A month ago, I ran out of Adderall. And I think most people who don't understand ADHD would think, "Oh, I bet you were a TOTAL space cadet, huh!"
But ADHD isn't some silly "whoops, I lost my keys again!" disorder. And I wish more people understood that.
At first, things seemed fine. When you have ADHD, you're the last one to notice that things are coming unraveled. I was losing a lot of things, but that was manageable. I was double-booking myself a lot, or forgetting I had meetings — funny! But okay.
But then I started getting so absorbed with projects, and whatever grabbed my attention most immediately, that I started forgetting to text my family and let them know I was still alive (they live in Michigan).
I'd think to text a loved one, but get distracted by another app until I could've sworn I texted and I actually didn't. People started getting angry with me, but I'd forgotten how long it had been since we talked, because I was still thinking I'd texted them/did. not. notice.
I'd start things at work and then totally lose track of them. Things that used to take me no time at all started taking hours. I'd zone out so frequently that even simple tasks, like making a bowl of cereal, could take HOURS because I'd get distracted at every step.
Now, it's the end of the month, and my best friends were thoroughly convinced I hated them, a partner lashed out and broke up with me, my parents wondered if I was dead, my therapist thought I ghosted him, I have more drafts than I know what to do with at work...
I want you to really think about how many things you do in your life that require SUSTAINED attention, Meaning, it involves multiple steps. Now I want you to think about how many things you do that involve IGNORING other things in front of you. That describes... almost everything
ADHD is a neurological disorder that impacts executive functioning. Short term memory, the ability to complete tasks with multiple steps, the ability to filter out distractions... it is debilitating in the deepest sense of the word.
The number of times I got on the wrong bus or train, the number of times I saw an email or text and forgot it, the number of times I thought I submitted paperwork that I actually didn't — these things have a cumulative effect. ADHD can unravel your life at the seams, insidiously.
Meanwhile, everyone around me sees that I planned a wedding and decorated my new apartment and they think I'm doing AMAZING! And I am! That's called "hyperfocus." We throw ourselves into whatever is most interesting to us... and lose track of everything else.
And no, I don't get to sit here and say, "IT'S ALL ADHD'S FAULT!" I have coping tools. And I don't get to abandon the people I care about because I'm having brain issues.
But like my therapist said... unmedicated ADHD is basically like having a brain flu.
And I wish, so much, that people really and truly understood how hard it is to have a brain that is uncooperative around the most essential aspects of functioning. I'm lucky that most of the people in my life have been gentle with me and haven't personalized it. But it's awful.
I have a psychiatrist appointment on the 28th that I've been holding out for. Not everyone in my life could hold out for it with me, and I accept and understand that. It's just painful to watch things snowball, knowing that there's only so much I can do.
A month without Adderall is just a frustrating month of saying "I'm so sorry" a hundred thousand times — in a text, in a call, in an email, holding back tears — knowing that next month, you'll have to reassemble all the pieces you dropped and hope that you still have them all.
And this was my life every single day before I was diagnosed and medicated. Except I was self-medicating, so we got to throw "substance use disorder" on top of all that. That sure helped things!
People are so used to me being attentive, thoughtful, ambitious, giving, and present. They're used to me excelling at work and being a deeply invested partner. No one realizes how many things I'll drop with a simple shift in my chemicals.
I just want to point out that for me to be everything that I am, I *need* medication that helps me show up in all the ways that I desperately want to. And there's no shame or weakness in that.
Cracking jokes about ADHD and Adderall, though... there's a lot of shame in that.
Be gentle with one another, okay? Your flaky friend, your unreliable friend, your friend that suddenly "drops" you — there's a possibility that they love the hell out of you and that there's something deeper is going on.
Call them in. Please. Don't push them away.
You can follow @samdylanfinch.