I’m hesitant to say this is my final post on my Ritalin experiment, but unless something drastic changes, I expect it will be quite a while before I write more on the topic. For those that missed the earlier posts, here are links to the ones for week 1, week 2, week 3, and week 4.
The new thing I added last week was a second med-day dose—that’s one 20mg tablet in the morning and a second 20mg tablet about six or so hours later. I’m not consistent the times I take them, but the idea is to take the second one about an hour before the first one wears off so I don’t experience the crash, but do continue to have the positive effects throughout the afternoon and into the evening. My schedule isn’t the same every day–although I do try to get up at the same time every day, my routine can vary greatly, so I can’t really have cues built into my routine for when I take my medication. It needs to be taken with food (or about a half-hour before eating), and meals are one of those routines that varies greatly.
I was in Redmond, Washington last week teaching SharePoint to Microsoft employees. Regardless of which time zone I’m in, I now try to keep my body clock on my regular East Coast time–yes, this means that I get up at 3am and go to bed around 9pm when I’m on Pacific time. Since I feel like I’m on top of my game when I’m front of the classroom, and I didn’t want to risk still having a lot of stimulant in my system at bed time, I skipped the afternoon dose on those days. However, I did take the afternoon dose the other days.
The afternoon dose has been a very positive thing. The positive benefits do in fact continue throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Before the afternoon dose, as well as before I even started the medication, I was usually exhausted by 8pm or so. I wasn’t sleepy, but just didn’t have energy to do much of anything except read and the regular base things that interested me. With this second dose I can easily do housework, do other creative work, and I’m more fully engaged with the people who are with me.
I do still experience the crash, but it’s typically around 10pm or 11pm. I’m usually not doing much at that time except winding down anyway, so it’s not too bad. I just experience a sudden and immense tiredness that lasts for about an hour.
I have noticed that a couple evenings I had a harder time getting to sleep than usual. I would lie in bed, I was tired, but it took me a while to get to sleep. This doesn’t happen every night, but it has happened some. I also don’t think it’s happened two nights in a row either. Perhaps it’s because I’m back on getting a regular 5- to 6-hours of sleep each night instead of 8-hours (you’ll remember this is where I function best). If I don’t sleep well one night, I don’t seem to have a hard time getting to sleep the next night.
Concerning my physical health, I continue to find that I have more willpower to consistently make high-protein/low-carbohydrate food choices. I reduced my weight by three more pounds. If you’re not keeping up with that, that’s a total decrease of 14-pounds in 4 weeks (although this was my fifth week on the medication, I didn’t start making diet changes until the second week). Exercise (or rather ‘physical activity’, since I hate the word exercise) has gone well too. When I was in Seattle, I had one free afternoon after I had everything set up for my class and I went for an hour-and-a-half hike in Bridle Trails State Park. I brought a redeye flight back home Friday night and I had about an hour to kill in the Charlotte airport, so I went for a 3-mile walk around the airport. I felt really good from all that too. Last night I went hiking on the trails around Radnor Lake in Nashville, TN. Although the physical benefits of regular physical activity have never motivated me, the mental benefits do. I had an especially stressful day yesterday and I really needed to expend some energy and spend some time in nature as well. Although I didn’t ‘feel’ like doing it, I think the Ritalin does strengthen my willpower and ability to say ‘yes’ to the right things.
I’ve been both humbled and amazed at the people that have connected with me through reading these blog posts. A lot of people have opened up and shared about their experiences with Adult ADHD and their experiences with medication too. Everyone isn’t as comfortable sharing publicly about their mental disorders as I am. I’ve vowed to keep their secrets though and I have no intention of breaking that. I’m very much enjoying those friendships (both old and new) and the fact that we can talk about the trials and triumphs associated with this disorder. I mention this as a public way of thanking those people for connecting to me, and also to let others who are reading this know that you can contact me privately to talk about your Adult ADHD experience and you can know that I won’t judge you, nor will I share anything you share with me. Life’s journey is much easier and more enjoyable when we don’t feel like we’re on the path alone.
I’ll close with a book recommendation. If you are an Adult with ADHD, the book More Attention, Less Defecit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD by Dr. Ari Tuckman (visit his blog for lots of great articles and his podcast) is something you should definitely read. It’s written as a collection of many short articles, written and organized in a style for readers with ADHD. There is an entire section in that book on ADHD medications. If you’re not yet taking any medication for your ADHD, I want to suggest that you pick up this book and read that section so you have some good background information. Don’t depend on your doctor to know everything about ADHD medication or to share everything she knows with you—this is your life, your body, and you mind, and you need to empower yourself with as much knowledge about how it all works as you can.