Legitimately stuck and overwhelmed

7 posts in this topic

I've been on adderall XR (20mg 2x daily) for close to 8 years now, save for the last year where I have had several unsuccessful attempts at breaking free of it.  I have managed to lessen my dose to currently 15mg 1x daily, but it certainly feels like it's at the detriment of my job and career.

I have frequently taken a week off here and there and experienced what I thought was the entire cycle of withdrawal.  In a weird sort of way, I enjoyed those weeks because it didn't feel like "withdrawal", but just "different".  I could relax more, food tasted great, I was more mindful of the present, etc.  And so I was disillusioned into thinking that quitting was always just a simple choice and week of taking a bit of time off of work.  Having never gone beyond that week, I never experienced what was beyond it.

At the beginning of this year, I was furloughed for a few weeks, as is somewhat common with software developers that work as contractors.  I thought this would be a good time to stop completely -- I had a 2nd child on the way, a backlog of video games I needed to catch up on, and lots of good food to consume to hopefully put on a few pounds.  The first week was great -- no anxiety over the loss of focus because I didn't have to be "plugged in" to work, and I could just unwind and spend time with my family as we planned for our new arrival.  It wasn't until probably the 3rd week that the changes started feeling troublesome and disturbing.  I noticed that I was starting to become more "conversational" with people.  My emails became less about strictly extracting or providing information, and I started taking a genuine interest in how other people were doing, which was weird for me, because I feel like Adderall killed that feeling for me.  

After a lot of thinking, I feel like this is the saddest and most difficult part of the journey -- coming into a life that your true self doesn't want at all.  Adderall allowed me to focus on work 100%.  I didn't need anybody in my social circle, I didn't need to pursue my more "artistic" hobbies for fulfillment, and I was perfectly content being a work-from-home consultant that never interacted with others on a face-to-face level.  I didn't feel loneliness, and therefore, allowed all of my friendships to slip away one by one, all in pursuit of what feel like artificial goals.  So, once I stopped taking my dose, it suddenly felt "good" to interact with others again, and I went through a bit of a social euphoria for a while...but I think that as I started to return to baseline, the shallowness of my social network began to really show.  

About a year and a half ago, I moved my family across the country for my job.  This felt like a great idea at the time -- better pay, nicer house, and an opportunity to expand on my career by relocating to a tech-heavy area.  In a way, Adderall hardened my heart and allowed the difficulties in leaving almost everyone I knew behind to be nothing but an afterthought.  I suppose it wasn't until I started listening to some new music that started this cascading series of events that eventually lead to this crisis.  I believe I was on one of my small "vacations" from Adderall and listening to music late at night, when a melody suddenly started resonating with me in a way I can't even describe.  It pulled on my memories and took me back to a period years and years ago...maybe it was just nostalgia, but I hadn't truly enjoyed music that much for years.  I felt emotions that I hadn't felt in so long...and with those emotions, I felt needs.  I needed to talk to people, to make friends, to understand and be understood.  

I think it was at this point that I decided "Okay, well, this is great, right?  Maybe it's time to back off of your normally career-obsessed persona and reinvent yourself".  Just like you can't un-see something you saw, I can't un-feel what I felt.  If my old life was there waiting for me, this wouldn't be so hard....but years have passed now, and I'm so far away from that point in my life.  Friends have moved on, relationships have been dissolved, and I'm so alone right now.  Now I know that the life I have is the only option I've got, for the time being anyway.  So I can choose to either take my pills, fully knowing that I'm just pushing the dopamine button to code myself into artificial happiness, while my body slowly wastes away (5'11", 116 pounds)...or attempt to push through, probably ending my career as I know it, which isn't really an option at all, given the fact that I'm supporting a family.  Maybe having a job with face-to-face interaction would help, but in the midst of a global pandemic, that option isn't realistic at the moment.  

It's time to face the fact that I'm not some super talented uber-nerd programmer and resign to the fact that I used drugs to turn myself into something useful rather than finishing my degree and doing things properly.  

After reading the "5 signs you know you're ready to quit", the item that resonated with me the most was the one that mentioned the memory of your former self.  I used to be so much more legitimately passionate...not about programming, but about music.  I used to love playing the piano.  It meant so much to me....and I just....stopped.  Music has a funny way of reminding you of things, and now nostalgia feels so painful because of how well it reminds me that I've been neglecting and missing out on so much, and it's doubled because there isn't much I can do about it right now.  Somehow, music was able to remind me of who I used to be, and what makes me truly happy, but that feeling is quickly tainted by the fact that I can't return to that.  At least not anytime soon.  

And so, I feel completely stuck.  Everyone I know only knows the "me" that is taking Adderall...but that "me" isn't real, or healthy, or sustainable.  I feel like I'm dying, like I'm not the parent or person that I know I am and *should* be, and that my time to turn this around is running out.  I am just so scared that this is going to kill me, and that I'm going to leave my family with the memory of me being nothing but a neurotic workaholic who never had time for them, all the while a very real and passionate person was screaming on the inside, just trying to let them know how much I love them.   

But one of the things that makes this so difficult -- it's the stability of my thoughts and feelings.  I don't know who I am without Adderall.  Are all of these feelings just a product of the drug?  Will I still want what I want once I have it, or will I be left in the same situation that lead me to take it in the first place?  Will my wife, who has never known the "me" that isn't on Adderall, even like the person I am without it?  

