On the search for a quietened mind

Photo by Les Argonautes on Unsplash

My recent weeks have been plagued with fatigue. It got to the point where popping out to the supermarket a few minutes down the road would leave me struggling, and I found myself frequently needing naps during the day.

I’m in the midst of understanding what being neurodivergent means in practice. It’s a lot to navigate – there’s certainly many things that make a lot more sense now, but I’m also cautious to jump to conclusions too quickly.

I went to my doctor this week who recommended I tried antidepressants. In an ideal world, I would have had a bit more time than a short consultation to think about it. In the end I decided to give them a try. I’m fortunate that I’m well passed the point of ‘pride’ against such things. Yet I was still worried how effective they would be with a neurodivergent condition.

The experience has been mixed, but I’m glad I agreed to try them. The downsides have been feeling more intense bouts of anxiety, as well as some headaches (including quite an intense one I have right now). Although I still have an appetite, the idea of feeling the texture of food puts me off from wanting to eat.

On the plus side, I’ve refound energy. It’s broken the cycle of feeling too tired to exercise, meaning I don’t engage my body and end up overthinking even further. My brain feels so much clearer and it’s the first time outside of specific meditative retreats where I don’t feel like I have a flurry of constant thoughts from the moment I wake up.

This experience of calmer thinking did make me wonder whether this was what it was like to be neurotypical. As part of going down further the self-diagnosis rabbit hole, I think I have ADHD (Inattentive Type). Much of my life has followed a curious mix of spacing out and impulsiveness, and the cycle of boredom-induced overthink describes my situation I’m currently facing very well. It also explains when I was younger where I would not fully understand what was going on during classes, usually because I would space out. Meanwhile on the more impulsive side, I can have quite sudden intense desires to socialise or do a new activity, which can come a little out of nowhere.

The reality of adult diagnosis for ADHD/Autism, particularly of the less visible kind, is that you are unlikely to ever figure out about them unless you hypothesise them for yourself, and then go to get it confirmed. I’m now seeing if I can find a good place to get tests done, though I also know I’ll have to pay for these myself since the public route to them could take years.

Internet resources and social media has been impressively helpful in any case. One of the best ways to discern experiences around antidepressants and ADHD/Autism has been to literally read Reddit threads. Meanwhile, on Instagram I’ve already found really interesting information around neurodivergency and nutrition. I now realise how much I’ve struggled with what is known as ‘executive dysfunction’ when it comes to choosing what to eat. If you want an example of executive dysfunction, imagine when your computer freezes and does not respond. That’s basically what happens to my brain.

I used to find the experience of going into a supermarket so overwhelming that I would give up and go home, only to agonise around what takeaway to order. I would be embarrassed by how often my housemates would hear I ordered that I would meet the delivery driver at the front door and generally eat in my own room. This would be a near-daily routine I would go through for about a year.

Quick and easy meals are paramount to me. And this goes beyond the norm of a working professional – I’m talking about potentially having the same meal regularly most days for weeks. Actually getting myself to cook has taken me years of trial and error to find some sort of consistency. I also now have meal shakes as another option for an easier ‘get out of jail’ card too.

It’s also been apparent how much my mental thinking has been affecting my fitness goals. Whilst I knew in theory that the separation of mind and body was artificial, I never saw how linked the two were until now. The fact that I could feel so exhausted from taking a short walk, but within two days do exercise classes and go for an hour long work simply because I took one tiny pill was honestly shocking. And the main difference was that my mind had calmed – the cycle of overthink drains both mind and body.

I’m hoping over the next week that some of the more negative symptoms of the pills subside, though I am also meant to increase my dosage by then too. Either way, it’ll take six weeks to properly assess how well these work or not.

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