying you would, but you know what i mean.

I seriously think if you had the capacity to study and pull grades and complete assignments for years on end, then you can work. (Study is so much like an admin job it's not funny).

Finally, what's the alternative? You can decide that you don't fit in this strange land, and you can never be employable and move into your parents basement? A kibbutz?

I think what would be more helpful than giving up is before you decide everything is impossible is considering how you make something you desire possible. Think of work arounds. Look for material that other people with your particular experiences and learning styles have found useful.

(Oh and see a therapist/GP - maybe there's something that can be assisted via medication/therapy).
posted by b33j at 5:15 PM on October 23, 2006

I don't want to turn this into an ADD derail, but a professional would be able to help you out with that. I lived with a guy with ADD for many years and he sounded somewhat like you describe. He didn't go on any medication, but keeping himself in line took a lot of effort on both our parts. I know other people who have taken various ADD drus and felt like they have "gotten their life back" I know others for whom the drugs didn't do much and so they discontinued them. You may or may not have ADD and that may not matter, but if you're making yourself nuts you might want to look into that, or just read "Driven to Distraction" which is an easy to get into book about it. Many people with ADD do "self medicate" with pot, that may or may not have been a factor in your case. You can search AskMe for the ADD or ADHD tag and read a few more threads about it.
posted by jessamyn at 5:25 PM on October 23, 2006

I feel that I will hate my job because I like to work independently

Not all jobs require constant teamwork. Most don't, in fact.

corporations do not accomodate well with people like me

Wrong. Some won't. Some will. If you can handle the work, that's all that really matters. The rest is just a matter of personality: shop around until you find a boss who 'gets' you.

no one will like a guy that doesn't talk much

Wrong again. Most of the time, it's the office blabbermouths who are loathed; everybody likes the quiet guy in the corner who just does his job.

My advice: Stop thinking so much. You're inventing a problem where none really exists.

Everyone has different working (and thinking) styles -- some jobs will suit you better than others, but that's true for everybody. Communication is important, true, but unless you're a salesman or a trial lawyer, 99% of the time it's written communication that matters... so you'll have plenty of time to sort out how to express yourself.

Another really important thing, that I wish somebody had told me when I started working: if you find yourself in a job that you hate, you don't have to stay. Finding a career is not about finding a job, any job -- it's a matter of finding a good fit; rarely does that happen on the first try. Think of your first few jobs like a first date -- you may not hit it off, and if not, that's just fine. Plenty of other fish in the sea.
posted by ook at 5:26 PM on October 23, 2006

I don't think the symptoms you describe make you abnormal, or even in the minority. If you watch people closely, you can sometimes get a clue that they're dealing with the same thing you are. Somehow the world keeps spinning. Please quit thinking there's something wrong with you that needs to be treated with drugs.

Try yoga. It's supposed to help with focus, if practiced with enthusiasm.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:31 PM on October 23, 2006

I just started taking ADD medication a couple of weeks ago, Dexamphetamine (aka Adderall).

Talked to my doctor, discussed how I felt and what I had read about ADD, and he prescribed it right away, saying in effect `this is a low dosage with almost no side effects, let's try it and if it helps you then it's good, if not we may need to try something else'.

I feel a lot less scatterbrained. A lot of my forgetting what people had said etc. was because I would drift off in conversations and think about other things, or get tired and bored all the time.

So far it's seeming to do a lot of good. I feel a lot sharper and able to do things like read and comprehend long articles. My house has never been cleaner, I'm getting around to doing all these DIY tasks I've had piling up for ever, and I find myself being less impulsive.

How much of this is the medication and how much is the psychological effect of doing something about my problems by taking a tablet twice a day, I don't know. I haven't noticed any side effects as yet.

I tried this test, and it read like a long list of my personality traits.

Also, if you are worrying about forgetting what's happening in your past, consider keeping a journal. It doesn't have to be much, just what you did, not some sort of emotional diary. A couple of paragraphs a day detailing anything of note. I did this for a couple of years, and it's interesting to read now.

Anyway, I recommend that you go talk to your doctor about it and explain your case. Good luck!
posted by tomble at 5:38 PM on October 23, 2006

Yeah, this sounds a lot like ADD. You don't need medication for it, if you aren't comfortable taking speed every day for ___, but many psychiatrists can help you with modes of thought or behavioral modification that can force you to order some of your thoughts. I'm no doctor and your "brain problems" could be any kind of thing, but I think that psychiatrists with experience with ADD would probably be able to help you, no matter what the problem.

