Jon

The Journey

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Journal to myself July 26, 2013. 5 weeks without Adderall.

I am finishing up my second and final week of the night shift. I am working 12 hours today, until 11 AM. I plan to do some emergency grocery shopping after work. I never could get anything done on this shift. Today I am faced with overcoming an 8 hour jet lag. It was really easy with the pill. I just rested for 2 hours and popped a 20mg pill and that kept me up until about 10 or 11 PM. I would sleep for 12 hours and be ready for a 11 AM –11 PM shift on Monday. I believe my best strategy will be not taking a two hour nap today, but brutally staying up for as long as I can and then going to bed for a sleep fest. It’s new territory. I’m having a good day tonight (3:00 AM). Whatever happens, I will treat myself well. I am learning to do that here with all of you. Thank you for your support.

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At 7 months I still felt very awkward, anhedonic and uncomfortable in my own skin. I would say I felt pretty crappy for the first year, but by the year point my energy level was decent and my mood was pretty stable. It wasn't till 18 months sober when I got my self-confidence back. I had a terrible PAWS episode, bad cravings and everything, then after it was over, it was like, poof! I felt great and I had natural confidence in myself again.

 

I finally was able to quit my job because I felt like I could actually go on interviews and impress people and perform in a new job without being self conscious. So, that's where I'm at now. I'm going on job interviews sober for the first time in seven years and I feel like I'm kicking ass in the interviews. I would say a switch flipped at 18 months that gave me the inner confidence to start making real changes. Before that I wanted to make changes but didn't have that internal force. I still don't really know what I want to do with my life, but at least I have the drive now to explore.

 

And no, I'm not on any meds. I just try to eat a balanced diet and stay active.

 

Cassie, Thank you so much for sharing this.  Your insight helps me to understand what a long process this recovery truly is, and gives me hope for a better future.   I can relate to a lot of what you said.  

 

Sebastian our journeys are different but I can relate to you.  I'm also at 7 months and also working on my confidence, motivation, anxiety, PAWS and mood swings.  I'm still lacking a certain enthusiasm for life that I used to have.   I even tried Lexapro but it made me feel crazy, anxious, manic, and just weird, so I stopped.

 

I do my best to stay really positive overall.  I need to, it's just how I deal with life and the world.  But I also have this dark side that continues being really hard on myself.  Not on anyone else, only on myself.  People keep telling me to cut myself some slack.    In a way, it's a protective mechanism: if I'm harder on myself than anyone else, then nobody can hurt me more than I hurt myself.  It's not true though, because there are some very mean people in this world.

 

I'm much better now than when I was on adderall.  But I keep having self doubting thoughts, wondering what's wrong with me, why I'm so introverted, why I keep choosing solitude, why I have such bad anxiety-- including social anxiety, why I can't sleep, why I don't have more control over my own mind.... I keep second-guessing my own choices, words, intelligence, and capabilities.  Haha, the other day I got REALLY upset with myself for losing at arm wrestling, even though I put in a good fight against someone bigger than me....I KNOW this is ridiculous and irrational, but it happened.   And then, comically, I start being hard on myself for being hard on myself!  

 

So, maybe the adderall and brain chemistry changes are to blame?    I was 10000000% more confident and energetic before I went on it.  Maybe these are underlying issues I already had, and maybe adderall made them pathological.   I'm realizing that it changed me very, very deeply as a person, and for the worse.    

 

Anyways, sorry this is so long.  Thank you Cassie for giving me hope that in another year or so I might have a better future to look forward to, and that I can still get myself back.

 

Congrats Sebastian on 7 months!!!

 

Congrats Cassie on 18 months!!!

 

Congrats Jon on 5 weeks!!!!!

 

I consider myself lucky to be fighting through this with such amazing people.

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 Whatever happens, I will treat myself well.

 

Words of wisdom right here!!  We need to be good to ourselves, we are doing something really difficult.  Thank you for sharing your journey Jon.   I think it's amazing that you've made this choice after being on adderall for 12 years.  

