The Glow Farm is Under New MGMT: My ADHD Diagnosis + First 7 Days with Adderall
Last February, shortly after my 29th birthday, I was diagnosed with ADHD. It’s made for a revelatory, but real confusing and weird year.
After I was diagnosed, I tried managing my ADHD on my own for about 10 months (okay, “on my own” really means with mega help from my awesome wife, who’s been amazing, supportive, and then some through it all). I thought getting to know my brain and how it works with this new context of ADHD might be all I needed, and maybe I could even pick up some mindfulness techniques that would boost my mind-management skills. However, the results were pretty mixed. There were some successes, but a lot of frustration. I was still trying to control something I’ve struggled to control my whole life. The only thing that changed was that I knew the cause of these struggles, and I found that this didn’t make managing ADHD that much easier.
A month ago I decided to explore medication options. I’d been against ADHD meds since I was diagnosed. I was afraid they would change me in some spooky and profound way. And I didn’t want to be different, I just wanted to be able to manage my own brain better. In tv and movies ADHD meds are zombie drugs that kick your personality, creativity, and anything else you may have enjoyed about yourself out of your body, leaving you a monotone husk of boring. A soul wholly khaki. And then there’s the unfortunate history of tons of kids being misdiagnosed with ADHD, which seems to have led to a general skepticism of ADHD in general. In short, I had a lot of feelings about medication as an option.
After reading actual accounts of people with ADHD, including accounts of those that had chosen meds (again, my wife is so smart and great), I had new perspective, and so explored options with a doctor. I got a prescription for Adderall to try for 1 month, after which me and the doc would discuss the results and see if medicine was for me.
Because I was skeptical about using medicine for my ADHD, my wife encouraged me to be as mindful as possible of how I felt—mentally and physically—during my first days on Adderall. To do so, I kept notes of what I was thinking and feeling for the first seven days of using Adderall. I wanted to share these notes in case anyone out there is in the same boat I was, and could use some info on what to expect taking meds to manage ADHD for the first time.
Everyone’s body is different and reacts differently to different kinds of ADHD medication, as well as different doses of these medications. And some don’t need the meds at all. I was prescribed 10 mg of an extended release Adderall, and so my notes are based only on my experience with this specific prescription.
Day 1 on Adderall
- Thinking is less immersive
- Like I was in a traffic jam constantly before, and now it’s just me on the road
- Used to think about everything I said and did before I said and did them, now I just do and say
- At first it felt like my head was empty
- Chill wave
- Stress is way down
- I have a lot to do, but I’m not getting stressed about it (work). Focused and calm. I’m still able to work on things in little pieces, able to think about different things at once, it’s just less frantic. And way less stressful
- I do worry a little that my filter isn’t as great. I’m afraid of saying rude things or something on accident. I think it’s possible that my filter is fine, though, and I’m just getting used to this, uh, non-buffering thinking space
- Processing emotions feels easier. Not so easily irritated and if I’m a little irritated, it doesn’t last as long. Important to note that this isn’t apathy. It’s simply not holding onto emotional responses that I don’t like or want, and that aren’t necessary
- Less self-conscious
- I feel more capable. Confident. The thousand flying doubting thoughts are gone
- Convo w/ my wife (my side only, her parts redacted): “I’m having some off and on emotional moments. I feel happy that I feel so calm and not stressed, and kind of sad that feeling like this was possible. I don’t know, it’s weird. It’s like I’m happy and excited and relieved, but I wish I could have gotten to this point earlier and avoided some tough stuff. I know it doesn’t help to think like that, but it’s what I’m thinking”
- Convo w/ my wife part II: “Yeah, that’s all true. Sometimes I think, ‘Gosh, couldn’t a parent or teacher have helped me out with this when I was a kid?’ But I know they didn’t really know any better”
- Took pill at 6:30 AM. Started to wear off at 4:30 PM
- First time I’ve felt in control in my own mind and body
- It’s like those comics or TV scenarios where someone meets their future self and this future self has their life together and figured out. And everything feels like it’s going to be okay
- Not sure when it fully wore off. I think right before bed at 10
- Felt calmer even after it wore off. Didn’t have stress built up from the workday
- Seems to take about an hour for the medicine to take effect
- Able to start and stop tasks without locking up
- Huge decrease in indecision
- Able to work on one task at a time without being burdened by all the other future tasks
- Illest Chill
- Side-note: this (apartment maintenance issues) is making me feel stressed but it’s a much calmer stress than before the medicine
- Stress and distraction are kind of confusing since meds. At first I thought maybe the meds were losing their effectiveness. Was getting a little scattered, but day was unusually stressful (busy at work + ongoing 3 weeks of issues with apartment maintenance that’s been rife with communication issues)
- Felt like ADHD was acting up though it was still a calmer stress. Talked to wife about it. We concluded that it was probably how most people feel when stressed. So it wasn’t ADHD acting up, it was just life
- Thinking through problems is still difficult, but I think it’s a skill I need to work on. Like it was a muscle I wasn’t able to exercise too well before
Day 4 & 5
- No notes. Just enjoyed these days. Felt as if I had a handle on things by this point. Brain mgmt at an all-time high
- Made the classic mistake where I overestimated my abilities since Adderall has made things easier. Tried to do a lot of things that are normally difficult for me, and ended up scattered and overwhelmed. I was disappointed, frustrated, and felt bad about myself, but I got over it quickly
- I feel like I’m getting to know myself all over again. The first days of Adderall were so successful that I drifted away from myself a bit. I thought I would be more outgoing, good at multitasking, sensory overload wouldn’t be an issue, etc. But now I realize that Adderall helps to make these aspects not as….debilitating, but they’re still there
- These things are still part of who I am. I’m introverted, not good at multitasking, and I can still get overwhelmed by crowds, lots of noise, etc. I’m just better able to handle these aspects, such as recovering faster from sensory overload and not feeling too bad when I try to multitask and it doesn’t go well
- Another odd thing is trying to determine if I have everything under control or if I’m not paying attention. On Adderall, I’m able to just do the things I need to do instead of thinking about and visualizing everything a bunch of times before I actually do them
- But my mind being so much more quiet on Adderall sometimes makes me feel like I’m not paying attention to what I’m doing. Maybe I’m only still afraid of not paying attention because I’ve struggled with focus issues for so long
- So: is everything fine, or do I still have to figure out a few things?
- Probably both.