I suffer with allergies. As such, Spring is a very conflicted time for me. I love seeing the new foliage on the trees and enjoy flowers, but these things which I love cause my body to short-circuit. It’s odd.
One of the most intolerable symptoms of my allergy suffering is an increased agitation. My tolerance for distractions such as loud sounds, talking while I’m trying to think, or even just looking over my shoulder while I’m trying to work almost disappears. When I bring this up with people most folks assume it’s the medicine. Unfortunately, it’s not the medicine 1. In fact, when I’m not on my Allergy medicine the agitation is worse.
I’ve pondered for years why this is the case, typically during allergy season which is why I’ve never had any insight into my affliction. Yesterday, however, I think I may have finally figured something out. Agitation isn’t really a symptom of my allergy suffering, it’s a side-effect. The real symptom 2 is increased distractibility. Allergies seem to affect the part of my brain which allows me to filter out unwanted information and remain focused on a task 3. I noticed this yesterday when I was trying to rearrange a spreadsheet, I couldn’t follow the process all the way through like I normally would. I’d copy rows, paste them, and then forget which rows I moved. I’d hit command-z, copy and paste again, and then forget which step I was on. And then I’d go back to the beginning. Typically, I can focus right through distractions and complete my task – but the slightest stray thought or sound from the next room completely broke my concentration and sent me reeling. Once I identified the problem I was able to move through my task and get it completed, after four or five attempts.
What’s this got to do with my increased agitation? Well, apparently my subconscious was more aware of the impact allergies were having on my ability to focus than my conscious mind. The agitation is caused by my realization that I can’t function the way I’m used to functioning. This tends to make me “snappish” towards both tasks and people as I struggle to bring my thoughts under control. I feel sorry for my kids during this season, as every time my concentration is broken I have to make a significant effort not to lash out with a, “What do you want?” Sometimes I’m not so successful.
I’m not quite sure if understanding the cause of my agitation will change anything, but it’s nice to have finally figured it out.