I have always struggled to balance energy. Either I have too much or too little. As a child I tended to have too much. I found it hard to stay still unless I was deeply focused on an activity. I remember such occasions, when I was deeply immersed in a book (Charlotte’s Web, Malory Towers, Little House on the Prairie, a favourite Nature book, books about the Human Body, etc). But I was very excitable – ”enthusiastic” and ”exuberant” are two adjectives that my mum used to describe my character. She said I was a very energetic child, and that I did not like to sit down and do work, which resulted in many battle of wills.
I do have powers of persistence and singular focus, including a good memory. This payed off when I did my end of school exams, but I have to be interested and motivated. Unfortunately I am not good at multi-tasking or spreading my energy over different channels.
As an adult, it is harder to focus on one thing for hours. I have responsibilities which mean I have to stop what I’m doing after a certain time to prepare dinner or buy food. Shifting focus is very difficult and exceptionally tiring. As a child, my parents acted as my alarms – ”right’, time to go out, time to brush your teeth…”. I no longer have anyone to put boundaries around my activities, and organising my life on my own is very difficult.
I wake up with a sense of lethargic sluggishness. Particularly in the winter, it takes me a long time to get started on the day. I might not have finished my breakfast until 10:30 am or brushed my teeth until midday. My default activity is reading; this activity suits my need for mono-focus, and I usually read, slowly and methodically, for 2 hours every morning. It takes energy to stay focused; energy to filter out distractions (I can’t concentrate easily when there is any noise). By lunchtime I often feel very tired. Having to make lunch and think about what I’m eating for dinner uses up energy. Washing up uses up energy. Seeing the kitchen getting progressively more dirty and not knowing where or how to begin, uses up energy.
I always try and get out for a walk midday, and this does me some good. But by 3 pm I’m feeling sluggish and demotivated. I have no idea what to do with my life. Anything outside of my routine uses up energy, but even following my routine is tiring. Just sitting and breathing uses up energy! It seems the only place I can truly relax is deep in dreamland, but as I wake up lethargic, I don’t think my dreams are restorative either.
Thinking, making decisions, moving from A-B, doing anything that involves chopping and changing or organising, wipes me out. Living is very hard, so throw in people, and life gets even harder. Socialising is stimulating; it involves chopping and changing, and unpredictability. I need predictability, I need calm. Once I’m with my support worker, knowing exactly what I’m doing, once I’m in the swing of an activity, I feel more motivated. But the getting ready, the changing, the shifting from one mode to the next, is tiring beyond words.