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Dr_Anderson, Doctor
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Psychiatrist
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Im an academic, so I need to write a lot. But sometimes my

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I'm an academic, so I need to write a lot. But sometimes 'my head doesn't work'. I've used this phrase since I was little. Now, I know there's little point in trying to write when 'my head doesn't work'. The problem is, I need my head to work... I worry I am bipolar, and this is just a symptom of when I'm in a bad phase... does this make any sense whatsoever?

Dr_Anderson : Greetings, and thank you for your question. Could you please tell me what you mean and what it feels like when your "head doesn't work?" There are lots of possible options, ranging from ADHD to mood disorders to seizure disorders, but a description of your experience with htis would be most helpful.
Dr_Anderson : I see you are offline right now, so please let me know when you are online so I may assist you.
Dr_Anderson : Regards,
Dr_Anderson : Dr. Anderson

Flying thoughts. Inability to focus. Anxiety. Very creative. But lousy at stringing words together - verbally is fine, it's on paper that's the problem. I get all 'wordy' and can't say what's in my head. Like there's a block between what I'm thinking and the paper. Just doesn't come out on paper. It's like a massive stammer when I try to write. Just can't get the words out. They just won't come out. So I speak it all but can't write a thing. It's a writing problem, mostly. But a big problem, as the stress of it makes it all worse. Just a big block between my head and my thoughts and the paper/screen. And when I do manage to do it, the structure is so bad I can't share it with anyone as I feel crazy, but that's a problem when co-writing something, as I don't want them to see how messed up my head is and how bad I am at writing coherently. Writing like this is fine, but it's because it's about me. I can't write about my thoughts about other stuff. Can't explain... It's a writing thing and all I know is that I've always had it. It gets worse when I'm stressed. But it's almost always there. Like a massive stammer, the words just don't come out...

Dr_Anderson : Thank you for the extra information. There are a couple most likely candidates for what is going on. It does not sounds like a mood or anxiety disorder, although certain kinds of anxiety disorders can lead to an expressive aphasia.
Dr_Anderson : What this sounds most consistent with is either an attention deficit disorder or a dysgraphia. With the former, people often describe feeling "wordy" and unable to get to the point, often pursuing "rabbit trails" before wandering back to the main point. Adults with this often feel discombobulated in their thinking and/or speech.
Dr_Anderson : With dysgrapghia, there is a disconnect between what is being thought of and what is expressed. But unlike the disordered thinking feeling of attention deficit, the thoughts feel clear to the person, they just can't get them out in a coherent fashion.
Dr_Anderson : The best way to proceed would be to have neuropsycholigcal testing done to assess for both problems. Then, armed with the results, the most appropriate treatment can be pursued.
Dr_Anderson : The treatment differs for each problem, so knowing exactly what it is is very important.

Interesting. Dysgraphia sounds more like what it is. What you say about the thoughts feeling clear but not getting them out right is how it feels.

Dr_Anderson : If that is the case, working with an occupational or speech therapist can make a world of difference.
Dr_Anderson : It is often also referred to as an expressiver writing disorder.

Really interesting. Never even thought of something like that. Great to hear that occupational/speech therapy might help.


Definitely feels like a writing disorder!!


I daren't tell anyone at work, since my work is so much about writing...

Dr_Anderson : Yes, very much so. What they will do is train you, in steps, to take your thoughts and put them on paper. Instead of trying to write it all down in one feel swoop, they will teach you to get the main point out, and build up around it.

Wow, that sounds great. And something that I feel would really help. It's like it's all in there, in my head, but like a traffic jam, and I can't get them out, despite really trying, and trying different things to help etc.


It's always worse with stress...


But never easy. I'm really slow etc.

Dr_Anderson : So, if what you want to say is "The main result of this period in history was that the influx of new cultures led to a dilution of parliamentary power" instead you'd write "parliament dilution" and build from there.

And usually I have a picture of what I'm trying to say but I can't put it into words...

Dr_Anderson : Yes, kind of like a stutter, like you said, but with writing instead of verbal words.

Lol, wow, that's kind of what I try to do! If I can get the first few words, it really helps.... Really really interesting.

Dr_Anderson : I would, first chance you get, contact some local speech therapists and seek an evaluation.

I hadn't even thought of speech therapists as being able to help...

Dr_Anderson : Not just for speech anymore. :)

I'll definitely do that. Really want to crack it... And I'm reaching a ceiling now in terms of my own ways of hiding/coping with it and recognise I need techniques to 'unblock' me.



Dr_Anderson : But the good news is they can build upon the skills you have already been using - they are not starting from scratch.

I've said it to people all my life, but feels as though you're the first person who's grasped the bit of it that I get stuck with. I think because I eventually get there, and they don't see the process - which is a real nightmare, embarrassing, ridiculously convoluted etc etc. - they don't quite appreciate the torture it takes to get a paragraph out...


I say I get there, but my writing is always 'strained'.. I can see it too but can't change it as I get to a point where I know I can't do any better given how much I've struggled just to get to that bit...


It feels like a massive secret pressure cooker has been released!


so does it kind of come or go? I mean, can I be worse at times? It's never easy, but sometimes it's defnitely worse, but then I've just put that down to stress... But the then the 'stuckness' makes my stress worse...


and a speech therapist is the way to go? Even at 39?? I am naive I guess, but I just thought they were for kids or adults who'd had accidents...

Dr_Anderson : It is usually worse with strress. Not that it goes away when there is no stress, but it flows a lot easier with low stress. Also, you may note that it is a lot easier and your words flow when you are just "free associating." Why? No structure has to go with it. But the more structure and stress, the harder it usually becomes. It's like one of those dreams when you dream that you need to move, but in the dream you are paralyzed. Same concept, except it is your speech that is not moving, at least onto the printed page.
Dr_Anderson : Yes, a speech therapist definitely can help! This is not a new problem, but an old one, that has finally overwhelmed your ability to manage it.
Dr_Anderson : Not a new problem, just finally a critical one.

Wow, the way you are hitting the nail on the head in how you describe it makes me almost feel emotional. Free association is definitely easier, and is fine for getting ideas out, but can't help me write a structured argument coherently etc. That's spot on in terms of where the struggle is.


But verbally, I'm fine! It's always been writing!!


Always. Like there's always been a block between between me and my world and me writing...


Ok, that's great. Thanks for the help. You've been great.


I'll follow this up with a speech therapist, then.

Dr_Anderson : An exercise an old English professor had us do was he'd give us a topic to write on, and tell us to write, free-flowing. No paragraphs, no punctuation, no grammar...just write. Once our 10 minutes was up, THEN he'd have us go back and edit, putting grammar, punctuaiton, etc. in. What we turned out in those exercises was really quite good! They'll probably have you do similar exercises.
Dr_Anderson : My pleasure to help out! Please let me know if you have any other questions. And, positive feedback is always welcome! :)
Dr_Anderson : Best wishes!
Dr_Anderson : Regards,
Dr_Anderson : Dr. Anderson

Ok, great. Thanks for that. And yes, positive feedback will be left. To be honest, I'm shocked at how spot on you have been... Excellent. Thank you. And thanks also for 'listening' when so many haven't heard!


All the best, E

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