Disclaimer: Due to this being a topic that can be very controversial, I will be disabling comments for this article. This is not to avoid conversation but to curb the urge for readers to voice opinions not facts.
If you were to talk with the teachers who invested so much time in me throughout my schooling, more often than not, the terms they would have used to describe me would have been: “day-dreamer”, “lazy”, “never lives up to his potential”, and so on. On the surface, this could be considered true, but underneath it all, these terms didn’t quite tell the true story of me.
While I was prone to times of day-dreaming, and more than likely being lazy, the fact was, I quickly became bored in almost every class I took throughout grade school (what about middle school and high school?) and college. Most often, I was not being challenged and would lose interest in what was being taught. I was the kid who never studied and if I tried hard enough, I would have really good grades. My retention level was really high without having to study the subjects outside of the classroom.
However, my transition into college was very difficult. Even though I could no longer as easily use my “no-study, retain info method,” and though I was being challenged more than I was in high school, I continued to lose interest at a rapid pace.
Looking back now, I wonder if anyone ever really took the time to dig deep into why this was the case for me. I remember teachers saying that they felt I had ADD but nothing was ever really done about it.
Let’s move forward 15 years, and here I am a married man with a good career. Yet, I still suffer from a lot of the same issues that I did as a child. I was still quickly losing interest in things when I became bored, and having a hard time completing tasks even when the end was in sight. But most of all, my focus was shot. This was not only affecting my career, but it was affecting my personal life.
My amazing wife took notice of these things and we started a series of conversations about Adult ADD. We both did research that included a talk with my physician. All the signs pointed that ADD could be the case.
The next steps included a consultation and evaluation with a psychologist. I found one who not only specializes in ADD but one who is a Christian and professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The appointment included an hour-long consultation and an evaluation with questions about my past, present, and future. An additional evaluation, the Brown ADD Diagnostic Evaluation, provided a look at where I was based on a scale of 1 – 120 in regards to ADD. I received an in-depth analysis of my score several days later, needless to say my score was WAY higher than it should have been.
Following the evaluation was another appointment and consultation with my primary care physician to discuss treatment options. She laid out plans for medication that would allow me to focus and fill in the gaps in positive ways.
We decided to move forward with a trial of a slow release medication. I took a low dosage that would be in and out of my system within 24 hours. Since my primary goal was to be able to focus in on work tasks, we felt slow release would best help me to achieve this goal.
There has been so much discussion around medication for ADD. Most often, people use the word “Zombie” when describing how people react to these meds. But there is a distinct confusion about these. ADD medication is not designed to calm someone or make them act different from the way they normally would. These medications are designed to trigger the parts of the brain that are mostly affected by lack of focus and attention.
Where I’m At Now
It’s been almost a year since I started taking medication for ADD. I can say that my focus and attention to details is greater than it has ever been. So much in fact, that at times, I can become so focused that I lose sight of the things around me (my wife can attest to this). My ability to retain information has increased greatly and I’m able stay interested in things for longer periods of time and to see them to completion.
I don’t take this medication every day. In fact, I only take it on the days that I work. This allows me to reset my body on the weekends.
One common myth about ADD medications, is that you can become addicted. However, the truth is that you cannot become addicted, but there is a chance of becoming immune to them. This is the reason for me choosing to only take my medication on the days that I am working.
Additionally, the widespread use of these medications on college campuses has become a huge issue; leading to another common thought, doctors give these medications out like candy. I didn’t provide this bit of detail earlier, but at my second visit with my primary care physician, it was required that I sign a form that stated I would not sell these medications. Then, upon taking my prescription to a pharmacy, a week-long approval process took place between my primary care physician, the pharmacy, and my insurance company. Once I was approved, my personal information was recorded, as required by law. This tracks how often I receive my medication and only allows me to receive it once every 30 days. I now have to visit my doctor every six months for a re-evaluation.
For all the parents out there who are concerned that medicine will turn your child into a zombie, I ask that you gain the facts before passing judgment. You see, there is nothing wrong with the person I am. I am not broken. But to be honest, I do need a little help at times to wrangle all of that together so that I can be a better me, a more focused me. This allows me to excel in my career and not lose sight of what I’m doing.
It is so easy to make decisions based on myths, but I encourage you to look at the warning signs, do some research, and then make a decision. I also encourage you to not allow your decision to be driven by how it would affect you or your reputation, but allow your decision to be based on what is best for your child.