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I understand exactly what you mean. I don't have any friends. I didn't care for social interaction for the years I was on Adderall. It makes me upset now that I am sober because I reminisce about the times where I had really important friendship's that I just let fade into oblivion because I didn't need them. I have so much regret for the way I treated the people I care about. Those relationships and friendships are way past the point of mending and many people don't want anything to do with me and I do not blame them. I acted as if I did not care about them, and my actions proved it. It is not that I didn't care about these people. I surely did, I didn't have the emotional capacity to maintain these friendships though. One of these people was my boyfriend of 7 years who just recently passed away in a motorcycle accident. It kills me not to be able to tell him how sorry I am for the way I acted. That's a whole other story. But yeah...all of It sucks...truly, but there really is not much I can do about it. All I can do is try to be a better and more attentive person going forward. Hopefully, in time, I can start to build new friendships based on my new and real persona.

Yeah, but I am really feeling it during this pandemic. Not only are we physically away from people, but I also don't keep in contact with anyone because there is no one to keep in contact with. This is one of the hardest pills to swallow. Now that I crave human interaction..there is none for me. And it is my fault.

That being said, I am just grateful I made the decision to quit stimulants to have come to this conclusion and to have these realizations. I have been caught up to speed with real life in so many ways. I get anxious thinking about the person I use to be and how lost I was. Just completely in my own world. Thinking I was the shit..but in reality I was just a strung out mess.

One thing I have going for me is that I am self-aware. And I know that my self-esteem and self-confidence will raise once I have the chance to get to know myself better. I totally relate to discovering life without Adderall is not what I expected. So much newness...but it's raw...and most of the time, deathly boring. Being bored has made me restless and I have been having fits of rages because of my frustration. I feel like I am moving like a slug, and that I am carrying 100 pounds chained to my ankle at all times. I feel so heavy. 

Truly, I know this will pass. We just gotta stick it out. When the time is right, the right people will come into your life. I personally feel like it's too early in the game to try to make friendships. If it happens, cool. If not, I am content with just trying to recover, although it does get lonely. And it's easy to think you are the only one without anyone. Trust me, I am in the same boat. 

I get what you're saying about the music thing, and I thought I was the only one who felt that way. I stay away from a lot of my favorite music for that reason because it makes me too depressed to listen to it! Imagine not being able to listen to your favorite artist because the music takes you back to an era that no longer exists, The time when you had people to share life with.

Sigh. I am optimistic though...and I am a fighter. You are not alone and I totally empathize with your situation. Stay informed with the forums...we are always here to help!

God bless

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I relate to so much of what you’re feeling, your story left me in tears; you clearly have a passion inside you WAITING to burst out full-time!

There is so much more to life than career success. As you’re feeling now, life is about relationships and connection. Listen to what you’re body is telling you and break free of this drug. You deserve it and your kids / wife deserve it too. 

Your work won’t necessarily fail - maybe at first - but that shall pass. Just over two months in, my passion for my work is still there, it’s just different. My mission has realigned. I find myself not being so obsessed with making the perfect decision or pleasing my bosses. My anxiety that I’m not being perfect is loosening up day by day. I’m now way more obsessed about being a good leader and doing good for my company, because they are actually a good company that deserves that effort.

Music - literally just this morning at 3am I couldn’t sleep because my heart has been aching over what is going on in the world right now. I started listening to music and I started crying. It felt so different listening to it now, 67 days clean. I can’t explain it as eloquently as you did - but I so get it! 

Relationships - I crave relationships and connections like I never have before, like you I was convinced I was fine without strong connections and preferred to be a loner because I felt so cold and out of place more times than not. I couldn’t even be sober (alcohol + adderall) in social situations either, my anxiety was too much. It sickens me to know that I‘ve used friends in the past, I didn’t care about them as much as they cared about me. But I wanted them around so I had somewhat of a social life (Relationships never seem to work out for me) and they always had my back when I needed them. I had these tactics I would use with my friends that it made it seemed like I cared so I wasn’t feeling like a total dick. I use to put calendar reminders in my phone so I would be the first to reach out every so often and it wouldn’t seem one-sided. Now I’m reaching out close to daily without reminders bc I do actually care about them and that alone is a weight off my shoulders because I don’t feel like a monster. That drug made me cold and emotionless. I’d rather lose my amazing job than lose having feelings again. I was on the drug for 10 years. 

Thanks for sharing your story <3

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4 hours ago, sweetupbaaby said:

Fit of rages 

@sweetupbaaby- Around the same time as where you are at I had majorrrrrrr uncontrollable rages for about a week and a half. That definitely passed and I hope it passes for you too! I notice taking my supplements daily helps a ton. 

I’m so sorry to hear about your boyfriend. I’m sure he’d be so proud of you for the steps you’re taking! 


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On 6/5/2020 at 5:35 PM, my_former_shadow said:

After a lot of thinking, I feel like this is the saddest and most difficult part of the journey -- coming into a life that your true self doesn't want at all.

This broke me. Thank you so much for your post; I needed to be reminded of all of this. Wishing you all the best-- please reach out if you ever need a friend. 

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On 6/5/2020 at 7:06 PM, sweetupbaaby said:

I totally relate to discovering life without Adderall is not what I expected. So much newness...but it's raw...and most of the time, deathly boring.

Yes-- the boredom of life is something I'm still learning to sit with (like everyone else). 

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