In my last not Groundhog Day report I had a theory that The Creative Bubble—essentially a very strict form of creative isolation—might help me overcome the continual resistance I feel toward work. My attitude had been poor and I was irritable all the time; perhaps by unapologetically adapting an extreme creative isolation so I could FINALLY GET SOME WORK DONE IN PEACE would help alleviate the frustration?
The answer is YES…with a surprise twist: the long-time resistance I feel was maybe not my fault at all.
Results of the Creative Bubble
I implemented the bubble of isolation as a strict NO INTERACTION ANYWHERE policy from Wednesday through Friday. Monday and Tuesday were the only days that I allowed meetings or conversations or even doctor’s appointments. The overall result? I was more productive and because of that I was also less frustrated and because of that I felt better. I am continuing to maintain this schedule for the next month.
However, a couple weeks ago there was a significant change to my routine due to a talk with my doctor.
I had mentioned to my doctor back in July that I had been feeling a bit listless and “flat” emotionally, which had me concerned because it might indicate relapse into into the nihilistic/existentialist angst I had felt in 2017. I have been looking into ADHD Inattentive diagnosis too, so asked him if he could refer me to anyone.
Instead, he suggested that I try bupropion AKA Wellbutrin®, which he said is often prescribed for depression, seasonal affective disorder, and sometimes for ADHD. Although I wasn’t really feeling depressed (or so I thought), I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try for a few weeks, then follow-up with another checkup.
I didn’t really notice a change the first few full days (there is a 3-day half dose ramp-up). I stayed busy in my creative bubble, shutting out the world so I could get things done. I was actually being fairly productive! Yay Creative Bubble! But then on Thursday I forgot to take my medication in the morning and noticed familiar feelings: my mind was issuing commands to my body, but I couldn’t muster the will to get up until I switched my goal from “start the work day” to “get some water”. Then when I sat down to work and started to formulate the first tiny steps of the day (to warm up), I felt a familiar pushback from my brain, not wanting to do anything at all accompanied with a bit of headache. It takes a tremendous amount of effort on my part to get past this: I have to be well-rested, well-hydrated, and have all the material I need open already on my computer and my desk. I have added 2-minute meditations and ramping-up interval timers to help pace my brain so it starts moving slowly, and if I can keep this up for 15 minutes then I seem to be OK. It’s that starting up that is the hard part for me, and it’s been this way since I was a kid.
I realized that for the previous two days, I hadn’t experienced the pushback AT ALL. And it applied to more than my project work too; chores like cleaning out the litter box, mailing letters, putting away the dishes, etc…all of these things initiated without a lot of self-bargaining and negotiation. Remarkable. Usually, the effort I have to make to will or trick myself into action is substantial and mentally draining. I can really only do it 1-2 times a day.
Was this sudden ability to start tasks a result of the bupropion? I had no expectations of anything though I wondered if I would have more “energy” or something. I did not anticipate THE LACK of something. I have always assumed that the slight headaches and difficulty in holding thoughts together in my head long enough to start was just the way “thinking and acting” felt. I had no other reference…until now.
It is too early to say whether or not bupropion is actually the cause of this burst of productivity, but I have never experienced such a feeling of quiet in my brain before. It’s like the surface of a perfectly still lake, and thoughts can skate across it unchallenged. It made me almost want to cry. I didn’t have to apply second-by-second active guidance to my thoughts using the dozens of coping strategies I have used.
The Week Ahead
I’m continuing to monitor the situation, and have been keeping extensive notes on how days go. I’ve also been trying to recognize each kind of unpleasant sensation I have and correlate it to a cause. For example, if I eat too many carbs, there is a certain feeling that goes with it, and it is different from when I am dehydrated or didn’t get enough sleep or have eye strain from staring at code with the wrong pair of glasses. The “I don’t wanna do that it’s dumb” back-pressure I feel normally is yet another sensation; that’s the one that bupropion seems to affect.
I’ll condense my notes into a more readable format after the 3-week trial is done in the 3rd week of August. I am cautiously optimistic.