On One Hand

January 13, 2007

ADHD

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 4:32 am

Earlier this week I saw a psychiatrist about the liklihood that I could have ADD. Last year a psychologist, who cannot perscribe for or treat ADD, was astute enough to note that I might have it and reccommended that I see a perscriptive psychiatrist. That was back in September, but being as I am extremely disorganized about virtually everything, I didn’t make the appointment with a psychiatrist until December, after repeated reminders from friends and family.

The psychiatrist I saw on Tuesday said I have a pretty classic case of ADHD, in a case that leans more toward attention-deficit than hyperactivity but has some hyperactivity element nonetheless. She said I described symptoms of ADHD that most people don’t recognize as being ADD-related, such as “hyperfocus” (when a person with ADHD gets lazer-beam fixated on something he or she is interested in, while not being able to focus on anything else) which I guess indicates extra authenticity to my case? I’m guessing a lot of people my age go in trying to fake ADD because they want the drugs, and maybe the fact that I displayed lesser-known symptoms of ADHD meant I was more likely telling the truth.

I got a perscription for Adderall, and have been taking it for two days now. Effects: first and formost, I have less need for stimulation.

Normally, if I have a drink in my hand, I sip it every three seconds or less. I can’t just sit back and sort of nurse it for a long time; I drink fast. People who aren’t paying attention think I’m a lightweight because I somehow get drunk, yet they never saw me with a beer in my hand, when in reality the beer is not in my hand anymore because I drank it so fast. I can’t just hold a drink and sip every two minutes; I need to sip five times as often as the next person. When I’m with someone I am interested in, I need the repeat stimulation of constant physical contact; it’s almost painful for me to hold back. No matter what, my hands are always doing something. I’m always tugging at my beard or twirling my hair. These are all “classic” symptoms of ADHD.

On Adderall, I can just hold something. I can hold a bowl of food and go a minute or two without taking a bite. I can stand to sit through commercials. My mind feels more stimulated and awake, yet externally I’m more calm. I also feel less lazy about doing things I need to get done, although I haven’t had any serious tasks yet to have a chance to see how it works in effect. I think I’m less irritable, too, though I can’t say I was ever really irritable to begin with.

Usually, when someone around me smokes, I want a cigarette, too. Yesterday my roommates were smoking and I had almost no desire to take a drag.

But there are some unfortunate side effects, too. My mouth was dry all day. Food didn’t taste as good, and I was less interested in hot sauce; the little kick of pain you get from biting into a burrito drenched in Tobasco wasn’t exciting anymore. Food sort of tasted like cardboard, actually, and it took a strong effort to eat it all. I don’t think I ate much over the course of the day, and I had to force myself to eat when I did.

I haven’t had much of a sex drive, although the two-day period I’ve been taking Adderall isn’t long enough to really know how that works for me. If sex drive were to become a problem, I’d be able to deal with it because I don’t have to take Adderall during weekends.

I have neither a real appreciation for physical pleasure nor a need for it; laying down on a soft bed at the end of the day, which is normally one of my favorite things, is sort of boring now. It doesn’t feel any different, I’m just less “addicted” to the feeling and don’t mind getting up. Sometimes if I have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night I’ll just lay in bed forever because I don’t want to get up. Now, the physical discomfort of getting up is sort of a non-issue. I am much more interested in mental things like reading or thinking.

I feel a lot more physically coordinated, as if I have better control over my muscles now. Usually when I do something like play guitar or type fast, I start out a little clumsy and over time my fingers build up some tension, and somehow, don’t ask me how to explain, that tension allows for more articulate movement. Now I can do the same thing in a totally relaxed state and there is no warm-up period.

I think I have a decreased sensitivity to pain. On the other hand, today I had a sore throat and took some ibuprofen, so I’m not sure if it’s specifically from the Adderall that decreased my sensitivity.

I feel pretty wired, even now, after the effects of the Adderall are supposed to be worn off for several hours. Earlier today I had a weird sensation that my eyes were bugging out of my head, although they were not actually doing that.

