February 25, 2004

huh? oh yeah. huh?



I just finished another rewrite of the play that we plan to put on next month in Los Angeles. I mention this because:
a) maybe momma didn't pay enough attention to me
b) I worked on it, subconsciously and consciously, pretty hard for the last two weeks
c) my therapist told me that I might have Attention Deficit Disorder.

I always thought A.D.D. was for other people – more specifically my brother - and I have always prized myself in being a "project completer," i.e., someone who never leaves anything 86% done. There is one glaring exception to that: in 1991, Salem and I were busily painting the floor in our Chapel Hill house. Someone called us on the phone, we went out and got drunk, and I moved out four years later with the floor still exactly 86% finished. But I have striven to overcome those years. I mean, I finished a rewrite tonight. I can always come through on a writing gig.

But maybe one's A.D.D. can't be fully measured by how resolved your "completion issues" might be. The fact is, I have always been terrified of being early to things, because I am allergic to sitting around before something starts. I can drift off for HOURS during a simple task. Take yesterday's post, for example: when Bud reminded me that Martin Van Buren was an abolitionist, I put in James Buchanan instead – but not before spending three hours reading every single presidential biography on the government site.

I guess it comes down to this – do I want to have another chemical floating around in my body? I'm already taking Celexa to keep me from going nutty, allopurinol to stop the kidney stones, and a double soy latté with hazelnut syrup to keep me awake. Something about another drug just seems high-maintenace in a way that doesn't fit well with my lapsed-Mormon survivalism. I need to be able to survive on the prairie through a hard winter without any of these drugs, and each one I take makes me feel a little softer.

So, you Adderall and Ritalin users, I've heard wonderful things. Any advice or experience you have on the subject will be welcome, and I promise I will try to get through a couple sentences before wandering off to think about orchids.

Posted by irw at February 25, 2004 11:59 PM
Posted by: Greg at February 26, 2004 6:01 AM

How very timely...

I started taking Concerta (a time-released version of Ritalin that lasts 12 hrs) a couple of weeks ago and then promptly got a sinus infection (not related) and stopped the Concerta until the infection was gone. I'm taking it again today for the first time in a week.

All told I've taken it 6 days and I have noticed a difference. It seems to settle me down during times I would normally be restless - for me that's the times when I'm getting bored with a task and start finding EVERYTHING around me to be more interesting than the task at hand. The first couple of nights I took it I noticed some disruption in my sleep patterns but nothing like real insomnia (it took me 30 minutes to get to sleep instead of my traditional 1.)

There appears to be a correlation between ADD, Depression, Anxiety and other mental "challenges", so the possibility exists that in treating the ADD you will also be treating your other symptoms to some degree. If that's the case then you may be able to change the meds around and not just add a new one.

Since I am so recently diagnosed (right after Thanksgiving) I've done a lot of reading on the subject recently, so If you'd like more resources or want to talk about it, feel free to drop me a line - greg at gthacker dot com

Posted by: Salem at February 26, 2004 9:00 AM

Well I finally got to the Doctor about my suspected ADD. I almost got to the pharmacy before I noticed that Appleby's is doing their all you can eat barbeque riblet special again. Anyway, the chicken fingers were great, so I'll go fill the prescription after lunch.
Love ya

Posted by: Sean at February 26, 2004 9:45 AM

Obviously, there is more to say about this than in a blog comment, but Ritalin changed my life for the significant better, and the nice thing is that a little goes a long way. After I took Ritalin, the idea of "clarity" became something else entirely.

The years that I haven't been on it have been made easier by what I figured out while I was on it. It's that kind of clarity.

One other thing, this "foreign substance in my body" crap? Dude, eat a sandwich, you feel better, kiss your wife, you feel better, watch a good movie, you feel better... those are all just chemicals. Now we have smart people who put those chemicals together in little pills that you can take and feel better, and those pills are safer than doing coke all day to concentrate and drinking all night to get to sleep like the cool kids did in the 1770s.

Posted by: TPB, Esq. at March 2, 2004 1:32 PM

I think I've had a wide range of experience with ADD and ADD-related medication. I was one of the earlier diagnoses of ADD (1982; the disease wasn't widely diagnosed until the late eighties, although it was in DSM in the 1970's). I was 7 at the time. Initially, I was put on Ritalin. At the time, Ritalin was the only medicine out there for ADD/ADHD.

I was on Ritalin from 1982 until 2003. It was effective for me from 1982 until 1996. Strangely, at around that time, it stopped making me feel focused. I felt lost no matter what I did. In 2003, I finally got off my ass and started talking to docs about that. For me, my symptoms are a bit like a petit mal seizure: I zone off, not noticing the world around me, stuck in a tired fugue. Thus, the docs started me on a medicine normally used for narcolepsy, called Provigil. Initially, they put me on a high dose. I went through two weeks of insomnia and uncontrollable jaw clenching before switching to an anti-hyperactivity drug/stimulant, Stratera. That made me incredibly drowsy. I finally found that using a small dose of provigil and a small dose of adderall was effective. I don't have sleep problems as often as before, and I'm still able to keep up with work.

The thing is, I am glad I found that medicine. Even with all of the side effects that I initially had (and a slightly unmentionable one related to the provigil), I can now be effective. I am willing to have these chemicals floating around in my system because I don't want to miss something and thereby hurt my clients or do something stupid. I guess it's a personal cost-benefit thing. What are you willing to gain and what are you willing to give up?

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