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matilda

Crashed and burned, now clean

10 posts in this topic

Hi everyone --

This is such a great site, and I'm very thankful that these forums are here for us to post and vent. I am close to 3 weeks off of Adderall after 6 years of taking 2x10 mg extended release blue devil pills per day (sometimes one or two more if I "needed" to stay up). This medication has cost me dearly, and hopefully I can convince others to get/stay off of it (or never start) by relaying a bit about my experiences while on it.

I began taking the drug at age 31, at a crossroads in my personal and professional life. I had gone back to school to get a Ph.D., and although I'd worked for several years fairly successfully in a challenging field, I found that all of my self-doubt and worry about whether I could hack it academically were waiting for me when I got to grad school. I found it really hard to focus, and I was afraid of the resurgence of an eating disorder that I'd had since my late teens -- achievement and school stress issues were big triggers for me. Also, I had been in a serious car accident many years ago in which I'd incurred a triple concussion, whatever that means, and I hadn't really had it investigated in terms of scans, etc.

So I took this bundle of contributing factors and concerns to a neuropsych, using my fabulous school-sponsored health insurance, and he ran a battery of tests on me, arranged for me to get head scans, etc. I mostly seemed normal from the tests, except I spectacularly failed at one test that should have been very easy and had to do with integrating variables into a pattern I could detect as the game moved along. I couldn't, and I was so frustrated I almost knocked the cards across the room. He thought I might have some attention issues. I trotted off to an M.D. and was prescribed Ritalin at first and then, eventually, Adderall. At that point I was so desperate not to get back into bulimic behaviors and flunk out of school that I was willing to consider, although I doubted it on some level, that there was a structural/biological issue in my brain that had "caused" my problems all along.

I had something like a honeymoon period on the drug, but I also thought the sensation was kind of unpleasant at first -- felt like someone put a vice grip on my skull. But I was up, maybe a bit ragey in heavy traffic but up and productive and eager to unleash my newfound energies on the world. My ability to write immediately suffered in terms of creativity (what I've come to think of as "lateral" thinking, the kind you can't do with Adderall tunnel vision), and ironically my grad school work stalled almost immediately and never really resumed at a proper pace, but I was able to take on a full-time job AND do school (except that I wasn't really "doing" school, just going through the motions and not writing or creating much) at the same time.

The #1 reason why I didn't quit Adderall all these years is that I was deathly afraid of the eating problem kicking back in, and the drug did offer me a respite from the seemingly relentless urge to overeat when stressed. I knew where that would lead, and like hell was I ever going back! So my inability to seek out other methods (although I had been since age 17, really, just hadn't hit on the right one yet) to help me kept me hooked. That, and I did like feeling productive, although I almost immediately fell into weird habits -- online shopping, fixating, all the stuff that others here have posted about. I also got into relationships and stayed in one that I'm not sure I would've even considered had I not been chemically altered. That's a big point of shame for me.

And shame -- the feeling that would return when I came down off of Adderall -- also kept me on it, or avoiding it did, more accurately. However, by staying on the pills I ended up doing much more, far more, to be ashamed of over time. I dropped the drug cold turkey a couple weeks ago after the pain of taking it and the consequences of my actions while on it became more intense than my fears of eating disorders and productivity plunges.

Bad, bad things happened while I was taking it. I drank too much and smoked like a chimney in reaction to the unpleasant feelings that came with even such a relatively low dose. I'd go on sprees for 3 or 4 days in which I'd get up, take a pill, take another in the afternoon, and by the evening I was so jacked that I would start drinking to take the "edge" off and then smoke because drinking while on the drug made me want to smoke for some reason. I'm not a smoker or a big drinker, actually, while not on it. I got into weird paranoid states of mind that have hurt my current relationship, I know -- I would be 100% convinced that my boyfriend was seeing someone behind my back, etc. I bought a bunch of crap I don't need and am now going to sell. I didn't actually stay away from eating problems altogether, and my teeth suffered.

My friendships suffered, and although I know that in this phase of life people can lose touch, I believe many people backed away slowly because of the intensity of my behavior on various occasions. I became really depressed in cycles while on the drug. And so on -- I can go on, but let's just say that this drug is SO not worth it, so destructive, and I think of it (for me anyway) as a "black" drug, as in the pharmaceutical equivalent of black magic. I had been on antidepressants before, and though I think some of those are less than effective, they aren't evil like this one is. In my opinion anyhow. The antidepressants made me open to the idea of stimulants, and for a while I rationalized my Adderall use as a kind of self-medication for depression and other issues. I never fully believed I had ADD, which made me ashamed of taking it in the back of my mind.

There's my story. The cost is way, way, way too high for me to even consider picking it up again -- I know I'm done. Hopefully I can recover some of who I was before it and make it up to myself somehow now. I'm still tired but clearly able to get words out, so maybe I'll finish my degree drug-free. Thanks for being here.

M

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Hi, M. So glad you're here and so proud of you for your 3 week success! You can get through school without it and you will be SO proud of yourself in the end.

