So...that last post. Thank you so much for your kind comments. Not one of you told me to get over myself already. You're a swell bunch, Internet.
It felt pretty melodramatic to me even by the next morning. I certainly don't want to sound like I'm asking you to feel sorry for me or trying to make ADD into some horrible affliction. Clearly I've lived with it for a lot of years and I've been developing coping mechanisms since well before I had any idea what I was doing. I can function. I can hold down a job and generally meet the basic demands of adult life.
It can though, as you all got to see courtesy of my late night overwrought posting, overwhelm me at times. It can be maddening to feel like I am having to work so much harder to do things that seem easy for most people just because my brain won't cooperate.
And, like I said, there's the part where I feel like I let people down. Fortunately, Holly is a very understanding roommate and seems to believe me when I say things like how I really, honestly intend to take the trash out but I forget what day it is and which day the trash goes out. I don't mean to be unhelpful. I'd like to pull my weight. I think if I could keep track of things, I could also do a better job of my job. I think the work I do is important, so I'd like to be as effective as I can for my kids.
I talked to my Twitter friend Jon Deal a while back after he started the meds and he told me how his doctor explained ADD to him. Living inside an ADD brain often feels like a TV that is constantly flipping channels. I can affirm this with the following short dramatic presentation from my own life:
Him: What are you thinking about?
Me: I don't know.
Him: How can you not know what you're thinking?
Me: There's too many.
Him: [Look that conveys his belief that I am full of it.]
Anyway, the doctor went on to explain that the ADD brain operates like a tired brain. The constant channel-flipping is the brain's attempt to wake itself up. This is why stimulants have a calming effect on people with ADD. I've heard ADHD dismissed as Naughty Boy Syndrome. Here's the thing: if you give a naughty boy amphetamines, he will become exponentially naughtier. Give the same speed to a hyperactive kid with ADHD and it calms him down because his brain is getting the stimulation it needs from inside.
I finally got my official diagnosis on Friday. The psychiatrist I saw felt like I was a pretty classic case. Obviously, I am not hyperactive, but there's a second kind called ADHD Inattentive. Boy, am I ever inattentive. And how.
Holly wrote on my Facebook wall that she was glad I was validated, and that's exactly what it was. I was afraid the doctor would say, "No, you don't have it. You're just lazy, forgetful, irresponsible, aimless, and indecisive. Personality flaws that you should have been able to correct by now. Grow up." But he didn't. He said I have a neurological disorder. There is tremendous relief in having an explanation, a course of action, and hope for some change.
I started on generic Adderall (straight up amphetamines - literally, the label reads "Amphetamine Tabs") on Saturday. My doctor told me that it would feel, at first, like I'd had a giant cup of coffee. He also told me that it's an appetite suppressant. ("Are you happy with your current weight?" "No." "Well then, you'll love it!")
He was correct on both counts. For perhaps the first time in my life, I had to remind myself to eat dinner. I don't feel sick or anything, just perpetually full. I'll make sure to eat on a regular schedule, but it looks like it should be no problem to eat a lot less and pretty well cut out snacking. As for the giant cup of coffee effect, I'm afraid I may have talked very fast and without stopping for a while. Holly bore the brunt of my gale-force monologue. Seems I am a menace to Holly, whether medicated or not.
The doctor did not, however, mention the side effect wherein I make an endless stream of I'm On Speed jokes that really might not be amusing to anybody but me. Seriously. I may be intolerable. I'm not sure.
It felt like a bit too much on Saturday. I'm on tablets, as opposed to the extended release capsules which have all of those tiny little beads in them. The benefit is that if I felt like I was getting too much, my doctor said I could cut them in half. Which is what I did today and it seemed good.
I don't think the focus-inducing properties have really been tested yet, it being the weekend. I mean, I feel like I'm surfing the internet with laser-like focus. I did manage just to get up and do some things that would normally require several minutes of self-cajoling and threatening in order to accomplish. Probably though, the seven hours of school-related training that I'll sit through tomorrow and four hours on Tuesday will tell me a lot more about what the pills do for my ability to focus.
I don't know yet if this is the right med or the right dosage or even what precisely it will do for me. But it's a start and I am hopeful.