An image popped into my head last week—a visual description of the comparison between the days I take the Adderall XR and the days I don’t. I don’t know why it involves oranges, but bear with me: imagine going to the farmer’s market or the grocery store to buy some oranges. Let’s say twenty oranges. Twenty oranges would be hard to carry home, so you put them in a bag and transport them fairly easily. They don’t all fit perfectly in the bag, but you’re able to balance a few on top and carefully make your way home. Now imagine that you don’t have a bag. Imagine trying to wrangle all those oranges to carry home. Imagine stuffing some in your clothing and trying to hold on to all the others. Imagine constantly dropping them, and every time you pick up the ones you drop, you drop others. You don’t even notice some of them fall or get so frustrated and angry, you just kick a couple of them as hard as you can. You get home and discover you only have seven oranges left.
It’s kind of an odd and random analogy, I know, but you get the picture. The bag is my ADHD medication and describes my days taking it. The no-bag is the no-meds day.
Today I decided not to take the meds because I’ve taken them three days in a row. I’m squeamish about taking them more than three days in a row or all week. I don’t have anything really pressing to get done today, other than an SEO class assignment which isn’t due until Sunday.
The difference on the medication days versus these no-medication days is astounding.
I accepted that I wouldn’t stay focused on any one thing today, so I started poking around on the assignment a couple of hours ago. I don’t find it to be that complicated, and though it involves writing two blog posts centered around SEO concepts… writing is generally my favorite thing to do. Creating pages of text about any given topic is a piece of cake… when I get into it. The problem is that I have a really hard time getting started and adding finishing touches. So I started typing out notes and solidified my keywords two hours ago. It would have taken me about 45 minutes to complete, but two hours later I still just have the page of notes and a list of keywords. In between I’ve scoured knitting websites for men’s sweater patterns, responded to texts, looked at wallpaper on Etsy, gone to Reddit, opened my Russian textbook, and almost started taking apart kitchen cabinets that I want to refinish.
I have a small list of things I wanted to do today that, in theory, would only take me a couple of hours. Without the meds I’ll spend most of the day not doing half of them. It’s not a matter of “just making myself do it.” I’ve been trying to “just make myself do things” my entire life. It doesn’t work. And it’s really hard for non-ADHD people to understand why it’s so hard. Timers sometimes help, but not if reading is involved. For example, I’ve started studying Russian again to get myself to the point where I can register for a 3rd quarter Russian class at the community college. (I’ve found an incredible resource for learning Russian, which I wish was available for all languages. Leave a comment or email me at nikki @ toomanyshinyobjects [dot]com). Russian in and of itself is not hard for me (seriously). I absorb languages with little effort, and I can already easily read Cyrillic. When I take the meds, I can stay on task, do the reading lessons, and complete an entire chapter. Off the meds, I can barely stay with it for a few pages without going off to do other things. Reading novels in French, Spanish, and German is important for my language retention. On meds, I can stay with it for chapters. Off meds, I reread the same sentences several times before moving on… and putting the book down after ten minutes.
I am all over the place today, and it’s more noticeable because I now have something to compare it to. It’s kind of hilarious. You may or may not notice, too, that the quality of my writing is different. Off meds, I ramble more or sometimes it’s more “stilted” because my efforts to stay on point are less natural. I make more typos, too. (I may be an editor, but editors are not good at editing their own writing.) Yeah, I ramble and go on tangents even while on meds (that last post was an entertaining doozy!), but I can tie the tangents in. Things “flow” when I’m on the meds. Off meds, it’s just… well, dropping oranges all over the place. Every task I try to complete is a race against a very short window of time.
I was going to write about hyperfocus and other differences but quite frankly… I’ve completely lost steam on this post. *snort*