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4 thoughts on “Attention”
I drive a Honda, literally. That’s the car I drive to work every day.
Yes, it was a technical lead. It was all remote through slack. I was too afraid to ask for help from a senior, so I mainly got help from a less incompetent fellow intern. IIRC I was trying to populate the webpage form with data from a database. So, connecting the database to the webpage properly. I dunno, if I actually knew what I was talking about I wouldn’t’ve panic spiraled. The lead bossman did actually set aside meeting time for him and I to figure it out together. He tried to walk me through it twice I believe, but it never clicked for me and once our hour was up he had other things to deal with. I did straight up tell him I was leaving in our last personal meeting. He didn’t offer resistance, he just kinda reluctantly agreed and said he’d remove me from the company’s github stuff, which he did. I’m not sure I want to give you his name, Neil. I don’t hate him for it.
Adderall didn’t work for me, it gave me numbness in my extremities and made me feel like I was going to have a heart attack; I got dry mouth too. Last time I tried it was about a year ago in College when I got desperate (I got it prescribed from a normal doctor, not a psych). I don’t remember my primary childhood drug.
I’ve never been mocked or derided by anyone for being diagnosed with ADHD, though I will admit my father is dumbfounded by the very concept of it to this day. My Christian parents (Yes, I too am Christian) agree with your perspective that medication is fine so long as you don’t abuse it. Personally, I’m not sure I agree with it. Maybe I’ve read too much Kaczynskian literature, but living in a society so technologically advanced that mind-altering chemicals are practically required to function within it –let alone to get a tech job within it– feels wrong.
I’ve been a straight edge since I started high school. I managed to graduate with a 3.6 GPA, so I know I’m capable of succeeding at SOMETHING important without mind-altering drugs. You know what’s it like to achieve something without your drugs. You know how amazing it feels, like you’ve overcome the odds? That precious moment when you get into the “flow state” all on your own, without the dry mouth, or the suppressed emotions, or the repressed hunger all caused by the cocktail. It’s one of the greatest feelings in this world, better to me than the highest high (though that might be because I have a very limited frame of reference for “high”).
Drug-free success requires a lot of suffering for me to achieve (and a lot more failure as I’ve found out in my college years). Yet, somehow, I seem to prefer that form of suffering over suffering the side effects of the multitude of drug cocktails I’ve been prescribed throughout elementary and middle school. It is “The Good Struggle,” the way I am without being forced to take my meds. Speaking of it like this feels almost like fetishizing it, and I admit that’s not a good thing.
All that said, my childhood experiences with awful zombifying/hallucination-causing meds –all doled out by frizzy-haired neurotic women with degrees– has put me off drug regimens to an almost fanatical degree. I don’t drink or smoke, I try to avoid drugs of any kind as much as I can. There are times I’ve refused ibuprofen out of sheer stubbornness, though my will eventually crumbles if, say, a fever gets too high for me to bare.
It descends from caution to irrationality, I know; But, I’ve seen too many false diagnoses, too many people exploited by pharmaceutical companies and turned into addicts or drug-dependents. It doesn’t matter that psychiatrists and doctors were studious enough to get their precious piece of paper certifying them to sell meth, they’re STILL selling meth, and though they love to pretend otherwise (or genuinely believe they’re helping), they do it for the same reason as the high school dropouts: To get people addicted to or otherwise dependent on the product, and milk them for all they’ve got. Ever heard of OxyContin and the Sackler family? Legal cartels. They don’t give a damn about helping the patient, prescription drug abuse is their profit.
Let’s put all that aside and assume I went to the psych and got a prescription. I have family health insurance, but beyond that I don’t have much saved. A few thousand in the bank, which used to be over eleven thousand before I wasted it on my foolish “dream” (more like a nightmare) of becoming a programmer. I’m not in any student loan debt, I’m not that stupid, but I’m not sure I can afford to pay for college tuition, rent, bills, AND the deductible for my medication (assuming my insurance will cover the rest).
My parents are not paying my tuition, and frankly my mother’s experiences as a PhD have turned me off to academia entirely. She’s even told me that if she could do it all again, she’d’ve stopped at a bachelor’s degree. I’m nearly at an associates degree, but haven’t taken an accredited class since 2020. I’ve just been working, desperately trying to find a job that pays enough for me to scrape by and slowly rebuild my savings for another attempt.
