I recently came across this article on my Facebook newsfeed regarding ADHD, drugs, and exercise. It got me thinking, “Was I ADHD when I was a kid?”
Hindsight is 20/20. Cumulative life experience is even better, especially when you through some physical anthropology into the mix.
I feel like I’m 80 years old in saying this, but when I was young….
I was one of those kids that never stopped moving, thinking, or imagining. I was non-stop GO! That was just the way. That was being a kid. Recess was running, jumping, playing, kicking, more running (out of breath), and more running. I ran EVERYWHERE. When I got home, I re-dressed, dropped my bags, and ran out the door, into the countryside, and ran, played, ran, played, and ran until supper time. Then, after supper, I ran and played some more.
I read this now and am exhausted. Wow. But this was my childhood. Non-stop. And no one ever thought it was abnormal.
As a Consulting Archaeologist, I consistently worked in stressful environments for long, long hours and did hard labour. I ate restaurant food and had no life outside of work. I subsequently acquired adrenal fatigue and am now going through the process of clearing my body of all the toxins and stress it’s acquired in the past couple of decades. In essence, I am attempting to clear the proverbial slate and get back to where I was. One of the biggest indicators that I am not my normal self is the very evident lack of energy. Not only are my low energy levels abnormal in comparison to the average individual, they are in direct contrast to the way I was as a kid, and even young adult.
In talking about this to my Dad, he made a comment that had me thinking. As a country-bound teenager, I was restricted to taking the bus to school or scamming a ride from friends or family. As such, I decided that I’d ride my bike to school. The ride was 8 miles round trip. I did this every day, then, just for fun, I did that run into town plus a few extra miles on the weekend. This was in addition to my cross-training, and regular activity. My Dad confessed he always thought my energy was a bit weird (read: excessive). This comment had me re-evaluate my perception of my “normal” energy levels.
If I’d been born in the 1990s, I’d likely have been labelled ADHD or some such even though my energy levels were never a “problem.” I exercised regularly and was always putting 120% into everything I did, including studying. I was passionate and enthusiastic. Still am. Even when I got to university, I found that going for a run helped me think. What made things easier still was that, as a kid, I lived in the country. I had space to roam and run and play. If I wanted to visit a friend, I either had to arrange a ride or get on my bike and cycle 2hrs on gravel roads. Structured play- or exercise-time was minimal and didn’t really become established until late teenage-hood. I usually made up my own exercise routines and played my own games.
From an hindsight perspective and cumulative life experience (so far), it seems that being a kid is being “ADHD.” For a country kid given the freedom of unstructured play time, I was able to vent that energy. It seems that today, in our increasingly urban society, providing the space and room to vent this energy is difficult.
If human beings were meant to sit all day, we’d be structured differently, anatomically speaking. We are structured as a thinking predator/scavenger (big brain + stereoscopic vision + omnivorous). It’s no wonder our backs hurt from sitting all day, our minds and eyes are deteriorating from staring at a computer screen, and our bodies are rebelling from eating a constant diet of wheat, sugar, and dairy. As a species, we need diversity, creativity, and movement. We are designed for it.