Adult ADHD and Medication: Keep an Open Mind!

In 2009, with the last anti-depression pill I thought I'd ever take for Adult ADHD symptoms that were destroying my life! - Jeff Emmerson

Yours truly with the last anti-depression pill I thought I’d ever take for Adult ADHD symptoms that were destroying my life! – Jeff Emmerson

By Jeff Emmerson

I’m finally over the head cold I’ve had for the past few days, and am very grateful to be back to normal. This post is one that I certainly don’t take lightly, and let me say right off the bat that I am NOT a doctor, and that I’m also not pro-medication by any means. OK then, let’s get straight to it:

You see the above photo of myself with a pill bottle…I thought at the time that I was “out of the woods” with an acute bout of depression that had resulted from battling Adult ADHD for many years, and the identity crisis that resulted. What I didn’t realize at the time this photo was taken was that I was anything but free from the grip of depression. In fact, I would go on to research ways to end my life yet again after a number of months of wanting to achieve a goal SO badly that I literally burned bridges with recruiters in the armoured car industry! This is a long story, one that will be detailed in my up-coming Adult ADHD memoir (once I secure a book deal in 2014 – fingers crossed!) , suffice it to say that I was humbled by the power of ADHD symptoms or “traits” to destroy lives! I’m a strong man, a passionate guy who works out very intensely, and has since the age of 14. I’m no slouch when it comes to courage in life, and the will to achieve goals. However, this stuff literally brought me to my knees! That’s why I will forever be open to going on medication if needed to live a better, more balanced life.

Meds aren’t for everyone, and sometimes you’ve got to try a few before you find what works for you, but if you find that medication helps your life, do NOT be ashamed in any way! Just throwing that out there. Millions and millions of lawyers, doctors, pro athletes, cops and other everyday people are on some sort of medication! This stigma bull-crap only breeds ignorance, and I’m only too happy to speak up for the masses to remind them that they are not “broken!” After Adult ADHD behaviours nearly drove me to suicide (as I regularly mention in this blog), I’m not on a clear, concise mission from a professional perspective: build awareness for the 4% of the world’s population that has Adult ADHD/ADD! The kicker is that roughly 85% don’t even have a diagnosis yet!! How crazy is that? Just imagine the lives being destroyed as a result.

If I feel that medication will help me live a calmer, more satisfying life, I will be open to it. I’m not on anything right now, but after going through the incredibly sobering lessons of the last few years, I’ve learned that being too confident about “not needing medication” can easily result in death. It nearly did for me, anyway.

Christ – enough ignorance, already! Let’s all learn and grow in support of each other!

5 thoughts on “Adult ADHD and Medication: Keep an Open Mind!

  1. I absolutely agree with your take on medication. As a psychologist who evaluates and treats Adult ADHD patients, I am saddened by those who are unwilling to “try” to see if medication can be beneficial to them. As you know personally, the medication for ADHD has a quick-onset and is short-acting (not longer than a day.) So, if it is not effective in reducing the symptoms associated with ADHD, the individual will know immediately and can stop taking the medicine.
    Of course, given the different types of medication for this disorder, it may be difficult for the prescribing M.D. to get to the one that is effective for each individual. However, many, many times I have seen patients’ lives turned around on the appropriate and correct medication. And for that, they are thankful. For those that do take the medication and still feel “guilty/bad/incompetent” (their own words) then it is a struggle to deal with this dilemma. But, they at least have more resources (improved outlook on life, etc.) to deal with this struggle. I do not believe medication is for everyone, but at least it’s worth a try.

  2. Jeff, thanks so much for this. I couldn’t WAIT to get on medication once my diagnosis was confirmed. My dr is great and titrated very, very slowly – I started on the lowest dose of Strattera possible and went up gradually so I suffered few side effects. Medication is not for everyone, but I am grateful every day that it works for me. I don’t feel guilty or incompetent – I feel grateful to have a resource to facilitate functioning. The effect of the medication, even at a low dose, was immediate. My periodic limb movement disorder and restless legs syndrome, which made it difficult to sleep, disappeared – that alone told me that the medication was correcting some imbalance in my brain. Mentally, I felt as if I had been very nearsighted my whole life and got a pair of glasses for the first time. Or as if I had been speaking Spanish while everyone else spoke Italian and suddenly, I was fluent in Italian. I’m open about my ADHD and medication (without pushing it), which has been helpful to many of my students, who have come to see both with less stigma. Thanks again for your work!

  3. I agree! Medication exists for good reason. I felt like I got my life back – or even more, got my life for the first time, when I started my medication. The effect is not as intense now but I am definitely better.

    The best thing is that I didn’t lose my ability to be ‘me’ – the gifts of ADHD may not be as full-on, fast or jumpy when I take it, but they aren’t lost either. I hate the demonized stigma. If it works – then it’s what you need. That’s OK.

  4. My Dr had me try Provigil (modafinil is the generic) at the smallest doses for awhile, and it made a huge difference in my focus. I don’t always take it, but I do use it when I feel I really need it. Amazingly, few ADD/ADHD’ers know about this one – and I have to say, it’s alot “cleaner” than the others – it’s not an amphetamine, not addictive, no withdrawl, and doesn’t have that crash or other side effects of Adderall (which I would never take for that reason.) I would suggest people ask their doctors about this one, if they’re considering meds.

    1. Thanks for sharing that, KE! While I don’t usually speak to meds since I’m not a physician, a non-stimulant (non-amphetamine) would be a great option for many, especially with blood pressure concerns. I’m already on BP meds myself, for instance.

      I’m glad it’s working for you. I may look at anti-anxiety down the road, or perhaps something like this. Whatever calms the racing mind down better, frankly.

      Thanks again!

      - Jeff

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