Communication trouble and social awkwardness are killing my happiness

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    • #71623

      I am 32 yr old divorced father of two. I was diagnosed with ADHD (combined type – impulsive/innatentive) at the age of 8. Currently taking dextroamphetamine IR 5mg 2x daily. I am having a mass variety of issues which are having serious impacts on my life and current relationships. I’ve been working for the last couple of months to identify my behaviors which cause very unwanted circumstances within my life. The difficulties I have been having are:

      – my body language and facial expressions don’t line up with how I actually feel or what I am saying ex. I say something to someone and I believe I am saying it in a tactful and diplomatic manner but it is taken as offensive and or rude because I’m being nice but maybe look angry or disappointed etc. I don’t know what because I can’t see myself when I’m talking.

      – I often make others uncomfortable when talking about different subjects in regular conversations without having a clue that I am doing so. But rather feel the conversations were heartfelt and meaningful when the other party / parties are left with feelings not anywhere close to how I interpreted it

      – I often talk to much and divulge too much information which makes people feel uncomfortable

      – I make mistakes and never own them but rather make excuses or lie about why I did what I did or said what I said to somehow mend the situation – FYI this never works people are often just nice and don’t push the subject further but are really confused or frustrated by it and eventually resent me due to lack of trust

      – I have no capability of recognizing social boundaries until it is much too late. I will impulsively say or do something which cause anguish in my social setting without realizing it. Again to say it, I feel the conversations were constructive and helpful but really not at all the other party is actually mad or frustrated with me

      – What I am trying to say and what I actually say are quite often two different things. I say what I believe is the best way to explain the situation but it is often taken the wrong way or I come across rude or uncaring

      – I have a very hard time minding my own business and often try to help people who did not ask for my help. Sometimes it gravely offends people and has very bad consequences.

      – I can never be direct and to the point. I often say too many details and other facts before arriving at my “point” that I am either a) not being listened to or b) interrupted out of frustration for not being direct

      – I try and analyse how things work or explain how things work to understand it better by speaking out loud which often times makes me look like I have no clue what I’m talking about or I offend people who already have this knowledge because I sound like I am telling them how simple things work / interact like they are some kind of idiot, when that is not at all what I am trying to achieve.

      I am not happy. My family, friends and most of all my girlfriend are frustrated with me continually and I believe they are giving up on me (which some of them already have) No matter how I try and look at it or develop strategies to defeat this behavior it is not any kind of help. I’m so lost that I don’t even know anymore if what I am thinking I am saying and what I am saying are the same thing. I’m beginning to feel that no matter what I try there is no hope for things to change or get better. I’m just stuck like this and destined to be a misunderstood social reject forever.

      I am not depressed and have a lot of motivation to strive for change but I have no idea how to start or what any kind of successful coping strategies are. Can anyone here please help me or make any kind of suggestion on how to defeat these terrible behaviors? I don’t want to live every day walking on eggshells and second guessing myself in everything I do anymore. Please, any input on any of these things would be a big help!!


    • #71902

      Hey Paul, what you’re saying reminds me of my wife. She has ADHD (I do too). What I would call the “incongruent response” is something she seems to be afflicted with. It’s more nuanced than simply saying things to a person that are abjectly inappropriate; more like what you seem to be saying – that her interactions can sometimes make others feel awkward, annoyed or offended. She tells me her intention with what she said was something different than how I interpreted it, and fairly often this leads to frustration. I believe she was probably picked on as a child and has trouble making friends for this reason. When I’ve been with her with friends, it doesn’t seem to be as bad as she is with me, but from some of her work interactions she’s spoken to me about, I strongly suspect she is offputting.

      Your response is natural and mostly automatic for you. This fact seems to make behavior change challenging. It vaguely reminds me of something on the autism spectrum (not that it actually IS autism). My wife implored me to let her know when this is happening, otherwise she won’t have a frame of reference to go from on the path to change. It took me a long time to really put my finger on what it was about the way she responded/things she said that bothered me, which made the behavior offputting AND somewhat confounding – which increased the negative feelings. My wife is extremely sensitive and empathetic (one reason I’m attracted); unfortunately, it’s all too possible she has had an “unfair” experience resulting from this social disconnect.

      Good luck. I’m sure this has caused every bit as much frustration as you expressed. For what it’s worth (and it may not be much), she has so called “Combined ADHD” while mine would be “Inattentive”. For me, inappropriateness was not so much a problem; being in outer space and missing what was going on in the first place was the issue, particularly when I was younger and less aware of the social implications. Perhaps there is therapy for this issue. At the very least it should be something that can be modestly improved.

      Question: do you find yourself talking too loudly, evidenced by others telling you to keep you voice down and expressing implicitly or explicitly their awkwardness regarding it?

