“OMFG, I’m dyslexic.” and the Self-Doubt Swirl

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Please excuse me as I have this enormous venting session. I told you in my previous blog post that shit was about to get real. So I guess here I am, being the most real I have ever been in my life.

What's in this post

1) What to do when your friend tells you they think they might be dyslexic (or child, I'm sure a child is feeling this even more so, but literally don't have the words to express their thoughts.)
2) OMFG, I’m dyslexic. Thank you Google for telling me!
3) The Self-Doubt Swirl Explained


Side note: 
I'm adopting a new standard format for this blog because this is how a dyslexic person reads best. They want to know what you're going to talk about up front. They want it broken out into sections. It's nice to have some variance in text (bolding, italics, CAPS, etc.) so it makes it easier to follow and digest.

Pictures are nice too. A lot of dyslexic people think visually with pictures, so having pictures really helps solidify an idea.

And guess what? This format works for non-dyslexic people too! 🤯So, if I tell you that this is how I like to see my text, books, websites, and you say..."Well, I like/do that too." That's LITERALLY not the point. Please realize I've spent years and years of my life functioning the same way that you all have, but work way harder to do the same shit that you do ok? And the best part is, my updated formating is easier for EVERYONE to read, not just dyslexic people.

It's just that as a dyslexic person, I absolutely need my text written this way so I don't have to read what's been written 5 million times to understand wtf you're talking about. In the past, I've considered doing more blog posts in this way, but figured it would take a little bit more time, that maybe it seemed a little bit "weird". (Hello, self-doubt swirl. 🌀)

What to do when your friend tells you they think they might dyslexic

Let me first begin by saying: If a grown adult and close friend tells you that they think they might be dyslexic, your go-to reaction should not be within the first 5 minutes: "Maybe you should verify with a psychiatrist." They are telling you because you’re a close friend. They value your opinion and needs to talk it out and perhaps they want to verify with you first. 🤯

Why going to a psychiatrist isn't one of the first steps to processing this:
  • Going to the psychiatrist is super time consuming. (Side Note: Poor time management is another symptom of dyslexia. And I know it's #metoo, a lot of other people suffer from being bad with their time. However, please don't invalidate a person's feelings just because you also share similar struggles in life. You might not really be dyslexic, and they might be.)
  • It takes time to set up an appointment. If they just figured this out, their first step isn't to go set up an appointment because that's not what they need. They need a friend, not a professional.
  • It's a distruption to their work life. You think I want to cancel a bunch of meetings next week so I can go see the shrink to talk about this issue that I might or might not have?
  • If you think something's been wrong with you for 32 years of your life, you'd likely want to vet your own self-doubt with close friends who you know the best. 
  • Finally, going to a psychiatrist is super extreme if you're actually wrong, and you're just misdiagonsing yourself on the internet.
Also, guess what, if this is your first reaction, it's also been almost every other person's reaction. So you're having this conversation with me once, I'm having the same conversation 5 more times with any other person I chose to confide in. So if you end up being the receiving end of a freak out of: NO I'M NOT GOING TO FUCKING SEE THE PSYCHIATRIST RIGHT NOW That's probably why. :)

So, here's a better conversation you can have:

You: Oh, what makes you think that?
Dyslexic person who confided in you: XYZ things, am I crazy?
You: Oh, that’s interesting. Let’s learn more about it together. Can you share the symptoms that you think you see? I wonder if there’s any of these symptoms that I see in you, because I’m someone you chose to confide in.
Dyslexic person who confided in you: Oh, that’d be great. I just think I’m crazy, but maybe I’m not… right???
You: No, you’re not crazy. I’m here for you. Let’s talk it out, and maybe we can sort through some of these symptoms.

Real life example of a positive outcome of this conversation: “Oh, I can see that sometimes when I have conversations with you, and you become just a little bit spacey. That seems to be a symptom. Perhaps we can figure out together what you can do next (i.e. see a psychiatrist, etc.)”

Shelly POV: This is a positive outcome because I've been putting this "Am I really dyslexic?" filter through all aspects of my life. I'm now coming to the conclusion, YES omg, this is me. This is what has been wrong with me at every stage of my life. At this point, 6 days into processing all this, I have never been SO SURE of anything else in my life.

More on why seeing the psychiatrist is clearly not the best first step:
Have you considered that maybe as a close friend, seeing symptoms and someone's behavior from an external perspective can help contribute in the information gathering phase, BEFORE someone goes to see a psychiatrist? You know, because when the psychiatrist asks you what's wrong with you, and you're trying to describe an issue you've dealt with for 32 years of your life but hiding it so well, that you hid it from yourself, that a non-biased 3rd party perspective is nice to have?



