By Roland E. Jung
Just Keep Swimming: Life Before and After my ADHD Diagnosis
Part 3- The Adderall Debate
I was prescribed Adderall, and I promptly went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription.
Now I will admit to taking an Adderall or two back in my undergraduate days. I’ve heard stories of friends taking an Adderall and being able to study all night uninterrupted. It had a reputation of being a miracle study drug. I remember the first time I took it to study, I did not have the feelings of super-focus that my friends described. I did not feel like Superman, rather, I felt in control.
Time seemed to slow down. Before Adderall, hours of my day would pass by without me noticing, and I would not even know what I did with those hours. But on Adderall, I was able to work, hop on my smartphone (or, more accurately, an-ADHD-person’s-worst-nightmare-phone) for a few minutes, then jump back into my workflow with zero effort. It felt amazing. For the first time in my life I felt a sense of order and organization.
But Adderall does have its side effects, and they vary from person to person. For me, it was affecting my sleep, and I felt that my mood was always quite serious when I was on Adderall. For someone who has been a jokester his whole life, that is a pretty serious side effect. Also, I just couldn’t get on board with the idea of taking this powerful drug everyday of my life.
So I had a compromise and usually only took Adderall during the weekdays. It was great. I was on top of things, I would always remember to do things I was supposed to do (that would have just been carelessly forgotten about pre-Adderall). I was responding to emails efficiently, things were going great. I got accepted to one of my top choices into graduate school, and was ready to start a new life.
I moved to a new state for graduate school, and I needed to find a new psychiatrist if I wanted to have a prescription for medication. And that was when I made a bold decision that I didn’t need to. I knew I had ADHD, and I knew that I just had to minimize distractions. I kept a few ‘emergency’ Adderall, and then stopped taking it altogether.
A year went by, and I realize I’m at the same place I was a year ago. My GPA was good, but beyond that, there wasn’t much to show for it. I had trouble maintaining relationships – both social and professional. I automatically disqualified myself from a lot of job opportunities because of my erratic communication patterns. What was supposed to be the most exciting year of my life was filled with periods of “I can’t tell you anything that I did.” What had began as a fresh new start was back to the same old same old.
And that’s where we are now. For the readers, this will be a journey of Roland reclaiming his life once again from ADHD, along with posts tackling specific issues or topics in ADHD.
Roland E. Jung is a graduate student who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2015. He hopes to share his story and experience with the condition to help other millennials, their friends, and their families navigate today’s Attention-Deficit-enabling world.