Tag Archives: medication

The power of discipline…and amphetamines 

22 Feb

Wow…what a difference a day makes. Where yesterday morning – especially anxiety-inducing following a long weekend – I felt a sense of panic, dread and gloom heading into work, today I arrived feeling…good. More than good in fact; I felt energetic, ambitious and optimistic about the day ahead. My to-do list is just as daunting, but I feel worlds better about tackling it today. 

So what changed? Not just from today but from prior experiences I can boil it down to three key things:

1. Discipline – I got up when my alarm went off. I ate breakfast. I made the kids’ lunches and got them off to school early. Before 9:00 I already felt productive which, as I’ve written on previously, I tend to equate with happiness and success (a topic for another post I’m sure). 

2. Doing Instead of Thinking – By getting up and “just doing it” I avoided my typical morning pitfall of overthinking things and getting caught up in my own mind. Most days I find myself drinking coffee (no breakfast) in front of the news and starting the vicious cycle of ruminating over my previous day’s shortfalls, feeling shitty about myself, procrastinating my start on the new day, and back again to ruminating. It’s true what they 

3. Vyvanse – It’s not a magic bullet, and it only works if I balance it with other coping mechanisms like the ones above, but this is the one drug that’s had an immediately noticeable impact on my mood. The test of whether it works for you: if it speeds things up and makes you hyper, you don’t need it, but if it actually slows things down to a manageable pace, it could be a perfect fit for you. 

Food for thought. Tomorrow…an update on what I’ve been up to for the last two years.

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Cut a great bargain…with myself

11 Feb

Right off the top, let me say that I did not meet the expectations I set for myself last time I wrote, going on three days now. I did my writing in time but didn’t finish the cover letter.

By my own and no uncertain terms I was in my rights to declare the week a a failure. My inner critic was chomping at the bit and tempting old habits – like self criticism and sabotage – circled like vultures.

But I didn’t give in to temptation or my typically harsh judgement. I stopped.

Taking a page from Daniel Kahneman’s excellent bookThinking Fast and SlowThinking Fast and Slow, I stopped. To breathe, to find calm, to think rationally. I caught myself in time with three anchors of reason:

1) Life’s not black and white, all or nothing. Everything in life is painted shades of grey. Yes I missed one goal, an important one but immediately urgent only to me. What’s I tend to forget is that I met the other 80% of my goals and did even more. How can I give myself a failing grade? Would I judge someone else through the same harsh eyes? Bottom line….I give myself a solid B+.

2) This old catastrophizing, self-sabotaging habit of mine is a stubborn bugger. Getting past it, accepting what I did instead of dwelling on what I didn’t, even giving myself a pat on the back…these are precisely the things I need to learn how to do again. They pose the biggest, toughest challenges in my life right now.

3) Through smart choices, a healthy attitude and the right meds, I’ve been on a bit of a run lately. I’m taking all my meds, I’m doing more and I’m keeping myself busy all day long. B2C days (bed to couch) are rare when they used to be daily. It’s too easy for me to forget the progress I’ve made, big picture progress. I need reminding that my worst days now are better than my best days in December.

So there you have it.

Maybe I’m finally starting to learn how to appreciate myself as is…that, or I just bargained myself off the hook for putting off an increasingly urgent task that I’ve been avoiding for ages.

Procrastination or appreciation? Crazy or lazy…thoughts?

The need for speed…amphetamines for beginners

5 Feb

After two B2C* days in a row, I’ve got a new sense of purpose and vigor this morning. It’s not because of an early walk or a healthy breakfast, nor from any coping strategy to get my mind into gear for the day.  I did none of these things…but I did take my amphetamines.

In addition to my longstanding battles with depression and anxiety, I was diagnosed a couple years ago with adult ADHD.  My wife was the first to be convinced of it, before my psychiatric team even explored the diagnosis, but it would take some time for me to come around.  I had a problem with confidence and drive, not with my attention span.  Besides, ADHD is a disorder for kids, not adults, right?

Only because of my wife’s persistence did I eventually and reluctantly accept the diagnosis.  Along the way she introduced me to great resources like TotallyADD.com and held my hand through several self-diagnosis tests like those from Psychology Today, Psych Central and Totally ADD.  In the end, my symptoms matched up so closely that in hindsight the ADHD diagnosis was a no-brainer.

Just accepting the diagnosis, knowing that much more about how my mind operates, brought a wave of relief.  With a new mental battle front I learned about a whole new set of tools and coping strategies – making lists, setting attainable goals, establishing routines, etc. – to manage my ADHD.  My psychiatrist added a medication to the mix that would prove to be a silver bullet: Vyvanse.

Being a stimulant I expected it would make me anxious and jittery.  I already felt there wasn’t enough time in the day and I was sure that Vyvanse would only speed up.  It turned out to be the opposite; from the first day I took it, time slowed down for me and gave me room to breath.  I was no longer in a mad panic to solve all my life’s problems in a day.  I could see pathways to completing intimidating tasks that until then seemed impossible.  I actually started checking things off my to-do list instead of eternally adding to it.

In short, it worked.

It sounds crazy (of course it does) but I’m actually of two minds on Vyvanse and my success with it.  On the one hand, I see it as an effective medication and part of my overall daily treatment for a clinical disorder.  But for whatever reason, there are other times when I see it as yet another addiction, my daily fix of amphetamines.  I know this is what I do (beat myself up unnecessarily) but feeling guilty about taking medication that works is, well…crazy.

* Note: (B2C above refers to “bed to couch,” where I spent Monday and Tuesday)

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