Given what I just finished reading in Spark tonight, I’m a high functioning ADHD sufferer. Realizing that made me cry. Cry out of frustration of years of not knowing what was wrong with me all the while knowing there was definitely something wrong with me. Cry out of sadness of relationships lost because I didn’t have the attention span to properly build healthy ones. Cry out of relief that there may be a valve to manage the anger which subsumes me in moments of frustration when things don’t go according to my plan. Cry out of relief that I can manage the system very simply by exercising every day. That I can get better. That I don’t have to feel lost. That I don’t have to feel trapped by procrastination. Cry because I have an answer to all the whys which haven’t had answers previously.
Moments of my life flashed by: ignored homework, the inability to finish an uninteresting college text, my obsessive ability to play video games, my other obsessive ability to procrastinate endlessly on things I know that I just can’t avoid. Character flaws. Brian defects.
The good news is that they are manageable, that I can continue to work through them as I have been doing, only this time knowing and understanding the requirements: All I have to do is move.
“All that most chronically anxious people want is not to be anxious”
That resonated with me because I used to be chronically anxious. I learned it from my mother. I hated it and felt trapped by it. I don’t any more. I’ve done more things than just add exercise to my life but I understand now all the times exercise has dragged me a little further out of the anxiety hole in which I spent most of my life.
As I get further into Spark, I realize more and more how exercise has healed me. Twice in my life, I can point to significant social growth and health and tie it increased physical activity.
The first time, I was in 9th grade. I had a terrible time in 7th grade, had brace and just felt down right awkward. But then I started figure skating. I’d never done much physical activity prior to that. I did swim lessons for a month each summer and road my bike around the neighborhood, but not much else.
Then I watched figure skating during the winter Olympics and was hooked. I convince my parents to let me start a skating program. I loved it and I was doing it 2 or 3 times a week. I started making friends and feeling more confident. And then we moved and I reverted.
The second time was in late 2009. It had been a hellish 12 months and I was so close to the edge. The pain would sometimes bloom when I was driving and there was once or twice when I thought about turning the wheel and tempting fate on purpose. I was lonely, slipping away from friends and just wanting to not hurt any more. I didn’t know how to get out.
The good news is that I had already decided to spend 12 weekends in a row snowboarding. I didn’t think anything of it. I knew I wasn’t in great shape and there were still lingering pains from the accident, but I did it any way, mainly because I was proving to other that I wasn’t doing it just to be with D.
In the beginning, I could barely crawl off the slopes at the end of each day. I was burning 3,000 calories each day. I could barely walk all week. But I kept getting better. When I started in January of 2010, I was a shitty, miserable snowboarder. When I ended my 12 weekends, I was a validated Ski Patroller and had lost close to 7 kg. I felt fantastic and my life was on track.
Up until yesterday, I would have never linked my physical activity to my mental healing. Now, I can’t see it any other way.
So having this concept (movement being very important to mental health) validated by scientific study is very cool. In the spirit of that, and as suggested in Spark, I dug out my 2 jump ropes. Now I keep one at home and one at work and when I get to feeling really worked up, I jump rope until I trip. Then it’s back to whatever I was working on before. I’m amazed by how much better I feel once the blood gets pumping.
I just started reading Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain and am so excited to see documented research on the link between exercise and the brain. Even just a few chapters in I’m excited and more focused in making sure I do get the daily exercise. I’m also sharing it with my favorite school teacher who I one day see revolutionizing education. Such great reading although I should probably do it on the treadmill…
Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to maintain balance, you must keep moving.
The funny thought that comes to my head is that nerds and geeks tend not to exercise as much and imagine how much more nerdy and geeky they’d be…
At least according to the old Romans. The Latin root of emotion is to move. Such an appealing idea: emotions stem from movement. Another reason to keep moving.
from Vulgar Latin *exmovre : Latin ex-, ex- + Latin movre, to move
“Success seems to be connected with action.
Successful people keep moving.
They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”
~Conrad Hilton, Hotel Executive