I was on adderall for 6 years as well. I've been clean for (it will be 8 months on July 12th) and I'm SO grateful. I recently just quit my Supervisor position at work (last Friday) and getting ready to switch to night shift. I will make the same so really it's just a matter or title and stress reduction. Today was my first day back without being bombarded by management to do all their projects, etc. It was the best day ever. Quitting adderall is not easy by any means, but what I do know is that IT GETS BETTER. I remember how hard it was in the very early days just to do laundry or any type of chore for that matter because all I could relate them to was doing them with adderall vs. not being on adderall. The pain was almost excruciating in the beginning, but I liked that I was sleeping and eating again. Those were like little sprinkles of heaven that I could look forward to everyday. They felt like precious gifts that I would not trade now for the world. I can't even imagine how horrible it would be to be back on adderall right now as I am finally at a place of feeling good again.

Ok, so back to my story about giving up my position at work for now. Yes, ADD still. Ha ha. Anyhow, my point is that I know eventually I'm going to get my A game on once I find something I love. I have slowly improved my skills and it gets easier over time without adderall. There are so many days more recently where I just get up, make my list of chores for the day, mark them off one at a time, and go to bed without even thinking/missing adderall anymore. These days are awesome! Recently, I'd forgotten about it all together because I'd become so focused on training and other stuff. Last week I remembered it because my mom brought up the fact it was my 1 year anniversary from when I quit everything and I thought, "Omg, I stopped thinking about it without trying to not think about it!! Whoooo hoooo!!" I also remember having dreams about it every single night for nearly a month or more when I first quit. I used to have these vivid using dreams (of course I was on seroquel), but anyhow, those are gone now too.

I have/had eating problems like you mentioned as well. I'm not going to say it's they are gone by any means, but what I do know is that I have a chance to be healthy now and I will beat them eventually. I guess that was always my biggest turn on with adderall - the fact that I was the skinniest I'd ever been and I got to drown myself in all of my addictions in order to get there. I used to chain smoke, barely eat, and drown myself in booze/pot. I felt like I finally had everything I needed in order to get the man of my dreams, a awesome body, a good job, and total independence. Funny thing, I found a hot guy, he moved in with me like after a week of knowing each other (that's how stable I was from the adderall) and in the end he blasted me after I kicked him out (by the way all this happened 1 year ago 7.6.10) and he said such horrible things that I decided to get help. He told me my jaw shook like a meth head among all sorts of other terrible things and that I'd never find anyone. Luckily, he hurt me enough that I realized he was right and he gave me the motivation to quit. He's still a dirt bag rotton scum bag piece of crap, but he helped me to change so for that I thank him.

You seem very smart and I think you're going to do great!! By the way, in case you or anyone needs extra help, I found a new program recently which I highly recommend. It's called Smart Recovery. http://www.smartrecovery.org/ It has amazing tools for learning to help cope with urges and reframe your thoughts/behaviors.

Ok, I'm off to bed. Good night and best of luck!

Erin

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Hi Erin --

Thanks so much for your response. I read your threads in recent days and know you've been through a lot. I, too, have made bad decisions vis-a-vis men, habits, addictions, etc. while on Adderall, and I now have to deal with one very big regret: I made the choice to stay on it when I was just starting to date my now-boyfriend of over a year. I had had a brief respite in which I thought I could put it down for good, but my insecurities got the best of me and I picked it back up. I can't help but wonder if that didn't create an unstable foundation for our relationship. I had paranoid moments where I was convinced he was seeing other women behind my back, like 100% convinced I was being had. Total druggie paranoia. I have seen him act weird when I've acted weird but don't know if it's because he suspected anything.

I may never know, but I do know that relationships are hard enough without addictions mucking up the works even more. I wasn't in touch with my feelings over the last year, and my boundaries weren't so great as a result. I may have to cut my losses on this one if it turns out that my behavior has been too weird and he no longer sees me as a solid romantic prospect; I've sensed some erosion in our relationship over time and I don't know how to make it better. This is by far the hardest part of quitting for me, as I'd prefer to be numb right about now but know it wouldn't help -- in fact, it would hurt. He is in many ways the man of my dreams and I might have f-ed it up because I was too afraid to let him see me as I really am, unadulterated. I'll live if that's the case, but it's an, um, bitter pill.

I have good support for the eating stuff now (eating disorders are no joke) and know that I'll be OK. I just have to let the fallout do what it does and trust I'll come through in the end, eventually find someone else if I need to. My boyfriend seems to have addiction challenges of his own, so maybe this'd be for the best, but I don't relish the thought either way.

Thanks again for your candor and support.

