12 October, 2007

Where Do I stand on drugs?

This blog has on occasions tackled the issues of, what drugs am I on. But only in a half arsed fashion and with no follow up.

That is because I may try a new drug, or a new dosage and I then write about how happy I am, but if I'm not happy I couldn't be arsed to write.
So I'm going to post now on my druggy ways.

First, I like being me. I don't feel like I want a personality change or anything like that. It'd be nice to lift the for on occasion (like when I have a report due next week) but other times the ADHD works its own magic (like when I have a report due in half an hour).

For those who came in late...
I got my official diagnosis and my first bottle of dexies when I was acting manager of the library for six months. There was a need to pay attention to long boring meetings with the CEO and Directors so I figured I'd give professional pharmacology a try.

So the Dexies...

  • Made me a lot more focused
  • Helped with my time management
  • Let me see (for the first time) the points of view of others
  • Let me see (for the first time) the body language and non-verbal clues off others
  • Made me a better rugby player (from useless to half decent)

but it also...

  • Took a very high dose to get any effect
  • Made me jumpy
  • Decreased my appetite (a lot)
  • Wouldn't let me sleep
  • Gave me a dry mouth

The problems seemed like a small price to pay for all the benefits. Or so I thought at first, but as time wore on the benefits seemed less impressive and the problems loomed larger in my mind.

I hated feeling jumpy all the time, I was loosing weight rapidly. I wouldn't take them on weekends and would try and get a weeks worth of eating done in two days. I started drinking a lot of G&T of an evening in order to lessen the high strung feeling and help me relax enough to sleep a little.

So I lowered the dose,
the problems lessened but so did the gains. Some gains stayed though. Having gained a little empathy I found I kept it. Sure, not to the same degree but I am much more aware of others' feelings now even when I am off the meds. I also play better Rugby, not as well as when I was on high doses but a lot of what I learned when I was using has managed to burn me new neural pathways (or something like that).

But the lowered dose wasn't good enough in many ways. I wasn't happy with my work performance. In fact I was more unhappy than before because I was now actually aware of some of the things I could be doing. All this took place over about two years.

But at the end of two years it was, back to the Doc. This time I tried Strattera (the first nonstimulant FDA-approved medication for the treatment of ADHD).

This time not the great leap forward I had experienced before. I instantly hated it, but I gradually increased the dose hoping to reach the point where my brain clicked into gear.

Nothing good happened.

  • But I became sleepy
  • I felt stoned all the time
  • I felt even more vague and unmotivated

Shit, not good then? Well I am not sure, I'm currently trying a new approach. I take it at night just before I go to bed. Apparently this works better for some people.

My judgement so far?
Well I don't know. For a drug which made me feel lethargic when I took it in the morning it seems to be preventing me from getting a good night's sleep. This could be unrelated, I've just started rugby training again and my body is currently purple and my lungs are currently trying to enlarge themselves to take on the huge gasps my unfit body is forcing them to make. However, my dreams have been unusually vivid and I think that is more likely as a result of drugs than rugby.

As for benefits? Well I am managing to write this post, so that's a plus. The lethargy and stoned feeling still seems to be there, but not to the same extent. I'll try this for a few more days, then start increasing the dose and see what I get.

One possible indication that Strattera is not for me is that it is less quick acting than the Dexies. So it is less suited for someone who wants to be able to take it occasionally for a temporary benefit and more suited to someone who wants to take it every day at the same time for a consistent result.
I don't want the consistent levelling out effect, I like the ADHD in eight out of every ten situations in my life and I don't want to loose my edge.

Still, I'm just trialling it at the moment and if it doesn't do what I want it to do I'll be going back to the psych and getting a script for slow release Ritalin and see how that suits my personal brain chemistry.

and just as an addendum,
I found the cartoon via The Last Psychiatrist. Which is well worth a read for all you ADHD kiddies reading this.

I probably should make special mention of his post on How to take Ritalin Correctly.

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