I’ve been pondering the idea of getting off my ADHD meds. Here is the true story that explains why I probably can’t.
This morning while my coffee was brewing, I did my usual routine of getting ready for the weekday breakfast rush. I got out my vitamins and the kids’ vitamins, my Flonase, and my son’s inhaler. I also take Focalin for my ADHD, so I got that out, too. And today there was also a prescription muscle relaxer because too much desk-sitting has caused a very painful neck thing. Well, is it fair to blame desk sitting? I’m kind of partially responsible. So maybe it’s more like, too much bad-posture desk sitting has caused a neck thing. But is it really fair to blame myself? I mean, I have to work. I’m just a cog in this 21st-century existence. So maybe it’s more like, too much of 21st-century life involves sitting at a desk in a way that taxes the human body, which was never meant to be sedentary for 23 hours a day. These things are outside of my control.
But then again, I DO have choice. Free will. I firmly believe that. We create our circumstances. Some would argue that we create our own realities, even. Certain days of the week, I would argue that, too. So maybe, in the end, I AM to blame for my neck injury. Grownups take accountability and I AM a grownup. So there. I hurt myself. I should practice better posture and take more frequent breaks and enjoy the reality I have created for myself, which involves a job I love and an existence that lets me work from home and take breaks practically whenever I feel like it. No one has chained me to this desk.
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SO ANYWAY … I was talking about my ADHD meds. I’ve been on them for more than a year and I think they help. But it’s one of those things that people often fall into — I’m better now so I don’t have to keep taking the thing that got me better. I know people do this and it usually leads to trouble. But I still can’t help but wonder if maybe I should try going off the Focalin and see what happens. I don’t like to take a prescription if I don’t have to. And the absolute worst that would happen in my case is that I’d have a few days of being really disorganized and my to-do list would pile up and cause lots of stress and anxiety and then I’d go back on the meds.
So that’s not death or anything, but honestly, it stresses me out just thinking about it. That right there is a great argument for NOT going off my meds. And by the time I sat down to write this, I had already made the decision that I would not. So that’s just reinforcement.
What caused me to decide YES, I’m staying on these damn things, was that when I was pulling out the vitamins and the Flonase and the inhaler this morning, I may or may not have just popped a Focalin into my mouth. But I don’t know. I usually put my vitamins and the Focalin into a tiny little plastic container so I can take them after I eat. Focalin on an empty stomach makes me feel shaky and dizzy and weird. Actually, not even an empty stomach. An all carby breakfast doesn’t work, either. I need protein. Usually a hard-boiled egg, but I’m getting a little sick of them, so lately it’s been yogurt.
So if I put the pills in the little plastic container and put them on the window sill over the sink I will SEE them sitting there when I go to put my breakfast dishes in the dishwasher. Then I will remember to take them. And I also will not have to worry about accidentally taking the Focalin twice because I forgot I took it the first time. That happened before and then I had to call the Poison Control Center. (Apparently it wasn’t dangerous with the dose that I’m on.) (It also wasn’t dangerous the two times I may have accidentally taken two low-dose Ambiens instead of 1.) (Thank God my docs put me on low doses of things.)
The thing is, this little pills-in-the-container trick is a great way to keep myself on track. If I can build reminders into my environment, then seeing them will trigger a certain desirable behavior. That also works the other way, too. Like if you leave a bowl of Hershey kisses sitting out, you’re going to grab one every time you walk by it. Or most of the time. Or at least many of the times. There is science behind this. Although the guy who published this research supposedly got his ass handed to him for bullshitting some of his data. And if that’s the case, it makes me sad because I really dug his book. So the bullshitting thing I mentioned is either true or a rumor and I should look it up, but I also kinda don’t want to know because I’ve been quoting this dude for years and I’m tired of having to “cancel” people that I used to like.
