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My Ritalin journey as a female geek.

Diagnosed at age 33 and starting on Ritalin for the first time, this is my journey.

Week 4 on Ritalin

So how have I been since I started taking Ritalin on the 31st of December 2016. Well… pretty awesome!

The overly happy feeling subdued a bit after 2 weeks, which is a good thing, I mean I can’t wander through life feeling euphoric all the time. It has been replaced by contentment, by feeling more secure, by feeling more like me again after a really difficult year.

The side effects, headaches, jaw tension, feeling like my heart wants to leave my chest are getting less and less and my body feels more adjusted to the meds. The rebound is still happening but I am not as strict with my afternoon meds. As in not always taking them at 1 pm. That is not even possible at work, because sometimes I am stuck in meetings.

I also am a huge fan of Saturday afternoon naps. After a long work week, doing groceries and everything I want a nap and don’t like sleeping away some of the positive Ritalin effects so I take my second Ritalin when I wake up.

I now have to choose a therapist. My GP gave me a list and I need to make a decision. This has both to do with learning who I am on Ritalin as well as learning how to cope in a healthy way with all the negative coping mechanisms I learned myself throughout the years. Mostly it has to do with how I view relationships.

I have had a rough life, and lots of negative things happened in my life. I got help for that and learned how to deal with it. But somewhere along the way it also changed the way I look at relationships and how I am in a relationship. Both friendships as well as romantic ones.

I have serious trust issues and I fought hard for the person I am today. I am an independent, smart woman who yells she doesn’t need someone else to help her out. I know this is not what I really want if I am honest with myself.

I am jealous at friends who are in a relationship, living together, having kids. On the other hand I almost panic thinking about sharing my life with someone else and not being able to have my own space and peace any longer. That I have to share my decisions with someone else, my bed, my time, my cat, my space. It frightens me.

What als frightens me is that I have never been in love. Is this because I don’t open myself up to it? Is it because I haven’t met the right person? Am I a-romantic? These are all questions I have. Because I can like someone, I can lust after someone but that romantic feeling people talk about? Nope, never happened.

I also have a non healthy practical look on relationships. As in, it would be nice to share the bills, the chores in and around the house, not always being responsible for the hard decisions and having kids. That is not how people should look at a relationship, just for practical reasons. I just can’t believe or imagine you want to spend the rest of your life with someone else. I don’t want to marry. I don’t see the appeal. Spending loads of money on an expensive party, buying a dress you only wear once and people getting the chance to say embarrassing things about you. You see, I am more practical. But again, is that me or is that how I decided to be to protect myself against disappointment and pain.

The thing is, the Ritalin made me feel more happy and content and I kind of want to try having a relationship again, although I am scared shitless and I finally admit I need help with this. And also having doubts about how a psychologist is gonna help me think differently on my outlook on life.

It is a struggle that is now more real because I feel better. Last year I just postponed everything about the future, not wanting to think about it because I was depressed, which was also a great excuse. I don’t have that excuse any longer …

I think I need to phone my GP for a referral.

Thanks for reading, love, Jamie.

GP visit, 2 week review

I saw my GP today and it was wonderful. I am now taking Ritalin about 2 weeks and we scheduled a review to check how I am doing. Basically it ended up with my GP and I grinning like idiots cause the Ritalin already has such a huge impact on my life.

I am happier, more emotionally stable, I can focus more, I get more work done. My brains are more quiet, basically I am making a huge progress and I still can’t believe that such a small tablet can have such a huge impact.

We talked about the pro’s and con’s, a bit about the side effect which are totally normal and in no way a real bother to me.

My blood pressure was checked and it was lower than it has ever been! Even though a side effect is that Ritalin has a negative effect on high blood pressure.

I blame me being less stressful. I still get stressed, I still worry, but no more meltdowns, panic attacks and being in an absolute frenzy when something unexpected happens or when things are not going according to plan.

We also talked about the time in between medication and after it stops working, the rebound effect. That however is not a nice feeling. It’s like having a mini depression attack twice a day. Because I know where it comes from and I know it will disappear with taking another tablet I can handle it to some extend. I literally told my doctor it now feels like I am only allowed to be the ‘good’ me at work and not at home.

I got a new prescription, enough for a month and a half and I need to come back in another month. I need to stay on my old dosis 2x a day 10 mg Ritalin and hopefully I can get a higher dosis and more tablets next month.

