I love music. I listen to it nearly all day. I especially like music with big swellings, crescendos, and other such epicness. I find it in many ways more interesting than music that just stays the same. For that reason, I am often drawn to the heart-pounding beauty of soundtracks. Not only do they soar and change, they leave me feeling breathless, restless, and worked up. Adrenaline.
I'm also fond of imagining things, particularly scenes from whatever gripping book I've just read, or whatever story I'm working on writing. Frequently, I imagine the scenes of danger, of persevering despite the peril, of defying the villain to his face. Somehow, I enjoy the clenched feeling in my stomach that I get, similar to what happens right before I go onstage, but more pronounced. Again, adrenaline.
I didn't realize how much adrenaline buildup I had until I went on a sewing retreat last weekend. Sewing is calming by itself, but to sew all weekend, surrounded by friends, in a beautiful building with lots of windows, overlooking a beautiful lake and forest, is just incredible. I don't really have any way to describe it, but I came back to school completely relaxed. For a day or so, anyway. Then the cravings started to kick in. My brain wanted adrenaline. It was pushing me to keep imagining, to the point that I would get frustrated when my roommate was in the room, because it meant that I couldn't act things out. (My roommate would think I was crazier than she already does if I started randomly shouting defiantly at the wall.)
That's when I realized I had a problem. Because needing to do something simply to flood your brain with chemicals isn't being a "junkie." It's addiction. I have come to the conclusion that I am, quite literally, addicted to adrenaline.
Which begs the question: what do I do about it? I've taken a couple of steps already, and am actually starting to see results. I'm not allowing myself to imagine those particular scenarios anymore I still imagine the fun ones, just not the ones that give me the adrenaline rush. (The exception is when I'm trying to edit something I've written. I find that visualizing scenes makes editing MUCH easier, so I do allow myself to do it then. But not other times.)
The other thing I've done is to sort through the music that I listen to. I have kept the soaring, uplifting melodies that inspire, and I have set aside the pulse-pounding, adrenaline-inducing ones. I can still enjoy the musical effects without ramping up my adrenaline levels, and often, I find myself more relaxed after listening than I was before.
Between the two, I've noticed a definite decrease in my stress levels. I don't feel like I'm walking around hyped up on something any more. I still have moments when the craving strikes, but as long as I have something I can work on instead of giving in, I'm usually fine. (And turning the music on again helps a lot too. :) )
When you realize that you have a problem, the first thing to do is try to fix it. I don't know yet if what I've done so far will be enough. But I can already tell that I don't want to go back to the stress level I had before. If what I'm already doing turns out to not be enough, I'll have to find something else to try. For now, though, I think what I'm doing should work. But we'll have to see.