As much as I know change is a slow and steady thing, I have been afraid to post anything here without any solid progress. But I realize that defeats the purpose of this blog. I started this blog to highlight my journey, the ups and downs and all the lessons learnt along the way.
It’s been 5 weeks since school started and that means midterm season! Surprisingly this year around, I seem to have more time to myself during midterm season than I do otherwise. And I know it’s because I actually have my life together now (at least academically). What lead to the change? A friend pointed out to me a few months ago that perhaps I have ADD. I instantly dismissed this statement. After all ADD was just something people used to get ahead right? An unfair advantage, almost like steroids for academics. And of course the internet did not help with this. However, somewhere in the back of my mind this statement stuck, and I started noticing how I worked. I started keeping closer tabs on my work habits, my attention span and how I dealt with things. I started reading up on the effects of ADD and most things I came across very highly relatable. However, I was still persistent. I insisted that I didn’t have ADD. Because of course that would be the lazy way out. However, one day when my work supervisor said that I was amazing, yet didn’t concentrate enough, something clicked inside of me. This statement from supervisor hit home, it hit home far too hard.
I started doing more legitimate research, reading accounts of people who had been diagnosed. And then I did a few tests, every test resulted in a positive for Adult ADD. Of course these could have just been false positives. So, I went and spoke to a doctor, even though he did not conduct a complete psychoanalysis, he asked a few questions and checked my blood work to rule out physical factors and prescribed me Ritalin. Terrified of a misdiagnosis, I did not take this for a couple of weeks. Finally, one day I decided to give it a try, I hardly felt anything. However, as I went through the day I noticed that I was getting tasks done faster. I thought I might be placebo-ing myself, so I gave the medicine a week. The effects were very subtle, but as I started monitoring my behaviour more closely I noticed the effects. I then went off it for a week to see the difference, it affirmed my belief that the medicine was working. In small but amazing ways.
For those that don’t have ADD, Ritalin/Aderall/Vyanase makes them feel hyper focused. As if they were given a small jolt of energy, and they could do anything. Very similar to caffeine. For me Ritalin just helped me be “normal”. It helped me actually focus when I needed to, instead of me staring outside the window or doing nothing on my computer for several hours instead of studying. Even while writing this article, I got distracted several times. I hardly noticed it as time slipped by, but the simple knowledge that I have this problem has helped me understand my mind much better and handle it accordingly. That being said, the medicine didn’t instantaneously fix everything. I went through weeks where I was still struggling to do tasks and keep to schedule. I’m still chronically late to most things, and get bored while listening to people. But the medicine along with me managing my symptoms and slowly reversing a lifetime of bad habits has really changed my life. Sure that phrase might seem a little bit over the top, but for me it holds true.
That’s why whenever I see articles like this I get scared. Since, the formal tests would cost 1200$ I decided to not go through that. I wonder what if I was misdiagnosed, and then I proceed to do all the online testing I can find. I look up ADD to understand it better, and the affirmation helps me feel a bit calmer. Everyone suffers from concentration problems once in a while, but if they’re holding your life back then maybe something is wrong. After having drifted very easily through high school, it would’ve been easy to blame my university problems on a lack of good study habits, and in part that is true. I did have abysmal study habits, however when good study habits, being 0n probation, and being positive that I’m mentally capable enough to handle the material didn’t have any results I think it is safe to say that something else was up. ADD people also tend to have depression and anxiety. Since puberty I have suffered from “mini breakdowns”, I would ignore these and forget about them. But in college I realized this wasn’t ok. The medicines have helped me deal with this as well.
This has been difficult for me to accept, and even more difficult to write about. I wish there was more positive literature on this. However, everyone seems to be lost in the abuse because of Aderall and other stimulants. I’d like to remind them that this isn’t a fault of the drug, but rather an abuse of the system. An abuse of trust between a doctor and a patient. It is because of these people that mental health illnesses tend to be dismissed. So, I’d like to call attention to the good side of these drugs, the life changing side of these drugs.