For the last weeks, I have been steadily increasing my daily intake of Ritalin, and am currently taking roughly 3/4 of the dosage I will probably be kept on later. After all I keep reading about the dangers of this drug, I have to reflect on what effects I notice in myself:
1: Driving is easier. A lot easier! It still feels novel and strange not to notice every single thing by the road, and not getting stressed by all kinds of surprises. It is rather amazing how much more time I seem to have to react, and how stressless it has become to predict the actions of others. Although I have always made a point out of reading the traffic well ahead, I have never before been able to do so without fretting. It also feels so much calmer when the radio no longer distracts me, but just stays in the background, and I actually find my brain taking pauses between thoughts!
2: I now realize that I have never before been truly present in a conversation. Before Ritalin, my brain was always racing, thinking of at least two other topics while talking about something. Now I am able to give someone my attention, my almost undivided attention! I can be in the now, not constantly fluttering between memories, dreams, fears and intense, little moments. It used to take so much effort to carry out a conversation, especially a mundane one, as something more interesting was always going on inside my head. I will not go so far as to say that conversations are now effortless, but it is definitely far less costly!
3: I can stop eating! Sure, I still have bad habits and cravings for candy, but the compulsion is not quite as strong, and I no longer stuff my face to satisfy the need for activity and sensual experiences. Sometimes I even get a very clear feeling of “enough”, which I have heard about, and longed for, through years of therapy, but never been close to before. Does that mean my eating disorder is not so much an emotional problem as a neurochemical one?
4: I can stick with things a bit longer. There is still some way to go here, as I am so used to getting frantic for some other activity after a while that I find myself waiting for that feeling to kick in, and I tend to indulge once it does. But I see a change coming, and I know it is only a matter of time before I will begin finishing my projects, one by one. You might even see me making regular blog posts after a while…
5: Being present for others still wears me out, and I need my downtime alone as much as before. Unfortunately, I am too worn out to do the things I know fills me with some energy. Instead, I feel compelled to sleep. And sometimes, I even do! I have gone to bed before 11 pm for three nights in a row now and have actually fallen asleep.
6: It is evident that I need more Ritalin, especially at night. I feel the restlessness creeping in about three hours after I take the pills, and at night, when I really wish to enjoy my quiet time after the children have gone to bed, my brain is once again on overdrive, so I cannot relax and gather the strength and calmness I long for.
7: I am less creative and less impulsive. I will probably miss my wild creativity after a while, but for now it feels wonderful to have tamed it enough to not start impossible projects. Even though I am less creative, I still blossom in the right circumstances, and it does not look like I will start fitting into any boxes any time soon.
8: I am less offendable, but I still got extremely upset at the pure arrogance and stupidity of the doctor who absolutely refused to refer my daughter for testing. What is interesting, though, is that this emotional overexcitability seems somehow more manageable. I am not sure whether this is due to just the medication, or if some of the credit is due to understanding the overexcitabilities and accepting them as parts of my identity. But it does not really matter, does it, as long as it feels better? Coming to think of it, allowing myself to experience and express such strong emotions is quite new for me. I use to feel like all my emotions were way too big, uncontainable, and offensive to other people. Perhaps my newfound ease with emotions really is related to neurochemistry, after all?
9: I grieve for all those years of being misunderstood, all those accusations of laziness and insensitivity, all those people hurt, all those projects abandoned or failed. And more than all of that combined, I grieve for all the hardship I put myself through! I have judged myself so harshly, found myself so lacking, and had so little hope of improvement. I have worked so hard for so long to overcome all my trials, and now it turns out I didn’t have to! There was never really any need to blame myself and take all critisism to heart, never really any need to feel so inferior. Some little white pills would have made it possible for me to do all those things others and I blamed me for not achieving.
10: The famed side effects need not appear at all. I have not become a zombie, or had a sudden heart attack, or gotten high, or… Of course, I already knew that the hype about the dangers of Ritalin is just that, a hype, and that there’s plenty of good research proving the drug safe and useful. The side effects of NOT taking Ritalin, however, are vastly underestimated!