I want to also explain a bit about this. It might seem like I am some sort of Ritalin junkie talking about more tablets, but for me I want the maximum effect with the minimum of side effects. I still have the feeling I can get more out of it than my dosis now. I have struggled for 33 years with my funny brain, I want a bit of peace now and less struggle. People might not agree with me, but I am so grateful for this solution. I still stop and think about how my life has changed in just 2 weeks.

Thanks for reading, love Jamie

Prepping for the doctor and a talk with my mum.

It’s been a week and a half now since I started Ritalin and my life has been turned upside down.

I never knew 2 small white tablets could have such a huge influence on my day to day routine and how I feel.

Tomorrow I have my 2 week check-up with my doctor. This is to monitor my blood pressure, my weight (oh god, I ate so much junkfood last week) and see how the medication is doing. I’ve been thinking about what I need to ask her and how to continue on.

I am experiencing some side-effects: a slight headache and sometimes I feel like my heart is racing, which is not an annoying feeling, or really bothering me, but just noticeable. I also have really dry lips, to the point that it’s driving me crazy. Chapsticks can only do so much. I also have problems dealing with the time between taking medication and after I am done for the day taking the medication. Specifically between 11.30/1.30 and after 5 pm.

What I would like, and I hope my GP approves is to up the dosage to 15mg Ritalin per time and to change my schedule to 7 am, 12 pm and 4 or 5 pm.

I also had a good talk with my mum. She’s been helping and supporting me with dealing with my depression and getting my diagnosis. She is so happy for me that the meds are working. She already notices a change in my behaviour and my mood. She finds me more stable, no more crying and no extreme mood swings. She’s also happy for me that I can focus more on my work both at home and at work and I just sound happier. She is impressed I panic less and she is just sad I didn’t get the diagnosis earlier. It would have saved me so much trouble.

I am happier and more emotional stable. I am now also more hopeful towards the future and I want to make plans to get back on track.

Wish me luck for tomorrow and thank you for reading,

Love, Jamie

Day 7 on Ritalin

One week, I’ve been taking my Ritalin for one week now. Seems strange, that such a tiny pill can have a huge difference in my life already.

I want to talk about not forgetting to take the meds. I am terrible with taking tablets / medication on time. I forget it, simple as that. I take birth control pills and anti-histamine for allergies daily and they are next to my toothbrush and even then I forget.

I always wondered why they invented Ritalin that wears of in 4 hours. Why would you give someone with ADHD/ADD medication that they have to take multiple times a day while we tend to forget everything.

I set up a system for myself to hopefully not forget. I currently have 3 strips of pills, enough for two weeks, because I have to get a check-up at my doctor after 2 weeks. I devided the strips of pills over different places, one in my wallet, one next to my bed and one on the coffee table in front of the tv. This so it’s always within reach. If I don’t see something I will forget it (even then I still forget things, like my work phone this morning due to a sudden change of bags).

I also set up an alarm on my phone, daily at 7 am and 1 pm and an alarm clock for the none working days at 7 am as well so I’ll wake up to take my meds.

I also downloaded on of those ‘don’t forget your meds’ app. The app store is full of them and I found one that is simple and after programming my Ritalin and times I should take it, a reminder goes of. It sounds like the shaking of a pill box. Hilarious, but I have to tap it to say I took my meds.

I really need to install on of those on my work phone as well. I need that reminder!!!

Currently I am very focused on taking my meds on time. Today my working schedule made it so I was not at the office for my 1 pm intake. I made sure I had something to drink with me and took them on the road. I hate the fact I am so focused on time tables at the moment but I can imagine it will wear off over time and it will hopefully become second nature.

There are also ADHD/ADD meds that work all day and you just have to take 1 tablet each morning. Unfortunately my health insurance doesn’t completely covers those and I don’t want to be stuck with extra bills each month.

Also, as I said, I am prone to forget tablets. I don’t want to have to take a tablet later in the morning when I forget one and not being able to sleep, because it’s still working. I need some control in my life and having those four hour tablets hopefully will give me more control in the future when I am on the right dosis and amount of tablets.

I am looking forward to next week, when some of the side effects will disappear and to taking to my doctor in order to figure out the next step. I also need to find a psychologist who can help me deal with the rest of my problems and figure out being me on Ritalin.

Thanks for reading, love, Jamie.

Day 4, first day at work

Wow, I just had my first day at work, on Ritalin…

Again, no clue of it has to do with the meds or some sort of placebo effect by wishing it, but I had such a relaxed and productive day.

I told some colleagues, who know what I have been dealing with, that I started Ritalin. They all want to know how it feels, but it’s hard to describe, I usually start with weird. Cause it feels weird to me, to finally feel someone normal.