Right now I have a job as a delivery-man for peak season. It’s the highest paying job I’ve ever had ($21 an hour), but it’s a temp job. Once the holidays are over, I have to reapply, and I’ll have to A) hope I get rehired, and B) Almost certainly take a pay cut to get my foot in the door as a full time loader or something so I can eventually become a full-time delivery man. I genuinely love the job, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted, and my ADHD actually helps me while I’m finding/sorting packages… But I’m still a massive nerd who was raised on the Internet and loves everything to do with software (READ: VIDEO GAMES) and web development. I still want to create things, but you know my difficulties with that.
So, assuming I actually wind up being a career delivery-man, I’d only “need” the prescription to better enjoy/fulfill my hobbies. Or maybe I should get hobbies more suited to who I am, like hiking or smashing my prey over the head with a club like Great Grand-Grug used to do. I always seem to be fighting my mind for control instead of working with it on its strong points. I suppose that’s because all my life my weak points are what everyone around me considered the most important.
I may or may not make an appointment with a psychiatrist on your advice, but I’m tired, Neil. I’m tired of being told the right dosage or the right pill is just around the corner, the proverbial silver bullet to cure all my woes. I’ve believed that lie more times than I can count, and it doesn’t get any better. Some people have to keep increasing their dosages all their lives as their body tries to maintain homeostasis, and I had to do it too as a child. I once got fed a pill, told it didn’t work, and then taken off it. The dosage was so powerful that taking me off it cold turkey nearly killed me from the withdrawl. I had a 105 degree migraine and had to be rushed to a doctor. I should probably blame my mother for that one. I just did whatever she told me to back then, once she’d nagged me enough.
This post is way too long, but eh, the hell with it. If I can listen to you rant for an hour and 45 minutes about your lamborghini brain, you can read my ooga booga meds bad rant. In all seriousness, I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to thoughtfully reply to my comment.
Don’t diss the monk lifesyle my brother, most of those guys do great stuff for their communities, or create amazing things for others if they live in a more remote place. 😉
@Anonymous: the author of the blog Raptitude tried to cope with the symptoms caused by ADHD for twenty years (he didn’t know the cause, as it was undiagnosed). The only things that helped to some extent were mindfulness practice and writing his blog. I am not affected by ADHD in any way (as I’m driving a mental Honda, a rather slow one at that 🙂 ), but my feeling is that in the end there’s no way around (proper) medication for people with ADHD. In case you’re interested, here’s his post from that time: https://www.raptitude.com/2021/03/what-raptitude-has-always-been-about/
I spent most of my adolescent and early adult life struggling with similar symptoms. I found it nearly impossible to gain traction on anything that wasn’t stimulating or challenging. I talked to a psychiatrist when I was 22 and it completely changed the last 7 years. I was finally able to concentrate, stay organized, focus. Throughout that time, I switched jobs three times and tripled my salary, including a few years as a team lead.
Get help, keep going, and always remember the most important phrase of all — F**k it.
I cried so much reading that post and hearing this podcast. The story is hauntingly similar. I’m 30 and I’ve been this incompetent developer for years, only I was clearly pushed off of teams to maintain legacy code instead of laid off. I had to slowly realize it myself because nobody would tell me or lend a helping hand, no matter how much I asked for it. I can basically only do tasks by procrastinating until the day before the next standup and slam something out to show what I’m working on. I’m terribly ashamed of it, especially because I found a job that I really believe in, which I left out of that shame.
I simply cannot concentrate. I can play video games for hours, but that’s the only thing that can hold my focus. It’s not even that I want to play video games – I want to be doing productive things. But I can only do productive things that are physical and can split my attention many ways. I even found myself capable of committing to working out – I can set aside time to exercise and follow through and build on goals. Ultimately, that is what has made me realize it could be my brain that’s been the problem all along – I’m not too stupid or lazy, it’s just a lack of ability to focus. And that problem can be fixed.
I’m very touched by your honesty and empathy. There’s so much negativity and smugness out there sometimes, but you are refreshing and humble and it makes you all the more impactful.
I want to succeed and I am inspired to get the help I need to do so.