Crazy Manic Hungry Thoughtful Helpful Tired Hyper Confused Regretful. And then there was Ritalin.
What does ADHD feel like? You know, I can count on one hand the number of people who have ever asked me that. I always hope this blog will enlighten people who want to know, and there are certainly those whom I want to know me better, but in the end, I have come to rely on this blog more for my own sanity. Right now. It’s 5pm (ish) and I’m friggin Manic. I am Crazy. I am hungry, thoughtful, oh wait… you read the title? Perfect. Moving along… I am all of this at once. Of course, hunger always exacerbates everything else, right? I find myself saying things without taking the time to fully understand what I’m responding to (online and in person). I am putting in my 2 cents in too many different places, trying to be helpful and insightful, but in the end, just looking stupid because I clearly was not paying attention to all the details. I’m then confused about whether there’s a way to retract my statements gracefully (the answer is no) and then regret the extent to which I’ve extended myself into things I should not have, at least not without taking more time to research the situation. I am not calculating, I am impulsive. I am not focused, I am all over the place. And this brings up an interesting topic of conversation I had with someone who understands me, or at least acknowledges me, better than most others (even though a lot of the time, she doesn’t fully understand either). My mom.
I don’t always agree with her. She doesn’t always agree with me. but that’s another story, probably for a different audience LOL. Mom was bringing up how different I was when I was medicated. It seemed to me that she would prefer I be medicated again. I HAVE been asked a few times about my decisions regarding medication, and have written about my experiences, but it dawned on me, I have not really written about my EXPERIENCE, I just wrote about the events that happened with and without meds. So, what was it like? That’s the grand question, even for me, as it is so difficult to put into words. So much more was possible with Ritalin; Focus and discipline, primarily. Emotions, not so much. They hide somewhere, erupting from time to time. I couldn’t talk to girls. I could barely talk to people period. It was awkward, I was anxious… The focus and discipline did not afford me the luxury of curiosity. I would regularly forget to take my meds at school. Taking Ritalin without consistency is a BAD idea (at least it was for me). My body was always trying to adjust. So it was decided we would see how I did with no meds at all. Initially it was ok. My grades had been suffering, but with no internal turmoil, I finished out that final semester of High School with decent grades. But I was curious now. What did life have to offer. College bored me. I moved out and worked. and partied. It was like I was making up for lost time. I spiraled downward for a while, then I took the opportunity when it came, to move back home and get back on Ritalin. Part of the problem for me was that, as a kid, I did not choose Ritalin. It was a crutch I was forced to lean on (granted, it was for my own good). Going back and making the conscious effort to medicate and move on in life successfully, made it easier to handle the notion that I needed help. I stayed on Ritalin for several more years (about 7). Eventually, I noticed it wasn’t working as well. Being an amphetamine, I knew this could mean I was developing a tolerance, or that I was “outgrowing my condition” with the chemical changes that occur in adulthood. The more prominent thought in my mind was that maybe I was ready to be done with meds. I talked to the Dr., and over time we made that a reality. Fast forward ~3-4 years to now. Mom is curious. Is life really so bad with Meds? No. Not bad. However, consider these things:
- Meds don’t change our choices. I still made a fair amount of poor decisions even when on meds. (this was a point she agreed with)
- There is a psychological element, primarily relating to pride and self esteem, being dependant on meds.
- There is a degree of Extroversion that could very well have help my relationship with my parents.
Ritalin is a crutch. When it all comes down to it, I’d prefer to be Myself. I am who I am. When I graduate college, I will be proud that I overcame my circumstances to do so. Like I told her, “I won’t have to thank Ritalin. Just Coffee and Alcohol, like any other college student.”
She made the argument that Ritalin didn’t change who I am. It allowed me to be who I am, without the difficulties of a lack of discipline and focus. This may be true, however, by doing so, it also took away my curiosity, my sense of adventure. It made it difficult for me to make friends, because I didn’t know how to act around people (I was shy, or just overly awkward). In the end, it was good when it was good. When it was bad, it wasn’t worth it anymore.
This is my experience. She remembers it differently. I’m sure my dad does too. In another 10 years, or 20 years, I might remember it differently too (or not at all). In the end, however, it is mine, nonetheless. Not to be mistaken for yours, your child’s, or anyone else’s. Hopefully it provided some perspective. This is what a person with ADD or ADHD could be going through.
sidenote: I write a lot of these off the cuff. This is raw, in the moment, and open to criticism. I do not claim to know it all (I am inept when it comes to medical/psychological terminology and diagnoses) and I have difficulty putting my own experiences into words. Feel free to question, contribute, etc. I welcome the conversation!
11/27/15 – I am one semester away from graduation. I have had a fairly easy time of it, only taking classes which interest me, making sure I keep a calendar of assignments and tests. I once started class a week late because I hadn’t paid close enough attention, however I worked with the teacher and he allowed me to catch up to the rest of the glass, and I ended up with one of the highest grades. I have a class right now that I thought I would be interested in, but it turns out to be a very dry subject, thanks in large part to the way the professor teaches it. So I am struggling with that class. Call my stubborn, but it is my determination to overcome my obstacles that has kept me from going back to the doctor to ask about temporarily going back onto meds until I’m done with school.
Read the original here.