Monday, February 8, 2016

You don't know something is hard until it's easy

I didn't know unloading the dishwasher was difficult until it was suddenly very easy.

This was my big revelation yesterday when I took Adderall for the first time. I had no idea how many strategies I'd been using to cope with the symptoms of a condition I hadn't even know I'd had before last week.

It struck me while I was putting away the clean dishes. I had been completely unaware that this seemingly-mindless task actually took a significant mental toll on me until I tried it with the aid of Adderall. I found myself simply taking dishes out of the dishwasher and sorting them into cabinets. Well duh, I hear you saying, how else would that chore go? Mind-spinningly differently, as it turns out.

Normally, putting away the dishes would take three times as long, because my order of operations would be significantly less efficient. I would put away a couple of bowls, then notice that a couple of mugs were still wet, dry them, put them away, go back to bowls, remember I wanted to make a cup of coffee, put water in the coffee maker, rinse out the reusable filter, get coffee from the pantry, get a clean mug from the dishwasher, turn on the coffee maker, put away a spatula, go back to the bowls, notice my phone needed to be recharged, plug it in...

I literally broke down crying and laughing at the same time when I realized how easy it was to unload the dishwasher yesterday. I laughed and cried with relief until my abs were sore. Then I joyfully finished putting away the dishes.


My first day on Adderall made me aware of how many ways I have been self-medicating: caffeine to improve alertness, carbonated beverages for sensory input, doodling while listening to something important to quiet that other part of my brain, playing with my hair to help me focus on a lecture, coloring while watching tv, snacking while reading just to do something with my hands, running my fingernail over my eyelashes to...I have no idea why I do that; it's a weird fidget.

Exercise has been the single most important way I self-medicate. I had always thought I was working out to fight my depression, but now I see that the relief I feel when I'm finished at the gym is due in part to my brain being able to relax and focus. I've also discovered in the last year or so the benefit of following a pre-written exercise regimen (like on BodyBuilding.com) because I have trouble organizing an effective routine for myself and following it. Lately I've been taking a clipboard to the gym and physically checking things off as I finish them, and I'm loving the results, both physically and mentally.

So today, not on speed, I am more mindful of my coping strategies, and better able to consciously deploy them to get through my day.

It has been a week of revelations.

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