Sunday, October 7, 2007

I think I have some sort of disorder

I don't know exactly what kind of disorder it is, or if it even has a name. All I know is that I realized why I can't have fun in large, noisy groups.

Last night, I was at a friend's wedding. I was having a good time, talking, eating, drinking, all that good stuff. Then, the music started to get louder and the dance floor started filling up. All of a sudden, my happy mood turned into one of unrelenting stress. It ruined my mood for the rest of the night.

It kind of sounds like Social Anxiety Disorder, but the number of people isn't really the problem. What happens is that once the music gets loud, the bass starts thumping, and people are all over the place dancing, my mind goes on high alert. I keep catching movements out of the corners of my eyes, and I have to look to see what it is. Any time I hear a noise, my attention is immediately drawn there. I spend the whole time looking from place to place to see who's doing what and where. My senses get overloaded, and I'm just unable to focus on anything, whether it be dancing, having a conversation, or even eating.

My inability to focus makes it sort of like Attention Deficit Disorder, but the only time it pops up is in a very noisy place with a lot of people moving all around. Secondly, I'm almost 100% sure that even in that situation, if you gave me a test, project, or somthing else I have to focus on, I'd be able to block the rest out. It's just when I have to participate in what everyone else is doing that my mind enters alert mode.

All that being said, even if it was some sort of weird disorder, I would never even consider taking drugs or seeking professional help for it because it really doesn't affect my life all that much. It just pops up at weddings, parties, noisy bars, clubs, etc.

Actually, that's not entirely true. It pops up in the pharmacy too. When the phone is ringing, there's a long line, and lots of other things to do all at the same time, I have a hard time focusing. I end up bouncing from place to place trying to take care of everything. For example, I could be in the middle of typing a script, and I hear the phone ring. The ring sounds like a blaring siren to me. It completely interrupts my focus. I look around to see if anyone is picking it up, and if no one answers by the second ring, I have to answer it myself. I just can't stand to hear it ring anymore.

It also pops up on the basketball court for me, but instead of being a detriment, I think it helps me. Being a point guard, it's very important to know where everyone on the floor is at all times. Since I have this intense need to know who is around me, where they are, and what they're doing, I'm able to keep track of all the players on the court. This helps me pass the ball. It helps me dribble through defenses. It even helps me find openings to get my shot off.

Actually, now that I think about it, it affects most of the things I do. I'm the same way driving, which is why I've never had an accident or gotten a ticket. I'm intensely aware of what other drivers are doing. I even spot things on the side of the road that might have the potential to run out in front of my car.

In any case, it's an interesting observation.... to me at least. It sort of bothers me that I can't have a good time at bars, clubs, parties, or weddings, but that's not really my scene anyway. I much prefer more quiet get-togethers.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Vigilance is an interesting capability of humans. We're surprisingly good at paying attention to the right things in the face of a lot of sensory input. I don't have to obsess about the tag that is scratching me on the neck when I'm being chased by a lunatic on PCP who is after my wallet and the demon that has stolen my soul.

Put enough inputs in, though, and it's understandable that the system breaks. Too many things vying for attention, can't process them all fast enough, hilarity ensues.

Two pathways to treat it - blunt everything with another margarita, or amp up the capacity of the vigilance centers with everyone's favorite $8 cup of coffee, Provigil. Totally unlike the effect of the sympathomimetic amines....

But of course, drugs are bad, m'kay?

E

Pharmacy Mike said...

Alcohol has absolutely zero effect on blunting my hyper alert mode. In fact, alcohol has no effect on my personality at all. I get less coordinated and sick to my stomach when I drink lots of alcohol. I don't loosen up one bit.

Anonymous said...

It sounds that you have PTSD or something along those lines. Extrasensory input and exaggerated startle response, along with the loud music could be triggering some sort of stress response. It could be mild or not; depends on how debilititating you believe it to be.

Anonymous said...

Dude...you're just an introvert...there's nothing wrong with you..you probably get energized by spending time alone..you hate big parties and would rather celebrate in a small group...you probably could work for the CIA with your observation skills because you notice everything....even in my writing style...it's in your nature....TV and just society in general would have you believe otherwise....Look this book up on amazon:

The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, Marti Olsen Laney

Corrinne said...

You really must despise me now. Anyway, I'm very similar. I know you trashed psychologists a little in one post (I will be one, someday. Although, I hope it will be in research). In my basic psych class there was a section on people who are sensitive to stimulation and that is usually why people are introverted. I am way too lazy to dig out that book but they did studies on noise and other distractions and people who were more introverted noticed/reacted to it much more than extroverts.

I think you just are more sensitive to noise, movement, etc.