Home » Adult ADD / ADHD » Turning Points, Part I: ADD Meds
December 24, 2009 @ 9:36 pm

Turning Points, Part I: ADD Meds

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Wow.  Ok.  Where do I start?

Since I wrote my last post, when I was only 1733 words into NaNo and being distracted by music, there have been some huge, major turning points in my life, including but not limited to:

  1. Getting started on ADD meds
  2. My second NaNoWriMo win
  3. Decluttering and repairs at home
  4. . . . And my visit with my Someone Special

I think I may need to do this in multiple posts.  I’ll start with number 1.

Well,  after being terrified to try ADD medication for such a long time, for varying reasons (some of them based in logic and some not), I decided in September to make an appointment with my GP’s Nurse Practitioner to talk about it.  The appointment was in October and it didn’t go so well.  For a little while, I allowed that to be my excuse to drop the whole idea and not pursue it any further.  The thing is, though, the focus issues have been a big problem at work, and after making a lot of progress through therapy, and adopting new habits and new ways of doing things and keeping track of what I need to do and when, and paying attention to the need for proper sleep, and taking vitamins and supplements that are helpful, I still had a big problem.   A smaller problem than I had before, but still a big problem.  I talked at length with someone who has been surrounded by people with ADD all her life and has followed several of them through the medication experience, and I learned a lot about how some of the medications work and what I might be able to expect.  I spoke about it further with my therapist as well, and finally, I asked her to recommend a psychiatrist.  She did, one local and two about an hour away.  I made an appointment with the local doc and I saw him November 19th.  He started me on a very low dose of Ritalin, which didn’t do much but I was able to clearly tell when it wore off.  He let me increase it after about a week when I called him, and then I saw some results.  One more increase about a week and a half after that, and I’m seeing much better results.  The current dosage I’m on right now seems to be pretty good on normal days, but during my PMDD times and the three or four days following a glutening, it’s not as effective.  That’s something we’ll probably work on adjusting for, but for now, I’ve been going through a real learning transformation.

I’ve been learning all kinds of things, like:

  • The fatigue and always-sleepy state I’ve been in since I was a teenager may just have more to do with ADD than with the other stuff I deal with.  I was amazed, that first day, when I climbed the stairs to my apartment and my legs didn’t ache.  That fatigue is physically painful, and any exertion often causes muscle pain that feels like I’ve been doing hard exercise.  When I’ve taken the medication, I still get winded when I exert, because of course I’m overweight and out of shape, but it doesn’t hurt.  It’s amazing.  Really amazing.

    The always-sleepy state was something I had a lot of trouble explaining so that others could really understand it.  I think most people were under the impression that I gave into my desire to sleep much too easily and that I could have stopped if I’d wanted to.  (I’ve got the Inattentive type of ADD, not the Hyperactive type, so physical energy of any sort has always felt elusive to me.)  For years, literally years, I would come home from work exhausted to the point that sometimes I would sway on my feet as if I were drunk.  I would eat dinner, or sometimes not even eat until later, and go lay down for a “nap”, which usually meant I could not wake up for three to four hours.  (As my therapist said to me once, “That’s not a nap, that’s sleep”.)  It felt like I’d overdosed on sleeping pills and there was no alternative but to sleep.  But guess what.  Since I’ve been taking ADD meds, I no longer have that need to nap.  I am able to stay up until a normal bedtime and get a normal night’s sleep.  When I used to “nap”, I would be up until the wee hours because it took several hours before I was able to go back to bed.  I often did not get four hours and then another four hours, which would have totaled an 8-hour night, but even if I had, split sleep is still not as beneficial as a solid night’s sleep.  I often feel as if I’ve stepped into someone else’s life, lately.  Someone normal.  The absence of those symptoms I struggled with for, well, pretty much my whole life, is . . . I just can’t think of appropriate descriptive words other than “amazing” and “incredible”. Please excuse my over-use of those words.
  • The weird “feeling cold” thing I’ve been doing for about five years is better with the medication.  I’ve thought it was extremely unusual that I sit at work with a sweater when my coworkers, AC guys who work out in the summer heat on roofs and in stifling attics, don’t feel chilly when walking into the air conditioned office at the temperature I keep it set at.  Usually, the overweight person in a room is warmer than everyone else, but I sit with my sweater pulled around me.  Apparently, it’s a metabolism thing, and the medication corrects it.  I can tell when it wears off, too, without even checking a clock, because besides finding it more difficult to concentrate or follow a conversation, I become cold, sleepy, and hungry.  And sometimes cranky, which leads us to the next point.
  • My anxiety levels are dramatically better on the meds.  I handle frustration so much better, and my temper, which has always been a part of who I am whether I like that fact or not, is so much easier to keep in check.  Another thing that surprised me is that the palpitations I’ve been having, which I finally came to the conclusion must be anxiety-related after going through all the medical tests last year and having everything come back good, are almost gone once the meds kick in.  They still happen sometimes, but they’re less severe, and they come back when the medication wears off, which is another way I know it’s worn off, just in case the shivering, yawning, starving, and crankiness don’t tip me off.
  • Appetite suppressant.  Need I say more?