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So, maybe the adderall and brain chemistry changes are to blame?    I was 10000000% more confident and energetic before I went on it.  Maybe these are underlying issues I already had, and maybe adderall made them pathological.   I'm realizing that it changed me very, very deeply as a person, and for the worse.    

 

 Yeah, I think we just underestimate the time it takes to rebuild and to form new ways of thinking. My confidence is only now just starting to resurface, and it sure feels good. I read somewhere that something like 90% of drug relapses occur within the first year of recovery, but only 2% occur after five years. So, that should tell you something, namely that a lot of time needs to elapse before the psychological habit of addiction is sufficiently broken. I now consider my first year off Adderall to be "early recovery."

 

Here are some quotes from one of my favorite books, "Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart". It's essays by psychiatrist Gordon Livingston.

 

"Virtually all of the happiness-producing processes in our lives take time, usually a long time...This is why patience and determination are among life's primary virtues."

"The process of building has always been slower and more complicated than that of destruction."

 

"If we believe in the sudden transformation, the big score, we are less likely to pursue the harder and less immediately satisfying work of becoming the people we wish to be."

 

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I couldn’t agree more Occaisional01.  After 12 years of daily use, I simply couldn’t sustain using any longer. I found a way out by discovering this website and forum. Thank God I am off the Adderall merry-go-round!  My body and mind were both pretty broken using the drug for so long.The tragedy inherent in withdrawal is less than the tragedy of staying on the drug.  At least now, there is the glimmer of hope with the rewards of recovery.

 

Cassie, I bought Gordon Livingston’s book and look forward to reading it. Thank you for introducing him to me. I am a reader above all things. I agree with your assessment about the first year off a drug be considered early recovery. I will plod my way through, one way or the other. I am determined to make it. After all, I have great support.

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Jon,

I just want to say you have such a great attitude that I think will really pay off in your recovery! I was on adderall for 7 years....so I look at you after 12 years of using and taking such positive steps toward your recovery as just plain awesome! It's a tough battle, but worth it!!!

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Thank you for the encouragement Ashley6! I'm all smiles here today. Today marks the best day I've had in the 38 days since quitting and it is a very nice reward. I am doing the work, so I was wondering when I would see notable improvement.

 

My great attitude is only possible because of you folks. You hold me up when I want to fall down. My hat is off as I take a deep bow to you all to demonstrate my gratitude.

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Jon, glad you had a good day. The tons of quarry rock you once moved...the idea of that keeps coming back to me when I take these long walks at night...I don't know what it means...maybe an analogy for stuff I used to be able to do 'effortlessly' on the drug, stuff that requires sooooo much more willpower now...but so much of the stuff I used to be able to do is like your heart-shaped stones...not worth the price.

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Hi resetBrain,

 

Thank you. I am having another good day today. I even cut the lawn and took down a wild grape arbor that had finally broken after many years of being a highlight in my woodland garden. I had amber lights strung around it. As you can imagine, over the last month, I just looked at the drooping thing with rolling eyeballs. Now it’s on to new ideas for an arbor.

 

You are cleaver to pick up two of my mainstay, odd, behaviors while on Adderall. There were other obsessive behaviors as well. Now, these "accomplishments" are meaningless to me. Oh, the time and energy wasted! I was so busy beating down unwanted emotions with the drug (only I was unaware that the drug was suppressing my emotions) that I was unable to have a realistic perspective on my behavior.

 

Well said: “Not worth the price†Whenever people would offer compliments on my rock garden, I would react with self-disgust, saying that it was an act of a crazy person…. and then take a pill the next morning. I heard what I was saying, but only now, sober, can I hear the message. I find it interesting and repulsive how well these drugs hide, as if demons, inside our bodies and minds, don't you?

 

I hope my rock quarrying doesn’t continue to haunt you on your night walks. I’ve put it behind me. I am looking forward these days. Night walks sound rather pleasant. It is a different world during the night. It is a different world off Adderall!

