Tuesday, December 29, 2020

My Experience on ADHD Medication as an Adult

 


I was officially diagnosed ADD at the age of 49 back in August of 2020. Everybody already knew it; I just wanted the confirmation. 

Here's a quote that sums ADD/ADHD up from the book Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D.:

"Having ADHD makes life paradoxical. You can super-focus sometimes, but also space out when you least mean to. You can radiate confidence and also feel as insecure as a cat in a kennel. You can perform at the highest level, feeling incompetent as you do so. You can be loved by many, but feel as if no one really likes you. You can absolutely, totally intend to do something, then forget to do it. You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but feel as if you can't accomplish a thing."

I wanted to share some posts and helps I found on the web when I first started taking Ritalin at the start of December 2020 because being ADD does not mean you can't be successful in life and in business. These are not things you're going to find on that insert your pharmacist gives you with the bottle of pills; this is information from real people who have taken it. Real experiences.  

Sleep, "the Crash," and Other Side Effects

Obviously, everyone is different and reacts different to medications, as well as there's the fact that there are THREE different versions of Ritalin (regular, LA (long-acting), and SR (sustained release)). I am on the long-acting. It lasts about 12 hours for me, so I try to take it by 7 each morning, and so far I've had no problems sleeping (I knew you were going to ask).

I haven't experienced "the crash" when it leaves my system around 8 at night. Sometimes my heart feels like it's going a little extra nuts, but that doesn't last long. Every now and then I'll take 10 mg. of my beta blocker to help even things out. They are perfectly safe to take together (propranalol and Ritalin).

In fact, my doc said I could take a higher dose because I'm not experiencing a lot of extra focus, BUT I am better able to manage my emotions most of the time (ADD people tend to fly off the handle sometimes about little things and experience rejection sensitivity). Lately I've been able to get some serious home organization and work things done that normally I would put off forever, BUT that could also be because we are on break from homeschooling for the holidays and on break from homeschool coop. Shrug.

I am actually switching to Adderall in January (update at the bottom of the post) to give it a try at the lowest dose so I can compare the two. At that point, I can decide whether to continue with medication at all or go back to coping how I always have, which actually gets exhausting. My hope is that I can find something I don't need to take every single day, but only on those days I need extra focus.

Caffeine and Hydration

The first day I took it (20 mg., the lowest dose so I could give it a try), I sat with friends at a restaurant and drank a metric crap-ton of strong coffee, and felt like I was on speed, all hopped up and spastic. 

I wasn't diagnosed with the H part of the ADHD, but the Ritalin/coffee combo made me feel like I had been given the unwanted gift of that H. Since my coffee at home is not that strong and it's my morning ritual (was it just my ritual to try to gain some focus?), the second day I did have a cup of my own coffee and I was fine. The key is ONE CUP of not-strong coffee and you can keep your morning ritual if coffee is part of it.

Also the first day I was so thirsty! I also got a wicked headache mid-afternoon. Found out later I need to hydrate like crazy while on Ritalin.

Weight Loss and Exercise

I've heard people say they lost a lot of weight on Ritalin (or any ADD meds), and that's great (most people I know wouldn't mind dropping a few pounds as a side effect of getting their life together a little better). However, I like my curves and don't need to drop TOO MUCH weight, so I have to make sure I'm eating at mealtimes even when I'm not hungry. (I've read that exercise is so important for those who are ADD because it helps get the energy out and the endorphins in, so instead of staring at the ceiling tiles, wondering what you should be doing next, just go out for a brisk walk and THEN try to decide what to do with the rest of your day.)

The good thing about not having much of an appetite is that I crave healthier options now. I went for a Kind Bar, a hard-boiled egg, carrots, and string cheese as snacks and stayed mostly away from the Hershey kisses. Mostly. Even when I'm not hungry, I sit down with dinner with my family every night and EAT SOMETHING.

You wouldn't have recognized me at my last trip to Sam's Club. Instead of all the sweets and processed items, I loaded up on fruits and veggies, meats, V8 in 12-ounce cans, and sushi.

Check out This Book

If you are ADD or love someone who is, I urge you to check out the book Faster Than Normal: Turbocharge Your Focus, Productivity, and Success with the Secrets of the ADHD Brain by Peter Shankman. He teaches great ways to be amazing whether you take meds for your ADD or not. 

Roundup of Posts

Check out 13 Things I've Learned from Taking Ritalin at The Odyssey Online.  Here's a great takeaway from this article for me, only apply it to homeschooling my kids and working my businesses from home:

"When I first started taking it, my parents asked what Ritalin actually did. I explained that it helped me focus, and basically made me complete tasks in a timely manner. I would walk into my building and say “I need to do my math homework” and I can walk to my room and start doing my homework. Without Ritalin, I’ll still get the homework done. But I’ll get on my phone, and then do a few problems, and then get distracted. Ritalin cuts out a lot of the crap and makes my life more efficient."

Another good post is Four Common ADHD Medication Mistakes to Avoid by Dana Rayburn. The only part of this piece I laughed at was what I posted below because if you're taking it daily, I don't know how you would ever have "extra pills" ... it was like Mission Impossible: CVS Pharmacy trying to even get medication in the first place, and the whole process – no joke – took a month from having the prescription in my hand to getting pills. Keep in mind first I was prescribed Concerta, but I was going to have to sell all my belongings to be able to afford it, so Doc switched me over. Since it's a Scary Controlled Substance, I had to physically go to the office to get the prescription then drive it over to the pharmacy (that has since changed and may have only been for the first time).

"Another trick a number of my ADHD coaching clients use is to keep a couple of extra pills stashed away just for these types of emergencies. Bingo. Problem solved. But, this is really just a band-aide. The best thing is to remember to refill your prescription."

What else would you like to know? Leave me a comment here on the blog or email me at mommykerrie@yahoo.com and I'd be happy to answer your questions!

Shout-out to Blue Cross Blue Shield, who makes sure I get 792 Flonase bottles a year for almost nothing, but doesn't want to cover my ADD meds. Thankful for GoodRx right now.


UPDATE: I've been on the lowest dose of Adderall now for about 8 months. There are days I just don't take it, days I want to chill out more. When I had covid, I didn't take it for about 3 weeks. I don't notice a HUGE difference, but just enough that I can complete things I normally would have taken a lot more detours to get done.

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