I'd like my brain to have an off-switch, please.

I spent an hour this evening fidgeting restlessly in an Au Bon Pain downstairs from the testing center waiting for my cousins to finish their GMAT. (I'd finished my test about 2 hours early, scaring the bejeezus out of the test center admins, to whom I'd explained earlier that I was taking the test "for fun, and so my cousins would do it and get their rear in gear to actually apply to grad school instead of talking about how nice it'd be all the time." Apparently my score didn't match that explanation and my rapid sprint time through the exam.)

Anyway. I went down and the flywheel of my brain started to spin. Again. I got my notebook out and wrote until I ran out of paper. I had more things to write. Antsy. Raining outside. Warm inside. Cold outside. Logical thing to do: run in the rain! So I ran through the miserable weather and was rewarded when my brain was filled with thoughts like it is cold! and it is wet! rather than churning parallel streams of syllogisms and inequalities and thoughts on the test's design and matrices and North Carolina and wikis and engineering education and testbeds and upcoming conferences and statistics (that last list from looking back at the last page of my notebook alone; that's not everything, either).

But it was cold and wet. So I went into a bookstore. And I bought new notebook-ness. And read two books. (And looked in a GMAT test prep book to see what my score meant; apparently the sections are out of 60 points and the whole test is out of 800.) And got restless. And went back outside and ran through the rain again. And then sat down and FIDGETED FOR AN HOUR. Wished I had my laptop. Pen was screaming down the pages trying to find a way to get stuff in my brain out. Need more release valves. Need to learn more languages to create things with; need to learn some language of physical movement to expend energy with while saying something. My notebook is a cognitive artifact and a tool I can use alongside one of my coping skills of writing frantically. (See: this post.)

Cousins eventually showed up somewhere in the middle of my ruminations on unpacking various mechanisms for dealing with hyperactivity. Several thoughts from that:

  • I should appreciate the times I'm not obnoxiously hyperactive; those times are rare, and they are gifts. I need to notice what aspects those moments contain and then try to reproduce them more.
  • My coping skills for runaway-flywheel-brain are very good, but need to be better. I at least keep the churning mostly to myself. As I spiral-learn more how to understand this, I get better at channelling this into something productive. Very productive. Runaway-flywheel productive.
  • Sleep deprivation, physical motion, caffeine consumption, throwing myself into extreme data overload situations - these are all coping mechanisms that I use or have used in the past, and I am slowly learning that they correlate with treatment methods for ADHD. Hm.
  • My hearing loss is also, to some extent, an automatic coping mechanism. I have to expend significant amounts of mental effort to understand speech and to set myself up properly to react to auditory stimuli as if I were a normal hearing person. Even if much of that effort is now so easy and automatic as to be unconscious, it still takes up a ton of processing power, and very, very rarely, this will be revealed. So I think this may give me a continuous stream of stuff-to-do that's usually adequate to get my brain-quake down to the point where the steering wheel is functional. The tech analogies break down at some point, but that's the clearest way I can express it.

I'd like to, at some point, experiment more with this. I'd like to, at some point, see what Ritalin would do to me; I suspect that after one or two doses I'll just find it too weird and unnecessary, decide I don't want to depend upon a pill, and carry on - but I would like to actually know the effect and tradeoff.

"A 2009 study found that children with ADHD move around a lot because it helps them stay alert enough to complete challenging tasks." --Wikipedia

I've evolved through a series of these; knee-tapping and foot-swinging, hand-wringing, fidgeting with books and pencils and hair... I need to find a good nondestructive one. Maybe I should try a treadmill desk. I'll try working standing up and jogging in place for a bit tomorrow as a simulation (I'm trying that right now, but the lack of decent ergonomics makes it awkward, and my external keyboard is in a bedroom with a sleeping cousin).

Argh. I need to do these tickets. What can I do? I can... sleep now, I think I've made myself tired enough for that... I can sleep now, and I can find ways to make them shiny sprints when I get up in the morning a few hours from now. (See? Brain! Off switch! Complete lack thereof!) I can clear out everything from my computer screen except the things I need to work on and work through tomorrow. Let me do that.

Okay. Mostly done. Good enough that I'm satisfied that I can sit down back at this tomorrow.

Last conversation fragment stuck in my head, before I go to sleep:
"Do you have any idea how unique you are?"
"I know how lonely I've been."

Spiral-learning how to be a person is the bestest ever thing.