A one-off statement that someone might be acting differently due to something going on in their life is empathy and awareness based on patterns of human experience. Nonstop analysis of what someone is or isn’t doing/thinking/feeling due to childhood issues or some other traumatic event is patronizing and unnecessarily intrusive.
There’s a reason mental health professionals go to school for a long time and continue education throughout their careers—because we should neither be making assumptions nor force-fitting people into certain models or theories. More importantly, you are not a therapist or counselor. It is not your job to therapize or solve someone’s problems.
Consider the big constellations of therapy speak that you use, if any. Are they about communication, relationships, or mental health diagnoses? Get educated correctly about them and know that a viral TikTok won’t always tell you the truth.
Speak in everyday language as simply as possible. And don’t assume you’re on the same page when someone uses a particular term—ask what they think it means.
If you’d like to mention your diagnosis, use it in a supportive way. For instance, as someone with ADHD, I might invite someone to walk and talk with me because it helps my brain focus better. I also might tell them that if they catch me doodling, I am actually listening; the physical action keeps my brain focused, and I am not being rude.
This way, I focus on making it a win-win-win for me, them, and the relationship. I always end with, “What do you think?” so we can find the middle ground. If you’re currently experiencing higher levels of anxiety, you could say, “I am feeling crappy today, so please don’t take it personally. If you see me distracted, you can call me back to Earth.”
Always make it a two-way street. How much information someone wants to give you, or how much they want to reflect about a situation, is up to them. You can state that the terms of your engagement are always up for review or discussion so that you both don’t feel trapped in the dynamic you’ve created.