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Well said: “Not worth the price†Whenever people would offer compliments on my rock garden, I would react with self-disgust, saying that it was an act of a crazy person…. and then take a pill the next morning. I heard what I was saying, but only now, sober, can I hear the message. I find it interesting and repulsive how well these drugs hide, as if demons, inside our bodies and minds, don't you?

 

Jon what you just said here really resonated with me!   My writing projects on adderall became compulsive in a way similar to your heart-shaped rock collecting (which by the way I find pretty fascinating and unique, adderall aside it's just interesting behavior!  Besides, heart shaped rocks are pretty damn beautiful.)    But like they complemented you, people would sometimes complement me on my dedication or level of inspiration or whatever.   Meanwhile I was driving myself INSANE.  I just couldn't get any of it together!   I started saying, "I need a lobotomy."  I would write my work off as the acts of a crazy person.  And then I would take a pill again the next morning.    I would write literally 8x the maximum word count, but I couldn't get anything organized or coherent.  And I couldn't figure out why.  But you're right.  It's because adderall had tucked itself into my being so well that I couldn't even see its role in my madness:  a demon, my secret weapon, my beloved ally, could NEVER have been culprit.....well-hidden in my neurons and synapses, my muscle fibers, skin, eyes, heart, kidneys, spine, even in my bones.   

 

Quitting must be nothing short of an exorcism.  

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Jon,

I wouldn't call it 'haunting.' I mean that quarry rock is just something I think of, an idea I hang on to, not in a bad way. :)

 

I think one of the crazier things I used to do was Mod Podge all these like storage boxes and hat boxes. Especially with things I cut out from old IT textbooks and manuals, the older, the better. One, which I still have, but never show to anyone, looks straight outta the A Beautiful Mind movie, but with a single mom twist. It has pictures of arrays and other data structures out of these 1980's IBM manuals, diagrams from old radio transmission textbooks. The top layers are a lot of paranoid sounding phrases like "new world order," and  "is big brother watching your data" that I cut out of modern IT security magazines...plus a lot of phrases cut out of women's magazines about being beautiful and gender salary inequities and doing it all and providing home cooked meals." It's like it reminds me that even though I was trying to bury everything under Adderall and weed and whatever AD I might be taking, all that anxiety was still there, exaccerbated even. (In case it's not obvious I'm a single mom and work in IT, right?)

 

That and spending hours detailing my Jeep, then taking it out on the trail and in the mud, then repeating the hours cleaning and detailing.

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Occaisional01,

 

Thank you. You write it so well. I really enjoyed the way you describe the places the drug hides and loved the solution! It seems we hit a nerve with Adderall and OCD behaviors. I find them all very interesting from an insider perspective. I love hearing the artistic ways OCD behaviors are expressed from a group of people who are very creative. Thank you for mirroring my behaviors with your own experiences, thought processes and post Adderall insights. It makes me feel more.....human, I guess, for having fallen victim to the same shell game.

 

Since you like writing, have you ever read The Sun published by Sy Safransky? It’s my favorite literature magazine. Maybe you have some stories worth submitting? Take a look at it on the website thesunmagazine.org.  There is no advertising in the monthly publication, which is special right from the start. I have taken writing workshops with The Sun and they are wonderful. I find keeping my word count down is easier as the exorcism progresses. Today is day 40.

 

 

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resetBrain,

 

I glad you are not haunted. Thank you for clearing that up. I love your Mod Pod concept. I would bet that you could make an impressive art exhibit out of your boxes. I love hearing these stories. Maybe we should start a new thread. What would we name it?

 

Ahh, clips from the 1980’s IBM manuals. I work in IT too, so we are on similar turf. The first computer I worked with was a Burroughs 8800. It was all wires (no silicone) and took up an enormous amount of space. There was no world wide web in those days and the manuals were all we had. I can see how easily you got started. Your paranoid sounding phrases certainly didn’t prove out as paranoid at all, did they? I give you the National Security Administration.

