Exhausted: Being Very Cognizant has a High Cost

Have you ever had the experience of walking up to a line, waiting patiently, and the person in front of you suddenly–without looking or thinking–suddenly takes a few steps back and almost knocks you over?

What about of walking toward a door with both hands full and the person in front of you–completely unaware of your existence–effectively slams the door in your face?

What about of pulling up to a busy restaurant with a busy drive through and being unable to park because the other cars constantly block the entrance and/or the parking spaces–also unaware of your existence and potentially afraid someone will cut in front of them?

What about of being the one who coordinates and remembers everyday tasks in your household? 

What about of never getting a chance to say what you want to because you don’t want to interrupt the other person/people who keep talking?

What about of having people spell your name incorrectly (when they have the spelling available) or having people abbreviate/abridge your name? 

What about of noticing and caring about the errors and mistakes found almost everywhere – such as the top of a cabinet a crew forgot to paint or the spelling error on a menu?

What about of not saying anything because you know you’ll be the only one who remembers/notices?  

Such are just a handful of illustrations that roughly articulate some of the frustration, mental workload, and, as termed by Dr. Lisa Wade in an article that partially inspired this one, invisible workload of being very cognizant — of always seeing, watching, remembering, and planning–using that information to guide your movements through everyday life before acting. 

This is very true for me. Seeing, really seeing and being aware can be exhausting. Especially when so few really see and so many show how much they don’t see. Especially when I am accused of “being too picky.” It takes a great deal of patience and listening to see and when you really see, the world is full of even more mystery. 

People frequently like to pathologize those who are different and see things they can’t see or don’t want to see. People have even accused me of having OCD at times.

What if it really just comes down to that some people deeply see and pay very close attention to the world around them

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda

Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives

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8 replies

  1. Because what you describe is familiar. And exhausting. I’ve learned coping mechanisms. Some of them healthier than others.

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    • Hey Matt!! It’s not, for me, “exhausting” in a bad kind of way – it’s just my natural “default” and takes a great deal of energy. It’s part of why I prefer not being “out and about” very much. But I find people very interesting. 🙂

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  2. Your comment about some calling you OCD or being too picky may be coming from those who are not as educated as you are. Often, family members who were never at college do not understand the skills of analytical thinking that come with a college education. But all non-college-educated family members tend to say similar things to the college-educated members. Many students have told me similar things, among others. These comments reflect the changes in you they either expect or have seen in you or others. There are probably other things people have said that refer more obviously to your education. I am reminded of what Richard Rodriguez said his family told him when he decided to go to college, “you won’t want to talk with us anymore.” A college education is that transformative.

    My father was a lawyer. He and I would sit at the table taking apart ideas and examining them, especially when it came to history, because we both loved to talk history. My mother wondered what it really mattered, and I explained that was what college did to us. It gives us the skills needed and we learn how much joy and satisfaction that level of thought brings us.

    Of course, some subjects produce more students with a strong attention to detail. But that is the mark of any investigator or problem-solver. Humans have made it a specialization among members of a group, but all primates do want to solve problems, with or without any technology.

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    • I’m really lucky in that everyone in my family is college educated. But, only my dad and I have a graduate education. For a while, there was kind of a similar “divide” in terms of wondering why MORE college was needed. And the kind of thinking we do in graduate school is, for sure, very different than what is asked for (and often allowed) in undergraduate school.

      From other people, I’ve gotten the “you think too hard” way too many times. LOL!

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  3. Dr. Pegoda, forgive me for my long post, but your comments are as varied as the thoughts I had in response.

    Then, I can also say, when you describe being exhausted, etc., that you are expressing a strong mindfulness about your own body, something that definitely comes from the afflictions you have. That is actually a benefit, because that allows you to use your own mind to heal yourself. That is what mind-body medicine techniques do for you. I suspect that at the peak of skill in using them, you could cure yourself, even if some claim that a gene is causing the problem (which is never true–genes are only a blueprint and all need an environmental signal to trigger expression). There are too many people who did cure themselves, by accident or even by thinking about it, to call the idea “voodoo” (especially since it has been shown that voodoo is actually based upon strong beliefs, plant medicine, and the puffer fish venom to zombify when voodoo was transplanted to Haiti). You are just expanding that “mindfulness” to many other areas of your life, as well, maybe even leading you to the subject of your professional research topics.

