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Stop/Start



 

Today I took a walk without headphones on, and noticed how exhausted I was.


I've always joked about my inability to moderate the intensity with which I operate: going either full speed or not going at all. Since starting treatment for ADHD some months ago, the extremes of my personal gearstick have become more obvious - at least to me if not for anyone else.


What I'm used to are long spells of fatigue and lack of direction, as if trying to find a way in a thick fog that only reveals your surroundings little by little.

And when a clear patch on the path ahead appears, I sprint until the fog descends again.


At the risk of sounding like an advertisement for the phamacological industry, the ADHD medication I'm on now has managed to clear out some of the fog and given me longlasting clarity of my surroundings.


However, my mind is still operating in a framework where any sign of potential energy is to be utilised immediately and to its very last drop. You can never be certain that there is anything to be harnessed the next day, you see.

Except that now the pool of energy keeps getting refilled. And drained. And refilled.


It is easy to see why kids on too high a dose of stimulant medication can become robot-like. Their inbuilt task-accomplishing system is driving them at the cost of all of the other things that a human brain is capable of. And without the abilities to self-reflect and articulate that only come with age, it's the school and parents who are left to decide what amount of inattention and hyperactivity is acceptable.


All that is to say that it isn't always, if ever, optimal to work until you no longer can no matter how inspired and motivated you are. You may be able to keep recovering from overworking for a long time, even years but eventually draining your mental resources will result in burnout.


It is especially hard for someone like me who has always been a high-achiever, pefectionist even, but who periodically struggles with depression and the lethargy that comes along with it, to deliberately pause when I'm experiencing high levels of energy, focus and flow. At times it feels impossible.


To think that in a span of months I've gone from struggling to start to struggling to stop.