Thursday, November 30, 2006

chapter 4


The first drug I tried (I mentioned this earlier) was Adderall. It worked very well. Too well. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt a little euphoric and as if I was on autopilot. Sure, I got a lot of work done, but it didn't feel nature. It felt like something I could easily become dependent on. Liking it a little too much, I realized it wasn't good to continue taking.

That said, the first day I took Adderall I noticed something unexpected: People didn't frustrate me.

Let's face it; we all work with frustrating people. People interrupt you with questions, and they want to talk too long while you want to work (or, in my case, continue being lost in a world of racing thoughts).

It was on this day when a guy, the most annoying guy in the world, came to my office. "Oh boy," I thought, "Here we go."

But it wasn't bad. In fact, something interesting happened: I listened to him and I wasn't annoyed. He had a lot of really important stuff to talk about. I wondered if this had always been the case. In the past I would have just tuned him out after the first few minutes of conversation. He would talk and I would not and he sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher to me (wah wah wah… wah wah wah…).

Even more, I wasn't frustrated by him. I didn't have this feeling of being bombarded by too much stimuli. I was able to just listen to him, without letting my mind wonder to the 10 other things it normally would have.

I wish I still had this. One day, a week or so before starting medication, I opened Notepad on my computer and typed everything I was thinking at that very moment. The list of items racing through my mind neared 20.

Imagine, trying to focus on something, anything, when you have 20 things going through your mind. Imagine trying to carry on a conversation with someone.

It reminds me of the times when, in a moment of tremendous racing thoughts, I would start talking to my wife. I spoke fast, so as to get all my thoughts in before they were lost and before I could be distracted by her response. Each new sentence was a new subject.

My wife would often say, "Matt, I can't follow you. You need to slow down."

I'm not hyper. Never have been, but conversationally I've never been an easy person to engage with. Too many subject changes. Too many thoughts. To much randomness about the subjects I bring up.

Okay, so as I mention it, that's sort of endearing, isn't it? It's cute to be full of thoughts. In fact, I think it's downright creative! It's the essence of an artistic mind! Frankly, I've always sort of liked this about myself.

But when it came to work and getting things done, it could be a little crippling. Imagine trying to write software when you are surrounded by 10 television sets all tuned to different stations. Not easy. Imagine trying to sit through a meeting that way. Imagine trying to listen to your spouse's "honey-do" list that way.

It's no wonder my wife grew frustrated every day, think I refused to listen to her. She'd rattle off things that she needed to do and I would nod and say, "Uh huh." Maybe I heard and maybe I didn't. If I did happen to hear, the instruction was quickly lost in a mountain of other thoughts.

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