Friday, January 7, 2011

After the first dose of medication...

...comes this weird transition time, where you think it's not working anymore. Here's my experience with that feeling.

1) I started taking medication.

2) It opened my eyes to what "focus" really means, and I felt like things would be perfect like that forever!

3) Then I noticed something. The meds didn't actually make life perfect. And as I got used to them, I thought they weren't working...or something.

4) Then I panicked. I kept going to my prescriber going "I think I need a higher dosage! It's not working! It's not working!". Finally had my dose so high that I felt REALLY not awesome, way too amped up, and way too rigid.

5) So I tried another medication. And again, the first time I took it, life was beautiful. Then I panicked as I got used to it and thought it wasn't working.

6) Then I just didn't take them for a while...and noticed something. Noticed that the meds WERE doing something, they were just doing something more subtle than I was initially able to appreciate. (Then I had to be patient while some eccentric factors in my life that made it hard for me to commit to medication, moved on...but that's another issue.)
7) When my brain is naked, it has hyperfocused highs, and practically comatose lows. With the meds...the highs are lower and the lows are higher...and I'm overall less anxious while trying to get things done.

8) Oh.

9) So I take it now...and I like it. And I DO see how it helps. Of COURSE the meds aren't as pronounced now--now that I'm used to the feeling, it's not NEW ANYMORE.

10) And now that I've been taking them for a while...I see the benefit...AND I see how I've been better able to pick and choose and try different choices, and even keep some of the methods I was already using to make my life more functional. (Before, it wasn't conscious, it was just "coping", it's "making choices".)

Some of the coping skills I've kept:
  • Creating visual cues.
  • Keeping my work desk REALLY clean.
  • Double checking my work notes to make sure I don't forget things or lose important info as I work.
  • Make to-do lists. The only difference is that now I make sure to put all lists in one place, and sometimes will take a few minutes to combine them.
Some of the coping skills I've learned to fill in the gaps:
  • Asking people to repeat themselves when I haven't heard what they've said. I used to pretend I wasn't lost and them do reserach later to fill in the gaps. I feel silly sometimes asking people to repeat themselves, but I'm learning to do it in more subtle ways. At first I would say things like "I don't think I actually heard the last 45 seconds of what you just said because I was thinking about something else". Oops. Not subtle. Now it's more like "now wait, what was that about the x-y-z widget?".
  • Communicating more clearly with the people who live with me about why I do things the way I do. Helps my husband understand, which makes us sharing space a better experience...and I ask him about things instead of assuming that I know why he's left the milk carton in the middle of the counter (visual cue! duh!). And communicating these things to my step-daughter teaches a little girl with ADHD, how you can be organized and productive with ADHD. Kaboom!

And overall...I feel less moody, probably for two reasons. On the one hand, I have more of the chemicals my brain wants, in order to stay more even. On the other hand, I've gained more expertise in using my coping skills to navigate my life.

Pills really don't teach skills, but they DO make it easier to make better choices about learning new skills. I bet that a lot of people stop taking the meds after that first awesome introduction to the world of focus...I also bet there's a study out there on that somewhere...hmmm....

All of this makes me understand why the potential for improvement for people who are diagnosed and properly treated is actually quite good/skewed toword improvement...and why some really, after a while, may not need medication anymore. Personally, I like the help that the meds give me during the work day especially but hey, I'm not everyone...


  1. Continue to Do what Works! Some days, it does not. Like the weather. Doing the Best You Can is Enough! Look for the Opportunities! ..Life is an Adventure! We can See so Much More!

  2. Hi! Nice post. I was just diagnosed in Nov, just ended my med trial which started and ended with ritalin. My young son is currently taking concerta, and we cannot afford two name brand drugs.
    Anyway, I totally get what your saying about asking others to repeat themselves. I'm not effing stupid and I don't want people to think I am, so like you, I'd carry on and fill in the blanks myself.
    So take care, I hope I remember to stop back! :)

    1. Please don;t put your son through that, I took medication since I was little... it did more harm for me than good. I had these feelings and thoughts and wouldn't be able to express them under the medication. It made me too rigid... In highschool, i subconsciously started to medicate myself with marijuana, then senior year, I started taking adderall.... while adderal was like a wonder drug, it's a double edged sword... I promise you, you're only hurting the social skills of your young son... behavioral therapy is what you need for your son. Not to sedate with him with medication, because you can't deal with his energy... stop wasting money on medication and put it toward things that would interest him... surround him with options of interest... that is how you can help your kid. Don;t persecute him, Enable him. Just my thoughts on the subject. If you don't learn this know... you will waste far more money over a long period of time... listen to him...

    2. What is true for one simply isn't true for all, IrieMon88. It's entirely possible that you were having problems because your medication and treatment weren't being approached or managed properly. In our family, we have one child taking medication and it has made her life exponentially better...BUT we watch its effect on her very carefully. At one point it seemed like it was kind of off and we adjusted it and it works great for her now. Medications should not be blamed when a prescriber has not done their job correctly....

  3. Live IS such an adventure.

    Ah yes, it is a challenge affording gaggles of drugs sometimes, depending on your situation. Hopefully at least a trial has given you a sense of what focus feels like, so that you can at least tinker with making different kinds of choices that may be good for you :)

    Personally, I really liked Concerta :) Every drug isn't perfect for everyone, of course, but for me, that one was really helpful, it's just not quite right for me right now (it doesn't agree with my migraine meds!).

    As for filling in the blanks...I used to feel sheepish asking people to fill them in, but I realized that it's actually a powerful choice: it means I'm experiencing conversations, and life, in real-time, instead of in some kind of quick sand or time warm. It's me, manually taking a little control of the speed of like. That is REALLY powerful when you think about it!

  4. "Keeping my work desk REALLY clean."

    Wow. That really works, huh?... and it's possible?... Seems daunting.

  5. It's not unheard of for people with ADHD to find coping strategies that at times can look like symptoms of OCD: checking and double checking things, NEEDING to have things done a certain way...etc...and I am definitely one of those people. At some point I had to learn that some of this behavior was not healthy and had to let go of some of it, but leaving my desk clean is one that I've held onto...

  6. Wow. Just reading through your coping stratergies and i think they could really help me. I have had a few problems for years now with attention, focusing, getting very distracted and so on. I dont know if i have ADD but i did some research about it an it definately sounds as though i do, but what do i know, im no doctor. If you could check out my blogspot and tell me what you think, it would be much appreciated?

  7. Hailey! Thanks for stopping by...I am enjoying checking out your blog (and I like the title).

    I noticed your musing about the possibility of people having ADD and've probably already figured out from your own reading and yes, though I'm not a doctor, a person CAN have both, or can have symptoms of one that for whatever reason, look like the other.

    I hope you'll keep writing, I think we all find each others' journeys valuable in the reading ;)