M

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Matilda-

Your post, I am more thankful for it more than anything this year. It was so on point. You have such a gift for this type of writing whatever it is. Thank you so much. What happened to you was exactly what happened to me. substitute a few things.. ex-- chain smoke.. for me was not going to the gym and eating the worst food and not getting anysleep and taking sleep aid's. But, I worked fulltime and went to grad school. My thinking was not latteral. I couldn't write. I was intense, rude, aggressive to people who loved me. My character was shot. I too was scared of something, I was scared of depression that would come back. I didn't know Adderall was going to be that damaging for me. Thanks so much for your post. I can relate.. You represent yourself so amazingly well. If anyone ever challenges you.. your post shows that you did not deserve what adderall did to you. I blame it. I dont know if you do, but I do. The side effects came out of no where to me. Side effects like those require at least a paragraph of explanation and maybe some examples of behavior.. the average person isn't going to look up all of those things. And.. some of the side effects aren't even listed... hello... I didn't know a drug was going to cause me to be five minutes late on the dot for work everymorning... THAT is not like me... hello?? What was that? anyway.... I stand strong.. I shouldn't be blamed.. I'm advocating for the next innocent person who starts to take this drug I've never been an advocate like this before. But, when something that bad happens to someone and it's not their fault.. the bad will eventually be uncovered. I hate that stuff. I want to write something well written and graceful and truthful about it.. and then publish it for all the world to see.

I will later. (I really do have inattentive ADD). Anyway. Thanks for your post.

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Alliee --

Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement. Both mean a lot. And as I'm a writer by trade, it's nice to hear good stuff about my writing, too, especially after years of zero creativity, practically, on that front.

Your post inspired me to think of some other unexpected (and pretty bizarre) side effects I experienced that may or may not have happened to others:

1) Chronic lateness (me too!) -- sometimes I'd be trying to leave my house for 30-60 minutes before actually achieving same.

2) Rageypants, especially road rage, always felt like intense self-hatred at the same time as it was outwardly directed.

3) Urge to ingest lots more alcohol, and stronger stuff, once I started -- this is not the case without the drug in my system; I hardly get through 1 glass of wine.

4) Fixating on one kind of food and really only eating that if I wasn't vigilant. I went through a pomegranate phase during the early days. But that could be ED-related.

5) Heightened insecurities, neediness with friends and boyfriend.

6) Panic attacks.

7) Weird "brian zaps," slight feelings of dizziness.

8) Feeling of needing to pee often (note: got my health checked, my kidneys are fine, seemingly all drug-induced), sorry for the graphic aspect!

9) Tooth issues.

10) Sense of feeling "boxed in" -- like a disconnect between what I wanted to do and what I was able to do. Less sense of self-mastery.

11) Inability to stop talking friends' ears off about topics I knew they were tired of but couldn't resist, or felt like I couldn't, "going there" anyway.

--> There are more for sure, but this is a start, and it keeps me focused (as it were!) on the benefits of not being on these infernal pills anymore. Three weeks and counting.

Thanks again, Alliee, for chiming in; I'm glad my horrendous history on this drug was of any help to anyone. Really.

M

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wow... just wow... chronic lateness, you too?? What is that?? Adderall is SO wierd!

Geeze... horrendous history is the word. I had brain zaps as well... had dizziness.. I almost went to the emergency room once. tooth issues, yes. I couldn't do what I wanted to do.. boxed in.. yes. I couldn't respond to people! I'm getting my health checked as well. I'm so much better without the drug.

I always forgot my keys. way more than before. My car was an absolute mess. Everything I owned was so junky. This is so not like me. I would have fast food bags in my car.. for weeks. That is something I would NEVER do, but it happened all the time on adderall. It is embarassing looking back. I just didn't care/couldn't think straight, looking back. I faught with my boyfriend without fail on the days I took adderall. On the days I didn't we were fine. It was terribly damaging. My appearance got worse. I just didn't care enough. I couldn't multitask. I couldn't function. I neglected so much. Inward selfhate was out of control by the end of the years I took Adderall. I couldn't stand myself/others. I am so not like that. I'm off it now and I feel like myself. I'm exhausted, but I am so much better already. I'm just myself again.

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Mini-update: Since I stopped taking Adderall about 5 weeks ago, I still had one more Dr.'s appointment left, which was scheduled for this morning. I helped myself put the pills down at first by telling myself that i could always go to this appointment and get my prescription re-upped if I chose. This morning, I purposefully skipped the appointment, which is the last one I could get on my insurance plan, which expires next month and for which I haven't yet found a replacement plan. So, in other words, the train has left the station.

I could have canceled the appointment on Friday and missed the $25 fee that comes with just failing to show up without warning, but I wanted to really give myself the chance to go at the last minute if I couldn't stand it anymore. Turns out I could, and I can, stand it, and I am better off without this stuff.

Coming back to these boards helps. Thanks a lot, everyone, really.

P.S. Thanks, Alliee, for elaborating in your last post about side effects. I refer to that list and mine when I'm feeling any nostalgia for the drug, which is happening less and less frequently these days.

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I couldn't get anything done right and it was making me look physically sick. Did you all know that the brand of adderall matters? I had no idea there was a difference between generic and brand names for adderall... there are different effects. This might be why it turned into something so terrible and was inconsistent. I just found this out last night. I'm so confused about all of this. It's a shame dr.'s don't read up on adderall and how it's supposed to affect people with ADHD. It's a shame they don't warn people about these very serious effects the drug can have on people's lives.

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