**Here at The Better Normal, we produce content that is vulnerable, honest, and real. The following is a story of our writer’s personal experience with medication. This story is nothing more than that: an experience. We are not giving medical advice on the topic of medication, but instead hope to continue to break the stigma around medications and mental health. If you have any questions or interest in this subject, we recommend speaking with a medical professional.**
Throughout my life, I have always struggled to pay attention to different things and have started many projects that went unfinished. I struggled to get my work done in high school, and knitting and other crafting projects were left to sit on my desk, never completed. After talking to my mom, she told me that she always knew that I struggled with ADHD throughout my life, yet refused to put me on any medication. After having this discussion with her, along with struggling with my mental health and not being able to get my work done, I decided it was time to have a discussion with my primary care doctor about the best possible route.
At my first doctor’s appointment, my primary care doctor decided to put me on 5mg of Adderall twice a day. Overall, I felt like I was on top of the world. My depression was almost nonexistent and I was completing the work that I needed to finish. I finished projects that had been sitting for months. It was a night and day difference from how I had been living. Before I started on my ADHD meds, I felt like I was constantly overwhelmed by the amount of things I had to complete and it became comorbid with my anxiety.
Not only was my anxiety being fed by my ADHD because I wasn’t getting things done, but I was also becoming more and more depressed and found myself lying in bed more frequently than normal. However, with being on such a low dosage, I found myself still struggling to focus on my tasks one at a time. I would get them completed, but I would get multiple tasks started and then complete them all at different times.
While I did feel great and extra productive, I did notice some undesirable side effects. I still struggled with daily anxiety. I also had a ton of issues with food aversion and my meds completely changing my taste buds. It was a struggle to get in food and eat what I wanted due to now having zero appetite. It really took a toll on me, and I had to remember to eat before I took my meds or I would go four to five hours without being hungry or being able to stomach anything.
It also would give me horrible upset stomachs that, when I did eat, would cause me to rush to the bathroom almost immediately after finishing a meal (TMI, I know). I was also very fatigued and constantly exhausted throughout the day. I would sometimes struggle to even keep my eyes open. I was very worried about having these awful reactions to the medication, so I brought it up to my doctor.
Sometimes, the first medication or dosage you try may not be the right fit for you. The result of having such severe side effects to the adderall was going on another ADHD medication called Vyvanse. However, I was unable to try this medication due to how unreasonably expensive it was. With my insurance, I was expected to pay over three hundred dollars for a thirty day supply. The pharmacist even informed me that without my insurance, the medication’s out of pocket cost was only $15 more than what I would have had to pay. As an unemployed writer, I just couldn’t justify the cost.
We settled on another medication called Focalin. The Focalin ended up not lasting long either. It had almost all of the same side effects that the Adderall had, but it didn’t work as well. When discussing what route to take, she suggested putting me back on the Adderall, bumping up the dosage to 20mg twice a day, and seeing if the side effects would just eventually fade away with time.
It’s been about a month since implementing the changes to my Adderall dosage and I can definitely tell a difference in how I feel day to day. I am able to focus on tasks fully, one at a time, without starting multiple other things at the same time. I find it easier to go throughout my day without worrying about getting tasks completed in a timely manner. I also notice that my aversion to food has started to go away. However, I do still have to remind myself to eat or force myself from time to time, even if I don’t feel hungry.
With being medicated, I also notice that I have to be extremely mindful of what tasks I’m prioritizing. Organizing my shoes at 2AM or typing out a rant on a new movie when there are other tasks that I need to work on is something I still struggle to find a balance with. I will catch myself focusing on unrelated tasks every so often and try to shift my focus to the tasks that urgently need my attention. I also have noticed that with a higher dosage of Adderall, I do suffer from a lack of sleep. I sometimes feel as if I’m in a constant cycle of staying up till wee hours of the morning, sleeping very lightly to the point that every bump in the night will jostle me awake, and getting up sometime in the late morning.
To sum up my experience as a whole, being medicated with ADHD has helped me tremendously. However, being on stimulants is not everyone’s cup of tea and has different effects on different people. If you think being medicated while struggling with ADHD might be a route you would like to take, but are unsure what options you have, always remember to bring up your questions and concerns with your doctor. They can best diagnose you, understand and help aid your specific situation while answering any questions and concerns you may have.