Adderall and Ritalin

As you can tell from my post about food, I am very particular about what goes into my body.

It was an ordeal for my parents to get me to take any kind of medicine as a child. Any occasion where I took medicine was a rarity. I had no understanding of the cause and effect. The idea that something I ingest would alter how I felt (possibly in a positive way) was hard for me to understand.

My freshman year of high school my parents decided they wanted me to begin taking Adderall. I refused initially. I wasn’t worried about potential risks of the drug. Taking a doctor prescribed drug as directed seemed harmless. I knew cognitively about the idea of side effects, but had no personal experience and therefore was not concerned. My reason for objecting was taste.
I’ve never learned to swallow pills. I have to place them in food. The bitter taste is inescapable.
My parents offered to pay me to take the Adderall. I forget how much. It was a one time payment in exchange for taking the drug indefinitely. I’m not much of negotiator, I probably could have gotten a better deal, but I accepted it.

I began the Adderall.
I have no memory of ever being told by a doctor what side effects to look our for. My parents were told, but I wasn’t.
So when I stopped needing to eat or sleep much I didn’t connect this to the new drug. I just thought I didn’t need these things anymore.

I’d sneak over to the computer at night and play games online. Go to bed at 3 am wake up at 7:30 am? No problem!
I loved my alone time at night. I had free reign of the house, provided I was quiet.
Why would I tell my parents? They’d just get mad at me for sneaking out of bed.

I didn’t need lunch anymore. I’d save my lunch money for various odds and ends.
Couldn’t tell my parents that either, they’d get mad.

Classes were boring. I’d look around the room going pondering the different ways I could kill myself before the class ended. Could I jump out the window? Hang myself with the flagpole? It was half serious and half a game.

I exploded at a friend at school. She asked where my boyfriend and I were going on our date. I accused her of trying to follow us. I never repaired that friendship following this incident.

I started self-injury during this time. Was it something that was bound to happen even without the Adderall? I have no way of knowing.

Based on how long standing my problems have been and my family history I believe I’d still have had difficulties without ever taking Adderall. I think they may have just been accelerated.

During this time I feel something in me broke. I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to fix it, but I never get back to where I was. I have times when I think I am fixed, but a little bump makes me fall apart again.

My fabulous, amazing godfather commented that I looked drugged. And he would know, what with all the time in the 80s he spent being punk rocker, hanging around the east village.

There were a lot of dramatic, loud arguments with my Mom. One resulted in my running into a snow storm in only a t-shirt and jeans. I figured I’d freeze myself to death in the snow. I hid in the backyard, then I got cold, so I decided to live.

I re-entered my home. My dad was on the phone with a local psych unit. Had I stayed outside a few more minutes I’d have been dragged to the hospital.
This was my first threat of psych hospitalization. It began a series of nightmares I had for years about being forcibly hospitalized. (This is a topic for another post)

I wonder sometimes how things might be different had I been hospitalized that day. If some type of intervention had been made earlier would things be less severe today? My parents were and still are for the most part clueless about how bad my problems are. It was a year until I began regular therapy and it wasn’t due to a specific mental health diagnosis except for a little about my ADD. It was primarily for dealing with conflict between my mom and I.

After the snow storm incident, my parents finally realized the Adderall was not the best idea for me and I was taken off it.

Life improved after quitting the Adderall, but never quite to where it was before. The self injury tapered off, to the point where I thought I was done with it forever. There was almost a year where things felt close to normal. A rough patch during my junior year brought everything back. It was much easier to fall apart the second time.

You’d think this would have scared me away from stimulants for good, wouldn’t you?
It did for awhile. It scared me away from all drugs.

Out of desperation, my freshman year of college, I tried some other psych drugs for my anxiety and depression. (This is a topic for another post) This loosened up my fear somewhat. I’m still very distrustful of drugs, but if desperate enough I’m willing to look into the option, occasionally.

When I transfered schools I was terrified about how I would do academically.

During my second hospitalization I asked my doctor if he could prescribe an ADD medication besides Adderall. I thought it would be a good idea to try it while there so if I had a bad reaction I would be in a safe place.
The doctor said no. He had a theory that I was bipolar type 3 (didn’t seem to care that this diagnosis doesn’t exist) and thought it would make me manic.
In art therapy I spaced out while the directions were being explained. I dedicated my piece of colorful scribbles to him and called it “My therapist won’t give me ADD drugs, so I spaced out during the directions”. In typical art therapy fashion the facilitators talked about how even though I’d not heard the directions, my scribbles somehow related to the assigned topic.

During my 3rd hospitalization I asked again. They put me on Ritalin. Was the only helpful thing to come out of that hospitalization. Originally they had me take it every day. I wasn’t comfortable with that.
Now I take Ritalin just on days I want to. I like being able to compare how I feel on the drug versus off it. It has worked out very well.

Everything in my brain organizes itself better. I don’t stare at a blank screen for hours trying to start a paper.

It’s not perfect. I’ve had horrible mood swings when it wears off. I learned this happens when I skip a meal. I make sure to eat (even if I’m not hungry) and things are fine.

Careful self-monitoring is important.

Ritalin is shorter acting than Adderall. I find this helpful. I can’t go for weeks accidentally depriving myself of sleep and food like I did on Adderall.

Part of my Adderall problem was that I wasn’t informed about anything. I was 14. I was young, but old enough that I should have had a more active role in my health decisions. Someone should have let me know that my body still needed food and sleep even if it was saying otherwise.

5 thoughts on “Adderall and Ritalin

  1. I always wonder about earlier treatment – but to me, seems like people never really recover from early hospitalizations. I’ve never seen it really help.

    Reply
  2. I’m 14 and I’d love to see my parents try and shove a pill down my throat without letting me Google what it is first [really sick of doctors only addressing my parents when they prescribe me something].

    Reply

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