Well this is uneventful. And that’s a good thing. Two weeks on Dexedrine and nothing weird.
This is a post about ADHD and Dexedrine. I promise. But first, of course, I have something else to say, because it’s also about depression. And somehow, I hear, they fit together. So here’s the beginning:
So I’ve been riding the waves of depression for a long time now. Most of my life. And I don’t like the ocean. Never have.
About seven years ago, I began taking anti-depressants to put that little “perk” into my life. I had mostly avoided anti-depressants up until then. Mostly, because there was that short stint during my first divorce (I know. sigh.) where I went to my amazing family doctor with an idea – a strategy. Now Mickey is really something else. I had been going to him for years because he listened. You read that right. The words “doctor” and “listened” in the same – well, not sentence, but paragraph. Let’s not get all crazy. He is the sort of GP who still delivers babies. Yup. Showed up to my second’s delivery wearing rubber boots. True story.
At that time in my life, a doctor who listened to me was something rare. I sat in his office and chatted for a bit about anthropology before suggesting my plan: I wanted anti-depressants to help me avoid what I call the abyss. I wanted to be strong, and not curl up in a snoring little ball of anxiety and sadness. Click on this link, I’ll show you what I mean:
Mickey sat and thought about this idea for a moment. Many times I’d gone to him with one of my theories (I’m a bit of a self-diagnosed hypochondriac. Which is funny! Think about it! But I’ve calmed down over the years. It’s really more of a hobby now). He would pull out a book or read over the articles I’d bring him and we’d talk about it. He’s helped me more than I can tell you over the years. “Happy drug” day was different, though. I was expecting one of the discussions I loved. We’d review meds and talk about the merits of one over the other. I love that stuff. Bit like Comic-Con for hypochondriacs.
Not this time. Mickey stands up and says, “well, okay, let’s see what we’ve got.” He leads me to his examination room and flings open the sample cupboard. He stands there, thoughtfully, like a teenager by the light of the refrigerator door, and says, “I dunno. They’re pretty much all the same. Here, let’s give this one a whirl” (I might be misquoting. I don’t want to make Mickey out to be the sort of Baby Boomer who says “whirl”. But his air was somewhat… other than what I expected).
He decided on Zoloft.
“Okay, this will take a couple of weeks to kick in. Come back and we’ll see how you’re doing”. I accepted them and went home, somewhat underwhelmed. I didn’t take them. I did just fine.
Flash forward to life in Edmonton. Different doctor (unfortunately couldn’t bring Mickey with me). He thinks it’s time to try antidepressants for real.
Most of my life I’ve had very good eyesight. I haven’t worn glasses, really, except for readers now (in my early thirties I had a mild prescription for reading glasses. I wanted half-glasses so I could peer at my students from the lecture podium and look professor-ish. I couldn’t find ones that were just the right mix of tacky and cool. Now I buy them from a rack for twenty bucks and they’re not even ironic). I imagine that when antidepressants kick in, it’s much like the first time a child puts on glasses.
You mean this is what the world looks like to everyone else?
I tried Celexa. I was astounded. I had always thought that anti-depressants just numbed feeling. My life would still suck, I thought; I just wouldn’t care. Not so. It was like a fog lifted. I could see things more clearly – focused. My thought processes were sharp. Wow.
…Until life kicked in again, a little harder. Not that I don’t still love Celexa, my little oval friend. Wellbutrin was good too, especially with Celexa. But times change and the mind knows, maybe not what it needs, but when it doesn’t have it.
I’m reviewing meds with yet another doctor, this time the psychiatrist who has put me into group therapy and renewed my life. Things are pretty good, but I still can’t seem to remember things and get myself organized. She does what everyone does when I tell her how confused I feel all the time. It’s like I can’t put my feet on the ground and just do what needs to be done. She gently explains how I should sort my work in smaller chunks, prioritize them etc etc blah blah blah. I really like this doctor, so I don’t get annoyed. It seems, I guess, like a logical place to start. But I know where it’s going, so I stop her (I have, after all, written a graduate thesis and kept three children alive for over a decade).
No, that’s not it. It’s more like I have it all together and I don’t know where I put it.
Doc sits up a bit in her chair. “oh”. As series of questions ensue. I tell her about missed appointments where I’ve written it on my colour coded calendar, highlighted the event and checked, rechecked and checked again. Then I attend the appointment (or event or whatever) at the time I’ve memorized. Wrong day, right time. Right day, wrong time. Shocked, I check again when I return home. I have recorded the information correctly. My brain has changed it into something else. That’s the most alarming story to me. It’s scary to think you’re losing your mind. I’ve always been this way to one degree or another. Depression seems to have made it worse.
Based on the other things I tell her – life as a kid, interactions with people, problems communicating – she asks:
How did you not get tested for ADHD as a kid?
I think I’ll make the answer to that question the subject of another post.
Long story somewhat shortened, now I’m on week two of taking Dexedrine. This med is for ADHD. I know very little about it at the moment, except that it’s cheap and no one seems to know how or why it works.
I’ll tell you how it works. It works well.
People are noticing more energy. More stuff is getting done. I have uncurled, periodically, from snoring sadness. I’m even thinking about new stuff. Creativity (hence prolific blogging), cleaning the kitchen more than once a month (I know – it’s only been two weeks, but statistically, things are looking up because I’ve cleaned the kitchen once in these two weeks. That makes twice in one month. I am optimistic), remembering my kids’ names (most of the time. I don’t want to exaggerate too much).
Do I have ADHD? Apparently there is no reliable test for adults. Who cares? This is a label I’m using if it moves me forward! Bring it, Dexedrine! My new friend!
I think about Mickey, flinging open the sample cupboard. If it works…!
I don’t mean that flippantly. It’s just such a maze, sometimes, trying to figure this mental health thing out. Be compliant, but think for yourself. Have a voice, but speak carefully. Things can go horribly wrong if you don’t speak carefully. Seek help, but not rescue. And trust, for a bit.
A grocery list of things I suck at.
Yet, here I am. Days go by much more smoothly. I am clearing up, I think. I still nap, but my awake times are punctuated by something resembling
Don’t “say” it too loudly, too soon. It’s only been a couple of weeks, and I only have one more pill. Need to scrounge up $14 for more by Monday. Stay tuned. I will be back. Dexedrine will be back, perhaps to stay.