it is hard to put into words my relationship with Ritalin. It tastes gross. it feels gross. I would have been a complete basket case without it. I could go on…
I think I will start with the broader picture. ADHD affects everyone differently. Some people can cope without medication. I was not one of those people. I fared well as a medicated person, until high school. By then, I had begun skipping days, even weeks sometimes; not taking my lunchtime doses at school or my afternoon dose at home. I started having a hard time focusing on my homework and tests. In fact, the only thing that kept me remotely interested in school was maintaining eligibility for running on the Cross Country Team. Even my performance on the team suffered. I completely lost the self-discipline to apply myself at anything but reading and video games. But that’s normal for a high school kid, right? Maybe…
Eventually I sat down with my parents and told them I wanted to stop.
They may have been hesitant; but in the long run, I wasn’t taking it at school or after school anyway… so it was to the point they were paying for medication that wasn’t being used. So we talked to the Dr., who said to give it a try. We did, and I fought the rest of my way through school, barely able to concentrate on running, homework; I couldn’t even keep a girlfriend. It was embarrassing at times, but I refused to have a crutch. I finished high school with little fear of failure, however my GPA had dropped considerably.
This battle with for self-control continued into college, where I constantly dropped all my classes because I just couldn’t stay interested. Eventually, I realized I made enough money working to drop out of college and move out. By this point, my parent’s had divorced, and there was quite a bit of tension between my dad and myself. I was living with him, and my mom had moved in with another man (eventually married him). I figured it was time to move in with my girlfriend of 2 months and start a life of my own. It was a disaster.
The first few months went fairly well. I took a few classes, and worked. I reconnected with some old friends too. But then the parties started. I started dabbling in drugs, drinking, and the usual tomfoolery expected from a college student. Except I stopped taking classes again. All my money went to rent and having a good time with my friends. Things didn’t work out so well with my girlfriend, so she moved back home. About a year later, I did too, under the condition that I went back to school and got back on Ritalin. Which I did.
Looking back, I see the things I could have done differently, had I the self-control to push myself. I could have been done with school by now. I could have been much happier in high school and college, and even performed better in my running. one of my biggest regrets in life was coming off Ritalin before I was ready, before I truly understood my situation. Part of that regret is due to the effect that I feel it had on my running. If you follow this blog you’ll see that a big part of my life now is trying to get back into running, and the blog also documents how that is going along with how running helps with my ADHD.
If there is anything I would want someone to take from my situation, it’s this: While we don’t all need medication, you can’t be afraid of it. You can’t refuse help, and you need to be willing to admit when you need help. It wasn’t until I received help that I learned how to help myself. I couldn’t have gotten where I am today without the driest, worst tasting medication on the planet, and if I could go back to when I stopped taking it and do things differently, I very well might have just kept on taking it.