Rodeo Brain

I’ve blogged before about my diagnosis of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

It’s a contentious condition. Some believe it’s nothing more than an excuse for drug companies to medicate children.

I used to think that it wasn’t a real condition aOzymandiasnd the symptoms came on when kids were on lifestyles high in sugar and low in physical activity.

Some research and the risk of losing my job sent me to a specialist who agreed with my doctor’s diagnosis and I’ve been on Ritalin since November 2014.

The difference is remarkable. I can focus now. I can do things. I am no longer like Ozymandias, in Watchmen watching all those televisions at the same time.

Ritalin is a stimulant, it’s an upper. It boosts your brain’s feel-good chemicals – which you would think is the last thing someone with hyperactivity issues would need. Right?

Except, it works because it is giving your brain the stimulus it needs. Without medication, my brain is desperately trying to maintain normal neuro-chemical balances and that leads to all kinds of brain circuitry shorting out.

You don’t get high on methyl-phenidate hydrochloride (unless you do something stupid with it). You get focused, calm and your thinking gets smoothed out.

Mentally, I go from being a tornado to really fucking calm.

There are no side-effects that I have noticed (except if I take a dose too late in the evening – I have trouble getting to sleep).

The only harsh-on-my-squee is that the medication structures my creativity.

Imagine you are doing a Paint-by-Numbers picture. You consult the colour chart and you carefully fill in the marked section with Ambivalent Ochre or Peristalsis Yellow. In between you clean brushes and do one section at a time.

Now imagine you are painting the same Paint-by-Numbers masterpiece – but this time you have four brushes in each hand (grip them between the gaps in your fingers) and you are painting all the sections with… kinda the right colours… at the same time.

It looks great! It looks like Jackson Pollock ate a bucket of Froot Loops and then projectile vomited the entire mess onto a canvas (which then sold for $120 Million).

To expand on the visual metaphor, imagine you are painting 6 different Paint-by-Numbers portraits at the same time – using the Jackson Pollock approach.

This as they say, is your brain on drugs. Or in my case, your brain without drugs.

On medication, my brain is a structured, thinking, planning thing. It colours inside the lines and it does not tolerate foolishness.

My problem is I really need foolishness. My creativity was born and raised in the briar patch of completely random hyperactivity. I need to bang at the keyboard like a chimpanzee on LSD. I need to open the floodgates and let whatever random shit is dammed up in my subconscious come hurtling out in a multi-textured rainbow of what-the-fuck?

Ritalin doesn’t lobotomise my creativity. Ritalin puts a saddle on the unbroken horse and tells it to gee-up and pull the task wagon to the end of the journey. One. Step. At. A. Time.

Sometimes, I need the Rodeo Brain, where if I can hold on to an idea for more than 8 seconds, I can really produce something amazing.

The drawbacks are many however. So I’m working on finding a balance. Keep my medicated focus during work time and achieve great results where logic and wearing pants is mandatory. Then go home and write up a storm. This is possible because the medication is short acting. Go 12 hours without it and you really feel it (like chronic pain, you know when you need painkillers).

The best outcome would be to stay on the medication consistently and still be able to produce the creative results. As Igor will tell you, it ain’t easy finding the perfect brain.

One thought on “Rodeo Brain

  1. Great post. I used to believe the same as you but having lived the past 7 years with a child and partner who are both diagnosed ADHD, I can tell exactly when the medication kicks in (and wears off). It took time to get it right for my stepson but now he’s starting to enjoy school (aged 12) and get good results whereas before he’d just be so frustrated and angry with himself – he want to focus and do things but couldn’t stay on track.


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