Skip to main content

Forums » Smalltalk » getting older

Does anyone else feel like this?

Like, you realized one day, as you're revisiting some old activity you used to really enjoy and succeed with, that something about it is just so much harder than it used to be?

For me, that's been a few things, not the least of which is RP. When I was a teenager, it was easy to commit to RP. It was easy to show up to a live chat on Furcadia or in IRC every day and progress my character or just screw around with slice-of-life shenanigans. Then I dropped RPing for several years because every circle I used to RP in dissolved, and leaving furry fandom meant that I was a lot less likely to find new partners outside of tabletop games (of which hardcore RP is not really a guaranteed facet anyway), and now that I've been back at it proper for over a year, I find that it's a lot more taxing on my energy than I remember.

Maybe I just don't remember how involved RP was. Maybe I just didn't have enough else going on in my life as a kid, and if RP were the only thing, I think I would just leave it there.

However... I've also noticed this with video games.

I tried to replay The Witness last year, a game that I played at launch (on PC) and, while it wasn't an easy game, it was still my kind of game. Very puzzle-focused. Now, though, I struggle with the mental labor in a way that just makes me feel slow. I find this is the case with Antichamber as well, a game I have beaten to 100% completion more than once when I was younger. I have the constant feeling that games like Baba is You, which I am not familiar with exactly, but are alike the games of my childhood (specifically Chip's Challenge) would be much easier for me if I were 5 years younger.

I've told myself for a while now that I might just be imagining things. It could be partly ADHD, which might get worse as we age, especially as mine was left untreated for most of my life. It could also be that I'm disabled and exhausted from coping with physical problems.

But, there is a reason why E-sports teams consider 30 to be a hard cutoff for people looking to get into tournament-level competition. The body really does slow down as we age, the mind really does struggle to respond as sharply.

I'm really not that old, at least not by the average human lifespan today, so aside from aforementioned physical health problems that sometimes make me feel 10 years older, I don't think I have a lot to worry about right now. I am curious if others feel like me, and how they cope with it.

Currently, I take things in steps. I've had to learn how to slow down and show my body some patience. When I'm tired, I rest. When I'm sick, I let myself recover. I have blessed partners who understand that I write replies when I feel able, especially as I want the quality of the reply to be as good as I can make it (without taking a dog's age, anyhow), and that helps a bit.

What I don't know how to handle is that, even taking self-care steps, sometimes I just have this persistent fatigue that is more than just the garden-variety executive function disorder common with ADHD. I get this feeling even when I'm on a roll and enjoying something. The only time I can really ignore it is when my mind has latched onto something to hyperfocus onto, and as soon as the hyperfocus ends, I crash. (This is why I set alarms...) I do get enough sleep, and even have a semi-reasonable sleep schedule these days, so I know it isn't that. It's just that everything feels like it requires 3x the work it used to, and it's really starting to get to me...
There's a good chance multiple things are going on and reinforcing each other.

Aging can, indeed, be playing a factor. During the first chunk of our lives, I think the sheer level of growth and development our bodies expect to be doing helps to make us a bit more adaptable to circumstances that are, frankly, unhealthy for our bodies (thinks like all-nighters, high-energy events, etc). So we won't feel the wear-and-tear as much. That only carries us into somewhere in our 20s, though; after that, our bodies drop into basically just a maintenance mode to ride the rest of our lives out on basically what we've got. Our body isn't correcting our mistakes so easily anymore, and building up anything more (new skills, new muscle, etc) takes a lot more effort and resources than it would have before. It takes real effort just to maintain wherever we're at, even.

Any additional strains will make that even harder. Disabilities, traumas, ongoing sources of stress, inadequate diet or sleep, etc, are all going to amplify the impact of everything. And it's not just a simple additional strain, like one more item on the list; it makes every individual thing harder, which in turn runs out our resources a lot faster. And without a period to properly recover, you're basically trying to run consecutive marathons without a rest. That currently stands out even more right now since we've got a global population that's still in the process of learning about the many ways we've been impacted by a pandemic that still isn't really even over; and for many of us, that's on top of several years of major stressors piling up at times faster than we ever really managed to comprehend. By nature of being social creatures, there's also a degree to which we subconsciously take cues from those around us that make our brains want to mimic others - so if everyone around us is stressed and tired, our brains are likely to try assuming that we must also be stressed and tired, whether there's reason for us to be or not.

ADHD can complicate things in a lot of ways. We struggle more with taking just basic care of ourselves, so a lot of times we might be operating with a functional "limp" (that we've often gotten so used to that we don't even realize how much it's hindering us), as well as worsening the symptoms. One of the often-overlooked aspects of ADHD is emotional dysregulation that makes our various feelings that much harder to control or cope with. Our increased impulsivity can prevent our lives from reaching any decent balance and make us more likely to waste our resources on things we don't need or will forget about (which also makes healthy eating a huge pain in the butt, hence the "ADHD tax"), or on getting stuck in option overload and/or "analysis paralysis." The way ADHD brains tend to function also changes how we tend to process the big things, much of it tying into the "out of sight, out of mind" aspects that make it a much less linear process; for example, someone with ADHD who has something to grieve over can seem disconnected or unaffected while others grieve, and instead the grieving will come in little spurts that mean that long after others have finished their grieving and found acceptance, the person with ADHD might still be "randomly" breaking down into tears now and then, possibly without having yet made any real progress because of how scattered the process can be for them. (And, of course, there's a good chance we'll compare ourselves to others around us and beat ourselves up over both not feeling enough and feeling too much and different times.) You can also factor in that while our brains may still crave the same stimulation, it's common for ADHD to lean more into the "inattentive" side (not so much the hyperactivity) with age; and at the same time, novelty gets a lot harder to come by, so it's harder to get the stimulation we need to engage properly (which, in turn, makes it harder to find things that will provide that stimulation).

For me, personally, I think where I start actually linking my own growing difficulties to age is a bit of weirdness in categorizing. I'm pretty sure my particularly limited media intake growing up played a part, but how my mind decided to sort ages is a bit skewed. In my mind there are kids, teens, adults, older adults, and elderly (though it took awhile for that "older adults" group to properly appear in my mind). The problem is that my mind decided that "adults," those meant to be coming into their own and going out and doing things (and expected "protagonist," basically), was supposed to be the 20s - or, more specifically, somewhere between 18 and 25, with the later 20s seeming a bit "iffy;" and "older adults" easily encapsulated anyone 40+ who didn't seem like they were what I'd assume 70+ was like. You might notice that the 30s don't exist in that breakdown (and actually, it's hard for me to conceive of the 50s, too). But if the late 20s was already "iffy," then that had to push the 30s over to "old." I'm in my 30s now, and I'm still working on comprehending how incredible off that concept of age was, and that, for example, most leading actors in various popular films are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, with I think more in their 60s than in their 20s. Even back when I turned 30, I made a few comments about how I was "officially old." I'm also still coming to terms with the idea that people younger than me exist, and not only as little kids. Everything I can remember ever happening was longer ago than I think. It's weird.

You are on: Forums » Smalltalk » getting older

Moderators: Mina, MadRatBird, Keke, Cass, Auberon, Claine, Sanne, Dragonfire, Ilmarinen, Ben, Darth_Angelus