So I’ve been taking Adderall for five days now. The drugged feeling is gone, but I have noticed something else that might be along the same lines as feeling “drugged”. Everything seems to be in sharper focus, as though it has more depth, more detail. I seem to remember feeling that way those handful of times that I used marijuana back in my teens. When I look at things that I’ve been looking at for years, I see them as though through new eyes. Better eyes. It’s like putting on glasses and everything looks sharp, high definition. My cat is so pretty. I noticed the way her fur lays, and the way the light reflected in her eyes. And it worried me.
Adderall, Ritalin, you hear of people abusing these drugs. The pharmacist compared it to cocaine, but in my mind, I’ve always compared it to meth. It’s something that the perfect PTA moms use to help them be perfect PTA moms. It makes them go, go, go. It makes you feel like Superman, like you can do anything. The problem is, you can’t. You might feel like you could lift a station wagon, but if you try to, you’re going to hurt yourself. In someone with ADHD, the stimulant is supposed to calm you. In a way, it does. It calms my mind in a way that it can get down to business. Just knowing that I can complete two thoughts in a row without them getting interrupted is enough to shoot my confidence through the roof. I’m ready to take on the world. I’m ready to get in there and get my hands dirty. I’m ready to take my life my the horns. But it worries me.
I’m worried because Adderall makes me go, go, go. Does that mean that I have gotten the wrong diagnosis? Does it mean that I don’t have ADHD after all, and I may as well be on speed? I’m worried because I keep hearing that this drug is habit-forming. It’s addictive, and I’ve got to say, I want to be addicted to it. I’m already addicted to the way it makes me think and feel. I love how I am getting things done, and I’ve only just started. I want to take this medicine every day for the rest of my life. And that scares me. I’ve never been addicted to anything stronger than a Dr Pepper, and I don’t want to start now.
Like a lot of people, I am one of those that likes to freak out a little when things get good. When I started dating my husband, it scared me. When we got engaged, it worried me. When we got married, I kept thinking that there was no way my life could have gotten this good, and that at any moment it would all come crashing down around me. All this worrying I’m doing now is probably just more of that. I’ve failed so many times in my life, that it’s almost natural to just prepare for failure as I get started on something. And by the way, that’s pretty common with ADHD. I’m still reading the books I checked out. One minute, I wonder if I really fit the mold, and the next minute, I’m totally relating to a patient in one of these books. Here I am, not even a week into treating it, and seeing how effective the treatment is, and I’m having to talk myself into believing it.
One of the first things I think when I ask myself if I could really have ADHD is that I was never what I thought would be considered hyperactive. But then I start thinking back to my childhood.
One time I heard a cat crying up on our roof. Well, it was the roof over the porch, and it was made from a piece of corrugated fiberglass and held down with cinder blocks. The porch itself was built with cinder blocks, with a wall on one side, connecting the front of the porch to the roof. This wall was also made of cinder blocks. (There is a reason for all the cinder blocks, but that’s another story.) Cinder blocks, as you might know, are rectangular, and have two large holes. And although I think the ones on the wall on the front of the porch were a different, more decorative shape, they still had holes. And those holes made great footholds for a seven-year-old on a mission to rescue a kitty. I climbed my way up the front of our house and got close enough that I could reach onto the roof, and almost close enough to get the kitty. When I started to lose my balance, I took hold of the block on top, holding the roof down. When I did that, the damn thing rolled forward once, which was just enough to make me lose my balance all around and fall backward, more or less, off the roof. (I never appreciated at the time how lucky I was that that block didn’t follow me down.) This fall resulted in me having all the wind knocked out of me in a way I had never experienced before and hope to never experience again. It also cracked the back of my head open.
So maybe I was a little more daring than some. In fact, the more I think about my younger years, the more I remember getting hurt. I have always had a tendency to jump into things head first and full speed. Sometimes figuratively, and sometimes literally. This almost always results in some manner of pain and suffering, and almost always on my behalf.
There is more to ADHD than hyperactivity. In fact some people, and usually girls/women, tend not to show any hyperactivity. Sadly, that’s why so many go undiagnosed. So what might the girls do besides get up and run around in circles all day? They talk, doodle, daydream, and mostly just don’t pay attention to anything that’s going on around them. And then there are social problems that result from it. When you have trouble focusing on anything, or you tend to hyperfocus on something, you tend to miss some small details, like social cues. You miss body language that should cue you into people’s mood. You miss suggestions and details that should signal that maybe there is something going on with them. After a while you start to feel like you’re just self-centered, and you tell yourself that you’re a bad friend (partner, sister, daughter, mother). So your self esteem starts to go down. As you continue to start projects and quickly lose interest, leaving them unfinished, your confidence wanes. Eventually these things start to make you depressed. You feel pretty worthless and maybe that you don’t deserve anyone’s love. You might push people away because you don’t deserve them. Then things just sort of fall apart and you feel like you can’t even put two and two together anymore. You forget to pay your bills on time. You forget someone’s birthday. You kick yourself some more.
There is so much more to ADHD than hyperactivity. My reaction to taking my new meds is sort of typical ADHD behavior, because I’m doubting myself. It’s what I’m used to doing, and it’s what I’m good at. And that’s not good. It’s behavior that I have to learn to rise above. It’s time for me to put my life back together again. So that’s what I’m trying to do.
Today, I cleaned and organized. First, I did my daughter’s room. Anyone with kids knows how fast they outgrow things. I went though all her clothes and packed what she’s outgrown, then reorganized what was left. I really made a huge impact in there and it felt good. (Which worried me. Haha.) Then I finally unpacked our bathroom closet. We have lived here for over a year and there were still four half-empty boxes in the bottom of the closet. The end result was so incredible to my eyes, that I snapped a picture and sent it to my friend. But it still bothered me. I’m one of those PTA moms, just zooming around on some good amphetamines, I thought. I so love what the medicine does for me. But I just can’t help harboring some guilt over taking it. It kind of feels like I’m cheating. It feel like an athlete taking steroids. Sure, it works, but is it morally right? I don’t know.
I have to kind of laugh, though. My husband has always been the worker bee, and I was always the one who needed prodding to get moving. In the last few days, I have seen a huge role-reversal. I’m puttering around cleaning and organizing, and meanwhile, I’m shouting things at him that I need him to do. I had him carrying things to the garage, taking out the trash, changing poopy diapers, all in the name of letting me do what I was doing and not getting in the way. Believe me, he doesn’t mind.
Tomorrow I get to talk to my therapist again. I’m sure she’ll help ease my mind on the matter of the Adderall. Since being largely disorganized is a huge symptom on ADHD, and all I’ve wanted to do the last few days was to get organized, I’m pretty sure that it’s a good sign that the medicine is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing. Also, being able to have clear thoughts without getting overwhelmed and frustrated is such a huge deal. I have been freaking out way less. I haven’t lost my patience or gotten angry or frustrated. I haven’t felt worthless or unlovable, or unworthy of love. I feel like I have my life ahead of me. I feel like I finally have control. I look forward with confidence that I’m going to shape up and get down to business. I’ve worn the face of confidence lots of times, but never felt it in my heart like I do now. And that is something.