By Maurine Harrison: For days my mind had been in a hazy cloud, my energy and lightness of spirit only a memory. Is it the shortened, gray days of winter, I wondered? Since childhood I remember groping through days of gray head fog with sleep an all-too-sweet respite. Then, suddenly, one day, as if out of nowhere, comes clarity. Its as if a bright light just switched on and sluggish neural networks of thoughts and ideas suddenly snap to attention. Suddenly, I know where to begin, how to order impulses and thoughts. Its as if I have my whole brain working for me rather than against me.
This morning, I know I must write. Other things stay in the background. In fact, I hardly even notice them. What suddenly snapped into place, I wonder? My sleep has been inexplicably light for the last week. An over-the-counter sleep aid has helped. Didnt I do this last winter, too? Last night, I decided to try it again even though I know I have to get up and hour and a half earlier than usual — before daylight — to take my mother for minor outpatient surgery.
My mother calls at 5:16 a.m. I lie comatose in my bed until 5:30 a.m. Then, economizing every effort, I get out of bed, put on the clothes laid out the night before, wash my face, rub on a little make-up, gather my keys and purse. I am barely able to see out of my head but manage to leave by 5:45 a.m. as promised. I drive 30 minutes in the dark to the clinic and get my mother settled in.
My head feels like a rusty, leaden Civil War cannonball. I remember to take my neurochemical tweaking meds but am grateful to curl up and lay my head down on the hard arm of a stylish but thoroughly under-stuffed sofa in the waiting room.
I had a cat once that could just melt his whole body over a pair of my Dr. Scholls wooden exercise sandals. Thats how I melted, into no softness at all, only rigidity. I promptly slipped into sweet, unconscious sleep. Forty-five minutes later I am called to sign my mother out. She is doing fine and I take her home. There is now light in the sky visible even through thick clouds spitting chilly rain. My brain says, yes, now Ive gotten enough sleep. Suddenly there is this clarity! Clarity that has been elusive for days and days.
As I write, the thing that is clearest is that medications cannot be expected to 100% eradicate AD/HD. For one thing, there are too many other factors, i.e. whether we get enough sleep, the right foods, even enough sunlight. But, when medication is well-matched to an individual with AD/HD and healthy habits and conditions are in place the difference can be significant. With corrective stimulants, on most days, my under-stimulated brain becomes stimulated enough to read just about any book I want with comprehension! My moods tend to be more even and match my life more accurately, becoming informative rather than disabling.
There are a lot of people who could benefit from medications now available, but dont. These are people who dont think twice about taking insulin or other medications if their body isnt functioning as it should. But, there is one exception. They exclude the brain as being a part of the body and subject to malfunctions, too. They deny themselves the possibility of a better quality of life.
Since my daughter was two and a half weeks old, she has taken synthetic thyroid. Without it, her brain would not have developed normally. Without it she would not be herself, healthy and whole, free from devastating disability. But now, she is just as she otherwise would be, as the doctor reassured us when he scratched out her pardon on a prescription pad. Biology need not be destiny.
Smart moves . . .
- Do nothing less than feed your body the best nutrition!
- Put regular, restorative sleep at the top of your priorities.
- Check out light therapy if you think sunlight is a factor for you.
- Treat your brain like you would any other part of your body. If it needs help to work better for you, do it! Why not be just as you otherwise might be without the less than perfect act of nature that gave you AD/HD?