Why'd I take speed for twenty years? (part two!)
The finale (can it be a finale if it's just two episodes?)
Happy Friday, Searchers!
Last week, we published an episode called “Why’d I take speed for twenty years?”
For months, I had been feeling trepidation about putting that first episode out. It felt vulnerable to talk about something so personal in public, and more so when the personal thing intersects with a topic people feel strongly about.
I have to say though, the listener feedback last week was so impressive. It just made me feel grateful for the audience we’re finding here. We heard from so many smart, thoughtful people from all over the world, people with opinions all over the spectrum, who shared a deep capacity for calmly thinking through a thorny topic.
I heard from people who take the drugs, people who don’t, people who used to but then quit, people who are considering taking them but haven’t yet. There was so much curiosity and compassion for other people’s experiences. Anyway, I’m sorry to gush, but I get to see my inbox, which means I can see the crowd you’re a part of more clearly than you can. I just wanted you all to know you’re a good bunch.
(Oh, now that I’ve told you all you’re smart, good-looking, and kind, I should remind you that you can always support the show with a paid subscription if you’d like.)
There was one category of email I got that I didn’t expect. I heard from a good number of people who asked if they could schedule some time to talk one-on-one with me about their relationship with pharmaceutical drugs. I can’t have those conversations because I’m not a professional. And because I don’t know how to open that door in a way that I would know how to manage.
But I really understood the impulse. It made me think about how maybe there’s not enough places in American life where people can have these non-judgmental conversations about substances, outside of the context of recovery rooms or therapy. I don’t have a solution for that. It’s just something I find myself noticing. If you have thoughts or ideas about this, please share in the comments.
The last category of email, honestly smaller than I expected, was from people who were disappointed in last week’s episode.
Some of these listeners believed our reporting wasn’t acknowledging things that science agrees on. Like for instance, they believed that it’s an agreed-upon fact that stimulant medications work differently on people who have ADHD than on people who don’t.
We spent months reading the available literature and talking to experts, and that just doesn’t seem to be true. You can find some support for the idea that these drugs are doing something different in the brains of people with clinically defined ADHD, but you can also find studies that knock that idea down. As we said in the piece: how these medications work, and who they work for is just a much less settled question than their popularity would suggest.
Which brings me to part two of our story. In part two, we get to peek into some emerging science about brains and ADHD.
This week, the story of Dr. Bianca Harris, who for her entire life felt something was wrong with her mind, until she found a compound that made her brain work the way she always suspected it should.
I hope you appreciate this one. We say it a lot, but our show really is dedicated to appreciating complexity, and in this episode, I think you can hear us continuing to enjoy how complicated the world is.
We dropped in a lot of links on ADHD and stimulant medications last week, so if you’re looking for that, go back to that newsletter. Here’s some additional ones for you:
This week, at the end of the show I recommended a local New York sandwich shop and bakery, which is only going to be a useful recommendation for about a quarter of our audience. But, if that’s you, or if you’re visiting, go check out Sea & Soil!
Here’s some of their crazy bread:
Here’s a breakfast sandwich they make sometimes:
Honestly, if I saw a picture of that sandwich, I might worry it looked “a little bit too bready,” but in person, I believe the ratio is perfect.
I can’t tell how helpful or annoying it is to have these New York-specific recommendations. Let me know in the comments what you think, for real! Also if you have Brooklyn bread recommendations, drop them in. Do NOT try to tell me about Brooklyn French Bakers, I know, they’re incredible, they might get shouted on Search Engine as we pivot into being an editorial production that tells an international audience where to get bread in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Part of the reason I tried out a local recommendation this week is I actually get emails from people sometimes who will just say, “I’m visiting New York! Where should I go?”
I’m not a food writer or a travel writer, but I have lived here for 15 years and love leaving my house. Also, the other positive side of a recommendation at the end of the show is it means we don’t have to interrupt the main story as many times with ads. So there’s that, too. 😈
Alright. See you guys next week, the next couple Search Engine episodes are a little strange. We’ll be investigating a famous bronze statue statute on Wall Street. We’ll be discussing the ethics of cannibalism with a small child. I’m interested to hear what you make of all this.
Yours on the internet,
Search Engine with PJ Vogt is a listener-supported work of lunacy. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.