Back to work. I start around 8.30 am and I take my meds at 7 so they have some time to start working before I start.. working. Usually I am very distracted traveling by public transport, one of the reason I both listen to music, read a book and check my phone simultaneously. Yay for being a pro at multitasking. I am also easily annoyed by small things. People walking in front of me, bumping into me, missing the tube, because why use a schedule. And so many other things. Today, not so much. Yes I get annoyed, but not to the point I am overstimulated and super annoyed when I arrive at work. I am letting things go.

What also is helping, is my mood. I had such a shitty week before new years eve. I had such a shitty year. I feel either depressed, or nothing, or slightly better and very afraid for my mood to drop again. I have been feeling relatively ok before Christmas, but very much afraid and waiting for that drop again and it happened. Now I am feeling more like myself again. And also not afraid for that mood drop.

I am more emotionally stable (as in not wanting to cry over everything, not snapping at people, not angry, not sad, not depressed), and for some reason I have more energy physical, but more relaxed in my mind. Although I do find myself loosing my thoughts a lot. As in it takes time to find the right words. Previously my mind would go 240 miles a minute, now it seems like I am adjusting to the speed limit that is allowed.

At work I noticed I wasn’t as stressed as I usually am after a holiday. I got more things done in less time because I got distracted a lot less. I could concentrate longer. Don’t get me wrong, I still get distracted, but I can focus faster to what I am doing. If something does break my concentration I don’t forget what I was working on but can go back to it.

There are of course still some things that aren’t fun. I have a slight head-ache since Saturday, my brain seems sometimes sluggish and I hate the down time between two tablets. I also had trouble falling asleep last night, but I usually am a very bad sleeper. I toss and turn and don’t seem to fully rest at night.

I just have to wait and see how things progress as my focus on how I feel gets less over time.

Thanks for reading, love Jamie.

Day 3

So today is day 3 on my journey of taking Ritalin. It’s also the last day of my Christmas vacation and I have to go back to work tomorrow. How do I feel? I don’t know. This was of course a very strange weekend because of New Years Eve and my whole sleep schedule is basically thrown out of the window.

I need a lot of structure in my life and one of those things is a decent sleeping schedule. I go to bed at 10 pm and get up (on working days) at 6 am, on my days off I usually get up between 7 or 8 am. New Years Eve was definitely not going to bed at 10 pm, more likely I slept about 3 am and yesterday was the first episode of Sherlock (I don’t call myself a geek for nothing) and again a late night sleep.

What I do notice is that I am actually awake when I take a tablet, even though I didn’t sleep enough the night before. It seems all a bit clearer in my head. I also feel I am not as distracted as I was before. I love to multitask, well I say love, but in fact it’s more of a coping mechanism. I crochet and knit a lot. I find that this calms my brain because I have to count constantly. I do this while watching telly. I find that I don’t need to entertain myself while watching a series or film on tv.

I do have a constant queasy feeling in my stomach and I don’t feel as hungry as I should. Which for me is good. The queasy feeling is not really bothering me. And I now need to figure out how to adjust my eating pattern around my not being really hungry. As in, how do I eat enough to get all my energy and sustenance and don’t overeat so I might actually loose some weight.

I do however have a slight headache constantly, but because I am prone to having a lot of headaches I don’t really know if this is a side affect or just me.

Depression is sort of subduing. If I look back how I felt prior to the 31st of December and how I feel now is huge, but again, this might not be the tablets but more a sort of placebo effect about being relieved I finally started taking medication and hoping I will get better this year.

I do have the feeling that I am sort of crashing an hour before I need to take my next tablet. As is my energy level suddenly drops. Like when you drink energy drinks and they stop working.

I am also very focused on my body and mind constantly, how do I feel, why do I feel like this, is this the tablet or just me or circumstances, is this just the placebo effect or is this real.

I do wonder about the Ritalin and the amount I take and how often I take them. I now take 10 mg at 7 am and 10 mg at 1 pm, 6 hours after the first one. The medication works within half an hour and about 4 hours. If I take one at 7 am, it works around 7.30, which means around 11.30 it wears off. I take the next one at 1 pm, that’s an hour and a half gap. The 1 pm tablet starts working around 1.30, wears of around 5.30 and I go to bed around 10 pm. That is an 4.5 hour gap. Does this mean I am only allowed to function at work and not at home. Wouldn’t it be more logical to take 3 tablets within 5 hours of each other, so 7 am, 12pm and according to leaflet the last tablet of the day needs to be taken within 4 hours after the other, so 4 pm, which leaves for 6 hours until going to bed and enough time to wear off before sleeping.