 

I’ll share another wild one with you. I collected cigar boxes. Nice wooden ones all neatly labeled with the different types of rocks, lichen covered bark, dried flowers, seedpods, small burls, feathers, sea shells, Cape May diamonds ( I planned on making my own Tiffany quartz lampshade. The last one sold at Christy’s auction for $780,000) and almost anything you can think of from the natural world. Now, some of this stuff is legitimate as props for a photographer setting a stage for, let's say, a turtle picture. Most great painters kept a Prop room filled with stuff that would enhance a painting. My collection was way overboard, with repetition and infinite nuances. I probably have over 200 cigar boxes labeled and filled, but I have not used a single one. My passion for photography seems to have evaporated, like water from a kitchen sink, without so much as a hint that it was slipping away. CWRAZY, I tell ya.

 

The fog is clearing.  It is day 40 today for me.

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I love this conversation!   It's cleansing to look back from outside the adderall vortex and be stunned by how deeply sucked into the black hole we were--how close to the event horizon we went-- but it's also fascinating and amazing and sublimely horrifying to hear what our creative beautiful minds would come up with, all tweaked out on amphetamines.

 

ResetBrain, your projects sound pretty amazing.  I've got one that's actually kind of similar to your IT text scrapbooking.  I have a painting/drawing I spent easily hundreds of hours on--- a pretty big one I'm actually proud of and I would like to make more of these--  it involved tiny scraps of newspaper, taken from a single snapshot in time and a specific city newspaper.  I pulled specific tiny phrases and layered them into a chaotic yet orderly collage, so that certain important phrases would pop forward (ResetBrain mine remind me of yours--  headlines about war and corruption and global warming and such).  It was glazed with a varying layers of thin liquid white acrylic paint.   And on top of that was a very detailed cut-out drawing done in watercolor pencils and pen-and-ink. 

 

I have a few other art projects from those years.  Some I AM proud of, some I totally overworked, some a little bit of both.  I also spent a lot of time OCD designing tattoos I want, but never actually getting them because I made too many versions and none were ever perfect enough!  Ha!   Jon, I definitely relate to your habit of collecting things.   I have a rock collection of found rocks, and other random natural objects. I don't even paint them, I just like their energy.   For art purposes, I also had a box full of stuff that I thought I might collage into a painting one day.  Yeah, most of it didn't get used.  

 

Hey, here's a technique if anyone ever wants to get rid of shit:  watch a few episodes of Hoarders!  They say things like what I used to say ("what if I use it for an art project someday?") And I don't want to be like that, and I get motivated to toss bags upon bags of crap. Ha!

 

Finally, Jon, I want to thank you so much for your kind words about my writing!  Because I struggle with linked writer's block and self-confidence issues, especially since quitting, that kind of encouragement really helps drive me to keep working on my writing (which I really REALLY need to be generating right now!)   Thanks for the rec about the Sun too.  I've heard of it I think, and I'm excited to check it out.  I actually haven't written any stories since creative writing class in college.  Just prose now, and I used to write lots of poetry-- a side of me that I want back.  ( I really love Mary Oliver btw.)   I like integrating all three.  But maybe I will try my hand at stories again!   All things are possible! 

 

Question: Are y'all proud of those projects?  I think they sound pretty amazing.  I laugh at my own projects too, but in the end I'm still proud of all the art and writing I've done on adderall (which amounts to a LOT.)  I'm not proud I did them on adderall, but I'm proud of them and I believe that it was still ME, and not adderall, who made them.  I think it sounds like what you both have done is pretty amazing. The work of inspired people, compelled to take a drug that pushes them towards further inspiration. 

 

It would be great to start a new thread on this.  Is it possible to move the series of them into the beginning of it?  I don't want them to be separate from the whole, but I like sharing our crazy OCD creative behaviors.   Thank you all for sharing!  And Jon: Congrats on 40 days!!  Glad to hear the fog is lifting.  Those windows are amazing aren't they?

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Notes to myself:

I still feel the drug in me at times, just vibrating. 

