Thursday, December 15, 2016

On deciding to get chemical help

I decided to go with the blunt title. There is no other way around it. And I just realized I had also been blunt in a post title from two years and exactly ten days ago (when I answered a question from What Now?)!

When I brought up trying ADHD medication in my last check up with my family doctor (in late September? October?), I was completely taken aback by his reaction. Seriously. I have been going to this doctor for a few years, after my husband found him and liked him, and he's nice (he's got a Brazilian wife, he's gotta be nice, haha!). He's your average allopathic doctor, though,* happy to take good (traditional) care of his patients and prescribe something for their ailments. I was taken aback because he seemed "too happy," almost giddy! He took note of the fact that it took me YEARS to reach this decision (over two years after my official diagnosis) and he praised me for considering it. He shared a personal story about his pre-med classmate with ADHD who didn't believe in medication and who ended up never going to medical school even though he was very bright. The doctor's argument is that medication can to wonders for certain people, really change their lives completely. So he prescribed the lowest dose (10 mg) of the most common med for me to try and I went back in two weeks.
          * whereas I was brought up as a big believer in a wholistic approach to health involving diet, natural treatments, teas, hydrotherapy -- even though my mom took me from doctor to doctor, I need to write about my childhood doctor visits sometime! And about growing up with debilitating asthma.

It turns out that the lowest dose kept me awake late into the night and I felt that it didn't help that much. When I went to the doctor again, he prescribed a different, more expensive medication that is supposed to be better. I took that for a few weeks and didn't experience the same troubles sleeping, only felt a dry mouth, so on my third doctor's visit he upped the dose a bit (to 30 mg). That seemed to be helpful and have no side effects (other than dry mouth) for almost a month, but in the past week or so I felt that I was staying up at night again and I also felt EXTRA sleepy if I didn't take it. So yesterday I got a refill with a smaller dose (20 mg).

I'm still conflicted about taking medication. I feel that it helps me focus more, be less distracted, but I'm not being more productive (in terms of grading and other work-related things)! Perhaps I'm even worse than I've ever been -- having a horrible time working at home and only feeling motivated to do any work when I'm at the university. I do feel less overwhelmed, though. Both in crazy, loud social situations (such as a having to help and deal with a gym full of children, grandparents, and parents such as when we had the Thanksgiving banquet). My husband feels I'm calmer too, I'm not driving him and the boys crazy with my outbursts and nervousness.

As a matter of fact, it may have been a coincidence, but one one fateful day, a Friday, when I forgot to take the medication (I remembered too late in the day and if I'd taken it I wouldn't sleep) it was UTTER CHAOS. I even burned a dish in the stove, something I hadn't done in forever!! I thought it was hilarious -- kind of a reprise or a "conspiracy" of the drug companies to keep me hooked.

There, I've said it. I feel bad for becoming "chemically dependent" on this medication even though I know that the chemistry in my brain is messed up to begin with, so maybe it's a good thing to give my brain and myself (and people around me!) a break. When I first started taking the pills, I left them in the kitchen table and my youngest son saw it and recognized the name of the chemicals from events against drugs they've had in school every year. He was clearly not comfortable that I was taking "drugs" and voiced it to me, with disapproval in his eyes. I have since kept the medication in my bathroom and I think my son got used to the idea of it.

I still haven't made up my mind on whether I'll take it on a regular basis. I think it's important that I decided to give it a try. I definitely need it before trips or stressful events in which my ADHD throws me completely out of whack. Sigh... but as far as grading and preparing classes is concerned... well, I still need to find out how to become more disciplined so I can give a chance to my better focus to do any good! It doesn't help that we had this crazy election season and even crazier presidential transition -- life isn't normal life anymore and I feel that very strongly.

In any case, it feels good to finally blog about this issue and get it "off my chest." I wish Spanish Prof. could still be around so we could talk about the effects of medication. Any thoughts, friends?

(and now on to a few "fluff-filled" posts perhaps? Nah, I love fluff, but I'm generally not very light-hearted in this blog -- I wish I had a fashion/style blog to go along this more somber & serious one). ;-P

1 comment:

What Now? said...

I'm not sure I'd judge the medication's effectiveness re: your grading at this point in the term. It may take a while to get used to the medication, and I'm sure that the medication needs to go hand-in-hand with other coping mechanisms. That is, you've spent years developing habits based on having untreated ADHD, so getting your brain chemistry on a better path is only one piece of the puzzle. (Sorry for that mixed metaphor.) Maybe in the new term you can start fresh with the medication and try out different grading habits.

Good for you for taking this step! I know that adapting to a new medication is not easy, especially one that feels "optional."