When I talk to my GP next week I am going to ask permission to try and figure out the dosage on my own (as in I will report back to her) but I want to know what twice a day 15mg would do or 3x a day 10 or 15 mg.

I want to figure out what the best dosage is with the most effect and the least side effects. I know I just started taking the tablets and it takes about a week for you notice the full effect, plus I need to be back on my regular schedule again and see how it goes at work.

And that’s another thing. Do I need to tell my boss I am taking Ritalin? They are opioids (or at least in my country they are classified as both opioids and medication). They are a stimulant, it comes with a clear warning about not taking alcohol when using and that they can have an affect on your responsiveness. (As in take care with driving and using heavy machinery).

Now I have stopped drinking last year, not that consumed loads of alcohol before, maybe two glasses of wine every 2-3 months but because alcohol or the numbing effects of alcohol is an easy way out while battling depression I stopped drinking all together and I don’t mind. I also don’t have a drivers license and I don’t use heavy machinery. So I am clear in that department.

Even though I am reading up on ADHD and Ritalin I still have many questions, also when googling the information I land on a lot of sites promoting the abuse of Ritalin as a party drugs. Why? Why would you do such a thing. Do you think I am happy I need meds to function properly? Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for my diagnoses and grateful the meds are available and might make it easier for me to preform my daily tasks, but I still wish I didn’t need them.

It took me a couple of years to accept that I might have ADD/ADHD and that I might needed the medication. I was so afraid (and still am a bit) it might alter who I am. That I might loose the essence of me and that it might be subdued by the meds. That I might have to go through life as a zombie.

But last year I finally came to terms with it and asked for help and accepted it as well. Although the moment I went to my GP and she told me I could start Ritalin that very day caused a lot of panic. (Seriously I have such a hard time coping with unexpected events, I need stability). I was so set on getting a new referral and having to wait another couple of months, giving me some time to get used to the idea. I freaked out and that evening I didn’t sleep at all. As I decided I would take the tablets at 7 am and my alarm went off the next morning I was shaking as a leaf. For those of you who have ADD/ADHD my brain basically went into super overdrive and I almost cried taking that first pill.

I kinda miss these experiences online, people taking about it, what it’s like, how they feel and that is one of the reasons I am writing this. To tell other people it’s ok to be scared, to feel insecure about medication and to doubt. Although I sometimes wish I wasn’t a social worker and used to reflect on myself, my feelings and actions. It is sometimes tiring, and it turns you into your own worst enemy.

I am also coming to terms I have ADHD instead of ADD. ADD and ADHD presents different in men and women, and most studies are based on men, which means a lot of women are going through life undiagnosed.

People who know me and know something about ADD/ADHD wouldn’t say I have ADHD. Because the image most people have about people with ADHD is bouncing of the walls, talking as fast as one of the Gilmore Girls, failing life, basically an energy bunny on steroids.

I learnt different coping mechanisms over the years so I can hide a lot of my symptoms. This in order to function as an adult and keep a job. But I do fidget a lot, can’t sit still for longer periods of time and I find excuses to get up during a meeting and walk around. It won’t be noticeable for a lot of people only if you pay close attention and I know it, cause it drives me crazy.

But I always thought I had ADD instead of ADHD, for some reason ADHD sounds worse? Which is crazy, but that is society for you. It is the same that we still don’t openly talk about depression the same as a broken leg. It’s the same we still have skinny as fuck models walking on the runway instead of healthy sized people. Society is a huge influence on how we think and act and although I reflect a lot on my own thinking, it’s hard to change those patterns that have imprinted on your life overnight.

Luckily I have some close friends I can talk to and a very loving mum who understands what I am going through. Turns out my mum has the same symptoms and we suspect my gran to have had ADD/ADHD as well. Yay for genetics.

Thanks for reading, love Jamie.

 

First tablet

Ok, wow, I just took my first Ritalin tablet.

Well, when I woke up this morning, apparently you need to take them on a very tight schedule, each day. Because I don’t really sleep in on my days off from work and get up at 6 am on working days I needed to choose a time, which I decided to be 7 am.

I am so focused on my mind and my body at the moment that I have absolutely no clue if the meds are working. I have fast working Ritalin, which means it works in about 30 minutes and will wear of in about 4/5 hours. You get instant result with these tablets.

But they say that you can truly experience behaviour results after a week you take these tablets.

I’m just glad I don’t have to start working until Tuesday (it’s Saturday now) so I can at least adjust a bit to the meds and any side effects they may have.

