Unable to read social cues

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    • #190587

      I recently learned that ADHD makes me think that the way to go is by dumping my feelings in conversations. Which I know is wrong, but the urge has always been strong and I couldn’t figure out why. So instead of focusing on fun stuff, I can talk about my problems for hours and I learned recently that struggles can make you feel alive. Thing is, I hurt people, drove people away without even having a clue because I thought I was socially accepted and validated until I was banned from a voice server. Even thought I do understand all of that, I feel ashamed for missing the cues, not being able to self regulate and I feel rejected. Of course, had I known sooner or if someone had told me directly they did not like my conversation topics, I would have tried as much as I can to behave appropriately. I just feel like there are so much unwritten rules that I transgress on a daily basis and it does take a toll on my self esteem. Like everything I say is inappropriate. For some background, I’m medicated for Chronic Anxiety, but my doctor does not acknowledge that I have ADHD even if I was diagnosed by a therapist. Some advice or resources would be helpful on how to go from there because I feel like I am socially handicapped.

      Thank you for reading.

    • #190591

      i relate to this. it’s really tough to constantly feel in danger of losing your social relationships.

      first, please consider getting a new doctor or a second opinion – it sounds like your current one has some problematic biases. consider seeing a therapist if you have the resources, too.

      i find it really helpful to freewrite on a regular basis: just to write or type every thought or feeling i am processing as it passes through my brain, without judgement or going back to edit. you can destroy or delete it afterward, but since i know processing things in words helps me, this prevents my unloading on another person in order to complete the processing. then i can interact with others with a slightly more settled mind. if you hate writing and can get some time alone, i occasionally set a five minute timer and rant to myself out loud (quietly). i am often surprised by what comes up, and feel just as glad to do this on my own so that i can have deep, mutual conversations with friends instead of needing to do this with them. i can ask them questions and really listen to the answers.

      most importantly: just let yourself off the hook, my friend. i perceive a lot of pain and shame in your post, and i so empathize, but you don’t deserve to have to carry that around just because the world wasn’t set up for people like us. be kind to yourself. forgive yourself when you drop the conversational ball, miss a cue, or hyperfocus on your own stuff. we all do it!

      take care x

    • #190594

      I agree with oceanbloom, it is incredibly tough. Do things that lets you forget about everything.

    • #190613

      I thank you both for taking the time to read this post. I have since thought about things and talked to a good friend and it is like oceanbloom mentioned, people are to blame as well if they are not upfront with us. I understand I am completely different and that I might have some social ineptitudes, but people still think we understand our behavior, get the social cues and chose to act this way. I noticed that altought my behavior might be to blame, I do not want to be treated like garbage and that I deserved to be told upfront if I was doing something wrong. I was at ease, until I was banned and this could have been all avoided if people would have treated me better. On your advice and on the advice of my friend, I will be way more careful from now on with my friendships and social circles. It still hurts, but I know that my heart was at the right place even if others do not think so.

    • #198527


      I think oceanbloom and InfectionLion were empathizing with your hurt, as I do. oceannbloom suggested a couple of good alternatives to emotionally unloading with people present: writing it out or talking it our in private. We all need to find our personal work-arounds; suggestions from fellow ADDers may work or get you to think of something that might.

      Find a doctor who specializes in helping people with ADHD. Meds don’t do it all, but they can help. Our real challenges are learning how to live in a neurotypical world with ADHD brains. It’s tough. It doesn’t happen if you just understand it intellectually.

      We ADDers work at our particular problematic stuff in real time so we can have real friends, fulfilling jobs that make use of our talents, and rewarding relationships. ADHD is a reason problematic things sometimes happen. It is NOT an excuse.

      Most people are not going to tell you if you’re talking too much about yourself or even about a topic you find fascinating but they don’t share. They don’t know you’re missing social cues. They certainly don’t think that you understand your behaviors at all. Some may be concerned that by abruptly telling you to get off of the topic they’ll hurt you, or that you’ll get angry.

      Most people have no clue about the challenges of living with ADHD. They don’t even know we don’t do the things we may do on purpose. You were “at ease, until [you were] banned.” Some of the group undoubtedly tried to steer you, but you missed it. After a while, someone decided that you are clueless, that you just don’t get it at all. It doesn’t matter if your heart was in the right place. They don’t know, and in many casual groups, they don’t care. That doesn’t make them or you bad. It just is.

      Is this an online group of some kind? Just voice? Just thought of that comment you made. Social interactions that aren’t in person are even tougher environments, because it’s harder to pick up clues and cues. It can also be harder to self-regulate, even if you’ve reached a pretty good level in face-to-face encounters.

      Here’s a personal example: I have to remind myself more than usual about not interrupting if I’m on a Zoom meeting. At a recent Board meeting, I was interrupting and the President was getting annoyed. I even realized she was! A colleague picked up on it. She knows me well enough and said, “I have my little hand raised!!” I realized she meant the “Raised hand” communication tool on Zoom, so from then on I also used it when I wanted to speak. And I wrote little reminders in my notes about what I wanted to say, in case I wasn’t recognized right away and forgot. Two ADHD issues, two work-arounds!

      Don’t beat up on yourself! Making a mistake makes us all feel bad, but acknowledging it, learning from it, and putting it behind you will move you forward. Don’t give up on people. Ask someone you know and trust to help you recognize one or two specific situations where you have made this mistake or a similar one, if you can. Have them describe the hints neurotyical people might give that you miss. Rehearse to yourself how you can do better another time. Maybe ask questions about someone else’s comments. Agree with a point made or add one fact, then let someone else comment. Listen, observe. Find out who else you can ask for feedback.

      I have an honest comment about the good friend you mentioned. That person was trying to make you feel better, obviously, and was listening. However, if the outcome was primarily that it’s OK to blame other people and diss them for not understanding you, I disagree emphatically. Yes, you need to differentiate between casual acquaintances and real friends. Yes, you need to take care of yourself. The request you made for help and resources in your original post is the right way to go. The site this discussion is on has loads of really good information in all kinds of formats, so dig in! Read or listen to or watch stuff by Edward Hallowell (Driven to Distraction), John Rately (expert on ADHD and exercise), Peter Jaksa (Life with ADHD…coping strategies), Thomas Brown, Sari Solden (Journeys through ADDulthood)….Enjoy! Learn! Start being the best you! Only you can do it. Glad you asked for help!

      All the best!

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