      I really understand how this could be a lifetime handicap without an easy solution.

      • This reply was modified 4 years ago by aur462.
      • This reply was modified 4 years ago by aur462.
      • This reply was modified 4 years ago by aur462.
      • #90823

        Hi Paul,

        When you say that you have a hard time minding your own biz, and try to help w/o being asked. I do the same thing when people tell something I give advice that is not asked for. I think it’s because I am afraid if I don’t, the may think I am indifferent. Your probably over think (like me and probably most of the adhd population) it’s frustrating and hard to stop. I think adhd people get frustrated because we don’t see things as others do. When you communicate with people and they are reading you wrong could be you are not relaxed in that conversation and feel is you have something to prove. ADHD can cause a lot of low self esteem. I know I feel like sometimes I have to prove that do have intellectual capability. Hope this helped some.

    • #84721


      I realize this is an old post, however I wanted to let you know there is hope for you. You have described me almost to a T, and I feel your confusion and anguish.

      Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was my lifesaver 3 years ago. My therapist was able to guide me to recognize where I was ‘going wrong’ so to speak, in my social interactions, and it also taught me a lot about myself and how I ruined so many relationships throughout my life without meaning to. I too thought I was being supportive, helpful, etc. instead I was overstepping so many boundaries that I didn’t recognize were there, and alienated people around me.

      You are extremely insightful and intelligent, as I can see from your post, and your ability to express yourself in writing. Find a therapist who specializes in CBT, preferably he or she will also have experience with ADHD. Shop around until you find a good fit, if need be. It’s intensive, and a lot of work, but I know you are motivated to make a change for the better for yourself 🙂 … I may have burned many bridges in my past, and am still dealing with that in some cases, but CBT has enabled me to connect to myself and also others and start fresh. I wish I could go back and fix things with my family (especially by children), but I know now that I’ll have to let them come to me on their terms, when they feel they can trust me once again, instead of me forcing my newfound wisdom on them.

      You can do this! I’m so glad I stumbled across your post, it popped up while I was searching for info on dextroamphetamine lol… Karma I suppose, so I could reach out to you ~

      Peace, and good luck!

    • #90549

      Paul, I truly hope your doing better. I too stumbled across your post in hopes of finding.. just what you wrote! Like what purplepoppie said. Describes me to a T.
      And you definitely have the talent to be able to write it out like that. I have to keep your post so I can refer to it when I need help explaining to others what I mean.
      Aur462, you also described my spousal relationship, pretty well. My husband isn’t a big sharer of feelings, but I can see how he may see me like you see your wife. I plan on sharing this with him.
      Purplepoppie, I’m so glad you posted here as well. 2 years ago I found a good cognitive therapist. (And to credit Aur462, slight autism spectrum was brought up) I learned I have PTSD, that contributed to social behavior disabilities growing up as a child.
      Purple, you also described me, as where I am now, and what I’m working on. Some bridges I’ve burned may never be repaired but I’m learning to accept that and move on for myself. This time of Changing and learning how to be a better “me” has been the worst and best.
      I still struggle sometimes with the … how to ask someone a question in a way that I will get the answer I want. Or vise versa.

      Thank all three of you, for letting me know I’m not totally alone on this point

    • #90557

      Hi Paul, I’m sorry you are going through this but I am so impressed with how well you have been able to analyze and understand the issues and how much you want to make things better. I have a few recommendations: Joining an ADD support group (You will probably feel at home there and you’ll get honest feedback from people who understand you and don’t judge you.) Also, if you can, it would help to videotape or record yourself in social interactions or conversations. Looking at or listening to yourself, might help you see the dynamics of how different elements affect your behavior and thought. Lastly, you may want to consider neurofeedback. This helped my son with anxiety and impulsivity and it has greatly helped him with his confidence in social interactions. He is calmer, happier, more engaged and much less hyper. I wish you the best.

    • #90781

      Ive got a similar thing, years of ‘normal’ therapy made it worse, & the dexamphetamine doesnt help much (though it does brighten my mood & make me less reactive). It just doesnt seem theres any ‘cure’ for this. Hypnosis if youre able to identify some bad habits (not listening, giving unsolicited advice etc)? CBT – but that relies on you being able to actually change the behaviour which is incredibly difficult to do on EVERYTHING, ALL the time.
      Thanks for the CBT mention purplepoppies.. I just dont know if I can face another round of therapy that doesnt work. At the moment it feels like a massive, expensive risk. After years of failing you learn to stop trying I guess.
      And Paul it could be caused by underlying anxiety or depression – & eventually it will cause depression. After reading Daniel Amens latest book I discovered that the dex causes lower serotonin levels when it raises the dopamine. Thats got to have a pretty profound effect, surely?

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