Personally I am able to really get into processes I find interesting; this does not seem to include most office jobs (too much distraction, phone, control of tools and habits). There are other jobs out there. Being naturally flightly can be directed towards multitasking which is huge in most small business situations. Being adaptable is a plus too. I know that some business types need to deal with IT people, who often have their own strong "work personalities".. I would imagine there are still places you can apply your degree. Also, reading more would probably really help you out. With the composing sentences thing.
posted by shownomercy at 5:39 PM on October 23, 2006

I took adderall my last year of undergraduate school. I loved it, I couldn't have done it without it. It also helped me better organize my day so that when I was doing my Master's I quit taking it and am still off of it. Remember you will still have to retrain your brain to think in certain ways.

The risks are basically that is can be addictive, too much is devilishly fun, and well, its speed, so any of those side effects.
posted by stormygrey at 5:44 PM on October 23, 2006

I just graduated from college and is looking for a job now.

Is this for real? If it is for real then I can't imagine why anyone in this thread would say they you don't have a problem or that it's ADD. Re-read your post. You're writing at a grade school level. Is it possible you have a learning disability and no one has told you?
posted by quadog at 5:46 PM on October 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I read plenty actually. Unfortunately I forget most of things I read about. How do I go about in finding a doctor to see? How is it in terms of price? How much do prescriptions cost?
posted by herbiehancock00 at 5:50 PM on October 23, 2006

I too would seek professional advice because that sounds like something medication could help you with, but I would also try not to dwell too much on your perceived cognitive difficulties. It puts you under undue pressure, which in turn only fuels your sense of disorientation and intellectual inadequacy.

Silence could help you gain some focus, I guess, but I think music would be better for your concentration. There's been some research done on this, but damn me if I can find a decent link. If you find that a steady beat allows you to pace your thoughts better, then a metronome might be a good idea as it lets you set the rhythm to your liking.
posted by Goblindegook at 5:57 PM on October 23, 2006

Oh, shit. Sorry about my comments, dude. Looks like you might be ESL. I'll be joining Ricky Gervais for drinks later tonight if anyone wants to join me.
posted by quadog at 6:10 PM on October 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

It could simply be depression, speak to a doctor. Tell him what you wrote here.
posted by fire&wings at 6:19 PM on October 23, 2006

To find a psychiatrist, most simply, you can look in the phone book for your area. Call them up and see how soon they could make an appointment for you, and how much their sessions cost. Compare several before you make an appointment.

Once you see the psychiatrist, you can talk with them about cost of drugs etc. The cost will vary in different areas and according to what insurance you have.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:29 PM on October 23, 2006

Have you considered piracy? You'd make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts.

(Also, don't associate your real name with marijuana references on the internet. Some employers google.)
posted by ontic at 7:47 PM on October 23, 2006

As a practical exercise, try this.

When you are driving in your car alone, try to describe, out loud, who, what or how you are seeing the landscape and the buildings, cars, trees, animals, etc. as you are driving by. The rapidity of change will train your mind to focus and at the same time teach you there are no "right" words, only words.

BTW, don't be surprised if you find that you cannot do this for long [eroids, at first. Build up and in time it will make a difference.

Great Optimism,
posted by choragus at 9:46 PM on October 23, 2006

Dude, your post consists of three well written, cohesive paragraphs. You are already head and shoulders above the average worker. Stop beating yourself up. Think back on everything you have ever done that you approached with some dread. Wasn't the imagined future always way worse than what actually came to pass? You will be fine. Print out this thread and file it away somewhere where you will find it in a few years. I am betting you will get a great laugh out of it then.
posted by juggler at 8:18 AM on October 24, 2006

Meditation. There are a lot of flavors, schools and theories, and I won't assume to recommend one to you, but at the heart of it meditation is about relaxing the mind and reteaching/remembering not to think in circles.
posted by iurodivii at 9:26 AM on October 24, 2006

I second the meditation advice. Also, try not watching TV for 90 days and see what happens. Turn down the tempo of the music you listen to. Reduce the time you spend on the internets.

You may have a medical problem, but you may just be overstimulated.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 12:29 PM on October 24, 2006

If you want to find out if you have an underlying condition, see a professional. (Living in the UK, I can't offer any practical advice here, but can you start with your family doc?) Ultimately the answer doesn't really matter, you'll still have to deal with the reality of how your brain functions. You seem to know how your brain works, its strengths and weaknesses, so look at coping with them. Everyone has them, and your particular configuration isn't uncommon.

Don't compare yourself to others. The way your brain works makes you uniquely able to do the things you do. You may want to think long and hard about your choice of career, but don't worry - plenty of people have to do that. Since you've "cruised" through college by accomodating your studying to your learning style, you may want to look for work that will allow you to do the same. Certainly work life is different to academic life, but trying to become something you're not isn't going to make things any better.

You can of course improve your abilities in many areas, such as personal communications, by taking courses, seeking help from relevant professionals, and reading good books.

Don't worry about it. Look into coping strategies. Your age isn't clear, but you'll probably find that you deal with things better as you get older, just through gaining experience of yourself and how you deal with work situations.
posted by ajp at 7:52 AM on October 25, 2006

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