I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and after a couple months my mom took me off the medication because she believed it changed my personality too much. Later on in life, at the age of about 35, I was again diagnosed and starting taking medication for it again. The short term benefits were immediate, I was able to better function at my job, spend hours on end concentrating on menial tasks, felt revitalised – I explained it to people like a light having been suddenly switched on in my brain.
But after a while I started to notice some of those other side effects mentioned in this article, specifically depersonalisation, hostility, manic reactions, delusions and drug abuse.
Although my drug abuse was a pre-existing factor I now had legal access to to what I called “go-getters”. Pretty soon I was using the larger doses of long acting Concerta available and topping that off with quick boosts of Ritalin in the morning and to get me going and in the evening to ward off the come down from the Concerta and keep me going so I could work into the night. I’d take weekend “drug free breaks” in order to stock up on Ritalin for the coming week and also managed to get over-prescribed on one or two occasions so I had a good stockpile of my uppers with me at all times.
I was also using prescribed anti-anxiety / anti-depressants at this stage, and smoking a lot of weed in order to bring me back down from what was becoming a really manic day-to-day lifestyle. Pretty soon though I was using all of my legal and not so legal drugs all of the time in mixes and matches that I knew was hugely problematic, but could not see a way out of.
Like I’ve said before I know I was an addict going into all of this, but if I wasn’t yet I would surely have been by that stage anyway. I shared all of this information regarding my excess use and supplementary use with my doctors, who were sympathetic but were not equipped to deal with the level of manipulation I was able to spin. Yes I started to take less of one thing and more of another under advisement, but that only changed nightmare and didn’t help make it go away.
It was only when I had reached past the end of the line and with the help of my wife and the people at The Foundation Clinic that I realised that I was suffering from a disease of the soul and not the brain. Within the 24 days that I spent with David Collins’ team I earn’t more about myself than I have in my previous 39 years alive.
But with all of the above said, this is the message that I want to add to the conversation. When I was diagnosed with ADHD at 35, it was at a time of my life when I was working at a job I hated – like really hated (I’d wake up in the morning and spend at least an hour in bed in tears at the thought of going in to work). I was doing work that hated with people I didn’t want to be with. I was in a situation which was not conducive to me being myself. The hours of my day were controlled by someone else, the way I represented myself to others had to be carefully crafted by people in positions of power above me, I felt like the woodcutters from the story Fiela se Kind. And while I can’t say that this alone was enough to drive me stir-crazy, it certainly played its part.
I can remember another time like that, those 12 years spent at school, where I had to dress like everyone else, eat at the same time of the day, never question the bullshit I was fed by my teachers and generally try to fit into a system that didn’t give a crap about me as an individual. The content and manner in which I was being educated was boring and tailored to turning me into one of many instead of the best me I could be. The similarities between that and the whole “real job” world are all too obvious to me now.
So I’d say to anyone who feels like they don’t fit in or who is restless and can’t sit still – don’t! Get up and move and keep moving until you find something that you can do for hours at end without feeling like you want to climb the walls with boredom. Just move and challenge anyone who tells you that you’ve got ants in your pants or tells you you’re a troublemaker or a “naughty boy” – just get up and move. It’s really not worth sitting still.