I also don't care that what I have might not be dyslexia. That it could be something else. I think the key thing to note here is: I think there's something wrong with me, and I might have figured it out. Hell, maybe I haven't even told you that I think there's been something wrong with me, because I've been doubting that anything's wrong since there's no logical reason why I shouldn't be happy.

We can go see the psychiatrist later because I've clearly been a functioning human up until now, and I don't need the damn psychiatrist right now. I just wanted to talk to you so I stop talking to myself like a crazy person. Priority #1: Me just processing this and figuring this out, and having time to process it. I don't think I need a MRI or any of that BS to tell me what's wrong with me, ok?

To my friends reading this and I sent this to you because I'm a bit mad at you:
These were all things that I might have said to you as I started to feel angry with your response, but a sign of dyslexia is:

"Difficulty putting thoughts into words; speaks in halting phrases; leaves sentences incomplete; stutters under stress; mispronounces long words, or transposes phrases, words, and syllables when speaking." - Test for Dyslexia: 37 Common Traits

I'm still a little bit mad, but I completely understand that the first reaction when you don't know how to respond to something is, "I don't know, you should see a professional." I understand you don't want to allow me to misdiagonse myself and contribute to my inner crazy, but seriously, we can talk about this for ~2 weeks, then I can make an appointment if we both agree that it makes sense.

It likely makes sense to, but once again: Priority #1: Me just processing this and figuring this out, and having time to process it. I don't think I need a MRI or any of that BS to tell me what's wrong with me, ok?

If you're busy when the person reaches out to you, just tell them that. That you still care, would like to talk more, so set up some time to just talk to them. That's literally all they want from you, a friend.

So, remember: If a grown person tells you that they think they have dyslexia, they might be suffering from something I just made up called the Self-Doubt Swirl (more below). Looks like I’ve grown up always doubting myself, and it’s nice to be able to talk to other people who aren’t always trying to prove you wrong.

Whew, okay, let's go back to the beginning of how this all started.


OMFG, I’m dyslexic. Thank you Google for telling me!

6 days ago, I made the mental connection that I have dyslexia. Yes, I figured it out like how most people who has dyslexia as an adult figures it out: through the internet. 


I have been sharing it with a select few people who I really trust and want to confide in. I think it’s the reason why I have been so tired all the time and generally disengaged with life, feeling tired all the time, even though I appear to be a generally positive person.

I've also been disengaged on this blog since I haven't really thought of anything interesting to share with you. Anything interesting I would put out is just a repeat of something else on the internet. I don't need to waste my time regurgitating other things I see on the internet.

If you're reading this blog because you thought you were here for some lightweight food content, you're not gonna get that right now. Unsubscribe, I literally don't care.

This new discovery is fascinating to me. As someone who loves to learn about new things, this is probably one of the craziest new things to learn. Fun fact: ~10% of people on earth has dyslexia, yet when I search on Google, no one on the internet has talked about this topic at length. Especially not from a perspective of someone who's suffering from dyslexia and just discovered it. I'm personally tired of reading more articles about possible symptoms written by people who don't have dyslexia.

However, here's a YouTube video on "Dyslexic Advantage - What You May Not Have Heard About Dyslexia" that has brought me to tears as I understood so deeply what they were talking about.

This video has less than 100K views, was uploaded in 2013 - so you know not too many people are talking about this issue. In comparsion, this random "11 MIN OF DANK CAT MEMES" video has 7.7M views. So 7 million people are super aware of dank cats, but less than 100,000 people understand some advantages of dyslexia. Compare that to the 10% of people on earth who might have dyslexia... (700,000,000 people on earth? Seems like a lot but not a proof point I care to research). MAYBE it's time we start talking about why and how some people think differently. Sorry, but I digress. I just had to put my YouTube/Googler hat on for a second there.

Why I want to be super honest and open about this topic:
I'm typically an open book, so I don't want to hide this fact from anyone, especially if anyone else out there is also suffering from the same thing but did not realize it yet. Apparently Steve Jobs had dyslexia and didn't know it until very late in his life. I have no source for this, but all knowing Google has it written in sites that no one validated ;). But, notice that Steve Job only presents his keynote slides with very few words, and typically only with pictures. Seems a little dyslexic if you're asking me. 🤔 But, this further proves that a "dyslexic-friendly" formating is easier for EVERYONE to read, not just dyslexic people. This is something that I'm starting to adopt in every aspect of my life, effective immediately.