The worst side-effect of all: insomnia. I call attention to the fact that it is now past 4:00 AM. I have been in bed trying to sleep for more than two hours. Granted, I slept in until 11:00 this morning, and took the pill at 1:00. But it’s only supposed to last 12 hours. I’m not a big fan of drugs, so if taking Adderall means I have to take a sleep-aid as well I don’t know what I’ll do.

Another brief topic that was of note when I saw the psychiatrist: in the middle of describing my basic life history, the psychiatrist suggested I have some type of “caretaker” complex, meaning I like to take care of people or am (romantically and otherwise) attracted to people with problems. It’s funny because it’s something I have been told by professionals before. I can’t really get emotionally invested in someone unless there’s something psychologically wrong with him or her. All of my long-term relationships reflect that. Last summer I hung out/went on a date with this guy who was kind of weird, and my opinion on him was that he was kind of weird, and my roommate went on a date with him more recently and told me that our friend told him he has Asberger’s Syndrome, which is a form of high-functioning autism (you’re intelligent and very focused but lack some social skills and have a listed set of really bizarre quirks). When I heard that, I sort of started to like him again; it took me a couple minutes to realize the thought that was crossing my mind. Because there was finally something wrong with him to like!

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9 Comments »

  1. Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test? It might give you some insight into your personality type, re the caretaker thing.

    Comment by jdhenchman — January 13, 2007 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

    • I think I’ve taken the test before, but I don’t remember what I came out as. I think it may have been an abbreviated version of the test.

      I don’t think the caretaker thing is so much my “personality” as it is a characteristic that shows up in relationships. Although it might be a moral system as well, based on my look-out-for-the-underdog upbringing, or maybe I some self-identification as an underdog and it makes me want to help people I see as similar to me. I do feel fulfilled “caring” for things outside romantic relationships as well, even when it comes to raising plants and animals.

      Ultimately, though, I think it’s a manifestation of a trait found in everyone. I think everyone needs to take care of something to be fulfilled. A lot of people think there is something they need to aquire to be happy, that fulfillment comes from a sense that you are aquiring or accumulating achievements, or someone else might think that admiration/respect from others is what does it. I see those ideas in almost everyone and a little bit in myself. But when I really think about it, I am personally, most happy when I am making someone else happy whether anyone recognizes it or not. If I were locked in a prison and was told that I would never accumulate wealth or prestige with anyone outside the prison, the first thing I would take comfort in is bringing bread crumbs to the mice that visit my cell. I think I could be fulfilled with even that.

      I definitely think people are meant to be caretakers and feel most fullfilled when they have another living thing to look after.

      Comment by ononehand — January 13, 2007 @ 7:29 pm | Reply

      • Kinda unrelated, but there’s a huge correlation between ADD and the Myers-Briggs personality type INFP. I’m an INFP and was diagnosed with mostly inattentive ADD…

        When I was first diagnosed two years ago, at the age of 19, I was put on Ritalin…stayed on it for a few months before taking myself off it. I didn’t feel much change at all, accept that housemates commented on my irritability (which is very unlike me).

        Anyways…the large number of INFPs with ADD has some people asking whether it’s really a diagnosis put on a particular type of personality…maybe a type of personality that society sees as not conforming to the ambitiousness that it would like. INFPs are perceived to be a bit head-in-the-clouds by other types and we don’t live in a world that particular favours people like that.

        Just some ideas to throw out there…ya may not even be an INFP, but if ya feel like doing one of the Myers-Briggs tests, there’s a good one at similarminds.com

        Comment by brian33 — January 13, 2007 @ 8:24 pm

      • I feel like I should add, I’m definitely not anti-ADD drugs, though I know some people are…I’m totally of the opinion that it’s all about what works for the individual.

