As told told to me by Bill Gunnin
Logorrhea – excessive talking or wordiness. This is a very common frontal lobe deficit that many traumatic brain injury survivors suffer from.
I try to be aware of talking too much. I know I do it, but it is difficult to control sometimes. I know there is value in being quiet and pondering things. I am trying to learn how to do it better. My ideas are like pearls, to be spoken of sparingly. I realize I share a lot about things which have value to me. The problem is I share them in places where they have no value to others. When they walk away, get frustrated, or glaze over, I tend to take it personally. I share things I have learned, but I speak them at the wrong times. To stop my rambling, I have to think before I speak. This is similar to learning to take my thoughts captive.
I like to brain storm. I pull things together which have no logical connection. It is how I naturally think, by making connections. But as I talk about things, other people, who don’t follow my crazy train of thought, begin to reject or misunderstand me. After this happens, they don’t want to talk with me as much anymore. It feels like I am being dismissed, but it’s because of the way I put my thoughts out there. People feel trapped to listen to me forever, they don’t know they can ask, “Can we talk about something else?” If they do that I will bump to a new topic. However, I might still have the same problem of going on and on about it.
I have, what feels like, millions of thoughts at any given moment. Since I have trouble filtering out which ones are relevant to a conversation, I try to communicate them all. Sometimes I don’t even know how to communicate them, therefore, I just blurt out and interrupt. It helps me to process my thoughts out loud, because I am a verbal processor. I’ll begin to talk about a topic or thought before I even know where I am going with it. Then I will jump to something else mid-stream. A certain thought may make sense to me, but as I am talking, I realize it may not make sense to others. People can get frustrated with this. Because I often process my thoughts out loud, it may be off putting to them. Even when you and I are talking, like right now, I don’t always know where my part of the conversation will go. Because I get there in my own personal way, it may confuse people. Every brain works uniquely, and I often think out loud in an effort to organize my millions of thoughts. Sometimes I will go over it and over it and think myself in circles, which all comes out of my mouth. So, I keep talking, hoping I may stumble upon the right words so that people may finally understand me.
As I analyze things in the past, where I have labored in vain many times. I have regrets. I have a vision for my future, but I never get there. I tend to overthink every step and that causes anxiety which then paralyzes me. I talk so much about things, I don’t always listen well when my mind is churning. It is a discipline to listen to others. Maybe when my ideas are rushing in, I need to lay them down and suppress the different trains of thought. I want to learn how to do that better. My thoughts are like a dirt road or trail. I get excited about them and I want to see where they’re going. I talk faster and faster, trying to get around the next curve. I get jazzed when I am thinking as I talk, but then I go nowhere, because the road is random and leads to nowhere. In the process, I confuse those around me with my constant chatter.
I love questions, because I believe the power of the right question can change everything. I have lots of questions all the time. I overwhelm other people with them. People have said feel like they are being interrogated when they are around me. I stop and interrupt them to ask a question when they haven’t even finished answering the first one. I need to get better at letting them finish. I tend to jump into where I think they are heading because my mind is racing ahead. I stop them in the middle and ask even more questions. Is it ADHD, head injury, or how I am wired? I’m not sure. But the labels don’t help. Identifying how my brain works does help.
How can I best organize my mental resource to move forward? Being a talker isn’t a bad thing all the time, because it connects me to people. They think I am friendly and funny when I am talking. They feel like I genuinely care, which I do. I am a people person and I love to converse with them. But sometimes I over analyze things people say and I ask for more clarity. Sometimes people think I don’t listen because I interrupt so much. I have to learn to control my mouth, but I can’t always stop. Things I am passionate about are wonderful for me to discuss. For instance, when I am talking to you, I am trying to make you see whatever it is, like I see it. But when you don’t care as much about it, it makes me mad, because I am trying to make you love it like I do. I just cannot understand why you won’t be as interested as I am.
I do admit, I over analyze all the time. Part of my mind is very analytical and much of that is not good. I am always trying to figure out how to make something better. I want to make the best choice and, to me, nothing else is good enough. I get that way about processes, like traffic. I analyze drivers and I judge them. I hate it, because I presume negative or faulty motivations. I judge everything by what is the “best” way to drive. I am critical of critical people! Yet, I am the same way. I have logs in my eyes; we all do. Right now, I see in a new way, much of what I have done in the name of analyzing is actually prideful judging and criticism, because I think I know the best way. My attitude it is I’m right and they are wrong. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. In traffic, you might save 3 minutes or so by choosing differently, which doesn’t affect me getting to my destination. I worry about something that doesn’t really matter and is not worth spending the mental energy on.
Talking too much isn’t something I am always aware of. For example, not too long ago, I told you I had a great interview. And as my wife, you knew to ask me how long I was in there. I couldn’t remember, and had no idea until I went back and calculated from the time I arrived at the office to the stop to get gas on the way home. I was there interviewing for three hours. Because of my past experiences, you knew that meant I talked too much. I didn’t see it that way. I thought I had a great connection with the person asking the questions. It wasn’t until I didn’t get the job that I could see clearly, I rambled on and on…which you, as my wife, already knew.
Sometimes when you or one of the kids nudges me under the table or gives me some signal I am talking too much, I just speed it up and try to get it all in faster. That only makes it worse. I am not only talking too much, but then I am also talking too fast! I know why you are kicking me, but I cannot stop myself from continuing on sometimes. Then I get frustrated with you, even though I know you are trying to help me be aware of something I am missing. I like that we have signals, but sometimes I hate having them. I don’t want to have to look to my wife to tell me how I am doing, but I don’t know how else to do it. Most of the time, I just want to be a normal person who doesn’t worry about every word.
In the end, I am becoming aware of the reasons I talk too much. I want to be more precise in the language I speak. I am beginning to see that if what I am saying is starting to become unclear, I have to stop. If I have not really thought through what I want to say, everyone will be frustrated, including me. I am learning to recognize when I need to process things internally and organize my thoughts to communicate with clarity in as few words as possible. The problem is that sometimes I don’t see the need to do that until I am well into a conversation. Sometimes I make jokes to cover my inability to stop my thinking. I can blurt them out and be jovial. It is a coping mechanism. The good thing about having a brain that is damaged is that I am always learning about it. The bad thing is that I can’t change my brain to make it work like everyone else’s.