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About my_former_shadow

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  1. Legitimately stuck and overwhelmed

    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?