Work sucks. It’s boring. There are so many people on my shift and so few airplanes to load/unload. Maybe six flights in/out and 100 people to do the work. I think 50 would be a good number, but 50 is not my current reality: 100 is. I sit. I do nothing. I get antsy. I want to get out and run around because I feel like a hamster trapped in a cage. Untapped energy but a somehow a lack of energy from being so damn bored.
I already wrote about this and don’t want to go over it again, but my boredom is so palpable that I can’t help but stress it one more. This is my hell and it is a hell, let me assure you!
A person at work offered me an Adderall to help get me through these long and sleep-deprived days. I didn’t accept the offer the past few weeks because I know how Adderall affects me. While used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD, Adderall is a powerful stimulant; it’s literally pharmaceutical amphetamine! If you don’t have these actual medical issues it’s meant to treat, you get wired and focused on the most random things. If you can channel the motivation, great, if not you’ll spend hours doing whatever the hell you find yourself doing without explanation. I’ve taken it twice in the past, never for any real purpose, and clearly remember how it affected me. The first time I taught myself piano for four hours straight. The second time I wrote the most elaborate physics paper for my class that I’d ever written. And today is number three…
I wrote my blog post about Christmas and am now writing this. Yes, two drafts in a single day. Because I’m in the zone! Because I have shit to say! Because I’m excited and motivated and feel good and let’s just keep on writing! Because I’ve channeled the energy that Adderall has given me! While it’s sad to know this is only temporary, I might as well make the best use out of my time as the situation allows.
But is it temporary? What if I just take Adderall daily and write? Can I get a prescription because I’m a writer with a severe lack of motivation? I bet if I wrote every day like today I’d have a fucking book done in a month or two. This is surely the best idea I’ve ever had.
No. No it’s not. I wasn’t being serious there. That’s a terrible idea. While I am sad that tomorrow I’ll be the same lazy writer that I always am, I’m aware that that is my natural state and there isn’t a good chemical fix that will magically work.
I’ve learned this through my functional alcoholism. Alcohol used to be my Adderall — drink a few drinks and I couldn’t wait to write — but the key thing to notice is the past-tense in that statement. I drink six beers and could care less about writing. I watch YouTube and play video games. The alcohol somehow doesn’t motivate me like it did a few years ago.
There’s always the urge to use substances to fix a problem (at least for me) and it’s a hell of an urge to fight because they work. There’d be no alcoholics if alcohol didn’t do something to fix you up. The stereotype of drinking heavily after a bad day at work, or after heartbreak, are stereotypes because alcohol works. You wake up the next day still aware of the trouble, but it’s more like a smeared chalk-board image of the problem that you can more easily deal with. Drugs work and that’s why people abuse them.
But substances only sidestep the problem and should only be temporary. This is clear in theory but difficult in practice. If it works, why not use it all the time? The catch is it doesn’t always work. You get a tolerance and the magic, whatever it might be, isn’t quite there anymore. This is especially bad with the physically addictive substances because then you’re hooked without any benefit at all. Cigarette smokers get quite a head rush the first time trying nicotine. It quickly goes away. Vodka mellows you out for quite awhile until you find you need more than before and it doesn’t mellow you out quite like it used to. And Adderall? Luckily I’m not addicted to it and never want to be. It’s the same as anything else. Adderall works until it doesn’t and by that time you’re probably moderately addicted and in a big mess when you try to stop.
Alan Watts said something like, ‘Drugs are a tool and nothing more,’ in one of his books, paraphrased obviously. He likened them to any other tool, like binoculars for example. Binoculars are fantastic for looking at far away objects, but if you think they’re so fucking amazing to use all the time you’re missing the point. If some asshole did walk around with binoculars attached to their face they’d run into some issues in life, just like the use-drugs-as-a-solution person does. The analogy goes pretty deep if you’d like to take it there. Binocular-Man, as we’ll call him, will probably have a rough time adapting, but he can do it. I once read a story about a guy who put a contraption on his head that swapped the images between his eyes where his right eye was seeing from the perspective of his left and vice verse. And guess what? After awhile he adapted and could live life normally. Apparently his brain dealt with the image fuckery and got to work doing what all human brains do: adapt. His vision was swapped, his brain adapted, and he was perfectly fine.
Until he took the damn things off that is. His brain was dealing with more fuckery and despite seeing the normal way his entire life (minus the previous week) he was fucked. The world was fucked. He couldn’t see right. And then eventually his brain realized what was up and adapted back to it’s original state. I shouldn’t have to explain this analogy with reversed-vision-guy and binocular-man because it’s all pretty obvious how this applies here.
That’s my working theory on drug use/abuse. Abusers mistake the tool for the thing that will fix everything about them or their lives, myself included with alcohol. Users are those who can dabble and not become entranced by the drugs. I believe most drugs are useful, even the more esoteric stuff like LSD and DMT for mind and perspective expanding — not to mention painkillers like morphine — but all have limits on their uses. Adderall is great for allowing those with ADHD or narcolepsy to function better, but outside of that it’s also great for (illegally) allowing the sleep-deprived student and the unmotivated writer/blogger at UPS to finally get shit done. It’s really good at this too, let me assure you of that! But with that last example you can see this is quickly getting into the “tool-not-solution” problem from earlier. I have no qualms with the students using this drug to write a paper here and there, but it’s obvious it can go from tool to solution way too easily, once again because it’s so damn effective.
(Note: I talked with a friend about why it’s okay for an ADHD person to use Adderall to solve their issues but not for someone like me, and unmotivated writer, to use Adderall to solve their motivation issues. It seemed to come down to this: what is the best solution possible? ADHD is a brain chemical imbalance so drugs are likely the best way to solve the problem. Me with motivation? No, this isn’t a chemical issue but a ‘mindset issue.’ It’s impossible for the depressed/ADHD/chemically imbalanced person to ‘think their way’ out of their problems, so the only solution is a drug. Sounds like a beautiful explanation doesn’t it?)
To problem with my motivation is, well, a problem with my motivation. It’s a battle against myself. While Adderall is currently fucking kicking my motivation into high gear, it’s not the be-all end-all solution. The Adderall will wear off and I’ll be me, the flawed me, once again as always. The Adderall me can still exist with Adderall or without it. I can write like Stephen King suggests if I drug myself up, or if I just work through my issues with motivation. One is hard, one is easy — both work — but the easy one is dangerously temporary. So what’s the choice? What do I do?
Looks like I’ll sit my ass down tomorrow and try to write something sans-Adderall.
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