How do you come down from an intense period? It has been asked of me because I have just finished a minor thesis. I took me a whole year to write this essay of 1600 words on the contradiction between hope and technology. If this essay gets a high enough grade I will be given permission to continue my research. I have been under pressure for a while. As the final week loomed the pressure was showing.
I rang the Dean of Studies at my college in what I am sure sounded like a mad panic. This was the day before submission. I had to make sure that I was not required to add a cover sheet or anything else. I did not have to add anything. I should have known that. The Dean was polite and told me that it was a good to ask. That to find out was better than racing around in a panic.
On submission day I was exhausted. I was all bound up in the essay. Then I submitted it. All done. It was like the floor fell out below me. Since then I have been sleepy. Weariness has never been far away. I did wonder if this was because I fielded seventy two overs on Saturday. But it was heavier than that.
When things shift
Monday morning came and I went off to work. There was something missing. I realised what it was. There was no intensity. I did not have to produce a 1600 word philosophical essay. It should have been weight lifted from me. It was not. I found myself missing the work load.
I texted a friend who has a Phd. He knows what I have been through. I wrote that I missed the intensity. His replay was “You adrenaline junkie.”. He was right. I was so used to the demand and the focus that was required to write this essay. Focus is a good thing, it helps you concentrate. Too much focus along with the deadline and the desire to do well might not be. It was a marathon not a sprint and now that it is over I miss it.
How to process it
I am not Neurotypical. I am on the colourful side of the Autistic spectrum. I have had high-highs and low-lows. At times I can be fascinated and totally absorbed in ideas, issues and concepts. Absorbed to the point where I am thinking so much I forget what I was doing. It happens at work, at home, at cricket. Though none of those moments are as high octane as writing this essay.
My Father is a Psychologist and I am familiar with Mental Health issues. I am not sick. But I am weary. I want the ability to come down from the high of last week. The concepts and ideas that follow the idea of hope and technology continue to filter and orbit around me. I am tired but I am so used to running this marathon.
There is a lot to do with family and friends. Birthdays, Christmas and New Years to come. There is more than the concepts that have been spinning their way around my head for the last year. Though they continue to surface I am unsure if this is a good or not. I cannot stop the world for a few days, though I wish I could.
The things I can control
What I can control is how I deal with my thoughts. The marathon is over and I have to tell myself that, repeatedly. I know there are others who do not have that level of control. They are always running the marathon. Some are even sprinting, chasing the thoughts that race through their minds. To slow that down for some requires medication.
Some people love the race and the intensity so much that they stop taking their medication. The intensity has its own allure and I can see that. I too like the buzz of intensity and the focus it brings. I would deliberately delay lunch somedays to bring that focus on even more. I called it riding the burn. I could keep the writing coherent and clear for about two hours. After that my writing and thinking would get sloppy and I would loose what social filters I have. It was then I would go and eat.
When I am riding the burn I feel like I can focus on the issue at hand better. It is true but only for a few hours. How do I know this? Because of others who tell me. Friends and family tell me. Go have something to eat. How much sleep have you been getting? When these people tell me I know I need to recognise their feedback and change up. But now, after the marathon of this year it is different. I am not bouncing off the walls, I am not more socially awkward than normal. I am flat. This is new.
I would normally crash and get sick after an intensity like writing the essay. I am far from ill, though as I have repeated I am tired. Whenever I try to get back to the essay topics and continue my thinking I get tried very quickly. I am run down. I know it, but I want to bounce back. It has been a week and I am nowhere near doing that.
Knowing when to slow down
The year for me has been a marathon. One where in the last six weeks I have been sprinting to the line. Writing re-writing. Correcting, adding, subtracting. Having moments when I did not think I would get it done in time. I did. Which is great. Coming down from the mountain and returning to life after the essay is harder than I thought it would be. I have not realised fully how much energy I have spent. I want to rush onwards into what comes next and I have tried to. When I try to run I cannot. Now is the time for rest and I need it. I just have not realise that I needed it till today.
Phillip Hall is trying to rest. If you have a pizza delivery and the driver forgets the drink that is probably me.