  • I once read a blog post by someone with ADD and she wrote about having taken her first dose of medication.  She remarked about how it became *quiet* in her head.  I remember sighing and thinking wistfully, “I want that.”  And guess what.  I can have it, now.  Instead of having a hundred or more thoughts rambling through my head at any given time, making it difficult or impossible to focus on or remember the ones I really need to be paying attention to at the moment, it’s quiet.  It’s orderly, inside my head.  I can think of other things and make either mental or paper notes (or make a note in the Palm) about them and stay on task with whatever it is that is the priority.  That is completely new to me.
  • I can read again!  That was one of the things I was most sad to see declining over the last several years.  I used to love to read for pleasure.  I always had difficulty reading for knowledge, going way back to my grammar school days.  I depended on classroom discussions of what we’d read for homework the night before, in order to process and understand, and to learn.  But I had been a big pleasure-reader.  As time progressed, I found myself taking forever to finish reading a simple novel, and I had to go back constantly and re-read sections in order to remember who the characters were and what had happened.  I’ve been pretty busy these last two months, so I didn’t try to read until last week, but I picked up a James Patterson novel (which I had tried to start a couple times before) and got sucked right into it.
  • And finally . . . most days, when the PMDD symptoms aren’t raging and I haven’t been glutened and I’ve slept enough the night before, I can get SO much done at work.  Absolutely incredible.  I feel almost like a different person.  I told the psychiatrist what an amazing learning experience this has been for me, to experience firsthand the concept of being able to decide to do something and then really do it.  (I became a little emotional and my eyes got misty, and he was visibly uncomfortable, so I made a mental note to remember not to do the “feelings” thing in front of him again.)  This is something many people probably take for granted, though, I’m sure.  After years of thinking of what I’d like to do, but being all too aware that I probably wouldn’t be able to, or wouldn’t do it right, or would start and never finish, and ending up feeling like “Why bother anyway”, I – ME – am able to set a goal and reach it.  Granted, my goals have been small so far in comparison to those of many other people, but I’ve been reaching them.  And oh, my God.  What a feeling.

More to follow in Part II . . .


  1. Comment by Kate:

    I’m so glad for you. I see how this can have far-reaching impacts on your life and your evaluation of self. Good for you for all the healing work you have been doing. Good and healing thoughts to you.


  2. Comment by David:

    This is so great, Tamp! I can’t wait for Part Two!

  3. Ping from Turning Points, Part II « life is change:

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  4. Comment by lifeischange:

    Thank you, Kate and David. 🙂 I just posted Part Two. Three and Four will follow within the next few days.

  5. Comment by Kerro:

    I’m so glad this is working out! Well done, you for persisting! 🙂

  6. Comment by steppingthru:

    @ Instead of having a hundred or more thoughts rambling through my head at any given time, making it difficult or impossible to focus on or remember the ones I really need to be paying attention to at the moment, it’s quiet.
    Never in my life have I felt like someone finally put into words what I feel every minute of every day. I have never been diagnosed with ADD but my brain NEVER slows down or gets quiet. I am so happy for you that you have finally found help.

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