Although having ADHD has a lot of drawbacks for me, like not being able to focus, constantly forgetting things, misplacing things, not being able to sit still, and especially in combination with my depression, the constant stream of negative thoughts going on and on and on. It also has some good qualities.

I am very creative, I can make connections very fast, my mind surprises me constantly with endless bounds of information, if I am feeling well I love how I am able to work in utter chaos and be happy.

Those examples are just a few of the good and the bad sides of how ADHD presents in me. I am a bit afraid by using the medication I loose the good sides together with the bad ones.

On the other hand I hope it will help me focus and shut my brain up, help me battle my depression and if a bit of weight loss is added, you won’t hear me complain.

Oh and I will also be starting therapy in the new year, but waiting lists are long. It’s not like I just take meds and hope the best of it. It will be in combination with psychotherapy.

I realised one of the reasons I am also scared to take the meds is because basically it’s drugs, as in the ‘bad kind’. I used to work with drug addicts in my previous job and I have an aversion to using drugs myself. I mean, I smoked a joint twice during puberty and I didn’t like it. Ritalin qualifies as drugs and a lot of people abuse the use of it. That is one of the reasons I have to get used to taking the pills.

Thanks for reading, love Jamie.

It’s starting

Hi, you can call me Jamie for the moment, not my real name, but that has a reason which I will explain in a moment.

I am a geek, I am female and a week ago I got the diagnosis ADHD. I went to my GP today and got my first prescription for Ritalin…

Basically I am scared shitless to start taking those tablets tomorrow and also very excited. You see, I am 33 at the moment and have been struggling on and of with ADHD.

English isn’t my native language so if I make any mistakes, I am sorry. I choose to stay anonymous. Some would agree, some wouldn’t. Fact is that there is still a huge stigma on having a mental disorder and although ADHD is widely accepted by most people I am also battling a depression. And before you might think, oh god, not one of those people who start a blog and express how terrible they feel and that they crave attention and need other people to feel sorry for them, nope.

I see myself as someone with high functioning depression, something that isn’t well known in my own country as a diagnosis (and no I didn’t diagnose myself, I got my fine label earlier this year from a psychologist). Check this link or this link or google the term.

You see, I go to work every day, I try to eat healthy, I try to exercise, I meet up with friends, go to social outings, but on the inside I am numb, somber, lifeless, not me. (and a whole lot of other things).

But I wanna go back to my ADHD. After sinking into my depression at the end of last year and not getting better I sought help for myself. I wanted help for my depression, but because I have been suspecting I might have ADD I wanted to know if that was the root of my problems, so to speak. I am a social worker and part of my previous job was also doing psycho-diagnostic test with new patients. One of those tests was to check if someone might have ADD/ADHD. I remember joking about that if I would make that test the scores would be very high.

At that time I was too afraid to get tested, I was afraid of losing my job, this was about 4 years ago, when I was battling another depression episode. I decided to not seek help and try to find my own way around my problems.

I switched jobs and as I said, I am yet again depressed. This time it wasn’t going away and my current work environment is much better that I am not afraid to loose my job with a diagnoses, but I am still careful about it.

After going to my GP about 6 months ago, getting a referral for a psychologist and a first appointment I got the diagnoses depression. Since ADD/ADHD can be a huge influence on depression I wanted to get tested. I got another referral and another waiting list and last month I started my tests, endless questionnaires and talks and tests and last week they finally told me I got ADHD, not ADD.

I already made an appointment with my GP for today and I expected yet another referral to a psychiatrist for ADHD medication, until my GP told me that in some cases, like mine because I had a whole folder full of tests, they can make an exception and prescribe the meds. I was a bit flabbergasted when she told me that.

We discussed Ritalin, the side effects and the GP monitoring my blood pressure and weight. (Side effects can be high blood pressure and weight loss amongst other things). Since I am overweight I don’t worry about the weight loss, but the high blood pressure is another thing. I got a prescription for 2 weeks, 2x a day 10 mg Ritalin and a new appointment in 2 weeks.

I am scared shitless. What if it doesn’t work? does that mean I don’t have ADHD? Do other meds might work? Is the dosis high enough? How am I supposed to get through the day with 2 tables that only work for about 4/6 hours? What happens to me? Will I change into a different person? Or will my brain finally shut the fuck up and can I concentrate on what I am doing for the very first time.

I have no clue, I have to wait, see and try it tomorrow. On the last day of this shitty 2016. I have no clue if I will write some more on this blog. I just have no clue at the moment. I am just scared and on the other hand very excited, after a year of battling on my own I finally am making progress.

Thanks for reading, love Jamie.

 

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