    Using mindfulness, I learned to control pain to some degree as well as to use it to help the nervous system track the damage whenever a toxin would come out of the bones. I learned that when I was tracking the movement of the toxin by asking my brain where it was, going through the list of questions to use in muscle reflex/response testing, my own brain made those nerve endings in each area extra sensitive, so that very briefly, I could easily feel where the toxin was going, and get confirmation. Often there was no sensation when a toxin got released unless I asked the questions. Making some nerves more sensitive helped to better integrate conscious and unconscious parts of the brain.

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  4. Many years ago, I learned how to control some menstrual pain by concentrating on the body part, visualizing it and thinking about how and why only some women had that pain. That helped me get more endorphins released. But the relief was difficult to sustain because I had to keep my mind on it ALL the time. I found relief years later in college when I ran across an article that mentioned the pineal gland was involved in dysmenorrhea (what I went through), that too little melatonin was being produced. This article spoke of evidence that melatonin enhanced the production of progesterone and that too little progesterone was characteristic of those who suffered from dysmenorrhea.

    That was when the solution dawned on me. One of my herbal medicine books mentioned that yarrow “enhanced melatonin.” Before, that statement always struck me as really odd. But now, BINGO! I also discovered how melatonin produced by the pineal gland during the dark phase of a daily cycle, made the role of day-night cycle lengths important in regulating human female reproduction. I took a capsule of melatonin daily starting about day 13 of the cycle and it reduced the pain to very tolerable. I wanted to duplicate the normal progesterone cycle in the female body. When I stopped taking the yarrow on the cycle’s day 24, the period would come almost exactly 48 hr after the hour when I usually took it.

    Of course it made sense to take yarrow pills at the same time every day, generally just before going to bed at night. My period would also come early if I was up all night or fell asleep with the lights on two nights in a row, but only after ovulation had occurred. Light suppresses the production of melatonin (and it doesn’t take much wattage or exposure time to do it), and the sudden drop in melatonin intake mimics the sudden progesterone drop that occurs before the start of the menstrual cycle.

    The magic number, 2 (days or units of a cycle), is an important regulatory factor in the nervous system. If a disruption in a hormone cycle occurs only once, then the brain seems to guess that is an accident. But twice in a row means there has been a phase shift and the brain/body adapts to the new cycle. Melatonin receptors are strategically placed everywhere in the body and probably help to regulate many cell cycles that need to be synchronized, e.g. not just within the brain but all along the gut, too.

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  5. Thank you, Dr. Pegoda. I would not quite call myself an expert, but I have learned a lot about how important perspective is in figuring out stuff about the body. My search for answers because of what I went through as a child, led me to love a lot of different subjects that most people would think are not related to each other, so some would call me a generalist. But because of the severe effects of the toxins on my body, I also learned to be as thorough with attention to detail (ATD) as specialists are. That attention to detail would make me an expert in using mind-body medicine techniques to heal. I think you, too are developing in both ways yourself.

    I keep learning new indicators of where these toxins are going. Usually they come out only on one side of the body at a time. I just noticed earlier today after a brief nap, sleeping on my left side, that my left ear lobe was a bit thicker, slightly swollen–meaning more edema than on the right side. I wasn’t surprised at there being a difference since toxins tend to pool on the side you sleep on. Nasal sores are the usual indicators. Then just now as I rubbed my right ear because more toxins were causing itching there, I noticed my right ear lobe was thicker than the left one.

    Itching is a clear sign that toxins are probably flowing there, especially if you see neither bite nor bug, nor have any other known cause of itching. Even a rash is not necessarily caused by something on top of the skin, but could have a cause beneath the skin. There are a lot of signs of toxins that most would never even think to look for because no doctors even consider them as critical signs, when they might help you clear up or predict problems faster. ATD!

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