Mouth from the South

After doing the personality test the other day, and thinking about my son’s diagnosis it really got me thinking about my own childhood. When I was in primary school I was considered very outgoing: I was overly energetic and talkative. Every one of my primary school reports would have variations of “Karlee would be an excellent student if she could just stop talking so much in class”. Actually my nickname in grades 5 & 6 was “Mouth from the South” perhaps cruel, but I never really paid it much mind back then.

Not only did I talk a lot (and I mean a LOT) I was also very loud. My voice naturally carries, and I’d never realise I’d be talking loudly. I’d get particularly louder the more excited I got. And it was very easy for me to be over enthusiastic (as one teacher kindly put it). I was a high energy child, always onto the next thing, never staying interested in anything for too long. I’d get bored if I wasn’t properly challenged and that’s when I started talking incessantly.

I used to assume that I was naturally an extravert, and that it was due to circumstance (bullying in high school & mental illness) I became an introvert. However, even as a youngster I didn’t initiate friendships, I didn’t like inviting people over to play, didn’t like birthday parties where the focus was on me. Thinking back on it now it seems that my introversion was actually the natural tendency for me. It was only my high energy and loud voice that gave a false impression that I was extraverted.

The more I look at my childhood self, the more I see the parallels between my son and myself. And I’m not the first to do that as other family members have also noted he is so much like me in personality. Always wired, always talking, always busy. Often getting into trouble for distracting other people, not doing it maliciously but because of losing focus and getting bored far too easily.

I control myself a lot better now, but I’m still too easily distracted. I still lose interest in things way too quickly. I still unconsciously talk inappropriately too loudly at times. My eyes glaze over when someones talking and I get bored, and I’ve been known to walk away mid conversation (I know it’s so rude). I still can’t sit still – I bounce my heels rapidly up and down whenever I’m sitting. I don’t realise I’m doing it, and it can get on peoples nerves. I also shift positions in my chair during work meetings more times than socially acceptable. I still interrupt others and sometimes get impatient when people are slow. I forget things that my mind doesn’t classify as important (like when mum asks me to bring over spare clothes for the children you can bet your bottom dollar I have forgotten). I routinely forget appointments or plans I’ve made with others even though I have them in a calendar. I can literally walk over a pile of clothing for days without registering that it needs doing. I’m not lazy, I just don’t “see” the pile because it’s not important in my busy mind.

My ex used to call me Dory (from Finding Nemo) because I’d be talking away and in mid sentence … oooh shiny!!!!

Uh where was I? Oh yes, I get distracted and forget to finish what I was talking about. Sometimes I even forget I had been talking in the first place. I’m a pretty forgetful person, often misplacing (not losing, misplacing!) things. And yet, for whatever reason, I have a massive databank in my head of song lyrics from probably hundreds of different songs across different decades and genres. It’s fascinating just how many songs I know all of the words to from start to finish. But I can’t even remember what day it is half the time.

Driving Me Out of My Mind

Ever been halfway through an action and wonder how you got there? Happens all the time, but the thing that scares me the most is it happens when I am driving (usually to work). Sometimes when I am driving I really wonder how the hell I’ve managed to get through the task without an accident.

My mind sometimes gets lost in a train of thought, and then I’ll come back to reality and wonder how I ended up this far up the road, when I don’t really recall crossing the past several intersections, or changing lanes, or turning left, or anything really. For several moments horror engulfs me because I don’t know if I’ve gone through red lights, or gone faster than the speed limit, or indicated when I switched lanes.

The scariest part is that I don’t always remember what was occupying my mind before I was snapped out of my reverie and brought back to reality. It’s like my mind has gone through the previous moments with a black marker and struck them off so I can’t read what was written. Sometimes I worry that I’ve blacked out. But since my car is still in its own lane, and no one is blaring their horn at me, it’s safe to say I’ve been conscious the whole time, if not aware.

I lose myself in my thoughts during other actions too, but none of them scare me in the way it does when it happens while I am driving. Each time I get in the car, I consciously remind myself how important it is to pay attention. I fight to keep my focus, to stay aware. Then it slips, and I’m gone for a couple of minutes, until I snap back to reality and fear is pooling in my stomach and chest.

Sometimes I wonder how on earth anyone would think it was okay to give me a drivers licence. I also wonder how anyone isn’t fazed at the thought of giving me any sort of responsibility. No one questions giving me important tasks at work (things that would have dire consequences if I got them wrong). No one worries about me being a single parent of 2 young children. Sometimes I think its a revelation that I’m even allowed to live by myself, let alone left in charge of other people.

I know I’m too hard on myself. But when I space out like I do, when I find it so easy to retreat into my head, I wonder. I wonder how I managed to get as far in life as I have without serious accidental injury, how I haven’t accidentally set the house on fire, or crashed my car. Sometimes I almost think that it’s a bloody miracle!