Like, I’m so bummed I can’t show my kids “Bill Cosby: Himself.” It was the funniest thing ever. I’m sure it holds up even though it’s been what? Forty-some-odd years since it was created? But I just know the kids would think it was hysterical. But then I’d have to say “This is funny, but just remember that that lovable-seeming dude is actually a rapist.” I guess I could leave that part out, but then my son Benjamin would try to find more Bill Cosby videos on YouTube and then he’d discover that Bill is actually a turd burger, and he’d bring me his iPad and I’d know by the shocked looked on his face that he’d just found out. He’d say “Mom … I don’t know if this is true or not [because we always talk about how just because you saw something on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true], but look at this video I just found about Bill Cosby.” And then I would have to say “Yes, honey, I know.” And then, because he’s a lovely, intelligent child, he would say “Then why did you show us his video? He’s a terrible person.” And then my daughter would come in and be like “What are you talking about?” and then Benjamin would show her and Megan would look at me with horror and say “Mom! You know this is not OK!” And I would say “You’re right! It’s not OK! I think he’s disgusting and I hope he’s miserable in jail for the rest of his life! But that doesn’t mean his comedy isn’t hilarious. The video I showed you is just brilliant! It’s a timeless classic!” and even as I would say those words, I would be thinking “Maybe it’s not actually possible to separate someone’s art from their misdeeds if those misdeeds involve drugging and raping people. And when I put it in those terms, I wonder how I could’ve ever thought anything different. What’s wrong with me?”
And then I would confess this to my children, because I think it’s important to model admitting when you’re wrong and apologizing when necessary. I mean, I know plenty of adults who can’t admit they’re wrong, ever. So perhaps this little bit of good parenting counterbalances the total f*ckup of showing my kids a video of a funny rapist.
BUT ANYWAY, this morning I was a little off my routine and I was doing the vitamins and the inhaler and the Flonase and the Focalin and I had an additional pill for myself — the muscle relaxer, which I also have to take with food — and I knew I was going to eat breakfast next and I figured that was close enough and I considered just taking the muscle relaxer right then.
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As I was standing there holding the muscle relaxer bottle, I saw the Focalin bottle. And I thought, “Wait. Did I already take that? Maybe I did, because I was thinking about how I’m going to eat next. So I could’ve taken it. I probably didn’t, though. But it’s possible that I might have, so I shouldn’t take another one, because even though I already know two won’t kill me, I’m also on this muscle relaxer, which is not supposed to interact with the Focalin, but that’s assuming I take the regular dose of the Focalin. If I take double by accident, that’s a whole different thing, right? I really don’t want to call Poison Control again. If I assume I took it and then just get on with my day, what’s the worst that could happen? I’ll be a little disorganized today. Wouldn’t be the first time. But I do have a LOT on my plate today. But that’s OK. I managed to work and do all the things I needed to do for many years before I was on the Focalin. It was harder, but I could do it. I can survive today. So I’m not taking it.”
And then I had to send a text to my kids’ dad and ended up seeing a text from my old college roommate that came in late last night, so I replied to her. Then I saw another text from a friend, who’s actually a mom of one of my kid’s friends, but I guess I can call her my friend now — like, we’ve socialized with each other and gone out together with our spouses, so yeah, it’s not just another mom. Honestly, I don’t even know why this matters. Does it? No one reading this will know this person so it doesn’t matter how I refer to her. Unless she reads this and thinks “I wonder if that was the morning I was texting with Trish. She just called me ‘another mom.’ That’s how she thinks of me? I thought we were friends? Maybe not. Whatever. Now that I think about it, I don’t like her all that much anyway. This ‘mom’ is going to peace out.”
So I was texting with this friend and then realized I never finished unloading the dishwasher and then I guess I must’ve chased 15 other squirrels because I have no idea what I did next. I only know that it was at least 45 minutes later when I finally remembered to text my kids’ dad.
And then I realized that I could probably feel pretty confident about the fact that I did NOT take my Focalin this morning. So I went down and took it. Dear God, I hope it kicks in soon.