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duffman

On being overly capable..

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So today I woke up in one of my "dreamstate" moods. I categorize this mood as one where I feel I never have fully woken up and the sleep I did manage to get was of poor quality.. I just kind of drift through the day like a piece of drift wood in a stream, lacking the ability (motivation) to control my own actions so I just surrender control to the environment I'm surrounded by. Coffee just elevates my heart rate and anxiety levels and has little to no impact on my energy levels and mental arousal in this mood. I figured I would try something different: I would go for a walk outside. Perhaps light exercise and sunshine will gently remind my brain that this is the time to be awake (not 11pm > :( ). 

 

On my walk, I decided to listen to an audiobook. I remembered I recently purchased Steven Hawking's book "The Universe In A Nutshell", so I figured why not.. I used to love listening to these type of complex and deeply analytical books when my Adderall dose was peaking back in the day. So, I pressed play and listened to the book as I attuning myself to the natural ambiance of the trail. However, my mind gradually began to grow increasingly entangled by the concepts presented in the book. I was following it at first, but then he started talking about extra dimensions, virtual particles, p-brains explaining the validity of Super String Theory and I believe I began to go cross-eyed. I was feeling like I was in class with an instructor plowing through abstract and complex material in a different language, with me, now reduced to a nervous hopeless invalid, helplessly scrambling to write notes as fast as I could. I could just imagine my former Adderall self sitting next to me in class, turning to me with bemused incomprehension, wondering why I was writing any of this down.. it was just so easy. 

 

But then, I started to think about this from an outsider's perspective.. "Wait, why am I getting frustrated by not understanding a book written by one of the most brilliant people alive on a subject for which I had no previous knowledge about and he spending his entire life studying?". It makes total sense why I didn't fully understand the information presented in this book. So I asked myself, "how did taking Adderall make me understand difficult and complex reading material back in the day?". However, that's not the right question, with the correct question being "DID Adderall make it easier to understand difficult and complex reading material?". It certainly FELT like I understood complex reading materials more when I was on Adderall.. and yet.. thinking back, I don't believe I could actually explain to anyone about anything that I was listening to.

 

I would wager a bet that if my former Adderall-self and my current non-Adderall-self were to listen to this Steven Hawking book and take a quiz on the material after the end of each chapter, we would score roughly the same grade. If you were to ask each of us how we thought we did on the quiz before knowing the score, my former Adderall-self would probably say he did amazing and would get irritated that you doubted him in the first place, while my current non-Adderall-self would've hedged his bet and would say he didn't have any previous knowledge on the material and it was explained by one of the most brilliant physicists alive, so probably not well. 

 

The scenario above is hypothetical, but I have verifiable truth that this is in fact the case. I'm in a graduate school program studying to be a doctor of physical therapy. I quit Adderall halfway through my latest semester, so I have taken tests in the same courses both on and off Adderall. While I was taking a test ON Adderall, I felt like Neo figuring out how to control the Matrix in the first Matrix movie. It was just too easy, how could the professors bother writing such an easy test for a graduate school program.. this is just pathetic, I would think to myself. While I was taking a test OFF Adderall, I felt like a graduate student who put in a reasonable amount of studying taking a difficult but manageable exam. The test scores you might ask? Drum roll please.... 

 

Test average ON Adderall: 88

 

Test average OFF Adderall: 92

 

(all tests had a similar class average, so no tests were particularly easier than the others)

 

How is this possible? Simple, and this is the main point in this post..

 

Adderall gives you the FEELING that you are capable of doing anything, but does NOT necessarily improve your performance on anything. 

 

In other words, Adderall makes you overly capable. That's it. You're not granted superpowers while on this drug, though your Adderall-self may surely think that you are. Thank you for reading.

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REALLY liked this post. I too am in grad school (MBA) and struggled with the feeling that I didn't understand everything that was being presented in some of my classes. But like you said, I don't think I would've understood it fully on vyvanse either, I would have just felt like I was. This is good motivation to keep pushing further. Thank you for posting 

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If the multi universe is real would be nice to easily jump in the one that never took adderall. I couldn't start to actually understand his teachings and findings from a students perspective on or off adderall lol.

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Duffman, What you have shared with us is a lesson that most of us have learned in our own ways, but only after quitting.  It's just another way that this drug lies to its users to keep them blindly taking it.  I have reviewed some of my writing done on Adderall, works that I thought were worthy of publishing or sharing, and there is nothing special about them, in fact some of my writing is just trash.  Once I wrote a one page article that I was just so fucking proud of that I had to share it with my doctor to show him how beneficial Adderall was for me and try to justify an increase in dosage (it didn't work).  That article took me about two days to research and write.  I won't say it was trash but it was just an average work that I could create in a couple of hours now. 

 

So I believe your main point is worth repeating:

 

"Adderall gives you the feeling that you are capable of doing anything but does not necessarily improve your performance on anything".

 

In fact, with time, your performance on almost everything gets worse because of Adderall and nothing important seems to get done.

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that was a fun little story. You're a damn good writer. sadly, however, I don't think anyone on adderall would believe how true this is. Myself included. This was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. Ive been listening to the music I recorded when I was a full fledged addict... And it's excruciatingly bad. The magnified OCD.... I have several recordings where You can hear me playing the same riff over and over for 10 minutes straight like I'm stuck on a loop. I finally got the passion to start playing again, and I basically had to relearn everything. I'm sure at the time I recorded that garbage I thought i was freaking Mozart.

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