Charleston, South Carolina, marketing intern, 22
As Told to Madeleine Thomas
(Photo: Christopher Leaman)
My pediatrician was always like: “You’ve got to take your medicine. Don’t forget to take your medicine. Take it every day.” In college I switched to my adult doctor, and he was kind of adamant about, “You really don’t want to be relying on this for the rest of your life.” Slowly we started the process of, maybe don’t take it on weekends, maybe don’t take it on days where you only have one class. When I graduated, it was sort of, OK, how badly do you really think you need this? That was when I had to say, I really can’t do anything without it.
“It alters the way I act, and the way I react to things, and what I do — kind of like a recreational drug.”
But I am slowly trying to wean myself off. So I take it some days, and I don’t take it others, and I notice a real difference between those days. Things are extremely overwhelming to me when I’m not on my medicine. I keep putting things off, even though normally I’m not that kind of person. But when I’m not on my medicine that is the kind of person I am.
I know it’s the right thing to figure out a way to function without it. But it helped me so much throughout my life that I really wish there was some way that I could just keep taking it. I feel very overwhelmed trying to figure out a different approach to all of this.
I intern three days a week, so I definitely take it those days. The other days it’s kind of up in the air. Some mornings I’ll wake up really late and just be like, “Well, if I take it now I’m not going to bed until 2 a.m.,” so I won’t take it. Then other days I’ll be like, “I have to go to the post office today, so I should probably take my medicine, otherwise I’ll never make it.”
A version of this story first appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Pacific Standard.
When I first got to college, I remember telling my roommate that I took Adderall, and she was like: “Oh my gosh, that’s so cool. I wish I could get on Adderall.” And I was like: “What are you talking about? That’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard.” People kept asking me if they could have some of my medicine, and I would be like: “No. I need that.”
That was when I realized that this is really altering who I am. It alters the way I act, and the way I react to things, and what I do — kind of like a recreational drug. A kid in one of my classes said he liked taking Adderall better than doing cocaine, and I was like: “What? How are these things even comparable?” No wonder I feel so crazy when I’m off my medication. I’m dependent.
Looking back, I’m not so sure that I really couldn’t have done it without the medicine. I think if I had been re-tested, my course would have been altered. I haven’t been re-tested for ADHD since I was seven. I kind of would have liked the chance to do it on my own.