Running with A.D.D.

It’s possible that I don’t have what would be considered A.D.D. today – but just a genetic propensity toward impatience and inattention. But I doubt it. I had A.D.D. (or some form of it) before it was a diagnosis. I still do. I did well in school despite it – probably because I went to a small school and had a good group of friends to keep up with academically. I have great parents who fed me well; made sure I was to bed on time, made me work and set a level of expectation for achievement. There were no medications. Even if there were, I don’t think anyone would’ve recommended I needed them.

I followed a career in nursing to the most rapidly changing, fastest paced environments: Critical Care and the Emergency Department. They fed my need for commotion and adrenaline. They still do. Those places need me to be able to rapid-fire toggle from one thing to the next. Being born with a brain that naturally does that has been invaluable.

When I’m not at work, though, it can be exhausting to have a mind that doesn’t slow down. It can cause anxiety, disorganization, and an inability to relax – to name a few. Throughout the years, I think I used food to calm my mind. Maybe more than I think.

The only thing, besides food, that’s made a noticeable improvement in this feeling that I have to be moving all the time – brain switching from one topic to the next – is running.  The half-marathon took just under three hours. I don’t do anything – sustained – for three hours. If I have to, it’s pretty uncomfortable for me. I work 8-12 hours but I’m in a place that is constantly morphing throughout that day. From day-to-day, there’s always something new and exciting – something I haven’t heard of before.

Running changes your brain. Those endorphins work some magic – even if it’s not distance running. When I run 2-2.5 miles, I still feel a calmness that permeates my entire day and rolls over to the next. This calmness allows me to attend to the task at hand and leave others alone – to have more patience with my family, friends, and patients…even strangers. But, distance running is where the real mind-work happens. When I tell myself, “You are going to be doing this for three hours, settle into it.” It’s a training that goes beyond the capability of my muscles and joints. It’s training that I can use in other areas of my life as well. After all of these years, I’m learning to calm myself without food.

This embodies the purpose of this blog for me: Mending Wendy. For all of us, who are so unique and varied, to live our best lives requires introspection and attention to our own bodies and minds. There is no recipe that works for everyone. We have to try different things and figure it out on our own – but when we do – it’s so worth it.

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