Me And My Side-Tracked Brain

My brain works in ways that I think are weird. I haven’t always thought that my mental processes were strange, but obviously growing up and meeting people expanded my range of comparison and, for the most part, other people didn’t seem to struggle like I did/do. A perfect example of this is my train of thought (which is also the reason for this specific blog post).

For as long as I can remember, my brain has seemed to process information faster than everyone else. Now, some people would read that and think that I’m bragging but please, hear me out.

Learning was really difficult when I was younger (and to this day, if I’m honest), because all of the information that went into my brain was immediately followed by a succession of related thoughts. Take history for example:

Teacher: “And then the Duke of Buckingham led a revolt with the aim of placing Henry Tudor on the throne through his mother’s connection to the royal family.”
My brain: “Oh, that’s interesting, but doesn’t that mean his mother and father are related? How far removed were they? I can’t work it out… Is that why Henry VIII was so weird? Wait, no, I’m sure I read that it’s because his brain was being eaten by a STD. Which STD’s eat the brain? Should I know this? Should I feel stupid that I don’t know this? Who can I ask?”

By the time this internal conversation is over, I’ve maybe missed several follow-on facts, and have usually forgotten the first fact, but in essence I suppose the conversation is never over – it happens constantly, through every situation in life. Even now, I’m writing this and half way through sentences, the line I’m planning in my head splits off down a hundred different forks in the road. It can be hard to manage or understand, especially as a shy teenager who’s afraid to admit to needing help, and even more especially in a household where achievements are ignored and failures are placed on pedestals as examples. I still struggle with it today; it affects everything from my work to my social life. Imagine being friends with someone whose eyes glaze over as they go off into their own brain while you’re talking… It can’t be easy for my friends and family.

It’s not all bad. In some cases, my greatest sparks of inspiration and accomplishment have come to me as side-tracked thoughts during a different conversation or situation. I have friends who are fascinated by this part of my brain, and who find it more amusing than hurtful when they talk to me about their personal lives, and I’m off somewhere else wondering whether the turbines in plane engines all turn the same direction. It’s not ideal, and I do have to admit to being frustrated by it when everyone else around me seems to find it so much easier to just follow one train of thought at a time, but my “quirk” isn’t always a burden.

I’m not sure if I consider this quirk a good or bad thing. Only one person has ever been rude to me about it, and said that I made them feel like I’m not interested in what they’re saying (which I can understand, completely), but he was kind of a jerk anyway so I’ve always wondered if he just said it to make me feel bad about myself. In other words, although I’m hesitant to say I’m OK with it, it’s also not the end of the world and it’s one of the few things I’m able to not destroy myself over.

The reason I thought to write about this today is because it is the reason I don’t have anything else to blog about. Quite simply: I generally have dozens of ideas a day about blog posts that I think would be interesting and, wouldn’t you know it, by the time my brain has stopped running its own labyrinth, the idea is gone. I’ve taken to keeping a notebook with me that I can write ideas in when they come to me, but so far I haven’t had much luck stopping my own thoughts long enough to remember to write it down.

I’ve always wondered if this trait of mine is depression/anxiety driven, and I suppose I’ll find out soon enough (fingers crossed). I’ll get there in the end, but damn if I don’t sabotage myself along the way!

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