Then, There’s The American Way To Be Crazy
So I’m hoping you read the Tactician’s previous post about what around here we call ADHD. You know, the original membership criteria for Editorhood Without Conviction was originally to be a) expatriation; b) moderate, or at least nuanced, political views, and c) one or more neurological conditions, but the latter was discarded in the interests of broadening the universe of potential collaborators. Nevertheless, the majority of us still qualify, with extra diagnoses to go around, even. (Perhaps we should retroactively amend the hiring policy such that the number of separate psych and/or neurological diagnoses cannot be fewer than the number of editors; sort of a Craziness Parity rule that would also be a form of affirmative action.)
So. Yeah, I’m pretty crazy. I don’t particularly enjoy talking about it, but the Tactician is good for making one feel usefully uncomfortable. ADHD — the H is for hyperactivity, which I don’t have, but according to the American diagnostic manual, that’s “ADHD without hyperactivity” and not the infinitely more sense-making “ADD” — makes my head a pretty awful place to be. Because I don’t actually need external stimuli to be distracted; they will arise from within, and they arise from within pretty much always in the form of thoughts about how much I suck; usually including but not limited to how much I suck for not making progress on the task I’m currently being distracted from by thinking about how much I suck.
If you’re seeing the potential for a bit of a downward spiral there, you are to be congratulated on your perspicacity. And my tendency to ride the Spiral Waterslide of Anxiety all the way down to the Crazy Lagoon would constitute my second diagnosis, that of GAD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Then there’s the autism. I really hate talking about it. I would rather you just assume I’m weird and an asshole than some species of mental deficient; assholes have more dignity. Suffice it to say that I have never understood why the fuck any of you wonderful people were doing whatever you were doing. To the extent that I was ever able to gauge your feelings or engage in appropriate social interaction with you, it was by carefully considering your likely motivations and goals and making an intellectual guess about what was going on in your head, and what you might be expecting from me at that moment. Long years of practice have made me adequate at this; you should have seen me when I was younger. Still, if there are more than three of you together at once, trying to keep track of everything you’re all doing at once becomes total sensory overload and I find myself needing to flee the room.
There are a few, and only a few, things I can easily do to help. One is to get up quite early, which is not remotely in my nature, and start getting work done before I’m awake enough to remember that I actually hate myself. I always prioritize tasks in descending order of odiousness so that I can get the worst out of the way before distraction sets in. And I try to divide tasks into discrete, easily completed chunks, so that no task looms too large. Sometimes these methods work adequately, other times, miserably poorly.
So how do I cope with all this and still maintain my high-flying lifestyle of looting Western Civilization’s twitching corpse?
Well, I’ll tell you.
It’s very simple.
I take speed.
No, don’t be thumbing the “Report This” link at the top of the page, it’s all quite legal, I can assure you. I am duly prescribed the stuff by a physician. Who, I promise, really does have my best interests in mind in so doing.
The first time I took a dose, it was though God’s hand reached down and turned my metaphysical tuner dial just that extra fraction of a degree into the radio station of my soul. I know you’re howling with laughter right now, but I can’t describe it in terms less exotic and get across just how much of a difference it made. All of a sudden, impersonating one of you fine, normal, non-crazy people seemed a laughably easy thing! I could do it while barely thinking about it! I could… go to parties! And stay there! And not run and hide in the bathroom! And during the day, I could actually concentrate on doing work and not on why and how I’ve gone wrong with my life to lead me to my sad pass.
There is a downside. Speed frees the id. It tells you that what you want is right and that you should have it. In a culture where being a greedy, scheming, ambitious striver is seen as the highest good, it will make you more of one. One has less patience. One relaxes and allows emotional connections only by thinking about it. One finds one’s self thinking of the bad things one could get away with.
And yet. To be normal. Successful, even. Socially well-integrated. Living outside one’s invisible mobile fish tank. Of course I take the pills.