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...