That said, you'll be hearing A LOT more from me about this moving forward. Once I get some interesting content out about this dyslexia issue I've been dealing with, we can get back to the fun stuff that got you here in the first place: Food, Travel, Fitness. I still love those things, but let's sort through my inner crazy first, ok?


The Self-Doubt Swirl Explained

Cool, so let's talk about why I'm mad.


Ever since I’ve made the realization that I’m dyslexic, I’ve been telling my friends and a few co-workers (required because my job is hard, and if this is an issue, I need to start doing things ASAP so my work life doesn't continue to suffer). I’ve told enough people now where I’m actually tired of dealing with this conversation, because I think people don’t know what to say and they accidentally say the wrong thing and I get pissed off.

So I created the ideal conversation ("What to do when your friend tells you they think they might dyslexic") that I’d like to have with you, so you don’t piss me off.

Here’s the typical flow of the conversation before I created my ideal conversation that I mentioned above. Some of my conversations in the last few days have really started to piss me off. I don't want to be mad, I just want to deal with this so I can move on with living my life.

Conversations I've been having for the last 6 days
Shelly has a thought and expresses it: I think I am dyslexic.
Other people: No, you aren't. You can read, dyslexia means you can’t read right? You can read! Also you work at Google, and you're a highly functional person!
Shelly: Yes, but I’ve been reading all these symptoms, and I really feel like I'm likely dyslexic.
Other people: No, but are you sure? Maybe you should go see a psychiatrist.
Shelly in her head: Wait are they right and I’m wrong? If so many people think they’re right and I’m wrong, then reality must be... I’m wrong.

As more and more of these conversations are happening, I’ve been getting increasingly upset. And as I’m writing this all out, I understand why. It’s because for all my life, I’ve been living in this Self-Doubt Swirl whenever I have a thought and I express it.

The Self-Doubt Swirl Framework
Shelly has a thought and expresses it: I think this.
Other people: No, you don’t.
Shelly: Yes, it is like this.
Other people: No, but xyz.
Shelly in her head: Wait are they right and I’m wrong? If so many people think they’re right and I’m wrong, then reality must be... I’m wrong.

You guys, this is how fucking type-a personalities develop stealth dyslexia. A person who's not as type-a becomes straight up depressed, and really suffers in life because you don't believe them.

From understood.org: “Stealth dyslexia” is a term we coined in 2005. At the time, we noted that these students typically “avoid the radar of detection” just like stealth airplanes. Since these students score well on reading comprehension tests, most people think they can’t be dyslexic. Yet these students also show the most classic feature of dyslexia: They struggle with phonics and decoding.

Baby Shelly

With that as a little background, now imagine this Self-Doubt Swirl Framework being applied back when I was 5, as I was first starting to learn how to read English as an immigrant.

Shelly has a thought and expresses it: This is really hard to read. I can’t figure out how to do this.
Other people: No, this isn’t hard to read, look at all the other kids doing it.
Shelly: No, but it’s really hard. Like, it’s really hard.
Other people: No, but Shelly, you’re such a smart kid.* Also, you just moved to America, so that’s why learning to read English is hard.
Shelly in her head: Wait, are they right and I’m wrong? If so many people think they’re right and I’m wrong, then reality must be... I’m wrong.

(*Not to be a confident prick, but I was really smart as a kid. As a 2 year old, I was able to memorize stories and recite it back better than a 6 year old. True story. But that’s because I was listening and memorizing. I was not reading.)

Then imagine, you continue this swirl all through elementry school. You've worked SO hard to learn how to read, so it's not a problem anymore. But then any future time you're learning by the way that "everyone else" learns, this swirl continues.

The swirl continues through middle school
Shelly has a thought and expresses it: This new thing I'm learning is really hard. I really can’t figure out how to do this.
Other people: No, it isn't that hard, look, everyone else finds it kind of hard too.
Shelly: No, but it’s really difficult. Like, it’s REALLY difficult.
Other people: No, but Shelly, just work harder and you'll figure it out.
Shelly in her head: Wait, hrmmm, I guess they're right, I'll just work a little harder and I'll understand it.

Guess what, by high school and college, I've just stopped telling people that I think things are difficult. I just figured it's a fact of life, that it's probably a little bit hard, but if I work hard, I'll get over it and finally understand.

