Talking too much may be a disorder

April 15, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

Q. I frequently see letters in columns like yours about talkative co-workers. Never addressed in the answer is that it’s possible the talkative co-worker has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

I am one of those talkative co-workers. Over the years, my habit of talking, including the overly detailed too-much-information aspect, has been met with complaints, disdain, and even hostility from teachers, bosses, and co-workers. As much as I tried not to do it, sometimes it was just beyond my control — or I did not even realize it was happening. I was diagnosed with ADHD last year after one too many co-worker complaints. After meeting with a psychiatrist, I was told I have one of the more extreme cases he’d seen in a while!

Many adults who have ADHD don’t think they have it and go undiagnosed. Many of the symptoms — lack of focus, easily distracted, etc. — are things people simply don’t think they have because they’ve lived with them all their lives. The problems they have from the symptoms are often attributed to other things.

I am now on medication, which helps a lot of the time. I still talk a lot and still get a hostile vibe from some co-workers, but when a compassionate co-worker signals me to tone it down, I can recognize it and bring it under control.

One thing I’ve thought a lot about since I was diagnosed is how easy it is for people to jump on what they see as a character flaw and treat someone like less of a person because of it, instead of trying to understand that there is a problem and proceeding in a compassionate way.

MISS M. A. Your letter is most interesting, and I’ll admit it offers a scenario I have never thought of. I will say that I, myself, when nervous if someone does not respond, will continue nattering on — as opposed to just being quiet. I do not know if this is disordered behavior or not, but it has embarrassed me on occasion. I guess I always assumed it was my own JRTSD (Jerky Response to Silence Disorder).

Q. “Stella’’ and I have been close friends since we were kids in California. Although I now live 3,000 miles away, we’ve remained fairly close. She is getting married this summer in Oregon, and I am a bridesmaid. I am happy to pay for the expenses of flying home, renting a car, staying in a hotel for two nights, and dealing with the dress, alterations, shoes, hair, etc. However, I am wondering what to do about the shower.

Stella’s sister, “Fern,’’ is the maid of honor. She and the other bridesmaids (all local) are renting a room at an upscale restaurant for an elegant shower-luncheon. It’s understood that I will not be able to fly home for the shower, though of course I will send a gift. Am I supposed to help pay the costs of the shower? What about the bachelorette party, which I will not be able to attend, either?

ETIQUETTE VS. FINANCES A. This is your lucky day. In the situation as you describe it, there is no conflict between etiquette and finances. I give you permission to forget about contributing to either the shower or the bachelorette party. You already have many expenses the other girls do not, and no one in her right mind would expect any more of you . . . or from you. Have a lovely time.

All letters must be sent via e-mail to