You just so articulately described that can't-put-my-finger-on-it-but-hate-the-way-I-feel-right-now feeling that I guess is connected to PAWS.  I wonder when those stop.  

 

By the way, some brilliant insights here and amazing writing.  I'm really impressed with you guys and gals.  I've been here less frequently recently (too damned busy at work) but I'm always struck by the insights that resonate with me and bring me back to the empty, erratic, distracted, disillusioned version of myself when I was on adderall.  

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You are here Jon, so write about what you are feeling today. Go ahead, rub your eyes, put your glasses back on and just put a few words on a page.

 

On day 40 I wrote that the fog is clearing. It may have seemed true when I wrote it, but I haven't experienced a fogless day in what seems like ages! I'm tired all the time. I slept 12 hours again last night! Today, I have lost all hope of recovery. That is the crux of it. I took the pills for 12 years every single day. I am 58 years old. Just how much recovering do you think you have in you at that age and with your history?

 

I'm screwed. I don't want to take that fucking pill again nor do I want to live like this, like a shriveled up old man.

 

I just want to go back to bed, sleep like Rip Van Winkle and wake up after "recovery" is over.

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That sucks, I feel your pain. Hasn't it only been like 3 months though? I know it sucks but think of how little time that is to be sober after 12 years...it's gonna take some serious time. You're doing great.

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Jon, just try to put it in the perspective of the topic of your post: "The Journey"

Would you rather have a journey filled with predictable and planned events, where the outcome was known?

Or would you rather have a journey filled with adventure, uncertainty, risk, peril and the reward of reaching the finish point stronger and better than where you started?

Some people prefer the journey to the destination.

Please keep believing you will reach the destination as a better person than the adderall addict you once were.

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Ugg. I know exactly how you feel Jon.  I really wish my recovery would hurry the fuck up.  Sounds like depression is hitting you hard, I know It's hitting me hard. I haven't completely beat it but it is less intense. Maybe it's the Anti D's, maybe its the meditation, exercise, sleep, SMART meetings. It is getting better everyday. Pulling out of this shit is really difficult but not impossible.  Everyday clean is a victory. 

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Jon, just try to put it in the perspective of the topic of your post: "The Journey"

Would you rather have a journey filled with predictable and planned events, where the outcome was known?

Or would you rather have a journey filled with adventure, uncertainty, risk, peril and the reward of reaching the finish point stronger and better than where you started?

Some people prefer the journey to the destination.

Please keep believing you will reach the destination as a better person than the adderall addict you once were.

-I could have said this no better. 

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Jon, you are going through a rough patch on the road to recovery.  You are allowed to have bad days, we all do!  If it weren't for the bad times; the good times wouldn't taste as sweet.  You will get through this spot soon and things will get better.

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Remember it's not linear, in a day to day sense. I did not experience the "every day is better" recovery like someone else above said, it just wasn't like that. Also, it took 4 months before I could quit wellbutrin - where I had enough energy on my own, and I think others have found that 4 month mark to be significant too.

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What a pleasant surprise to discover all of your posts today. Thank you to each of you. I thought I was writing in my diary by posting it at the end of a months old thread. I didn’t intend to have a public pity party, but I am glad I wrote with vulnerability. It is hard to keep tears from welling up because I did not realize how many supportive friends I have here.

 

Sometimes the body/mind load gets the better part of me. The burden gets to be too much....and then you guys show up and change everything for the better.

 

It is an honor to be a part of our support fellowship. I will carry the message that recovery is possible. This has worked for me from the beginning—to think of others and not so much about my own problems.

 

Quit-once, you know me too well, my friend. Your arrow has struck my metaphysical heart. You knew exactly where to shoot it; Good aim.

 

A prayer for all: Guard them, guide them, help them.

A prayer for me: Guard me, guide me, help me.

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Hang in there, Jon. We're all rooting for you. It's okay to not feel completely happy and positive during recovery, because let's be honest, it can be a real bitch....but don't forget to always remember the alternative....the lifelessness of adderall existence. May you be blessed with patience! You'll get through this.

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