Insights based on the self-doubt swirl and work ethics to fight against the swirl


  • This is probably why I'm such a freaking anal person who works super hard all the time.  I've worked hard my whole life. Likely harder than a lot of other people. Cool life skill to develop, but you know, it really really sucks to have your feelings invalidated as a child for most of your life. 
  • Guess what? In order to be where I am today, I've basically been working under some learning disadvantage, but at the same speed as you. That's why I can do things super quickly. One part of my brain has been doing this super crazy freakish 32 year personal training session to overcompensate for the fact that it's hard for me to process and decode words. So overall, I'm very happy I have dyslexia because I feel like it's actually going to benefit me in life to have trained so hard to be like this. 
  • 35% of U.S. entrepreneurs suffer from dyslexia - ahem, Steve Jobs (no source, just Google it). I believe it though, because entrepreneurs are just stubborn people with new ideas. They have to work hard to prove this new idea works, even if no one believes them. What? You want a touch screen phone, that's also a camera, AND a music player? You're hella crazy Steve. Steve: 

    🙄 

     
  • Finally, people often wonder why I get so upset when I think I’m right, and then have to defend why I’m right. (I’ve also wondered this about myself, this has been me for the last 6 days: 🤯)
If you know me in real life, you’ll know that I’m usually right because I spend SO MUCH TIME, ENERGY & EFFORT making sure that I’m right before I say anything. I do this so that I don’t have to argue with you about why I’m right. I guess all that swirl is good in some ways, but seriously mentally draining in other ways.

And you know what? More props to you if you can prove that I’m wrong. Because, if you can prove me wrong, I will trust you that much more because I understand that you’re seeing something that I’m not seeing. I appreciate people who can prove me wrong. But seriously, at this point most of my friends know when I say something and I'm being firm about it… I’m probably right.

I'm not so stubborn that I can't listen to other people's opinions, it's just I'm sick and tired of trying to prove that I'm right. I'm tired of combatting my own self doubt, and your doubt of me.


Conclusion

This is why I've been extra tired and drained. I’m really tired you guys. I’m tired of defending my feelings and having to validate to you why I think what I think. So, I’m probably going to stop telling people now, and send them this blog post.

I’m emotionally tired. I’m also a bit angry, but you know I’m an open book. I really think people should know about this issue and have a look inside the psychology of it because this overall Self-Doubt Swirl has lingered all throughout my life. The only difference is, I've been a Googler for 8 years now. I'm pretty good at my job since I haven't gotten fired or pushed out because I've been working so god damn hard. This also means I'm finally confident enough in myself to just tell you to fuck off. (I'm working on being nicer at work, that's an area of development for me lol)

By the way, this fuck off mentality also applies to myself. I think I'm ready to also tell my own inner voice that doubts me all the time to also fuck off. :) To the voice in my head that's correct and is logical, I'm going to continue listening to you. Otherwise, seriously, just fuck off and let me do this how I want to. Thanks.

I wanted to apologize and say sorry for being so angry and for dropping so many f-bombs in a blog post. But you know what, no. Sorry, Not Sorry. I’ll be nicer once I deal with this. And yes, I’m going to be talking this out with my therapist. But until then, I’m probably just not going to talk to any other new people about my issues because I'll just get pissed off, and I'm trying to not be pissed off. I have to be a functional adult at work, and I can't just be pissed off all the time.

Finally, thank you for a few amazing people who helped me get to where I am today despite having dyslexia
A few people are wondering how I now work at Google if I have dyslexia. It's because I have always had a few close friends who have really supported me with 1:1 tutoring when I didn't understand something. Instead of forcing me to read some book or 50 page document to understand, or sit in a lecture hall where there's 800 students and 1 professor (UGH CAL was so bad for me), some really really kind souls have just taken the time to personally walk me through some things that I didn't fully undersatnd.

I'm so grateful for them. I'm literally where I am today because of their help. So I'll keep saying it, thank you thank you thank you. Unlike most people who just write me off as being weird, crazy, stupid, whatever -- it's with your help that I'm able to be here as a functional adult.

I'll be sharing more insights very soon on how I'm seeing the world now with this new lens. As it turns out, because of dyslexia, writing and drawing everything down helps me remember everything better.

Normal person: I remember things better too when I write it down. (People have been telling me shit like this when I explain to them some of my 'symptoms'.)
Me: No, STFU, I literally need to write it down or I will forget. Kind of like that movie Memento.



*PS* On a normal day, I would probably proofread this a million times, work on fixing any grammar issues, but I’m really tired and I literally don’t care. Maybe I’ll fix it later. Thanks. I just really really needed to put this all out there. :)

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