The week before this past one I decided to finally see a psychiatrist for an evaluation. I'd suspected for a long time that I've had ADHD (the "inattentive" variety) since childhood. I'm old enough that it wasn't something schools or parents knew about when I was a kid, and it was only in the last 10 years or so that I'd read up on it and realized that a lot of the symptoms matched my experience. Still, self-diagnosis based on reading lists of symptoms can be a quick path to hypochondria, so I knew I needed an actual professional opinion.
After a couple hours of evaluation ranging from looking at the teachers' comments on my old elementary-school report cards to talking about my work habits and personal life, the doctor confirmed my suspicions. We talked about treatment options and decided to start off with a combination of a fairly mild medicine (Concerta) and some therapy. To my delight, since I'd expressed an interest in science, she brought out some diagrams of neurons and synapses and explained to me exactly what neuroscientists think may be happening in ADHD and what the medicine would do to address the problem.
I took the medicine for the first time on Saturday morning of last weekend. I wasn't really sure what to expect; the doctor had warned me that people have a range of reactions, from "no effect" to "nearly unbearable irritability and insomnia." A couple hours after downing the pill, I felt a little wired, like I'd had a few cups of coffee, but it passed shortly thereafter. I decided to take a whack at my inbox, which as usual had hundreds of messages I'd read but had put off dealing with.
By Saturday evening, my inbox was empty and my calendar had two long-overdue doctor's appointments and a few get-togethers with friends I hadn't seen in a while.
On Monday, I finished the work task that I'd been diddling with in fits and starts the previous Thursday and Friday.
On Tuesday, I finished the major task the team had put on my plate for the week.
By Friday, I had taken two more fairly substantial tasks off a teammate's plate and finished both of them.
For someone with a nearly half-century-long history of chronic procrastination and distractibility, actually getting done what I intend to do every day for a solid week is a rare experience. Not unprecedented -- I've had weeklong "in the zone" periods in the past, but they've been far between and impossible to predict. The prospect that with proper medical treatment they may become the rule rather than the exception is exciting to me, though of course it's going to take time to see if this past week was just a fluke. It also makes me regret not doing this a couple decades ago.