Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ritalin--One Week, and I feel AWESOME.

Are you ready for my commercial for anyone who has the inattentive subtype of ADHD (ADD)?

Glass of water and pills

So, after a week of consistently using Ritalin, I am happy to say that I am pretty much in love with those tiny white pills. I call them my magic pills, in fact. Never before in my life have I felt more like a regular, normal person doing what regular, normal people do. It is amazing. Cases in point:

I decided to fill out a job application for some teaching positions. Anybody who has done this knows that school district applications are perhaps the most tedious type of job applications in the world. You are asked to fill in millions of vague blanks describing "skills" that will probably never be considered, and making statements of purpose for the district that will never be read, and then uploading resume, cover letter, letters of rec, about 4,000 test scores, and a trillion other things.

The non medicated me would have done the following: after starting the application, I would have gotten to a point where I had to get up and go get some item, or look up an address in my email account, or look for a filed document, taking my attention away from the task at hand. This transitional step would jettison me from the process, and my brain would seek distraction to re-stimulate itself. I would then have to drag myself away from whatever distraction I had encountered (if and when I ever realized I had been previously working on something) and start the process of trying to concentrate again over. This would happen over and over and over and over and over and over thus making what would normally be about a three hour process into a several day, excruciating event.

Instead: I started the application. And I continued. And when I needed to get something, I got it and came back and... kept going. And it wasn't like I had to make myself keep going. I just... did. It was the most amazing feeling. I took the application from step A to step Z and didn't stop once, and got it done. And then I pressed "submit" and about had a heart attack because I realized that I have been missing out on being able to do that kind of thing my entire life, and all it took was swallowing my pride, and swallowing a little pill that said Ritalin, to make a truly marked difference in my ability to function.

One of my predictions is kind of coming true. I feel a little sad that I didn't do this (or know to do this) many many years ago.

Anyway, another case in point:

Today we decided that we are going to take a trip to see my in-laws in California. We'll be leaving tomorrow. This spontaneous decision occurred because Lolly (my wife) was given the go-ahead to travel yesterday while at a check up for her pregnancy. Until now there have been enough complications with the pregnancy that she's been on modified bed-rest, so travel was a no no. But now, we're a go.

Normally in preparation for leaving tomorrow, I would putter around all day trying to "work hard" to get us ready to go. I'd start various tasks, get distracted and finish none of them, then get overwhelmed by all that needed to be done, and find myself playing the violin, or surfing the internet, or any of a number of activities that tend to be my fallbacks. Lolly would then have to overcompensate, do way more than me, and feel frustrated. And I would feel like crap, and berate myself for being so "lazy."

Instead: I started off the day cleaning the entire kitchen (which involved different tasks whose transitions would have tripped me up in the past like going from sweeping to mopping to counters). And this was deep cleaning. Cleaning like I've never cleaned before. And I didn't get distracted once. I'm talking hands-and-knees, scraping junk off the kids' booster seat kind of cleaning. It was awesome and so refreshing to be able to do. Then, instead of getting distracted by some shiny object or interesting show or scatterbrained something or other while transitioning to a new important task, I immediately went on to organize the books that our daughters would be bringing on the trip, and then got their movies ready, and then got the DVD players strapped into the car, and then wrote thank you cards for graduation gifts, and then got my paperwork sent to my professor documenting my alternative internship hours, and I actually addressed all the envelopes and sealed them (which type of minutiae would normally have spun me into some fit of distraction) and then I made the girls lunch, found their blanket, ate a picnic with them out on the lawn, cleaned up after us, came in, played with them, read them books and then put them down for nap/quiet time.

Um, this is UNHEARD OF!!!!!!!! Seriously, even as I type it out, I can't believe that was my morning. It was unbelievable to be able to do that. Un freaking believable. I feel like a normal person! I feel like I can do things! I feel excited to see what else I can do! I feel... like I've wasted 30 years of my life? But also like I have decades more to go where I can function in a normal way, and it invigorates the crap out of me. (Don't picture that too literally.)

Obviously, I'm still processing. I'm still getting the hang of deconstructing patters of distraction that have been my standard for years and years. Things aren't going to be seamless. I am in a transition. I'm going to have to learn new skills and new habits. But I have a lot of hope for the future. Hope for finishing projects started long ago. I am amazed at how well this is working. I feel like a different person. I kind of feel like the type of productive person I've always strived to be. The type of person I've known I am deep down, and that I just didn't have the brain chemistry to be.

It's a very cool feeling.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ritalin--day one

Well, I started today. I couldn't wait because I was excited to see what would happen. I'm not sure how I'm going to document this, but I think I'd like to log my affect, feelings, and evidence of higher productivity/less distractibility. So, I guess I'll go for it.


My affect is normal. Same general chillness. I am no more or less jittery than usual.


I feel little bit spacey. Sometimes I get the sensation that I can't find the right word or that I might lose track of what I'm saying. Beyond this sensation (which doesn't actually affect anything, at least from Lolly's (my wife's) perspective, I feel more or less normal.

Evidence of higher productivity/diminished distractibility:

I mowed the lawn then mopped and swept the floors in sequence without interruption of any kind. I was doing this in preparation for the arrival of my in-laws, and they weren't going to be here for several hours. Usually I would have to postpone this type of activity until the deadline in order to get the adrenaline of their impending arrival to help through the tasks (or, if started earlier, my distractibility would have been high). Today, I was able to do these things in sequence with no interruption. (It was amazing.)

I've played several online games today that require concentration over the course of several minutes (Facebook Scramble (like Boggle) and Facebook Tetris Marathon). I am scoring slightly higher on them than usual, even when there are stimuli surrounding me. (In the past I've had to play those games in a different room than other people so as not to get distracted.) However I took a one minute typing test and scored about the same (if not slightly lower) than usual. These scores might be random and incidental.

Overall, I have to take into account the possibility of the placebo affect. While things look promising, it's entirely possible that I'm performing better because my brain knows that it "should be" performing better. This possibility notwithstanding, I'm encouraged by today's developments, and I have the feeling that this might be working.

Not sure how frequently I'll log about this, but I hope to get the first week. I'm excited to see how the rest of the week goes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ritalin and Graduation

I went to my general practitioner today who handed me a prescription.

It's a low dosage. It's normal release (as opposed to an extended release version of some medications which change the requirement from twice to once a day.)

I know that many people have to experiment before they find the medication solution that works, but I can't deny that I'm hoping that this is the one, and that I don't have to go through some long arduous process. Either way, I'm going to look at what happens to me objectively, log my results here (starting next Monday), and try to figure out what the best solution for me is, which I hope might help guide other adults with the predominantly inattentive subtype.

Also, I graduate with my M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy on Sunday. Woot!