        Comment by brian33 — January 13, 2007 @ 8:34 pm

      • HMM… I don’t remember what I am. But I think I’m a little different (more cautious) than most people who have ADHD, who tend to be some pretty dangerous people. I think I’ve always felt like I could easily let myself go out of control, so compensated by always playing it safe. Plus I’ve handled my own attention problems by increasing my anxiety, which provides some stimulus the same way a stimulant drug does. It was actually when I started getting help for anxiety that I lost the focus it provides and a lot of my symptoms of ADD started to come out. That was this summer and early this fall, and this fall has been one of the hardest semesters (academically) in my life.

        Before, I was putting myself emotionally in fight-or-flight mode to keep from drifting off into space. Now the drug (an amphetamine) puts me in a sort of fight-or-flight state physically, so I can let my mind relax.

        Hmm… doesn’t sound so comforting to think I’m putting my body through that. Luckily, I am told I won’t have to take Adderall every day, and can go on “drug holidays” during weekends, breaks from school, or even longer periods if I want. So that’s ultimately the selling point for me.

        Comment by ononehand — January 17, 2007 @ 6:33 am

  2. that sounds a lot like how ADHD manifested for me… I was diagnosed in the 80’s, before it became a trend and frequently misdiagnosed for kids who were… well… brats.

    specifically, the hyperfocus was what confused everyone when I was little. they thought I was choosing to not pay attention to most things, because I could be so determined about certain (rare) things… i.e., I couldn’t pay attention to a teacher explaining how to write clearly, but I couldn’t not be insanely focused on awesome books or instrumental music.

    on the plus side, be glad you’re not on Ritalin… for someone without ADHD it’s supposedly an interesting drug… but for me, man, was I ever boring.

    now, I like blue. ^.^

    Comment by mylifeasamoose — January 14, 2007 @ 12:28 am | Reply

  3. I would take myself off of the medication. When I was taking my anti-depressants, I noticed little changes like you but eventually I just felt like a flat line. No ups–no downs. I think its worse than actually being crazy.

    Comment by fb_shs — January 14, 2007 @ 7:37 am | Reply

    • I understand that stimulants for ADHD are a lot different than anti-depressants. You can take them or not take them whenever you want – there is no need to stabilize blood serum levels of the chemical. A lot of people take breaks on weekends, or whole summers. Doing that greatly helps to prevent building a tolerance for the drug.

      Beleive me, I would hate to take an anti-depressant regularly. I would much rather use exersize or some other means of curing depression. Fortunately ADHD meds don’t go to those lengths. For the first few weeks I have to “be consistent,” just so I know that I really have ADHD and that the treatment really works, and that it’s the best one of a short list of available pills and perscriptions. But after that I doubt I’ll be on Adderall on any full-time basis.

      Comment by ononehand — January 17, 2007 @ 6:19 am | Reply

  4. Thanks for all the advice. No one in my immediate family has any drug problems, and though some in my extended family are alcoholics (which is probably true for about 95 percent of all families), I don’t seem to share those tendencies – I am not an addictive person.

    I don’t think anyone could convince me ADD or ADHD isn’t real, because I feel its effects daily. I think I’m smarter than my resume shows. I DO have the beleif that alot of psychiatry isn’t so much about this person having OCD or ADD or bipolar disorder, but about having some sort of problem, and finding a treatment that works. I have a lot of tendencies that look like OCD and I find that when I’m on Adderall they go away, so from a scientific perspective, it looks like ADD is the culprit (if I actually had OCD a stimulant should make it worse).

    Anyway, I don’t care so much about whether I have ADHD or not, as much as I care about whether or not taking this pill can help me. If it helps, I’m all for it. If it hurts me, I’m against it. It’s easy as that.

    So far I’ve found the side-effects of Adderall to be pretty fucking intense; I had to force myself to eat the first day I took it and I was up for 36 hours. I was consistently a little bit dizzy all day. I’m guessing those side-effects diminish after a while, but in the mean time I’ve settled for taking a half a pill, which has not had such bad effects. You didn’t mention whether you’re taking anything or what you’ve tried, but what do you think?

    Comment by ononehand — January 17, 2007 @ 6:27 am | Reply


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